Saturday, September 13, 2008

River Deep, Mountain High

Traveling by plane recently and then by cab, I noticed a lot of changes since before 9/11/2001. First off, people in military uniform are everywhere at airports and other transit points. Lots of soldiers in desert camouflage coming and going, an eerie reminder that we are on a perpetual Orwellian war footing for God knows what ultimate aim or purpose (the medium is the message?)

Secondly, internal security has the feel of science fiction. US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel are now sporting cobalt blue (supposedly royal blue) "duty shirts" and a very uniform appearance that's more creepy than comforting.

Thirdly, every asshole and his cousin seems to like jawing on a cellphone or other mobile device -- and too many act as if oblivious to the flesh and blood people outside their think bubble.

Fourth, cab drivers and delivery people are sporting GPS (Global Positioning System/NAVSTAR-GPS) devices, making their jobs a bit easier but further moving us into what used to be science fiction in the 1960s and 1970s (it was developed by the military). My cabbie, a real Jim Dandy and genuinely cool dude, extolled the virtues of the GPS. "We've reached a new plateau," he enthused. "You got your low grade systems, your mid-grade systems, and your premium high grade systems. Me, I'm working with a fine mid-grade system as is my wife." And indeed, I also used a GPS device to shave hours off driving this past summer, borrowing one to see how well it worked. You just plug it into a lighter socket and away you go, with voice or without, and with battery backup. Again, kind of eerie but interesting and practical.

Fifth, our infrastructure is decaying faster than we're shoring it up. There at leaks at Detroit Metro's Smith terminal from heavy rain, access roads are crumbling, bridge overpasses are cracking, and things seem barely held together by wires in some spots.

In any case, good luck to all those in flood zones! Hurricane Ike packed a wallop and there's more rain on the way for Detroit, too. Oh, and: I love Detroit!

Today's Rune: Disruption.


Charles Gramlich said...

the decaying infrastructure of roads and bridges and drainage sites is definitely worrisome.

Sidney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sidney said...

We're truly surrounded by science fiction, and some of the sociological impacts like you mention, that were not contemplated as much in many early SF works. There's actually a zone cell users get into mentally that make them oblivious and it's annoying and dehumanizing at once.

Lana Gramlich said...

I sometimes feel like I'm living in a fascade, in a sense. Like everything LOOKS okay if not good, but behind the scenes everyone's goose-stepping as the country crumbles around them. The scariest part is that most of the goose-steppers (aka "sheeple,") don't even realize the reality of the situation...

the walking man said...

I was just thinking on the technological state of affairs for my next piece. I'll get to it soon enough.

I for one am glad for the rain, stopped the deal we were entering into for a new house...the land all drains towards the structure.

in Detroit we have been plagued with a deteriorating infrastructure for so long...that is life.

Johnny Yen said...

I've got to admit, I love my GPS. I have a notoriously poor sense of direction-- a few years ago, I got hopelessly lost on a winding country road leading to my parents' rural Tennessee home and my then 11 or 12-year-old son quickly navigated me through it.

A couple of months ago, I was on the way to a party Bubs threw, and looked at the GPS, Ipod and Sirius Satellite Radio on my dashboard, and I quoted you quoting Iggy: "Look out honey 'cause I'm usin' technology!"