13 June 2008

The Price

I went to help a friend the other day. He had bought a stove and we were going to move it in my trucklet.

I got there insanely early because, not knowing what traffic was going to be like, I left the house about 15 minutes before I had to. As a result I ended up loading the stove with the homeowner that my friend had bought it from and had some time to kill.

The homeowner offered me a cup of coffee, which I gladly accepted. We ended up shooting the breeze for a while, and inevitably the subject turned to gas prices.

He said something about the Government needing to "get serious" about making the auto manufacturers make fuel efficient cars. I commented that yeah, that worked so well for us in the 70's after all, and besides I wasn't a big fan of government mandating what the people will expect anyway.

I went on to say that the car company that doesn't lead the way in efficiency and alternate fuels is going to be forced out of business by the companies that do, and that the auto industry needs to be driving that particular train.

I don't know what shape or form our next mode of personal transportation is going to be, all I know is that there will be one. I'm still hoping for the flying cars that we were promised, but I'm not holding my breath.

I personally think the next big thing will be electric cars powered by fuel cells, but I have been wrong in the past and I will be wrong in the future. It's more likely that the next generation of personal transportation will be unlike anything we ever dreamed of.

Think about it, when we used the horse and the horse drawn conveyance the idea of a "horseless carriage" was completely foreign to most folks. Then it was a toy of the rich. Along comes Henry Ford and all of a sudden there is a car in every driveway.

In the same time frame the train was the greatest transportation system known to man. Now the only passenger trains that run in the US (outside of local commuter rail and tourist railroads) is AMTRAK, and they only have one route that makes money.

If you were to go back in time to the turn of the last century, say 1890 or so, and speculate that in another hundred years men would go about in horseless carriages and not take the train as a general rule, you would be regarded as a blithering idiot at best. Throw in that men would fly about regularly in great metal birds and you would likely be locked up as a threat to yourself and others. And as far as flying in those great metal birds across the oceans in less than a 24 hour period, not to mention traveling beyond our own atmosphere, don't even pretend to mention that unless you are Jules Verne.

Just in the last 40 years we have reached great heights. In the last 40 years we have left the confines of our own planet, if only for a little while. We have stepped onto the soil of a completely different celestial orb, if again only for a little bit. The computers in our digital watches now have more computing power than the ones that put men on the moon.

I am typing this post on a computer that folds up and fits on my lap, it is not connected to the wall or Internet by any wires, and if I want to travel away from the Refuge I can take my 'net with me by means of a cell card that connects through the cellular network. These things were the stuff of science fiction not even fifty years ago.

I am curious to see what will spring from the fertile mind of Man in the next 50 years.

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