[LMB] OT: Transportation and others (long)

Eric Oppen technomad at intergate.com
Mon Sep 8 22:02:54 BST 2008

Quoting Damien Sullivan <phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu>:

> On Mon, Sep 08, 2008 at 01:17:24AM -0500, Eric Oppen wrote:
>> And what, my learned friend, makes you think that airlines AREN'T
>> vulnerable?  Particularly the small ones?  Several airlines that had
>> accidents aren't there not no more even if it was found that it wasn't
>> THEIR fault...
> Yet air travel continues.

True.  However, the companies I am referring to are not there not no  
more, to borrow a turn of phrase from _A Clockwork Orange._  No  
executive is willing to risk his whole company if that can be avoided.

>> As for "40,000 Americans a year," that comes out to, by my
>> calculations, a 1/7500 chance of any individual American dying on the
> Per year, and not counting injuries.'

Per year, yes.  Even so, those odds look excellent to me.  I will  
freely admit that I'd not mind seeing requirements for licensing  
toughened up, but if I, who am NO gambler and not fond of the  
unexpected, am willing to drive, it can't be too bad.

>> The choo-choo-train fetishists look back on the days when Americans
>> were without Evil Automobiles through a warm, pink-colored lens of
> "choo-choo-train", condescending and dismissive much?

No worse than I've gotten thrown at me from the other side.  However,  
apologies if I've offended you.  Seriously, though---railroads are  
great for cargo but not-so-hot-so for people.  Nobody pointed guns in  
people's faces and forced them to take cars instead of trains, any  
more than the early factories ("dark Satanic mills," to quote Blake, I  
think) needed to go out with press-gangs to force people into their  

> I don't look back at the past with nostalgia; I look at Japan and Europe
> with clear glasses, especially of experience.

You can fool the spectators, but not the players.  As it happens, I've  
_been to_ both Japan and Europe, and have driven in Europe.  The  
circumstances are very different, even leaving out the much higher  
price of fuel in those countries.

In Japan, I'd not have a car as a present---"No!  NO!  PLEASE don't  
make me drive here!  They're all driving like crazy!  There's nowhere  
to park!  They drive on the left!  I can't read the signs because  
they're in Japanese which nobody can read! Shoot me!  Hang me!  Send  
me to the Russian Front!  Not THAT!"

And in Europe, between narrow, twisty roads, a much higher number of  
people per square kilometer/mile, and other factors, public  
transportation makes a great deal more sense than it does in most of  
the US.  I've driven over great chunks of the US, and outside of the  
centers of some metro areas, a car is the best possible alternative.

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