Flying Cars and a Great Conundrum

As we begin a new decade, there has been much talk of how far we’ve come in the past 10 years, as well as where we would like to be, technology-wise. Being a somewhat immature 20-something my first thought is that we are 5 years away from the time which Doc Brown and his time-travelling DeLorean are going to land in Hill Valley, CA and cause a little bit of trouble in the space-time continuum. This leads me to the question: “Where are our flying cars?”

This oft-asked question deserves a closer look. Yes, looking at old videos from the 50’s about what we thought today would be like is quite entertaining, but what about the reality of having such a technology? This may sound funny, but I am going to look at some downsides to having flying cars. Yes, downsides.

There is nothing quite like a peaceful drive up a windy road which leads to the top of a great peak, or to some other seldom seen viewpoint which, because of obscure geographical positioning or rough terrain is out of the public eye. This would be completely obliterated with the invention of vehicles which can scale peaks in a matter of seconds, touch down in any clearing, and lift off moments later, leaving empty fast-food bags behind. This brings me to my next issue:

Litter. Has a soda can ever landed on your head? One just might someday. If you think people will exercise any more restraint with their garbage once cars travel omnidirectionally, you are mistaken. Our freeways and roads are littered with candy wrappers, fast food containers and bottles. At least right now they aren’t traveling at their terminal velocity when encountered.

You may be tempted to think that flying will lead to quicker travel, cutting commutes and leading to less stress. This is not true. If your threshold for commute time is 1/2 an hour now, it will be when we have flying cars. People will simply begin commuting from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas for work, and doing their grocery shopping closer to where the food is actually grown. As people, we fill holes created by technology as quick as they are opened. Do you think that people lived 20 miles from their workplaces before the car was invented? You will still see your loved ones just much, and after the same amount of travel. Rather than your sister going to the local college to stay close to home, she will go to one “only 2 states over.”

This is only the beginning. Has your car ever broken down while you were on the freeway? How about while traveling at 300 miles an hour 3,000 feet in the air? You think some people can’t drive now, how about when they can travel up and down as well as right/left, forward/back? If the cars are autonomous, who will be to blame when they fail (as they inevitably will), the car makers or those who write the software that failed?

I hope you have enjoyed this romp in speculative technology and the effect it will have on our society. Despite all of these potential problems, I still say “BRING ON THE FLYING CARS!”



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The Apple Tablet: Why No One Will Be Happy

You may have heard something about an upcoming Apple tablet computer. CNN, The New York Times and every other news outlet have posted a story about it. The problem is, that it doesn’t exist. Oh, Apple is probably working on something similar to a giant iPod Touch with a couple new features, along with 20 other prototypes, most of which will never see the light of day outside their Cupertino CA campus, but nothing has been formally announced by the company.

The problem is that everyone is developing some sort of idea of what this device will be/do. This is all well and good, except that people hold Apple to a different standard. When they make a business decision that means they will make more money people recoil like their own mother has given them a bus stop wedgie on the first day of school. They expect their products to catapult them into a catatonic state of perpetual bliss. But guess what…


Locked down, expensive, and will come in every color as long as its scratch-able polished metal. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Who am I to tell a company which has over 20 billion dollars in the bank how to run their business, and I think there is a very good argument for why they do some of the things they do. But don’t get your hopes up.

No matter what it is or what it does it will disappoint millions of people. We have been here before. For years prior to the iPhone release people anticipated what it would look like. Google “Apple phone concept” and about 50 flip phones with click wheels will come up. The iPhone has matured into a very respectable platform, but when it came out people were very angry about the lack up installable apps and many other things. Apple would release new software a year later that would alleviate this particular concern, but in the meantime they kept it secret from their competitors so they could have time to develop it.

The moral of this story is to keep your expectations low. There is a 99% chance that what they come out with will be nothing like what you have in your head.

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My Obituary (in the Classified Ads)

Man and Wife

Body for sale. Well used. 1986 model. No paperwork included. Original owner. Near running condition. Great for someone who wants a fixer upper (advanced medical degree suggested). Often left out in the sun, and thus dried out at times with leather cracked and peeling. Well loved. Many miles, fortunately. Mostly used around town, but many freeway as well. Air and sea mileage only on special occasions. Not bad looking, but not the best either. Red interior. Some missing parts, and some work better than others. Smoke free.

This will go fast, call today.

I wrote this while thinking about how I would like to have lived my life when I die. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon (that I know of). I have already lived 23 years on this green, blue and brown rock hurtling through space, and feel pretty good about it so far. But the years previous have been easy ones to have fun. I have realized that pretty much from here on out, I will have to make a conscious decision when I am going to kick my feet back and not work. Especially since my planned profession will require a lot of my time. I’m okay with that, but I hope I can manage to realize that I am working to live, and not living to work.

Isn’t that it really? The reason I go to school, is so I can get a job that will enable me to not worry about the cost of living, and otherwise enjoy that living. I hope I can do that, and if my body were like a vehicle of some sort, the ad wouldn’t look like one for a peach 60’s era coupe that has been parked and preserved inside.


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The Beauty of Photography

Spidey's Web
As I was driving through southern Utah this last weekend, I looked out into a field and wondered if anyone had tromped through the bushes carrying finely manufactured glass attached to a light sensor. That is, after all, half of photography: carrying around gear. I was thinking of all of the different possibilities for photos. Sometimes it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that every good photo to be taken has been. If you think about how many square feet the space in the atmosphere contains, and think of every one of those squares as a vantage point with 360 degrees of pivot, in addition to endless combinations of weather and daylight, as well as billions of people to pass in and out of those spaces at different times doing different things-you realize pretty quickly that there are plenty of photos to go around.
3-2-1 Blastoff

Like I said, much of photography is simply being dedicated to the capturing of images. Although cell phones have cameras, if you want to capture anything worthwhile you are going to need something with a lens more complex than saran wrap. Going through the trouble of bringing a camera is like a sacrifice to the photography gods in order to get a good image.

There seems to be a direct correlation between how spectacular your images are and how much the environment you are shooting wants to break/steal your camera. This is why National Geographic photographers are so amazing. You may look at a picture of some penguins and think “I could have taken that picture, they are just standing there.” Well, you didn’t. You didn’t fly in a bush plane, haul tons of camping gear, and hike across desolate frozen landscape all with the intent of snapping some pics. I think that is the best part about photography, anyone can do it. I think a good photo is one that makes you think “I could’ve taken that!” Beautiful, yet simple.
The Pump

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I Don’t Get It

nissangtrNote: This post was written prior to the visit to the track yesterday, where we saw one. Although a coincidence, seeing one didn’t inspire this post.

I have a problem. I don’t get it. I have tried to understand it, but I can’t bring myself to like the Nissan GT-R.

Don’t get me wrong. It is fast, with a twin-turbocharged, 3.8-liter V6 pushing 480 hp, it definitely has guts. Some carbon fiber here, Brembo brakes there, it has all the makings of a car that I would like. But for some reason, I don’t. I saw it at a car show last year. While Britton and Blake were ogling it I believe I might have been admiring the gloss of the pedestal on which it rested that hoisted the car above the common folk. What is the big deal?

The problems I have with it are mainly aesthetic, I will admit. But supercars are much more than speed. If I wanted to go fast only, I could drop $9,000 on a low end Ducati and blow most supercars away off the line. The idea is to culminate speed and performance into an attractive package that looks as uniquely obscene as the figure on the check you signed for it.

The Nose

Someone call Mitsubishi, there has been a break-in. The GT-R’s snout looks like someone left an EVO’s bonnet in the sun too long, the lights getting the worst of it.

The FrontLook at Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lotus, Porsche, BMW- they all have unique designs that are instantly recognizable. There is no shortage of ‘looks’ but it seems that it was too hard for Nissan to come up with a new design, so they took cues from various other cars.

The Back

If you were going to plagiarize a speech, would you copy the Gettysburg address or King’s “I have a dream”? Probably not. Nissan is going for the gusto by taking an American icon and giving it a firm middle finger.

The backThis is in addition to the other cars that already possess this lighting setup. There are near endless potential designs, but they have settled on… wait, it looks like they put a clear bezel in the middle of the red, its all okay now. Nevermind. It is completely different.

The spoiler looks as if it was acquired through a yard sale following the last Fast and the Furious movie, from the reject pile. Sadly, it was sat on by a fairly large boom mic operator, and so was available for less than a decent spoiler. Personally I prefer no spoiler at all, but that is a different story (and a better looking car).

It may not have looks, but it does have speed. Of course, cheating on your test laps helps too.

I realize this is completely subjective. This is something that cannot be argued rationally. If you would spend $80,000 on a Nissan, that is your own issue to deal with.


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Why CGI has Jumped the Shark

Prepare to abandon

In the 1970’s, the show Happy Days, which portrayed 1950’s american life, was a huge success. Originally following the Cunningham family, the show slowly shifted it’s focus towards “The Fonz,” (one of Richie Cunningham’s friends) due to his popularity among viewers. As the show progressed, the writers had to come up with more and more plots, and wacky situations for the Fonz to encounter. In 1977, in the show’s 5th season, Fonzie literally jumped over a shark on water skis. This scene is when many believe the show began to go downhill. Cast members left, spin offs were created, and the show was still technically a success… but something was missing. The term “jumping the shark” would later come to describe anything that has become a mockery of itself. The point in which something fizzles out, and ceases to glimmer as it once did. Tonight, for me at least, ┬ácomputer generated imagery (CGI) has jumped the shark.

What brought on the demise of this wonderful technology, the same that showed us the Titanic sinking, fallen cities resurrected, and dinosaurs in the flesh? Michael Bay, like a child who has found his father’s gun, ┬áhas irresponsibly used this technology and squeezed out every last bit of dignity it had.

Film-making is about more than pretty moving pictures. Movies have dialogue, they tell stories. Someone didn’t tell Mr. Bay that people can speak without explosions in the background. In fact, in the beginning of his latest film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, during every scene where Shia Labeouf and Megan Fox were talking to one another, there was a generic guitar ballad playing for no reason, as if Bay couldn’t stand two characters conversing without yelling. You couldn’t show me a scene made using CGI that would impress me. It’s over. Sure it all looks real, yet in Quantum of Solace when they beat that Astin Martin to bits it was more impressive than Bay’s exploding CGI aircraft carrier.

I understand that expecting an action movie to do anything but entertain is pushing it, but it can be done. Look at The Dark Knight. In addition to fancy vehicles, violence and explosions, there was a psychologically intense element which made you think. The scene in which the two boats each had a detonator in their possesion was brilliantly laced with philosophical overtones without ruining the action.

Someone has given Bay an unlimited budget, and there is nothing to show for it. I went to the movie. I wanted to like it. What I saw when I got there was a camera rotating around rolling metal balls in a close up view to “increase the action” for 2 1/2 hours. Here is something that irks me: the movie was based off of the Hasbro action figures by the same name; it says it right in the credits. What made these toys a hit was that they looked like a truck or plane, then could change into a human or animal form using it’s existing parts. The movie versions simply seem to explode for a moment, with pieces moving every which way, finally coming to a much larger piece of machinery that has random wheels and gears placed in random places. There are no rules. Want to make all of the machines combine together? Why not! The lack of rules weakens the story, because the viewer is unable to deduce the next action along with the characters. Shia could very well just say “lets get some whale blubber and feed it to the Decepticons, and that will kill them!” and you would have to go along, because the story follows no logical line.

Michael Bay is not the only one to blame. Mr Spielberg, the most innovative director of all time, is slowly raping the motion picture industry as well. You need not look any further than the latest Indiana Jones film he was associated with creating.

I watched Seven Pounds about a week ago, and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It was amazing. During the climax of Bay’s latest, however, I didn’t give a autobot’s trunk about what happened to the main characters. Simply saying “I won’t go without you” over and over again amidst danger does not qualify as drama. I imagine that if Bay had his way, the movie wouldn’t have had any dialogue at all.

I know Hollywood knows what they are doing. They think we are stupid. And I suppose we are for shoveling all of our money into their pockets. But know this: they think you are an idiot. And if you can watch 2 1/2 hours of explosions and not get sick of it, I’m not sure I disagree.


Heres a parody “sneak peek” that pretty much summarizes the movie:


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Color Wheel

After taking this we went around where the booths and games were. One of the girls in the booth asked me (in the blunt, outspoken way a carnival booth operator would) to take a picture of her and her love interest (another booth operator). I enjoy talking to carnival folk as they are quite unique and obliged. I offered to email them the photo but neither of them had an email address!

I realized while leaving that carnival technology has remained essentially the same for the past 40 years. Booths, tents and monstrous machines moving humans in circles. Someone could have begun their career 30 years ago and stayed on the road the entire time, oblivious to modern living conveniences.

The picture of the two didn’t turn out very good because I didn’t have the right lens on and it was quite dark, but I think the picture you have in your mind is better than anything I could have taken anyways.

From my Flickr Photostream


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