atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2231: NONE of them.

How the hell would being "President for a day" enable anyone to make that happen anywhere? The President is an executive, not a king. He can't just wave his pen and say, "There will be a high-speed rail line put there!"

...but disregarding that stupidity, if I were "President for a day", none of those areas of the country would get a high-speed rail line on the government's dime.

If there was a need for high-speed rail, we would have it already. There would be no need for government to say, "Hey, we need this, so we're going to spend billions of dollars to make it happen." No; the railroads would be clamoring to build high-speed rail lines if there was any economic need for them whatsoever, because the railroads could make all kinds of money on it.

If it were necessary.

Which it's not.

Evidence: there are no high-speed rail lines.

If there is a profit to be made on providing a good or a service, businesses will arise which will provide them. If there is no reasonable expectation of profit from an enterprise, it won't happen unless government does it.

The only reason we still have interstate rail travel is that the government decided it needed to prop it up. Railroads got out of the passenger business because they couldn't make any money at it. We got Amtrack, which has never been in the black for even a single fiscal year, because air travel is cheaper to provide than train travel; if Amtrack priced tickets to make a profit, no one would ride the train.

Understand this: it's not illegal for anyone to provide interstate rail travel. A passenger railroad would have to follow the federal railroad regulations, and would have to have the appropriate licenses and the other bureaucratic garbage, but there is no law which prohibits corporations from selling tickets to people for interstate travel. (Not even a de facto ban, where it's legal but government makes it as difficult as possible for someone to get into the business, in order to protect Amtrack.)

Yet Amtrack is it. There is nothing else. If you want to ride the train from Chicago to California, you're going to be on an Amtrack train. (Or else you're going to be dodging railroad cops and riding in a boxcar.)

Running any kind of railroad is highly capital-intensive. Before you can run a train, you have to have rolling stock (locomotives, cars) and you either need track or you need trackage rights. (The latter, renting someone else's tracks, is cheaper, but you only get to run trains when the owner isn't running his own trains.) And you need to hire people and advertise and.... By the time you're ready to start carrying passengers, you've spent as much money as an airline startup does, for a service which takes much longer and is only the slightest bit more convenient than traveling by air.

It takes a couple hours to fly here from New Orleans. Even figuring getting to the airport early and traveling to and from airports at both ends, it doesn't take more than perhaps six hours at the outside under normal conditions. My sister rode Amtrack up from N.O. this past weekend, and the trip took seventeen hours.

People don't like that. They especially don't like paying for it the same as they would for air travel. Slower should be cheaper, goes the thinking. How much does a bus ticket cost?

* * *

Having heard what my sister had to say about it, though, I am interested in trying it myself. If you get a roomette, you've got a small table and you can sit by yourself, and there's a bed, and there's a power outlet so you can plug in your laptop. I could play Torchlight for as long as suited me!

...or whatever. The other day, while waiting for my too-large ID photos at Walgreen's, I noticed a pay-as-you-go wireless ISP dongle. It's $30-ish, and then you buy blocks of data transfer. I have no idea what the cost-per-megabyte is. do realize that would mean the ability to play World of Warcraft on my laptop anywhere I could get a cellular signal? It almost seems worthwhile, except that I never go anywhere.

Speaking of Torchlight I played it for a couple more hours tonight. I think I'm taking a break from WoW; at least, that's how it's shaping up. Oh well.

* * *

Exchange Street is going away. They're grinding out the concrete subroad now. The entire damn thing, right down to the gravel, is being torn out; no wonder they closed it.

I'm kind of at a loss as to why they're going so far. I mean, is there something wrong with the concrete? Is there something underneath the road they're wanting to attend to? Seems to me that if they had merely ripped off all the asphalt and relaid it, that would have dealt with the frost heaves. Heck, most of the time, towns just do a skin coat: rip off a couple inches of asphalt and lay a new layer atop the old stuff. They did that with Route 1 all the way from the viaduct in Steger to the south edge of the village core.

Maybe they're thinking of the impending intermodal facility that Union Pacific is going to put in. There have been changes to the way I-394 connects with Route 1, south of town, for that very reason; maybe Exchange is also being upgraded to handle truck traffic.

I don't know. I hope not.

What I do know is that without cars on Exchange Street, it is incredibly, marvelously quiet. Shit, it'd be worth the inconvenience to lose that street, permanently, in its entirety just for that reason alone. Turn it into a park with a narrow lane for the people whose driveways connect to Exchange. Forbid through traffic and set the speed limit at 25. Cut it off from access to 394.

Yeah, no one would like that idea except me. Oh well.

* * *

By the way, "Endless Eight" started yesterday. It's August 17-31.

Having deja vu?

In fact, I think the events of "Endless Eight" would have taken place in 2003. You see, in Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Kyon talks about "the new millennium", in a way which makes me think that the events which attracted the attention of the various organizations took place in spring of 2000. (The Integrated Data Thought Entity detected the enormous data explosion; the time travelers discovered the discontinuity which kept them from traveling back further in time; and the espers discovered their abilities, all about the time Haruhi had her little epiphany about not being unique at all.)

Haruhi was just out of elementary school, about to start middle school, and so by the time she was starting high school it would have been 2003.

Now: assuming that the first season episode "Someday In The Rain" is the last story arc before "Disappearance", it looks to me as if the entire Haruhi ouerve covers the events of one year, 2003. (And actually, the story begins on April 1, 2003; April 1 is when the school year starts in Japan, unless it's on a Sunday. Then school stars April 2.)

If Harhi et al were 15 in 2003, then they're all 22 now. (Well, Mikuru would be 23 if she'd stayed in our time plane.)

Well--we assume Yuki Nagato and her fellow Integrated Data Thought Entity Humanoid Interface Terminals were created shortly after the "data explosion", so Yuki would, in fact, only be technically 9 right now. But she remembers the entire run of "Endless Eight", which actually makes her closer to 600 years old.

Of course the anime shows a 2008 calendar for "Endless Eight", when we see a calendar at all, but that's typical of anime series: they always use current calendars unless they're setting a story in a specific period.

I'm handicapped by the fact that I haven't seen Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. I don't know what happens in that story AND DO NOT TELL ME. Once I've seen the movie I'll have a better grasp of what happens to Kyon et al.

* * *

Yeah, that was a pretty sad exposition of umitigated nerdery. Sorry about that.

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