This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Worst Movie Sequel ever?

Posted by: James Lileks under Gripes, Outstate, Technology Updated: January 28, 2013 - 12:38 PM

My wife blew a tire on the way to work, so I had to go swap cars. She got the one that worked, and I stayed with the wounded vehicle, waiting for AAA. You learn something every day: you can’t just say “someone else will be with the car” and leave it at that; someone else might come along, knock you out, put you in the trunk, and claim to be the owner of the car. Of course, the body would be discovered once the tow-truck driver went for the spare, but nevermind. So even though I had the same AAA number, we had to wait for the dispatcher to say “go ahead.” And then there was the problem of different computer systems: the Mpls AAA is not fully integrated into the Minnesota-Iowa AAA, for reasons you can only imagine go back decades, have no bearing on modern reality, and exist only to confound the home office, but hey, that’s the way it is. Then I got to drive home with a Loser Wheel on the front right side, that dinky little thing that somehow feels shameful. All in all a grand morning and a fine start to the day. Keeping that bad mood in mind, then, some links.

 

YOU MUST BE WEANED This again.

There’s plenty to hate about driving—traffic jams, car accidents, speeding tickets—not to mention the endless headache of finding a spot to park. So what if you discovered an invention that could wean us from our vehicles, combating suburban sprawl and making city streets less dangerous, congested, and polluted? Well, that device has been around for nearly 80 years: It’s called the parking meter.

The article goes on to describe how the meter, and the commodification of space gave different valuations to parking spaces, which made us dependent on automobiles, which ruined everything. I mean, everything. It makes you wonder how car culture became so ingrained in our society - obviously it’s bad and horrible and everyone should rear back in disgust at the very thought of owning a machine that takes you where you want to go on your own schedule, yet it was adapted with a speed that almost suggests the nation was drugged en masse and persuaded with hypnotism. The article also praises the type of meters Minneapolis has - you know, the ones where you walk half a block, remember you forgot the number of the pole, go back, take a picture with your phone, return to the screen and type in the right number. You use your card so there’s no quarter in the snow.

First comment:

parking meters are illegal in public places in the state of North Dakota.

 

The article also notes that paid parking downtown gave the suburban shopping centers an advantage, which hurt urban cores and helped fuel the rise of the mall. (The latter being a particularly egregious sin, of course; no one wanted to shop there, but somehow they became popular.) Cities could have responded by taking out the meters, but of course no one got promoted for eliminating a revenue source. The other possibility was Free Parking, which some cities used as an incentive for downtown shopping. You’d get your ticket validated by the merchant, or get stamps you’d paste on the ticket. It was even a board game, to show you how popular it was.

 

 

TECH There’s never any penalty for writing nonsense on tech sites. Of course there shouldn’t be - you can’t revoke someone’s blogging rights just because they make Bold Sweeping Predictions, but you should note the bylines and keep grains of salt handy for the future. Here’s today’s “Sure, right, that’ll happen” prediction: Facebook will kill the phone. Or at least “the phone as we know it.”

The Messenger App will do this, because you will be able to dial people over Wifi or a data connection by tapping a button. I’m sure that’s different from how phones work now, with contact lists and the like; it’s Facebook! and so everyone will have it or want it. This means the end of phones. The only question is what we do with the holes in the wall where the land line comes through. Once they’re all ripped out, and the lines taken off the poles, the entire CenturyLink repair infrastructure dismantled and sold, we’ll still have those holes. There’s money to be made on selling decorative plates to cover the holes - maybe a touchscreen that’s connected to the internet and displays Facebook. Someone get that up on Kickstarter now.

 

WHAT, NO TITANIC 2? Critics discuss the worst sequels ever. “Batman and Robin”: agreed. “Cars 2”: well, not that bad, but at least the critic understands what made the first one so good. “Spider-Man 3” - oh my yes. More here.

Not kidding about “Titanic 2,” by the way. A movie about the ships in the Titanic’s class would have been good, but no: this is about a replica of the Titanic on the 100the anniversary of the cruise. Of course disaster follows. I’ve seen it. Your first clue it’s really bad:

Director: Shane Van Dyke Writer: Shane Van Dyke Stars: Shane Van Dyke.

A man with a vision.

LONG, LONG READS “Do We Really Want to Live Without the Post Office?”

 

Me: No.

 

This Esquire article: No, plus 10, 101 more words. The overview: “The postal service is not a federal agency. It does not cost taxpayers a dollar. It loses money only because Congress mandates that it do so. What it is is a miracle of high technology and human touch. It's what binds us together as a country.” Well, that’s a bit overstated. It’s one of the things. Highways and telecommunication networks and culture and the Constitution come to mind. If it’s the only thing that binds us together, then we fall apart if mail delivery stops. Someone in Idaho goes out to check the mail, there’s not the usual sheaf of junk, and thinks “well, I no longer have any civic ties to Iowa, then. Darn. I will miss America.

Okay, off to get a new tire. Everyone loves to spend money on tires, right? So the day's looking up. 

 

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