Saturday, 4 December 2010

Trains, Planes and Hover Cars

“Cor blimely, me backs done in!” I loudly exclaimed at 7 in the morning as my clumsiness laid spread eagle across the ice outside my apartment.

“Yes! A genuine excuse to abandon the monotony of work for more creative, self gratifying ventures. Lets go write an essay for our blog and draw pictures and drink tea and play video games!” the right hemisphere of my brain reasoned with complete disregard for my wavering consciousness.

“If by ‘creative ventures’ you mean sitting around nursing a sore arse and picking our nose all day then yes, that was probably going to happen today regardless but for the moment let us put aside our semantic differences, take one step at a time and get this moronic sack of flabby unbalance back on his feet and talking proper before the neighbours think he’s died of stupidity.” my left hemisphere rebutted.

“Hugrub blub Cthulhu fatgn” came my slow response.

A warm bath and a thick slathering of Deep Heat later and I sat down at my desk to make the most of my time between twitching painfully and rejigging my butt-pillow. Now that you’re up to speed with my life, we can get on with discussing something that’s bothered me for most of my childhood. 

What kind of crazy ways will we be travelling when the future happens? 

Granted the future of my childhood is nothing like the real one turned out to be. In Space 1999, a butt-load of nuclear waste explodes on the dark side of the moon, magically firing it away from the earth and into the unknown along with the 311 occupants of Moonbase Alpha, instead of pancaking it face first into the Americas. In reality we haven’t stepped foot on the Moon since 1972 and the only thing 1999 brought us was the angsty teen drama of American Pie and Myspace. The outcome of which was equally as devastating.

Taking into consideration that its soon to be 2011, and the moon is mockingly in its original orbit, what chance does my hope of going to work in anit-grav, self piloting sexpod have of coming to fruition before my death? Barring some major scientific breakthrough, the answer would be very little.

But that’s not going to stop me from listing the ways that Sci-fi says we could travel, and discussing the pros and cons of each in a mildly amusing write up.

The Flying Car

Notable Appearances:  Fifth Element, Blade Runner, Back To The Future, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets.

This would be the obvious starting point of the discussion as it’s the closest to the current popular method, combining the fun of driving with the safety and complexity of air travel! But it’s also the worst example of future transport, all we’ve done is remove the wheels and added a fifth and sixth direction to travel in. 

While you may be thinking “That is clearly the quintessential example of future transport! And surely the logical next step in personal travel.”, I would have disagree. See driving is dangerous enough as it is. The general populous can barely be trusted to get behind the wheel sober and coherent, never mind asking them to keep it between the brightly colour lines on one side of the road and below a speed that isn’t ridiculous but is still bloody fast. Yes there are less potential hazards in the air, but there is still a large number of other drivers, and in the case of inner city travel, fucking big buildings full of people.

Take an average mid speed car crash in a modern city. Two cars impact, knocking each other only a few feet from their intended course, making a lot of noise and littering the road with a few pieces of carbon fibre body work. The road is closed momentarily as the cars, engines buggered, are dragged clear by tow trucks and the ground is swept clean, allowing normal traffic to resume and freeing each driver to begin claiming whiplash payments from their insurance companies.

Now put this 40 feet in the air. Imagine the screams of the single mum and her two children she was on the way to drop of at Space Academy, as they spiral towards the ground, smashing through multiple layers of traffic causing more screaming single mothers and babies to do the same. Before all come clattering down on the heads of the bicycling eco-fags below, turning the slow Monday morning coffee run to Starbucks into a human-jam-latte tsunami. 

Then take a moment to consider that our other driver, the greasy haired, pimply faced twenty something Tech Support guy who seemed to be a bit leering at first, but then turned out to be a real sweetheart who helps you with your spreadsheets, spun off into the 23rd floor of the multi-million Euro Santander building. Tearing through the day-care centre, splattering the walls with apple paste, stem cells and poo.

Given the outcome of the latter I’m rather inclined to abandon all hope of ever seeing a flying car, and will happily replace the experience with a 30 minute ride in a helicopter on an adventure weekend in Wales.

The Tube Transport System

Notable appearances: Futurama, The Jetsons. 

If people cant be trusted to fly in a straight line without killing all of the young in the vicinity, then perhaps the ability to control where you’re heading should be removed entirely. And replaced with crazy suction tubes!

If the number one complaint about transport now is the same as our number one complaint of anything, that we have to actually interact with something and take responsibility for our actions, then this method would certainly be top trumps. Just step into a giant tube protruding from the ground, state your destination and prepare to be sucked off… to your stated destination. It sounds brilliant, no hassle with keys or moving your limbs, no need to know how to get to where you want to be. 

There are two unexpected bonuses of this type of transport. You can finally fulfil that need simulate unaided flight! Just stick one arm out in front of the other, cock one knee and whistle the theme from Superman, imagining you’re on your way to meet Lois Lane for some freaky human/alien interracial sex. You could also legally catch a few zee’s whilst travelling to work, with no need to worry about sleepily swerving through a conveniently placed fruit cart, knocking over a neat stack of empty boxes or crashing through plate glass being held by two moustachioed immigrant workers. Just time yourself from the nearest home tube to the office and repeat the next day with your alarm set.

The troubles with tube travel may not be on the same level as infanticide but it is certainly enough to rule this method out of our future. If the London Underground has taught us anything about travelling down tubes packed tightly with strangers it is this. No one can be trusted not to drop a dirty bomb that will have us heaving up our lungs like we were front line troops at the second battle of Ypres (Google it). I’m not literally referring to acts of terrorism here, the dirty bombs and poisonous gases I am alluding to are of the arse variety. The type likely to be used by adolescent high schoolers as cutting-edge humour or left by seedy looking social pariahs because they are blissfully unaware that other people find them and their unwashed stink, utterly offensive. 

There would be nothing bigger of a boner-kill than darting along the metropolitan skyline at 60 miles per hour, brushing your teeth and reading the Financial Times, inhaling heavily expecting the refreshing scent of three stripe cleanliness but instead, getting a nostril full of powered turd. Some lanky barista from Costa Coffee four people up, has beefed out last nights pizza and chips, the knock on effect hitting a worst case scenario when a constitutionally weak filling clerk looses her cream-cheese bagel breakfast and starts a conga line 10 dry-cleaners wide.

The final issue would be one of aesthetic reason. Our view of the world of tomorrow is one filled with clean lines, reflective glass buildings and simplicity. The sheer volume of tubing required to run a city’s transport needs would make a sexually starved gerbil cream its pants (assuming future gerbils will evolve an understanding of fashion). 

I don’t know about you but the future I dream of isn’t one filled with tubes of vomit and gerbil spunk. Its full of scantly clad prostitute robots, neon lights and oppression.

The Jet Pack

Notable Appearances: The Rocketeer, Thunderball, Kick-Ass, Lost In Space, Minority Report.

The jet pack has been unfairly used as the poster child for the futures short-comings. The phrase “Where’s my jet pack” is used by literally dozens as a term of failure and unfulfilled promise. Its use in such a way is unfair because, unlike every other super convenient transport Sci-fi has touted as ‘of tomorrow’ the jet pack is, believe it or not, actually here!

And it works!

It’s just shit.

If this news is of genuine surprise to you then I would be equally surprised at your surprisal, leaving a third person to find it all very surprising. See the jet pack has been around for years, crack out your copy of Thunderball and watch it in all of its disappointingly shoddy spectacle.

You see a jet pack as we know it doesn’t use the type of jets you’d find on a fighter plane. It uses boring old science to combine hydrogen peroxide with a reactant like silver, producing superheated steam and oxygen in less than 1/10th of a millisecond, increasing its volume 5000 times. The ‘reaction mass’ is funnelled out of the jets either side of the harness providing the necessary thrust for lift. Fucking yawn. Whilst this does work and is technically a jet pack, it is also lame, slow and nothing like the rocket pack we expected. But then again, if we had all fantasised about screeching through the air, pulling barrel rolls and dropping high speed deuces on pre-school playgrounds in a ROCKET PACK, then perhaps the scientists would have built us one of those instead.

Assuming the specky gits had done what we intended but didn’t say, would rocket packs be all that great? Yes we could soar gracefully through the sky like a jet plane, doing high speed risky stunts like a jet plane and bomb the crap out of small economically unstable regions we wish to forcefully take over without risking harm to ourselves, like a jet plane. You get where I’m going with this, but if you’re a thicky and don’t I’ll spell it out clearly. We already have jet planes. Why risk searing you’re feet off as they dangle, whimsically behind you like the blood red ribbons they’re soon to be? 

In a fighter jet, when the engine suffers a catastrophic failure and bursts into flames, the pilot has a few seconds were he can reach between his legs (steady on!) and pull and ejection cord, firing him to safety and allowing him to float contemplatively into the side of a mountain. If you’re strapped to the engine, you have a few seconds to think how much of a berk you are before popping into a cloud of human confetti.

Whether you would choose rocket packs over jet packs the outcome is the same. You’ve got a flying bomb strapped to your chest and you’re one religious belief system short of being a terrorist. 


Notable Appearances: Star Trek, Blake 7, The Fly,  The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, The Prestige, Harry Potter movies.

Teleportation is simultaneously the coolest, deadliest and scientificiest method of transport you can get. Granted each method I’ve written about uses science to some rather cool effect (usually with an atrociously gory outcome), but blowing hot air through a series of tubes compared to tearing apart every atom of your being and then replacing each atom in the correct order at another location in a matter of seconds, is like a Japanese dancing robot compared to Michael Jackson. Yeah one is cool but the other is so bloody fantastic it can get away child-rape. 

I’m genuinely struggling to find an issue with teleportation here, not that there isn’t a glaringly obvious one, but that it sits snugly atop the fence between whether to be a fatal issue or a minor inconvenience. The method of atomising a human being is obviously a precarious one, that if suffering a major power cut mid way through due to the unfortunately timed power cord trip and slip by your unhappy ex-girlfriend/sister-of-your-current-girlfriend, could leave you the equivalent of a cosmic fart. Lingering about the ether, leaving everyone unsure on how exactly to breathe, for fear of filling their lungs with your intestinal workings.

But surely something with the understanding and ability to deconstruct you on a atomic level, and then rebuild you, could do so without the original source elements. Hell if we have built a machine that housed the human molecular equivalent of an Ikea instruction manual, then I wouldn’t be surprised if each machine gave every man, woman and child a massive penis too, just for using it.

The only other issue I can see with teleportation is with regards to putting everything back in the right place. But considering how a minor  case of death is fixed with this technology, appearing in the reception of your office building with a nutsack hanging from your forehead would be an embarrassing 5 minute fix and a great ‘hey guys, you’ll never believe who just tea-bagged himself in front of the boss’ kind of story. 

All in all, teleportation has my vote. Apart from the far greater use of its technology, I’m somewhat favoured to it because it is the least likely to spread the paste of my former intimates across the faces of astonished strangers as I fly my Rocketcycle into a tube transport, attempting to hit critical velocity and go back… to the future! but not making it.

So there we have it. A brief weighing of my favourite ways the future has claimed we can get from A to B. Obviously there are many other transports offered up by science fiction in the world that will never come, but I’ve left them out of this essay for two reason. One; I find that most are simply variations on these core few, and to cover each would be to repeat oneself and there is only so many cock jokes a man can make without looking like a fan of musical theatre. Two; I want to invite any bloggers reading this to respond with a post on the same matter. Not necessarily a discussion of the pros and cons of types of travel as I have written, but some individualistic opinion on the travel of the future. Hell even the futures shortcomings, there is a lot more than just travel that should have been corporeal by now. Your choice, I am just quite fond of a similarity of trends that float around the blogging community and would like to see others opinions on matters I’ve considered too deeply to ever be considered cool again.

If procrastination is more your thing, then don’t be afraid to leave a comment below rather than the lengthy alternative.

Stay Safe, 

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A Short Beginning

“Because sometimes 140 characters just won’t do. Before I’ve even begun to say something of any intellectual worth I’ve spent two thirds of my character limit on necessary profanities, leaving me one third for proper grammar and correct spelling.” - On the failings of micro-blogging.

Whilst Twitter is unquestionably the worlds leading method of forcing your opinion in the face of the Internet, it falls short (quite literally) on exactly how much of your opinion you are allowed to express in any one given instance. If your average thought falls between “OMG!!! I heart Kanye West so much!” and “Got up a 1pm today, telling twitter this because I’m a jobless gob-shite with nothing in life to validate my existence #SaltoftheEarth” then Twitter will likely suffice your needs. For those of us however, who wish to impart a deeper level of understanding to our brain farts, to incite discussion or careful analytical reflection on matters we consider important, have to look further afield.

No such place actually exists, search as we might. The internet is chock full of egotistical, foul-mouthed cock bags who will tell you exactly where to shove your innermost thoughts before pointing you in the direction of someone who will pay a modest price to film such an act. Wishing to look our parents in the eyes again, we inevitably resolve to bestow our wisdom unto a tiny, dimly lit area or the internet called the Blogosphere. Where other like-minded, self indulgent, ill-informed individuals like ourselves can find a sense of community and shared ignorance of the fact that the entire rest of the internet hates our fucking guts.

This, is undoubtedly the reason why both you and I are here. So without any preconceived notions, let us get on with reading and sharing our thoughts and experiences, so that we may better ourselves and our opinions, whilst quietly nursing our murderous contempt for each other, as we spiral toward cynicism and adulthood.