Friday, August 11, 2006

At LAX - No fluids, please

I'm at LAX to pick up my parents and my brother. My family's coming into town from Connecticut for a visit. I wonder if they were allowed to carry anything on board with them, or if they spent the flight reading the Official Delta magazine and the inflight safety guide.

We can have funny blog titles about it now, but if those English guys had actually succeeded in blowing up 10 planes (if this was indeed the plot) we would be living in another, more miserable stage of the world right now. As it is, it seems it's just a matter of time until someone manages to blow up 10 planes simultaneously, or something along that scale of unimaginability and horror.

Perhaps a certain stage of history is over: why should we continue to fly and drive around the world? On NPR's "Marketplace" this morning, they were reporting about how airlines are terrified that if the ban on electronics on flights stays in place, business travel will be decimated: no business travelers will be willing to spend 10 or 12 hours travelling without being able to work on a laptop. Business travelers will instead choose to teleconference, meet virtually, etc. If business travel goes, so does the airline industry, as that is the industry's single most lucrative segment.

It makes sense that frequent flying will soon be a thing of the past, with terror and oil costs. Perhaps the range of our physical existence will shrink, as we fly and drive less frequently, and for shorter distances. Perhaps we will stay put more often.

Would this be bad? Would it be a bit more boring? Wouldn't it be nice not to feel like you had to move all the time? Perhaps neighborhoods and communities would benefit?

I don't know, but a trend toward localization seems inevitable. Just as it appeared that the whole world was running together, the engines of all that movement are cutting out.

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