Friday, July 02, 2004

Cassini blog.

Odds and ends for today, ahead of the holiday. No blogging till after the Fourth. Actually, after the Fifth.

Vive Cassini-Huygens! A marvel of the age, only partly appreciated. See that white disk in the sky, not quite as bright the other white disks or the red one? It comes and goes across the fixed stars, and is named for obscure reasons for an ancient god that would be otherwise forgotten. I am part of a civilization that can hoist a machine of a few thousand pounds all the way up to that disk. Across the harsh void, years in transit, so that the machine can take pictures of Saturn’s beauty and make millions of precise observations, even so that a part of the craft can land on mysterious Titan. Genuine achievements, and not just of the technical sort, but also of imagination.

Speaking of machines, not long ago I saw a Chicago cop riding a Segway Human Transporter in downtown Chicago -- the device that looks like a reel lawn mower, only large enough to ride standing up. They’re fairly rare on the sidewalks, and I’d never seen a cop on one. Was it his, or does the department own it? At $4,000 or more a pop, I wonder if the police department really needs them. Truth is, I’ve never given Segways a lot of thought. It might be a good way to get around broad, open spaces, but on the crowded sidewalks of a CBD, I can’t see the advantage over walking. Put too many of them on the sidewalks, and it would be hell for regular foot traffic. Maybe it’s just as well that they’re expensive.

Speaking of walking, the other day I was passing through a slice of unincorporated Cook County on the way home from my daily train ride, as I often do. The houses there are on large lots, and thus set back from the street further than in my neighborhood. But from an open second-story window I could hear singing, very clearly. It was a boy’s voice, maybe 8 or 10, singing the refrain from “I Shot the Sheriff.” He sang it four or five times as I passed within earshot. Perhaps he dreams of the day when he, too, can commit a capital offense.


Post a Comment

<< Home