Friday, August 20, 2010

One Fifth of Pakistan is Under Water

The worst flooding in many years has submerged one fifth of Pakistan and caused 1,600 deaths. Twenty million people have been directly affected — left homeless, hungry and menaced by the disease that always comes with a deluge, cholera.

Here's a before-and-after satellite image, showing the Indus River and basin.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And the Sky Darkened as it Passed Over

In China, officials revealed a new bus design that will take up no extra road space... (see above).
To address the country’s problems with traffic and air quality, Shenzhen Huashi Future Parking Equipment has developed a decidedly odd-looking, extra-wide and extra-tall vehicle that can carry up to 1,200 passengers.
It runs on rails that follow existing roads (negotiating an off-ramp must require regular vehicles to stop so it can pass over?) and it would be potentially solar-powered...

It brings to mind the illustrations of Bruce McCall for National Lampoon magazine in the 1970s, such as the airplane so vast that there was a white linen dining room on the wings (below)...
I first came across McCall's art way back in my childhood when I found a copy of Zany Afternoons in the Dungannistan local library. My eyes feasted on his bizarre, retro images, not bothering to notice that McCall is Canadian, not American, even though the images spoke to me of a stupendously vast-scaled world that could only be "American." (How soon succeeding eyes begin / To look, not read).

In searching for an image of Zany Afternoons for this post, I just noticed two things: first, this style of drawing or illustrating actually has a name or genre. According to the New York Times, it is called 'steam punk,' the way in which, say, a computer is drawn to look Victorian (think of the world of the movie Wild Wild West).

Secondly, McCall's inspiration clearly has its roots in a sincerely-wrought worldview from, I guess, 1950s America. Contemplate the thrilling insanity of this Atoms-for-Peace monster, below.
Yes, as if the Hindenburg had not proved the perils of traveling on an airship held aloft by millions of cubic meters of hydrogen, someone thought that a great idea would be an atomic-powered airship with "retractable pontoons allowing it to land in the harbors of countries it terrified visited".

Once upon a time, the future sure was looking swanky!

Monday, August 16, 2010