Here’s some uplifting news: Since about the year 2000, lighthouses have been given away to states, local governments, nonprofits and educational institutions in return for a promise of upkeep. Those that can’t get a home in those ways have been auctioned off for an average price of about $150,000 each. That’s a decent condominium price.
It’s out of my reach financially and geographically. I’m not leaving the city to go live in an isolated coastal lighthouse, but it’s reassuring to know this is still going on. About 10 lighthouses are going to be given away or auctioned off this year, nationwide.
It reminds me of a deal years ago. The federal government sold missile silos, minus the missiles, to the lowest bidders. One guy snagged one for a dollar. I believe he made it into a subterranean house. I’m going to continue to believe that even if someone tells me it didn’t happen. I saw it on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, so it had to have happened.
Other news headlines this week are not so good. A headline starts out saying “Scientists detected 5,000 sea creatures nobody knew existed.” Isn’t that great? Who doesn’t want more sea creatures? Then you read the story, and you find out the research was done because companies were preparing to mine the Pacific Ocean floor at a remote mineral rich site.
This is the first I heard of this. I didn’t even know it was yet possible to mine the sea floor. The mining couldn’t be good for those newly discovered 5,000 species. It’s an environmental case of easy come, easy go.
Here’s one I’ve been expecting for a long time: Portland is getting ready to clear tents off sidewalks. Why? Because the city was hit by an ADA lawsuit from wheelchair users. Simple as that. Conflicting rights.
Here in Seattle, I kept expecting the city to make private businesses keep their plastic pigs out of the way of wheelchair users, but that never happened as far as I know. I checked the city’s own rules on sidewalk obstructions and found out that in general there had to be a six-foot lane to the curb. I guess no wheelchair users got together and sued about the obstructing pigs. Now maybe they’ll follow Portlandian wheelchair users’ lead and sue for room to tool down sidewalks. Maybe the city will be forced to allow campers to move back into green spaces outside downtown again, and we’ll have come full circle.
More likely, based on past experience, the tents would be thrown into dumpsters and the campers made to sleep on cardboard in doorways, while those in green spaces will still be routinely swept for purely ideological reasons having nothing to do with ADA lawsuits or anything else of the kind. Just out of meanness, really.
Here’s a story that kind of creeps me out. Elon Musk has a start-up company that is making brain implant devices to allow human-computer direct interfaces by way of Bluetooth. The product is called Neuralink, and it’s already been tested on animals. Now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given permission for human tests to proceed. Think of the freedom you’ll have when you can just think where you want the cursor to be and type on a keyboard with your brain.
My typing speed is already 11 words per minute, which is as fast as I can think of words to type for these columns, But maybe other people could benefit. People with faster thinking speeds, I’m imagining.
Just as that story was creeping me out and I was thinking up all sorts of dystopian sci-fi turns the technology could take, I read a story about how a guy who was paralyzed from the waist down for 10 years can now walk thanks to a chip implant facilitated by an AI system that sends signals below his spinal injury.
So, once again, Elon Musk, who is generally a narcissistic pain in the ass, is managing to get ahead of technology capable of doing great good in spite of himself. And he’s making me look like a paranoid nay-sayer. Thanks a lot, Elon. You’re a global treasure. Set to be an interplanetary treasure.
Next we’ll find out just living on Mars cures every kind of cancer.
Read more of the May 31-June 6, 2023 issue.