MaximusNovember 30, 2009
Where’s my Jetpack?
Seeing as today is the day that the WCC wants to get your feedback on what Wellington will look like in 2040, it got me thinking. Thirty years into the future – how much will Wellington have changed? Will we have had the big one yet? (as I presume you know, we’re supposedly well overdue for a 8.0). Will the sea levels have risen, flooding Lambton Quay? Will the world have run out of oil, and will the planet have heated up or cooled down? Thirty years ago, they were sure that by now we’d all be flying around by jetpacks, if the world hadn’t been blasted into interstellar orbit.
Thirty years is not that far away – look back thirty years and where were we then?
Disco still roamed wild in the streets, Erebus leapt up and crashed into the path of an Air NZ DC10, and The Dudes sang “Be Mine Tonight”. The Beehive was opened: and Rob Muldoon was in the middle of his reign of terror as Prime Minister. Thirty years ago they were all certain that the world was doomed and that the reason would be atomic global war, causing a nuclear winter. Well, isn’t that ironic: now we’re looking at endless summer.
So – reasons to be cheerful, part 3. Disco has long gone away, Air NZ no longer flies the DC10, The Dudes songs still live on, although Rob Muldoon doesn’t, and the Beehive has just been voted one of the world’s 10 most ugliest buildings. A bit harsh, I reckon.
But things are still ironic. If you’re looking for Iconic, you’ve come to the wrong place. We discussed Iconic some time ago, click here to be transported back. Iconic is different from Ironic, even if it is only one little letter. Ironic can be iconic of course, and even iconic can sometimes be ironic. Temples are mostly Ionic, although sometimes iconic, and occasionally ironic. An ironic ionic temple would be iconic if I could only find a picture of it. This one is just Ionic.
But I’m still miffed that I haven’t got a jetpack yet.
Apparently jet packs have been around since the 40s (sssshhh, don’t mention the war, but the Nazis invented a working giant jumping jetpack called the himmelsturner), but we’ve been hankering after them since the 30s, when they started appearing in comics. But what is ironic is that they’re being made in New Zealand (Martin Aviation is one of the world’s leaders), although their jetpack looks more like 2 lampshades stuck to a hatstand:
Personally I always thought that jetpacks should be cool, discreet, and highly manouvreable, not something that needs to be looks like you’re here to shift the fridge. This guy (Jeff de Boer) knows the biz, even if he’s only steampunking – I want one of these:
If we all had jetpacks of course the result would be chaos, a melee of paths crossing and criss-crossing, although the Aotea Quay off-ramp would no longer be such a big deal. There is a commercial model unveiled (the JetLev) that stays tethered to the water (operating on compressed water, so it needs to suck it up so as to spit it out – don’t we all know the perils of that..) but that really sounds like it would only be useful for commuters from Petone and Eastbourne.
And of course that’s the real issue with modern transport, of any kind. If you have an exclusive mode of getting around, then you’re cool, and your machine is cool, and people will part and let you through. But when everyone has got one, then the exclusivity has gone and so has the fun. Beijing worked well when everyone had a bicycle, but now that everyone wants a car, the city is in gridlock. London worked ok when everyone drove British Leyland Mini Minors, but now that people want stretch Hummer Limos and bendy buses (much the same thing really) the streets get clogged. Wellington works fine if we all take the bus, but on Sundays, when all the fat old geezers take their motors out for a spin, the arteries of the city clog up and the heart stops pumping. We need to keep to that high speed, multi-occupancy commuter mode of transport. So, given that my order for a jet pack is still some time and money away, my request to the City Council is: can we have a Light Rail system please?