Toyota has rolled out the 2005 Tacoma, a new version of their compact pickup. So has Nissan, with the Frontier. Chevrolet has the Colorado, basically the next-generation S-10. Dodge has the redesigned Dakota. And Honda is bringing out their first truck, the Ridgeline. What’s missing from this list? Ford Motor Company, which for some reason is choosing to sit out the crew-cab compact market (The SportTrac notwithstanding – it’s not a pickup, it’s a Sport Utility Truck, neither fish nor fowl, but foul nonetheless). Except for Honda, which is just entering the fray, all the other companies have been through two redesign cycles since Ford brought out the current Ranger design in 1993. Don’t get me wrong – I love the Rangers. I’m on my second now. But there’s almost no chance I’ll buy a third, because when I replace my 2000 Supercab, I’ll be looking for a crewcab. And I won’t want to wait until 2008, or whenever it is the Ranger is due. It’s not that Ford doesn’t have a Crewcab Ranger – they sell one in Indonesia as well as other countries. But they won’t build it in the US. Ford may have a better idea, but I’m not sure they have a clue.
New (sub)Urbanism touches on a topic that is repeatedly ignored by American policymakers – the need to begin envisioning a time when oil is simply not as available and plentiful as it is currently. You can debate how much oil is recoverable, or how much we could pump from ANWR – but to blithely assume that we’ll just keep pumping and refining and consuming is foolish at best, and societally disastrous at worst. It is a finite resource, and we can either begin to plan and research for the post-petroleum era now, or be forced to devise a post-petroleum economy and society when the wells stop pumping.
There’s a Bruce Cockburn song that captures much of how I often feel:
“Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it’s pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage
I’ve proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip’s worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage
I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It’s as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you’ll wind up
Pacing the cage
Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can’t see what’s round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage
Pacing the cage”
Jack, at Random Fate, touches on what often seems to be a sense of futility. For me, it’s more a sense of frustration, that somehow there were just some fundamental things we’d gotten wrong. I’ve felt for most of my life that I was fighting with something that I couldn’t identify. Not a constant feeling, but a recurring one. But it never pays to ponder it too long, for that way lies madness. I was in a local bookstore recently, and found myself browsing some shelves near a couple of high-school students curled up on the floor, discussing life, the universe, and everything. They were talking to each other about what they would do during college, and afterwards. How they would find jobs that meant something, not just bring home a paycheck. How they would take a year off after graduation and just travel, experience the world, and find that place where they could make a difference. I could remember being that young, that idealistic, that naive. When you’re 18, your view of the horizon doesn’t extend far enough to see the ruts waiting beyond. But if we didn’t have that idealism, none of us would ever stick our heads up out of the ruts and do something besides pace back and forth. I hope those kids make it where they want to be. I hope I make it where I want to be. I hope I figure out where I want to be. Meantime, I’ll just keep pacing.
In the end, the problem was that the UltraSCSI card I was using wasn’t compatible with my E4500 server. Why I thought it would have been was a classic case of not asking exactly the right question. I had asked Sun sales support:
“Is this the right PCI I/O board for my server?” “Yes”
“Does this PCI I/O board support the X6541A card?” “Yes”
What I didn’t ask was: “Does the E4500 server support the X6541A card on the 501-4926 PCI I/O board?” Had I asked that, the answer would have been “No”.
Obviously, there is no transitive property for computer hardware.