Sci-Fi Enterprises

Every time I take a moment and tune in to what’s going on with Elon Musk, I inevitably start to wonder if he watched too much Star Trek as a kid. It’s like every month he is unveiling a new superscience company or project. This last week, his 2016 startup, The Boring Company icon-external-link-12x12, showcased its 1.14 mile subterranean road in Los Angeles that allows high-speed unidirectional travel for traditional-style cars equipped with special wheels.

The inspiration for these tunnels was apparently Musk’s ‘soul-crushing’ commute from Bel Air to his rocket company SpaceX in Hawthorne icon-external-link-12x12 .

The main idea here is that the addition of underground tunnels transforms the conventional flat, or two-dimensional, commuter grid into a multi-layer (three dimensional) system. It’s sort of like adding a basement or a second story to your house instead of building around the existing structure: new rooms can now exist above and below whereas before they had to exist on the same plane (which produces something called sprawl icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 , a term the Los Angeles population knows all too well). The more transportation layers that exist, the more cars that will be diverted from surface roads. This results in less traffic and the excision of gridlock… at least, in theory.

The failure here is that these tunnels will do nothing to address the real problem: way too many people live in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Creating more lanes of transportation may somewhat alleviate the utterly absurd traffic congestion that currently exists, but the effect would be only temporary. In reality, increasing transportation infrastructure will only stimulate increases in population density, and commuters will find themselves back at square one.

If Musk really wanted to make a meaningful difference in Los Angeles, he would solve their water problem. Unfortunately, there weren’t any Star Trek episodes where Captain Picard and his trusty crew beemed down to the surface of a planet and helped the local population build efficient and affordable desalinization plants. Thus, to Musk, this is not a very sexy idea. (But Captain Kirk recently came up with his own solution icon-external-link-12x12 !)

So until The Boring Company is able to solve the world’s traffic problems, Los Angeles residents are encouraged to keep a gregarious Sasquatch icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 in their cars at all times:

Harry and the Hendersons freeway scene where a bigfoot imitates a siren and clears traffic. [Formatted]

Oh yeah, and for what it’s worth, the real future of transportation is cars that drive on rails (eventually powered), and also have the ability to detach and drive on plain old paved residential streets. The self-driving car as we know it now—that is, a computer-controlled vehicle that isn’t attached to a track—is one of the dumbest fucking ideas ever and has the potential to become the grandest misdirection of financial and engineering resources in the 21st century.

The Truth Is Out There… Maybe!

I rarely use Craigslist, particularly the version of it that is focused on this wacky little city of Redding that I live in. There are a lot of weirdos in the world, and many of them gravitate towards community services and resources such as Craigslist. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to expect that if you spend time on the site then you’re going to have a higher frequency of encounters with the types of people you would never choose to have anything to do with in real life.

That said, every once in a while I will find a need to purchase something off Craigslist, despite my preference not to use the site. There are times when eBay “Buy It Now” prices are too unreasonable and the classified ads in the local newspaper are not exhaustive enough, and this is when I find myself saying “Well hello again, Craigslist!” with a sarcastic grin on my face. This happened two months ago when I decided to buy a vintage piece of music equipment called a Marshall JCM800 amplifier. I actually didn’t find the version of the amplifier that I wanted, but instead found and purchased two guitars—Ol’ Betsies 04 and 05 —from gentlemen in Hercules and Burney, respectively. Both experiences were quite pleasant, so I found myself wondering if maybe Craigslist isn’t as bad as it used to be.

My optimism was short-lived, however, as today I was reminded about one of the special types of “weird” that exists in Redding.

While looking for a place to post an ad for my baseball team, one of the first headlines I found was “Bigfoot Reports Wanted.” Aha! This is the Craigslist I remember so well! The entire ad read as follows:

If you have seen anything that you believe might be a Sasquatch or Bigfoot,or if you have heard strange noises or had a strange experience. I would love to hear your story. Please email to bigfoot-reports at hotmail dot com.

Will be kept confidential

Hey… now that you mention it, I have heard strange noises before! I have also had two or three totally fucking strange experiences in my life! How is it that I never considered Bigfoot was behind it all??!

Oh yeah… that’s because Bigfoot doesn’t exist! People who believe in Bigfoot are at least silly, and possibly crazy. If we can map our galaxy without leaving the solar system and order pizza from our cell phones while hiking trails in the wilderness, surely we would have found Bigfoot by now and put him in a zoo where he belongs.

(Somewhat of a tangent here, but they should put questions like “Do you believe in Bigfoot?” on voter registration forms alongside questions like “Who was the second President of the USA?” When a person answers the former “yes” after getting the latter wrong, he or she is automatically disqualified from participating in all elections for at least four years.)

Also, I love the faux-official email address I’m now imagining some other irrational and slightly irritated guy in Oregon posting his own Bigfoot Craigslist ad with the email address (because the email address was already taken by this asshole in California). Then there would of course be the even more irritated Washington counterpart having to settle with because the two better email addresses were taken already by the assholes in California and Washington, and so on, and so forth.

As an old pal from Texas used to remind me, Northern California is Bigfoot country, and wherever Sasquatch is expected to be, people with tinfoil hats can’t be too far away!