Saturday, July 05, 2008

Transitions of Progress

Rotating towers in Dubai

I was in the commons (the park) downtown the other night with my homegirl just talking. Clearly, this was her idea. I don't find chillin' in a park downtown at night to be the wisest nor safest place to chat but i figured she'd get uncomfortable soon and we'd be on our way. So as the random winos and crazies who take residence in the vicinity made cameos in our causerie, she and I observed the subtleties of the subdued nightlife. I was sharing a theory on relationships when the sight of two dudes on Segways made me trail off mid-sentence. Why? 'Cause i'd simply never seen Segways in real life, simple as that. They looked convenient and fun, in that way that life sometimes imitates art (or at least the art of commercials). I thought "Hmph, cool, but is that really necessary?"

The next morning I noticed this article on BBC News about an 80-story building with rotating apartments set to be built in Dubai:
The Dynamic Tower design is made up of 80 pre-fabricated apartments which will spin independently of one another.

"It's the first building that rotates, moves, and changes shape," said architect David Fisher, who is Italian, at a news conference in New York.

"This building never looks the same, not once in a lifetime," he added.

The 420-metre (1,378-foot) building's apartments would spin a full 360 degrees, at voice command, around a central column by means of 79 giant power-generating wind turbines located between each floor. (BBC News)

Though my first thought was "wow". The consequent thought was "why?" As in, 'that seems a bit superfluous?'. Surely not everyone in Dubai is that ballin' that some of the approximately $700 million dollars it will cost to construct this behemoth over the next two years couldn't be used somewhere else. I mean i know every time I hear... well... anything about Dubai there is some sort of opulence involved, but we know good-and-well no nation is that balling. I mean somebody has to build this thing. And you know they aren't driving off in a Maybach or something (ask Human Rights Watch).

Then I thought, 'Fine... if you have the time and materials like that, do your thing'. I can understand someone wanting to accomplish such an ambitious architectural feat just for the sake of progress. Then you read about the building envisioned to include enough wind turbines on it not only to power the building but actually feed excess back into the grid. Word? I guess if you are going to ball out on a building of nearly complete decadence, you might as well make it as unobtrusive as possible, you know, pretty enough to draw tourists (and help the local economy), green enough to help folks excuse whatever environmental destruction you caused in construction.

Rotating building amongst DubaiAlso, it's 2008. We should have rotating skyscrapers by now. Yes, in my lifetime alone we've seen the near-pandemic spread of the personal computer, the internet, digital cameras, cellphones and all the "universe-in-one" devices that spawned from it, not to mention half the stuff we don't know "they" can do yet. Cool, good for you. But there's still a lot of technology we don't have yet. I mean folks are barely getting up on solar power - sun's been around. We've been doing the best we can with the smaller/faster/better improvements, but the expectations of the imagination set the bar high as f*ck for this first century of the new millennium. How many movies, books, tv shows set all these advancements by like 2021? Shoot, look at the Jetsons. We don't have biped robots doing our housework for us. Moving sidewalks are really isolated to the airport. And i've heard no plans to whip out flying cars (especially not in this economy). I mean not everything is feasible but still...

Alright, so maybe we don't need the moving sidewalks, I mean Americans could shed a few pounds. And yes, maybe since I-Robot I'm less comfortable with a bot doing my housework (though to be fair to robots, people still go crazy too). Also I believe a very impractical flying car does exist, but it saps so much power that they just tether it by cable to the power source for now. Besides the first dude to have a flying car is going to have to go through all kinds of bullsh*t. Probably have to have a pilot's license. Then meander the bureaucracies of actually getting that joint declared street legal, then air legal. Also, a body has to decide what fly zones ole buddy could fly in or roads he could "drive" ... over. And what about the first flying-car-jacking? Surely it could be done. However, in terms of convenience/ability and just like this 'dynamic tower' or the rich people that buy trips into space, I'm sure the rest of us would say "Is it really that crucial?" Then they streamline it, make it accessible to everyone, and we all act like we were supposed to have it 'cause "it's the future!" (Simple example: Blu-ray.) I guess that their shift in "necessity" is just the transition of progress.

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