ISSUE 3

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​If you, say, had a bag of popcorn in your hands and you were hit by lightning, would the popcorn pop, or would you be disappointed and dead? 
  Not to mention most people can’t handle change. We can’t even get rid of the penny, the monetary equivalent of herpes. If you collect one hundred of the things, you can get a real paper dollar, which will get you half of a candy bar.[3] Have you ever had a hundred of anything in your pocket at once? You look like an idiot.
  Despite the fact that we could save around $39 million per year (and more from getting rid of the nickel), no one seems to be considering it. It’s not a partisan issue; it won’t hurt anyone by getting rid of it; we’re just a bit nostalgic. Oh, what would we do without the penny? Tell me the last time you’ve sorted through a bunch of filthy, diseased coins, half of which look like they’ve spent the last fourteen years in a whale’s ass, to pay the correct change for your mochaccino, and then you have permission to be nostalgic.
  And that’s for something no one cares about. Practical electric vehicles have been around since the 19th century,[4] and they’re still only 0.7 percent of the total cars we drive. The technology and the will to change simply isn’t there, much as it is with hover cars or any mass transit idea. And this is not to mention the affect of government on something like transportation. Make something vastly superior and efficient, screw it up with politics, and half of the population doesn’t want to change their light bulb.  
  Hover cars are pretty cool—don’t knock that. They’re not as cool as being on an airplane thirty-nine thousand feet in the air, of course. Airplanes can get you from Australia to the middle of Iowa in a day, maybe two if you get stuck in LAX customs and miss your flight. Why anyone would go to Des Moines is still up for question, but it’s impressive in a way that learning to speak is. There are astronomical possibilities opened up simply for the fact that humans use their tongue in a new way, just like learning how to get up in the air and stay there changed everything.  
  Whereas, a hover car is impressive in the way that running a marathon in two and half hours is. No one cares particularly much that you’ve done something really fast you didn’t have to do in the first place. It’s the same for hover cars. Yeah it’s cool, but we’ll get to the same places; we’ll just do it ten feet higher above the ground. 
  It’s hard to get around an idea like that—an idea that has a lot of potential problems and isn’t really going to do much except get us faster to places we didn’t want to get to in the first place, where we will do things that don’t matter much anyways. It seems like we’re thinking about the wrong side of the problem here. We could, you know, just work less and go sledding more.









[3] Unfortunately this is not true of herpes.
[4] Okay they kind of sucked. But still.
   
  Driving standards in the snow are completely relative. Speed limits might as well not exist, and traffic regulations are so indecipherable it’s like reading Joyce’s Ulysses backwards.[1] It’s nice in a way because you can slide through a red light (ice), to hell with lane lines (can’t seem ‘em), and sled behind a car on Baseline (because... why not?) but not so nice because, you know, death.
  People say they know how to drive in the snow. No one knows how to drive in the snow. This is basically why people die. Should you go thirty miles per hour, or can you push fifty? The road seems fine, although it’s really cold out. Your knee hurts. Hey, that moron in the truck just sprayed a bunch of slush on the windshield. That tree looks really pretty. That guy is walking his dog. He looks happy. You’re not happy. All your friends are gone. Work sucks. This commute sucks. You’re feeling a bit suicidal. What was the question?
  Driving manuals never talk about the influence of peer pressure on driving, which matters a lot in the snow. How fast you drive depends on whether Alice from marketing is taking it easy or pushing the limits. She could be texting or drinking a triple shot latte or hallucinating or having relationship problems with Greg from accounting.
  Alice shouldn’t be on the road; she needs therapy. But if she’s on your bumper like an addict on ice, you’re going to push it a bit more, and then you’re in a ditch, wondering why too much espresso and the fact that Greg just doesn’t listen anymore got you there.
  This is one reason why a hover car would be difficult. If you think navigating a car in the snow with other drivers is hard, try going two hundred miles per hour fifteen feet above the ground in a blizzard in the Helix Quatro, the newest Hyundai hover car.[2]
  Road-driving hazards would be replaced by hover-driving hazards. Instead of ice, we’d have fifty mile-per-hour gusts of wind without any friction holding the vehicle in place. Instead of the passing squirrel or moose to avoid, we would have sparrows, eagles, and occasionally a flock of fifty geese. Screw geese.
  Stop lights and traffic wouldn’t be an issue because we could all drive on different levels, but getting people to go in the same direction would be. Now we have rocks and prairie dogs and houses and police officers to discourage us from driving the quickest route. Most people would drive whatever direction they pleased, and driving drunk would be more of an issue when someone can drive into the top of a house.
  It’s possible we could strap doggy shock collars on every car that would give the whole vehicle a little shock whenever drivers decide they can’t be bothered. With twenty thousand volts and a frowny face on your speedometer, you can be bothered. That probably wouldn’t work. Let’s hope our engineers have more sophisticated ideas than that.
  But that’s not even the start. How would parking work? How high would the highways be? Would we rename “highways” as “hoverways”? Would we be struck by lightning more? Do regular cars get struck by lightning? 

[1] Ulysses is a mostly stream of consciousness novel, which means Joyce tried to capture everything that goes on in your head and put it in a book. Besides being a Modernist masterpiece, it is completely unintelligible. It’s like you took someone on mushrooms, spun them around fifteen times, handed them a crayon, and asked them to write a book about their feelings.
[2] Hyundai doesn’t actually have a hover car. Nor is their non-existent hover car called the Helix Quatro.