July 22, 2005

Alaska Railroad

As promised, here's a picture of the great Alaskan trainTheTrain.jpg

And here's what it looks like from inside one of their Dome cars.

Posted by tgus at 10:00 AM

July 18, 2005

The Alaska Railroad

We went to a conference in Anchorage 10 days ago. While there, we rode the Alaska Railroad from Denali National Park back to Anchorage.

Rail fans get very enthused about the Alaska Railroad. It's a private corporation, a profitable one (it should be, given the fares), and so it's also often held up by privatizers as an example of what Amtrak might become.

That's not a fair analogy of course. The Alsaka Railroad is in a unique situation, in terms of intense tourist traffic, few roads, and what amounts to de facto subsidies by the tourist industry. Cars and highways have benefitted from massive government subsidies--rail shouldn't be expected to do without government support.

Anyway, we took one of the full-length dome cars in order to experience panoramic views--of course it was overcast and rainy, but still spectacular. Pictures at 11 (or so).

Posted by tgus at 4:17 PM

Shrink-wrap on Wheels

The Strib explains how to shrink-wrap a bus in blueberries and ipod dancers.

As the article mentions, those ads really do diminish riders' views outisde the train. From inside, the images are a bunch of annoying black dots that make me never want to buy an ipod or blueberries (I'll pick my berries up north, thanks very much). Come to think of it, annoying-black-dots-that-diminish-one's-perspective is an apt metaphor for advertising generally.

One of the ironies in the article:

Tom Black of 3M, which makes the shrink-wrap ads, thinks that "the bus and train wraps have become popular because they get ads out where people can see them from their cars. Said Black: 'People are spending so much more time in their cars.'"

"So much more time in their cars?" Not if they're riding the train--but then they're enveloped within a giant moving tube of vinyl film advertisement. Transit riders become marketing tools for the car-captive crowd, helping sell widgets (and blueberries) to drivers in their cars waiting at train crossings.

As Chaucer's Wife of Bath famously said, "Alle is for to selle."

Posted by tgus at 9:47 AM