Batman Begins isn't so much a Hollywood summer blockbuster as a Hate Crime against the Future.
The first act seemed innocent enough. We are thrust into the story of Bruce Wayne's tumble into the dark cave of fear and hate -- precipitated respectively by a traumatic childhood bat-attack and his guilt over his parents' murder by a mugger that resulted from his chiropteran fears. It begins, without so much as opening credits, in the midst of his Dantean trip into the underworld of crime, searching for the Ways of Wrongdoers and the means to stop them, and leads to his fiery rebirth from the Himalayan hideout of the League of Shadows as a Dark Avenger against Crime.
But all this Sturm und Drang is just a façade, cobbled together from well-tread comicbook plots and backstory outlines, for director Christopher Nolan's real agenda: anti-monorail agitprop.
The gleaming monorail system that runs through Gotham in Bruce Wayne's childhood flashbacks -- made stereotypically retro in design by the art director to suggest it belongs to a future passed -- is at the center of both the city -- its rails spoke out from the hub of Wayne Tower -- and the film. It is showcased during a pivotal scene in which Bruce's father explains to him the troubles of Gotham. We learn that the monorail was built by him as a symbol of Hope and Unity for a city faltering on the verge of Poverty and Despair. This portentous scene takes place during a Wayne family trip to the opera that will result in the parental deaths at the heart of the Batman mythos. Here we see the monorail as grim Charon, ferrying the Waynes to their doom.
Years later, after Bruce Wayne's return to Gotham as the Batman, the monorail has become a symbol of degradation, covered in graffiti and sparsely occupied by muggers and Mafia hitmen. The propaganda message here is clear: Monorails are a False Hope and city planners would do well to reject them as a means to Urban Renewal.
But this isn't the final depth to which Nolan's propaganda will sink.
We eventually learn that the monorail is to become a tool of the League of Shadows, lead by immortal archvillain Ra's Al Ghul, to destroy Gotham by using it as a transport for a microwave weapon that will vaporize the water in the pipes that run beneath the monorail line, unleashing the fear-inducing psychotropic drug that the League has surreptitiously poisoned Gotham's water supply with, thereby hurling the city into chaos. So in the end, the plot is this: Only by destroying the monorail can Gotham be saved. If we were to believe the filmmakers, monorails attract terrorists and ninjas, lead to Madness, and need to be demolished for any hope of Salvation.
(I think it's fair to say that the anti-monorail motives of the filmmakers were shaped by their love of SUVs, as evidenced by the worshipful portrayal of the tank-like Batmobile. Upon seeing the Batmobile, Police Sergeant Gordon enthuses: "I got to get me one of these!" He later goes on to use the Batmobile to blow up the monorail. Not exactly subtle.)
As further evidence that the whole film was thrown together for the sole purpose of attacking monorails, consider the poorly thought-out doomsday scheme of the League of Shadows. If the microwave weapon were capable of vaporizing the Gotham City water supply, why did it not also vaporize the aqueous portions of the Gothamites? Why did the eyeballs of those in the Narrows not explode when their vitreous liquid was made gaseous by the microwaves? The only possibly explanation -- apart from an abject lack of understanding of Science on the part of the writers well beyond the norm for even the most curmudgeonly Ludditic anti-monorailist -- is that the filmmakers started with the idea that the monorail was to be destroyed and only later came up with a slapdash reason why. Their limited imaginations, typical of those who dismiss monorails, were simply not up to the task.
As I left the IMAX theater at the Pacific Science Center and took the Seattle Monorail back to my apartment, I was left shaking my head in befuddlement as to why a prestigious Center of Science would agree to show such an unscientific, hateful film so out of touch with the self-evident wonders of the Monorail so near to them. Is not the goal of Science a truer understanding of our World for the Embetterment of Mankind? How is that goal served by attacking what is not only the most significant discovery of Modern Science -- the Principle of Monorailular Transit -- but also the only means of lifting Humanity up out of its congestion, both traffic and moral, and into the sky so that we may ride swiftly and confidently into our Destined Future? It is not served at all by that, I say! Rest assured that I will be writing a strongly worded letter of complaint to the Science Center's Ombudsman.
As for Batman Begins, on a railular scale from one to five (one being a Supreme Achievement of the Human Soul and a Shining Beacon of Hope for our Children, five being Ignominious Refuse for the Junkpile of History), I give it four rails.
Our feature for this edition of Stamp Nook is a U.S. commemorative issue (Scott #1196) for the Seattle World's Fair of 1962, also known as the Century 21 Exposition. As you can see, the design is dominated by the Fair's symbol, the lofty Space Needle, but it also rather conspicuously showcases the then-new Alweg Monorail, whooshing forward into the bleed. A sanguine tableau of the 21st Century indeed!
This stamp was suggested to me by Mike and/or Paula (he/she/they didn't indicate who exactly was sending the letter from their address -- such is the shocking informality of electronic mail!), who included the following theory that I am sure Lyle will be quite keen on:
It can't be an accident that No. 1196 comes out and then magically 43 years later we have an imminent monorailular threat. I suggest that the gum was treated with an NWO standard-issue cross-generational mind control genetic modification agent. Civic-minded expectant mothers in the early sixties bought the stamps, licked the gum preparatory to affixation on an envelope, thereby causing a mutation of the retrotransportation genes of their in utero children. When these children grew up, they were tragically unable to resist the siren call of absolute dangerous and expensive transportation modalities. Check it out--I'm sure there are many people in their early forties that either voted for this boondoggle or are actually designing it. Coincidence? I think not!
Fortunately, I happened to have this stamp in my personal collection so I was able to examine it first hand. The gum looked as one would expect for adhesives of that era -- thickish with some slight oxidation. Olfactory inspection of the gum did not reveal any monorail-evoking fumes, however it is reasonable to hypothesize that the agent would have completely outgassed in the time since the stamp's gumming. I was not about to lick the stamp -- not only because, if the above theory were true, I might have come under the sway of the Monorail, but also because I find the practice to be quite barbaric. In fact, I have never licked a stamp. Stamps are to be saved, not slobbered on. I briefly considered seeing if transdermal absorption might have an effect (normally I always take great care to only handle stamps with philatelic tongs and, if I must touch them, acid-free philatelic gloves,) but I thought better of it, fearing both my potential monorailization and the certain biofilm contamination of the stamp.
In the end, my inspection proved inconclusive. I would forward the stamp to ZPi Labs for further analysis, but knowing them they would destroy it in the process, or at the very least get Sasquatch fur in the gum. I am not prepared to make that sacrifice.
Until next time, happy philateling!
For too long Society has been denied its Natural Transcendency by Luddites clinging to outmoded technologies and ways of living. Enough! I must call upon the Fishing Vessel Owners to put aside their fear of change and let the Green Line Monorail be built.
The Fishing Vessel Owners Marine Ways, a Ballard shipyard built in 1919 that still relies on archaic duorail technology, must make way so that our collective destiny can be achieved. While the passing of such a storied industrial site is unfortunate -- as it has served as an important reminder of how far and how fast Humanity has traveled from primordial experiments with transportation beholden to the whims of Nature to the present awakening of the New Age of the Monorail and all the psychohistorical maturity that such a transition implies -- it nonetheless remains necessary. How else to support the monorail span over the Lake Washington Ship Canal than by razing the FVO dry-docks and erecting a pillar in their place? If whole councils of monorail engineers cannot find a solution to this puzzle, can we expect mere ship repairmen to?
The concerns of the FVO, while understandable coming from those still living as if it were the 1910s, are trivial and easily assuaged. Jobs lost can easily be regained in the monorail maintenance and hospitality industries. Even primitive, pre-monorail peoples such as wood-caulkers and keelwrights can by uplifted though an intense program of monorailization and neurolinguistic programming. I've seen it happen before in Malaysia, and I have every confidence that these results can be replicated in Cascadia.
Members of the FVO also allude that the fishing industry will be hurt by the loss of shipyards, but this is short-sighted. Monorail lines will eventually be built over the vast seas, allowing the rich bounties of the deep to be harvested by fleets of fishing monorails. These monomariners will be unaffected by such dated concerns as sea-sickness, capsization, or catastrophic oakum failure and will be free to ply their trade in all the luxurious comforts afforded by modern monorail design. There is simply no need to fear that the flow of fresh halibut will be abated.
In closing, I again call upon FVO President Don Lindblad to cease his attempts to fight the Future -- to put away childish things and embrace our species' evolutionary growth as a monorailfaring people. Take comfort that the fully monorailized World of Tomorrow will have a place for you and your kind; you only need to board the monorail and let it carry you there.
On Friday an explosion rocked the KL Monorail in Malaysia. Today it was determined to have been caused by a burst monorail tire. (Note how the monorailular-media spins this incident by emphasizing that the monorail tire was "pneumatic". It's just lucky the tire wasn't solid, otherwise the shrapnel would surely have killed all thirty passengers.) Two people were injured, one with minor wounds and the other requiring ankle surgery.
This follows an incident last September when a tire flew off the monorail in Las Vegas, nearly killing untold numbers of Elvis impersonators.
The inherent explosive and/or projectile danger of monorail tires is becoming clearer every day, and yet dangerous plans to monorailize Cascadia are still being pushed forward by industry groups such as Team Monorail, who are representing a monorail manufacturer prophetically named "Bombardier", and Cascadia Monorail Company, which is trying to capitalize on our great nation's name in order to kill us all.
(Thanks to Hans Delbruck for the links in the guestbook.)
...This time at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, where the monorail broke down, trapping 400 riders in the bitter cold for up to four hours. According to one unfortunate rider: "I got hypothermia and my kids have bronchitis." She should count herself and her kids lucky that the monorail didn't derail and fall into the Lion Camp. There are no windows on that thing to keep the carnivores out, you know.
Reportedly zoo officials have wised up and decided that the monorail, which was sold to them by some fly-by-night monorail hucksters who aren't around anymore to supply replacement parts, is a relic. It will be replaced in total with more conventionally wheeled drive-by-wire vehicles.
(This would never happen in an enclosed, air-conditioned, and entirely lion-proof pneumatic tube pod. Granted it would be more difficult to see the frolicking antelopes and zebras in there, but what price public safety?)
Here's a look at the glorious future monorails offer...
This train was part of the SAFEGE suspended monorail, built in Saran, France in 1959 and discarded a mere decade later. Since that picture was smuggled out of France, the train remains have been recovered and transported to an abandoned military base, where they are under close guard by government officials. (More pictures of a SAFEGE train in disrepair here.)
When operational (or at least as operational as monorails can be) the SAFEGE was featured in the 1966 film Fahrenheit 451 (see right) in order to give both the film and the SAFEGE an air of near-futuricity. Director and crypto-monorailist François Truffaut had the driver crouch down while filming its scenes so as to give viewers the false impression that it operated automatically.
Oddly, French directors seem to have some special connection to the monorail proponents, the significance of which I haven't yet determined. Last April, Seattle's KIRO TV learned that French director Olivier Venturini would be flown into Cascadia to produce TV ads for a $1.3 million pro-monorail propaganda campaign for the extension of Cascadian monorails. When a KIRO investigative reporter tried to ask him questions about the ads he refused to talk, clearly hiding some agenda.
The French were suckered into adopting monorails in the late 1950s, but ended up throwing them away when they became disillusioned with the constant spontaneous combustions and elephant accidents. Ten years -- and who knows how many dead people and circus animals -- from now, will Cascadia's proposed national monorail system end up strewn along the I-5 corridor, providing taxpayer-supported housing for raccoons?
Thanks to "Frenchy" in the guestbook for bringing this to my attention.
While monorailist literature insinuates that they are a futuristic technology, monorails are actually archaic devices that predate the airplane. Case in point: the Schwebebahn in Wuppertal, Germany. This suspended monorail was built in 1901 and is still in operation -- thanks to the backroom influence of the Monorail Industry -- even though it exhibits all the dangers common to monorails; there have been train collisions, trucks hitting piers, and four people died in 1999 when a train derailed and fell into the river. However, even in the storied annals of monorail dangers, the Schwebebahn manages to impress with an incident involving an innocent baby elephant named Tuffi.
On July 21, 1950, the 3-year-old elephant, enslaved by a cruel circus-director/monorail-fanatic named Franz Althoff, was forced to board the Schwebebahn as part of an ill-conceived monorail propaganda stunt. Tuffi had suffered through many degrading stunts in the past -- Althoff had her driving streetcars and marching through department stores -- but she balked at riding on that dangerous contraption (the Wuppertaler Todesfalle as it was secretly called by locals). One and a half minutes into the ride, Tuffi freaked out, no doubt sensing something was awry with the train (in other words: normal monorailular operating conditions). In her instinctual desperation to escape death and with no other safe means of egress, she smashed a hole in a side window and, rather taking her chances with the Wupper river 5 meters below, bravely leapt through.
Tuffi was not seriously injured in the fall and was unfortunately recaptured shortly after. There's no telling what would have happened if she had stayed in the train, which was understandably stopped after experiencing an unexpected elephantine defenestration. Perhaps the train would have derailed or spontaneously combusted. We will never know for sure, but it is highly likely that the actions of this monorail-doubting pachyderm might have saved the lives of the human passengers.
(Of course, had this monorail been constructed over city streets instead of a river, as many monorails are or are planned to be, she would have been killed and probably have taken out some pedestrians and small cars too. When will people learn what even baby elephants seem to understand: monorails are a menace.)
Photos from the incident:
Thanks to reader Crosbie for bringing this to my attention.
Monorails have emerged as one of the most important issues for Cascadian voters. To help inform people on this often complicated issue, ZPi presents two contrasting view points in the ongoing Monorail debate:
I have mentioned some of the dangers that monorails pose to both passengers and innocent bystanders in previous entries in this space, but I have only surveyed the tip of this iceberg of public endangerment.
For those not following the debate, the known dangers of monorails include: spontaneous combustion of flammable monorail components in fire-accelerating open air; mechanical debris (possibly flaming) falling or even flying off and hitting pedestrians, cars, or nearby homes and businesses; precipitous, and likely deadly, drops for inattentive monorail passengers or those trying to escape flaming cars; monorail tracks that entice children to climb and walk along them with no way of escaping should a train approach (by contrast, surface train tracks allow one to walk safely to the side); increased chance of collateral deaths from chemical or biological attacks due to lack of individual pneumatic encapsulation of passengers; and potential for runaway monorail trains -- unbuffered by pneumatic pressure -- to collide, knocking one or both trains off their rail and onto helpless people below, before bursting into flames. Again, these are just the known dangers -- we can only wonder at what other dangers monorail researchers are keeping from the public.
It's just common sense that placing tens of thousands of pounds of heavy, highly combustible machinery over people's heads while moving at speeds in excess of most surface traffic is a recipe for disaster. So why do they insist on doing it? Monorail enthusiasts imagine a Cascadia converted into some sort of "monorailtopia". They started in Seattle, and now they want to branch outward, sending their elevated tendrils into our neighborhoods with no concern for the safety of our children, senior citizens, or pets. (If dogs chase after elevated monorail trains while craning their necks upward, might they accidentally fall into open manholes and die? Has this issue even been studied properly in the rush to monorailize our nation?)
Although they don't advertise the true extent of their agenda, it is obvious that the monorail proponents' ultimate goal is to link Cascadia to Disneyland -- where Imagineers have already established a monorail hub near their Simulacra factories -- which would allow trainloads of New World Order agents to pour into our nation unchecked. We have to ask: Are the monorail proponents in league with the NWO or merely their unknowing pawns?
Seattleites have always been on the front lines of this battle to secure Cascadia from the threat of monorails. Once again they are called upon to do their patriotic duty by recalling the monorail with a vote of YES on I-83.
I must call on Mr. Zapato to cease his anti-monorail FUD. Yes, I said it: FUD. Mr. Zapato is trying to spread Fear, Uncertainty, and, yes, even Doubt, about the most awesome and elegant method of transportation ever devised by Modern Man: the Monorail.
This technological wonder, riding a slender thread of concrete held aloft as if yearning to touch the heavens, winding its way through the metropoli of Mankind's destiny -- of Mankind's destination! What dreams may it hold? What hopes does it carry? Is Fate its captain, or is He merely lounging in the snack car? Equal parts Enlightenment and Romance, Power and Grace, Bus and Train -- uniting all paradoxes into one glorious balance and thereby transporting us to a realm where futurism collides with magical realism, reifying the very Soul of Man in the form of a streamlined metallic tube. No mere people movers are these!
Instead of acknowledging the Monorail's many technical innovations, creature comforts, and its undeniably potent aesthetic grandeur, Mr. Zapato chooses to hyperfocus on and exaggerate a few aberrant incidents that have occurred over the course of the Monorail's long and storied history -- incidents that are nearly all due to lack of maintenance as a result of anti-monorail sentiments that have been fomented by the likes of Mr. Zapato and his Pneumaticist cohorts!
You see, what the public isn't being properly informed here on this biased website is that Mr. Zapato is only against monorails because his organization has developed an "alternative" system of transportation involving pneumatic "tube pods" -- as if you could call such a gaseous pipe-dream a real alternative to the sleek, modern experience of monorails!
If we as a Society -- as a Species, as the very culmination of Life on this planet -- are to mature -- to transcend our present state of existence -- and take our place among the advanced peoples of the Galaxy -- to be born again as Star Children, eyes opening on a New Dawn -- then monorails are inevitable. Is it going too far to suggest that monorails might be the Singularity? Perhaps. But it is the logical next step in our evolution and we cannot risk not taking it. However, instead of advancing forward with the certainty fitting our eons of history, Mr. Zapato would have us retreat -- to revert to a state not unlike that of the primordial tube worms. We are better than this; we will be better than this.
I strongly urge the people of Seattle to take a bold step into our Future by voting NO on I-83. Remember: Vote NO to say YES to monorails and NO to pneumatic tubes and YES to the Transcendence of Humanity -- for Tomorrow and Forever!
Seattle monorail tracks remain empty months after fire. Note scorch marks on pillars.
It happened again.
On Wednesday, the Las Vegas monorail system was shut down following an incident in which a 60-pound, 20-inch tire flew off a Star-Trek-themed train and crashed into the parking lot of Harrah's Casino. Against all odds, no one was killed, maimed, decapitated, or ended up flattened with cartoonish tire tracks running down their middle.
This is the second time since the opening of Vegas's monorail that monorailular debris has endangered the lives of elderly gamblers, drunks, and prostitutes: a drive shaft fell off a train back in January -- fortunately when they were testing the system, so no one was impaled. In another incident last month, a monorail worker mistakenly opened the doors on the wrong side of the train, exposing passengers to a precipitous and deadly fall. Even the most optimistic monorail apologist must admit that it's only a matter of time until Las Vegas sees mass casualties from their monorail of doom.
But this is all the norm with monorails, which are an inherently dangerous form of transportation. You may remember back in June I reported on the blazing inferno suffered by the monorail in Seattle, which is still closed for repairs. (I have since gone and examined the incident scene myself and can report that fire damage is still visible.) Unlike the safe and efficient Inteli-Tube Pneumatic Transportation System*, monorail systems place dangerous, rickety equipment high over people's heads, surrounded by ample and uncontrollable supplies of combustion-aiding oxygen, all the while hoping that passengers don't accidently step out the wrong side and go splat. How long can monorail proponents continue to gamble with people's lives?
* The ITPTS was developed by Lyle Zapato & ZPi Laboratories.
Yesterday, a Seattle monorail caught fire -- the blue one, to be precise. No one was seriously injured, but the incident only further highlights the inherent danger in monorailular transportation methods, that of spontaneous combustion.
Some in the Republic of Cascadia -- mostly Federalists -- are pushing to have our entire nation monorailized. However, in their irrational zeal to chase after some failed 1962 vision of the future, they are overlooking a much better and safer solution to our nation's transportation problems: the Inteli-Tube Pneumatic Transportation System.*
The ITPTS is immune to the sorts of uncontrollable fires that monorails experience. Because pneumatic tubes are designed to create pressure differentials to push the personal transportation pods through them, they can be easily depressurized in an emergency to quickly extinguish any fires. Let's just see the monorailists try and depressurize Seattle! Furthermore, instead of oxygenated air -- which acts as a fire accelerant and through which monorails have no choice but to travel -- pneumatic tubes can be pressurized with inert gasses such as argon to completely eliminate the chance of a fire starting. None of these safety benefits have any effect on commuter comfort since passengers are safely sealed in their pressurized pods.
How many more monorail fires do there need to be before Cascadians realize that monorails are dangerous and that pneumatic tube transportation systems offer us our only hope, for both the future and today? If you ask me, one is already too many.
* The ITPTS was developed by Lyle Zapato & ZPi Laboratories.
Copyright © 2004-2013 Lyle Zapato & ZPi
unless otherwise noted or implied.