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The Monorailist

Monorails Over The World!

The Monorailist | 2006-08-01.2450 LMT

Enough of these vacuous tubes and flying hypertriangles! These are not the stuff of transportation dreams, but of nightmares. Let us awaken ourselves from this fitful slumber to once again face the Sunrise of the Future, whose singular beam is the Monorail!

To help this awakening -- and as prelude to the imminent reawakening of the Seattle Monorail, which will finally allow me to leave this cursed apartment! -- I am introducing a new educational series, much needed on this woefully monorail-ignorant blog, wherein I will highlight the most notable, the most innovative, the most transcendental, monorails mankind has yet produced. I call it:


Oh, majestic monorails! To what heights you send the souls of mankind soaring! But there is one among you which soars souls beyond all others -- physically and spiritually.

Emei Shan monorail

Floating above a sea of clouds on Emei Shan -- one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains of China -- a tranquil monorail line ferries Buddhist pilgrims and tourists of assorted creeds from the monastery at Jin Ding (Golden Summit) to the temple at Wànfó Ding (Ten-Thousand-Buddhas Summit) and back. For a meager 50 yuan, visitors partake in a perfect Union of Enlightenment and Elevationment as the monorail makes its 20-minute round-trip through ancient forests shrouded in mist and mysticism.

While a modest monorail by most measures -- the track is a mere 2100m long by 40cm wide, and the total length of the train is less than 15m -- one statistic causes it to stand proud among the Global Host of Monorailkind: its elevation as it pulls into the Ten-Thousand-Buddhas station is 3099m above the sea, making the Mt. Emei line the World's Highest Monorail!

The Chinese government opened the line in 1998 as a replacement for the now-off-limits footpath to Wànfó Ding. At first, those sensitive to the ways of chi were skeptical of the monorail: would this mechanical contrivance interrupt Nature's balance? But where once careless pilgrims tread, monorail pillars were planted... and the trail rebounded in plant life!

In fact, environmental impact monitoring missions conducted by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) have shown how the Monorail is at One with Nature -- a positive environmental impact so pronounced that a monorail solution was recommended to the Peruvian authorities for use at Machu Picchu. Soon all World Heritage sites will be reachable only by the environmentally friendly comforts of our World's most important Heritage: Monorails!

Alas, all is not Monorail Nirvana on Emei Shan. One must still reach the Jin Ding station via archaic cable-cars. And for those who choose to forego those dangly debased modes of transport and hike to the station, packs of wild macaques terrorize the mountain trails, mugging passers-by under threat of tooth and claw! If only the monorail line stretched all the way to Mt. Emei's base her visitors would avoid this simian predation.

But is this brazen monkey malevolence the product of reinforcement through centuries of hand-outs or something more? Perhaps these armies of marauding macaques are messengers guided by the spirit of Nala, chief architect to the monkey king Hanuman (known in China as Sun Wukong), to encourage the further adoption of his greatest engineering triumph.

To the Chinese Government, I can only say: listen to the fierce wisdom of the monkeys and extend the Emei Shan monorail!

Lyle Zapato

Has The Fat Lady Boarded The Monorail?

Lyle Zapato | 2006-07-18.7100 LMT

The Seattle Monorail, which has been out of "service" since November when the Red and Blue trains collided violently over Olive Way, was set to re-open today to once again threaten lives and property. However, suicidal Seattleites and unsuspecting tourists were given a temporary reprieve this morning when the relaunch was delayed until at least next week due to "additional safety issues that need to be resolved".

David Heurtel, Seattle Center spokesmonorailist, claimed that the safety issues had to do with the "pneumatic systems" on the brakes and door mechanisms and not with the inherent uncontrollability and spontaneous-combustion-proneness of monorails. (Convenient that they would blame pneumatics -- trying to spread a little anti-Inteli-Tube propaganda, huh Dave?)

Some news I neglected to mention back in May: the doors replacing the ones that were sheared off when the monorail trains collided with each other were constructed by the Seattle Opera set department! That's right, stage illusions will be the only safeguard keeping passengers from plunging to their doom. While shocking, this isn't that surprising when you consider that the history of monorailism in Cascadia has been marked by rickety fake sets designed more for deception than transportation.

Given the spontaneous combustions, collisions, shady deals, government property seizures, and general monorail malaise surrounding this tired relic, isn't it time for Seattle to stop endangering its citizens and instead show transportation leadership by being the first to adopt a more sensible personal pneumatic tube system?

You know, if Seattle won't give pneumatic tube transportation a shot, perhaps Alaska would. They already have experience with long stretches of metal piping and a Senator who gets tubes. You're already close to losing the Sonics, Seattle; don't let this opportunity slip away too.

Lyle Zapato

Monorails = More Cute Puppies?

Lyle Zapato | 2006-04-18.9440 LMT

I warned previously about a Monorailist attempt to elicit a pro-monorail emo-response using puppyganda. Well now they're back with the Puppy Mover Monorail Mark II (at bottom of page).

This new version has five cars able to endanger up to eight puppies and has a "scampering paws" motif designed to lure naïve puppies into the Monorailist lifestyle -- or should we say deathstyle?

Needless to say, individuals highly susceptible to puppies -- such as grannies and various nursing animals -- should avoid looking directly at that site lest they fall under the spell of Monorailism. Instead, here's a site with a photo of a hamster in a tube.

Lyle Zapato

Dubailand Monorail -- Now With Predation

Lyle Zapato | 2006-03-05.6860 LMT | Simulacra | Technology

This has disaster written all over it.

City of Arabia is a centrally-planned city being built in Dubai. When finished in 2008, it will feature residential and commercial towers, the world's largest shopping mall, and a canal-lined walk with cafes and restaurants.

While this all sounds very pleasant in a creepy, control-freaky, Michael-Jackson-welcoming way, it's marred by the tragic decision to tie the whole city together with a monorail system. Dubai is inordinately fond of the adjective "ultra-modern", so it's odd that they would choose a hundred-year-old, archaic form of transportation that doesn't even employ tubes. Also, have they really considered the extreme danger posed by spontaneous monorail combustion, what with all that oil they have lying around? (And yet they have even more monorails planned!)

Oh, but it gets much worse...

Besides the towers and mall and whatnot, the monorail will also go through a themepark called Restless Planet, a pluri-Crichtonesque nightmare that will include more than 100 animatronic dinosaurs able to walk and "track visitors with their eyes".

Their site has a breathless video (10Mio) calling it a "phantasmagorical vision", "a palentologist's delight", and "a lay person's formal introduction to the Jurassic age", but mostly shows hapless tourists on foot being attacked by a plesiosaur and T-rex -- until the monorail passes by in the background and the T-rex chases after it!

Animatronic T-rex running alongside exposed monorail track.

In an interview/article last year, Dr. Michael Dixon, Director of London's Natural History Museum and one of the scientific advisors for the park, had these famous last words:

The technologies are all known — tried and tested — so there's absolutely no risk factor at all. This project will just bring the different technologies together and it will do so on an unprecedented scale.

The fools! Not to get all glavin, but if there's one thing that elementary chaos theory tells us it's that animatronic T-rex and monorail technologies should be kept as far apart and on as precedented a scale as possible. Just because the track is above the Tyrannobot's head doesn't mean it will never catch the monorail, even if you program it not to: Simulacra will find a way.

Well, at least now those wanting a vision of the future of American port security know to look to the last half of Jurassic Park 2.

Lyle Zapato

Shocking Monorail Accident

Lyle Zapato | 2006-03-03.4400 LMT

To the list of dangers posed by monorails -- which includes spontaneous combustion, collision, falling debris, alien abductions, and suicidal elephants -- we can now add electrical shock.

Last weekend a worker on the Las Vegas monorail was electrocuted in the system maintenance building. A fire was also started, naturally. The worker, the fourth to succumb to the Vegas monorail since it opened in 2003, is listed in serious condition. French-Canadian monorail maker Bombardier ("Bom, Bar, Dee... YAY!") claims that he's improving, but is suspiciously keeping his details secret. Bombardier also promised to launch an investigation of the incident to determine if it was either human error or a mechanical defect. I guess "Inherent Danger of Monorails" is off the table.

Decline in ridership among a public leery of exploding into flames or falling out of doors opened into midair has forced the Las Vegas Monorail Co. to start enticing people to ride with free monorail passes. These will be offered to unsuspecting out-of-towners through the city's tourism website. Hopefully the fact that the passes are only one-way will be enough to clue in potential victims of the extreme unlikeliness of their ever returning from their monorail trip. But then again, these are gambling tourists, so they may be unrealistically optimistic.

Lyle Zapato

Monorails = Cute Puppies?

Lyle Zapato | 2006-03-01.4140 LMT

It's a well known propaganda tactic to inculcate a desired emotional response to something through its repeated juxtaposition with a known emo-response stimulant. I touched on this in my post about Pixelito, the microcopter that's friends with hamsters, where the Belgian Conspiracy was leveraging the psychoevolutionary construct known as "cuteness" to elicit a maternal response to Black Helicopters.

Now agents of the Monorail Society are trying the same tactic with monorails, only instead of hamsters they're bringing out the big guns: Puppies*...

Puppies riding a minimonorail. Photo credit: James Horecka, known Monorailist
It's unknown if the puppies survived the inevitable
spontaneous monorail combustion that followed.

Presumably the puppy monorail (which is non-functioning and was thrown together "Hollywood style" -- in other words it's just like a normal sized monorail) will be deployed wherever the public is having doubts about monorailization. "Oh, look at the cute puppies!" the public will say, "Monorails can't be all that bad if cute puppies ride them. Let's hand over our property rights to the nice men with the odd hairstyles who make bizarrely pompous speeches."

Well, two can play at this game. I encourage all citizens concerned about Monorailists stealing your houses and enabling unwelcome elements to infiltrate your community to propagate the following picture designed by top paranoid memetic experts to undo the psychological damage caused by the Monorailists' "puppaganda":


Oh, and for any pet owners who may be wondering, there is a more sensible alternative for animal transportation -- one that can be built underground, leaving any private property above unseized.

*Observant users of MindGuard know that the canonical psychotronic enamorment memeplex involves "cute kittens", usually the petting thereof, so the nonstandard choice of puppies could signify a disassociation between the Monorailists and more mainstream forces of mind control. Then again, slightly off-kilter modes of conduct and technology might just be part of the inherent nature of Monorailism. I guess we should be surprised they didn't use sugar gliders or some other unnecessarily odd cuteness vector.

UPDATE: Monorails = More Cute Puppies?

The Monorailist

Ray Bradbury: Monorailist

The Monorailist | 2006-02-05.1550 LMT | Technology

In a Los Angeles Times editorial, Ray Bradbury -- author, futurist -- calls for an end to the City of Angel's disastrous love affair with freeways, subways, and other misbegotten ways. His solution to all of L.A.'s traffic woes: The Monorail!

Ever since he was thrown out of a 1963 L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting for daring to voice the dream of Elevationment aloud in the presence of benighted automotorists and boring subwaymen, Bradbury has championed the singular vision of a singular rail that will lift Angelenos above the smog of decadence that has sooted their souls for so long.

At that 1963 meeting, M wasn't for Monorail, but Missed Opportunity. Alweg Monorail Company offered to build a monorail system at no charge. A free monorail! And yet the Board rejected the offer, choosing instead to side with the special interests of car peddlers and third-rail salesmen. Oh, what could have been! Oh, what could still be! While the Monorail was cravenly spurned in the past, Bradbury predicts that something monorailular this way comes:

The freeway is the past, the monorail is our future, above and beyond.

Above and beyond indeed! Society must rise above future-disrupting traffic and replace its thunderous din with a sound of woosh. In a previous interview, Bradbury sings a city elevated, composed of not one, but ten monorail systems that will engirth L.A. in machineries of joy, bringing about the downfall of automotive tyranny: "We're talking about eliminating cars here." But will Los Angeles join in Bradbury's vision? When the Monorail Chronicles are written, will the current generation of Angelenos be counted among those who dared embraced Humanity's Monorailular Progress?

EXTRA! More exciting monorail news from India:

The Chennai Monorail Project will cover 300 km in 18 corridors, making it by far the largest monorail system on Earth. The Motherland of the Monorail will have the Mother of all Monorails!

Lyle Zapato

Manatee Monorail?

Lyle Zapato | 2006-01-31.2980 LMT | Nature | Pneumatics

Sufferin' Sirenia! Florida's Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park wants to build a monorail for their manatees:

Although the state plans improvements to make the manatee treatment pools work better for the animals, [park manager Art] Yerian's wish list includes a $100,000 monorail system that would allow park officials to slip manatees into slings, hoist them with pulleys and use the rails to move them from the spring run to the holding or treatment pools.

Aren't these gentle creatures endangered enough without exposing them to the risk of collisions, spontaneous combustions, or abductions? Even worse, the manatee's closest relative is the elephant -- do park officials not know how poorly elephants take to monorails?

I propose a better, more manatee-friendly, less manatee-cidal, way to get them from pool to pool: a Pneumatic Manatee Distribution System. Given their fusiform shape, you wouldn't even need pods; just stuff them in the tube, close the hatch, and press Send.

Zapato Pneumatic Manatee Distribution System

Radical Sasquatch


Radical Sasquatch | 2006-01-28.3130 LMT | Sasquatch Issues | Cephalopods | Cascadia


HUMAN LYLE: You are wrong about the GIANT FOREST OCTOPUS being a myth! I HAVE SEEN IT MYSELF!!! Other Sasquatch howl that I am crazy but I KNOW WHAT I SAW!!! I was walking through the forest one night ENGAGED IN PRIVATE SASQUATCH BUSINESS THAT IS OF NO CONCERN TO NOSEY CRYPTOZOOLOGISTS when I heard the DEEP CLACKING OF A BEAK in the distance and smelled a STRONG ODOR OF AMMONIA on the wind! Then all of the sudden A GIANT ARM AS THICK AS A LOG WITH A THOUSAND SUCTION CUPS lunged out of the dense trees towards me! Although it was dark I was able to find a nearby boulder to defend myself! I SMASHED THE ARM BEFORE IT COULD GRAB ME!!! There was a GURGLING SCREECH in the distance and the arm started to retract back into the trees! Before it could get away I took a bite out of it! IT WAS DELICIOUS!!!

SILLY LOOKING HUMAN WITH STRANGE FIXATION ON MONO RAIL: Vanara would never build a mono rail! WHAT SORT OF FUNGUS HAVE YOU BEEN GATHERING?! Vanara are proud Hominoids like Sasquatch! If you ordered Sasquatch to build you a mono rail WE WOULD CRUSH EVERY ONE OF YOUR BONES and howl at your floppy corpse: "THERE'S YOUR MONO RAIL!!!" Vanara would do the same, I am sure! Anyway, IN MY HUMBLE OPINION, what Cascadia needs is a SYSTEM OF GONDOLAS traversing the forest canopy! THIS WOULD MAKE IT MUCH EASIER TO GATHER TREE OCTOPUS!!!

TYPING OCTOPUS: I know you are using one of our Hominoidnet kiosks... IF I FIND YOU I WILL EAT YOU!!!

The Monorailist

Ramayana, Monorailayana

The Monorailist | 2006-01-27.2500 LMT | Lost Worlds | Technology

According to the Ramayana, around 1.75 million years ago a bridge was built from mainland India across the sea to Sri Lanka. This feat of engineering was accomplished by the vanara architect Nala with the help of an army of monkeys, chief among them Hanuman, so that Lord Rama, prince of Ayodhya and avatar of Krishna, could save his wife, Sita, from the clutches of the island's dastardly, ten-mustachioed demon-ruler, Ravana.

While conventional Indologists theorize that this bridge was merely a walking path, I am certain that careful reading of the epic shows that the bridge was in fact India's first monorail line -- perhaps the grandest the world has ever witnessed.

NASA satellites have documented the bridge's remains: a chain of shoals of unnatural formation -- variably called Rama's Bridge, Nala's Bridge, or, in the West, Adam's Bridge. However, there is an interesting discrepancy; while these limestone shoals sit securely on the sea floor, tradition describes the bridge being made of "floating stones". Some scholars wildly infer that the shoals must have been formed later with the sinking of the presumably buoyant stones, but offer no mechanism for this transformation. They are like blind men unable to identify an elephant by its dissimilar parts. A true synthesis comes only with the realization that the shoals and the "floating stones" represent two different aspects of the same structure -- pillar footings and an elevated monorail track.

Consider the Monorail, with its track gliding through the air like a gentle breeze solidified, held aloft on slender pillars that hardly inconvenience the ground below. Is there any better description for this graceful, elevated state than to say the track is floating? I think not. Clearly, the chroniclers of India's history, faced with the awe-inspiring splendor of that majestic monorail stretching insouciantly Ceylonward, could not have described the rock that made up its track any other way than as "floating stones".

Read the epic with eyes open to the monorailistic possibilities and more details come into focus. Behold Nala's Monorail floating over the sea on pillars made of whole trees, some of them still bearing blossoms, uprooted by the monkey army and planted on shoals newly formed with elephant-sized boulders torn from the mountains by the most powerful of the vanara and plunged into waters tumulted with their alacritous monkey business. Five days! Five days was all it took the army of monkeys -- heroes all -- to build 30 miles of monorail track. Oh! If only Seattle had such a bold visionary as Nala!

(Some skeptics -- no doubt fearful of the coming Monorail Awakening and the massive social transformation it will bring -- will desperately protest that the bridge, described as being 10 yojanas or 80 miles wide, could not have been a monorail. But the same sources claim it was 100 yojanas or 800 miles long when we know the crossing to be only 30 miles. Obviously, exuberance for such an exalted structure has led to an exaggeration of the measurements over time. Do not attempt to explain away the reality of ancient Indian monorail technology with these untrustworthy figures!)

After the monorail line was built, Rama and his younger brother Lakshmana are said to have rode across it on the backs of Hanuman and Angada. As Sugriva, King of the Vanara, tells Rama: "These monkeys can hold both of you while flying in the sky." A clear reference to the elevated nature of the bridge, to be sure, but what are we to make of this? Was this a monorail track without monorail cars? Was it merely an elevated path for monkey porters? No.

We know from the epic that the vanara employed "mechanical contrivances" or "engines" to transport the largest boulders to the sea, so they had the technology to produce a monorail car. As Hanuman and Angada were instrumental in the endeavor to reach Ravana, what better tribute than to name the newly crafted monorail cars in their honor. Thus Rama rode in the foremost monorail car Hanuman, not on its monkey namesake -- a distinction that become understandably confused over time. Mind you, this doesn't lessen Hanuman's bhakti, for he did much in the service of Rama, but I think Rama would find traveling in the sublime, transcendental luxury that only a monorail can provide more befitting of him than riding on the back of a monkey, no matter how loyal and noble the monkey may be.

Having established the antiquity of monorail technology in India, I say: Let Mr. Zapato continue his tired tirades against the Monorail! Let him try to lead the good people of India away from their deserved place among the Monorailized Nations of the World! He will fail -- he already has failed! For you see, the Monorail is the warp woven through the very fabric of Indian culture; an intrinsic part of her national heritage, though today only dimly remembered. India is the homeland of Monorailism and the cycle of history shall be completed with the Monorail's rebirth in Chennai.

Lastly, an interesting note: Lava, the name of the Malaysian consulting firm behind the Chennai monorail deal, is also the name of one of Rama's two sons, both reunited with Rama after being born to Sita in monastic banishment. How fitting that a company bearing the name of one who would not have been conceived had it not been for Nala's monorailular ingenuity should be helping to return the Monorail to her ancestral home, reuniting the Past with the Future.