Unemployment of 9%+ for 28 Months Is a National Emergency
An Elbow to the Ribs While the Ref Isn't Looking: Macroeconomic Analysis Department

In Which Charlie Stross Complains That California Is Insufficiently Terraformed...

The reason that the Lincoln Town Car is available as a "free" rental car "upgrade" is that nobody wants to drive a Lincoln Town Car: its gas mileage is too poor for anybody driving The Five to want it, and its handling characteristics are such as to make driving it on The One a knuckle-whitening experience.

Nevertheless, Charlie Stross appears to have survived…

But let us add "never drive a Lincoln Town Car on The One" to "never get involved in a land war in Asia", "never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line", "never accept a battle of wits where iocane powder is a factor", "never call your own website 'poor and stupid'", "never attempt a reductio ad absurdum argument on talk radio", "never read My Pet Goat when death is on the line", "never blithely download and install a file from Microsoft without carefully, carefully researching what it will do beforehand", "never post about human genetics on you weblog", "never play poker with a man called 'Doc'", "never eat at a place called 'Mom's'", and "never use vodka to try to remove bloodstains from white linen", and "never fire your best polemicist if your dork quotient is over 30%"…

Back again: My wife and I needed to be in Portland by Friday evening... so we hired a car and drove. Note: this was the first time in 18 years that I'd attempted to drive on the wrong side of the road.

Things I learned:

  1. California State Route 1 is a scenic route, for values of "best enjoyed from a helicopter or light plane". I would, however, characterise it as somewhat more exciting than one wants if the objective is to get from SF to Portland within a fixed time frame… landslides, holes in the crash barriers on cliff-edge hairpin bends, and lots of detours around trees…..

  2. A Lincoln Town Car is not the right vehicle in which to enjoy Highway One…. (In my defense, we don't have Lincoln Town Cars in the UK….)

  3. The combination of charming cliffside switchbacks and a five litre V8 results in gas mileage such that it's a good thing for my wallet that fuel is so cheap in California. About the rural gas station where they only take cash and amuse themselves with a banjo between customers we'll say no more.

  4. Dear brown black bear, please learn to look both ways before bounding across the road twenty metres in front of a wheeled avatar of Father Darwin. This will enhance your life expectancy, not to mention that of the folks in the car….

  5. Highways 101 and 199 were better than Highway 1, and still scenic (for values of "where did that three metre wide tree jump out from?")….

  6. A Lincoln Town Car is the right vehicle for pounding up the interstate [The Five] we eventually decided to divert onto. Still, no love — as I discovered after I accidentally did 450 miles on the second day then nearly collapsed…

Let me just say that driving the whole Ellay-Portland route on The Five has scenic charms of its own to not quite match those of The One but that are still very impressive: whether the aqueduct-siphons cresting the ridge to your right around Santa Clarita, the long descent from the Angeles National Forest--for a value of forest = "high desert"--to the Central Valley with its runaway truck ramps, the straight shot across the Central Valley itsef--land of heat (dry heat), sunshine, phosphates, soil, flatness, and huge amounts of water from the Sierra snowmelt--the CHiP fixed-wing aircraft followed by the appearance of people in mirrored sunglasses writing tickets, the exploded caldera of Lassen off to the right, the distant snow peak of Shasta visible from more than 100 miles south on a clear day as a floating island in the sky, the unexploded peak of Shasta as you pass by, the high prairie (and if you are lucky, a thunder snow storm) between Shasta and the Oregon border, Grant's Pass, the Willamette garden spot, Mt. Hood off to the right, and ending up at the Columbia River and the exploded caldera of Mt. St. Helens