China’s at it again, extending its railroad network from Lhasa to Shigatse, seat of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, traditional seat of the Panchen Lama (a political prisoner of the Chinese government since 1995.) The railroad China built to Lhasa has a lot of superlatives attached to it, longest, tallest, coldest, whatever. Anyway, it’s a great achievement. Why are totalitarian states so good at railroads? The more repressive the government, the more they like to play with trains. (So apparently Mussolini didn’t make the trains run on time. But he still talked about trains.) I suppose that should make Americans feel better about Amtrak. (The link is to their wikipedia page, which helpfully informs us that Hawaii is an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, otherwise Amtrak would be all over it, and right on time too!) On an unrelated note, Mike Davis, author of Buda’s Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb (referring not to the Buddha but to anarchist Mario Buda, usually mentioned as a footnote in Sacco & Vanzetti retellings) and a lot of other good books about Los Angeles and America’s hate-hate relationship with cities, has written about the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” in Salon. And if you read the Salon one first, this New York Times article will make even more sense. Philip Ryan, Webmaster
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