Intl. Notebook Sep 9 2011
FUTURE THAT NEVER CAME
The good news is we have the technology to make travel quick, cheap and easy. The bad news is we’ll never use it.

This National Police Gazette from September 1974 treats us to several great stories, including an article claiming that Richard Nixon’s only crime was not knowing what the “boobs” around him were doing. Ah yes, the old rogue subordinates excuse. Works great for presidents and corporate heads, but for you, well, not so much. Elsewhere in the issue you get an article on how to score an exotic bride, and sharp-eyed readers may notice that the “Haitian” bride is actually American actress Gloria Hendry, who we featured a couple of weeks ago.

But what really caught our attention in this Gazette is the article by U.S. Senator Vance Hartke about cheap, superfast rail travel. It’s filled with promises and optimism, steeped in for-the-good-of-the-people rhetoric, and even includes a sample 1986 cross-country timetable. Imagine it. Within twelve years Americans would blaze overland at 300 mph, and this rail system, envy of the world, would be clean, pleasant, and cheap—a mere $75 coast-to-coast.

A funny thing happened on the way to this future—politics that used to frame tomorow in terms of the things that were possible changed so that it now frames tomorrow in terms of what it isn't possible. Although limited high-speed rail service has finally been built in the U.S., Americans who want to experience train travel at the velocities cited in Hartke's dreamy article have to visit other countries. As to whether a true super fast system will ever be built in the U.S., we wouldn’t venture a guess either way, but it certainly is thought provoking to read what some people thought the near future would bring. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 22
1950—Althea Gibson Breaks the Color Barrier
Althea Gibson becomes the first African-American woman to compete on the World Tennis Tour, and the first to earn a Grand Slam title when she wins the French Open in 1956. Later she becomes the first African-American woman to compete in the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
1952—Devil's Island Closed
Devil's Island, the penal colony located off the coast of French Guiana, is permanently closed. The prison is later made world famous by Henri Charrière's bestselling novel Papillon, and the subsequent film starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.
1962—De Gaulle Survives Assassination Attempt
Jean Bastien-Thiry, a French air weaponry engineer, attempts to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle to prevent Algerian independence. Bastien-Thiry and others attack de Gaulle's armored limousine with machine guns, but after expending hundreds of rounds, they succeed only in puncturing two tires.
August 21
1911—Mona Lisa Disappears
Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, aka La Gioconda, is stolen from the Louvre. After many wild theories and false leads, it turns out the painting was snatched by museum employee Vincenzo Peruggia.
August 20
1940—Trotsky Iced in Mexico
In Mexico City exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded with an ice axe (not an ice pick) by Soviet agent Ramon Mercader. Trotsky dies the next day.
1968—Prague Spring Ends
200,000 Warsaw Pact troops backed by 5,000 tanks invade Czechoslovakia to end the Prague Spring political liberalization movement.
1986—Sherrill Goes Postal
In Edmond, Oklahoma, United States postal employee Patrick Sherrill shoots and kills fourteen of his co-workers and then commits suicide.
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