Restless Device

A Podcast about Extraordinary Technology with Dave Unger

The Liveried Tractor

I don’t recognize other people’s cars. I definitely couldn’t tell you the make or model of anyone’s car. They all look the same to me. I think this has a lot to do with paint colors. With a few exceptions, all the cars seem to be black, grey, or blue.

If you want to see bright colors, look at the paint schemes of tractors. They are amazing colors. There are blue, orange, bright red, purple, and green tractors. These are colors that stand out. Aren’t tractors practical, industrial machines and so shouldn’t they be painted some sort of no-nonsense grey? How did tractors get to be the colors that they are?

Ruins and Monuments of Industry

I love old industrial sites. I love the texture and color of the rusted structures, the overwhelming scale, and lost-world feeling. Two places come to mind– Gas Works Park in Seattle, WA (which I can see from my apartment window) and the SteelStacks in Bethlehem, PA (where I grew up). In both, ruins have been turned into monuments of industry. But they are a strange way to remember industrial history. In both, the remains of industry are the background for recreation areas. The rusted steel towers and machines have been turned into aesthetic objects.

So what’s going on here? What does it mean to turn ruins into monuments this way?

Magic, Technology, and Arthur C. Clarke

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” –Arthur C. Clarke.

This quote from science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke has been ringing in my ears lately. I see this quote around a lot, but the more I think about it, the less clear (and the more intriguing) it seems. Who is it that can’t tell magic and technology apart? And what kind of technology counts as “advanced?” I’m not sure.