Back in the early 1980s we stumbled across a magazine article by George Gilder, at the time one of the reigning intellectual lights of the Reagan administration. In the article Gilder proclaimed that the United States was at the forefront of a digital revolution, one in which computers, doubling in processing power every year, would transform society as we then knew it. Communication, transportation, medical services – all the critical elements of society – would reach new levels of sophistication thanks to the power of the computer chip.
The most amazing thing about this revolution, Gilder noted, was that the natural resource on which it depended was available in virtually unlimited quantities at virtually no cost: sand, or silicon, the raw material of the computer chip.
The article kicked around our office for years, and we marveled at its prescience. Until last week. In New Orleans there simply wasn’t enough sand. There wasn’t enough sand and mortar, in the form of concrete levees, to withstand the brute force of Mother Nature. There wasn’t enough sand, in the form of 10,000-pound sand bags, to fill in the breaches. And New Orleans, as we knew it, came apart because of a massive breakdown in communications, transportation, and medical services.
One day last week we heard a harrowing cell phone interview with a volunteer at a besieged New Orleans hospital. The next day the volunteer could no longer be reached. The cell phone battery, we suspect, might have been the last thing to fail in that glorious technological society envisioned back in the 1980s. Who of us will run out of sand next?
To the Editor: The Fault Lies . . .
As a constant observer of the Princeton Recreation Board over the past 10 years I believe that people should be made aware of what it takes to get any program running. When the Princeton Rep Shakespeare Festival wanted to use the arena in Community Park North, it took prolonged discussion and planning to make it possible. Each year meetings were held and contract negotiations offered, but the Rep group was rarely available and often failed to meet deadlines. A contract was offered last year but was not discussed until late spring, by which time other plans had been made for the facility.
The Rep group may have been excellent actors but they badly need a business head to realize deadlines. They have an unreasonable idea of entitlement; they feel they should have the arena they want and that no one else should share it. They also expect the community to underwrite their efforts.
That the Rep Shakespeare Festival is not being offered this year is definitely not the fault of the municipalities.
Elizabeth Sutton notes it was she who took the role of Susanna in New Jersey Opera Theater’s "Le Nozze di Figaro" (August 17). Our reviewer had credited that role to Hadley Reinart, but Sutton was brought in to replace Reinart. Therefore it was Sutton who was "perky, playful, enterprising, passionate, and graceful." We apologize.