I have been reading this book, Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next, by Greg Lindsay and John Kasarda, and it is full of gems. We take the ability to order a book or other item online and have it delivered in days for granted, and perhaps tend to forget how much we have got used to this unless, that is, such services are disrupted by things such as security clampdowns or Icelandic volcanic eruptions.
Here’s a couple of paragraphs:
“Despite its handicaps, LAX has been the catalyst for the city’s metamorphosis into America’s premier trade entrepôt over the last 30 years. It was during those decades that the industrial fulcrum of California first shifted north – out of the hangars of Hughes Aircraft and into Silicon Valley – and then west, all the way to China. We have LAX to thank for our iPhones and iPods being `designed by Apple in California, assembled in China,’ as they advertise on their backs. Not just Apple, but every Valley company that began life combining transistors there – think Intel, Hewlett Packard, Sun, and Cisco – long ago began outsourcing work from its messy, depreciating factories to ones across the Pacific. Now they wait for airborne freighers to land in Los Angeles with the first samples of their latest holiday smash in the hold.”
“Anyone lucky enough to have hitched a ride aboard a freighter or been taken under the wings of the `freight dogs’ who pilot them could tell ou enough stories to pass the eighteen hours to LA from Singapore. At any given moment, there are aloft `incomprehensible quantities of the mundane,’ in the words of one such witness: 160,000 pounds of roses leaving Amsterdam, 25,000 wiring harnesses bound for auto plants around the Detroit, or 5,000 pounds of Grand Theft Auto games inbound for LAX. Another writer babysat a stableful of horses in transit between O’Hare and Tokyo, including a dozen Appaloosas bound for a Hokkaido ranch. One pilot recounted the tale of a mysterious ice chest, insured for millions, which he later learned was the vessel for the first HIV drug cocktail.”