It is important to recognize how vulnerable our technology is and how over-dependent we have become to fragile systems, some of which was built during a more trusting era.
Many things we do today, and much of our economy, relies on global navigation satellite navigation and time keeping. Much of the western economy relies on the Global Positioning System (GPS), an aging, fragile, and vulnerable US military project. Turns out that it can be easily be jammed, hacked, and turned off. And has been. Sometimes unintentionally.
E69 is the world’s northernmost highway and one of Norway’s marvels of engineering.
From the BBC:
Running 129km north from Olderfjord to Nordkapp on a finger of land at the top of Arctic Norway, the E69 is the world’s most northerly highway, a marvel of engineering along the coast of Western Europe’s northernmost peninsula. First proposed as early as 1908 by Landslaget for Reiselivet i Norge (the country’s fledgling national tourist association), yet only completed in 1999, the road is a brilliant contradiction, connecting a handful of remote and fragile fishing communities that have long proven they are capable of living without the outside world. For many, wooden boats continue to satisfy their needs.
To drive the road today is to glimpse Norway’s wilderness at its rawest. Obsidian-black bluffs rise up over narrow sea inlets; mountains lurch into the windshield before giving way to vast plateaus pockmarked by dwarf birch; and violent storms frequently roll in from the intimidating Barents Sea. Come winter, the last stretch to Nordkapp and the abrupt cliffs of Knivskjellodden, Europe’s fabled northernmost point, becomes nearly impassable, only open for convoy driving. Without the highway, it’s easy for a first-time visitor to think that the villages along the route would be on the verge of disappearing.
The creation of the E69 came about in the 1930s to counter a downturn in the fishing industry, which brooded on the horizon after Nordkapp fishermen lost control of exclusive concession rights. New sources of income for the fishermen had to be found and a mass meeting was held in 1934 in Honningsvåg, Nordkapp’s most populous village, with harbour bosses demanding the municipal council prioritise a national highway to solve the problem.
Mongolia!! The name of this landlocked Asian country has a magical ring to it. We could not think of Mongolia without our minds drifting on the image of the legendary Genghis Khan. Born in the 1160s, he spent his early life assembling a dedicated army of nomads from the immense grasslands of the Gobi, at 500,000 square miles, the fifth largest desert in the world. His fierce warriors were relentless. They could ride day and night, making a slice in their horses’ neck to drink the blood. By 1279 Mongols had gained full control of all of China, undeterred by the Great Wall. See how well walls work?
Michaela Trimble, writing for National Geographic, has some adventurous suggestions for the region surrounding Salta:
History is full of long and legendary highways but none – frankly – come close to the Silk Road. It’s not just the magnitude (at least 4,000 miles, in more than 40 countries) but the mythic potency of the project. The world was cleft into east and west in the Middle Ages.
But long before, the Silk Road – which has existed in one form or another since the fourth century BC – breached any such divide. While trade was its raison d’être – Chinese silk, of course, but also salt, sugar, spices, ivory, jade, fur and other luxury goods – the road forged deep social, cultural and religious links between disparate peoples.
The Silk Road was not a road, but a network. The central caravan tract followed the Great Wall, climbed the Pamir Mountains into Afghanistan, and crossed to the Levant. Along the way were spurs branching off to river ports, caravanserai, oases, markets and pilgrimage centres. Journeys demanded meticulous preparation: the Silk Road and its tributaries cut through some of the harshest, highest, wildest places on Earth.
And it’s not available in North America.
The German marque has announced the completion of its 100,000th California camper van at its Hannover-Limmer plant. To date, more than 160,000 examples of the vehicle have rolled off the production line since its debut nearly 30 years ago – but this 100,000 milestone is a big one for VW. It makes the California one of the best-selling, most successful mobile home in its class.