Dream for the Future
By David Brin, a contributing writer, 2001
Rebuilding New York: The best revenge is to live well
There is already discussion about what kind of use should be made of the former WTC site.
I’ll be ticked off if they just build a memorial park there. That was the right thing on Oklahoma City, but not here. Not in New York City! And especially not after this effort to assail a symbol of everything that’s aspiring and ambitious in the American spirit.
There’s just one appropriate use for the WTC site… construct the biggest, most spectacular, brazen, resourceful, joyfully audacious and huge-marvelously-American building in the whole wide world.
Build it strong. Defiant. Make it a target. That’ll protect everything around it.
In response to the initial suggestion above, several people sent ideas for architectural features: For example, a gaudy zeppelin dock might be impractical — high winds — but a memorial garden on the 110th floor setback would be nice. About halfway to the top…
- Variable opacity windows with photovoltaic awnings.
- Peregrine falcon rookeries.
- Windows that open, even if just a little.
- Public pool and gym . . . every 50 floors.
- Piezoelectric stairs.
- Stone panels between the windows engraved and set with glass beads that illuminate when hit with light from below, so sides of building will display animated light shows and art.
- Heliports all along the side, like in sci fi movies.
- Add base jumping platforms every few floors, for
- quick home commutes,
- quick escape in emergencies and
- Oh, and a roller coaster… or a big external elevator car resembling a giant climbing ape.
- Chrome. Lots of chrome.
- And of course… systems of defense. Including lovely fog generators… and floors that slant just 1 degree, so they won’t pancake in any catastrophe, but instead slide one by one along separate fan-arcs into the Hudson River, to float as ocean liners…
I imagine the people of Kuala Lumpur may resent the terrorists a bit, if we take away their “world’s tallest building’ title because of this. If so, that’ll be just fine.
How do you want to live tomorrow?
Charlie Stross suggests some important elements of a preferred world of tomorrow, after the war is waged and won.
I have a dream.
I want to see a world where the people of the Middle East are not poverty- stricken dwellers in concrete rubble and mud huts. I want to see a world where they have democratically accountable governments, a world where all their children go to school and then to university, where there are two cars in every garage and a chicken in every pot. I want to see a Middle East where angry young adults with a political point to make think in terms of writing to their elected representatives, rather than strapping on bombs and committing suicide because that’s the only way to make their voice heard.
People who have freedom and wealth do not make good suicide bombers. Go ask the Japanese about it if you don’t believe me and want a first-hand opinion
In fact, let’s dwell on Japan. Japan is the perfect model for what I want to see happening to the Middle East. Japan’s government was taken over by militaristic fanatics. They started a near-holy war. They got slapped down brutally hard, after they themselves committed appalling atrocities in many other countries.
But today … Japan isn’t perfect, but Japan is rich, comfortable, largely non-militaristic, overwhelmingly embarrassed about the past.
Japan is a poster-child for what I’d like the Middle East to become, after the war that now looks to be inevitable.
I want to see a world where the people of the Middle East don’t see themselves as victims of a savage occupation by forces of a hostile evangelical religion bent on stripping them of their natural resources and keeping them divided.
And most importantly, I want to see a world where we do not lose our most precious liberties in the name of security and vigilance against a threat that should never have been allowed to materialize in the first place.
You can be sure of one thing: if the threat of Islamic terrorism isn’t defeated, we will lose our liberties in the name of security.
I assert that the terrorism emerges from frustration with the total corruption of the political processes of the Middle East. Therefore, to end the threat of terrorism we need to fix the political mess, reconstruct the economies of the countries in the region, and provide the circumstances in which an Islamic equivalent of the West’s eighteenth century enlightenment can flourish.