Gongol.com Archives: December 2020

Brian Gongol

December 22, 2020

News What's the strangest thing missing from 2020?

One thing it's strange (but real) to miss: Truck stops. The late-night stop at a Love's, a Flying J, or a TA to refuel and grab some snacks for a long road trip is one of the quintessential American experiences. They aren't architectural marvels, and most of them are destined to be torn down and rebuilt every so often. But especially along the Interstate Highway System, they are unique in their role as modern-day agoras -- marketplaces, centers of commerce, and meeting spots -- where people are found both working and seeking rest 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even the busiest airports have off-peak hours -- O'Hare barely sustains a couple of 24-hour McDonald's locations, and almost all of the concessions close before midnight. But a truck stop is not only free of TSA checkpoints, it's almost always a spot one is guaranteed to find a full meal at any hour of the day or night. ■ Like a lot of things about America, a 24-hour truck stop is a tacit celebration of getting things done. Lots of truck drivers are on the road at night, and while their sleep considerations may deserve some serious safety consideration, they keep the truck stops lively even in the deepest hours of night. ■ For most of us, the travel and gathering restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic have put the brakes on road trips for fun and even most business. That's kept many of us from having the truck-stop experience for almost a year now. When the vaccines have started to have a real effect on the population, one of the signs we're getting back to normal might very well come in the form of a fairly clean restroom, an oversized fountain drink, and a bag of cherry sours.

Health Dear Santa

Dear Santa: All I want for Christmas is to have Dr. Anthony Fauci's sense of mission when I'm 79 years old. Fauci received his first Covid-19 vaccine shot today, on-camera.

Broadcasting Ode to the great '90s television opening sequence

A loving look at what happens when creators get obsessive about the work they do, through the lens of one particular television show's opening sequence. Tom Scott gives terrific voice to the phenomenon of the great 1990s-era opening sequence -- from a time when television was still the definitive mass medium and when computers were getting to be just good enough to do things we couldn't do in the analog world, but before those machines made it into the hands of ordinary people. There's no going back, of course, because today's fully-CG sequences can be made technically perfect. But, for a brief moment, we had artists who sewed glorious, high-craft seams between analog and digital. And their work really did reach, in some fine cases, into the realm of art. ("Beyond 2000" was one of those shows.) Of course, this was also about the time when local television newscasts opened with a bunch of people looking at pieces of paper.

News Be wise

Charlie Munger: "It's dishonorable to stay stupider than you have to be. That's my ethos. You have to be generous, too."

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