News from the Rialto
Posted on September 22, 2014

In a Venice divided by canals, the Rialto was the bridge linking two of the larger islands. It is believed that the citizens tended to meet there to exchange the news of the day. (Can you imagine how they would have loved our current social media to keep abreast of things?)

One day last week my day was marked by 3 Rialto~worthy items. The first was my subway ride with a tall man carrying an immense, plastic-swathed object that loomed over his head. We both got off at the same stop and, as he wrestled his burden up the stairs, the plastic slipped and I got a glimpse of what he was lugging. It was the entire roof of a car! I could barely believe my eyes. I was left wondering where the rest of the decapitated vehicle might be.

My daily paper then informed me of some research done by scientists at the University of Illinois which revealed that the bees in a hive are not all as uniformly busy as the old proverb says. Twenty percent of them do 50% of the work. However, if these energetic ones are removed, the other, less productive workers step up, and take over. This gave me a good bit of material for reflection. Once I had finished wondering how the researchers attached ID tags to the bees to track them, I began to think that there must be a human application to this pattern, for either Congress or the office. I'm still working on that.

My final item of what's next in human activity is the Future Library being planned for a site near Oslo. Its planners have planted a forest to be cut down in 2114 to provide paper for what it calls "seed" books. Each year for the next century an author will be invited to contribute a book that will be stored, unread, until 2114. At that time it will be opened, printed on the now-growing tree paper and hopefully read, if readers still exist. (In case of a great disaster, the planners have also stored a printing press. I hope it comes with directions.)

Margaret Atwood is the first author who has agreed to write a seedling. She will be succeeded annually by another for the next century. I wonder how such authors will feel about these unread books accumulating dust as they await future readers. And will the latter be around in a hundred years?

I am not sure how one designs a plot for the future reader. Given the glut of dystopic literature currently flooding the market, it almost seems as if a bleak future is on the minds of many current authors.

So, there you are: top off your own car, check the habits of the busy bees, and hope that the future will have readers. What's new on your Rialto?


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