Ray Duckler: 70 mph? Hey, slow it down, will ya?
Perhaps that big old meteor that exploded over Russia last month was a warning.
Maybe it was a metaphor meteor, signifying our heads exploding if we don’t slow things down.
After all, what’s the rush, people?
You’ll get there soon enough.
We all will.
State of the art yesterday is antiquated today. News on 24-hour cable networks is aired as news before it’s news. Emails travel across oceans in seconds. Parents drive like Tony Stewart at New Hampshire Speedway, shuttling their kids from soccer practice to basketball practice to piano lessons to dance class.
And now, lawmakers want to raise the speed limit?
To 70 miles per hour?
Is this really needed?
The vote came in the House on Wednesday, winning approval to up the top speed limit on Interstate 93, from Canterbury to the Vermont border, by five miles per hour. The vote was not close, 292-65, meaning, ironically, that a lot of middle-aged-and-older people say it’s fine to put the pedal to the metal.
Change the country’s national emblem to a jet-propelled eagle on roids? Change the ending to one of Aesop’s Fables, to the hare, cocky, arrogant and obnoxious, beating the tortoise, who represented class, dignity and modesty?
Look around. Speed is in, smelling the roses out. Those roses, in fact, wilted, long ago, and the finish line has surpassed the journey, with respect to importance.
Beyond a world that is spinning out of control, faster than it used to, how strange is it that our representatives chose now to take our feet off the brake? Haven’t they heard about the recent problems we’ve had with texting and/or talking while driving?
And haven’t these people been reading about our dependency on oil and how it’s dragging this country down? And haven’t they heard about gas prices and the need to conserve fuel? And haven’t they been listening to the cries for renewable energy?
Let’s drive faster?
During Wednesday’s House debate, Rep. Candace Bouchard, a Concord Democrat and the chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee, said the higher speed limit is merely a maximum, adding, “Citizens concerned with fuel consumption may still drive 65 mph.”
Terrific. And those who don’t give a hoot (and want to pollute) can drive faster. Legally.
Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, arguing to raise speed limits on three additional state roads, reasoned that most people already drive faster than what the law permits.
Great, so now we’ll have motorists doing – what? – 82 mph? 88? 108?
But let’s reel this back, to the generation born in the 1970s and earlier. Some of you who are 40-plus made the adjustment into this fast-forward era gracefully, with little or no resistance. You took those laptop computers and those funny phones and you learned all you could, enjoying the challenge, accepting the change.
But many others, like a familiar local columnist, did not. So when this fella, once a sports columnist, finally learned how to file a story from Fenway Park or the University of New Hampshire back 20 years ago, he felt as though he’d made great strides, as though he’d plugged into this strange new world.
So what happened?
The world went Wi-Fi, seemingly the next day, and it was back to square one.
And when this columnist bought a device to listen to music while working out, his high school-aged niece laughed until the cows came home when told over the phone what he’d gotten.
“Take it back!”
And when the columnist finally bought a cell phone, the kind that flipped open, suddenly cell phones had little keyboards that slid out from underneath, and when the columnist bought one of those, suddenly there were blueberries or raspberries or some other fruit-based communicator, and then came ePhones or uPhones or some other alphabet-soup title.
Now, our lawmakers say, let’s drive faster.
Hurry up and get there.
Faster, faster, faster still.
And by the way, last month a 150-foot asteroid came within 17,000 miles of Earth, mere inches in astronomical terms.
That same day came the largest recorded meteor strike in more than 100 years, the one over Russia, the one that exploded with the force of 20 atomic bombs, the one traveling at an estimated speed of 44,000 mph.
Fast enough for you?