I'm in the Bay Area this week for a couple of book-related interviews. At the same time, I've been mulling over my most recent essay assignment. Topic: the absence of, and prospects for, high-speed rail in the U.S. After flying into Oakland, taking the bus to BART, then riding BART to Berkeley, one can't help but wonder whether travelers 20, or even 50, years from now will be able to ride speedy trains up and down the coast. I know, I know, there's Amtrak Acela in the northeast. But that barely counts.

On the plane this morning, I sat behind a bald Rastafarian from Eugene, Ore., who was having a loud and long-winded conversation about religion with a Pakistani high-tech engineer. Amusing.
AuthorDavid Wolman