tevan alexander
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May 4, 2005
Past Presents Future
In the US, the rare sight of cobblestones is a glimpse of the past. In Europe, it's also a sign of the present. Pavement and the Internet haven't yet hit in as big a way, but Europe does have its own clever minutiae.

Many subway stations display the estimated arrival time of the next train. While you're waiting, you can watch TV on a projection screen or flat-screen TV. I'm not a fan of the advertisement avalanche that descends upon the idler, but the potential use of a literally public television as an additional place to spread information across all socioeconomic classes is powerful.

There are buttons or handles on the subway cars to open the doors when the train stops. Door handles have been around for a while, but only opening the train doors when necessary saves electricity and reduces noise pollution.

Some escalators slow down when not in use and speed up when a pedestrian jumps on. The teeth at the end of the escalator will still eat you and your beloved child or pet.

The EXIT signs often show a stick figure booking for the door opposite a fire, or a box with a missing side and an arrow pointing in the direction of the exit. Symbols reach everyone.

It's even common to greet friends with a kiss on the cheek -- gets the pressure of a first kiss out of way quickly. They've thought of just about everything. The cobblestones give the cities personality. All the Europeans need, the pompous American said, is an omnipresent and stable Internet conne-

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