When technology gets to drive

First, personal computers began making way for new "information appliances." Now cars are going "modular" (a different configuration for every use) and becoming Web-enabled.

Remember when the high-mounted tail light was a big deal?

Some of the cars in today's lead story represent high concepts you won't soon see at a stop light. But, as with high fashion, such concepts trickle down.

Computers are one thing. Nobody cares how much your hard drive holds. You can sit out some of the information revolution.

But if you get a new car only once a decade, you may wind up relegated to the jalopy set. "Don't care," you say? Not a "car person?" That may matter less as more high-end advances become mandatory. Massachusetts, for one, just toughened inspection standards to get clunkers off the road. California has used roadside smog-sniffers to snag high-emissions cars (regardless of their age), and has called for the disposal of such cars. A Vermont town just set a limit on how many unregistered vehicles homeowners can keep on their land.

Well-meaning initiatives. But might it ultimately be impossible to wheel an affordable "dumb" car onto a "smart" road? Something to chew on amid all the recent reports of growing income gaps.

William F. Buckley Jr. remarked a few decades back that mentioning God at a dinner party would stop conversation cold - and squash the speaker's chances of being invited back.

Today, presidential candidates proclaim their religious affiliations, mutual-fund companies offer faith-specific funds - and business leaders openly employ Christian principles (page 16).

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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