When technology gets to drive

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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.

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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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