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Do you remember my blog post about building a giant canal system in the U.S. as a way to create jobs in our robot-driven future?

It was officially the worst idea I've ever had, according to most of you.

Technically, it was just the worst idea I've ever shared. You wouldn't believe the crap that swirls around inside my skull and never gets out. But that's another story.

One of the biggest objections to my canal plan was that there are too many mountains in the way. But it turns out there's a natural network of connected rivers that go from the Pacific to the Atlantic already. That's a start.

Clearly we'd need a lot of dredging. But plotting the path for the first major leg of the canal might be done.

Okay, I know you still don't like the canal idea. But this is a reminder that it's never safe to assume something is impossible or impractical. I'm having flashbacks to the time I was putting together my sample comics to try and become a syndicated cartoonist. Most of my friends imagined that plan to be impossible for the obvious reason that I wasn't good at drawing. I got more looks of sympathy than support.

It's always a good idea to let reality be your only obstacle. Your imagination shouldn't be the limit on your success.

----------------

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

 

Author of the best graduation gift ever.

 

 



 
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Apr 24, 2014
[The canal idea is primarily for tourists and in some cases cargo. And you are only on the boat as much as you want to be. It's as much about the stops and the local sites and towns. You can go to the next location over night while you sleep. -- Scott]

Im still failing to see how this idea is so much better than current alternatives that wed want to spend tens of trillions of dollars making it happen. Go to the next location while you sleep? You can already do that with Amtrak; expand rail service a bit and you essentially have what you want here complete with cargo transport.

[Because trains and houseboats are basically the same experience? I drew a comic today about a guy who reflexively disagrees with all ideas. It brings me back to my corporate days. I had a colleague at the phone company who refused all suggestions as impractical. I eventually fixed that situation by presenting each suggestion as someone else's idea that I knew to be impossible in practice. Then he'd spend the rest of the day proving I was wrong by implementing my idea. -- Scott]
 
 
Apr 24, 2014
[Clearly you are not a boater. (Neither am I.) People will ride around in a boat all day and be happy, but few people will ride around in a car all day just for fun. Perhaps the automobile version is for the local trips once you get to a destination. -- Scott]

Does that mean people want to live all day every day in a boat? My own thinking is no, that the reason people will ride in a boat all day and be happy is that its a new and different experience, but once the novelty wears off it will be just as appealing to them as living in a mobile home. What then? You've just spent tens of trillions of dollars for something people no longer want.

[The canal idea is primarily for tourists and in some cases cargo. And you are only on the boat as much as you want to be. It's as much about the stops and the local sites and towns. You can go to the next location over night while you sleep. -- Scott]
 
 
Apr 24, 2014
[Easily done. Try renting a houseboat for summer right now. They're all booked months in advance. -- Scott]

All that proves is that the people who run the houseboat rental industry are good at understanding the demand for their services. Remember how planes used to always be half-full in the 80s? But now almost every one is packed? Same principle.
 
 
Apr 24, 2014
Wow, that's fascinating! Good thing there aren't that many people living in the southwest and northeast corners of our country -- otherwise this wouldn't do us any good at all.

However, to your point, I always get irritated with people in my industry (computers) who claim a particular programming task is "impossible" to do. It's all ones and zeroes. You can literally make them do anything. (Yeah, I know, the traveling salesman problem in O(N) time, yada yada yada. You know what I mean.)
 
 
Apr 24, 2014
How about we start with the rivers and see if people actually enjoy the houseboat scheme before we start digging any trenches? Feasibility testing and test market studies are always done before product rollout of something new and unusual, at least in the private market. The government doesn't do such things perhaps, but then that's why things the government does are so often failures.

[Easily done. Try renting a houseboat for summer right now. They're all booked months in advance. -- Scott]
 
 
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Apr 24, 2014

Lewis and Clark missed it by that much.

 
 
Apr 24, 2014
[Technically, it was just the worst idea I've ever shared. You wouldn't believe the crap that swirls around inside my skull and never gets out. But that's another story.]

I would bet you that my worst ideas are worse than your worst ideas, but Im scared to share them, so how would we resolve the bet?
 
 
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Apr 24, 2014
***Technically, it was just the worst idea I've ever shared.****

Know exactly what you mean.
 
 
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Apr 24, 2014
Scott: On the off chance you haven't see this...http://xkcd.com/1349/
"Everything is hard until someone makes it easy"
 
 
Apr 24, 2014
You still havent told me what advantages a boathouse would have over a mobile home. And if you say 'future technology will solve that' tell me how that technology wouldnt work for a mobile home.

[Clearly you are not a boater. (Neither am I.) People will ride around in a boat all day and be happy, but few people will ride around in a car all day just for fun. Perhaps the automobile version is for the local trips once you get to a destination. -- Scott]
 
 
Apr 24, 2014
I think the idea is impractical for the same reason that routine space travel is (currently) impractical - the amount of mass that must be moved. The energy costs (using current technology) and time involved would be prohibitive.

Also, looked at purely as a transportation system, and not as a place to live, you'd run into a problem that rail lines can run into - the destinations you go to may not be so popular anymore. Air travel is much more flexible in this regard.
 
 
 
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