I’ve been harping a lot lately about how in so many areas of technology the US is not #1. From cell phones to Internet connectivity to high speed rail, we kind of suck as compared to much of the world. We like to talk about how we live in the bestest country on earth, but I’ve an increasing sense that we’re falling behind in far too many ways while all that our politicians give us is pablum. The latest example: high speed trains. The trip from DC to Chicago on Amtrak takes 24 hours. The European high speed equivalent would take around 6 hours. Sure, we’ve got the Acela train on Amtrak, which doesn’t go nearly as fast as France’s TGV, and, I’m told by my friends who travel the DC to NY route often, the Acela is so filthy with litter that they refuse to even ride it. I’ve ridden many a train in Europe, of all classes and speeds, and I’ve never seen “filthy.” It’s true that we’re not a train culture. But perhaps that’s because we have such crappy trains, and expectations, while the rest of the world has once again passed us by.