The Null Device

As above, so below

Concorde, the 1960s-vintage supersonic airliner, is being retired. British Airways and Air France, the two operators of Concorde flights, have announced that they will be permanently grounding the planes, which have been troubled by technical problems and the decline in air travel. So now, supersonic air travel will cease to be a luxury for the super-wealthy or aviation obsessives and become another part of a bygone era, like passenger airships.

And quite a bit further down, another era is ending on the New York Subway, as the introduction of a new ticketing system brings to extinction a species of lowlife indigenous to the system: the token sucker:

The criminal carefully jams the token slot with a matchbook or a gum wrapper and waits for a would-be rider to plunk a token down. The token plunker bangs against the locked turnstile and walks away in frustration. Then from the shadows, the token sucker appears like a vampire, quickly sealing his lips over the token slot, inhaling powerfully and producing his prize: a $1.50 token, hard earned and obviously badly needed.
And deterrence, when dealing with someone willing to clamp his mouth to one of the most public surfaces in all of New York City, was next to impossible. "These guys were on their last legs," Officer McGarry said. "If they were going to jail, it was just an inconvenience for them." (In an interview with a reporter for The Los Angeles Times in the early 1990's, one token sucker acknowledged the depths of his desperation. "Hard times makes you do it," he explained, adding: "Anyways, I've kissed women that's worse.")

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