Zeno's LAX Paradox


I draw cartoons for The Los Angeles Times about issues related to California and the Southland (metro Los Angeles).

This week: Once again, the MTA extends the LA Metro toward the airport…and once again, it doesn’t quite get to the airport. Reminds one of a famous Greek mathematical paradox.

One thought on “LOS ANGELES TIMES CARTOON: Zeno’s LAX Paradox

  1. My best experience with metro and LAX is to just go to central station and take the flyway bus. Its still metro it still only costs $5 and it avoids Zeno’s paradox, because you tell the flyway bus driver exactly what airline at what terminal you are going to and he drops you off there.

    But yes, back when I lived in Pasadena and before I heard of the flyway bus I do remember taking the gold-line, to the red-line, to the blue-line, to the green-line, to a bus (into the parking lot you describe) to another bus … . LAX is the only place I have ever missed flights before. I used to leave 5 hours before domestic flights and would just make it (and once not). The flyway bus solution cut out Zeno’s paradox and had me down to leaving about 3 hours before domestic flights and I never missed one.

    I do have to say though, the Zeno’s paradox analogy to LA public transit to the airport is, unfortunately, really good. I would say the only extremely fine and completely irreverent nit I have to pick with that analogy is that Zeno’s paradox is 1/2 of the distance each time. Each leg of the public transit, however, is some random rational number less then one. For instance that blue-line trip is probably the longest leg, while that red-line trip is shorter then anything but the final bus ride. So it is basically Zeno’s paradox with a delightful random number generated for the denominator to keep things “exciting”.

    Additional excitement comes from the fact that the blue-line necessarily stops in both Compton and Watts. A less politically correct friend of mine referred to it as “the ghetto express”. The looks you get late at night stopped in between Compton and Watts, trying to make a red-eye flight while being the only Caucasian person on the train carrying your expensive laptop are memorable. Interesting point of fact though, I never had a problem, no one ever actually bothered me, and the vast majority of the looks I was getting there were of the form: “holly shit was is this poor clueless idiot doing” instead of anything threatening.