Just a quickie today, I need to vacuum my apartment.
All morality is the result of a personal judgment. As an atheist, I know that, but its harder for people raised in religious tradition to accept.
“No, no, no!” they cry, “The source of morality is God!”
And how do you know which God?
“By his Holy book!”
And how do you know which Holy book?
“Because he lead me to it!”
And how do you know he lead you to it?
“Because He told me!”
And how did you decide this still small voice in your head was his voice and not yours?
“I made a personal judgment. Oh.”
See, ALL morality comes from a personal judgment. Either you personally judge each situation, or you make an appeal to some authority. If you make an appeal to authority, you must first execute your personal judgment on whether that authority, be it God, some Holy book, a tradition, represents a good authority.
So, all morality is ultimately situational and dependent upon the person deciding it. Doesn’t bother me, but man does that bum out the religious folk.
“Why won’t the car companies build this car?”
I can’t tell you how often I have heard that from people in reference to some high mileage concept. Well, luckily you all have me here to answer that for you. Today we are are going to make an high fuel economy car on paper, then I’ll explain why no one builds it.
There is one simple way to use less fuel: make less power. Engines burn fuel to make heat, then convert this heat into horsepower. To save fuel, we need to make as little heat as possible, then convert that heat into power as efficiently as possible, then take that horsepower and use it to move the car as efficiently as possible.
There are 2 ways to reduce the need for power: Aerodynamics and Weight. We turn to the Power Train (engine and transmission) to convert the energy efficiently from heat, to horsepower, to vehicle motion.
Aerodynamics are simple. The faster the car goes, the harder the air in front of it piles up, sticks to the sides and swirls around behind it. Step one to good aerodynamics is to make the car’s cross section as small as possible. No matter how aerodynamic something is, the bigger it is the more air it has to push out of the way. So, make the car very narrow and low, say 44″ wide and 44″ tall. (Airplanes made to sit two across are this size. Its doable, just different.) To keep the air from piling up in front, the nose of the car needs to be a rounded point like a bullet. To keep the air from swirling around in back in needs to end in sharp point, like a wedge, and should be quite long. Since some air sticks to the sides, the longer the car, the more air sticks. If the car is too long more energy is lost unsticking the air from the sides, than swirling around behind a blunt a wedge. 6 times the length is ideal for a wedge. The car would be about 23 feet long, but we can cut off the last 3 feet to make a “Kammback” and have it be just as good. The car then ends in a straight edge, which is good for mounting the tail lights in anyway.
Weight is also simple. The more it weighs, the more power is needed to accelerate, climb hills, and stop. The last is important for two reasons. One, heavy cars need heavy brakes. Heavy brakes mean a heavier car, which needs a heavier engine to get around, which in turn becomes heavier and needs heavier brakes. (Don’t laugh, this is why a 73 Corvette weighs 500 lbs more than a 53 Corvette.) Two, among existing mass produced cars there is proportional relationship between weight and and likelihood of the passengers to survive a crash. There are ways around this, but it requires some real design skills. Bearing safety in mind, we want the car as light as it can be inexpensively made. The only option this really leaves us is an aluminum space frame with a lightweight plastic body covering it.
Power Train includes the engine and transmission. We need to use as little fuel as possible. Hybrids sip fuel by using a battery pack and electric motor to move the car at low speed and the engine to move it at full speed. The problem is that the very best, cost-no-object batteries still don’t even hold a 1/10 the energy per pound as tank of gas. So we will hybrid with a small engine, say 5 to 10 hp. This engine will run the A/C and anything else necessary when the car is stopped, help accelerate it at low speed, and let the primary engine take over at higher speed. Since the secondary engine is so small, and used occasionally, it doesn’t need the special “getting the most heat out of the engine” trick that the primary engine does. To accomplish this we need a something called a “turbo-compound engine“. I’ll not explain the intricacies of these here, only to say it involves a turbo that uses some of its power to supercharge the engine (like a normal turbo) and returns further power to the crankshaft. The maximum efficiency for this set up is about 60% vs the 20% most cars make. However, it is unlikely that in vehicle service we could get over 40-50% efficiency. Basically double.
The car is very light, but people aren’t. So the car might only have to carry its own weigh plus a 160 lb person, or four 200 lb people and some luggage (a 1000 lbs). This means the load range of the car is 625%. To pull this off we need an unusually flexible and efficient transmission. Luckily for these relatively low loads, there is an ideal one which shifts without gears, called a Continuously Variable Transmission or CVT.
So what went into the car? The chassis is a welded and bonded aluminum space frame, covered in plastic panels. The Renault Sport Spider does this, and its chassis weighs less than 180 lbs. The primary transmission is an of-the-self CVT unit, but the car needs three additional transmissions. One to connect the secondary engine to the primary transmission, one to connect the secondary engine to all the auxiliaries of the primary engine, and one to connect the turbo to the primary engine. The secondary engine is a standard 100cc motorcycle engine. The primary engine, on the other hand is a direct injection, turbo-compounded unit. Though this is old technology and regularly used in power plants and other other very large engines, no one has made any transportation engines of this type since the Wright R-3350 of the 1940’s and 50’s.
The car should have at least twice the aerodynamic efficiency of a normal car, so that doubles the mileage once. The engine should produce its power with half the fuel of a normal engine of the same size, so double again. Going with the mileage of existing economy cars, the Ford Festiva and Geo Metro, 40-50 MPG and taking it times 4 we get 160-200 MPG highway. Using the example of modified economy specials from the 70’s (which never went over 30 mph) we can estimate the in town mileage of around 300 – 400 mpg.
Space frame chassis do not translate well into mass production. The more purely the form is a space frame rather than a unibody, the more this is true. (Saturn’s “space frame” chassis aren’t really.) They must be semi-mass produced, which raises the price. The power train can be mass produced, but requires premium components in many places to function. It also has four transmissions. So, again the power train is expensive. If the car is going to sell for a reasonable price, these expenses must be made up in the only remaining ways: body, non-critical component quality, interior trim quality, and lack of amenities.
Body: Instead of being the shiny, ultrahard plastics that Saturns are made of, it will be the cheap matte injection molded plastic that storage tubs are made of, and the even cheaper diecut plastic that notebooks are covered with. The windows will be fixed, and bonded to the body.
Non-critical component quality. This means parts that work in a way that makes you nervous. Door handles that flex horribly before opening, blinkers that stay on until you shut them off manually, and gauges will be plain digital readouts, as if robbed from a microwave.
Interior trim quality: This mean lawn chair like seats, and and lack of fascias. The guts of the dash will be just sitting there. No head liner on the ceiling, just bare plastic. No carpet or rubber mats on the floor, just bare metal. Or, conversely, if the fascias are installed, they will be of cheap material and installed sloppily.
Lack of amenities: No power steering, windows, brakes, seats, mirrors, locks. Nothing is powered at all. No stereo, no GPS, no gear shift (push button for forward and reverse) Spartan, spare, and minimalist.
The whole picture
So now we have our super mileage car. It gets 300 MPG in town and 200 MPG on the road. It costs about as much as a normal car, it comes in one color, a sort of beige gray (the cheapest plastic), and it is shaped like a turd. You can’t use drivethru’s anymore because the wheels stick out a foot from the car and the windows are fixed in place. You are as safe in a crash as anyone else in accident in a small car, but thats not saying a lot. You can carry 4 people and all their stuff across the country on 10 gallons of gas.
Answering, “Why don’t they make it?”
Well, quite simply, the lead times and costs are enormous. I would buy this car because I would rather get 300 mpg than look cool. However, most people would rather have a much more compromised car which gets 40 mpg instead of 30, and is a better phallic extension for them. There simply aren’t enough people who would buy these to justify building a factory to produce them. Besides, the kind of people who are so cheap they will drive what looks like a wheeled suppository just to save some scratch aren’t going to buy a new one every 5 years. They are going to keep it like an heirloom. Which means there is no continuing demand. Once everybody who wants one has one, they can’t sell anymore.
Finally, every company has a culture. It is no more acceptable in Detroit to be really excited about building a super economy car than it is for a school teacher to be really excited about taking preschoolers to the bathroom. Oh sure, both parties will do the job because it is their civic virtue, but both would be highly suspected of aberrant desires if they were really excited about it.
Car companies are not in the business of selling transportation machines. They are in the business of selling desire. There is no profit margin on utility. A car you actually need would probably cost about 5 grand, look at the Tato Nano. The only way for the car companies to make that additional 25,000 dollars is to sell you what you want instead of what you need. Do people want to get 200 mpg gallon? Certainly, but not nearly as bad as they want to look the part of whatever dream they are having. Men and woman who have never even seen a gravel road buy off road packages because it compliments who they like to see themselves as. The number of people who want to look in the mirror and an ecologist more than they want to see a sexpot is just too slim to make a car for them.
It is almost, but not quite, raining as I write this. The thunder is getting louder, and the lightening is striking closer. The glaring tropical sky, more silver than blue is hidden at last. The ubiquitous sand that coats the roads and sidewalks is swirling in tiny cyclones, and the birds are flying low, trying to get a last snack before hiding from the coming deluge. And as if on cue! As I wrote the word ‘deluge’ it begins. Rain drums the roof and the wall of my small shop. Huge fat raindrops are falling into the instantly formed puddles, the rings they would otherwise create torn to tatters by the falling of the next drop and the next. Visibility is fading fast now. Water is not nearly so transparent as air, and it is displacing the air around around me at a furious rate. I love this weather. I love the rain, the crashing thunder, the lightening bolts, and above all, the way the darkness transforms the landscape.
I am, after many years of failure by myself and the church alike, reborn. Things I liked as child, but repressed, return to me like the familiar echo of my own voice. All these bits of me, frozen for years, are now melting. Like the rain of spring that melts the last of the winter snow, these rivulets pour through the funk of 20 some years of life in the church. I am falling in love, with life, at last.
Emotions felt, but hidden, I am now free to admit and enjoy. As I mentioned above, I love rain. I love the darkness and the cold that it brings. I love what rain does to suburbia, how it washes away her fake tan, strips the makeup away and reveals her true age and profession. This wasn’t a feeling I could admit before.
I love music. It seems that I never truly listened to music till now. I listened with my ears, but not with my heart, not with my soul. Debussy and Wagner I know well. They have stood at the door knocking, desperately pleading me to let them make me feel, something, anything, just feel, but the door was never open. Song crafters and songwriters, who sing the dark thoughts I once thought, but I shoveled under pastels, now speak to my soul.
I used to make up beautiful stories, tragic romances, and star crossed lovers. Walking alone at night, my black trench coat sweeping my feet, I wrote and rewrote stories in my mind, wandering but never lost. I used to drive to the lake, sit on the beach and play my guitar, waiting for the water sprites to dance.
I used to do these things, but I put them I away. I stopped listening to music that threatened my establishment established mindset. I gave away my black trench coat. I quite playing guitar. I stopped working on my art. I stopped all of these things. This was not what successful Christians did. It was not how they dressed, not how they talked, not how they lived, and above all, not how they believed.
What Christians believe is touchy subject. If you make any statement which at all enpinges on the church, Christians have a ready response prepared: “Oh, but that is not what the Bible teaches” or “Oh, but no one is saying that.” or “No born again Christian would say that.” And that is true, these beliefs are not written down, they are not in scripture, and they are not spoken. But that truth, hides another, far darker truth. Namely, that like all groups, Christians, have powerful social norms. Those who function in these norms are rewarded and those who do not are punished. It is not a conscious thing. Few, if any Christians, think, “Oh, that young man over there in all black is a bad person.”
When you belong to the church, there is an enormous pressure to be like everyone else. I hear the Christians complaining about that statement. “Oh, no, no, no!” they cry, ” I have never felt that pressure.” Theres a reason for that: you already fit. There is no reason to saw your arms and legs off to fit the suit, the suit fits you fine. But for those of us who did not fit, there was tyranny of gentle disapproval, raised eyebrows, condescension, and undeserved pity that all pointed towards the Christian social norm. Constantly, we were pushed and prodded. Skipped over when we wanted to be chosen and chosen when we wanted to be skipped. You would value what other Christians valued and this would be shown in the music you liked, the art you liked, the clothes you liked, the information you liked, and the professions you liked.
I was pregnant with an idea once, the idea of who I was meant to be. But pregnancy reveals two parents. Looking upon the child of my self, the church would have looked long and hard at the long, black coats, the love of literature and art, and the melancholy and said, “This is not my child! I am not the father!” I couldn’t bare the rejection, so I aborted my own soul. If ever I am judged, surely, that is my greatest sin.
And here I am. Given a chance to be myself again. Having turned my back on Christianity, I am free to love the music, the manner of dress, and above all, the manner of thinking that I wish. For the first time in my life, I can see a future for myself that I don’t dispise. The desire to hurt myself, physically, emotionally, financially, and in all other ways, is gone. Without the picket fence keeping me in, I love my life. I stand proud, my head up, and of course, wearing black.
I wanted to talk about the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” For a long time, that phrase was the foundation of my social life. I tried to love people in that way, loving the person, but hating the evil they did. What, to me, was evil? The absence of righteousness. What then was righteousness? Webster’s Online Dictionary says righteousness is doing that which is in accordance with divine law. I hated that which the Bible told me to hate.
As you know, I have a lot friends these days which you might call “free thinkers”. In that community of people,which includes atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and other questioners, alternative lifestyles are much more common than in the Church. So, I run into people living these lifestyles more often than I used too.
Until recently, I never cared about anyone who lead an alternative lifestyle, because I didn’t know any. Now, a few of my many oddball friends fit into that category. When you get familiar with someone, you can empathize with them, you can accurately imagine what it would be like to live life in their shoes. You can imagine what they might feel. I’d never before empathized for someone who was leading any other kind of life than mine and upon doing it, I find the views I held as Christian are vicious. You can’t really love the sinner and really hate the sin.
A person is the sum of their actions and desires. You are, simply, what you do. Most of my readers are heterosexual Christians. Pretend for a moment, that the tables are turned. You are still your straight self, but you are suddenly part of a 4% minority. 96% of the population is gay, and most call themselves Christian. Now hear the things that most Christians believe, from that perspective.
“I think your relationship with that woman, who I refuse to call your wife, is disgusting. I think the sex you have with her is repugnant. To have heterosexual urges that you chose not to act on is sin enough, but there is something especially sinful about having that kind of sex. But I love you!”
“I think that you are a dangerous predator, and that you cannot be a Scout Leader, and that you shouldn’t be allowed to teach in a public school even if the law says you can. I wonder what would even make a heterosexual chose a job where they work with children in the first place. But I love you!”
“I think it is wrong for young children to be taught that people like you even exist. I supported the removal of the book Heather has a Mommy and Daddy from my children’s school library. I oppose any kind of sex education course that teaches kids it is OK to be like you. But I love you.”
“I believe that you are part of a vast Heterosexual Agenda that includes heterosexuals in places of cultural authority, like media providers and colleges campuses. I believe this group is subversively trying to hijack our society by projecting a positive image of your empty and promiscuous life. But I love you!”
How loved do you feel when someone says that it is disgusting that you make love to your wife in both theory and practice, that because of who you want to love and be loved by you are intrinsically a sexual predator, that you cannot be trusted with children in a professional setting, that children should not even know that people of your persuasion exist, and that by association you are part of conspiracy to destroy this nation’s children, this nations way of life, and ultimately, this nation? Does being accused of horrible crimes make you feel loved? Is this how you treat the people you love? Do you postscript love messages to your spouse with the statement “And your lifestyle is evil and worthy of eternal suffering?”
Of course not. Your lifestyle is everything that makes you who you are. It is your identity. You cannot love a person and hate their identity. Its not possible to love a person and hate everything that makes them that person. Either the love of the person, or the hate of the things they do; one must be starved.
I choose the love. Within the spectrum of Christianity, I could be seen as liberal or conservative. I didn’t want to starve the hate. Righteousness you remember, is being in accordance with divine law. God hates homosexuality, it both the Old and New Testaments. I wanted to be righteous so I loved from half a heart. I could never let my heart free to love. I might give my heart to someone who wasn’t saved. They might die, and then this person whom I loved, would be suffering in eternal agony forever. Think of the brokenness of spouse who’s beloved is POW. Think of the terror. Then think forever. Your beloved suffering… forever.
So I only let myself love a little bit. People I defined as Christians got the most love, but even then, I love too deeply to carry the burden of forever. I couldn’t let myself love someone who might suffer forever, because when we truly love we share suffering. We are hurt when our children hurt, and sad when our family members are sad.
I loved from who I wanted people to be, instead of who they were. I missed out on love. On relationships full of meaning and purpose, because I stopped my heart from going there. I’m done with that. As an atheist, I don’t believe in hell or heaven. I am not afraid to love because of the hurt of the knowledge of eternal pain, nor do feel I can live without friends, safe in the knowledge I will see them in heaven. I must love my friends right here, right now, because any of us could gone tomorrow, and that would be the end.
Never in my life have I felt so loved as I do now, giving my heart away as I am doing. This is the face of Joy. This is the life of purpose and meaning I have longed my entire life. This is the way I was meant to live.
Of late, my wife has been going to a corsetiere class put on by Mistress Isolde of a certain Society. Sounds naughty doesn’t it?
It’s not. She is learning to make corsets from a retired opera singer and costume mistress whose SCA name is Mistress Isolde, the Society for Creative Anachronisms being the the society in question. There are hundreds of menial details that go into making any beautiful thing, and corsets are no exception. In addition to the celebrated lacing, a corset is a complicated sandwich of steel “boning” strips in the middle of brocade and heavy muslin. I sat on a pleasantly medieval styled bench in Lady Dianna’s living room filling away at the square tips of the boning, making them safely round. (Lest in a splendid gyration during a courtly dance, a broken stitch cause a skewered booby. Don’t laugh it actually happened to Mistress Isolde, once. “A pain like I’ve never before known, ” she explained in her French Canadian accent, gesturing wildly with her free hand and holding her wine in the other.) She wanders around the room, telling a funny story here, offering advice there.
Conversations start in one side of the room. Some flower, branch out and bloom. Some die in the corner they started in when louder or more funny one starts in another corner. There is some wine about. Most don’t imbibe, and those who do sip at one or at most two glasses over the two hour evening. The file rasps long and vibrates the table with a deep hum, like a faraway pipe organ. A sewing machine whirs now and then, punctuating the laughter and talk with it’s hum. The air is scented with the smell of worked metal from the filling and the sewing machine, and of sealant to keep the boning, soon to be sealed in the brocade and muslin, from rusting.
Becky always comes home so radiantly relaxed from these things. And she’d said one simple thing that I wanted to experience for myself.
“People who don’t do church do it so much better than we ever did”
Becky and I, you see, left the mainstream church to chase a dream of a church that actually brought hope and healing. The method was called house church. It was startlingly simple: you didn’t go to a building, because a church is not a building, a church is the people. A church is family. You got your spiritual family together for a potluck in the living room once a week or so. Love and relationships would happen, and God seeing a place he would feel so at home, would rest there. Where God was, change would follow.
No more clergy and laity. No more pulpit and pew. No more spiritual haves and haves not. We were chasing the Kingdom of Heaven, not as some fuzzy ideal, but real and attainable thing: A new kind of spiritual economy in which the pastors/priests/missionaries would not have the all the spiritual responsibilities and blessings, parasitically supported by the common folk. We would meet in houses, eat, and pray, and then God would show up, evidenced often by the speaking of tongues and prophecy, but sometimes just a presence, a pervading feeling of love and elation. At some undetermined time, God would manifest the way he did in the New Testament, in Love and Power. The impoverished would be fed, clothed, and sheltered, and Kansas City would become a lightening rod, the highest point, struck by Divine power. When the hospitals emptied out and the gangs laid down their arms who could then doubt the power of God?
Looking back, I feel like such a fool. Any high school freshman with a penchant for the History Channel could have seen were this was going.
Lets go over the facts shall we? The existing system is one were a tiny group of people control all the (spiritual) resources, and the people have none. All they can do is work to support the ‘spiritual production’ but with no chance to ever own the means. We will form into small cells and meet together to discuss this problem and what we can do about it. At some undetermined point in the future, our system, which is the final evolution of the (spiritual) economy, will displace the other existing systems because of its lack of waste (no money spend creating religious professionals, leasing buildings, or unspiritual competition). Then all will join with us in our beautiful Utopia and all will be equals (in Christ)
My God, how stupid were we? This is Marxism 101. But we missed it. We wanted the change so bad. We wanted to be part of the solution and not part of the problem so badly, that we ate this shit with a spoon, smiled and asked for some more.
It worked like you might think. God just wouldn’t quite show up. We had tongues a plenty. Warm fuzzies abounded, but real, objective limb growing change seemed to elude us. A solution was arrived at. We had lost the focus. We were focusing on what we wanted God to do after we made the Workers Paradise Kingdom Community, instead of building said community. What we needed to do was just love each more.
And so we did, we all did. But thats when it sort of began to fall apart. As Christians are, ironically, aware, you cannot command love. One began to ask oneself, “Am I being loving enough?” A bar had been set. We would be loving enough when the local, unsaved community, began to change from the love in us. The final brick of Marxism walled us into our own tomb. Soviet Communism made huge promises that it could never keep. It demanded enormous sacrifice. And all that was OK at first, because it was “only temporary”. As soon as this 5 year plan was done, as soon as the American menace was contained, as soon as the production kinks were ironed out, as soon as, etcetera ad naseum. By the time people wised up, they were already under the gun.
Now the church had us by the balls. Someday in the future we would be good enough. Until then, we could not love enough, be selfless enough, give enough, pray enough, or hope enough. So the revolutionary movement church that had first promised freedom and empowerment now used our hope of that promise to enslave our hearts….
All over now.
Back to the SCA. Tonight, I sat in a room with bunch of strangers. It felt so right. It felt so like house church did, but something was missing, and its lack was wonderful. I took me some time, listening to snatches of talk and laughter to understand what it was: seriousness. When you are trying to save the world, everything is so damn serious. A popular question at house church was “How are you really doing?” a simple “fine” being totally inadequate. You had to have a serious question, and a serious answer.
That and there was no expectation. When someone accidentally stabbed needle into their thumb below the thimble no one judged when they said “Shit!”. There was not an enormous pressure to be great, or even a pressure to be yourself. There was no pressure at all.
The freedom and community I wanted existed all along, in groups of people having to much fun to have the time to promise me how free and communal they were.
I am a big geek. Do you know how some people have a feeling of the divine when the meditate? I feel the divine when I ponder an amazing design. Have you ever noticed that some products you pick up and use without ever needing to be told how to? That’s design! A truly brilliant design does something some perfectly that it seems perfectly intuitive. So intuitive often, that unless you try to design things yourself, you don’t even realize how many blind alleys, rabbit trails, setbacks, and losses there are before you get to that perfect design. It is intuitive only retrospect.
When I opened a constant velocity joint for the the first time and saw how the balls and the cage and the hub all worked together, I felt something stir within me. This is who I am, this is who genetics and environment crafted me to become. I derive a sensual (though not sexual) pleasure from touching a great design. With car engines, I can feel the design teams successes and failures as I run my hands over the block. Feeling the texture engine block, I know if it was sand, lost foam, or die cast. This tells me how many engines the design team planned on making, and what compromises and pressures they were forced to make to the purity of the Ideal to get the engine made.
From the type of the casting and its complexities I know what alloys were used, and in turn the stress the block can was designed for. I run my hands over the corners, feeling their sharpness, and I know the designers didn’t expect stress here, or simply didn’t care. I visualize the cylinder bores, cast iron set in cast aluminum. When the head is off, I can see how the cylinder bore meets the deck of the block. Was the designer conservative or risky? Was his company broke and scrappy (the parts are compromised to be produced on existing equipment) or flush and cocky (the parts are less compromised but require special tools to make and service)? Did he plan on the engine being rebuilt or recycled? Did they plan nothing at all but simply moving the iron out the door? (Often the case on mid 70’s and early 80’s American cars). I can tell if the engineer thought the car he was designing would be around next year. (If you’ve ever turned a wrench on a ’81 Mustang 4 cylinder you know what I mean.)
Its not just cars, though. A good door latch sets me a twitter. A well designed building makes me warm inside. When I stand in a kitchen that actually considered work/motion in its design I wish I could find the designer and shake his or her hand. I want to tell them that I get it, that it matters to me too.
So when I say that I love design, I love it the way some love meditation, some love drink, and some love baseball. Having established my credentials as a design freak, let me now say this. I love electric cars. I want one. I think they are groovy. When I think of driving down the road in near silence, with a handful of moving parts pushing me into a newer, greener, place I get weak in the knees. That said, I now have to say something that amounts to near blasphemy in the eco community.
Electric cars are not being massed produced because people don’t want them.
I’m going to put the features of an electric car in the jargon of normal cars.
We have a car with a special power train. The advantage of this special power train is that it gets 300 mpg. But the unique power train is very bulky and heavy, so the car has limited cargo and passenger space. Also, it has a very small gas tank, about a quart, and that tank takes 4 hours to fill. It will cost about as much as a normal car.
Note that these are real numbers. To move an electric car takes about 1/10 the cost per mile as gas, so 30 mpg becomes 300 mpg. Most have a range of about 75 miles in real driving conditions. At 300 mpg thats about a quart of gas. And the 4 hour fill time is accurate too.
Before you can sell a car you have to sell the need. Before you can sell a car for $30,000 you must sell the idea that the purchaser wants the car more than they want $30,000.
I don’t want a car that gets 300 MPG and has a one quart gas tank that takes 4 hours to fill more than I want $30,000. Neither do most people.
But, people do want EVs!
I want an EV. I am very excited about getting the equivalent of 300 mpg. But I am not $30,000 excited. Heck I’m not even $5,000 excited. Under 5 g’s and I can accept those compromises. Over it, not so much.
But many people do want them that much!
That’s a fact. Many people do. Those people are well served by the existing botique market. To achieve significant reductions of cost on a car you need to make a minimum of 100,000 units a year for several years. There are probably at least 100,000 people in the US who want this $30K, 300MPG, 4 hours to fill car. (Called the 3k3m4h from here forward) But are there half a million over 5 years? Probably not. And once initial demand is met then what?
Well most people have 2 cars, they could use the 3k3m4h as a second car.
Perhaps, but I am not convinced. Ten times the mileage is nice. But the 4 hour fill time and 75 mile range mean that the car never leaves the city. If more people were interested in accepting compromise and renting when ever they had a 4 hour drive to take, then they wouldn’t have two cars in the first place, they would have one small car, and rent a big car for trips. The lack of that says most families want 2 fully non-compromised cars and collective mileage be damned.
What do you mean 75 miles? Brand X’s Electroflux car goes (insert 3 digit number here) miles on a single charge.
Yes, I don’t doubt that. What I doubt that is that the average electric car buyer could afford the Electroflux. If you can compare cost-is-no-object-celebrity projects like the Tesla Roadster, than I can do the same. I choose the Microjoule Eco-Marathon car. 10,127.9 miles per gallon. Wow, that makes 300 mpg look like crap. Maybe we should just stick to more common ones.
Everything you are saying is true, but its only that way because of Big Oil conspiricy.
Conspiracies do happen. More castles fell to conspiracy that siege. Hitler consolidated his power with a conspiracy, and the Street Car conspiracy is real and documented. (GM manipulated city governments to replace street cars with GMC coaches.) But you have to be careful with conspiracy theories. They often contain a compliment to the originator. I don’t doubt that the car and oil companies have a lot of money, which I don’t doubt that they put to the normal use in Washington. What happened to the EV1 was weird to the point of scary. BUT while that conspiracy might prevent pro EV legislation, it cannot prevent market forces from driving prices in certain critical components. Like batteries. EV’s have cost benefits to production until you get to the battery. The battery is not expensive because of a lack of production. Mass production only makes things cheaper by changing the process, not the materials. When the cost of materials is the primary cost, mass production will not appreciably bring down cost. The “Big Oil Conspiracy” on this one allows people to say “Oh I would buy an EV if only there wasn’t a B O C.” It allows people to feel environmental without actually doing anything.
The price will go down in mass production.
Well people shouldn’t be driving so much anyway.
I couldn’t agree more. But the proper way to get better city planning (the lack of which is the cause of so much driving) it legislate proper city planning, not legislate a compromised technology.
It doesn’t mater what the cost is, it saves the earth.
Taking care of the planet is profoundly important, but personal transportation will always be more wasteful than mass transit. The solution is not electric personal transportation. The solution is better designed cities and better mass transit. If we must speak of doing things no mater what the cost to save the earth, a resource shift in personal vehicles isn’t really the best place to start.
You are just anti-electric car.
No I am pro-electric car and anti-stupid. I think electric cars are great. I think that the handful of companies making them everyday are great. I just don’t believe they are the magic bullet being claimed. If you want to talk about subsidies, the answer to stupid subsides is not smart ones. Let’s get the extractive industries and car makers off the government tit before we offer it to another industry.
But they do reduce polution.
Never said they didn’t, and I support the reduction of polution. Electric cars would cut polution in half, which is good. But why not invest the money in mass transit and smart cities. That would decrease the amount that people drive ANY kind of cars, and would make electric cars more viable. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be made. I’m saying legislation attempts to treat the symptom instead of the problem.
But they are zero emissions!
No, thats stupid. They are reduced emissions. The engine to wheel process of a normal car is about 20% efficient. From power plant to wheel in an EV is about 31% efficient. They pollute about 1/2 as much. That’s good, but infinately more than zero.
OK that’s all I’ve got tonight.
Tonight is the last day of a what has been a very long week for me. I am tired and a little cranky. I feel misunderstood and brittle. I HATE feeling misunderstood and brittle. I know its bogus, but I associate certain emotions with certain people and certain parts of life. To me it is below the dignity of a grown man to feel misunderstood and brittle. These are feelings more appropriate in the mind of 13 year old girl, than in the afore claimed “peerless” mind that drives my cognitive and not so cognitive processes.
Sometimes, I think my mind is a parliament, with each portion of the brain represented by a desire in the mind. A vote is taken, and the decision is, despite rigorous protest by the intellect, the mind is going to tell the ego that it feels bruised.
Why? My sister pointed out my glowing report of the “God Optional” groups I am enjoying leaves out the fact that most of these relationships are taking place online. She makes a very valid point that I can’t really judge the situation with people that I do not have to deal with face to face.
As any married person can tell you, its far easier to feel like you love someone you don’t live with. Living day in day out with someone lets you see them at their most real. Talking to people online lets you see them at their LEAST real.
So, I have to ask myself:If atheism were a heart throb, am I infatuated with atheism and its adherents, or is this true love?
My answer: I don’t care. I am happy. I am not lying to myself to convince myself I am happy. In my previous life in the Christian community, those things happened much less often then they do now. Maybe this is infatuation. Perhaps, I will find out that atheists/agnostic/skeptics are in fact the people the church taught me to fear. But I doubt it.
I doubt it, because this isn’t about standing on a soap box and yelling “There is no God!” That would be dumb. This is about a view point, a vision, quest for a mind that loves real. Through out my Biblical training my favorite stories were the stories of the areligious, anti-magical-thinking, skeptics. In the Bible, these are the men and women who got things done.
Like Job, who in the midst of suffering did not say “Oh, I count it gain to suffer loss for God!” But demanded an answer from Him.
Women like Jael, who while her king was going from seer to seer looking for something that made him feel better about the attacking enemy, chose instead to seduce the king leading the attackers and kill him with her own hands.
Jehu, (who’s moral philosophy was obviously LeVeyan Satanism) who lied to his enemies, telling them he planed on making a great sacrifice to Baal, then killed his enemies in their own temple, and then made public toilet over their decomposing bodies.
Ester, who seduced a king into letting her people defend themselves.
Ruth, who seduced a wealthy older man into marrying her so she could take care of her loved ones.
Zachias, who was seen by Jesus not because of the fervency of his faith, but because he saw a problem, recognized a solution, and put it in motion.
Paul, (whose shadow made hankies so holy when it fell on them, the hankies could be mailed to friends who would be healed) mysteriously, does not tell Timothy to get a holy hankie, but suggested some red wine now and again.
These people were not atheists. They were not agnostics, or even skeptics. They were Jews and Christians, many listed for their piety.
They had the mindset. They asked why. They DID rather than PRAYED. It is this mindset, and not the concept of godlessness that I am in true love with.
I am often accused of being controversial for the fun of it. Sometimes, I am. However, often as not, I am just writing from the heart and my heart is, I guess, full of controversy. If you are so offended by controversy that you cannot read something controversial to the end, please don’t read this, because I don’t want to deal with the questions and responses of people who only read half. Also, if you don’t want to know about what I was thinking and doing in regards to sex when I was a teen, again, stop reading, because I am going to be totally honest.
I began looking at online pornography around the age of 12 or so. Pornography is a available with many themes, and one that intrigued me was orgy themed pornography. Orgy is a French loan word, which came to France via the Latin orgia, meaning secret rites or secret revels. (For the not so literate, a revel is big party.) The idea here is a big party where secret rites are practiced. I’m not clear on the etymology (story of the meaning of a word) but orgy came in English to almost exclusively mean “a bunch of people having sex with each other all at once”.
I wasn’t only attracted to the representation of orgy in pornography, I was attracted to the very idea of it, the concept of it. This concerned me. As a young teen growing up in a very stereotypically Christian environment I had (obviously) the attendent sexual obsession, but also the attendent homophobia. Half the people at an orgy were male. Though the men at an orgy were having sex with women, to be in a room where other men were having sex, even with women, seemed gay. Homosexuality held absolutely no appeal whatsoever, but orgies seemed appealing. I struggled to answer why.
Around the same time, I took an interest in cults. I read everything I could get my hands on about cults, particularly ones that included sexual deviancy. I think I did this because I considered the my desire for pornography, masturbation, sex, and particularly orgy to be a sin in and off it self. (A position, I might add, that the church agrees with.) To look at porn and to masturbate were, in my mind, bad enough. That I desired to do these things and to have sex with my female friends, and particularly desired to be having sex in a room full of other people having sex, was appalling to me. I felt incredibly ashamed. So, I guess it was natural that I looked for a group of people where everyone was like me, where my desires were not a deviancy to be ashamed off, but a communal value, perhaps, even a virtue.
When I discovered the record of the Oneida Community, it seemed that I had discovered paradise. The Oneida Community was group of “Bible Communists” who lived in upstate New York. They believed a lot fascinating things, but the ones of note here are their sexual practices. Unlike many cults which have achieved infamy for their sexual oddity, the Oneida’s were not primary a “sex cult”, they were a real religious group which positively effected the world around them. It just so happened they had some unique sexual practices.
The foundation of these practices, was called Complex Marriage. Complex marriage was a theory. In theory, every one in the commune was married to everyone else in the commune. Everyone shared in parenting. Sex was seen as both physical and spiritual. They saw nothing sinful in sex as long it was practiced in their unique way. They were not unaware of the procreative aspects of sex, and this figured into their social norms. They considered the ability to prevent ejaculation as spiritual discipline. For this reason, young men were paired with post-menopausal women until they had mastered this control. Men and women who were capable of prolonged and mutually enjoyable sexual encounters were considered spiritually mature. Immature believers were paired with them until they learned the lessons, at which point they would also begin to rotate through the commune to spread “love”. Each member had about 3 pairings a week. All children were planned, wanted, and raised by all.
To me this sounded like the most wonderful state of human affairs on earth. Of course, it didn’t last. The values got corrupted and church leaders got the most nubile and young with whom they were not “spiritually disciplined” and had many babies, not all of which were wanted by the whole community. Aside becoming selfish lovers, they also became selfish about those lovers. Demanding that the laity share, the clergy refused to share their treasured few.
When I was 18, and looking to move out, I looked at several “swingers’ clubs”. For the naive among you, a swingers club is often much more than a place where people interested in anonymous sex can meet (that’s what singles bars are for). Swinger’s clubs have rules. Often everyone gets together once a week. In some clubs you can’t refuse anyone who asks, in others, there are certain formalities of asking. Some clubs require that sex take place in front of all other guests. Some require that it does not. The point is, all of them have certain rules and methods of operation to prevent a sex cult from forming. By “cult” I mean they struggle to make sure that everyone relates as equals, and no one had undo force on any other person, to ensure total consent.
None of them were attractive, and coming to undertand why helped me put two and two together. The reason that orgy themed pornagraphy had interested me in spite of myself, the reason that the Oneida Community had seemed to call to me so much, the reason that the swingers clubs had so little appeal, was all the same: What I wanted was the intimacy. The reason that orgy as a lifestyle intrigued me was the idea of being so loved. To love a community of people, so much, and have that love be returned, to love the women so much that I could make love to any of them, and to love the men so much that I would share the women I loved with them was what I wanted… In short, I wanted to be loved. Not just by an individual, but loved by a whole group.
I wanted it, but I was a conservative Christian. To me to turn my back on the values of Christianity was a death sentenence. Once I even took one step on that road, the full consequences would be taken. I didn’t really want to get into some freaky sex, I wanted to be loved. I wanted, however, a love the church could not give me. The church cannot love you for who you are, since you are at worst a sinner and at best a “saint who sins”. If who you are isn’t spiritual, then loving that part of you is sin. They can love the part of you that prays, but not the part that works on trucks. However if you pray and evanglize, then they can love the part of you that prays as well as the part of you that works for a living. They must love you because Jesus does. I didn’t want to be loved out of duty or obligation, I wanted to be loved because I was unique and special. My love of science is as much a part of who I am as my love of my wife and daughter. I wanted to belong to a community that loved ALL of me, not just the spiritual parts.
As many of you know, when I was 18 I very seriously considered going to Philadelphia and starting a sex cult. I never thought that this would be right or healthy. In fact, even as I considered it, I thought that it would be corrosive to my very soul. Ethylene glycol was an early antifreeze. It is so like sugar that it even tastes sweet. It brakes down into the blood just like sugar, cell by cell. Then it goes to fuel the muscles just like sugar. Then it metabolizes into poison, this poison is filtered out by the kidneys. They stop working, and you die. Sex is so like real intimacy that its easy to confuse the two. Then at some critical point in your life where you need intimacy to make it, all you have is sex, and a part of you dies. I knew thats what would happen to me. But I was so desperately lonely and hungry to be loved by a community of people, that I almost accepted the second best to nothing at all. I didn’t care about the personal cost, I just wanted to be wanted, not because Jesus said so, but purely because of what I have to offer.
I didn’t go start a sex cult, I tried, instead, another avenue. I thought maybe I should go into “ministry”. I went to bible college, I tried campus groups, eventually, I even joined a wild eyed charismatic church who talked big about the coming revolution and change at any cost. Let me make clear here. My point is NOT is not about sex. My point is that I was so desperate to be loved by a group of people that I would have used sex. I would have done anything, I would have even given my life. And so desperate was this desire, that knowing full well I counldn’t get it with sex, I was almost willing to to use sex just to feel like I had it when I did not.
None of it worked. No mater what I did, I couldn’t be loved for what I have to offer, I had to be loved for who I knew, Jesus. I couldn’t be loved for what I could do right now, I had to be loved for what I could do in some distant future. And finally, and most painfully of all, I could not be loved for what I loved (science, skeptisicm, and rationality). The community that I wanted so much was not available in the chuch.
Of late, I have been spending a lot of time in the company of athiests, agnostics, and skeptics. For the first time in my life, I am loved by a group not because I am pimping Christ, not out of duty, and not because I have potential. I am loved for what I am, and greatest of all, the things that are most important to me: critcal thought, freedom, and truth, are something that people admire about me instead of tolerate. That which I am, is loved and respected instead of channeled into things which “support the cause”.
The desire that I have had since adolesnce to be loved by a group for who I am is finally fufilled. The Oneida Ideal suddenly has no appeal for me as I get what I need from people who respect me. I don’t to compromise who I am to be loved, I can simply be myself and people seek me out. That which the church denied to me for 25 years I have found in the rebels of the church. I have that “one thing” and I won’t ever go back.
Now, many of you are aware of my great loathing of the Associated Press. An acquaintance sent me this gem:
An American life worth less today
WASHINGTON – It’s not just the American dollar that’s losing value. A government agency has decided that an American life isn’t worth what it used to be. The “value of a statistical life” is $6.9 million in today’s dollars, thereckoned in May — a drop of nearly $1 million from just five years ago.
The first thing I want to bring to your attention is the immediate bias. “…has decided that an American life isn’t worth what it used to be…” Don’t judge by nationality. Pollution poured into an American waterway that pours into Canada or Mexico will effect those nations. Further one presumes that the EPA is tasked with protecting the lives of legal and illegal immigrants as well. By opening the article this way the AP has already began with with a suspect lack of professionalism.
The Associated Press discovered the change after a review of cost-benefit analyses over more than a dozen years. (Way to be on the ball guys!) Though it may seem like a harmless bureaucratic recalculation, the devaluation has real consequences. When drawing up regulations, government agencies put a value on human life and then weigh the costs versus the lifesaving benefits of a proposed rule. The less a life is worth to the government, the less the need for a regulation, such as tighter restrictions on pollution. Consider, for example, a hypothetical regulation that costs $18 billion to enforce but will prevent 2,500 deaths. At $7.8 million per person (the old figure), the lifesaving benefits outweigh the costs. But at $6.9 million per person, the rule costs more than the lives it saves, so it may not be adopted.
Some environmentalists accuse the Bush administration of changing the value to avoid tougher rules — a charge the EPA denies. Conveniently, for the AP, neither the accusers, nor the defenders are named. It makes it very hard to check sources.
“It appears that they’re cooking the books in regards to the value of life,” said S. William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, which represents state and local air pollution regulators. “Those decisions are literally a matter of life and death.” Dan Esty, a senior EPA policy official in the administration of the first President Bush and now director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, said: “It’s hard to imagine that it has other than a political motivation.”
Agency officials say they were just following what the science told them. (Man, I wonder which officials. Its really hard to check sources if the AP won’t name them.)
The EPA figure is not based on people’s earning capacity, or their potential contributions to society, or how much they are loved and needed by their friends and family — some of the factors used in insurance claims and wrongful-death lawsuits. Instead, economists calculate the value based on what people are willing to pay to avoid certain risks, and on how much extra employers pay their workers to take on additional risks. Most of the data is drawn from payroll statistics; some comes from opinion surveys. According to the EPA, people shouldn’t think of the number as a price tag on a life.
“…potential contributions to society, or how much they are loved and needed by their friends and family…” Wow. I wasn’t aware that an algorithm existed to determine that. OH WAIT, it doesn’t. Calling potential income “potential contributions” sorts of muddies the issue a bit, since potential income is mathematically predictable number, whereas “contributions” has no objective value. “…loved and needed by their friends and family…” There is no algorithm for that. The money awarded in a wrongful death case is not to pay the loved ones for their lose, it is to PUNISH the wrong doer for their negligence. The only purpose of this paragraph is to demonize the EPA for doing the job it has been tasked with.
The EPA made the changes in two steps. First, in 2004, the agency cut the estimated value of a life by 8 percent. Then, in a rule governing train and boat air pollution this May, the agency took away the normal adjustment for one year’s inflation. Between the two changes, the value of a life fell 11 percent, based on today’s dollar.
Refer back to second sentence in this piece: “..A government agency has decided that an American life isn’t worth what it used to be…” How surprising! The EPA decides economic policy for the Federal Reserve. You see, by saying decided the second sentence says that the EPA acted purposefully with foreknowledge to reduce the value. Yet 3% of the reduction was inflation adjustment, which they have NO control over. 3% out of 11%. Well, 3 is 27% of 11. The EPA had no control what so ever over more than a quarter of the reduction.
EPA officials say the adjustment was not significant and was based on better economic studies. The reduction reflects consumer preferences, said Al McGartland, director of EPA’s office of policy, economics and innovation. “It’s our best estimate of what consumers are willing to pay to reduce similar risks to their own lives,” McGartland said. But EPA’s cut “doesn’t make sense,” said Vanderbilt University economist Kip Viscusi. EPA partly based its reduction on his work. “As people become more affluent, the value of statistical lives go up as well. It has to.” Viscusi also said no study has shown that Americans are less willing to pay to reduce risks.
Here, when quoting some one who knows what they are talking about, the AP actually does OK.
At the same time that EPA was trimming the value of life, the Department of Transportation twice raised its life value figure. But its number is still lower than the EPA’s. EPA traditionally has put the highest value on life of any government agency and still does, despite efforts by administrations to bring uniformity to that figure among all departments.
What does this paragraph mean? a – b – c is greater than x + y + z. So what? This paragraph is just a chance to say, “trimming the value of life” When and by whom were these so called efforts undertaken?
Not all of EPA uses the reduced value. The agency’s water division never adopted the change and in 2006 used $8.7 million in current dollars.From 1996 to 2003, EPA kept the value of a statistical life generally around $7.8 million to $7.96 million in current dollars, according to reports analyzed by The AP. In 2004, for a major air pollution rule, the agency lowered the value to $7.15 million in current dollars.
Now, that is interesting.
Just how the EPA came up with that figure is complicated and involves two dueling analyses. (I love dueling analysts!)
Viscusi wrote one of those big studies, coming up with a value of $8.8 million in current dollars. The other study put the number between $2 million and $3.3 million. The co-author of that study, Laura Taylor of North Carolina State University, said her figure was lower because it emphasized differences in pay for various risky jobs, not just risky industries as a whole.
EPA took portions of each study and essentially split the difference — a decision two of the agency’s advisory boards faulted or questioned.”This sort of number-crunching is basically numerology,” said Granger Morgan, chairman of EPA’s Science Advisory Board and an engineering and public policy professor at Carnegie Mellon University. “This is not a scientific issue.”Other, similar calculations by the Bush administration have proved politically explosive. In 2002, the EPA decided the value of elderly people was 38 percent less than that of people under 70. After the move became public, the agency reversed itself.
Again, the AP does OK quoting others.
So the breakdown is this.
(1.) The EPA is trusted to regulate environmental risk. Life is full of risk. Death is risk free. So, the EPA has the very unenviable job of compromising risk for the greatest benefit and least cost for all players. (2.) To prevent fraud, waste, and abuse, the EPA has to have some kind of metric to make these decisions. The logical metric is to assign a value to human life. (3.) The EPA used a bullshit process to arrive at their current value. Somehow, the AP manages to make it seem like this the EPA’s fault rather than leaders who can put the squeeze on the EPA top brass. From the article, the EPA’s own Science Advisor said this was an awful idea. What did we learn?
(1.) The AP does crappy reporting again.
(2.) The EPA as a bureaucratic rather than elected group. As such its policies are subject to a greater and lesser forms of control from overhead, in defiance of its own advisors advice.
Possible solutions (Not comprehensive): Change American Congress to proportional appointment. Have EPA heads be elected in free nationwide elections. To the existing checks and balances in the American system add a fourth leg of Welfare, the head of which is elected the same as congressmen and presidents. The EPA would then fall with the other alphabet soup of federal agencies under an elected head who competes with the other 3 branches of government for resources and approval. Make the state governours function as the primarmy stock holders of the US, and let them appoint a CEO for the EPA to serve as the head in business fashion.