Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hybrids are Evil

This is long, but not too long. So you may want to get another cup of whatever, and some monitor/keyboard wipes. --Chuck

No, this article (the stuff in bold) isn't mine, but I like the way it starts. It was actually in my junkmail/spam folder, which I occasionally peruse when I need to help someone transfer funds from their bank in Ethernopia, need really cheap Cialis, Investment advice for the "new Enron", or just to make sure I haven't missed a gem in the rubble.

Also, as Tom pointed out, I've been on my ass blogging lately. I've been going back to (and actually doing) work, and although it reduces my blogging time, it's better than staying home all day, eating Cheeto sandwiches and watching Dr. Phil. Last weekend (when I planned on Blogging) I went out Friday night to say farewell to my XO, who's left the Army for other things, and so we got really drunk. On Saturday was the Battalion Ball, so I didn't get too drunk and spent the night dancing and having fun with Carren;, including some very much needed "We" time. Sunday, I (barely) recovered. {note: recovered from the two nights of boozing, and from the "We" time. (or is it 'wee' time? I'll have to ask Carren)}

Enough! On to the Article!

"You heard it here first, and here's why: they cost more money, don't deliver an equal value for all that cash and will keep the filthy little foreign oil rats in business for another 30 years. Hybrids do nothing well but everything okay. That makes about as much sense as diet soda, fat-free ice cream or low-tar cigarettes.

Conservation. Hah - go build a better engine. Less dependence on foreign oil. Yeah - like a heroin junkie can do just a little bit of smack at a time.

If you are seriously considering a hybrid vehicle, wake up and turn off the television. And by the way - if you really want to save a tree -- go ride a bike to work or take a train. Hybrid technology is just a ploy to extend the consumer life of the internal combustion engine and - here's the headline - get us to pay more for less."

You can read the rest here:

Before anyone writes to tell me how pissed they are about the merits of hybrids (remembering the fat=fuel fiasco) realize that A) I don't care B) I don't own a Hybrid, and until they make one that is a truck, wouldn't consider it C) I love a well defined argument, and this argument heavily fisks the "Go Hybrid" article, here. The simple facts, and plese, read the articles, they are pretty good (and short) are these:
Hybrids don't offer many choices/there is little comparrison shopping from dealer to dealer
Comparing Hybrids to non-hybrids is apples to... some other fuit
Fuel mileage: both give MPG estimates that favor their argument, but is an extra `$80 per month relly that much of a difference?

My analysis: Hybrids are a stop-gap, interim fix, and a poor one at that. If we used nothing but hybrids, we'll still end up with dirty air, crazy people in the middle east with lots of "mad money" (or is it M.A.D. money?), and landfills full of nickel-metal hydride. We don't need hybrids. we need an auto industry leap into technology to provide clean, reliable, efficient energy from a renewable source, possibly combining several technologies into a new vehicle, that matches or exceeds current auto capabilities.

Maybe the technology doesn't exist. But that doesn't mean we can't build it. In 65 years, we went from a race of people who thought men would never achieve powered flight, to walking on the surface of the moon. We went from Jonh Dalton's explanation of atomic theory in 1803 to Trinity, the first truly thermonuclear detonation in May 1945, 142 years, and a leap of technological advancement greater than the total sum of human knowledge to that point. Finally, the connection of four host computers in 1969 formed the ARPANET, and in only 36 years, over 200,000 people have read the rants and raves and random bits of weirdness that spew forth from my fingertips. Ain't teh intraweb grand?

The point is: We can do better, America! If we don't, someone else will. They may be old adversaries (Germany and Japan, Korea, Mexico, Canada, France--well, we'll forget the le Car for now) or they may be new competitors (India Comes to mind, with all that cheap labor and raw materials.) We hold a very small (and narrowing) edge in the global economy, as we have the technology, academic resources, ability, and the uniqueness of the American spirit to build upon. Unfortunately, the production capability is centered in Detroit, where the only things they like to see change are the seasons.

A few for instances here: Why are cars made out of steel, and not carbon fiber of kevlar? They're lighter (more MPG), stronger (safer), easier to form/fix (cheaper), don't rust (longer lasting), and easier to make? I've a funny feeling it has to do with profits, unions, or both. Why do hybrids tout batteries and not solar cells? (By which I mean high-output solar cells. Most of the time our cars are parked, anyway.) Think of all the things in cars that could be replaced to make a car lighter, stronger, or just generally better, and ask" why not"? Is it too much of a stretch to think auto companies have a stake, and also stocks, in the oil companies?

But cars aren't the only evil. There's also big-rig trucks, which are great for hauling all the goods we consume, but I fail to see their utility in long-haul operations, when trains could do the same job, better and cheaper, unless they were run by the federal goverment (Amtrak). Of course, trains burn diesel too, but they burn a hellova lot less hauling 200+ train cars than 200 18 wheelers clogging up the highways and byways, belching thick black smoke, littering the road with cast-off retreads, clogging the rest-stops with crank and meth heads coming down from a 96-hour coast to cost run, resting their heads on their doctored log books. Keep the rigs for distribution from the railheads, but not for hauling greater than 200 miles or so. Uh-oh. we also use oil for heat in a lot of homes and buildings, too. A generous buyback/replacement program switching to propane/natural gas/something else funded by dollars saved from not having to repair state and local roadways from the 50-ton behemoths that run 24-7 from coast to coast. Crap. Airplanes use gas too. Ahem. Remember them coast to coast trains? Howabout we build bullet trains for city to city and coast to coast? Currently, the record speed is 361 mph for maglev trains, that's fast eenough to go NY to LA in about 7 hours, during which you can walk, smoke, stretch, sleep, eat, work (of course you can use your cell phone/gps/computer/XM radio!) Don't worry about being hijacked, either. Seven hours seems long, until you realize it's about the same as air travel, without having your luggage lost, and a LOT less cramped. Maglev track is expensive. It costs about a million bucks a mile, so about 3 billion for a coast to coast line. Or roughly the cost of 15 Boeing 747s. Fifteen. Sure, we'd have to build a few more power stations along the way, but what's a few more nuke plants (except for relatively clean, cheap energy that could also be used in local communities--say, to heat houses and charge cars) or dear god, even use large solar/wind farms to power it! Pound for pound, or passenger for passenger, the maglev uses five times less energy per passenger mile than passenger aircraft, and because it is so much easier and cheaper to build and maintain the train, there's no need to pack people in like Jews on a German holiday. (Okay, that's bad, even for me.) How about pack people in like sailors in a whorehouse? Or Fatties in Red Lobster? Or Weirdos in WalMart? Or "Packed in like implants in a cheerleader"? Suffice to say, there'd be enough room to stretch out your legs, eat a meal, and ignore the brats in the row behind you.

No more airborne busses screaming through the air? Check
No more Galleons of the Highway? Check
No more Heating Oil trucks or worries about freezing grannies because the cost of oil is skyrocketing in winter? Check

Solution for Planes, Trains, and Automobiles? Not yet. But I've offered a vision. Sometimes that's all you need. You may not end up where you thought you were going to go, but you're better for the journey. Sure, I've pinned hopes on "new technologies" some of which don't exist yet; but dreamers like Ronald Reagan did that with the "Star Wars" Strategic Defense Initiative, and that is a really cool series of movies that bankrupted the soviet union. Al Gore had a vision that became the internet. If we try, earnestly try to pull away from the nipple of mid-east oil, we may not get all the way there, but we can do a dmn sight better than we have been. How do we eliminate terrorism? Marginalize the terrorist causes and aims. Drop them like a bitchy girlfriend. They want us out of the middle east so they can go about running their caliphates, sodomizing each other, and the local donkey population; stoning women for showing too much elbow, and basically living the arabian dream in the 7th century (CE). Sure, when their coffers dry up they'll wonder where they're going to get their next handout from, since the black gold isn't bubbling up any more, but they'll have forgotten about us since we will not have had a thing to do with them for the last 50 years.

There it is folks. How to win the mid-east campaign in the global war on terrorism. Get rid of our need for them. Same way you get a junkie off drugs. Consider this an intervention. I love my truck. But as soon as something comes along that can do the same things, last as long, go as far, fix as easily, and comes in green, I'll buy one.

Eventually, lets say, within the next 20 years (we ain't splitting atoms or doing rocket science here) we should be able to do this. How do we get there from here? Make it important to us, and to our government. That means take it to the polls. But don't elect Ralph Nader. He's a boob.


PS there Tom, you happy?

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