Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Present, Considering the Past

THOUGHT #1: So, you know how the Bush administration is determined to keep the Iranians from getting nuclear weapons and even nuclear technology? You know how they think that's possible?

Well, here's a thought: any Sony PS3 is way more powerful than the computer that NASA used to put people on the moon. And that NASA computer radically outclassed the computer that the Manhattan Project used to build the first A-bomb. (That one ran on paper punch cards.)

So the Bushies are pretty sure that they're so smart and/or that the Iranians are so dumb that the Iranians could never duplicate a 70-year-old technology. Neither strikes me as especially likely.

THOUGHT #2: American car manufacturers are bitching about how impossible it would be to raise fleetwide fuel efficiency to 35 mpg in the next few years as a new bill under consideration in Congress would require. Current fleet-wide mpg for most American cars is around 25.

I guess our car makers are right. The 1914 Ford Model T, which had a hand throttle and only two forward gears, averaged 20-25 mpg, making for an increase of 2.5 mpg in 94 years. Since there's no way that the lack of increase has anything to do with American car manufacturers never having given a damn about fuel economy, the only conclusion is that God has ordained that mpg increase by less than .03 mpg per year. More proof that the Democratic Congress is godless.

The Japanese, the Europeans, and even the Chinese, of course, are using black magic to keep their domestic fuel economies above 35 mpg.

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At 9:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I showed your "Thought #2" to my wife, who's an engineer in the automotive industry, to see what she thought. (And, by the way, I have no problem with fuel efficiency standards being increased.)

Her comment was that part of the problem is the manufacturers, and part is the buying public. Yes, the manufacturers should make more efficient vehicles, but the public has to buy them.

There a lot of people who think they need, or deserve, or are entitled to drive as big a fuel sucking SUV as they can manage to finance and the world be damned.

So let's propose an amendment to the bill raising fuel standards that adds money to educate the populace about how important it is to stop burning oil like there's no end to the supply. But educating spoiled, selfish Americans seems, at times, like trying to teach thermodynamics to dogs. They hear what you're saying, but they don't get it.

At 6:56 PM , Blogger Jon E. said...

Hi, anonymous,

I'm sure your wife is right that much of the responsibility rests with the bizarre and self-destructive sense of entitlement of a certain segment of the American people. And, honestly, I'm not sure how much more education the populace could get about fuel economy.

But at some point (soon!) the majority of Americans, acting through their representatives, need to put legal obstacles in the way of the self-destructiveness of a minority of chuckleheads. And for that to happen, it would help if American automakers were to unwad their undies and stop lobbying against raising fleet mpg.

At 6:33 AM , Blogger Driver said...

Whenever fuel economy is discussed on radio or TV, the words "vehicle weight" and "safety" are always linked. Higher gas mileage is ALWAYS inescapably tagged to a decrease in one's safety in the car. And higher gas mileage is ALWAYS portrayed as being impossible to achieve without somehow making the vehicle weigh less, WHICH WILL KILL YOU.

Safety, safety, safety! wail the auto manufacturers, and Americans rise to the bait, seemingly every time.


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