C. Wright Mills complained of the U.S. left’s “liberal practicality,” by which he meant a tendency to sell out at the first chance, a “kind of democratic opportunism.”
Consider the pathetic lawsuit just filed by Public Citizen and allies. The goal? To force car capitalists to make back-up cameras standard on all car models sold in the United States. The alleged reason? Such cameras “would prevent 95 to 112 deaths and 7,072 to 8,374 injuries each year.”
Now, let’s take 112 deaths as a real number. In 2012, a total of 34,080 people were killed in U.S. automotive collisions. 112 divided by 34,080 equals 0.003. That’s three-tenths of one percent.
And, of course, one major question is how much good a back-up camera actually does. If a child darts in front or back of a moving car, how much does the camera speed driver reaction time? It certain can’t be 100%, and might well be close to zero. Meanwhile, according to the Naderian logic of lawsuit, once the cameras are mandatory, the inherent dangers of automobiles to darting children are just fine and dandy.
Such tragi-comic flea-fucking, is, alas, the beginning, middle, and end of what passes for transportation militancy in this market totalitarian society, despite the times.
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The unstated means of availing oneself of that achingly-needed built-in vacuum cleaner? Purchasing the top trim level of this Honda Odyssey minivan, the “Touring Elite,” base price $44.450. The least expensive version of the Odyssey minivan? $28.825.
None other than Car & Driver calls this amazing up-selling ploy “the world’s most expensive vacuum cleaner.”
As automobile ownership re-stratifies along with the rest of the world, there is apparently an imminent race to produce ultra-luxury SUVs. Here is a shot from Bentley’s forthcoming $240,000 ultra-monstrosity:
Just what the world needs, no?
Despite the screaming sickness of the plan, here’s Brit PM Cameron drooling all over it:
UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who was present together with Dr Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Volkswagen Group for the announcement at Bentley headquarters in Crewe, said: “This £800 million of investment and a thousand new jobs from Bentley is fantastic news for both Crewe and for the UK as a whole. It is another important milestone in strengthening our economy.
“One sector that we know is sprinting ahead in the global race is our booming automotive industry. The UK became a net exporter of cars for the first time this year and we launched the Government’s Automotive Strategy to help continue this success for years to come.”
The latest “innovation”? Devices that actually increase the noise inside a car:
Sound Symposer: Amplifies engine sounds to provide enhanced soundtrack for drivers tackling the open road. Unique for Fiesta ST in that it is the first time the sound is directly fed into the passenger cabin.
The target audience of this engineering marvel? “Performance enthusiasts.”
Yet again, Orwell could not make up this stuff.
As the capitalists labor to boost profit margins by building more computers into cars, they are apparently opening their product up to remote sabotage.
“The i3 will tilt our image more toward innovation and sustainability.”
– Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW of North America
We petition the Obama administration to:
Create Fast Charging Network for Wide Scale Adoption of Electric Vehicles
Fast charging stations should be installed every 50 miles across the United States Interstate Highway System. These chargers will allow electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Spark, Nissan Leaf and other vehicles to be recharged to 80% capacity in 20 to 30 minutes. This will allow drivers of electric vehicles the freedom to travel throughout the entire US without fear that they may run out of power.
There are huge societal benefits from switching to electric vehicles including reduced pollution, noise and dependence on foreign oil.
Created: Jul 23, 2013
Love the mention of specific corporate products right there in this oh-so-authentic expression of spontaneous popular democracy! And those “huge” benefits? You mean like a forest of new coal-burning plants to make the electricity for this suicidal (and probably physically impossible) proposed network of “fast” — attention plebeians: “20 to 30 minutes” to partially refuel a car is now fast! — chargers?
Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up. Super-boondoggles as “solutions.”
Luckily, this “petition” seems to be harvesting only about 10 signatures a day. People aren’t as stupid as the overclass (and a great many would-be greens) presume.
Readers of DbC know that cars exist to sell people far more transportation equipment than they need, and that adding mark-uppable geegaws to cars has always been a core part of this indispensable corporate capitalist endeavor. DbC has also been reporting on how onboard electronics is the next great frontier in this push, and how it is making cars-first transportation even more unsafe for its supposed primary beneficiaries.
Last week in Novi, Michigan, the relevant powers that be assembled for the Telematics Detroit 2013 conference.
According to Automotive News, the show included a panel discussion in which four experts admitted that the ballyhooed arrival of the “driverless” car is exceeding unlikely, due to the inherent expense and complexity of this Rube Goldberg-squared idea.
Noteworthy in Automotive News‘ report are two quotations from the experts on this panel.
The first is a piece of unintended comedy from Andreas Mai, director for Cisco System’s automotive unit in North America:
“I would actually pay for being able to drive to Chicago in the middle of the night at 200 mph,” Mai joked.
Gosh, Herr Mai, wouldn’t that be routine, if we’d built railroads, rather than letting our capitalists dictate cars-first transportation?
The second remark is simply back-room Mafia-talk from Heri Rakouth, director of technology exploration at Delphi Corporation:
“For me, safety is the business of the government,” Rakouth said.
That’s from the mouth of somebody whose occupation is pushing “Internet connectivity and infotainment aspects” into cars. That, of course, is the practical equivalent of shoving open whiskey bottles into drivers’ laps.
Along with bogus history, the overclass pushers of cars-first transportation constantly insist that cars are freedom machines and that we all love them, end of story, without qualification.
In reality, researchers are finding that routine driving is highly stressful, and brings frequent exposure to spikes of stress comparable to those generated in extreme sports (and presumably the onset of major life crises):
MIT designed a series of experiments that measure stress and frustration during real-world driving tasks, which saw volunteers put behind the wheel and wired up to computers with psychological sensors plus face- and body-tracking technologies. GPS was used to track the vehicle’s location and speed while in-cabin cameras monitored the driver’s facial expressions and his or her view through the windshield.
To put the collected data into perspective, it was compared with other routine and not-so-routine tasks. “In addition to daily driving conditions, we are measuring stress levels under a variety of daily activities: at home, in the office, while having breakfast or attending a lecture at MIT. We found that certain driving situations can be one of the most stressful activities in our lives,” said Kael Greco, project leader, MIT SENSEable City Laboratory.
One of the biggest surprises came when the stress levels of driving were compared to those generated from partaking in extreme sports. “The data we received is fascinating. One study showed that getting side swiped by an oncoming car can be almost as stressful as jumping out of a plane,” said Filip Brabec, director of product management, Audi of America.
Surprisingly, this research is actually being publicized by Volkwagen’s Audi subsidiary, no doubt in the hope of making itself look like the bleeding edge. Of course, no amount of engineering is going to take the inherent stress out of operating an independently steered metal box at high speeds across the paths of thousands of other such operators.
In any event, this useful video shows the elevated baseline stress level of driving a car in America. Watch for the graph:
Cars-first transportation has brought with it a veil of bogus, sponsored claims about its pristine popularity, past and present.
In reality, transportation history is much more interesting and conflictual than the powers-that-be would have you believe.
According to historian Norman Pollack’s classic book, in the 1890s, populists and labor leaders were calling for public ownership of all transportation infrastructure, including the Robber Barons’ railroads, which had, of course, originally been built by means of public giveaways of land and crucial technical assistance.
In the pivotal year of 1900, there was also this lost marvel in Los Angeles, about which DbC has just learned:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!