(Junk) Food for Thought

If you are seeking something to think about, ask yourself: Which is more played-out at this point: automobiles or the Star Wars franchise?

The answer, of course, is automobiles, but DbC would nonetheless point out the laughable tie-in between the hateful ecocidal operation that is Porsche A.G. and the omnipresent, increasingly incoherent mess of a Disney marketing platform.

The idea that ongoing interstellar travel might be possible from any planet that has yet to transcend war and entrenched inequality is odious and childish enough. To suggest that an objectively crappy $185,000 car has anything positive to do with such a future — to say nothing of genuinely advanced technology — is simply a symptom of our continuing drunken adolescence as a species.

More on Killing for Money

Cigarette filters were invented in the 1920s. When the public began to contemplate the true nature of cigarettes, filters went, in corporate endeavors, from experimental oddity to mandatory product part.

Wikipedia explains:

[Filters were] considered a specialty item until 1954, when manufacturers introduced the machine more broadly, following a spate of speculative announcements from doctors and researchers concerning a possible link between lung diseases and smoking. Since filtered cigarettes were considered “safer”, by the 1960s, they dominated the market. Production of filter cigarettes rose from 0.5 percent in 1950 to 87.7 percent by 1975

The purpose of the cigarette filter was never, of course, to make cigarettes safe, since such a thing is an oxymoron — as every corporate seller of the things surely knew by 1954. The real purpose was to extend the salability of cigarettes in spite of the undeniable fact that they are deeply defective and dangerous things.

I mention all this because, despite Bill McKibben’s continuing insistence that they are part of the solution to looming ecological disasters, electric automobiles are cigarette filters writ large. They are a technology that our mass murdering corporate overlords are foisting upon us in order to keep selling automobiles, which, like cigarettes, are an inherently defective way of accomplishing everyday intra-urban locomotion.

If you want evidence of this, consider what Automotive Age reports about EVs:

[A]utomakers…invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new technologies that don’t yet pay for themselves — “profit deserts” is what Mark Wakefield, co-leader of the global automotive and industrial practice at AlixPartners, called them.

Electrification isn’t the only major r&d initiative. Investments in automated-driving technology are on pace to reach $85 billion through 2025. Combined, those investments won’t do anything to boost bottom lines in the near term, Wakefield said.

Electric vehicle sales volume, Wakefield says, will remain low, averaging just 14,000 units sold per EV model through 2022. That’s a far cry from what automakers expect from traditional vehicles.

Automotive Age, July 1, 2019

The only logical explanation for this “profit desert” phenomenon is the same one that explained the corporate move to filter cigarettes back in the 1950s.

The Mary Barras of the world certainly know they are selling a product that is ruining the planet’s living conditions. But these executives need a way to make their efforts look innocent, so they can keep doing what they do for the big money. Inside the industry, EVs are made and sold at a loss so that cars in general can continue to be sold.

Meanwhile, as Mary Barra also certainly knows, in the United States, automobiles are now the nation’s single largest source of GHG emissions — bigger now even than electricity generation.

Should we say it? Death by Car…

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Two questions about automated automobiles. Look at the “self-driving” van below, then think about these issues:

  1. How many ways are there for external physical events to interfere with the operation of the various doohickeys on this thing?
  2. How expensive will the operations performed by these doohickeys be, if and when they ever get miniaturized and sufficiently shielded from external shocks to be truly salable on an industrial scale?

It’s not very mysterious why these massively hyped things aren’t arriving a whole lot faster than the hoary old — yet still frequently promised — flying car.

The “Electric Vehicle” Ruse

burning-earth More evidence that so-called “EVs” are, in fact, haloware: The car corporations have thrown a successful tizzy-fit against an actual sales mandate in China. Per Reuters:

China agreed to delay an 8 percent quota for electric and hybrid vehicles by a year until 2019, an auto industry source said on Friday, in a major concession for German carmakers seeking to expand in the world’s largest auto market.

In a draft in September, Chinese policymakers proposed that 8 percent of automakers’ sales be battery-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2018, sparking protests from domestic and international carmakers.

After a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said a “solution” for implementing the quotas had been found, though he gave no details.

As part of a compromise deal, German carmakers who fail to fulfill the quota in the near term will be able to offset penalties by ramping up electric vehicle deliveries at a later date, the industry source said.

Gosh, I thought these folks were just dying to bring us all the very best in transportation technology…

Meanwhile, the report does contain one piece of stone-cold fact:

Maintaining and extending its current strong position in China is crucial for Germany’s auto industry, led by Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW, and its broader economy.

Cars Can Be Hacked

Turns out there’s another problem — you know, other than their wild, ecocidal unsustainability — with the cars of the future. The integration of computers is rendering them externally controllable.

Andy Greenberg reports in Wired:

I’d come to St. Louis to be Miller and Valasek’s digital crash-test dummy, a willing subject on whom they could test the car-hacking research they’d been doing over the past year. The result of their work was a hacking technique—what the security industry calls a zero-day exploit—that can target Jeep Cherokees and give the attacker wireless control, via the Internet, to any of thousands of vehicles. Their code is an automaker’s nightmare: software that lets hackers send commands through the Jeep’s entertainment system to its dashboard functions, steering, brakes, and transmission, all from a laptop that may be across the country.

Greenberg’s piece is worth reading.

Bike Trucks!

General Motors has chutzpah, that’s for sure. Its Chevrolet division, that hidebound, prat-falling purveyor of contemporary civilization’s most inexcusable and outdated “consumer” product, dares to use “Find New Roads” as its main marketing slogan.

Now, GMC is preparing to sell its pick-up trucks to suburbanites by suggesting how handy they might be for facilitating the use of the exact, supremely rational and even sublime machine killed off by cars-first transportation: the bicycle!

Pitching its “premium mid-size truck,” GM says its “2015 GMC Canyon Carves a New Path” by means of “[c]ustomer-focused technologies” that “complement active lifestyles.” Here is a picture of GM fluffers getting ready to show such “lifestyle-supporting accessories” to the professional mouthpieces journalists at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show:

bike in gmc truck

GM is even bold enough to admit that “not everyone needs full-size capability.” Yes, not everyone.

And how ’bout those active lifestyles?