Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Elon proved today that we will never get rid of our cars.

If you are willing to put a 100 thousand dollar car in a tunnel under the earth instead of a pod that will take lots of people, it just proves that you will never pry these cars out of our dead cold hands.

We don't want to sit next to you even under the earth.


  1. Actually ... no, there are extenuating circumstances.

    I got rid of my cars for a few years because where I was living charged three grand per year for each parking spot. I was spending a lot of time out of the country, and for the time I was spending in the country, I could take a taxi or use something like Zipcar.

    That was reasonably OK at first, but as time went on, I got to see how much of a low-trust society America was becoming, and so when I was finally kicked out of Washington for being a "non-resident" (despite having a residence and a business there, lots of trust there), I decided that not only would I have a car, but also I'd have several vehicles from then on, just in case any one of them would break.

    The real eye-opener was taking a trip around the US on Amtrak.

    Back in the late 2000s, I decided it would be awesome to take a scenic trip around the US, starting in Seattle, making my way to Los Angeles, then over to New Orleans before heading north to Chicago. Then I went from Chicago to DC and then on to Miami.

    The plan was that I'd then reverse course, head up from Miami to DC, back again to Chicago, and then to Seattle. The trip was booked to last almost three months, and all of it was booked into first-class accommodations that included a private berth for sleeping, which you could not actually lock.

    None of my stuff was stolen because I'd chained it to everything that looked solid enough to prevent theft, and so that wasn't an issue, but it could have been one very easily. Still, with national phone service, a laptop, and some patience I was able to get work done while roaming around.

    I didn't actually have a private trip on board because anything involving meals or just relaxing outside a very cramped berth required being in a commons area with everyone else. There wasn't a first-class "scenic car", and there wasn't a first-class only time for meals, although with first-class service your meals were automatically included in the price (up to a point that didn't include soft drinks, a larger salad, and other things deemed extras).

    Well ... I made it to Miami.

    Whereupon I canceled the rest of the itinerary and booked a flight with two weeks advance to take me back to Seattle.

    There are certain facts of life in America that you live through and experience as you travel on something like Amtrak for any appreciable amount of time that go way beyond the experiences you'll have on municipal and regional public transit.

    Even a full-route round-trip itinerary on Tri-Rail from Miami to the line's end does not prepare you for this.

    There are showers available in the first-class section, and just so I could be sure to get one, I'd take mine at 3 AM. This basic comfort isn't available to anyone in the regular sections, and so on a 36 to 40 hour train trip between hubs, they begin to smell more than just a bit nasty.

    Still, the hygiene (or lack of it) doesn't put you off quite as much as you might think. These people are generally better dressed and better cleaned up than the all-too-typical woefully miserable public transit rider.

    So what's the problem then?

    I'll get to that.

  2. When you're on public transit, you get to deal with crappy people being shitty in all sorts of obvious ways, such as bad hygiene, attitude, noise, and so on.

    When you're on a long-distance train trip, you get to experience some of that, but really what you get to experience is the fact that many Americans just aren't worth talking to.

    The sad reality is that with many people, unless it's about their One Pet Hobby(tm), their kids and family, their job and profession, or what's been on television recently, they don't actually have much in the way to offer for conversation.

    I totally get Uber and Lyft drivers who do it mostly so they can talk with a wide range of people: the averages aren't good, but maybe you'll luck into someone who actually has broad interests who is also interesting.

    So yeah, I get it even more than most people.

    Why on Earth (or under it) would I sit with a bunch of people who at best are going to be awful in immediately recognizable ways, and who at worst are going to be awful when it comes to a lot of what's deep down?

    But from 15 December to 15 January, it's even worse than that: you also have to deal with the crappy attitude of people who think they're owed something around Christmas and New Year's.

    Private transport is a blessing.

    "Public planners" hate private transport because they hate people and they want everyone to be miserable, except of course the "public planners" themselves because they are The Anointed(tm) and that they know what's best for everyone.

    They're the kinds of smug people who like effete little architects in bow ties who promise "boulevards in the sky" that wind up as drug addict shooting galleries in such places as Pruitt-Igoe, Chicago's infamous implementation of the bow tie-wearing brutalist architecture of "Le Corbusier", one of modernism's most cherished charlatans.

    But it's a Germanic thing though at the end: if you can't Change The Thing, then you should Change The Environment around it.

    And so imagine the problem of the everyday detestable American with no interests worth talking about and a repertoire of immediately detestable habits as the proverbial Luger pistol, and then imagine everyone planning around that by redesigning the holster ...

    Because, at the end of it all, that's what all of this winds up being.

    When you get into your private vehicles and enjoy the break from that reality, this is what you are implicitly recognizing.

    "Self-driving cars" carry this principle to its finality: the driver's competence at the wheel has been deemed detestable and awful, and so the machines are required to take over in order to make the collective experience supposedly that much less detestable and awful.

    Given this backdrop, island living in a small Caribbean country is starting to have a considerable amount of attractiveness to it ...

  3. I have actually done the Amtrak from the Bay Area to Seattle. Takes about three days. No sleeper car though. U fancy. LOL. I've even done Grey Hound once. It sort of does teach you a lot about the world in a weird way.

    It's an interesting way to put it though. and I sort of get why you read me now. I can always find something interesting about someone even if it's crazy or boring to others. Doesn't mean I want to hang out with that...but I will play for a little while. And helps you keep perspective in the world.

    But I do get the impression we all sort of just tolerate each other to a large degree. A tiny little car interior is our safe space. And you can turn the radio up to 11 and no one bitches at you. I think sometimes people fantasize about the way things should be and don't see things as they really are. And all of us apparently need a safe space(car) after dealing with assholes all day. And no - we can 't wait to get back to our houses to escape them. We need a safe space transport. Like a CAR.

    See, I think you are right about the intent of self driving cars. But people tend not to "follow the rules". I love driving, but I also love being able to watch things out the windows on long trips. Or to be able to do other things while you are stuck in traffic. Like read twitter! But that doesn't necessarily mean I will get rid of another car for that option. And I don't think anyone else will either.

    Segue - and you are lucky to get that warning - I heard you can get a 12 year loan on a McLaren. Is it true that most people lease them? Just asking because I thought u might know. You can literally have a prepubescent child in that amount of time.

  4. The "expensive toy" was not a McLaren, I'll just get that out of the way ...

    I know you're already disappointed. :-)

    But you got the country of origin correct and are otherwise in roughly the right ball park, so to speak, although it was a slightly older model than the current one and I paid cash for it.

    The "expensive toy" also has been sold, and everything that's left now is in the sub-100k range.

    Even that stuff I'm starting to sell off, and I think I'm going to wind up with one really shitty used mini-SUV (sub-30k) for errands and some kind of custom cargo van conversion for trips.

    The cargo van conversion will not, however, have concrete in the rear doors.

    I'm looking at having those reinforced with some kind of lightweight structural frame -- there's probably a company the van conversion people can sub-contract that out to that designs crazy-looking but incredibly efficient reinforcement frames that are computer generated for strength.

    It will also not be some sleek looking but actually awful sprinter van from Mercedes -- everyone I know who has one of those for a business only has it because the Mercedes logo gives the business "extra cachet", and I want the van for my needs and not the optically-enhanced sublimated aspirational purposes of others.

    But what that means right now is that I'll sell off everything and then buy both of those, which means it's an eventual goal, not a current reality.

    I actually read r/VanLife a lot more these days,although my heart's still with little Vroo-Monsters that I can drive around at high speeds on private airfields.

    What I'm looking forward to the most is my vehicle insurance bill going down by a lot ...

    Also, your strange "lidar" truck from the other day is actually a non-destructive testing (NDT) rig that uses ultrasound and radar to check for faults within roads. That's gone from nothing a few years ago to a really booming field within sensor design.

    The sensors themselves have almost as much stuff in them as a typical smart phone, partly because they need to take care of a lot of rapid samples and communicate them back to the headend inside the truck for composite imaging.

    It would not surprise me at all if there's a really robust wide-temperature range ARMv7 SoC inside each of the sensors that handles nearly everything.

  5. "mini-SUV"

    You mean a manivan?(tm) I figure all these SUV's are just men saying - we've had it up to here with this minivan shit.

    "The "expensive toy" was not a McLaren, I'll just get that out of the way ...I know you're already disappointed. "

    I'm sort of bored with them. So eh. But you do seem to know a lot about them.

    I can definitely see how you would be happy with your car bills going down. When I thought the solstice was dead I was kinda happy to pay less insurance.

    Now I must go google wide-temperature range ARMv7 SoC. Is that FLIR?

  6. Hahahah. I do like that spelling better. I think you just wiped out my TM.