We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Signs of derangement

Scanning various news websites this morning, as is part of my routine, I came across this article over at Reuters. Scroll down and you will see that the item refers to a person commenting to the effect that car ownership is “immoral”. Think about that: ownership of a piece of metal, with wheels at each corner, that conveys people from A to B by the harnessing of controlled explosions in something called an engine, is immoral. Not unwise, costly, difficult or impractical, but “immoral”.

Maybe these creeps will next argue that Man’s possession of opposable thumbs is “immoral” too.

25 comments to Signs of derangement

  • MarkE

    I have to assume that the person who regards car ownership as “intrinsically immoral” agrees with the person interviewed in BBC radio 4′s Today programme this morning who said that bio fuels were a bad thing because they did nothing to end use of the private car.

    I suppose it is nice to hear it admitted that the priority is not a futile attempt to combat anthropogenic climate change but rather to end modern life and return us to subsistance farming.

    I am actually becoming a fan of bio fuels, not because I think they are a solution to ACC, but because they may help us reduce our dependance on some very unpleasant countries for our fuel. That said, there are problems to be addressed, not least the amount of land required to provide enough fuel, given that some land will be need to grow food, and a few wilderness areas would be nice.

  • knirirr

    Evidently some people have been influenced by Marxist bullshit.

  • No surprise, as it is the Green Religion. Rapidly, behaviours are attacked under specious grounds labelled “morality”. Over time, people forget to question and just accept that it just “is” immoral because someone said so.

  • Clearly there are some fruit loops who think car ownership is immoral. They just hate all cars like some people hate 4X4’s, probably for many of the same reasons.

    Some people believe the earth is flat too.

    The problem is if they can evangelise enough people to believe their nonsense.

    Re phasing out dependence on fossil fuel – Absolutely!

    The sooner we can manage without oil from the Middle East and gas from Russia the better. Best of all if we can do it without too much inconvenience.

    As a layman, one wonders if hydrogen could be stored in such a way it could be effectively used in vehicles to power internal combustion engines. One would think that enough modern nuclear power stations could theoretically produce sufficient power for the nation – plus generate enough hydrogen from sea water to replace petrol, diesel and maybe aviation fuel.

    The only waste product from combusting hydrogen would be water. How much greener could you ask for?

    We have enough really deep defunct coal mines to sequester any radioactive by-products safely out of the way, especially now research suggests low levels of radioactivity may not be quite as bad as was thought.

  • Sunfish

    They had been promised a bourgeois privilege, they had gone into debt to acquire it, and now they saw that everyone else could also get one. What good is a privilege if everyone can have it?

    I still retain the ability to drive from my home to my grocery store of choice in 10-20 minutes, even if everybody else owns a car. Duh.

    In some American cities the act of strolling in the streets at night is grounds for suspicion of a crime.

    In some American cities, the act of speaking aloud the word “bourgeois” is grounds for suspicion of being a pucking futz.

    Knirirr, where did you find that asshat? Dear sweet Baby Jesus, even Denver traffic isn’t usually as bad and we’re the land of gunracks and SUV’s.

  • Arty

    The left has morals?

  • 6th Column

    I happened to be listening to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 yesterday. The subject was population and CO2 and what should be done. The BBC in its usual ‘balanced’ way gave hardly any time to an alternative viewpoint and just about every text and e-mail they quoted seemed to be saying that humans were a virus on the planet and should be restricted to have no more than 1 child as in parts of China. NO ONE including the presenter and his guests mentioned civil liberties or the right to choice. As I was driving on the M25 at the time I was already fairly stressed. Listening to this moronic show left me apoplectic and incredibly frustrated that these idiots do not see that the dictatorial methods they promote will eventually have a reaction that they really will not like.

  • Brad

    Why should we be surprised? Government and the State aren’t vehicles to defend life and property, it is a clearing house of forcing other people to live a certain way. Telling people that owning a car is immoral is simply the logical extension of being able to tell them what chemicals they can put in their body, who they can sleep with and how, controlling broadcast content, joining people together at the pocketbook with “safety nets”, the disparate list goes on and on.

    And when the “catholic” (i.e. broadest and commonest)sect of Puritans have had their way for decades with little to show for it, it isn’t too much of a stretch to assume that different sects are going to get a hearing at some point. When the default assumption is that the State is fully licensed to push people around, that Statism begets more Statism, and once all the “basic” froms of Statism have been tried to no avail, the fringes will be given a turn.

    It isn’t so much that some people think owning a car is immoral, it is that the function is now created where their opinions will be part of the Church of State canon eventually.

  • RAB

    Thanks Kinirirr. I second Sunfish.
    Where on earth did you find that?
    I havent read something as spectacularly stupid as that article for many a year!!
    I love the image of the Oil Magnates sitting around scratching their heads wondering what to do with all this gooey black ignitable stuff they’ve got.
    I know! We’ll invent the motor car, make a fortune and enslave the world!!
    Social and economic history are obviously a mystery to the Author, as is the chicken and the egg story.
    Still it appears that the piece was written in 1973. I wonder what the writer would say about computers??
    More Luxury goods that are devalued by becoming a universal tool ?
    The politics of spite my friends!!

  • Fred Z

    The ruling classes have always wanted us on foot. Caballero – Cavalier – Ritter, all the same thing. The sad part is they always delude a segment of the population into enforcing for them, and contriving ‘reasons’ why algore and his ilk should ride while we should walk.

    Remember the very few limos in old soviet Russia, full of apparatchiks? They ‘needed’ limos because of their ‘important work’ for the people.

    Have you ever noticed that ‘environmentalists’ always seem able to spend time in ‘protected areas’ to ‘do research’.

    The time may come when you cannot drive your own car and much of the world is closed to you, and all for your own good.

    I wonder if the young environmental quasi Marxist activists have any idea that they are in reality working for ‘the man’?

  • Mazzie

    Talking of signs of derangement, did anyone see Piers Morgan eulogizing Al Gore on QT last night? His eyes were literally bulging out of his head as he reached for the 7th octave of Green hysteria. I can only hope that no children were watching, it was a most disturbing spectacle.

  • freeman too

    If car ownership is immoral and stealing cars is illegal, what’s a citizen to do?

  • M. Ram

    Soooo, owning a car itself is “immoral” but loading a car with gas cylinders and nails to kills lots and lots of people is a legitimate reaction to our “genocide” against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. I know America is also full of these types of people, but at least we don’t have a nanny state that controls everything like the UK does. At least not yet.

  • I would like to point out that electric cars were doing very well in the early days, but can you confirm that development of petrol cars was not without encouragement by the oil industry? IIRC, there was involvement and the electric vehicle was sidelined even at a time when it was doing very well in comparison, performance-wise.

    Very soon battery technology will catch up in terms of price/performance.

    That said, I do think the motivation behind such thought is not environmental but ant-technology and ant-”big business”, i.e. anti-somethingtheyarenotincontrolof.

  • RAB

    I would like to point out that electric cars were doing very well in the early days

    Really? What back in 1879 when Benz patented his two stoke engine?
    If you wanted petrol back in those days you initially had to go to the Chemists or pharmacists to by some.
    Gas stations had yet to be invented.
    As for electric, well where the hell would you plug your car into to recharge it!! even if they were up to moving faster than a milk float (which they weren’t)

  • RAB, sorry if I am going to fact-check your ass.

    Benz patent for the vehicle issued 1886. It was a FOUR stroke (Otto Cycle) engine. 2-strokes came a few years later.

    It is rather obvious that gas stations had not been invented in advance of the petrol motor car…erm.

    Porsche created the first proper hybrid. 1904, I think. It was a 4×4 and used hub motors. They did 70mph – an amazing feat considering. It was sold as a sports/racing recreational vehicle – I kid you not.

    1899 – Land speed record won by an electric car.

    Around that time, soon after I think, electric cars out-sold petrol as they were quieter, smoother, more reliable and did not STINK.

    If Ford had chosen electric power, one wonders what would have happened.

  • RAB, sorry if I am going to fact-check your ass.

    Are you suggesting his donkey is misleading us?

  • Jacob

    We’ve heard that before.
    Under Marxist ideology – owning ANYTHING is immoral. Marxism advocates abolishing private property altogether; the People own everything and “we”, the leaders, allocate things to them according to “need”.

    Maybe the greens won’t allow it, or even don’t know it, but Marxist ideology has penetrated very deep into the way of thinking of most people, into our culture.

  • knirirr

    I found that Marxist drivel on a “Reclaim the Streets” website, after following a link on a pro-driving site. The pro-driving site maintainer had linked to some opposing propaganda for the sake of “balance”. I’ve kept the link ever since because I found it so outrageous.
    One thing that interested me about it was the lack of mention of the motorcycle – invented in 1885 and for decades a cheap means of motorised transport for the common working man (e.g. my great-grandfather and grandfather).

  • RAB

    TimC. I have just fed your mule
    and apparently the land speed record in 1889 was-
    39.24 mph. With or without electricity.
    There are kids round here who can skateboard faster than that!
    I agree though with your what if… Cost and ease tend to dominate an argument. Electric would have been impossible back then because there was no grid and the whole thing was impractical. Much easier to fill a tank full of fuel and fire it up.
    We do what we do, because we need to at the time.
    Visionaries are very few.
    Retrospectives, on the other hand, are many.

  • John McVey

    Knirir: standard prat crap. I read an article once in pol-sci class, “Yes Virginia, there is a ruling class”, which in all seriousness said that air-conditioning was nothing but a pure luxury in a car (the article is dated mid 70′s). It went onto say that the cars with aircon going up and down Australian – AUSTRALIAN – highways were mere status symbols!

    The class was taken in about 1994. While I had long been capitalist by then, I did think there were thinkers who might have an occasional point albeit wrongly analysed. As a result of reading that laughable tripe I haven’t had the slightest respect for marxist intellectuals ever since. Thanks for helping me reaffirm my opinion even 13 years later :)

    JJM

  • RAB, alas, selective information still gets fact-checked.

    1898 39.24mph (electric)
    1899 41.42mph (electric)
    1899 43.69mph (electric)
    1899 49.69mph (electric)
    1899 57.65mph (electric)
    1899 65.79mph (electric)
    1902 75.06mph (steam)
    1902 76.08mph (IC)

    So a few months later than your example, that sk8r boy would have been left well and truly behind.

  • RAB

    Well I’m touched with your faith in Electric technology TimC. The speed is impressive. 65 in 1899 for electric.
    But as you know quite well, my point was that Electric was unfeasable given the infrastructure of the time.
    If you run out of leccy your fucked unless you can find a charging point. But if you run out of petrol you have a can in the boot, that will either get you home or to somewhere that you can buy more.
    Where were those trials held ? Pendine sands in Wales? Over what distance? What size and weight were the cars? And how many days did it take to charge them back up again?
    Christ knows why I’m asking all that. I dont even drive!
    I know how though. I have driven on Pendine sands myself. My dad was giving me a lesson in our old Rover 90 back in the 70s. I was doing nicely. Up to 4th about 70 mph when my dad said I think we’ve gone far enough son (it’s a 10 mile rock hard beach) turn here.
    So I did. Rather suddenly.
    The 3/4 of a mile groove I ripped in the beach and the almost rollover convinced dad that perhaps someone else should take the risk of teaching me to drive.
    Mind you! That 1902 record looks good. 75 mph for steam!!! What ever happened to that technology?
    I’m all for whatever works, believe me my friend !

  • Nick M

    Isn’t the petrol/electric debate missing the point. Landspeed record vehicles are grand if you’re blasting along salt-flats but not a huge amount of use for getting to Tesco for the shopping.

    What happened to steam. Well, RAB, d’tya really wanna have the missus in the back shoveling coal?

    Simply put the IC engine is just a better bet than for anything other than large-scale turbines. The fact that steam is in the mix with those early electric records is curious don’t ya think.

    What nobody has mentioned here is range. TimC, any data on the range of those electrical contraptions. There’s also of course the killer so far on the electric car – the long recharge cycle. How long do you think the average joe will hang around the recharge station?

    Alternatively you just plug it in at home at night instead and use it to pootle within it’s limited radius of operations? And have to prearrange when you can use it. Might as well get the bus.

    Another thought. And data on the acceleration of these electric vehicles of yore Tim? Assuming they used something like good ole lead-acid cells they must’ve weighed a hell of a lot.

    Personally, I favour travelling in the future in a podule. Looks like a sort of wheeled egg standing on the blunt end (but raked back at a jaunty angle) and it drives itself at furious speed while making a sci-fi humming noise powered wireless electricty emitted from giant Tesla Coils. You could even have a podulette for the kiddies.

    The electricity will of course be too cheap to meter, obviously.

    OT. Why were/are people so obsessed with the idea of a flying car? I mean it already exists – A Huey is essentially a flying Transit van. Alas, costs are still too high…

  • Midwesterner

    Okay, so I’ll check in on the electric v internal combustion cars potential futures in the past.

    If you follow TimC’s url, you’ll find a link to here, where you will find a demonstration hybrid vehicle capable of a 1500 km (930 miles) range, 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) in 4.5 seconds, and a top speed of 240 kph (~150 mph). Oh, and it gets about 80 mpg.

    It’s obvious. Turn of the 20th century. Records shifting over from electrics to IC. And steam in 1906 with 127.7 mph. The technology for generation was as far advanced as the rest of the candidates. They should have pursued hybrid technology back then.

    Nick, about steam, I talked to the owner of a steam car at an antique auto show. It ran on (IIRC) diesel or kerosene, cruised around 70 to 80 mph (he liked to drive it on the interstates), and had for it’s time, a lot of power. His only complaint about it was waiting for it to come up to heat when you ‘started’ it. It wasn’t really all that complicated compared to IC, or even electric, but Henry Ford’s ‘build the cheapest’ business model reset the parameters. Had someone else set out to ‘build the cheapest’ via either steam or electric, or even hybrid electric instead of trying to be the best aimed at an upscale market, things could be very different.

    Henry Ford’s models ‘T’ and ‘A’ drove the creation of support infrastructure. All vehicles that came later had to adapt to that infrastructure to be usable. Basically, any of these technologies had the potential to be the one. The factors were in the market and marketing, not the technology.