I went down to the Little Sahara Sand Dunes on Saturday with the Wasatch Cruisers, which was a blast. I didn’t get very many action shots, but I did take a few poser shots of the Samurai. one of which I doctored up a bit in Photoshop.
I was tooling around the internet today, no big surprise there. Nothing really caught my eye in my normal news feeds, just that the FT-86 will be coming stateside, until I got to an article titled, “Exile in Greenville – What happens when a NASCAR race and an environmental conference converge“.
The article is by Liz Phair, yes that Liz Phair. I liked her early stuff when she was singing about watching TV while… well, you know, doing “boring” things. Once she went all poppy and mainstream I lost track of her. Well apparently she has become a writer for the Atlantic magazine and she took a trip to the Greenbuild Conference in Phoenix last year. Oh, and she also went to a NASCAR race, but she only talks about that for about two paragraphs. Usually I wouldn’t take the time to analyze an article like this, but neo-hippie-eco-nazi’s annoy me. Particular preachy celebrity ones who probably can’t read above a fifth grade level. Lets begin, shall we?
Phair leads off by talking about her drive from the Soviet Socialist Republic of California to Arizona through the Mojave desert. She mentions that she is so glad to be driving a Pious, err, Prius because the desert is an unforgiving place if she were to run out of gas. Maybe she should be glad that she filled up her tank before she left. Or perhaps that her vehicle is in proper repair since she is heading into an unforgiving landscape. No, she is just thankful for her Prius because they don’t run out of gas. I hate to break it to her, but the little ecobox isn’t any gas sipper when you’re wrapping it up to its top speed of 80MPH on the highway. The most respected automotive journalist in the world found that it only got 17.2MPG when doing that.
Next up we get the liberal, equality minded Phair spreading nasty stereotypes about NASCAR and how it’s fans are just a bunch of rednecks. In fact her whole report on what she did and saw at the Phoenix 500 is pretty pathetic. She is surprised when she’s asked to dress more respectfully while in the pits, rather than the slutty short-shorts she was wearing. When she is confronted by the fact that there are NASCAR drivers who are also environmentally conscience and that the sport recycles most of the fluids used she acts dumb and then claims to be “…sick of the brainiacs at NASCAR haranguing me about responsible waste management and alternative-energy sources”. What the fuck is that all about?
In her intro she claimed that she was going to ask NASCAR about recycling. Did she expect them to say, “Hell no missy! We just dump that sludge right into the stream over there and light dem tires on fire at the end of the race! Why don’t you just go ahead and bend over so I can get a look at that behind… Ye Haw!”
NASCAR is a multi-billion dollar industry that has been doing this for over 60 years. They know that their public image is environmentally unfriendly and if some little eco-bitch is coming along with a microphone they are going to show her all the positives they have going on. In addition, racing has been about recycling for decades. Long before Liz Phair figured out how to braid her hair, racing teams were figuring out how to keep parts running longer and harder, how to get the most efficiency out of engines and how to reuse everything in the pits to save money. I find it amazing that someone setting out to write an article dealing with NASCAR and environmentalism didn’t know that going in.
The majority of the article is her at the Greenbuild Conference, which is all about sustainable building products. You know, the companies who are exploiting all these dim-witted people who think that they have to go out and buy things to save the planet. Yeah, the conference is for them to show off their wares. And really, she doesn’t even talk that much about it either. She kind of glosses over the whole thing and talks about feeling “Eco-inadequate”.
She does record a conversation that she has with her jackbooted, goose stepping eco-nazi friend Kim. Kim gets mad at Liz because Liz wants to use the recycled plastic utensils and paper napkins telling her that they need to use less. This coming from a moron who drove from LA to Phoenix to attend a conference all about new eco friendly products for her to consume. Yeah…
The article ends with a quote from some guy saying, “…ultimately the society we need to create to sustain the planet depends on our ability to speak emotionally with some sort of comfort or fluency.” And Phair making a lame quip about how we all need to do our part and become more resourceful as a nation and use less stuff. And then she drives her little Pious back across the Mojave, which Kim has now convinced her is beautiful. Blegh.
The whole article makes me want to cut myself, but the last bit is the worst. First of all, speaking emotionally has nothing to do with building a sustainable planet. If anything its about being able to speak bluntly and often rudely. Talking about peace and love and happy birdies isn’t going to convince some logging company in Brazil to stop clear cutting the Amazon. Rather, explaining to them in cold hard emotionless facts that their business would be more profitable in the long run if they used more sustainable practices is going to convince them. Maybe. But this whole neo-hippie, Haight- Ashbury mentality of speaking about how we feel and that if we convince them that our feelings are more important then they will do what we want is total bullshit.
Then we have Liz Phair’s deal with how we need to be more resourceful. Which is honestly the only smart thing she says in the whole article. The problem is that she, and her ilk, are going about it in the wrong way. Rather than attending a Greenbuild conference, build something (or better yet refurbish something) with your own two hands! Rather than buy a brand new Prius, buy an old, reliable used car and keep it running for another twenty years.
You see this whole new sustainability movement is all about selling people stuff. Those of us who have been living this way our whole lives can’t help but be dumbfounded by people like Phair. I grew up with the mentality of if its broken, fix it. If you can do it yourself, then do. Don’t buy crap you don’t need and if you do need it, make sure it’s something that is going to last. Now we have people saying that your 10 year old perfect running car is a clunker and you need a hybrid. Your coffee grinder pulls too much energy, so you need a new low voltage one. All in the name of sustainability. It’s just another sales tactic for gullible people to buy into.
Phair should have been blown away by NASCAR. She should have gone in with an open mind and then seen how the whole event is organized, how they recycle, how the teams are so efficient, ect. Then she should have gone back to the Greenbuild conference and looked a little harder. Thought, “We already have most of this stuff, why can’t we just reuse what we have. Why am I being told that the only way to save the planet is to get rid of a bunch of old stuff that works fine and replace it with new stuff?”
But no, that would be too hard and wouldn’t conform to the ‘eco’ mindset.
I was asked by a guy the other day what I drive. I said, “I’ve got a 1986 Suzuki Samurai, a 1970 Datsun 510 and my commuter car is a 1992 Toyota Camry.”
His reply was, “Wow, thats a lot of old cars. They must break down a lot.”
I chuckled, “Well I just completely rebuilt the Samurai so it would stop breaking down. The Datsun’s a project car and doesn’t run at all and probably won’t for a few more years. The Camry, well it’s an early 90′s Toyota so it will likely run forever.”
“Huh… Why don’t you just buy a new car that, you know, just works?” He said, somewhat smugly.
“Because they’re too complicated.”
So this is where I would like to pick up. Quite a few people have given me quizzical looks when I tell them that I rebuilt the Samurai, a vehicle that is generally considered a throw away car. Or that I bought a non-running 40 year old econo box. My response is always the same, I like the simplicity of older cars.
It’s not that I dislike new cars. Hell, half my brain is devoted to keeping up with current models and trim levels. I gush over beautiful new cars like the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, or the Ford Focus RS Mk.II. But when it comes down to it, I’m much more likely to spend my time on eBay Motors looking at MGB GT‘s or Volvo P1800 ES‘s than at a manufactures website.
I blame my father.
You see, my whole life I’ve worked on cars. When I was but a tyke I was tasked with handing tools to my Dad while he worked on the family vehicles. Any time something went wrong, my Dad tackled it. Taking it to the shop was (is) never an option. This is what I grew up with. The problem is that over my life time cars have gotten significantly more complex.
Really if you think about it from the very beginnings of the automobile to the mid-80′s things didn’t change that much. Yes, yes I know that is a broad generalization, but on the whole your home mechanic could work on practically any vehicle with basic hand tools. Then came the computer. At first Electronic Control Modules (or ECM’s) were pretty simple. They controlled the emissions package or if you were cool, the Electronic Fuel Injection. But that was about it. Slowly though they started to take over every aspect of the car.
When ECM’s were basic, you could work around them. Headlight went out, swap it. Muffler rusted through, replace it. Rear view mirror broken, bolt on a new one. Now? Nope. You touch that headlight and the computer needs to be reset with the right codes. The muffler, yeah… Dealer only part because of the complexities involved with making sure the CO2/Oxygen/Man/Bear/Pig mix is correct. Don’t you dare touch that mirror, it has a blind spot sensor in it that has precise alignment. Nothing can be worked on with your normal Craftsman ratchet and socket set.
Being someone who has been indoctrinated with the concept of “Do It Yourself” the idea of having a car with the big plastic “sealed for it’s protection” engine cover really doesn’t appeal to me. I did that once. I had a 1998 Volkswagen Jetta VR6. Awesome car, drove great, I loved it. But working on it was a bitch. I had to replace a water pump once, in order to get to it you had to jack the engine up six inches because the pump was right next to the frame rail. What a pain. You know where the water pump is on the Samurai? Right in front, easy to get to. I can swap one in 15 minutes. Really, I can. I have. This is how everything was on the Jetta. Nothing was easy to work on and the parts were expensive. So when I sold it, I swore I would never own a car that new again.
So as new cars come out and boast about computer controlled this, or touch screen that, or sync blah, my brain just kinda shuts down. Yes, all this computer controlled stuff makes the cars more comfortable, more powerful, more “user friendly”. But at the same time it makes them more complex, more prone to breakage and more expensive. In addition, all this computerization also takes much of the driving experience away. When I drive a car, I want to drive the car. I don’t want to make an input and then let a computer handle it from there. I play video games for that. All this drive-by-wire stuff puts a buffer between you and the vehicle. When I step on the peddle I like the idea of having a true, physical connection to the vehicle. The peddle is connected to a cable thats connected to the throttle on the carburetor and when I push, everything moves in a way to make fuel enter the engine and then combust ect. ect. You see, I can understand that and explain it pretty easily.
New cars are becoming more like appliances designed to entertain us with their gizmos and less about the actual purpose of the car, a mode of transportation. I feel like cars today lack the passion for driving that vehicles from the past did. You get into a modern vehicle and what is one of the first things you will notice? That big ass computer screen in the dash. It’s distracting. When you get into a 1967 Porsche 911, its all about driving. Even my Samurai is all about driving. No bells and whistles. Even the stereo is in a somewhat awkward position.
If I want a computer, I’ll buy one for my home. If I want to know where I’m going, I’ll pull over and read a map (shocking yes, I know how to use one of those). If I want my ass to be warm… well we won’t get into that. Perhaps this is why I’m watching with some interest the Tata Nano‘s move towards the US market. That is a car with one purpose, transportation. There is no other reason for it to exist. Is it a car that I would buy? Not a chance. It isn’t a drivers car, but it intrigues me none the less. It is a vehicle with no frills, no satnav, no sync. If it enters the market in the sub $10,000 range, it could be a game changer. Sure I can point to dozens of more exciting used cars you could buy for that much, but our consumer driven society demands new. If it sells, it could force other manufactures to offer “down market” vehicles. Hell, it could even force manufactures to begin making cars that you actually get to drive again, not just washing machines on wheels.
Until that happens though, I’m going to stick with my old cars. They turn more heads, lack the complexities and more than anything, are fun.
Watch the video and read my response below.
Oh My God! The climate is changing!!!! The climate is changing!!! The Climate is… wait a minute? Hasn’t the climate always been changing? I mean, what about back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, things were different then, right? Or hey, lets get even more recent, say 1944? Yeah, one of the coldest winters on record in Europe. Or even this year where Britain is experience a severe cold shock. THE CLIMATE IS ALWAYS CHANGING!!!! I mean hell, Many scientist who were part of the IPCC recently came out saying that they made a mistake. Oh, and lets not forget about ClimateGate… yeah…
We don’t even fully understand how the climate works and we are trying to change it? Isn’t that bad? Shouldn’t we invest a little more time in trying to figure out how the system works before we spend untold trillions of dollars to change it to our liking?
And what are they talking about that these jobs that would be created “can’t” be outsourced’? WTF? Most of the manufacturing would be done in China, so there goes most of those jobs. And construction of the massive wind or solar farms (which would take up huge tracts of land) would probably go to the lowest bidder, like all government contracts. So how are those good paying jobs?
Also, how is this not going to increase the deficit? I mean really, lets think about this. The bill calls for government money to be poured into the economy to stimulate growth in this sector. At a minimum these projects would take 5-10 years to come online in strength all the while requiring subsidies, and probably for a long time after. Best bet, you would probably see a return on investment somewhere around the 30 year mark. So yeah, in 30 years time you will see it not effect the deficit. But today where we are sitting at the highest deficit EVER we will continue to load up on that, making our economy weaker and our ability to compete globally worse. And if we tax the hell out of “the polluters” guess what, they will stop creating jobs in the US and move them overseas. Don’t believe me, look at California. Industries have found it cheaper to do their manufacturing in Nevada and ship products into California rather than keep their main operations there rather than pay the exorbitant taxes. Put that on a national scale. Tweak that gap toothed fro boy!
Next, end our dependance on foreign oil because we get it from countries that don’t share our views and want to kill us. Who, Canada?!?! Whoever wrote this piece of garbage needs to do a little research: DOE Oil Imports. The only country on there that I can see who really hates us is Venezuela. But they would never do anything but spout off rhetoric because exporting oil to the US supports their ENTIRE ECONOMY! And what about the whole Hollywood message of tolerance of others. Basically this message tells me that others (Arabs) are all bad and want to kill us. What about that anti-war, love Iraq BS you were spouting a couple years ago Leo?
To conclude I’m all about sustainability. People should do more to use what they have, keep what they have usable for longer periods of time, support local businesses, increase efficiency, ect. ect. But people should also look at the big picture. We can’t change the climate in any definitive terms. And why should we try? I mean people are talking about .01 degree changes in a century if we did everything that groups like Greenpeace want. Has anyone thought that if we try fucking with something that we don’t fully comprehend there might be some negative consequences?
I think that Bjorn Lomborg’s book Cool It is one of the best arguments about the whole climate change deal. If you are truly worried about this whole thing, then rather than pour money into something that may not do anything, help the world adapt. For pennies on the dollar we could teach people how to better cope with the new realities of a changed climate.
People make the whole climate change thing sound apocalyptic. It’s not. As I mentioned earlier, the climate has been changing forever and will continue to change. Trying to keep it stagnate, which is what these Hollywood bobble heads want us to do, is selfish. Oddly enough humanity has the ability to adapt to vastly different climates. If the climate were to change by a global average (how do you get a global average? We have such varying climates that that would prove hard) of 1 degree by 2100, mankind isn’t going to shrivel and die.
If people want to e-mail their Senators in support of it, cool. They have staffers who will read it and trash it because it’s a form letter. I for one don’t support the Senate energy bill and am pretty confidante that it will not pass (Scott Brown FTW!).
The British folk band Mumford & Son’s album Sigh No More is hands down the best album I have heard in a long time. Probably since I got Tally Hall’s Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum.
The album blends folk, rock and bluegrass in a very warm melodic way. The lyrics are very folky in that they tell good stories that you can (well I can) relate too. The lead singer has a slightly raspy voice which I feel really works with the bluegrassy elements.
Definitely worth a look for anyone who likes some good music.