Hello, hello, is there anybody out there?

Even though I turned off my cable, I still get the news.  I probably get better news than I was getting.  I also started listening to NPR.  It’s gentle cadence and lack of driving beat slows down my driving.  I can’t afford another ticket or I’ll probably be looking at losing my license, so that helps.  Instead of blaring headlines, I hear real stories, real interviews and I don’t have to deal with “If it bleeds, it leads” type leaders.  I’ve heard amazing in depth stories about things going on in other countries.  I actually think I have a pretty good understanding of what is happening in Greece in spite of my lack of follow up on that story.  I know who Goodluck Jonathan is.  All and all, this is a good thing.  And I haven’t heard a real commercial in at least a month.

Naturally the story that interests me the most is the spill in the gulf.  Whenever something like this happens, we can all expect the usual hand wringing, posturing and knee jerk reactions.  And I see a giant disconnect.  Disconnects have been the theme of the week.  I watched Super Size Me over the weekend and have been watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on Hulu.com.  I spend hours trying to find homes in areas that are just out of my client’s range because they want the very best schools their little tykes, who they all think are the next Sergey Brin.  Newsflash: Probably not.  While my high school class of misfits features a nuclear physicist and a captain of industry, those were the two really smart nerd guys.  Most of the Irvington Class of 1976 are just working stiffs.  And it was not the best school to go to back then.  I think it was three or four on the depth chart back then.  Anywho, these people drive me nuts trying to find a home they can afford in these school districts and then I watch them feed their kids chicken McNuggets.  And it makes the needle scratch across the record player in my head.

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The natural extension of that thinking this week is Arnold Schwarzenegger, the reason the Hummer took off in America, canceling drilling contracts off of the coast of California in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I have to drive from point A to point B like everyone else, or at least every other Realtor.  And I drive a sedan, a BMW sedan.  And I get pretty decent mileage in it, for what it is.  (The safest car on the road the year I bought it)  But I have been opposed to expanded drilling off the coast of California since I knew enough to oppose it.  I remember as a child my mother cleaning the tar off my feet after a trip to the beach in Santa Barbara.  Santa Barbara the scene of the worst oil spill in history in 1969.  I wonder if there is a correlation.  I remember Secretary of Interior James Watt drawling “they’re kinda pretty at night” about the rigs off of the coast of Santa Barbara.  I thought he was a moron.  Here we are 25 years later with another moron declaring “drill baby, drill”.

But Schwarzenegger is a dichotomy.  He had all of those Hummers and then spent $60,000 to convert them to hydrogen.  He sold the fleet in 2006 based on environmental concerns, but the damage was done.  While the BMW was in the shop this week I had a Dodge Dakota pick up truck rental.  I didn’t do my run, I just made the stops that I had to, and went through $35 worth of gas in a little more than 24 hours total.  Including the ten plus hours it sat in my driveway.   In the BMW $35 will take me four or five days.  I drove further in the BMW yesterday then I did in that Dakota in two days and barely moved the needle.  The United States builds crap cars.  There is no reason in 2010 that Chrysler can’t make a lousy pick up truck that gets better than 11 mpg.  That’s obscene.

Yesterday I was sitting at a red light an intersection on my bike.  I was stopped on the white line between the right lane and the turn lane.  I’d pulled up so my front wheel was in the crosswalk.  I do that so there is plenty of room for the folks who want to turn right to do so.  If they are timid about pulling up, I’ll actually wave them up to make their turn, I’m considerate like that.  Yesterday as I waited for the light an F-350 pulled up in the right turn lane and the driver told me “That’s a good way to get yourself killed”.  Really?  I’m legal I shouted back.  “No you aren’t” he said.  As he pulled around the corner in his giant diesel F-350 I saw the disabled plates on it.  I thought, here’s a guy taking more than his share, because he isn’t using that truck for work if he’s got disabled plates on it, and he thinks he deserves more.  He’s bullying bicyclists, he hasn’t bothered to learn the law and I bet he’s a teabagger.  (he had some bumper stickers that tipped his hand on that one)  And I’ll bet he doesn’t connect his SSI or SDI payments with a government run program.  And he was getting around 11mpg to shuttle around his stupid ass.

We can’t stand around and wring our hands about oil spills and wars over oil unless we’re ready to make the changes as a nation that we need to.  And we’re not.  As long as ridiculously large SUV’s and trucks compensate for nature’s shortcomings and blare social status, we will be slaves to foreign oil and off shore drilling.  Because destroying the Alaskan wilderness for a non-renewable resource is such a great idea.

In 1985 BMW had a directive to their engineers to find a way to build more fuel efficient vehicles without compromising performance.  They have done some amazing work there.  The US carmakers solution was to lighten up the cars as much as possible.  My BMW gets 32 on the road and weighs 4250 pounds.  The hood weighs a ton, actually more than the hood of my 1966 Mustang.  They’ve built a 7-series that runs on water.  That’s engineering.   Our energy problems are solved with ingenuity and engineering.  The auto industry has become sloth.  I think they should have let GM go under.  Toyota has their place in the market right now not because of engineering, they’re weak on engineering, their place is based on the fact that 30 years ago they made a dashboard clock that actually kept time.  What a stupid thing to lose market share over.  In spite of an engineering screw up that kills people, Toyota’s sales were up last quarter.  And they build one of the most fuel efficient fleets in the world.

As long as there are oil rigs off shore, there will be accidents.  As long as we consume foreign oil, there will be war in the Middle East.  The solution is engineering and alternative fuel sources.  It’s time that we quit being a bunch of self centered bloated petulant children and started behaving as if we cared about our planet and each other.

One Reply to “Hello, hello, is there anybody out there?”

  1. Check out the news now. FIS is being sold to Blackstone (not official yet, but WSJ is reporting on the talks.)!

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