Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Michael Dawson: Hater

So Michael Dawson writes up a critique of the proposed Hyperloop in which he essentially walks in and takes a shit on the proposal and leaves. That his critique is but a fraction of the length of the proposal not to mention his numerous comparisons to Tesla automobiles is telling that Michael is a hater.
I put the scare-quotes around the word “plan” here because Musk’s ridiculous proposal is clearly little more than a cocktail napkin fantasy being publicized to keep Tesla’s stock price in the rarified strata where it presently resides so undeservingly.
Cocktail napkin. You would not believe the number of ideas that are now commonplace that originated on that form of paper. I sure wouldn't use "cocktail napkin" as some kind of offense. I suppose that Michael doesn't have many "oh damn!!" ideas while he's out and about. Anyway, why the fixation on Tesla?
The Hyperloop imagined by Musk, who is invariably described as “a billionaire” as if that should-be-unspeakable status somehow renders one a technical genius in one’s chosen field of exploitation, would be a giant techno-tube shooting people from Los Angeles and San Francisco in half an hour.
Now I'll agree that being a billionaire doesn't mean one has unspeakable status. But if one is using one's billions to address a world wide issue of travel and energy use, then yeah you get attention for that. Besides Michael, where is your non-billionaire idea for long distance travel? Oh right, not in this offering. I'll take the billionaire's actual idea (however flawed) over Michael's non-idea any day. Besides that billionaire is doing a lot of hard math stuff and solving relevant problems to put his crafts into space and vehicles on the road. Michael is doing what exactly?


Aside from the obvious question of who would be willing to risk traveling at such a velocity in constant, extremely close proximity to terrestrial solid objects, the rank silliness of the “plan”
I assume Michael is one of those risk averse liberals. Anyway I am certainly game for riding in one of these should it be made. But more to the point, that today's vehicles readily go 90+ MPH on the roads was thought not only to be impossible at one point that one would have to be nuts to do it. Also why does Michael think that included in real world development plans would be safety and accident mitigation technologies (perhaps some that we haven't even thought of yet)?


For starters, take expense. It’s humorous to watch Musk, whose entry-level Tesla S sedan costs $69,900 and also relies on huge public subsidies and tax breaks beyond those already flowing to all car owners via street construction and foreign oil wars, assure his hapless admirers that his Hyperloop, which would require not only large numbers of extremely specialized forms of the motors used in Tesla cars but an unspecified source of solar self-power for the whole system, could be built for a mere $6 billion.
Why the obsession with Tesla? What does the price of the Tesla model S, sold with a large purpose of making a profit have to do with the pice of tea in China? First of all, assuming that Tesla makes all the parts of the 'loop (highly doubtful) does Michael not understand the concept of economies of scale? The amount of magnets and motors and the like would drive down the price of these items AND any other product that uses them.

Secondly, the roads are not "pubic subsidies" to Tesla buyers. Car owners are taxed (and tolled) for the use of roads. We pay for these roads just like we pay for our vehicles. If anything cyclists (I bike) get a free ride on the road since their "vehicle" of choice is not taxed and therefore contributes nothing to the upkeep of the roads that they travel on (admittedly with far less destructive impact).

Thirdly, while I too object to foreign oil wars. They are not necessary and are done by and for the benefit of a small group of people.

Fourth: Had Michael bothered to read the proposal he would know that the "unspecified source of solar self power" was specified: On the fucking roof of the tube. Yes, the images and the text clearly state that the panels would be on the length of the tube with batteries wherever necessary (including in the transport pods) to store power for bad weather conditions (night, clouds, etc.).

Even more importantly, the matter of energy use is treated with equal un-seriousness by Musk. On this front, consider not only the substantial difficulties that plague Tesla car owners trying to make use of their purchases, but remember that “electric” vehicles are really coal, natural gas, and nuclear vehicles, given the fact that 88 percent of U.S. electricity is still made from those sources, with little prospect of serious reduction.
Unserious you say? I mean really? Solar powered but unserious? Again what is with the Tesla comparison? Since we're on that....again.... lets remind Michael of a few things.

1) Yes the vehicles are Zero-Emissions. That means that the product itself produces no emissions when operating. So there is no trickery here. It is exactly what it stated. Now if one is interested in the energy used to produce the car, batteries and the source of the electricity that is an entirely different argument. Why? Because EVERY vehicle on the road, electric or not has similar costs. What the Zero-Emissions claim does is remove the "in use" emissions of the IC motivated vehicle.

2) While it is true that the vast majority of energy production in the US is "dirty" the fact is that per KJ of energy needed to move a 2 ton vehicle roughly 300 miles is less for an electric vehicle than it is using chemical combustion. Why? the IC engine is only 35% or so efficient. Most of the energy produced by the IC engine is lost as heat. An electric motor is 90% efficient in converting stored energy into mechanical energy (moving the vehicle not heating it up) (People with more knowledge on this process please forgive my gross simplification of the subject). Therefore even though the grid is dirty, using it is far better in the long run than using gasoline.

Furthermore as the population becomes more aware of Solar energy and solar panel installation drops in price, many people with electric vehicles will have harnessed solar energy to recharge their vehicles (and/or use their vehicles to power their homes) so the entire "dirty grid" argument goes out the window.

Musk is also silent about the wild impracticalities of all his products. Why should tourists be visiting Earth’s low orbit on a planet that has yet to get serious about either poverty or ecological sustainability? How could 200 million drivers ever possibly recharge electric vehicles in a way that would sustain present time economies, bad as those already are? What happens when the Hyperloop experiences its first serious malfunction? Elon? Elon? [Crickets chirping...]
I don't know why tourists should be visiting Earth's low orbit. I don't have the income to do it. If someone who does wants to do it, enjoy. Self centered people are not going to suddenly become interested in the plight of the poor because Michael or I think they should be. I learned that a long time ago. There will always be people with more disposable income than concern for other humans. Deal with it. On the other hand, the technological innovations that will come from these near space trips will certainly be beneficial to getting us off dirty energy.

As for the200 million drivers recharging electric vehicles, well by the time you get that many people into purely electric vehicles there will have been a massive infrastructure change in the US. Personally I think a mandate for Solar panels on all new housing and the use of fuel cell technology would be a great start. Remove the need for the individual home (or buildings) from having to suck all it's juice from a central grid will greatly reduce the strain on the central grid AND provide a means of charging all those cars without increasing the load on said central grid.

Musk is thinking ahead. Michael unfortunately cannot see beyond perhaps a few years in front of him. Maybe not past his own lifespan. The rest of us are excited to see what could become of this 'Loop proposal and the multiple changes that would accompany it. We're too busy imagining the possibilities to be hating.