Entertainment Trivia For 03/27/06

I haven’t done any soap opera trivia yet, so here’s a two-parter for you soap fans:

First, what was the tie-in between Dallas and Knots Landing? And second, what was Dallas’ incest angle?

The Answer! Well, perhaps it’s a tribute to the intelligence of our readers (or a condemnation of mine), but it seems we have NO soap fans here. Anyway, if there was any interest in this question at all, I might do some research, and make sure I have the exact seasons. But, as it stands, I’ll just go on memory, and we can inter this matter in the shallow grave where it belongs:

In Dallas, season 2, we were introduced to Jock Ewing’s “other” son, “Gary”, who happened to be the hitherto mysterious father of niece “Lucy”, who had been living at the Southfork Ranch from episode 1. Gary married “Val”, and moved to Knots Landing AKA “The Cul-de-Sac”, a hard-against-the-coast suburban community of Los Angeles – most likely in Rancho Pales Verdes, Pacific Palisades, or Malibu, and flagrant decadence ensues. (Sound familiar, Desperate Housewives fans?)

Well anyway, in Dallas season 1, Lucy had an affair with senior ranch hand, “Ray Krebbs”. But, around about season eight, we learned that Ray was actually Jock’s bastard son, a half-brother to J.R., Bobby and Gary.

However, it is popularly believed that this was just a matter of the writers losing track of the story arc. Either that, or they drew back, in response to popular revulsion. In any event, the incest angle between Lucy and Ray was never dealt with

Update: “With some embarrassment,” reader Quintus informs us that it was actually season four when it was revealed that Ray was Jock’s son (see comments).

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses…

Timmer’s “upside-down, and subject, American flag” pic, and more, can be found here. As I stated here, I understand what the protesters are trying to say; but I find the way they have framed their argument incredibly stupid.

Particular among their faux pas is the “stolen land” argument. And, although any Californian student of our history can’t help but be ashamed at the way our forebears wrested the land from the old grantholders, to use that argument, our Mexican-American cousins would have to also concede that the land was previously “stolen” from the Native Americans. (Admittedly, most Mexicans, and even moreso, Mexican-Americans, have a high percentage of “native blood.” But that almost exclusively is from other tribes, further to the south.)

In this comment, I made light of Timmer’s making the same case I am covering here, by mentioning the Israelis. But that’s only humorous because the idea of “their ancestral homeland” has currency with so many of the same people who would deny this land to those who have come before us. Indeed, the Israelites “stole” the land from the Canaanites, who moved northward, crossbred with the “Sea People” (most likely Minoans), became the Phoenicians, and became the most powerful empire of the transition from the Bronze to Iron Ages (not to mention great friends and trading partners with the Israelites). Now, many of their progeny are “Palestinians”, and living in far greater squalor than their “Israeli-Arab” cousins. Crying over lost land, like any embrace of victimhood, gets one nowhere.

And I grow weary of idiotarians, like Kathy McKee, saying that Mexico is the “5th richest” economy in the world [she’s wrong about that, it’s between the floundering France, and California (even without California, the US is still #1)], and they “should take care of their own.” Well, applying that standard, we would have excluded the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Ashkenazi Jews… . What those “student protestors” should be saying is that immigrants are the embodiment of the American Dream. They should chant loud and clear the words of Emma Lazarus:


Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

The “answer” to the illegal immigration problem is simple: Increase quotas to reasonable levels (or eliminate them entirely), and eliminate the obviously racist and xenophobically inspired red tape for Mexicans, and others from “those” nations, to come to the US (even as visitors).

Oh, and as for “amnesty”, once one admits that the law, as it stands, is an ass, it becomes much easier to swallow.

In the Middle of Moving On

We’ll be rolling out of here in April, heading West for one more go on the PCS-go-round before we finally retire back to Boise. (PCS: Permanent Change of Station for the civilian readers.) Doing the out-processing while moving while figuring out what to do with cats. You know..all that fun.

Inputs from me will be light if at all existant for the next couple weeks.

I’m not particularly sure if I’m coming back at all to be honest with you.

I’m having trouble being associated with someone who would burn the flag in order to express their displeasure over a law. It goes against what I believe on a gut level. I guess I understand it intellectually, but this isn’t about that. If I have to explain it, you probably wouldn’t get it. There are better ways to express your displeasure. Less insulting. More effective. To some it’s just a piece of cloth, to me and mine it’s so much more than that. I can’t get any more succinct than that.

Disturbing

I’m sure every recruiter has their own personal stories of encounters with people who were vehemently against the war, Bush, and the military. My experiences have been pretty tame, water throwing, being yelled at or insulted, nothing major. However, I work with a recruiter who got egged while walking by a Wal-Mart, and a recruiter in another station near mine had the rear window of their G-Jet shot out while they were driving.

Apparently some student(s) at the University of Wisconsion-Madison decided to toss a brick through the window of their on-campus recruiter’s office. According to the article this was not the first time that someone has broken out their window. Apparently the campus’ anti-war club Stop the War was interviewed by the paper for some quotes and perspective. A representative of Stop the War, condones such attacks because they “get people onto the streets” and supporting anti-war/recruiting efforts. I think I’m starting to see another connection between the anti-war movement and islamic extremism. Anti-war groups advocate peace through violent acts; Islam is billed as the religion of peace, but acts of extreme barbarism are performs in its name. No wonder the two groups have become bed-buddies of convience, neither’s acts mesh with the philosophy they trumpet.

HT B5.

The Day I’ll Burn The Flag

Looking back on Timmer’s post, Oh No They Didn’t: I see there are two issues at play here. The main issue is, of course, illegal immigration. And then there is the matter of the “student protests,” which, while they might make for great cable news footage, are little more than side shows.

To refresh your memory, Timmer’s post was centered upon an American flag being flown beneath a Mexican flag, and upside-down. By my own measure, while I find that incredibly stupid, I am not offended. However clumsily stated, I think I get their point.

And I think it was our Brit. reader, Al, that commented something like “it’s just a bloody piece of cloth.”

I’ve had this conversation with several Brit. friends in the past, I think I’ve got a handle on it. And here’s one key place where we Americans differ from our cousins across the pond. To the Brits, the Union Jack just represents the nation – it’s little more than a corporate logo. And this is true for the people of most nations of the world. But the Stars and Stripes is different for Americans Just as the United States is different from any other major nation of the world. That flag doesn’t represent a King on a throne, or 545 pompous egocentric blowhards in Washington D.C., a collective of the population, or even a really big chunk of real estate.

No, it represents something quite different: it’s an ideal, a set of principles, and a dream for a higher order of existence for all mankind. And many, many Americans believe (quite justifiably, IMO) that the ideal, and this nation, were divinely inspired. And, to them, the Stars and Stripes are as the Koran is to a Muslim.

But then, there are those (like these student protesters), who choose to denigrate or desecrate the Stars and Stripes. I will hazard a guess that few of them are saying they have lost faith in the ideal. What they are saying is that they think the actualization has fallen far short of the ideal. Pity we don’t have a flag for the government of the United States. POTUS has a flag, but Congress doesn’t – neither does the Supreme Court. We should have a flag for the federal government – wipe your ass with that one – you’ll likely get a cheering section.

But there are those in Congress, as well as various and sundry Statehouses, who are as fanatic about the Stars and Stripes as some Muslims are about the Koran. However, here is the paradox which certifies the Stars and Stripes’ divine nature: unlike the Koran, EVERYTHING that the Stars and Stripes represents is embodied in the individual’s right to do with it as they please – no matter how offensive it might be to some, or even all.

So, the day I burn the Stars and Stripes, will be the day a flag desecration amendment to the Constitution is ratified – hopefully, I will do it on the steps of Congress. Because that’s the day when the ideal will have been lost, and the Stars and Stripes becomes worthless.

More Shadow Boxing At The UN

Well, Iran got a good finger-wagging from the UNSC yesterday:

NEW YORK — The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution yesterday giving Iran 30 days to suspend its uranium-enrichment program, but gave no hint of punishment if Tehran fails to comply.

After succeeding in having Iran’s nuclear program put before the Security Council, the United States and its European allies spent three weeks negotiating a watered-down resolution to meet the demands of Russia and China that it contain no justification for sanctions or use of force.

While yesterday’s resolution is toothless, all 15 members of the Security Council clearly rejected Iran’s assertion that it has the right to enrich uranium without interference from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said it is now up to the Iranian government to demonstrate that it will abide by the requirements of the IAEA, which must report back to the Security Council in 30 days.

This is absurd! Does anyone think that playing these games improves the US’ stature in the world? Would Andrew Jackson or Teddy Roosevelt put up with this shit?

We did the same gawd-damn thing with Iraq. France and Russia objected then, just as Russia and China are objecting now: for purely short-sighted commercial reasons. (And they say America is only interested in the next quarter’s P&L statement.) This sort of mind-set amongst the permanent members makes the UNSC patently dysfunctional.

But yet, we play the damn game. And, just as Saddam got all his WMD staged for a quick exodus to Syria when he knew the UN negotiations were in their terminal phase, Iran will enrich all the uranium they can, until they know the Rubicon has been crossed, and then they will pack everything for shipment to Syria, Africa, or one of the ex-Soviet ‘stans – and perhaps provide any product they have to al-Qaeda.

We may not have the capability to stage another invasion. (I think we do, but it would first require pulling out of places we have little or no business being in any more – like Okinawa, South Korea, Germany and England.) But we still have a quite formidable military option. We should strike now, and strike hard. As Ann Coulter recommends, not just at their nuclear installations, but their entire industrial capacity. And at the same time, we should be prepared to funnel massive assistance to any nascent contra organizations.

And forget “nation building”. That was kind of essential with Iraq, as leaving a power vacuum would have been irresistible to Syria or Iran. But we won’t have that problem with Iran; who’s going to invade: Russia? Pakistan? Georgia?

The 800 lb. gorilla is, of course, the disruption in the world’s oil supply. But, if that proves to be truly prohibitive, the oil fields are distributed over only a small portion of the nation – mostly along the Persian Gulf, and to a lesser extent, the Caspian Basin – we can easily effect a limited occupation over these regions.

Of course, the moonbats will go on the march. “No blood for oil,” they will cry out. It’s about time we stop shadow dancing with them as well. When not enough oil on the world market means hospitals in the third world go dark, and innocent children die, HELL YES, that oil is worth a little blood.

OK, This Beats It

I’ve gotten emails from a couple of readers about this before. But now it’s happened to me:

Sorry, you’ve banned from commenting on this blog.

Either your comment content was found to contain spam, or
your IP address (or a subnet of your IP address) has spammed this blog before.

If you think you got this page in error, your entered name might be too short.

Strike count: 5

Banned from commenting on my own g-damn blog – if that don’t beat all! LOL

Update: Well, I just did some interesting gymnastics to get this comment to post. (enter dummy comment, log out/in as “admin”, edit comment – replacing dummy with intended content). There’s something about that comment (and it’s not the word “shit”) that the system doesn’t like. Any ideas?

Globalization of Taste

Sgt/Cpl. Blondie stumbled across evidence of this, at a local chain grocery—the one I always call the Humongous Big-Ass Grocery. It is truly one of the glories of living in Texas, a local chain which has run practically every other big grocery chain out of town with a combination of unparalleled customer service, quite good prices on their house brands, and an unimaginable variety of fine grocery items for the discriminating foodie. I firmly believe that the Iron Curtain would have slipped off its’ rod and collapsed even sooner if selected members of the Politburo could have been given guided tours of the average HEB store… the sheer lavish glories of American grocery stores are legend, and HEB does that all one or two steps better. They pay really close attention to their local market. I have a theory that you can calculate the average per capita income in a neighborhood (before taxes) by counting up how many varieties of olive oil are on the shelves at the local HEB… so many varieties X so many $ thousands in income, and there you have it. I haven’t worked out the exact figures yet (I’m only an English major, you know!!!!), but the greater the variety of olio d’ olive, the higher the income. The HEB nearest Lackland AFB, I’ll have you know, had only 2, and one of them was that nasty yellow Pompeii brand drek, which was all that was on the major grocery markets for decades, before anyone acquired any taste in the matter at all.

Olive oil— it’s a small thing, but something I noticed, because of being in Greece, where it was the font of all civilization (according to legend), and then in Spain where Alcampo, the Spanish equivalent to Walmart, with every imaginable item under one roof, and at next to wholesale prices, offered an entire aisle of olive oil, of every quantity and quality.
I came home from Spain with six 1.5 liter bottles of a good and faintly greenish brand of the stuff, which lasted me for barely a year.
That’s the trouble with being stationed overseas a lot; eventually you sample the local stuff- something that is a local taste, and hardly ever exported, and when you come home, you are bereft… sometimes. A year or so after I came home from Japan, my friend Marsh (She of the marvelous engine-mount challenged car) were overjoyed to discover a small Japanese-American eatery that offered… Katsudon!

Katsudon; a dish all the more luscious because it is very good, and filling and cheap, and most marvelous of all— available everywhere. (And when you said it, the waiter/waitress understood it!) It was the hamburger, or the meatloaf of Japan, a bowl of rice topped with a breaded and friend pork cutlet, and a savory glob of poached egg and onion, all the juices seeping down to flavor the rice with sweet liquor. You could go— or so said the Japanese lady who taught the “Intro to Japan 1A— into any casual eatery in Japan, and ask for “katsudon” and get some variant of it. There is of late in one of my cooking magazines, a recipe for such, which shows how adventurous the foodie population may have become— two decades ago, practically no one who hadn’t done a tour in Japan had ever heard of it at all. People who have served overseas have heaps of examples— lovely and particularly local foods which they became addicted to, and could never find again, or if they could, at great expense, once they came “home”.

Which gets me back, however circuitously to HEB, and food items from Japan. Blondie found an import item at a local HEB store, and fell on it joyfully; a particular brand of Japanese soda. It came in very distinctive blue-green glass bottles, sealed with a blue-green glass marble in the neck of it. A bulge in the neck, and a pinch molded into the glass on one side kept the bottle from rolling back into the top opening if you drank it holding the bottle in a certain way. Vendors kept a particular punch at their stand, to open it by pushing the marble back into the neck— where it had otherwise made a tight seal against force of carbonation. The soda was otherwise fairly indistinguishable from ginger ale, or some other clear, mildly sweet and carbonated drink… but still. Neither of us expected to see it on the market here, but whattaya know. Here it is.
Street Fair 1977
This pic of me (center) and two other girls from the barracks (Sorry, I can’t recall their names!) was taken during a local festival, about 1977, when all the traffic on Misawa’s main street was cut off, and it was decorated with lanterns and banners, and stalls. All of us have a bottle of this particular soda in hand.

“Army Of Davids” Theory Jumps The Shark

In most cases, I have been a supporter of Glenn Reynolds’ Army of Davids theory. But, in this TCS Daily article, he has simply taken it too far.

Having done some stand-up comedy, I know something of this. C’mon Glenn: The Lazy Muncie video you site names several (not necessarily comedy) “luminaries” who hail from there. Drew Carey is from Cleveland, Roseanne Barr is from Salt Lake City, Jeff Foxworthy is from Atlanta and Johnny Carson was from Norfolk, Nebraska. All cut their teeth in local clubs before making it big. This has been true from the days of burlesque, and likely before.

In the world of comedy, the Internet is another channel of distribution, not a revolution. In a way, it may be counter-productive, as it will allow everyone with some talent, but no refinement, to “perform” for a relatively elite audience, without the instant critique which comes from “killing” or “bombing”. Again, Lazy Muncie is a great example of this; it shows lots of promise, but really is neither extremely funny, or seminal. But, as long just about every town and hamlet across the nation has a little club with an open mike night, flyover country will still be the great crucible of American comedy.

Update: After doing some background on on our two Lazy Muncie protagonists, Kerby Heyborne and Chris Cox (not to be confused with our new SEC Chairman), disabuses one of any conception of it as some sort of “Cinderella story”. Muncie native Cox has been making his way up the writer/producer ladder here in SoCal for about 11 years. Heyborne is newer to SoCal, but spent years busting his chops on the “Mormon Theater” circuit in Utah. In neither case can you call Lazy Muncie their “big break”, as they both are part of Fox’s new sit-com Free Ride (Cox as Supervising Producer, Heyborne in the part of “Dillon”).

Oh No They Didn’t

Whittier area students from Pioneer, California and Whittier high schools walked out of classes to protest the proposed federal immigration bill March 27, 2006. The protestors put up the Mexican flag over the American flag flying upside down at Montebello High. (Leo Jarzomb/Staff photo)

Stolen from Malkin.

Ya know, up until this past week I’ve been pretty much for some sort of immigration reform that allows some way for illegal immigrants, especially from Mexico, to become legal citizens with some sort of ease. After seeing the shenanigans going on at the protests and especially after this incident, I’m starting to side with the folks who want to round ‘em all up and shove ‘em back across the border. Apparently these folks don’t want to become Americans, they’re trying to re-fight a war they lost over a century ago.

Memo: Just So You Know Where We Are Coming From

To: Those Insisting Upon A Death Sentence For Apostasy
From: Sgt. Mom
Re: The Case of Abdul Rahman

I would refer you to the matchless words of the “Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom- 16 June 1786″: Read them, heed them, commit them to heart, for this is where we are coming from.

Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do…. Continue reading

New SuperCuts Commercial

ROTFL A new SuperCuts commercial typifies their competitors with this haircutting automoton saying (in a mechanical voice) “how about a number 2… number 2… number 2…” This has got to be a crack-up, at least to guys who served in my day. The “number 2″, named for the clipper guard they put on just before they shear you like a sheep, leaves you with about as much hair as a “Pinger”, right out of Basic.

Things that make you go hmmm….

Baldilocks points us to a UPI story about one of former president Bill Clinton’s chauffeurs.

Seems that while 3 cars were waiting for Clinton to arrive at Newark Airport, a Port Authority cop checked their license plate numbers. Turns out one car belonged to a Pakistani native who was a wanted man. He skipped out on his residency hearing six years ago, and has a deportation order against him.

Hmmmm…….

Red Ken Vs. US Embassy

In a matter strangely reminiscent of Rudy Guiliani’s UN diplomat parking ticket kerfuffle, it seems the US Embassy to Great Britain has refused to pay London Mayor “Red Ken” Livingstone’s congestion fee (about $14/car) on cars entering the city center.

Our embassy is framing the argument as a tax matter, and claim they are exempt under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. I would agree with this. But I wonder, how many of the estimated 100 cars/day at the embassy are actually conducting the US’s business, and how many are just the private vehicles of staffers commuting to work?

But this quote from Livingstone really jumps the shark:

When British troops are putting their lives on the line for American foreign policy it would be quite nice if they paid the congestion charge.

Man, this guy is an idiot.

Update: It seems this has been going on for decades, and is far broader based. Here’s an article from last year, saying NYC also want’s property taxes for embassy buildings not directly related to the diplomatic mission. And here’s a World Bank paper (PDF), from 1995 about (among other things) African nations which wanted fees for diplomatic vehicles.

The White House Shakeup Begins

This just in: White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card has just tendered his resignation. He is to be replaced by be replaced by Budget Director, and former Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Bolten.

Expect further shuffling of the deck in the near future. A legion of GOP leaders and pundits have been calling for this for months. It has also been rumored that Card has been quite unhappy in his position, and bucking for the job as head of Treasury.

FEC: Hands Off Blogs

We won:

In a unanimous vote yesterday, the Federal Election Commission left unregulated almost all political activity on the Internet except for paid political advertisements. Campaigns buying such ads will have to use money raised under the limits of current federal campaign law.

Perhaps most important, the commission effectively granted media exemptions to bloggers and other activists using the Web to allow them to praise and criticize politicians, just as newspapers can, without fear of federal interference.

If You Are Not Watching Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King

…On the SciFi channel, what could you be thinking? Thusfar, it’s been pretty excellent TV.

Update: Our Brit readers will know this by Sword of Xanten. And here’s the IMdB rundown. The reviews are quite mixed. I think a lot of it has to do with some reviewers holding it up to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. I don’t think that’s a fair comparison, as this was obviously done for a fraction of LotR’s budget.

Responsible Parenting Or Eugenics?

Philip Chaston at Samizdata blogs on a new IVF clinic in Britain, offering genetic screening for congenital diseases:

The £5 million centre will bring pioneering embryo screening techniques for the creation of “saviour siblings” to Britain.

In addition, it will offer testing for up to 100 inherited gene disorders such as muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis.

Embryos found to be carrying rogue genes will be discarded and only “healthy” embryos implanted into their mothers.

Controversially, doctors at the centre have already obtained the first British licence to treat a couple with an inherited form of bowel cancer in the hope that their baby will never develop the disease. The centre is to be opened by the private Care at the Park IVF Clinic in Nottingham within three months.

But campaigners last night said it represents a further step by the IVF industry on the slippery slope towards eugenics and parents being able to choose characteristics for their children such as blue eyes or blond hair.

Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: “Paying £5 million for a state-of-the-art centre in order to eliminate more embryos with disabilities sounds like aggressive eugenics. We need to develop real cures for genetic diseases, not kill the carriers.”

This may seem a bit odd to us here in the US, where such procedures have been relatively commonplace for years. For all the talk of the antediluvian nature of America’s “Religious Right”, the medical regulatory environment in Britain is far more restrictive.

Eugenics is a term with a lot of emotional impact, due to its association with Nazi Germany and genocide. But the key difference here is the absence of state coercion. Indeed, to the clear thinking and amoral individual, this liberal eugenics lacks the ethical pitfalls of the lamentable chapter in human history. As I see it, only the hardcore Life Begins at Conception crowd could have objection to this. But they have a Luddite objection to IVF procedures in the first place, so nothing new there.

As well, the article uses the term designer babies quite liberally. To me – and I believe I’m in the majority, at least here in the US – genetic selection doesn’t imply design. A real designer baby would be one which has had its genome actually altered to achieve the desired (normal, exceptional or even superhuman) traits. We have a little ways to go with our science before we are there.

Caption This One Winner (060324)


(U.S. Air Force photo/Robbin Cresswell)

This was difficult since there were so many good inputs this week.

1. Yeff: “Torch Songs and Drag Queens: An Evening with Tops in Blue.” Mostly because I had a roommate who “came home” from Tops In Blue and DAMN, he didn’t have to tell, ya know?

2. Our very own Kevin with: “Gawd, I hope my friends back home don’t see this!” I wonder if making it to the Caption Contest is an additional penalty to the donut offense of having your picture in the paper?

3. Adjustah: The secret life of Wayne Brady…

See ya Friday.

Automotive Technology Marches On

Glenn Reynolds seems to have been in a motorhead mood yesterday. First, he links to this Autoblog post, about the new prototype Mazda hydrogen/gasoline RX-8, then to this this Jay Leno article in Popular Mechanics. The Leno article, coincidentally, features a pic of Jay with the lovely original Mazda Cosmo.

But I believe Autoblog’s Chris Paukert is a bit misleading, when he says the RX-8s are “street legal.” I don’t know about the specifics of Japanese law. But here in California, factory prototypes (to say nothing of alternative fuel vehicles) enjoy legal loopholes that don’t apply to the cars they might sell to rank-and-file drivers. So Glenn, you might have a VERY long wait for your test drive. That is, unless you can exploit your “celebrity” status. ;)

But BMW is still way ahead of Mazda in hydrogen combustion technology. The reader should note here that, in either case, these are quite different than the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, as, rather than electric motors (and the fuel cell, of course), they use a more-or-less conventional internal combustion engine.

Some commenters on the Autoblog post lumped the Mazda in with the likes of the Toyota Prius, calling it a “hybrid”; when the term is used in that context, it is a misnomer. But “hybrid” can be applied to a lot of different technologies, and it can be quite confusing to the layperson. The Prius is an electric/internal combustion motive system hybrid. The Mazda is a hydrogen/gasoline fuel system hybrid.

I find it difficult to get too very excited about any of this. Popular hybrids, such as the Prius, do deliver better mileage than their conventional counterparts, but not that great. This is particularly true if one adopts a more intelligent urban driving style than the constant accelerate/brake cycle common to most Americans. And, as for hydrogen, any way you get it requires so much more energy than gasoline, or any other fossil fuel, that it simply is not economical. As well, when deriving hydrogen from the hydrocarbons in fossil fuels (the more economical alternative, as compared to electrolysis of water), the point of airborne emissions is simply moved from the automobile itself to the chemical plant, which, in the case of the Honda Home Energy Station (which reforms natural gas), is in the same chunk of atmosphere as the automobile it fuels.

Of course, hydrogen vehicle fuel, derived by simple, Very High Temperature, or perhaps even plasma-phase electrolysis (PDF), using clean and abundant nuclear power, is the natural end point of it all – once all the fossil fuel is gone (and we realize the actual environmental impact of biofuels). But, for the moment, the Earth’s proven reserves of petroleum keep going up and up. And, while it’s far more expensive to extract and refine bituminous sand and shale oil than light sweet crude, the total well-to-wheel cost is still far below that of hydrogen.

Than there is the matter of complexity, and that’s where Jay comes in. In his PopMech article, he laments the fact that owner’s manuals never say anything about basic and emergency maintenance anymore. Well, while I can’t help a bit of nostalgia for “the good ol’ days” myself, we all must realize that we can never go home again. Cars are becoming more complex, and hybrid technology, ANY hybrid technology, promises only to accelerate that trend.

This brings us back to BMW. The hybrid systems in cars available to us today achieve most of their economy by recapturing the kinetic energy of the moving vehicle during deceleration. As such, there is nothing to be gained in steady cruising. In an earlier post, I made the mistake of stating that contemporary gasoline internal combustion engines were over 98% efficient, without stating that I was writing merely of the combustion of the gasoline itself, and was corrected by at least one reader. About two-thirds of that energy is lost to waste heat, about evenly split between the exhaust (part of which can be recovered by a turbocharger), and the cooling system. To recover more of that waste energy, BMW has developed a steam hybrid system:

BMW TurboSteamer

The TurboSteamer has two separate components: a high-temperature loop [red] heated by the exhaust system and a low-temperature loop [blue] heated by engine coolant. The circuits follow different paths but feed power into the same place. In the high-temperature loop, an electric pump circulates distilled water. First stop: a steam generator that vaporizes the water. A superheater further heats the steam to above 1,000?F. From there, steam spins a piston-driven expander, which powers a belt drive that helps turn the crankshaft. Then, the steam hits a condenser, which cools it back down to a liquid state.

The low-temperature loop—which assists the high-temperature loop—works similarly but uses ethanol because it turns into steam at just 173?. Its pump drives the ethanol through a steam generator heated by engine coolant (the ethanol actually helps cool the engine) and then into a second steam generator that it shares with the primary circuit. Steam exits at about 300? and flows into its own expander, which adds power via a belt drive to that of the high-temperature expander. On exiting, the ethanol flows through the car’s radiator, which cools it back down to liquid.

Wow, three different systems, and none of it user serviceable. Jay must be delighted. :)

Over the Weekend (060327)

The Case Against Abdul Rahman to Be Dropped. Now if he can get out of Afghanistan before the whack-jobs kill him, this would be a good thing.

I keep hearing that most Americans are pessimistic about how things are going in Iraq. It seems that Iraqis are much more optimistic than we are. So American Soldiers who are there and the Iraqis themselves feel better about what’s going on than we do here. I guess we should tell them to start reading 20 Newspapers a day.

And finally, this. just. cracks. me. up.

Many Marines Shun Added Body Armor Because Of Its Weight
By Antonio Castaneda, Associated Press via The Early Bird.

HUSAYBAH, Iraq — Extra body armor — the lack of which caused a political storm in the United States — has flooded into Iraq, but many Marines here promptly stuck it in lockers or under bunks. Too heavy and cumbersome, many say.

Marines already carry loads as heavy as 70 pounds when they patrol the dangerous streets in towns and villages in restive Anbar province. The new armor plates, while only about five pounds per set, are not worth carrying for the additional safety they are said to provide, some say.

“We have to climb over walls and go through windows,” said Sgt. Justin Shank of Greencastle, Pa. “I understand the more armor, the safer you are. But it makes you slower. People don’t understand that this is combat, and people are going to die.”

Staff Sgt. Thomas Bain of Buffalo, N.Y., shared concerns about the extra pounds.

“Before you know it, they’re going to get us injured because we’re hauling too much weight and don’t have enough mobility to maneuver in a fight from house to house,” said Bain, who is assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “I think we’re starting to go overboard on the armor.”