The car you get to drive: The last ‘fuck you’.

I was watching a bit of playoff football on the weekend. My team won their game and are going on to the Super Bowl … Huzzah!! While I was watching the game a commercial came on for the Lexus and the tag line was drive a Lexus ‘while you still can’.

I thought to myself … ‘while I still can’ … what the fuck are they talking about?

Oh right! Self driving cars are coming. I have been thinking a lot lately about this relentless pursuit of the self driving car.

What is an automobile manufacturer selling, if not the exhilarating, I’m in control feeling of freedom when driving a car? The I can do whatever I want, go wherever I want, whenever I want, essentially the ‘fuck you’ of driving a car.

Freedom of the individual, in the land of plenty, the land of milk and honey, what the boys and girls go to fight and die for. Where do you find it?

The reality is that you have to negotiate or submit at every turn. You bow to your parents, teenage rebellion notwithstanding. In school you have teachers and a principal. In the military, sir yes sir, sir permission to speak sir. In sports, at work, where does it end.

Finally you leave home, you graduate, you get discharged or what have you and you find yourself sitting on the couch in front of the TV. Honey what do you want to watch tonight? I don’t know what do you want to watch? The dance goes on.

Freedom it’s a wonderful idea. Does it truly exist?

There are images of freedom. Time was you had your cowboys. They travelled the land and worked where and when the felt like it. They were cool! Before that you had your pilgrims. ‘Fuck you’ we’re out of here and we’ll pray how we want.

I am speaking about the United States or course. The country that takes the ‘fuck you’ to new levels everyday.

In the Americas we have Columbus to thank for getting the ball rolling. Don’t be fooled by Columbus Day and all the celebration. Columbus and his boys were bitches. Look it up.

The Spanish got the report back from old CC and were like, that sounds like some fun and sent over Pizarro. Turns out it didn’t take too much, a couple of cannons and a healthy disrespect for the gunpowder budget and the Aztecs, Mayans and Inca’s folded quietly, they didn’t want to leak any fluids. That’s how the bad boys get you, by threatening to make your body leak. The Spanish weren’t playing patty cake. Count the number of countries where Spanish is the official language.

The French got busy in Africa for a while. Twenty nine African countries speak french as the official language.

How about the British. At its zenith, the sun never set on the British Empire. The Commonwealth league of Nations is an international community made up of the former British Colonies. Fifty Three Countries. You have have some serious ‘fuck you’ to invade and conquer fifty three different countries and hold them hostage at the same time.

The Commonwealth. Some overseer dude looking at the gold and diamonds comin’ out of the ground all dirty and be like, “that’s some common wealth don’t be worrying about that, keep digging until you find the shiny stuff, we can share that”.

Scientists got a lot of ‘fuck you’ on the go mostly because the majority of folks don’t know what they are talking about most of the time. The lab coat girls and boys are like, in your face, Nanoseconds (very small units of time) and most people have a blank look.

Freedom is really a kind of dance isn’t it? A dance between the desires of the individual and the needs of the society and culture within which we live.

So what kind of game does the little guy have, the everyday joe, Larry lunch box. Defeating nations in your dreams.

All you have at the end of the day, really, is your car. You get in after a shitty day at work, after a fight with your mister or missus. You can fire up a cigarette, put the tunes on and crank the volume up to eleven. You put your hands on the wheel and if nowhere else, for a brief moment in time you are the master of your own destiny.

In your self driving car, you really are just another brick in the wall.

Basket Weaving : Not as simple as it sounds!

Basket Weaving

6 Minute Read

My dad is a retired professor of Greek and Latin and has a pretty high opinion of himself and his profession. Certainly he has read a lot of books.

Growing up my siblings and I were surrounded by books. Bookcases lined the walls of our home and when we went to our dads office, you guessed it, more bookcases.

So yeah a pretty scholarly kind of guy. He also was quite presumptuous of the callings less scholarly. He would disparage one or another survey course as being equivalent to ‘basket weaving’.

As I grew up I took on his prejudices and thought basket weaving was pretty simplistic.

One day I rebelled against my father, of course.

It could have gone a couple of different ways. He was in the liberal arts. I could have gone for the sciences. Ha Ha f-you “Nanoseconds” (really short amounts of time) or explored the crafts like “basket weaving” which is what I did.

I went to a summer camp in the country that focused on art and craft and gardening and cooking. Crazy place. A large barn to do art and crafts in. Gardens to tend, bread to bake, chickens to feed and a cow to milk. Fields that grew hay and a woods where the cabins were.

The campers designed and built their own cabins. Plastic for windows, screening for ventilation and canvas for walls for privacy. Very simple, very beautiful. It was summertime so we didn’t need heat.

‘Simple beauty,’ isn’t that what the Buddhists are always talking about.

The biggest thing that I learned from The Farm and Sea summer camp was to follow my curiosity.

I came back to the farm to visit and ended up marrying the owner’s daughter and went on to a ten year career in pottery, two summers beekeeping, did a stint as a blacksmith and a machinist and I designed and built a beautiful 3500 sq/ft house.

And much more.

The tie in with basket weaving goes like this.

I was listening to a news report of a Korean Airlines jet crashing on the island of Guam in 1997.

Guam is located right out there in the Pacific Ocean. East of the Philippines, North of Papau New Guinea and South of Japan.

Surprisingly people do survive airplane crashes from time to time. In this case 26 people out of a total of 254. I thought about how the fuselage or tube that holds all the people or cargo is constructed.

I wondered if the fuselage didn’t break apart would more people survive a crash?

I had seen some videos and read some books about aircraft fuselage construction.

Essentially sheets of material put together with rivets along the edges, kind if like staples. Each point of connection is a stress point. Multiple connection points = Multiple stress points, that can let go and the whole sheet tears off.

I started to wonder if it would be possible to weave the fuselage, some kind of narrow strips of fabric made of some space age material, of course, like carbon fibre.

Something light and strong.

Strips of fabric that you could weave around the skeleton structure in the manner of the Maypole Dancers. The fabric strips going over and under and pulled tight until the fuselage is woven from front to back.

The skeleton or frame could be made out of hexagonal pieces cast in a geodesic Buckminster Fuller style, that snap together, making it light weight and strong and allowing room for wires and other infrastructure.

And if the fibres went the full length of the plane like that, would the fuselage take impact better and be less likely to break up.

If the fuselage held together better, would there be fewer deaths and injuries?

They weave bridges in the Andes.

Basket Weaving.

Not as simple as it sounds.