(Last) Weekly Roundup: Blurred By The Dark Fog Of Britain’s Domestic Politics Edition

We’re a little short on actual scientific progress lately, aren’t we? Oh sure, the coding sweatshops of the Far East turn out a million-plus new “apps” a year, and today’s cars have much bigger LCD screens than their immediate predecessors, but consider the following: The remarkably underwhelming F-35 fighter plane began development in 1992, flew for the first time in 2006, and began operations (of a sort) in 2013. That’s a twenty-one-year timeline. Now think about the fact that the X-15 started poking around Mach 5 and Mach 6 in 1961, after a first flight in 1959. What’s the state-of-the art look like in 1940? Why, it’s the Mach 0.6 Supermarine Spitfire, which had set world speed records during civilian development five years prior. In other words, airplanes got ten times faster in that twenty-one years.

The pace of technological development in the Fifties and Sixties was just plain staggering. It was also an era of national pride, one in which billion-dollar projects could be fired-up on a whim just so a country would have more presence on the world stage. Two of those billion-dollar projects happened to be supersonic airliners… and therein hangs a tale.

The Air Force Historical Foundation has a neat publication called “Air Power History”. You can read the most recent issue here and I strongly suggest you do, if only to consume a detailed and compelling history of supersonic airliners by Richard K. Smith. The breathtaking cynicism and just plain cussedness of Smith’s authorial voice is perfectly suited to discussing the Concorde and its competitors, which never had anything like a compelling business case and which caused far more problems than they solved. One great piece from the text: this nugget about the unpleasant effects of transcontinental supersonic travel.

The size of the [sonic] boom is a function of the airplane’s mass; the bigger the airplane the bigger the boom. The in- tensity of a boom varies with altitude; the lower the alti- tude the higher the intensity as measured in psf. As of 1960, sonic booms were created by only relatively small air- planes, usually fighters. The, biggest “boom-maker” was the B–58 bomber, but relative to prospective supersonic airliners it was a small airplane. The Mach 3 SST promised to have at least ten times the mass of a B–58.
.
By 1960, the mechanics of the sonic boom were well understood and it was equally well understood that most xpersons on the ground found a sonic boom disturbing. The experience of one or two sonic booms could be “interesting;” but to transform this into a multiple experience of daily life would be a terrible nuisance…
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That sonic booms could cause serious damage was well understood before the Oklahoma City tests. On August 5, 1959, during ceremonies that opened the new airport ter- minal in Ottawa, Canada, an F–104 fighter in an air display accidentally exceeded Mach l at low altitude. The shockwave measured 38 psf, extraordinarily high. It literally exploded the structure of the airport’s control tower, shattered glass throughout the new terminal building, and collapsed many of its internal non load-bearing “curtain” walls. It is amazing that no one was killed…
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In 1966 it was estimated that the American SST, if built, would create a “boom trail” sixty miles wide on the earth’s surface from a cruising altitude of 60,000 ft. Furthermore, even if routed around densely populated areas, the airplane would “boom” some five million persons. FAA bureaucrats hastened to dismiss this number as less than three percent of the nation’s population. It is nevertheless a substantial number of people.
Government proponents of the SST tried desperately to cover up the uncoverable: the sonic boom. They sought to minimize the problem with doubletalk, bafflegab, and thickets of buzz-words, perversions of the English language that were raised to an artform in the 1960s. At one point the FAA even suggested that the sonic boom could be “designed out” of the SST, which is patently impossible.

It’s a great read, written by someone with an exhaustive personal knowledge of the subject. A few other points of note: Smith mentions in passing that 2,060 — that’s two thousand and sixty! — examples of the B-47 Stratojet were built. That’s four Stratojets for every Boeing 727 put into production, but there was a time in my life where the 727 was seemingly omnipresent while the B-47s were already in scrapyards. Today, of course, both of those planes are essentially nonexistent.

Some attention is also paid to the XB-70 Valkyrie, the final remaining example of which has been at Dayton’s Air Force Museum since the Eighties at least. For years they just let it sit outside, but it’s been scrubbed up and now occupies pride of place in a new hangar. For all the (entirely justified) hype surrounding the SR-71, the XB-70 makes the Blackbird look a little tame. It sustained Mach 3 for over half an hour in testing despite being 200 feet long and weighing half a million pounds — more than a Boeing 767 or Lockheed L-1011. Its top speed was just 150mph below the SR-71’s all-time record… and given the kind of operational time and space that the SR-71 received, the Valkyrie might well have gone faster still despite the fact that it was an entire technological generation older.

I could go on, but why not read Smith’s story for yourself? For better or for worse, those supersonic days were unique and special in American, and world, history. The emblematic aircraft of The Current Year is probably the Gulfstream G650, which is designed to take rich people around the globe away from the stink of the hoi polloi. If I had a functioning XB-70, I would fly it back and forth above Davos during the little globalist party they have every year. Not to drop any bombs, mind you, but merely to “boom” those folks over and over again while keeping the sky clear of their private jets. No F-35 could catch me and make me stop — nor, as it turns out, is there “an app for that”.

* * *

Last week, I discussed my experience behind the wheel of America’s best-selling wagon.

72 Replies to “(Last) Weekly Roundup: Blurred By The Dark Fog Of Britain’s Domestic Politics Edition”

  1. AvatarTyler

    The piece on the Outback was great but to a certain extent it could have stopped with the visibility comment. I’m not sure there is another brand that makes good sightlines a virtue the way Subaru does. My wife didn’t even test drive most of the other crossovers we looked at because, by comparison to the Forester, she couldn’t see out of them. The shtick might get people in the dealerships but I think the windows sell the cars.

    Reply
    • Avatarjc

      Well, I can see that the Outback is now the car all the “enthusiasts” will love to hate. I have one. I like it a lot.

      The four cylinder engine is not underpowered for what I do which is to drive in the city and on the highway. I know how to merge onto a freeway without having to have Ferrari level acceleration.

      The brakes are great.

      The transmission is essentially transparent to me except for an annoying delay between R and D when you back out of the driveway. I don’t like this but have learned to accept it.

      You can actually see out of it.

      Gas mileage is darn good with the four cylinder – I typically see around 30 on the highway and low-mid 20s in the city.

      And you can put stuff in it. Those of us who have finite resources to spend on vehicles need to make it with one car per family member. That means being able to carry stuff. I know “enthusiasts” are supposed to hate anything SUV/CUV, but try putting a double bass, bass saxophone, two amplifiers, and a keyboard into your sport sedan or whatever.

      No, I don’t take it off-road (although I do occasionally drive it down a gravel road or in a field).

      No one would define the Outback as an “enthusiast’s car”, and I don’t think anyone is making that claim. You can sneer at its “numb steering” and “slushy transmission” all you want, but it’s doing its actual job superlatively, which is to carry my carcass and my stuff where it needs to go with reasonable fuel efficiency and reasonable reliability.

      Reply
      • Avatarjc

        Oh, and another point:

        You can either sneer at the Outback being a car for the “out-of-touch spoiled upper crust”, or you can call it “the most popular station wagon in America”, but it can’t be both. If it’s really that popular, it means a lot of ordinary people who work for a living are buying it.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          Nah. It sells one third of the CR-V’s volume, because it offers objectively less utility for significantly more money. Being the most popular station wagon in america is like being the most popular symphony orchestra in America. It doesnt imply massive volume.

          Reply
          • Avatarjc

            How is the utility of the CRV meaningfully different than that of the Outback? They’re basically the same thing. Subaru can call it a station wagon and the Forester an SUV but they’re basically the same car except the Outback’s a little longer. But you can’t see out the back corners of the CR-V and you can see out of the back corners of the Outback – not great, but at least there aren’t huge blind spots there.

            As far as I am concerned the Outback, Forester, CR-V, RAV, Nissan Rogue, VW Tiguan, and probably a couple others I can’t think of right now are the same car; some more expensive and some less; some with horrible visibility and some with OK (haven’t seen a car with excellent visibility in years), but all basically the same thing. An inch or two one way or the other in dimensions, or a fraction of a percentage difference in suspension tuning, doesn’t change the essential nature of what the thing is. Out in the general public, they are all “small/medium SUVs”.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            Compared to an Outback, the CR-V is:

            * about eight inches shorter, which is the difference between an E-Class and an S-Class
            * up to 500 pounds lighter
            * ten percent more fuel efficient
            * fifteen percent more spacious inside
            * about twenty five percent cheaper
            * significantly simpler
            * historically far more reliable and cheaper to maintain

            Which is not to say I would take a CR-V over an Outback, because I would not. But the differences are significant. The CR-V is a tall wagon based on the Civic. The Outback is a normal wagon based on the larger Legacy.

          • AvatarCJinSD

            “Which is not to say I would take a CR-V over an Outback, because I would not.”

            I guess nothing should surprise me considering you hired Jamie Kitman.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            Established relationships with previous people. Same as with Brett Berk. In neither case are you likely to see me commission or approve any further work from them.

      • AvatarDaniel J

        I’ve driven one. It’s waaaay too slow for my taste. The standard 4 in our CX-5 is barely adequate. My daily now is 2.5T Mazda 6 which is more than adequate.

        Only way I’d buy an outback is if they offered it with a V6 And legacy wagon form instead of a jacked up SUV like it is now.

        Reply
  2. AvatarWidgetsltd

    I have driven the 2015-19 Outbacks quite a bit. Although I prefer the 3.6L six, the 4-cylinder car can be bought with every bit of the equipment that you can get with the six (such as the Touring trim on your rental) and as such it’s an appealing ride. I have not yet had an opportunity to drive the newly redesigned 2020 model, but I have put thousands of miles on the Ascent with the 2.4L turbo four. It’s a hell of an engine. It needs only 87 octane gas but makes 277 lb/ft of torque from 2000-4800 rpm. I’m looking forward to driving that engine in the lighter (than the Ascent) 2020 Outback XT. Disclaimer: I work for Subaru, so I might just be a bit biased. I also own a 2005 Legacy GT wagon, so I understand the charms of that generation Legacy/Outback.

    Reply
    • AvatarLucas Zaffuto

      Why do you hate it? Curious because it’s one of the candidates on my test drive list (the others being the Lincoln MKC, the Acura RDX, and the Volvo XC40/60).

      Reply
      • AvatarEric H

        I don’t like it for a few of reasons:
        1. Steering is totally numb.
        2. I can’t get a comfortable seating position.
        3. I don’t like any car that isn’t a manual.
        4. The music player is pitifully slow.
        5. I prefer cars that are well under 3000lbs and with great handling. My daily driver has been a highly modified 240sx since I bought one new in 1991.

        Things I like about it:
        1. It’s got a lot of go if you get the XT.
        2. It’s quiet on the highway.
        3. Radar cruise is the best feature available on any modern car.
        4. Turning radius is great.

        The issue with the music player is this: I’ve got a 64GB USB stick plugged in with 40GB of music on it. It takes several minutes to pull up the directory. If you’re playing a an album and turn off the car then turn it back on later it will continue playing the previous song as it should. However if the song ends before about five minutes after restarting the car it will totally forget about the album you were playing and start playing the very first song on the USB stick because it hasn’t finished loading the entire directory structure of the device. It’s a total bullshit programming faux pas (I’m a programmer) and can’t understand how that makes it by QC. It infuriates me beyond measure.

        Hey Jack,
        We finished the last race of the year a couple of weeks ago. I finally got the videos up this week. We got Pobst to wheel the Fox around again and this time I got good data from the AIM Solo. Another really fast driver we had is Cody Smith, a former Pro3 champ here in the PNW.
        If you want to waste some time living vicariously through us racing a Fox here’s the playlist:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kkAk7HvAZU&list=PL0QqHttUvzhZiqZKmPBvKAB0BRQffKgAr

        You really need to give Oregon Raceway Park a try. It’s a fantastically challenging track in both directions.

        Reply
        • Avatarhank chinaski

          I had identical issues with a rental Outback, but using a 32GB thumb. Infuriating.

          This one wasn’t dog slow, but had the TDI and we were at sea level. It is odd that the US gasser doesn’t come turbocharged. Perhaps it would push it over a cost threshold.

          Reply
          • AvatarLucas Zaffuto

            The 2020 model replaces the gas boxer 6 with the turbo gas boxer 4 from the bigger Ascent SUV. Only reason I’m not really considering it is because I really want a panoramic sunroof and even though the Forester has one available for forever even the newest outback still does not

  3. Avatarstingray65

    We had rapid technological progress when there was war or threat of war against an advanced adversary and both sides of the political spectrum believed in the fruits of technological investments and advancement in terms of preventing war, better health, and increased standard of living. Today the major threat of war comes from socially and technologically backwards ragheads hoping to return to ancient times and Sharia Law, which is ironically where the Left side of the political spectrum in the West also wants us to return. Forget airplanes – they burn fuel that is killing the children of the world, we are instead to return to the days of sailing ships to traverse oceans. Forget coal, gas, and oil for heat and electricity, we are instead suppose to return to the solar and wind that powered ancient Rome when average lifespan was about 30. The Left also seems to be giving up on free speech (because they have to stop “hate” speech), right to bear arms (because it is a threat to government control), freedom of the press (because some press doesn’t toe the party line), and equal rights regardless of religion, race, or gender (because someone has to balance the scale to check male white privilege), so in essence the Lefts wants to move us all back to the political and economic dark ages. Heaven help them when they discover that the dark ages didn’t have smart phones and social media.

    Reply
  4. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    ” If I had a functioning XB-70, I would fly it back and forth above Davos during the little globalist party they have every year”

    Please link to your Go Fund Me related to this purchase. I’m ready to donate.
    (if there was a way to make the sonic boom sound like a great long fart it would be perfect)

    Reply
  5. Avatarpaul pellico

    While I was reading this, I suddenly wondered IF music could be graphed right atop the advancements chart and would follow it pretty exact.
    Considering the damage done to music recording today from the precision of the software, making players seem good at their craft when they actually suck.
    Gone is the “live”, human touch and rhythms and instead we get precision and robotic music. (see Rick Beatos,What Killed Rock n Roll https://youtu.be/AFaRIW-wZlw)
    From the pitch control to the cut n pasting of every section of a song, the heart and soul is missing from music in a great part these days.
    My son laughed at me about my joy of cars, saying every car he sees today looks JUST like every other car. A few exception, but in the larger picture, he is right.
    Due to regulation or lack of creativity, a Honda is a Toyota is a Ford.
    However, I looked at him and I said the same can be said of your generations music. Every girl singer now sound like cooing and every band sound like the last one.
    Even the good ol’ country sound has morphed into something indistinguishable from mainstream pop.

    Reply
  6. AvatarJohn C.

    The Concord showed what can be done with excellent engineers even if the applications are limited. One of the applications would have been crossing a Siberia not troubled by sonic booms. Remember the Tupelov Tu144, it failed where the Concord succeeded. Not a surprising failure when most of their bombers were old American B29s converted to swept wing jets.(Badger). That still puts the Soviets ahead of Boeing SST and of course Japan/China/Korea who were as usual nowhere men, even as crossing the Pacific quickly must have beguiled them..

    Reply
    • AvatarCarmine

      None of them could cross the Pacific without island hopping, our (the Boeing 2707) was probably the only one that could have if it would have existed, the Russian did also beat us in crashing their SST too, there is little to indicate that that TU was anything more than a vanity “see we can do it, even if we do it all wrong!” project for the USSR, it had limited service, was more often used to haul mail than people and there was the question as to who was it really for? The average citizen of the USSR couldn’t afford to fly on it. It was also extremely inefficient since it needed to keep afterburning to maintain Mach.

      In the end, they were all pseudo vanity projects that only a very few could experience, Concorde had pretty short legs, London/Paris to NY was about all it could do, granted, thats a pretty significant run, but it could make it to Chicago for example and when it would come down to Miami in the 80’s and early 90’s it needed to stop in NY first to refuel and then head south.

      Concordes problem was that it was a plane designed in one decade that entered service in a totally different decade, many people forget that it was first shown at the Paris Air Show in 1969 at the same time as the 747 and while the 747 began carrying passengers in April 1970 with TWA’s inaugural 747 flight, Concorde didn’t start carrying a paying passenger until 1976.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        Crossing the Atlantic was the achievement to the British. Remember the old island hopping needed before involving Gander and Iceland. Remember even before their Imperial airlines colony hopping east of Suez.

        It would have taken the Japanese to conceive crossing the Pacific in an SST. Never that important to America. Where were they? No where, because their engineers just aren’t at the same level. Soon if not already ours will be as well. After all, aside from small Tesla, where would the young hot shots be lusting to go work for?

        The Tu-144 did make it into service, legitimizing their vanity. Notice how suddenly their bombers got a lot better. The Backfire and Blackjack were also Tupelov. I think around 1990 they even played around with Gulfstream to do a SST corporate jet. If they knew how many oligarchs would be created by the looting of their system, that plane would have been built.

        You are correct about the Concord coming too slow. Earlier the old colonial runs would have been more inmportant and I think they could have gotten some orders from Canada and Australia where overland supersonic continent crossing was possible if carefully routed

        Reply
        • AvatarCarmine

          Concorde with an E and the end, and technically, the use of “the” before it also not needed, its just “Concorde”.

          Reply
      • AvatarJMcG

        A friend of mine was on the display line at the Farnborough Airshow years and years ago. By chance, they were slotted next to a BA Concorde. He got talking to a member of the Concorde’s flight crew who mentioned that they had two engines flame out from lack of fuel while taxiing to the terminal at JFK after landing from a transatlantic crossing.
        That’s cutting it just a little fine. Of course, they did give out across pen and pencil sets to passengers. So there’s that.

        Reply
        • AvatarCarmine

          You may die, but the service is top notch.

          I’ve been in a Concorde 2 times, both after they were retired, its main luxury was speed and service. The entire plane was first class, though the seats were only a little wider than a coach seat and no where near the leather Lay-Z-Boy style thrones that you would have found in first class on a 747 from the same era(this is pre 9/11 cutbacks, when first class was still FIRST CLASS, not the glorified business class most airlines offer now)

          The windows were tiny too, only about enough space to stick your nose and face in the window.

          I’d also point out, that contrary to what Jeremy Clarkson said, there are American parts in Concorde……

          Reply
  7. AvatarHarry

    I don’t know which is more charming, the author’s note, or the fact that he is throwing shade on the French Revolution in an article about SSTs. Without further explanation even! 1789! Well obviously.

    Reply
  8. Avatarscotten

    I didn’t know that Subaru provided cars to rental companies? I thought they/the mainline Japanese automakers did not do fleet sales.

    Reply
  9. AvatarNewbie Jeff

    “…2,060 — that’s two thousand and sixty! — examples of the B-47 Stratojet were built. That’s four Stratojets for every Boeing 727 put into production…”

    Minor detail, but I didn’t think that sounded right. Quick research shows 727 production at 1,831 aircraft.

    Reply
  10. AvatarCarmine

    The Valkyrie was an amazing plane, 8 freaking engines.

    The museum that houses it had or had a “virtual tour” that took you into the cockpit of the Valkyrie, if you love gauges and switches, prepare to spend an hour or so looking around. One of the coolest things that Valkyrie had was these specially designed ejector seat “capsules” that, in theory at least, could allow the pilot to “punch out” at Mach. They encapsulated the seat as it ejected from the plane. The pilot the survived the Valkyrie crash is the only persone that ever used it in real life…..if took of part of his foot as it closed during the ejection process. Ouch.

    Reply
  11. AvatarJames2

    I’ve been griping (to myself) about this for years, if not decades, if only because Hawaii is kind of far away from *everywhere*. Today’s 787 is basically the same as the first 707, give or take composite construction. It’s all been about cost reduction. First, get rid of as many engines as you can. Second, get rid of the flight engineer (next, the co-pilot? Computers can do everything, right? said the MAX engineers). Boeing offered to build a faster airplane, the Sonic Cruiser, but the accountants who run the airlines and like to take away every last cubic inch of space voted with their wallets and chose fuel economy over speed. Subsonic FTW! The Mach-3 swing-wing 2707, maybe it’s overkill, but anything to knock an hour or two off the 5-hour flight to California would be nice.

    Reply
    • AvatarCarmine

      The 707 was made between 1958 and 1979 and most versions of the aircraft have a capacity from 140 to 219 passengers and a range of 2,500 to 5,750 nautical miles.

      The 787’s seat 242 to 330 passengers in typical two-class seating configurations and the longest-range 787 variant can fly 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles

      So, its not really “basically the same as a 707”.

      Cost reduction in the way of fuel efficiency gains has really helped, its not as sexy as an SST, but its what the airlines want. I remember the Sonic Cruiser too, it was a cool concept, I would like to see a new SST type plane again, but there are a lot of obstacles in the way.

      Reply
      • Avatarstingray65

        The 707 was revolutionary because it was 200+ mph faster than a DC-7 or Constellation, and carried 50%+ more passengers. In contrast the 787 isn’t any faster than the 1958 707, and most of the improvement in fuel economy is due to engine advancements (turbofans) that are still held on underwing pods as pioneered for airline use by the 707. In that sense it is similar to comparing a C2 and C7 Corvette by noting they carry very similar chassis configurations, yet the C7 offers vastly better handling mostly due to advances in the much wider and stickier modern tires and much less due to changes to the chassis.

        Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      It is absolutely amazing how toxically masculine white privileged engineers invented jets, rockets, supersonic aircraft, jumbo jets, and moon landing space craft with virtually no input from people of color, females, or any other victim classes that have added so much to modern life. And just imagine how much better the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Golden Gate Bridge, and Hoover Dam could have been if only the engineers and builders of the time had had the modern day advantages of mandatory diversity and inclusion staff, environmental oversight regulations and protocols, and legions of trial lawyers.

      Reply
      • AvatarCJinSD

        I’m not opposed to hiring whoever can do the job, but diversity as practiced today is about excluding the majority of capable candidates. I have a friend who shot to…well an upper floor corner office at Wells Fargo when it was discovered that his mother was Mexican. He had been a micro-managed and sensitivity-retrained perpetual drone for years as a white man. The criminality of Wells Fargo management didn’t happen by accident.

        An ex-girlfriend of mine is a teacher in California public schools. Upon viewing a class picture of her students, I remarked, in a sarcastic manner that should have been perceptible by anyone in any position involving teaching children, that her class was very diverse. She lit up! “Oh yes!” “I have 100% diversity!” I would expect more diversity at a quinceanera held in Mexico City. The picture could have been taken at a family reunion on an island, but it met the definition of perfect diversity to someone with a Masters in Education.

        Reply
          • AvatarCJinSD

            The people on the receiving end of preferential hiring practices are getting ever more angry about the humiliation that comes with everyone knowing they’re pole turtles. Affirmative action is no longer about increasing opportunities for the hypothetically historically aggrieved. It is now about punishing the descendants of the people who unfairly benefitted from creating western civilization. It was before current college undergraduates were born that I was first told that some incompetent had to be promoted or hired in my place. White privilege is 100% about people wanting to feel better about their free rides.

            Honkies who graduated from college somewhere between 1989 and 1992 were the last ones who received what was advertised about higher education and didn’t have it ripped out from under them.

            It’s almost funny to think about the forgotten Gen-Y folks who graduated into the Dot-Com bubble and thought Gen-X people were contemptible pessimists for a year or two before falling to earth. There was a time in 1999-2000 when those entitled little twits didn’t want to work without stock options that they were sure would make them multi-millionaires by twenty-three years old. They sneered at me for my emphasis oh hourly compensation as an ancient thirty-year old who didn’t have a lot of faith in IPOs for companies that had only massive capital burns where revenue streams might have been in archaic start-ups. Being a white man doesn’t have to be the death sentence the socialists want it to be. Avoiding prescription drug dependence and becoming an entrepreneur is all it takes, preferably outside of a blue state. Also, don’t hire someone who can sue you.

        • Avatarstingray65

          CJ – I agree that anyone who is qualified for a job should have an equal shot at it, but the problem with “diversity is our strength” is that the “victim” classes are not qualified for the job in too many cases. Thus physical requirements for jobs like police, firefighting, and military end up get watered down because very few women can carry a man out of danger or a heavy pack of ammo into a fire fight. Similarly too few blacks and Hispanics get passing marks on intelligence requirements (and related skills like coding ability) so to get the required “equity” the requirements get watered down. And in the end, these lower quality hires end up being “subsidized” by the qualified who end up having to do more work or put their own lives in danger because their affirmative action colleagues just aren’t up to the job, and overall productivity and quality suffers. And of course when the incompetents end up getting promotions and raises ahead of their more “privileged” co-workers because their are “too few” victim classes in upper-management, the problems of incompetence are further magnified and morale among the productive class is further damaged.

          That is why the “diversity is our strength” crowd never suggest that women or POC start their own companies where they can hire all the “victims” they desire, because deep down they know that most such companies would be disasters and fail immediately (unless propped up by government subsidies to minority businesses).

          Reply
  12. AvatarWheeTwelve

    Speaking of visibility, I have in recent months driven a Ford Fusion, and a Chevy Equinox. Both came with the “blind-spot monitoring” which, having found it useless, and very annoying, I eagerly disabled.
    Because these cars were designed for only one thing (fuel economy), the outside mirrors had gotten smaller. To add insult to injury, both, the B-pillar, and the C-pillar create large blind spots. Not to worry; after all, you have the blind-spot monitor, right?
    Well, the blind-spot monitor cannot tell you *what* is in your blind spot (a motorcycle? a tractor-trailer? anything in-between?), nor how quickly it is moving. You still have to *turn* to see it, which is now made more difficult by tiny mirrors, and multiple large blind spots.
    I haven’t driven the Outback, because to me a strangled four-cylinder chained to a CVT is an idea of a cruel-and-unusual punishment. But if the visibility is good, well, that’s already better than these two cars I have recently driven.

    Reply
  13. Avatarpanatomic-x

    i think the issue with the lack of innovation in airplane technology is largely due to it being a mature business. innovation tends to be greater in the early years of a new industry. take genetics, for example, innovation is happening at an incredible pace. beyond meat anyone?

    Reply
    • AvatarCarmine

      It tastes just like a Whopper except I have no idea what I’m actually eating!

      You know what else tastes just like a Whopper? A real meat Whopper, thanks but no thanks.

      Reply
      • Avatarstingray65

        Yes but you save 30 calories with the fake version, which will make customers feel less guilty about ordering the extra large fries and fried apple pie.

        Reply
      • Avatartrollson

        Do you think they’ve been serving “real meat” at all? Why do you think they’re so eager to embrace this new openly fake meat?

        Reply
          • Avatartrollson

            I’d love to see a scientific analysis of the composition of their so-called “burger”, but from cursory inspection many decades ago it appeared to be consisting of some sort of filler mixed with cartilage, “flame-grilled” into charred oblivion.

            What I’m saying is that horse meat is likely wishful thinking when it comes to BK. You’d have to go to a classier joint like Taco Bell for that kind of delicacy.

          • Avatar-Nate

            As long as it’s not carcinogenic and tastes O.K. it doesn’t much matter to me .

            At least they’re advertising what it it / isn’t unlike McDonald’s in the 1970’s ~ that got a lot of folks really steamed .

            ? Who knew kangaroo could taste so good ? .

            =8-) .

            -Nate

  14. Avatarpanatomic-x

    never been much of an outback fan but i really like the crosstek. the key thing is that unlike the outback, they sell two versions with a stick. there’s a lot to be said for a slightly raised five door hatchback with a low center of gravity boxer engine and all wheel drive.

    Reply
    • Avatartrollson

      Most dealers don’t have the stick shift version, so magically the supposedly cheaper alternative becomes a “special order”, and we all know how that goes.

      Reply
  15. AvatarTyson Cragg

    Jack, I just spent a fun weekend with my boys (a little younger than John) in the great state of Ohio, and visited the National Museum of the US Air Force last Saturday. Great place to spend a few hours. The Valkyrie is a sight to behold.

    Reply
  16. Avatar-Nate

    I heard my first sonic boom in the 1950’s and asked ” !? what the heck was _that_ ?! ” .

    ‘The sound of progress’ .

    -Nate

    Reply
  17. AvatarWill

    “We’re a little short on actual scientific progress lately, aren’t we? ”
    I wholly disagree with this as someone who’s around nascent technologies a lot, I know that progress has been steadily improving, it just hasn’t necessarily happened with jets and planes. We see amazing progress with bio discoveries and software that does wonders (machine learning therapeutics), the real breakthroughs will be in those areas because that’s the main focus of DARPA and our defense industry. The F-35 mandate was a long project, but you have to remember that a lot of what the F-35 has, didn’t exist in the 90s or was unworkable. You also have to know the mandate for the plane and how much of a challenge it was to make sure it falls in line with other countries’ needs. It’s an impressive plane and ahead of its counterparts (albeit it doesn’t fly without electronic assistance).

    There’s some rose colored tinted glasses happening here and the reason why we don’t have the concorde today is because of expense; you forget that jet fuel and fast planes are LOUD and use a lot of fuel; no reason to have something so expensive when upgrading first class does just as well and is a better experience. We often don’t see the gains in technology because often enough, they sit in small devices now.

    Reply
      • AvatarDaniel J

        Jack,

        I don’t consider it a wagon as it’s lifted. I know, that seems contrary to what most believe. I think of wagons like my parents mid 80s Electra wagon. It had easy load height, unlike an outback wagon. Over 9 inches of ground clearance a “typical” wagon does not have.

        Reply
      • Avatarjc

        Since the Forester is an SUV and it’s built on the same platform as the Outback, what makes the Outback a “wagon”?

        Does it even matter? Functionally, they’re two variants of the same thing, same ride height, one has greater overall height and slightly shorter overall length. I think suspension tuning is a bit different. The Outback interior is a bit more plush.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          I think thats a beard fallacy in automotive form.

          An Outback is a Legacy wagon on tall springs. A Forester has upright seating, a short/tall cargo compartment reachable all the way back by its target customer, and considerably more frontal area. Take that much difference again and you get something like a 1996 Explorer.

          Reply
  18. Avatartrollson

    Good find, very interesting read. There is a common pitfall with discussing technical advances though. The first development of a new technology is usually rapid because the advances made are “low hanging fruit” so to speak. After all of those initial things have been discovered and refined, then even small improvements take exponentially more time and effort.

    Software is a good example of this actually.

    Reply
  19. AvatarJoe

    I used to hear sonic booms all of the time when I spent time near Petoskey Mi in the early to mid 1970’s after that they went away, and I miss them

    Reply

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