Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dumbasscience: Flying Cars Part 2

Dumbasscience: Science is not always smart. Oh no sir-ree-Bob. Sometimes it is just plain stupid. That's okay, I won't judge. I'll just point it out and mock it mercilessly. These articles will contain rants from history and breaking news where scientists are pursuing through-and-through bad ideas. From the 'flying your car to work' pipe-dream, to various plans of how to forcibly reverse global warming, if it's technological and perilous to rationalists, it's Dumbasscience.

So in the first Dumbasscience article, I defined flying cars for you readers. Flying cars are not convertible airplanes--those are indeed being developed, but they don't fit our Jetsons' view of the future. Nor can it be something the military uses exclusively--that will just be a new alternative to a helicopter. No, we will have flying cars when ordinary people are zipping cars around town with at least as much congested regularity as you see your average Volkswagen on the road. And that, my friend, will be a dark day indeed.

First of all, there's the cost of the frakking thing. Think needing a car loan for a modern ride is bad? Try indenturing your children or selling the genetic license to your family tree. Any future with flying is going to be bleak, so you might as well sell off little chunks of your soul in order to get a swank ride. And gas? Forget about it, not in tomorrow's economy. I can just see cash-strapped dad's lecturing their porker children: "Okay kids, things are going to be tight until daddy can get a third job to pay for gas, so I want you to be good boys and girls and throw up after breakfast and lunch--we need to keep our flying weight down." Don't worry, though, dinner is yours to keep. Everyone knows that.
"When you're flitting around Chi-town at five thousand feet going four hundred miles an hour looking for something to do and your Blezinsky Compensator 9000 starts to make a chug-a-chug-chunk sound, you stop at the local sky garage and get it fixed. Period."
Assuming that at some point the price of cars and fuel will one day normalize to be comparable with buying new hybrids--which is ludicrous, given the massive component complexity and increased development and safety testing doubtless involved--let's consider the fact that flying car maintenance is never going to be as cheap as regular car maintenance. How could it be? When you're flitting around Chi-town at five thousand feet going four hundred miles an hour looking for something to do and your Blezinsky Compensator 9000 starts to make a chug-a-chug-chunk sound, you stop at the local sky garage and get it fixed. Period. Or you make a greasy smear on the silt-slicked shores of Navy Pier. Your choice.

How would you argue down the outrageous price the brigandage mechanic lays down?

"Eh, that's going to be six thousand sky bucks, chief."

"Six grand? It was just making a noise."

"Sure, it was just a noise right now. But if you'd have kept flying around with a loose flank stabilizer, in a couple of days you would've rode the thing in a merry go-round of death in this old clunker, going into a death spin for a fun last thirty seconds of life. But if you don't want us to fix it..."

"Well, I could totally fix it for no more than a thousand myself. Just look a few things up on the internet, google a few schematics, and so on. My brother's great with sky cars."

"Sure, you do that. Just make sure you have a vacuum-form mold made and ready to replace the paneling. If you don't have the hood seamless, you'll just cause more damage. And be careful when you pull the car's navigation computer to get at the stablizier--you probably don't want to reset the computer's fixed hard points. And don't..."

"Fine, just fix it."

And so on. Towing expenses really shoot up when you consider that sky tow-truck drivers have to make hair's-breadth-accurate docking maneuvers with a variety of sky cars, thus requiring them to be ridiculously skilled and thus more generously compensated. And sky rentals? The stuff of nightmares. Not to mention that the sky garage is a thousand feet above the ground and taking an elevator down to the ground, then walk three blocks to the rental place and take the elevator back up to its office takes forever. Most people would probably just keep buying new sky cars every couple of years to avoid maintenance altogether, and you know that will add up over the years, too.

And then there's the cost of insurance, which is going to be astronomical(pun deliberately intended). What do you think the deductible is going to be for accidentally driving your Blezinsky 9000 into the 100th floor of Trump City's post office? Not pretty, let me tell you. But when you're serving your sentence for flying without insurance and Juno the gene-modded pretty-boy from Mars is your prison bunk-mate, you'll be glad you sold your genetic license. Real glad.

Which brings us to sky safety in the flying car world of tomorrow. As you can imagine, that's a whole other can of worms, and so I'll save that for next time. Until then, keep your eye on the sky.

1 comment:

  1. Good points lil bro. I totally agree that if flying cars ever come to production, they will be the toys of elitists. For exactly the reasons you mention. Cost number 1. Number two is education. I can't imagine one of the people sporting silver shiny rims on their car; each of which measuring two feet in diameter, will ever sport similar shiny objects on their flying mobile. But thats just me.