Saturday, December 12, 2009

Civil War

(To make it a bigger picture, click the right femur of the character in the red shirt.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Smatmobile.

I loved the Smart car the very first time I saw one in Europe in the late 90s. I tend to like small, unusual vehicles of any kind , so it's pretty much made for people like me. I haven't owned a car since I moved to NYC, but if I did, this would be one I would consider. Although I should say I know nothing about the quality of the car, I just like the size and look of it. It may be crap, for all I know. (And in any case, I prefer motorcycles and scooters over cars.)

I think one of the most interesting things about the Smart car is, however, that it evokes anger in certain people. I have personally heard several say they would like to crush them or flip them over. I have felt similar hatred for SUVs, but it is because they are a kind of blight on the earth. They use more gas than necessary and so help to keep us dependent on Middle East oil, they tear the roads up faster because of their weight, they are a traffic hazard because you can't see around them, they contribute to traffic congestion because they take up so much more space, same with parking. Hating Smart cars, on the other hand, seems to be simply a symptom of the growing culture war in the U.S.

I think about this culture war all the time and can think of no reasonable end to it. Could be we are headed for another civil war. Progressives wouldn't have a chance in such a war, we don't already have stockpiles of weapons and we are less brutal by nature. If it comes to that, I guess we'll all move to a more civilized place and leave the country to the Glenn Becks. Perish the thought.


Kyle said...

re Culture War. The only way to win it is to not fight it and do the right thing. Eventually the gun nuts, etc will implode / decay / infarct themselves into oblivion. (Lots of collateral damage on the way, it won't be pleasant to be near.) The unkindest thing that anyone could do would be to leave Glen Beck to himself. Even his own guts are trying to get away from him.

Jym said...

=v= The first time I saw a Smart Car, it was parked in a crosswalk that I was trying to use. Because hey, it's the perfect size to fit right there. I also like cute li'l things, but I think Smart Cars solve the wrong problem.

There was similar hostility to economy cars in the 1970s, but the slime molds of the day focused their ire on Japanese cars but not the small European models. These days, of course, Fox News-fueled xenophobia extends to every continent.

beforewisdom said...

The Smart cars aren't so smart.

The European versions run diesel which enables the smart cars to get about 50 mpg.

The American versions don't use diesel because of problems with environmental laws and only get about 35 mpg. My 18 year old 4 door Honda Civic sedan does almost as well and has the two back seats the smart car lacks ( ).

The only reason I could see for getting a smart car is if someone is a city dweller and wants an easier time finding parking.

J said...

I like your humor, but damn you do get awfully preachy. Why do so many celebrities decide to risk alienating up to half of their audience by using their fame as a soapbox?
As with some singers and actors, I enjoy your work a little less now, and have to think twice before spending money on what will support political and social views that I emphatically disagree with.
c'est la vie

Jan Dreier said...

Smarts are extremely well made. It is a Mercedes-Benz brand after all!
Best Jan

David Windhorst said...

"I guess we'll all move to a more civilized place and leave the country to the Glenn Becks."

But where? There aren't many places that will have us.

rob said...

Supposedly the Smarts do pretty well in a crash. My personal objection to them is that a Mini Cooper gets similar mileage, handles well, has a normal top speed, and has a back seat.

As a 'city car', though, the smart is a great car. Compare the smart to a hybrid car- it gets better mileage than many hybrids, without expensive (and very toxic) lead or lithium based batteries, or secondary electric motors, or all the weight and extra manufacturing expense. It does this because it obeys what should be the first rule of efficiency or performance in cars- lighter is better.

I've just never really seen the point of a car whose primary purpose in life is driving around a place which should be served by public transportation. But, in a place like Dallas, I guess a Smart Car is the next best thing.

Lori said...

i've known people who don't care for smart cars, who feel they are unsafe, who would never buy them, but i don't know anyone who actually HATES them. that seems a rather strong emotion for a car.

i'm with you. i like smart cars, or mini coopers, or anything small. it's easier to drive, easier to maneuver, easier to park, and easier on gas mileage. since i don't have kids and i live alone, why get the extra space i don't need?

some friends of mine and i were noticing recently an interesting disconnect between the size of the car and the size of the driver. the smart cars and mini coopers are driven by huge, tall, linebacker type guys while the giant SUVs are driven by tiny women. kind of a funny picture there.

Prospero said...

Because of my size and arthritic knee issues, I find that a small SUV is almost a necessity. Getting into and driving a Smart Car would be the equivalent of being crushed by the Death Star's trash compactor for me. But, in effort to be fuel efficient, I drive a Hyundai Santa Fe, It isn't too big, it gets great mileage and affords me the comfort that my aging and aching body needs. There are no easy answers here, but I applaud your efforts to be environmentally responsible.

Sean said...

I'm a huge fan of efficiency and economy in cars and consequently I'm an advocate for electric cars. The Tango is very small, very electric and VERY fast. If you haven't heard of it, here is a video about the Tango on Jay Leno's garage.

doug nicodemus said...

can i use it can i use it...

beforewisdom said...

Cars that people think are great for gas mileage in this thread, really aren't all that hot.


2010 Honda Civic (automatic):
29 MPG combined

2010 Mini Cooper (automatic):
28 MPG combined

Fuel Economy.Gov:

2010 Smart ForTwo:
36 MPG combined

The tiny mini-cooper has pretty much the same MPG as the much larger Honda Civic.

The American "Smart" Car will get you 8 more miles per gallon than a new Honda Civic, but you don't get a back seat and a whole lot of room. You have to ask yourself if it is worth the sacrifice, especially since you can likely even out your fuel expenditures by getting in the habit of consolidating a few trips.

beforewisdom said...

Celebrities are entitled to have and express their opinions too. It is called the first amendment. FWIW I hated Charlton Heston's politics, it never slowed me down from enjoying his movies.

I don't think it will happen, but I agree with you. The Becks, Limbaughs and Coulter's of the world are professional attention whores. That is how they make their money. Do not talk about them beyond pointing how they are wrong and you deprive them of power.

American's do not have a monopoly on combining bigotry and cars. Check out this Anti-American billboard put up in Europe

chris said...

James said...

Dan, no offense, but I think the whole "culture wars" are bull. I will concede that the cultural divide we see is due to talking heads like Beck promoting this divisiveness, the mentality of "we're right and the other side is wrong", but the comments you made are conveying the exact same message. I'm sorry, but you can't call out wrongdoing by the other side if you're doing the same thing.

I. Khider said...

I definitely prefer Smart Cars over obnoxious SUV's (except for people who actually need the latter, though I am hard pressed to think who.) I would prefer if public transit was a viable alternative to the automobile. In Toronto, Canada--the prices for PT keep jumping higher and the service, once world-class, has fallen dramatically. Makes me not want to care anymore. As a bus driver put it to me, our society puts priority on cars rather than public transit--which is why it is so awful.

Anonymous said...

Hmm... I never considered an impending culture war, but I guess the foreshadowing is being written. I was hoping we could send the conservatives to Australia but it's already taken. There is water on Mars... uh oh! I'm having war mentality and didn't know it. Yipes. Well, I agree with Kyle. The only way to win a war is not to fight it and do the right thing. I guess I'll chill on the Mars thing.

I.M. Haydn

ojeano said...

Smart cars just seem like death traps to me (as do motorcycles and scooters). Glad to see you're wearing your hat on top of your helmet tho. Protect your brain - I like it!

Aaron said...

I'm all for economy and efficiency. Smart cars are a great introduction to the increasingly popular ELECTRIC CAR...Oh, yeah, they're coming. SUV are for incompetent boobs.

Anonymous said...

Smarts are nice, but I'd still rather prefer to have some extra metal around me in case it collides with someting else, you know...

Dan said...

OMG I was thinking the very same thing this morning. I suspect a new US civil war is on the horizon and will be more Middle USA vs. West/East Coast and large cities. I mean, it's just that simple - people in large cities aren't under the sway of the terrifying Far Right like folks in Hometown USA are. Folks in Hometown would say they love being under the sway of the Far Right, but that's just the Far Right talking.

As a Canuck, I'd hazard a guess that those opposed to the Far Right will likely simply up and abandon the USA, as the general divide is that the Far Right are Patriots and those who aren't F.R. are traitors.

Within days of the next F.R. prez taking office, I'd say we're looking at a complete and utter breakdown of the USA.

It's why I avoid your country like the plague. You people are nuts.