Locklin on science

Automotive memories

Posted in fun, manhood by Scott Locklin on April 10, 2020

When I was a teenage kid in the 80s, my hometown had youth car culture. If you don’t know what this is, check out the old George Lucas movie, American Graffiti for a 1950s version of it. People driving up and down the strip, occasionally racing, getting crappy food, hanging out, getting into fisticuffs in parking lots, playing hide the salami in the back seat of the car parked behind the Zayres department store.  Vidya games sucked in those days, and our parents yelled at us if we talked on the phone for too long (twisted pair, yo). I guess there was cable-tv, but the novelty kind of wears off. The closest thing to a wholesome pass-time in my boring suburban home town was driving around aimlessly, blowing giant holes in the ozone layer, giving everyone brain damage and creating acid rain in Canada with our stinky “still uses tetra ethyl lead” old automobiles. I’m sure there are youthful tittering pustules now gasping in horror at the environmental destructiveness of it all: great; have fun furiously thumb twiddling  your outwage on your nerd dingus -I pity the new generation of human soybeans.

When you’re a working class teenage kid in a podunk suburb of a 3rd tier city, unless you have rich parents or are a drug dealer, you’re not driving a new car. You’re driving something 10 to 25 years old. In the 80s, on the East Coast, this also meant you’re driving something with gaping rust-holes in it; possibly with “bondo” patches. I remember one of my buddies drove this giant 2-door buick with a “fred flintstone” hole in the floor. Would occasionally drive over puddles when he had someone he didn’t like in the back seat.

 

The menagerie of cars we drove in those days really were something, and nothing like the things people drive now. One of the cool things about them was they were all “hackable.” You could work on your own car, and in fact, those old cars were meant to be fiddled with. At minimum, you had to fiddle with the carb/s, the voltage regulator and distributor of an old car.  Sky’s the limit for fiddlin; swapping an engine or transmission out was a project which could be accomplished by one or two people in an afternoon, even using shitty equipment. Less if you had a real garage with lifts to work in. Most of my youthful colleagues liked fiddling with automobiles. Some of them went on to become engineers and scientists as a result.

The one that got away: Starfire with 10.5:1 ultra high compression pistons, and alas a cracked frame

The car of dreams for a young guy was something like a Hemi Cuda, Boss Mustang, Firebird or Chevelle. A two door “compact” car of its day with sporty styling and a 7+ liter displacement “big block” engine in it producing upwards of 400 horsepower. Modern automakers started making these again a few years back, to cater to my generation; with even more preposterous horsepower numbers as routine equipment. Nobody actually owned one of these, but they might have owned one with a smaller engine in it (I had a couple of Barracudas) and done an engine transplant. That’s just redneck aspirational engineering though. The really cool ones in hindsight were the various kinds of “cigar butts” we got our hands on. Cars that were beat to shit, but had some kind of cool motor or other quality to them.

Satan’s Buick

The Buick I mention above was one of those. It was a two door, which considering how bloody long and boat-like it was, was pretty funny. It only had a 350 in it, but it was a Buick three-fiddy, which meant it had some decent guts to it; often beating newer IROC-Zs (preferred middle class jocko automobile; it looked fast, but the smog system of the day made it a real dog) in a race between stoplights. It also had the most preposterous boat-like suspension; when it was raining, and we were driving it hard on the baloney-skin little 14″ tires, it would occasionally smoothly slide sideways over 4″ curbs without anyone in the car noticing.

 

New cars were hilarious in those days; particularly US compact cars. I remember one dude whose girlfriend was a middle class girl who owned a Chevy Chevette she more or less bought new. What a trash fire that thing was. Lousy handling, 50 odd horsepower, and the fine engineering qualities we associate with Detroit in the 1980s. It was insanely bad, constantly breaking down, and she probably dated my pal because he was a mechanic. US technology of the day couldn’t figure out how to build a car with decent performance, gas mileage and emissions qualities. This is why everyone who had a choice ended up driving Japanese cars. The smog system on cars in those days was an unholy spaghetti of vacuum hoses and valves which rarely (if ever) worked properly.

 

the car that made the Yugo look good

I had this thing called an AMC Concord at one point; in principle this sort of car in 4WD form was the origin of the “crossover vehicle.” In actuality mine was an ordinary rear wheel drive. Someone’s older brother bought the thing, handed it down to his bro, who sold it to me when he upgraded to something people wouldn’t make fun of him for driving. It was basically an economy car of the late 70s early 80s; it had a straight-6 engine, and unlike the chevettes was a fairly comfy ride. There are various stories I could tell about my antics with the thing, involving quarts of vodka, offroad adventures with dead deer and sleazey women, but the operative story was how poor I was when I was driving this contraption. For some reason I didn’t think I could afford anti-freeze for the thing in the winter (probably $50 I’d rather spend on gas). I’d just keep the thing running by driving it around all the time, which is more or less what I did anyway. Seemed reasonable, as I worked a lot when I wasn’t plumbing the mysteries of Calculus. It actually worked almost the entire winter, until I slept in on a cold day and the engine block froze. I figured the thing was kaput, so I sold it to the local junkyard for $200 and bought another cigar butt with the proceeds. After the spring thaw I saw it in the junkyard I was picking over for parts for my new cigar butt; a Dodge Dart. Laughing, I stuck my key in it and it fired right up. The block was sturdy enough I guess; same one they used in Jeeps until fairly recently.

The Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant was the ultimate cigar butt car. It was a “compact car” of its day; it actually weighed under 3000lbs with a driver in it. The standard engine was this thing called a “slant-6.” A really antiquated inline-6 design with such a large (4.125 inch) piston stroke, it had to be put in the engine compartment at a thirty degree angle. You could have put it in a Studebaker or a Packard sticking straight up and down, but in 60s and 70s contemporary cars, the hoods weren’t so tall and cavernous.

dat slant-6

The thing was bulletproof. This came from a couple of interesting design decisions. Originally it was designed to use a futuristic aluminum block, so the castings were thick to support the aluminum design. To save money, the iron castings were the same as aluminum. The iron blocks could have been made thinner as iron is stronger.  Most of the engines ended up being made of iron, a spectacular waste of material from a planned obsolescence point of view, but a huge win for those who owned one. The engine also used giant crankshaft journals; the bearings which kept the engine together. The small bore combined with long stroke helped keep things torquey and fuel efficient. And for some reason they used a forged crankshaft, which is ridiculous overkill on an economy motor that makes 125 horsepower. It also ran really well with good rolling torque; mostly because of the intake manifold design. In those pre-fuel injection days, that was usually the limiting thing about your engine; getting the fuel from the carb jets (basically these were just reversed spray can nozzles) to the combustion chambers over the pistons. The design of the slant-6 intake manifold actually came from Chrysler’s experience with cross ram Max-Wedge engine manifolds; the much cooler looking 7 liter high performance engines that came before the legendary 426 hemi. This, combined with weird antiquated things like … solid lifters; something that hadn’t been standard since the early 60s; combined to make this weird atavism virtually indestructible.

This motor, plus the decently designed carriage of Chrysler A body cars gave the reputation of “only cockroaches and dodge darts will survive the apocalypse.” I’ve had a couple of them, again, you pay a few hundred bucks and drive them until the tires fall off.

 

 

While I probably should have worked on my calculus a few years earlier than I did instead of screwing around with hoopty mechanics, the type of thinking and practical experience you’d get from such things was pretty helpful. Putting together anything mechanical in the atomic physics world was pretty trivial after working on weird borked up cars in backyard garages. More to the point; debugging things on these old cars was a great lesson in fixing anything mechanical or electronic. If you can make a ratty old engine purr by fiddling with the carbs and dwell angle on some distributor points, you can make a complex scientific apparatus work.

21 Responses

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  1. iuliAyahoocom said, on April 12, 2020 at 10:34 am

    Nice post. Happy Easter.

  2. sigterm said, on April 13, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    I don’t think I could lift even my steel I-4; that guy must have huge arms.

    Also, there is improvement in our modern times, for those who are looking for it. A young man today can buy a nineties miata on a budget and slap a speeduino on it. Much better handling I’m guessing.

  3. dotkaye said, on April 21, 2020 at 4:24 am

    “The smog system on cars in those days was an unholy spaghetti of vacuum hoses and valves which rarely (if ever) worked properly.”

    can confirm, had an 82 Econoline for some time, that carb had a dozen or more vacuum hoses writhing around it.. The only carb I gave up on, could not master the vacuums. I’d rebuilt a couple of other carbs by that time but.

    First car was a Hillman Vogue which had a Peugeot 404 engine in it.. hours of fun. Rebuilt most of it at some point except for the engine which just kept on running. Most exciting was the part where the u-joint in the driveshaft blew out somewhere in Zimbabwe. I was able to find a replacement u-joint but the rubber mount had disintegrated by that point. Cut up some radiator hose and wedged it between the joint and the housing, drove it like that for another 40 000 miles..
    My brother had a series of girlfriends with a series of VW Beetles, he became an inadvertent expert on the Beetle, a car he detested working on..

    • Scott Locklin said, on April 21, 2020 at 1:55 pm

      British automotive history is a fascinating parallel universe to me. Yanks only view it through the sports cars that made it over here, but there’s a whole universe of other types of cars. At various points in my life I had thought of buying a Jensen interceptor…
      Something like a Peugeot … I assume it’s a good engine, but it might as well be from outer space to an American.

  4. cgh said, on April 21, 2020 at 11:59 am

    Good post Scott. You hit on some good points. I think I wrote something a while back that maybe – or maybe not – saw the light of day, about the death of the tinkerer, probably circa digital. I want to be careful here: not tech, but digital, and all it’s associated co-morbidities, like autotune, and the myriad applications of accelerometers that many think are disparate technologies. There are two things that I credit with my eventual (formal) study of physics: one was a set of people, second father/mentor types, and the other taking stuff apart to see how it worked. I can’t count the number of times my mother got home and the telephone or the microwave oven seemed somehow different than the last time she used them, or how that orphaned screw on the floor seemed suspicious. Throwing out a stereo, a tv, or an old mower? It wound up in pieces back on my bench. Like an organ donor their parts went on to live in other projects. Anyway, I credit the death of the tinkerer with a ton of altered trajectories. (I wonder how many young kids are having their trajectories re-mapped by COVID? For the better?)

    Knowing how things worked was a virtue. Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality and all that too. A while back a friend’s flatscreen tanked. Easy enough to junk it and buy another. I grabbed a beer and asked if I could take it apart in his basement. After letting me borrow a pristine, virginal screwdriver that hadn’t been used in maybe a decade of ownership, I ripped the back off. Quick inspection of the PSU showed the bulging tops of electrolytic smoothing caps. These anemic, low-temp rated caps were wired next to the heat sinks for the PSU’s diodes. I coulnd’t help but think the topology was intentional. I put beefy cap in with high temperature ratings and I think the tv is still going. Not as strong as that forged crankshaft but the wheels haven’t fallen of that tv yet – I think it’s still going today.

    • Scott Locklin said, on April 21, 2020 at 1:53 pm

      Same story here; the family blender, several transistor radios, telephones and almost the refrigerator were sacrificed at the altar of my curiosity until my parents bought me some “how it works” encyclopedia. Philips screws weren’t much of a barrier to young me.

      It’s amazing how much modern electronics is hampered by shitty electrolytic caps (in fact, most old electronics same problem). I had a G5 imac whose power supply burst into flames because of some industrial espionage scandal between electrolytic cap manufacturers. Many of these could have been replaced by mylar or tantalum I think, but they cost a few pennies more.

      • gmachine1729 said, on May 14, 2020 at 5:00 am

        I like your comments a lot. You’re quite realistic and knowledgeable about science and technology. Especially the realistic. There is much more bullshitting and exaggerating about science and technology today than actual good STEM going on. There is especially lack of emphasis on science and technology history. A blind, misguided “look towards the future” mentality when much of the great stuff has already been done in the past and ought to understood well to actually make more advances, or at least to get some more perspective on what’s possible and what’s not. A silly gravitating towards new areas like computer science and molecular biology without achieving actual serious scientific literacy.

        I want to actually download all your WordPress comments. RSS feed only gives the k latest ones. I could write a script to scrape all your blog posts for comments but too lazy to do that. Do you have Disqus?

        I had written a comment search tool for Disqus: http://www.disqussearch.com. There were some knowledgeable people with hundreds if not thousands of comments for which it came in handy.

      • gmachine1729 said, on May 14, 2020 at 5:42 am

        I saw that you have Unz Review. And also that you have high opinion of Yandex. I started learning Russian on my own in 2013 and use Yandex quite a bit now, including for English. There is that Wikipedia is blocked in China, and I don’t care enough to install manually some VPN on my phone (Google Play store is blocked in China as well), so I use Yandex’s cache to view Wikipedia on my phone sometimes.

        If you like Yandex and hate Google, what are your thoughts on VK? It’s better than Facebook. You can edit and search your chat messages too. It’s so annoying that US platforms often don’t allow editing of messages.

        Based on my experience with America, people like you won’t be all that welcome or liked in a lot of places. It’s a shitty “liberal” bullshitting culture. The “successful” people are the careerists who know how to “cred” themselves, not ones who are actually competent. Lots of time spent on signaling, too little spent on actual substance. I was actually pretty ignorant, brainwashed, and incompetent as a kid growing up. Sometimes I even think that I got to where I did initially by “not knowing too much.” Though it was frustrating since I also studied a ton on my own. Especially math. I just wasn’t anywhere near as extreme as some other people I know. So too timid/conformist at that stage, when I needed to, you know, graduate from university and get a job at a “reputed” company. There are lots of idiots at those “reputable” companies by the way, including senior software engineers who think eigenvalue is specialized terminology. But they can draw an income of 300k a year. Of course, there’s much worse.

        • Scott Locklin said, on May 14, 2020 at 8:59 pm

          America has been so powerful for so long, all of its important institutions are larded with imbeciles and incompetents who hamper it at every turn, but, ultimately never pay any price for their follies. We’ll call them “Baizuo” for lack of a better term, though it’s arguably not a fair term. Such people rarely do useful work, so they’re over represented on the internets, and so they seem more important than they are. At some point, we’ll probably have to make them all do something economically productive, such as pick potatoes. Fortunately most have helpfully identified themselves online.

          I don’t know much about VK; I had an account while traveling in parts of the world where it is used, but as I don’t speak Russian, it wasn’t very helpful. I do like Telegram. I think the idea of things like that is rather outdated. You really can keep your contact information for all your friends in an offline database. It works better than depending on dystopian companies trying to get you to stay online long enough to watch $100 worth of ads a year or whatever. Broadcast can be done elsewhere.

          Wikipedia, outside of things like listing all the Dr. Who episodes, should probably be blocked in all countries. Would make people less stupid.

          • gmachine1729 said, on May 15, 2020 at 3:12 am

            > Wikipedia, outside of things like listing all the Dr. Who episodes, should probably be blocked in all countries. Would make people less stupid.

            Lol, so you would actually applaud for the Chinese government for blocking it? Since pretty much forever, they only blocked the Chinese Wikipedia. But since a few years ago, they began to blog all of it, including English, including all the languages of Wikipedia. Same with Reddit and Quora. I was surprised, because I thought that English would not really be a subversive threat in China.

            Now I think that China should end mandatory English education for primary and secondary school students too. Probably should ban all privately run English education, the people working in that tend to be complete shit. It sickens me to have interacted with two women who watch Big Bang Theory (and other English TV series). There are lots of idiots Chinese with false impressions of America and the world from American movies. At least one person I saw (a woman) even think thinks that American Star Wars and Star Trek displays how America is more imaginative, more creative, more innovative, which is of course complete bullshit. No, science and engineering innovation is more about having the deep understanding of relevant existing knowledge that enables you to identify what’s possible and what’s not and follow on the path of what’s actually possible. Not more popular science books or movies.

            Lol your “make the mega parasites pick potatoes.” That would extremely difficult if not impossible in a culture and system like America. It was the type of thing that Stalinist USSR could do though.

            • Scott Locklin said, on May 17, 2020 at 4:41 pm

              The US is definitely heading for more authoritarianism; the recent past idiocy with regard to Russian infiltration conspiracy theories, and the present idiocy with the Gong Fei grippe is arguably the shape of things to come. If I were still engaged with US politics, I’d want to make sure My Guys were in charge when it finally happens.

              Wikipedia is pretty terrible, and with very few exceptions, so are Reddit and Quora: most are highly political and are all forces for social decay. I’m no fan of Chinese government, but I don’t blame them!

              • gmachine1729 said, on May 18, 2020 at 1:49 pm

                Curious what you think of GitHub. I know of guy who much dislikes it. He uses Fossil for version control.

                It’s kind of funny how China even did DDOS hack attacks on GitHub. Or at least the US media says so.

            • sigterm said, on May 22, 2020 at 10:19 am

              Your idea about engineering innovation produces Shing-Tung Yau’s as opposed to Grigori Perelman’s. If north-east Asia wants to be viewed as creative, it is free to show, not tell. I’m not holding my breath.

              Although indeed, Star Wars may not be the best argument to make that point.

              • gmachine1729 said, on May 22, 2020 at 12:47 pm

                I used to believe those stereotypes about Northeast Asia/Northeast Asians not being creative too. But I think it is more and more bullshit. Aside from those stereotypes tying Chinese to the education system and “Confucian culture” and the “authoritarian regime”, there are even these “popular” stereotypes that Japanese are copycats, not creative. Well, if you look at what Japanese did in the 20th century, then it’s obviously complete bullshit.

                Japanese did a ton of world class work in pure math and theoretical physics, let alone engineering. Maybe not very early in 20th century, but they went into modern science (which is of course, a Western thing) rather late. Not like America did much world class science in early 20th century either. But if you start from 1930, in theoretical physics, you have Yukawa (mesons), Tomonaga (quantum electrodynamics), Nambu (symmetry breaking in particle physics), Maswaka and Kobayashi (the last two quarks). Also Nishijima (who got strangeness before Gell-man) and Sakata (who’s model was precursor to Gellman quark model. In pure math, Teiji Takagi did his groundbreaking work by 1920 in class field theory. The first world class American mathematician Birkhoff for ergodic theory was only in 30s, and Birkhoff is certainly lesser than Takagi in mathematical stature.

                The thing that is really difficult is developing scientific tradition and school, and the Japanese developed a world class one at home in the 20th century. It took America a while to get there too, and America is white, Western European with only an Atlantic Ocean’s barrier to the center of science in Europe.’

                As for Chinese, China’s modernization was obviously quite unsmooth. Really only industrialized in the 50s, 60s. Soviet system simply worked way better for China, or at the very least, the regime that was able to come to power and end the civil war chose the Soviet system. Of course, most of the Chinese who did world class science did so in the West.

                The thing is as Scott Locklin has pointed out is that we haven’t really had foundational advances in STEM in the last 50 years. He wrote a piece comparing 2009 to 1959. There was civil war from 1911-1950 in China, which disrupted industrialization. Nonetheless, some Chinese studied in West during that time. It’s amazing how much “low hanging fruit” there was then. Chinese from an utterly backward country in the 20s studying in America could do world class work in science as merely PhD student. Maybe not Nobel level but certainly enough to go into the history books. Like the Compton effect was much experimentally verified by this guy named Wu Youxun. And a guy named Chung-Yao Chao did experiment that involved positrons in the late 20s but could not explain them. If he had stayed doing that research instead of returning to China, it may well have been him. In the 50s, parity violation in weak interaction was discovered both theoretically and experimentally by Chinese in America too, who had done their undergraduate in China, CN Yang, TD Lee, CS Wu. That may well have been the biggest or at least more shocking discovery in high energy physics in the 50s.

                The thing is though modern science is a Western product, with foundations by the Greeks, some building upon by the Islamic world, and then of course, an explosion from 1500 on. I don’t see how Northeast Asians, once sufficiently exposed to it, are any worse at it. Heck, even the Russians really only started with that stuff in the 18th century, and they surpassed Western Europeans in many ways in 20th century.

                This Chinese-American theoretical physicist Steve Hsu talking with me expressed his belief in such stereotypes as well. I mentioned a few top Chinese current day condensed matter theorists. He said they cannot compare with CN Yang, TD Lee, and then there’s also Feynman, Dirac, etc. I told that it’s completely unrealistic (and quite ridiculous really) to compare like that because it’s a completely different era. The way science is done is completely different now, and there is no reason for truly fundamental discoveries.

                And your comparing ST Yau with Perelman is also a little silly. Yau was born in 49, Perelman in the 70s. Yau did him seminal work in the 70s on that Calabi conjecture. Later on, he wasn’t all that great, and especially compared to when he was in his 30s and 40s but come on man, and maybe he and his students tried to take credit for Perelman’s work.

                Just because East Asians come across as cold or more aloof and less into “imagination” and “bullshitting” doesn’t mean they are naturally less creative. You are mistaking superficial external behavior for ability.

                • gmachine1729 said, on May 22, 2020 at 1:05 pm

                  Annoyingly, WordPress does not allow editing or deleting of comments. Disqus does, and that’s why I enabled Disqus for my blog, though very few comment on it. Maybe our poster Scott Locklin can switch to Disqus. Enabling the plugin for WordPress is pretty straightforward.

                  And as an FYI, I switched from WordPress to LiveJournal. LiveJournal overall I think has better features, at least better UI. There is a WordPress plugin that lets you sync all your WordPress posts to LiveJournal which I used.

                  I made a Disqus search engine http://www.disqussearch.com. You can search by username and keywords. Because there are some users with tons of comments with some valuable information in them.

                  I would even like to scrape all of Scott Locklin’s WordPress comments but I don’t have the time to do the coding for it. If anybody does that, that would be great, and please let me know.

                  Anyhow, I had some typos in past comments. I am a little tired now, and when tired, make more mistakes. Maybe Scott can correct them. If Scott is not sure how to correct, I can send him the desired corrections.

              • gmachine1729 said, on May 22, 2020 at 12:56 pm

                I am even inclined to think now now that I know more that in many aspects, Russians, Japanese, and Chinese are actually better. USSR totally beat America in space with handicaps, and the Japanese did similarly for cars. Heck, in high energy theory, Japanese plus Chinese combined may well be equal to America. In experiment, it’s not so fair to compare given how damaged Japan and China (and USSR) were post-war.

                Sure, some Japanese and Koreans (and Chinese too) may echo the same stereotypes. Well, Japan and South Korea are also geopolitical vassals or America. It may be pressured or false modesty. On the other hand, PRC has been opposite of geopolitical vassal of America from Korean War on.

                My impression is that Americans are much more into hyping or selling themselves than are Russians and East Asians, who are more insular. No, science fiction is not science or technology. You don’t get anywhere by imagining stuff like Star Wars. You get there by being creative with being realistic and methodical as a foundation. Even in something like pure math or theoretical physics man. Know the relevant stuff that happened before well and then find ways to improve it. Some of the improvements are incremental, some are more revolutionary, like special relativity or parity violation.

                Though I concede maybe in marketing and business-y stuff, America is better or much better. But that’s quite different from STEM innovation.

                • sigterm said, on May 26, 2020 at 3:13 pm

                  I cannot comment much on physics and mathematics, as I am not in those fields. No more low-hanging fruits in physics sounds reasonable.

                  Variation of personality inside a population is high, so I’m sure one can find some very creative, intelligent people in East Asians. It is population averages that decide the fate of a people, so I am going to consider East Asia as a whole.

                  In my own field, IT, I’ve observed the Chinese trying to copy, err, compete with my employer’s software, confused that they cannot even get close to the 2-year work output of a single guy with their hordes of programmers (completely unaware that it is exactly the problem in the first place). Americans, instead of useless armies of cannon fodder, threw dozens of millions at the problem, which were happily gobbled up by the management of their startup in unproductive, ostentatious nonsense.

                  We are talking about creativity, so, not incremental, but revolutionary innovation. Which is done, I believe, by geniuses as described by Bruce Charlton (https://geniusfamine.blogspot.com/). Those types will likely butt heads with whatever education system you devise to provide “the deep understanding of relevant existing knowledge” they may need. The unimaginative will thrive in such an institution however and mould it to exclude the anormal. Geniuses must acquire knowledge and understanding too, but it will be done their way or not all. In the myths and modern folk tales of a people, the promotion of science-fiction may be a sign of the presence and elevated status of such dreamer types. Intelligence and knowledge are necessary up to a point, but so is the spark of crazy, disagreeable, undiplomatic. East Asians will be undiplomatic when pigs fly. I would go so far as to say that an *uncompromising* hate for bullshit, especially coming from authority, (does that sound like a famous Jew of the past?) is what allows real science to happen, and why it is not happening much these days in the West and hasn’t in the East.

                  My example was a modern-day mandarin versus a hirsute hermit. They are not compatible. Modern America chose the mandarin, which I interpret as a sign of their decadence, and why America today is not the record to beat. America in the 40ies, up to the 60ies, is.

                  China has (well, had before Trump) tonnes of money, much of which seems to have gone into infrastructure. So the Chinese elite are perfectly willing to invest into profitable ventures (as opposed to the US or Europe, which do not have any inclination to invest in a tapped out consumer population, or maybe are just that incompetent). It could have also spent quite a bit in, say, applied computer science, which seems completely abandoned as a field and has the characteristic of being very creativity-intensive, but it did not. There are Alan Kay’s, Rob Pike’s and probably Scott Locklin’s waiting to work in a proper environment where they are given carte blanche. The West does not want them. Is China picking them up at a bargain? Nope.

  5. Tom Henderson said, on May 8, 2020 at 9:21 pm

    Neil Young’s Long May You Run was about a Dodge Dart.

    Had a ’68.

    Thank you for writing and would you write about the stock market some more please.

    Claude Shannon (borrowed a card table from my Dad when they worked at Bell Labs) was a stock picker, spotted HP miles away and loaded up.

    • Scott Locklin said, on May 20, 2020 at 6:37 pm

      Best stock advice I can give: don’t buy stocks.

    • JMcG said, on June 23, 2020 at 12:40 am

      I always thought that song was about a Triumph twin or a Norton Commando. The line about a chrome heart reminded me of the timing chest covers on those bikes.

  6. maxramsey said, on September 15, 2020 at 8:37 pm

    It’s interesting to see how automotive enthusiasts seem to have largely stayed the same in spirit. Although technology and taste has changed, love for speed and experience hasn’t.


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