Monday, August 01, 2011

I've never seen an engineer pretend to be a lawyer... how come lawyers keep trying to be engineers?
...Obama confirmed that automakers would be required to deliver an average fuel efficiency for their US fleets of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
Hey, Barry, while you're legislatin' physics, how 'bout ramming a bill through Congress to get sea-level air density reduced to 1.20521 kg/m3 or so; it'll make cars more aerodynamic. Maybe sign an executive order slashing g0 to a nice, round 9.0m/s2 to help with rolling resistance. Come to think of it, that last one would help make your "private jet" more efficient, too.

Is there any other profession that kibitzes so much in the affairs of others? You don't see doctors telling lawyers how to do their jobs, but any doctor paying malpractice insurance will tell you that lawyers sure think they know a lot about doctorin'.

Lawyers know more about how many doors and staircases and elevators a building needs than any architect, they can tell a gourmet chef the right amount of salt to put in his dishes, and pity the poor McDonald's counter jockey who thinks they know more about the proper temperature of coffee than a lawyer. No wonder they tend to wax a little pharaonic after they pupate and turn into politicians.


Tango Juliet said...

So many have sold their souls.


genedunn said...

When will "the man" learn that if auto engineers could design a car that got 50+ MPG *and* had all the other features buyers were looking for, they would. And they wouldn't do it because they cared about being green, or because .gov mandated it. They would do it because people would frackin' *buy* it. Nothing propels like the profit motive.

James said...

You know, I think it's not just a shame that we haven't heard from any non-terrestrial civilisations yet - It's an injustice to the American people!

Aliens, you better get on the phones within the next fifty years, or else the world leaders are going to flip their collective shits.

Ken said...

They'll get 54.5 mpg by 2025 by making 90% of the fleet motorized bicycles. It's kind of like the "90% of our energy needs from renewables by 2050" bit: The part they don't mention is that it's not that hard to do, provided 90% of us are dead.

Bram said...

Maybe he could legislate that gasoline should contain more energy.

Or, just make the EPA adopt European diesel standards - which contains more energy, therefore getting better mileage.

Anonymous said...

The real pisser is that MiniTru - our self-appointed, all-knowing guardians of The People's Right To Know - go along with this. CNN ran this scroll:

"Cars may get 50mpg by 2025"

Wow! Has their been a breakthrough in automotive technology? Some radically efficient new engine? A new fuel source?


Some a**hat is simply trying to change the laws of physics by executive fiat, and CNN thinks that this will work just fine.

I'm with everybody else: can Captain Bullsh*t mandate that No. Carolina doesn't get so bloody hot during the summer? Or that there isn't a run on toilet paper, milk, and bread when the weatherman uses the "S" word in the wintertime? Maybe he can give us all law degrees so we will know everything like he does. Oh, oh! I know:

"Obama signs executive order mandating that every American has a bazillion dollars to spend by 2025. And a moon pony!"

Film at 11...

Anonymous said...

Golf and Jetta are already at 42mpg. A little tweaking of the EPA testing methodology, I bet we could get them up to 50mpg.

Samsam von Virginia

Tam said...

You're gonna need to get 'em a lot higher than 50. That's Corporate Average Fuel Economy. It takes a lot of gas-sippers to offset one Corvette or full-size sedan.

This'll pretty much spell the end of the Detroit performance renaissance.

perlhaqr said...

Easy peasy.

Step one: Make electric car

Step two: Declare that since the electric car uses no liquid fuel, it gets infinity miles to the "gallon".

Step three: Corporate CAFE average becomes all your trucks plus your electric car divided by model ... which still equals infinity.

Step four: Give Barry the finger.

Tam said...

Oh, yeah... I forgot that light trucks and SUV's are averaged in now, too.

You're going to need to sell a bunch of Volts for every Silverado you roll. And you're still going to need to sell Silverados, because there's nowhere to put a 4x8 sheet of plywood in an Aveo.

Tam said...


Sadly, the EPA has already figured out how many kilowatt hours fit inside a gallon jug.

CGHill said...

I think Barry needs the finger a lot sooner than Step Four.

The thing is, I can buy a hell of a lot of gasoline with the $40,000 (minimum) it's going to take to get somebody into one of those Slightmobile Nibbler 100s. This is one of the more egregious failings of CAFE: it doesn't do squat for the existing fleet, yet it gives people who don't deserve it the opportunity to congratulate themselves.

Anonymous said...

Most politicians are lawyers because the "professions" share ideology and methodology:

What purport to be tools for understanding and implementing the structure of civilization instead morph into tools of intentional obfuscation and control of it...and us.

It doesn't matter if vehicles can really return 50 mpg, or 100. The point of the exercise is to manipulate the process, the money, the power...and us.


Garrett Lee said...

Unfortunately, perlhaqr, they calculate CAFE using the inverse of the summed inverses of all the fuel mileages - so that won't work, as the inverse of infinity is zero...

wv: trott - When one is stuck running.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"This'll pretty much spell the end of the Detroit performance renaissance."

Truly, he is the second coming of Carter.

Remember, this is the President that nominated as Energy Secretary a man who advocated raising gas prices to $5+ per gallon (European levels at the time) because it would force people to use less, and the President who openly stated his intention to force energy prices to "skyrocket".

This is just another way for him to force the economy to collapse.

Anonymous said...

And from the same politicians who want your ISP to Log EVERY KEYSTROKE of every user and keep it for over a year.

BobG said...

While he's at it, why doesn't he just demand the medical profession cure cancer and the common cold by 2025?

Gewehr98 said...

I wouldn't worry too much about offsetting Corvettes. Buddy of mine has a 2011 6.2L manual, and gets 26mpg highway. Color me surprised!

I'd worry more about the 16mpg of a 6.0L Suburban hauling all those Chuck E. Cheese patrons hither and yon...

staghounds said...

I want it to be the law that I'm pretty by 2025.

It would be funny to see this implimented. My friend F drives a lightweight Polo that gets 90 mpg.

There will be lots and lots of little cars, and the few new F250s and Wranglers will be sold at auction once a month.

And all the hating on lawyers, remember, lawyers and politicians do what jurors and voters demand.

Matt said...

Shakespeare was right.

'nuff said

Ted said...

>Gewehr98 said...

> I'd worry more about the 16mpg >of a 6.0L Suburban hauling all those >Chuck E. Cheese patrons hither and >yon...

It sort of depends on the passenger loading, does it not?

If 8 people drive that Suburban to CeC (or WalMart, the Rifle range etc)and only 4 Clown car themeselves into the .vett on their way to Starbucks, then the Suburban is going to get much better gas mileage.

And what the hell business is it of yours or the .gov what I drive?

Bram said...


It's their business because they really care about us and the children...

theirritablearchitect said...

"...Lawyers know more about how many doors and staircases and elevators a building needs than any architect,"

As well as how many toilets, windows, air changes per hour and just about everything else you can think of in a building. It's design by committee, with the attendant results for such action.

I am the asshole responsible for getting all that crap right.

I hate my career.

Stretch said...

At 6'6" I doubt I'll fit into any vehicle that meets the 54.5 mpg ave.
Height discrimination! Ya, that's the ticket!! Where's my government check?!?!?

HTRN said...

It's not about fuel efficiency.

It's about the CAFE Surcharge, which is, IIRC, $5.50 per 0.1 MPG that's under the limit, per vehicle over the fleet average. They basically decided to squeeze more money out of the automakers, knowing full well they can't hit the numbers required. The standard has already started climbing, starting this year, going from 27.5 to 30.2. By 2016, a mere 5 years away, it will rise to 39 MPG. BTW, the peak for the big 3 was 1987, when fleet averages hit 26.2 MPG.

global village idiot said...

I actually personally knew two engineers that became lawyers. They were surveyors too, which is what brought them into my circle of acquaintances.

Both were horrible at each profession. They were like the Swiss Army Knife of Licensed Professionals; but not the Wenger kind of SAK - no, more like the cheap knock-off pocketknife you find at gas stations and flea markets.

One was pretty bad but well-connectted, and with a decent business model (miserly as all hell, limited in scope and hiring from the bottom of the barrel). The other was the Worst Surveyor In Northwest Indiana. Surveyors in the area had the "Jones Coefficient" (name changed to protect reputation of another GOOD surveyor who happens to be his namesake). It was a multiplier of between 3 and 4, which we would apply to the estimate of any job that had "Jones's" work anywhere in the vicinity. We'd lost count of how many times his license had been suspended.

I bought an antique transit from him years ago after his stroke (thank Shiva for that) and was told by his rodman-cum-caretaker that it was the instrument he did all his work with. It explained everything.

But yeah, both were licensed professionals AND lawyers at the same time and both did shoddy work. Rather than undermine your premise, Tam, it proves your point


Unknown said...

While we're restructuring the universe, let's not forget to make Pi equal to 3.0000000000000.

Anonymous said...

The other occupations that hold forth on people performing their occupation:

1. Journalists and
2. Theologians.

Anonymous said...

One can look at the Washinton Treaty that regulated ship design to see what effect lawyers have on Engineers.
All countries involved came up with ways to circumvent the treaty which regulated tonnage as a surrogate for combat power.
The US developed high pressure boilers to permit high speed in a smaller ship, and armored only part of the ship to reduce weight.
Britain developed ships with removable armor, so that ships could be built with one rated tonnage, and then be upgraded for war.
Italy just lied about their tonnage.
Japan laid down a number of ships, and then declared the wouldn't keep the rules just in time for them to launch.
Germany developed the pocket battleship with fewer but very heavy guns.

An Italian ship had trouble, and had to be drydocked in Gibralter (GB). The British had the evidence that the Italians were in violation of the treaty in their own drydock, but decided not to out them because they thought that the fiction of compliance would reduce other nations building.

Anonymous said...

European cars use more diesel go get higher effeciency, but there is less diesel from most oil wells than there is gasoline. Higher pressures and temperatures used by diesels give higher fuel effeciency, but normally less 'car like' properties.

Anonymous said...

The reason Euro diesels have such high mpg is because their emissions standards are different than ours. All diesel engines primarily emit water vapor, CO2, and NOx, all of which are greenhouse gases. The Europeans' primary target is CO2, which diesels emit slightly less of than gasoline engines. The less fuel used, the lower the CO2. The way to that higher mpg is to increase engine efficiency, often by increasing the compression ratio, which is where diesel shines.

The US standard, OTOH, is to lower NOx emissions. NOx is created in the cylinder when the Nitrogen (N2) and Oxygen (O2) in the atmosphere are combined through heat, combustion, and pressure. There are two ways in practice to reduce NOx: an after-treatment that breaks down the NOx in the exhaust(designed by Mercedes), and to reduce the compression ratio in the engine. Since in-cylinder modifications are less costly for new vehicles, that is the way most diesels made for the US market are being made. Compression ratios in some of the new OTR trucks are as low as 12:1, which is close to what you'd see in a high performance gasoline sports car. The downside to reducing compression ratios is that it lowers engine efficiency, and thus lowers fuel efficiency.

This is why the same VW diesel in Europe gets 20% (or more) in Europe than in the US. They both use the same engine, but the CPUs are programmed differently (which means a different compression ratio).

So, essentially, the new mpg standards set by Barry can be easily met, partially by engine improvements; but the easiest way to do so would be just to change the greenhouse gas target from less NOx to less CO2.

I don't think it's any coincidence that this goal was announced right after FIAT became the majority owner of Chrysler; all the US makers have "partnerships" with European makers.

See, Tam, lawyers and their natural spawn, politicians, think they can be engineers because they see themselves as social engineers--change the law, modify the emphasis, and longer-term changes will eventually come about. Why do you think they call themselves "Technocrats"? "Change the law, change the world".


gandalf23 said...

I was half paying attention to NPR the other day when they mentioned this. I'm pretty sure I heard that the automakers will get MPG credits fro things like LED headlights and other "green" things.

Anonymous said...

"...remember, lawyers and politicians do what jurors and voters demand."

In theory. In practice (heh), that's right backwards.

Jurors and voters in the main are the sheep, lawyers and politicians the shepherds. Sometimes benevolent, sometimes not. But does it really matter? Ultimately, sheep are for shearing. Or worse.


Geodkyt said...

Only problem is the IKEA instructions that go, "Streetlight, rope, lawyer. Some assembly required," tend to have other public order issues tied up with them. {grin}

staghounds said... 9:36 AM, August 01, 2011

. . .

And all the hating on lawyers, remember, lawyers and politicians do what jurors and voters demand.

wolfwalker said... how come lawyers keep trying to be engineers?

Q: What's the difference between a lawyer and God?

A: God doesn't think he's a lawyer.

Tam, I recall reading somewhere that at least this round of CAFE standards are a shell game. Don't know about earlier versions. The article -- which I can't remember where I saw it or I'd post the link -- said that there are a number of things an automaker can do to earn CAFE credits - something like carbon credits, apparently, where you do _this_ and it gets you so many 'credits' toward meeting the CAFE standard, while doing _that_ gets you more credits and doing _thus_ gets you fewer. The article made it sound like an automaker could actually meet this CAFE standard without making a single 50mpg car. Or even a 40-45mpg car. Which is just as well, because there aren't any cars bigger than a Fortwo that can get 45mpg in ordinary driving.

TacticalTom said...

1. there will be no gas in 2025
2. so there will be no need for 50 mpg
3. i'm inventing teleportation next week
4. in an old issue of national geographic that i have from 1960ish, Honda advertises 60mpg. so what happened?
5. by 2025 ALL cars will be electric.
6. car co.'s would not build it if they were in cahoots with the oil industy the same way they are with the replacement parts industries!

WV: supwi dinner on a swing?

Joseph said...

I'm reminded of the well-known Shakespeare quote:

Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?

Anonymous said...

They could easily do it now. Remember the Volkswagon Rabbit diesel in the late 70's early 80's? It got 50 mpg THEN. Somebody put a stop to that. Wonder who????

Joe Allen said...

They'll probably make a law that says a mile is now 3696 feet.

Ken said...

sings Kleiner GTI....

Tam said...

"Remember the Volkswagon Rabbit diesel in the late 70's early 80's? It got 50 mpg THEN. Somebody put a stop to that. Wonder who????"

The people who put in the crumple zones and airbags and power windows and door locks and...

Tam said...


"1. there will be no gas in 2025"

You know what? I'm feeling frisky. I'll bet you one-hundred un-inflation-adjusted 2011 FRN's that you're frickin' wrong.

Contact me by email. We'll exchange specifics.

global village idiot said...

An engaging new crusade of mine -
A new value for pi to assign;
I shall set it at 3
Which is better, you see,
Than 3.14159.

Anonymous said...

50 mpg can be achieved today. There is no need to wait until 2025.

As others have mentioned, a 1970 Diesel VW Rabbit could achieve 50 mpg. Today the Diesel VW Bug, Jetta and Golf all do the same.

A 1992 Honda CRX can pull off about 45 mpg on gas. Imagine one with Diesel power!

T.Stahl said...

As much as I'm opposed to politicians impersonating engineers or physicists...

54.5 mpg? That equals 4.3L/100km.
Guess what? Over here in Germany those cars are already available! A Jetta or Passat Station Wagon with a 105hp TDI will consume as little as 4.2 or 4.3L/100km.
my car gives me factual and real life 68.6 mpg. By 2025 German enigineer will probably be able to get a pickup down to 4.3L or up to 54.5mpg, no worries. It's just that in automotive technology the USofA are way behind the curve, you know. ;-)

Oh, BTW, Tam, you are using metric units!!! I'm shocked! No slugs per cubic foot? That's a pity, especially as the metric value of g0 and a foot can be used to calculate the pounds per slug (9.80665/.3048)...

Tam said...

T. Stahl,

Like I commented above, that needs to be the fleet average. How many Polo Diesels do you think VW would need to sell to offset every W12 Phaeton or Touareg?

Anonymous said...

I have a set of books on science and technologies published in the 60s or so. They talk about how there's some question as to the lack of oil in the 80s or so and how there will be a shortage of petro-fuels.

Gosh, new technology finds NEW ways to find new oils AND recycle old materials for greater efficiency at extraction AND consumption. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and as to efficiency standards and mandates.

Honda put a sub 2000lb car together, put a 1 liter, 3 cylinder engine in it with all the bells and whistles they could to make it as efficient as possible with current engineering standards. The car was VERY light, zippy but not fast and got 50-55mpg. That was the honda insight. It had a LOT of compromises to make it that fuel efficient and it was a $30,000 car sold for $20,000.

I replaced it with a 2010 model Insight and that, with one more cylinder, more insulation so you can hear yourself on the highway, a steel body to protect the passengers better and have something more in the way of cargo space than what you and your girl need for a weekend trip gets 45mpg at $25,000 and is 10 years newer in technology.

These mandates are absurd. The gov't needs to get out of the business of making these sorts of absurd demands.

Kevin said...

One of my favorite quotes concerning engineers from the Purple Avenger blog:

My best friend is a lawyer, bright, gifted, ... PhD in law; bored with his job, he decided to study engineering. After his first quarter, he came to me and said that the two "C"s he'd achieved in Engineering Calculus 101 and Engineering Physics 101 were the first two non-A grades he'd ever gotten in college, and that he had had to study harder for them than for any other dozen classes he'd had. "I now understand", he said, "why engineers and their like are so hard to examine, whether on the stand or in a deposition. When they say a thing is possible, they KNOW it is possible, and when they say a thing is not possible, they KNOW it is not. Most people don't understand 'know' in that way; what they know is what we can persuade them to believe. You engineers live in the same world as the rest of us, but you understand that world in a way we never will."

T.Stahl said...

Yes, Tam, fleet average, in 2025.
Already a VW Passat can give you 54.5mpg. And the 140hp EU6-version (Euro equivalent of Tier II Bin 5) will give you 50mpg.
How many Polos is VW selling to a single Phaeton (is that still made?) or Touareg?

Actually my point was/is twenty years ago I drove a 70hp VW Jetta II that I could drive with just under 6L/100km on the autobahn, today my wife's got a 58hp Opel Corsa that I can get down to less than 4.5L/100km.

If I compare my current dream car to my dream car 20 years ago, I find that today's is larger, has a smaller engine with 3/2 the horesepowers at 2/3 the fuel consumption - and is 4WD. Not to mention eight airbags and all those gimmiks the new Passat Variant 2.0TDI 4Motion has that the Mercedes 250TD from 20 years ago. It's actually cheaper, too.

T.Stahl said...

Engineers can achieve great things. Sometime they just need some encouragement or compulsion - or the customer needs some encouragement or compulsion to demand and buy it.

Or do you think there'dve been jet fighters by 1945 if there hadn't been the need to develop them because of the war? Or the current much more fuel efficient family cars if they didn't represent the core of the fleet and if there weren't that requirement to get fleet CO2 emission down to x by year y?

Don M said...

I will point out that Whittle was working on jet engines in the 1930s before WWII. I figure WWII slowed the progress to jet engines, as high production demands moved people away from new technology.

Jonesy said...

Keep in mind just about anything is possible...but who will pick up the cost?
America loves pickup trucks, but they get crappy gas mileage. We have gas trucks and diesel trucks. Diesels (comparing similar models and payoads etc) get better mileage. But emissions regs dicate the addition of all kinds of extra garbage to be added to the truck. Gas recirculation tubes, Nox traps, particulate filters, and my favorite - urea injection. All this crap adds cost which gets passed on to the customer, who has to drive a LOT of miles to break even or pass up the cost of driving a gas truck. Would you spend $6500 more for a vehicle that gets 3MPG better than gas with diesl costing 50c-80c more a gallon?

And when the Gov rams this crap down the automaker's throats, all I smell is taxpayer subsidies. Chevy Volt anyone?

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Any politician who says this is "for the children" needs to have to try to fit two children, both in carseats, and a full grocery load of food and diapers, in a smart car. On a hot summer day. While the kids are throwing a temper tantrum, especially if one's sick.

And then, if they manage it, they should have a route to their destination that takes four hours in rush hour traffic, with only a Barney tape in the car.

Larry said...

Just have Bloody Stupid Johnson design your cars, it will all be over soon...

Ian Argent said...

Two notes: I love my ForTwo, but it's currently averaging 38 mpg and the best I have ever gotten from it is 47 on a single tank. (I drive less than efficiently and my last 2 tanks were running on a leaky tire). Secondly, euro fuel efficiency numbers are calculated by a different and more forgiving procedure; the EPA changed our metrics a few years back. The two numbers are not directly comparable.

This is an attempt to replace rule of law by rule of man - set an impossible standard and force the car companies to beg for an exemption.

TheSev said...

Lawyers think they know economics as well, and you see where that has brought us.

If you even have a car in 2025, you're likely to be living in it, not driving it.

Scott said...

Nobody reads anymore?
The link clearly states the auto firms negotiated this - and agreed to this.
I assume they had more than a few engineers involved in doing so. The concern mentioned was the cost - not that it couldn't be done.
No, Obama didn't decide on his own, on a whim, as a lawyer, to do this.
Totally contrary to your post.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

@Scott: "Negotiation" means that this new standard is less than what the .gov wanted, and higher than what the auto firms wanted.

And never forget that "negotiating" new regulations with the .gov is the equivalent of an unarmed man negotiating with someone who wants to shoot him. If he's lucky, he can talk the attacker into shooting him in the leg instead of the head, but he's going to get shot no matter what.

Tam said...


"No, Obama didn't decide on his own, on a whim, as a lawyer, to do this."

Nowhere did I say that he did.

Obviously nobody reads anymore.

But you'd better believe that lawyers are involved; the government's lousy with 'em. The whole concept of CAFE regs wasn't dreamed up by plumbers.