Leatherballs XIX: Some call it progress

And just this once, I gotta agree:

The EN-V is GM’s vision of what urban cars could look like in the future.

Not necessarily its design, since the car’s simple structure means it would be very easy to make and fit differently shaped polycarbonate and acrylic bodies to the frame.

The EN-V is basically a widened Segway, enclosed in a bubble

The two-wheel mobility solution is not integral to such a future either. This was developed to GM’s specifications by the transport technology firm Segway, using gyroscopic and fluid-based levelling sensors to help the vehicle balance whilst on the move.

As such, the eye-catching prototype is really little more than a widened Segway, enclosed in a bubble, based on well-known and relatively simple technology.

What makes the bubble stand out, however, is the wealth of ideas contained within it; ideas that, if implemented, could change the way we live.

The most impressive attribute of the EN-V is its ability to communicate, both with other vehicles and with infrastructure such as satellites or buildings.

Sensors, cameras and a GPS system help the car see its surroundings and know its location.

The EN-V’s two wheels are revealed once the sleek covers are removed

And although it is possible, and indeed great fun, to drive the EN-V manually, it is really designed to drive by itself.

But it is the EN-V’s functionality that really makes it attractive. Because it is autonomous, drivers could read, have teleconferences or sleep while being driven around in them. Because it is light and small, it could be driven onto fast-moving trains connecting cities. Because it is small, it would be easy to park – perhaps using some sort of stacking system.

Now, given what I had to say last issue about electric cars and Big Nanny Government’s plans to force us all into them one way or another, you might assume I’m opposed to these things on general principle. But not at all, not at all. The EN-V, along with similar efforts currently being worked on by Ford and BMW, are designed strictly for use in big cities, and have literally no crash protection whatsoever beyond what the engineers are calling v-to-v, short for vehicle-to-vehicle communication, designed to prevent crashes in the first place.

And that Segways (ahem) nicely into why I’m all for these things. You already know who the early adopters of these little plastic eggs are going to be: the same kind of smug, whey-faced urban dweebs who are currently cramming themselves into so-called Smart Cars and smirking at other drivers from the cramped confines of their Priuses, Volts, and Leafs; the same self-righteous ass-bandits who demand that we all shoehorn ourselves into glorified, overpriced hamster cages in inner cities and would happily legislate spacious suburban and country houses out of existence because they’re not “sustainable”; the same prigs who ban smoking outdoors, dirt bikes in the countryside, and loud Harleys in town because seeing others enjoy themselves offends their delicate sensibilities.

And as more and more of them are strapping themselves into these starter coffins, they’re going to be dying in job lots. The urban landscape is going to be littered with their stinking carcasses, so much so that sanitation workers everywhere are going to be pulling a lot of overtime sweeping them all up.

Because that crash-prevention technology isn’t going to work worth a damn, at least not at first, and probably not ever. They’re going to be sailing into trees, buildings, actual by-God cars and trucks, crowds of like-minded pedestrians, and each other by the gross. These weak-ass affronts to Darwin’s theory are going to be overconfident in their little charnel-boxes, and are going to happily place their lives in the hands of incredibly complicated technology they neither understand nor will really know how to operate. They won’t be able to pull over and fix it when it suddenly breaks in traffic, which it will, and the resultant carnage is going to make places like Manhattan look like Beirut after a particularly successful Hezbollah block party. The Embarcadero in San Francisco is going to resemble the closing moments of the chariot-race scene in Ben Hur. Central London will be an abbatoir. Rome will revert to the Christians-versus-lions days, only this time the action is all going to be outside the Colosseum rather than in it.

We need to make sure that Microsoft is writing the software that will run these things, and that the government continues to run GM, and takes its usual heavy-handed approach to things it knows nothing about. That ought to guarantee robust numbers of drones with a near-future date with the Reaper, and a reserved immediate-occupancy spot in the bone orchard.

And as the Great Self-Inflicted Die-off continues and attrition starts to take its toll on the number of people who paint over their wish to run all our lives with a thin coat of namby-pamby Earth-firstism, we might at last stand a chance off getting them off our backs and out of our affairs for good.

And speaking of changing bikers’ lives for the better, this story looks promising indeed:

A Swedish heavy metal fan has had his musical preferences officially classified as a disability. The results of a psychological analysis enable the metal lover to supplement his income with state benefits.

The ageing rocker claims to have attended almost three hundred shows last year, often skipping work in the process.

Eventually his last employer tired of his absences and Tullgren was left jobless and reliant on welfare handouts.

But his sessions with the occupational psychologists led to a solution of sorts: Tullgren signed a piece of paper on which his heavy metal lifestyle was classified as a disability, an assessment that entitles him to a wage supplement from the job centre.

“I signed a form saying: ‘Roger feels compelled to show his heavy metal style. This puts him in a difficult situation on the labour market. Therefore he needs extra financial help’. So now I can turn up at a job interview dressed in my normal clothes and just hand the interviewers this piece of paper,” he said.

Tullgren currently plays bass and guitar in two rock bands and says that he tends to get a lot of positive reactions for daring to be himself.

Just think: if this holds up and spreads, as this sort of thing usually tends to, bikers everywhere will be able to “be themselves” with no fear of prejudice and discrimination from bossheads, cops, or frightened civilians. Tattoos are already completely mainstream—the rule rather than the exception—with every college-freshman chick sporting a blotchy t-stamp and every skinny, patchouli-stinking, neo-hippy waifette having the Chinese character for “peace” (or so they got told) on the back of their necks or wrists. But they can still be a problem when you walk into a potential employer’s office to try to impress your way into a job.

Well, no more. Now, if some human-resources type gives you the stink-eye and sends you off without a solid commitment to a starting date, you can just get the government to pay for your three hots and a cot instead, without the hassle of going to court first. They won’t be able to stop us from cranking out some good old Led Zep or Deep Purple while we’re sweeping out the stockroom or stacking bricks; in fact, they’ll probably be required by law to provide us with a kickin’ sound system to ensure our mental health on the job.

First politician who promises a Harley in every garage to promote happiness and general psychological well-being gets my vote for life.

But you knew there had to be some bad news out there along with all this joy and light, and here it is:

A California woman has been arrested over accusations she drugged her estranged husband, cut off his penis and ground it up in a garbage disposal before alerting police, authorities said on Tuesday.

Catherine Kieu Becker, 48, was taken into custody on Monday night after telling officers who found her husband tied to the bed and bleeding from his groin that he had “deserved it”, Garden Grove Police Lt. Jeff Nightengale said in a written statement.

Becker is accused of drugging her husband’s food to make him sleepy, slicing off his penis with a knife, tossing it into the garbage disposal and turning the unit on, Nightengale said. She then called 911, he added.

Deserved it? Oh, don’t we always. But maybe this chick was working for the government; maybe there’s a whole army of ‘em, out there slashing away at our man-parts in huge numbers, a top-secret, government-sponsored mass-steercotting that would go a long way towards explaining the docile way electric cars and welfare for put-upon music lovers just seem to be accepted as normal nowadays.

But it don’t explain my sudden thirst for something a little stouter than fizzy sugar-water, or the need to go find someplace that will serve it up accompanied by some loud, obnoxious music. See y’all next issue; be sure to stay out of the way of knife-totin’ women in electric cars chasing depressed, put-upon heavy-metal fans down the street. I’ll leave ya with this:

A Russian man who tried to rob a hair salon ended up as the victim when the female shop owner overpowered him, tied him up naked and then used him as a sex slave for three days.

Viktor Jasinski, 32, admitted to police that he had gone to the salon in Meshchovsk, Russia, with the intention of robbing it.

But the tables were turned dramatically when he found himself overcome by owner Olga Zajac, 28, who happened to be a black belt in karate.

She allegedly floored the would-be robber with a single kick.

Then, in a scene reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, police say Zajac dragged the semi-conscious Jasinski to a back room of the salon and tied him up with a hair dryer cable.

She allegedly stripped him naked and, for the next three days, used him as a sex slave to ‘teach him a lesson’ – force feeding him Viagra to keep the lesson going.

Judging from the pic accompanying the article, the ginch in question is a real, no-lie cutie, instead of the kind of mastodon you’d ordinarily expect from a story like this. Some “lesson.” Yeah, that’ll show him all right. Maybe rather than hitting the dear ol’ watering-hole, I’ll go rob a hair salon instead. Long as I can keep her away from the scissors.

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