Category Archives: Tech

Rule Five Fusion Friday

As always, practical fusion energy is just ten years away!  Maybe.

The future of carbon-free energy smells like teriyaki and sounds like a low-flying 737. A sleepy strip mall beside Boeing’s sprawling campus in Everett, WA isn’t necessarily where you’d expect to find technology promising to harness the power of the sun, release humanity from the grip of fossil fuels, and unlock an estimated US $40 trillion market.

But here, and in an even more anonymous office park nearby, startup Zap Energy is trialing a prototype reactor that is already producing high-energy neutrons from nuclear fusion—if not yet enough to send power back into the grid.

The unglamorous location is no accident, says Derek Sutherland, Zap’s senior research scientist. “If you squint hard enough, building a fusion system is not that different from building an airplane,” he tells Spectrum on a visit in June. “It requires a little bit of retooling and retraining but you can transfer a lot of those skills.”

Yeah, I think it’s a little more complex than building an airplane, given that physicists and engineers have been messing with this for decades now and we still have no commercially viable fusion power.

And that’s the catch – making it commercially viable.  That means “cheaper than any other way of generating electricity for a given market.”  So far, every prototype fusion device has only succeeded in very, very short bursts; making a reactor that can run 24/7/365 would seem to be an entirely different kettle of fish.

Zap’s Fuze-Q prototype sits in an odor-free air-conditioned room and makes only a barely-audible tick when it operates. Since going active last summer, the office-desk-size device has housed thousands of fusion reactions, each generating reams of data as Zap gradually ramps it up towards the temperatures, plasma densities, and reaction times necessary to generate more power than it consumes. The entire fusion process is about as dramatic as flipping a light switch, and Sutherland walks us right up to the small reactor shortly afterwards one such operation.

This isn’t some scaled-down experimental toy. Zap’s commercial fusion reactor, intended to reliably produce enough power for 30,000 homes—day and night, year-round—will be exactly the same size as the prototype, with the addition of a liquid-metal “blanket,” heat exchangers, and steam turbines to turn its energetic neutrons into electricity. The core reactor will be shorter than a Mini Cooper.

OK, if we take this at face value, tech like this would be amazing.  A fusion reactor like this could power a small town, or a substantial area in a rural community.  I like the idea of decentralizing the grid, too, which something like this should make possible.  Those would be great things, given an economically feasible setup.

But I have some questions:

  1. What are the startup costs?  How much to build a reactor like this, transport it, hook it into the local grid, fuel it for the initial run?
  2. How often would it require refueling?  How much does that refueling cost?
  3. What would the cost per kW/hr be compared to more conventional power plants?
  4. How will this tech function in a variety of environments?  It seems like there would be at least some exposure of the plant to local conditions, from well-below-zero temps here in Alaska to triple-digit temps in Arizona, not to mention differences in humidity, altitude and other local conditions.

The article concludes:

“We’re in a period of transition from science towards engineering, but we still have plasma physicists on staff and we will for quite some time,” says Zap’s Sutherland. “We’re trying to decarbonize the energy base load for the entire planet. If Zap works, it will change the world.”

Color me skeptical.  There are a couple of things I question about that statement; first, if your goal is to ‘decarbonize the energy base load,’ you are looking at it the wrong way.  If the goal was to ‘build an economically feasible fusion reactor,’ I’d be much more interested.  But here’s the big part: being in a ‘period of transition from science towards engineering.’  We’ve been in that transition for a long damn time now.  As long as scientists and engineers focus on political goals and not practical (economic) goals, this tech will go nowhere.

And the thing is this:  We can already accomplish everything that this startup purports to do.  We already have the technology for clean, efficient, reliable, economically feasible power generation.  It’s called fission, and we should be building more of the newest plants.  That’s the answer for any nuclear-based generation right now.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

OK. I’m a little embarrassed about this, as I’ve long said it’s something I would never do, although at least Elon Musk’s remake has  made things a little more tolerable, but…

Yeah. I’m on Twitter.

I did it mostly to keep up with my RedState colleagues and to stay abreast of the fire-hose of information that is the American socio-political scene, so as to gain more things to write about.  But boy howdy, does the noise-to-signal ratio ever suck.  Anyway, toss me a follow if you like, I’ll reciprocate, and maybe we’ll see the odd pearl here and there.

Now then…

On To the Links!

More signs of this being a social contagion.

Oops.

I was wondering what that humming sound was.

My latest over at American Free News Network: Ramming in Naval Warfare.

No, because it’s their fault.

Average Earnings Have Fallen 3.16% During Biden Presidency.

Walgreens is closing 450 stores.  The reason is left as an exercise for the reader.

The Biden Crime Family.

Coming soon to a major city near you!

Florida is no longer welcoming to illegal aliens.  Good.

Where’s Hunter?

Winsome Sears continues to be awesome.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.  How did you think unlimited Third World immigration was going to turn out?

This conversation should have happened thirty years ago.

BroDudes rule.

The greatness of America in a single sandwich.

Honoring a great man.

The weather isn’t that bad.

You can count on the Biden(‘s handlers) Administration to double down on stupid.

Which side of the Hot/Crazy Matrix?

Dark Age Patriotism.

Fuck off, commies.

My RedState stuff:

Pharmaceuticals and Price Controls: A Prescription for Failure

I’m Not Saying It’s Aliens, But…

An Atheist Perspective on Ethics and Morality: Liberty and Property

The CPAP Revelation: Joe Biden, Dementia, and the 2024 Presidential Race

Wokeness and the Adulteration of Literature

The Latest in Green Technology—Sails

We Cannot Afford to Allow the Left to Hamstring Alaskan Energy

The Changing Face of Friendship

Rent Control: A Bad Idea, Badly Implemented

Universal Internet Access – Another Biden Boondoggle

2024 Elections: Changing up the Dance Card

State of The Republic: July 4, 2023

Suffer The Little Children

China’s Looming Agricultural Melt-Down

This Week’s Idiots:

MSNBC’s Hayes Brown (Repeat Offender Alert) is an idiot.

Salon’s Heather Digby Parton is an idiot.

Vox’s Ian Millhiser (Repeat Offender Alert) is an idiot.

The Nation’s John Nichols (Repeat Offender Alert) is an idiot.

MSNBC’s Michael Cohen (Repeat Offender Alert) is an idiot.

The New York TimesAaron Tang is an idiot.

Roosevelt University’s Associate Professor David Faris is an idiot.

The Hill’s Glenn Altschuler is an idiot.

The Hill’s Andrew Koppelman is an idiot. (Another pattern.)

Well, duh.

Paul Krugman (Repeat Offender Alert) remains a cheap partisan hack, and an idiot.

The Guardians’ Margaret Sullivan is an idiot.

Slate’s Joseph Pace is an idiot.

This Week’s Cultural Edification:

When I went to Army Basic Training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, the great classic movie Stripes had left theaters but was still making the rounds on the cable networks (remember cable TV?)  So, of course, when the drill sergeants were in the mood to permit it, we always sang Manfred Mann’s Do Wah Diddy Diddy when we were marching.  Like this:

The original, of course, was originally released by a vocal band called The Exciters, but the best-known version (by me, at least) was done by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, released in 1964 on a single 45RPM opposite What You Gonna Do?  It’s a fun little tune from my childhood.  Here’s the Manfred Mann version; enjoy.

Animal’s Daily Electric Plane News

Before we get into this, check out the last chapter of Setting Suns over at Glibertarians.

Now then:  NASA has cancelled their electric plane project. Here’s why:

NASA said today in a conference call with reporters that it would not ever be flying its experimental electric aircraft, the X-57, citing safety concerns that are insurmountable with the time and budget they have for the project. The X-57 program will wind down without the aircraft ever going up into the sky. 

The agency had previously hoped to fly the aircraft, which would be powered by batteries and electric motors, sometime this year. While the original plans had called for the research plane to eventually have more than a dozen propellers, NASA had scaled back those plans too, intending to fly the plane in what they called Modification 2 form. Mod 2 involved the plane having just two propellers, with one on each wing. The news today means that the plane will never fly, not even in Mod 2 form. 

And:

The problem that led them to scrap the plan to fly the aircraft stemmed from motors that power the propellers. Clark said today that analysis of the issue is ongoing. “As we got into the detailed analysis and airworthiness assessment of the motors themselves, we found that there were some potential failure modes with the motors mechanically, under flight loads, that we hadn’t seen on the ground,” he said. “We’ve got a great design in progress to fix it, it’s just [that] it would take too long for us to go through and implement that.”

I’m not sure why NASA is spending (presumably) taxpayer dollars on this.  If there is a commercial market for an electric airplane, someone will develop one that works, and cash in.  If there isn’t a commercial market, then there’s no reason for NASA to be arsing around with it.

It’s difficult to understand what the taxpayers have to gain by indulging in this kind of work.  I’m certainly no Luddite, but we already have perfectly adequate aircraft technology, and improvements in existing turbofan engines make them more efficient all the time.  That is, by the way, resulting in making air travel and air shipments cheaper, too, although there’s also an element of ‘cramming more people into smaller seats’ on the travel side of that.

Markets, not governments, should decide if there is or is not a purpose for this sort of thing.

Animal’s Daily Technology News

Before we get into it, check out the next installment of my Setting Suns series at Glibertarians!

Now then:  Over at The Mises Institute, Lipton Matthews has some interesting thoughts on technology and entrepreneurship:

The fear is that unbridled innovation must be curbed due to its potential to disrupt society, but disruption is what makes innovation unique. Technology has displaced jobs and has also created jobs that we would never have predicted. In the 1980s people did not envision platforms like YouTube and TikTok minting millionaires.

Interestingly, neither platform was built by the government; rather, they emerged due to the ingenuity of creative minds. Considering the trial-and-error process of innovation and the numerous characters involved, it is impossible for the state to plan or drive this dynamic process. Further, empirical evidence opines that there is a positive link between business expenditure on R and D, but the association between government R and D and innovation is negative.

History should teach the state that innovation is more likely when government technocrats are not involved in the process. The best option for the US government to promote innovation is for it to stay out of the picture.

Here’s what Mr. Matthews may not appreciate:  We can’t just hope that government will stay out of the innovation picture.  The (US) government should be, and actually is – if you’re literate and read the Constitution, especially the Tenth Amendment – rigorously proscribed from being in the innovation picture.

“But Animal,” some might say, “this very internet that we’re using right now started out as a government project.”  Yes, it did, under DARPA, a DoD function, and therefore within the government’s legitimate scope as a defense COMSEC measure.  But if it had remained government controlled, it would never have been anything but that – no Amazon, no YouTube, no Twitter, no WordPress, no Animal Magnetism.

Billions of dollars in wealth would never have been created.  The marketplace of goods and ideas would still be at the 1985 level.  We’d still be getting our news from three networks and a few cable channels, not to mention printed newspapers.  If you wanted a new coffee mug, sweatshirt or fishing pole, you’d have to go to a brick-and-mortar store to get one.  Things weren’t really all that bad back then but they’re much more convenient now, in the post-Internet world; I can even get most goods online and have them delivered to my home, out here in the Alaskan woods.

Entrepreneurship is vital.  And government is poison to entrepreneurship.  That won’t change.

Animal’s Daily Air Traffic Control News

John Stossel has some interesting information on the state of air traffic control in the United States, especially as compared to other nations.  Make sure you read the whole thing, but here are my thoughts:

Asked if America’s air traffic control system is out of date, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg paused a long time before answering, “The system is continuously being upgraded.”

It’s important to note here that “Pothole Pete” Buttigieg is probably the perfect example of a Biden(‘s handlers) Administration official:  Incompetent, not very bright, manifestly a diversity hire.

“This is your government at work,” says Diana Furchtgott-Roth in my latest video. Furchtgott-Roth worked for the Transportation Department during the Trump administration.

I yell at her. “Air traffic control was in your department. You could have fixed it. You should have fixed it!”

She smiles and explains that although she had control of $1 billion, she wasn’t allowed to move those funds to where they were needed.

Government managers must fund projects pushed by politicians, like “Justice40,” meant to fix “underinvestment in disadvantaged communities.”

Of course.  Why try to make anything more modern, more efficient when there are fortunes to be made through graft?

“Sounds like they mean well,” I say.

“It sounds a lot better to talk about social justice,” answers Furchtgott-Roth. “Nuts and bolts like computer hardware for air traffic control gets left behind.”

Computer hardware isn’t left behind in Canada. They got rid of “flight control with paper strips” years ago. That’s because Canada turned air traffic control over to a private company. They switched to an electronic system.

It’s not just Canada that did it. Dozens of countries have privatized or partially privatized.

Computer screens have replaced not-always-clear windows in many air traffic control centers. Controllers don’t use binoculars anymore because high-definition cameras let them see much more, especially at night.

A Government Accountability Office study found that in countries that privatized, there are fewer delays and costs are lower.

So why doesn’t America privatize?

Money.  As Stossel points out:

Because our politicians get money from labor unions, who “advocate for keeping the same people in the same jobs,” says Furchtgott-Roth.

That’s the main thing right there.  And it’s another great argument for doing away with public-sector unions.  This, True Believers, is yet another (they are legion) example of why public-sector unions are a fundamental conflict of interest and should be proscribed by law:  They negotiate their contracts with the same politicians whose campaigns they bankroll, and then meet with those politicians (again, whose campaigns they bankroll) to influence policy.

It’s about graft; it’s always about graft.

Rule Five Lithium Friday

Take a look at this: Latin America Looks To Capitalize On Soaring Lithium Demand.  Excerpt:

With the success of the energy transition closely tied to the ability to store solar and wind power, battery manufacturers are zeroing in on Latin America’s so-called lithium triangle of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.

These three countries alone contain 52m, or 53%, of the 98m tonnes of global lithium reserves, according to the US Geological Survey.

In late January Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Argentina and Chile to secure lithium supply for carmakers Mercedes-Benz Group and Volkswagen to produce electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Germany reached a memorandum of understanding with Argentina for increased supply and plans to offer Chile a deal that is reportedly more favourable than its current arrangement with China.

Days before Chancellor Scholz’s trip, Chinese firms Contemporary Amperex Technology, its subsidiary Brunp Recycling and the mining company CMOC signed a $1bn agreement with Bolivia’s state-owned mining company Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos to explore for lithium in the country, which has the largest identified lithium reserves in the world, at 21m tonnes.

Argentina has 20m tonnes and Chile 11m tonnes, while Mexico has 1.7m tonnes and Brazil 730,000 tonnes, giving Latin America a 55.5% share of global reserves as of 98m tonnes.

By 2040 the International Energy Agency expects demand for lithium could grow some 40-fold.

It’s important to note that the “clean energy” issue is being pushed largely for environmental reasons, and lithium mining is devastating to local environments.  And it’s  not just lithium.  PJMedia recently had a piece on the environmental destruction of Indonesia’s “tainted city” as a result of mining for nickel, another metal needed for batteries.

It’s also important to note that Latin America is famous, rightly, for corruption in government.  These mines will be worked by poorly trained, poorly paid peasants and the profits will go into government grifters and a tiny cadre of oligarchs.  As the article here states:

Lithium mining and processing has faced backlash from local communities worried about the environmentally damaging aspects of the practice and poor labour standards. Chile’s President Gabriel Boric has taken up the issue in his first year in office, which makes a partnership with Germany timely, as Chancellor Scholz underscored Germany’s own environmental and labour standards during his trip.

Similar concerns surround China’s deal with Bolivia. Though the partnership aims to build two plants capable of producing 25,000 tonnes each – which would make Bolivia the largest producer on the continent – local political and community opposition has derailed past projects in recent decades, and the opposition party voiced its objections in the wake of the deal’s announcement.

And the intention of all this, the elimination of fossil fuel extraction and use, is simply not possible.  As a recent Forbes article states:

With demand “set to explode,” petrochemicals are pervasive in our world: over 6,000 everyday products have oil as an integral component.

And, oh by the way, this includes the production and transport of renewables and electric cars themselves (the purported “dual panacea” technologies to fight climate change).

And:

Just ask the dangerously unrealistic Europeans how their “dual panacea” has worked out under Putin’s thumb: “Germany goes back to burning coal as its energy crisis deepens.”

Physics (e.g., gasoline has 100 times the energy density of a lithium-ion battery) and higher than rosily modeled costs will eventually force our emerging European-like climate-energy goals to be pulled back here in the U.S. (e.g., only EV sales in California after 2035).

Electric cars, for instance, require six times the minerals that conventional oil-based cars require – nowhere near as “clean” as advertised.

We should all be shocked that environmental groups are so supportive of that amount of extraction and potential land destruction, not to mention the child labor inherent in the EV industry.

Those three articles are all worth reading, so do so, if you have not already.  But to summarize?  This is another example of the Western elites’ not giving even one single fuck about the third world people who will be living with the poor work conditions and environmental degradation involved in producing these batteries, which won’t even make the emissions changes they are looking to realize.  The entire EV movement is mostly a virtue-signal; a few Third World dictators will be grossly enriched so a few coastal wine moms can feel better about themselves, while continuing to use fossil-fuel dependent processes and products in almost every aspect of their daily lives.

It’s well to the left of ridiculous, and it’s getting to the point that it’s not even funny any more.

Rule Five Beam-down Power Friday

Beam-down power is a common staple in science fiction.  In this kind of a system, a society receives energy from a constellation of massive solar collectors in orbit, which is beamed down to the surface usually in the form of microwave lasers, which are then converted to usable electricity.  Now it seems Northrop Grumman has cleared a hurdle towards just such a system, and, not surprisingly, I have some thoughts.  Excerpt:

“As far as the technologies go, we’re very confident in our design and we’ve proven it out,” Tara Theret, Northrop Grumman’s Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research (SSPIDR) program director, told SpaceNews. “Now, it’s just building, testing and integrating the rest of the hardware on a challenging timeline.”

Northrop Grumman announced Dec. 15 the successful demonstration of a key element of SSPIDR, the ability to beam radio frequency energy toward various antennas by steering the beam. The testing was conducted in one of Northrop Grumman’s anechoic test chambers in Baltimore.

Next, Northrop Grumman will “take those findings and translate them into our prototype, which we anticipate launching in 2025 to actually show the capability of beaming RF energy down to the planet,” said Jay Patel, vice president of Northrop Grumman Remote Sensing Programs.

Beyond the prototype for the future objective system, Northrop Grumman will need to shrink electronic components and significantly scale up the quantity of “sandwich tiles,” or panels of photovoltaic cells to collect solar energy and provide power to another layer of components that enable solar-to-RF conversion and beamforming.

Here’s the onion:

If solar power can be gathered in space and beamed to the ground, there are many promising applications, Patel said.

“If you have a flood or a hurricane that knocks out power to an area, it takes weeks sometimes for them to get back online,” Patel said. “This system can provide temporary power during those periods until that infrastructure is built back up.”

So the possibilities of this technology are largely due to the ability to “steer” the beam – indeed, that seems to be what this breakthrough is mostly about.  Now think about that for a moment.

In order for this to be useful on any scale, the amount of power being beamed down would be massive.  It would have to be carefully aimed at a collection facility, something capable of capturing that massive amount of power and translating it into usable electricity.  Granted I’m not an engineer, but that sounds like a pretty fragile system.  What happens if there is an earthquake, or some other event that disturbs that delicate alignment?  Will the beamdown stations be in a carefully plotted geosynchronous orbit, or will they have to be re-aligned every time they come over the horizon, and maintain that alignment as they pass over the receiving facility?

All that is worth discussing, but here’s the one thing I don’t see mentioned in the article:  Has no one involved in this given any thought to what a horrendous weapon this technology could be, if in the control of the wrong people?  Say, at the offices of an inconvenient political opponent, or some activist group that the powers-that-be find irksome?  Like, say, the NRA?

Even ten years ago I wouldn’t have worried too much about this kind of thing.  I would have snorted and written it off as a paranoid conspiracy theory, suitable for enriching lawns.  But now?  Given the current political climate?  Think on it, True Believers; how many in the political arena today would you trust with this kind of a weapon?

Animal’s Daily Twitter News

Before I get into this, check out the latest installment of Season of Ice over at Glibertarians.

Now then:  I like Elon Musk a little more every day.  Here’s something more on his evaluation of Twitter, now that it’s his personal property:

And:

This is going to be fun to watch.  I don’t do Twitter myself, but I can go look at the web site and see what other people are saying.  The consensus on the Left seems to be OMG RIGHT WING NAZIS TAKING OVER, while the Right seems to be repeatedly sharing chuckles over the Left’s histrionics.

It’s interesting.  My own observations (which are worth every penny you pay for them) seems to show that the Left always overreacts.  They don’t exactly have a monopoly on hysterical overstatement of any particular issue, but they trend towards it more than the Right.  Most folks on the Right seem more inclined to say something along the lines of, “…wait a minute, what’s really going on here,” and “…let’s give it a little while, see how it plays out.”

At least, that’s my assessment – based partly on the fact that that’s my own personal tendency.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Watch this:

Dr. Victor Davis Hanson is an American treasure, and he has more intellectual power on his worst day than either Joe Biden or Heels-Up Harris ever did on the best day they ever lived.  In this clip, he lays out something I’ve been saying for years, only Dr. Hanson does it far more eloquently – and he brings receipts.  Give it a listen.  It’s worth fourteen minutes of your day.

Now then…

On To the Links!

Yeah, he’s running.

Get woke, go broke – the streaming services adjust.

Here we go again.

Arizona, doing the jobs the Imperial City is supposed to do but won’t.

Beef – it’s what’s for dinner.

Abolish the FBI.  Yeah, I think we’ve likely come to that point.

Robot dogs.

Do the elites want to stave us to death?

That’s actually racist.

Good guy with gun.

No shit, Sherlock.

Probably not.

This Week’s Idiots:

The Nation’s John Nichols (Repeat Offender Alert) is an idiot.

Paul Krugman (Repeat Offender Alert) is still a cheap partisan hack, and an idiot.

Robert Reich (Repeat Offender Alert) is still a sawed-off runt, and an idiot.

The New Republic’s Jason Linkins is an idiot.

Dan Goldman is an idiot.

Vox’s Rachel Cohen is an idiot.

This idiot fails to understand:  We want the (un)civil service gutted.

This Week’s Cultural Edification:

One of the most talented songwriters and performers of the Seventies was Carly Simon, best known for tunes like Anticipation and You’re so Vain.  But one of my favorites of her work is the 1971 tune That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be, from her debut album Carly Simon.  I enjoy the song in spite of its rather pessimistic outlook on marriage, which I don’t share; my parents enjoyed a happy marriage for 71 years, and while my first marriage ended after only six years, I have been married to my own dear Mrs. Animal for over thirty years and we couldn’t be happier.

Anyway – I still really enjoy this song, and Carly Simon’s vocals.  Here is a live performance, again from 1971, in which Carly Simon shows eloquently how beauty and talent can go together.  And you know what’s great?  Look at that audience.  No cell phones held up, no heads turned down towards their little screens, just a lot of people watching the show.  Enjoy.

Animal’s Daily Manual Transmission News

A manual transmission?

Before we start, check out the final episode of Legionnaire over at Glibertarians!

The Atlantic’s Ian Bogost recently chronicled the upcoming end of manual transmissions.  Excerpt:

In 2000, more than 15 percent of new and used cars sold by the auto retailer CarMax came with stick shifts; by 2020, that figure had dropped to 2.4 percent. Among the hundreds of new car models for sale in the United States this year, only about 30 can be purchased with a manual transmission. Electric cars, which now account for more than 5 percent of car sales, don’t even have gearboxes. There are rumors that Mercedes-Benz plans to retire manuals entirely by the end of next year, all around the world, in a decision driven partly by electrification; Volkswagen is said to be dropping its own by 2030, and other brands are sure to follow. Stick shifts have long been a niche market in the U.S. Soon they’ll be extinct.

I’ve always kind of liked a manual transmission myself, especially in a truck, for reasons I’ll go into in a moment.  First, though:  I’m not surprised by the car companies decreasing the availability of manual transmissions.  In today’s market, with plenty of folks increasing their dependency on technology, it’s no shock that the demand for manual transmissions is dropping off.  I suspect that this is the reason for the various auto manufacturers dropping manual transmissions; there likely just isn’t a lot of demand.

The one vehicle we have here in the Great Land is a newer (2017) Ford Expedition, Mrs. Animal’s primary vehicle.  It has an automatic transmission, which was the only thing available, but for Mrs. Animal’s primary vehicle, that’s as must be in any case, as she has neurological damage and chronic pain issues on her left side that make operating a clutch difficult.

But my last pickup, the inestimable Rojito, now in the able care of loyal sidekick Rat, was not only manual transmission but manual everything, and I liked that – so does Rat, for that matter.  It remains to be seen what I’ll be able to score for a new pickup here in the Great Land, as the needs will be different – a small, somewhat underpowered pickup like the 1999 Ranger won’t work for the towing/camper hauling chores we have in mind here.

I do like a manual transmission on a truck, either way.  I like having more direct control over the RPM range of the motor, especially when climbing, towing, off-roading or even descending hills, especially when towing.  Also I just plain enjoy driving a manual transmission.  It adds to the driving experience in some intangible manner.

Still.  The auto manufacturers are reacting to the market.  I’m an outlier.  In this, as in many other things, I’ve had to accept being in a market minority.