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Memories of the 28th Century

If itís Broke, Then Fix It

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I know the old saw is ďIf itís not broke, then donít fix it,Ē and that isnít bad advice, but people have made huge amounts of money changing things just because they want to. Then there are the products that were changed and soon left the scene. I recently told a bartender about a beer that he had never heard of, because it was ďfixedĒ so l that it went out of production. Maybe you remember Tuborg. It is a Danish beer (link below), and in the early 1970ís it started shipping to the U.S.A., and it was quite popular. Some U.S. company bought U.S. rights to produce and sell, and they changed it to something horrible. Tuborg lost its following, and the brand was dropped. I canít remember which U.S. brewer fixed Tuborg really good, and I couldnít readily find that.

There are plenty of websites that got fixed real good. In the early days of the internet one of the biggest web portals changed its layout and navigation, a complete rebuild of the site, and now I canít even remember what its name was. There are sites with the history of the internet, so I just found it, Lycos. Lycos was started as a university project that went private. Lycos was acquired by Terra Networks, but that was just before the dot com bust. Itís still in business, but it isnít what it once was.

Then thereís the matter of creating more brands. When I eat potato chips I usually eat Lays. I have noticed that there are many types of Lays potato chips now, but it seems like few of most of the varieties are sold. Thereís one place that uses one shelf in a rack for the regular ones, and they use several varieties to fill the other shelves, and those shelves are seldom depleted, while there have been time when the regular ones were sold out.

One thing that really, really needs fixing is personal transportation. The internal combustion is a silly Rube Goldberg machine. There is an attempt to replace it with electric vehicles, but they are much too expensive and the batteries are not perfect. Much better than these but abandoned for decades is the steam engine. If we look back a hundred years, or so, then we see that electrics just werenít making it, for the same reasons as now, and internal combustion engines were toys, but the steam engines were starting to become real machinery. Both Doble and Stanley were producing machines that would pass modern tests for safety and cleanliness. If we fast forward a decade, then the Dobles were excellent machinery, but the boilers and engines were installed in a chassis that weighed two and a half tons. The Stanley Company had been sold after one brother died, but the cars were still being produced, but they were, like the Dobles, damned expensive and heavy. The 1925 Doble engine was a four cylinder job, because it needs the horsepower to push two and a half tons. I donít remember which engine the Stanley had then, but it could easily run at one hundred miles per hour. If the Dobles had put a smaller version of their engine and boiler into a lighter chassis, then they could have sold something that many people could have afforded, and the company would not have died with the family. A Stanley Steamer had something like two dozen moving parts. A typical gasoline engine these days has about five hundred moving parts. (I canít vouch for that exact number, but I have taken enough pieces off engines to say that itís in that region.) Moving parts mean friction, which loses power, converting it to heat. In addition, gasoline engines make noise, and noise is another way that power is taken from the drive train. Contrast that to the noise from a steam engine. Yeah, a steam whistle can be damned loud, but thatís on purpose. The engines are almost silent, about as noisy as an electric car. In addition, steam cars donít pour heat out in great quantity. Of course there are leaks, but adding insulation and using more efficient heat exchangers can diminish the leaks.

I wanted to write about the local transit company, but Iíll have to wait for the dust to settle, if I even kicked any up.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuborg_Brewery
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Internet
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycos
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Comments

  1. Pumpkin337's Avatar
    but you are still burning fossil fuels in a steam engine which is kind of the problem. EV's aren't a solution either as electricity production is still largely non-renewable and hugely polluting, as is the production process for the batteries.
  2. PeterL's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Pumpkin337
    but you are still burning fossil fuels in a steam engine which is kind of the problem. EV's aren't a solution either as electricity production is still largely non-renewable and hugely polluting, as is the production process for the batteries.
    SO I'd still be burning fuel, but I wouldn't be using coal, which is a fossil fuel; I'd use petroleum or gas, and those are producing as part of the subduction of plates, and they are being constantly replenished as more crust and ocean bottom is subducted. It will be better when we go back to using horses, but that won't be until after the really great pandemic, but that should be soon.