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Electric Dreams. 12/27/2004

I almost fell off my chair laughing this morning reading about this.

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2004/12/9/nation/9610829&sec=nation

The Minister of Transport was elaborating about the reasons why such a vehicle would not (rightly) be allowed on local roads. He stated that the effective top speed of the electric powered bike was too low for gazetted roads, and would present a danger to users of the bike and other road users. Which is perfectly correct.

He went on further to state that such a vehicle was not able to be registered (and this is the part that got me laughing) because, and I quote, “under the Act, vehicles to be registered must carry clear chassis and engine serial numbers, and the rates of road tax to be imposed were based on the horse power (cc) of the vehicles. ”

In case his secretaries, directors-general, officers and other assorted flunkies neglected to inform him, horse power is the measure of the power output of an engine. Cubic capacity, or c.c., is the volume of an internal combustion engine, which is measured by using the formula πr²h multiplied by the number of cylinders. Wankel engines are measured using swept volume multiplied by the number of cylinders. Which is something entirely different from horsepower, defined as work done per unit of time, in the case of horse power, 550 foot pounds per second.

In this country, vehicles are assessed a tax rate based on the capacity of the engine, on the reasoning that large capacity engines weigh more and will consume more, which is partly true. But you can also get a 2 liter engine pumping out well over 200 h.p., consuming as much fuel as a 4.0 liter engine, but being taxed less. Large capacity engines are useful, because they make their power at a lower r.p.m, and are more relaxed to drive. Small, high powered engines tend to be ’screamers’. Large engines also make more power at lower road speeds, and have more readily available torque ‘on tap’. All which add up to a safer, driver friendly driving experience.

What the Minister probably meant to say that that the electric bike was not able to be taxed because there was no way to measure the cubic capacity (c.c.) of the engine. Which is really crap, because although electric motors are measured in terms of their power output, in Kilowatts, they also have windings, magnets and housing volumes, any of which can be used to impose a tax rate.

I wonder what the Minister will do when hybrid and pure electric cars start appearing on local roads.

Girl Friday. 12/23/2004

The last Girl Friday for the year. I missed last weeks, so here’s two of them.

Sunday Worship. A short photo essay. 12/20/2004

Last weekend was the final round of the year for the Malaysian Supersports Series (MSS). Because the last round was postponed due the Malaysian MotoGP in October, it was decided that there would be two 25 lap races in the day. 25 laps of a 6.5 kilometer long circuit may not sound like a lot, but at race pace, trying to hustle a superbike through the corners, is an exercise requiring extreme mental effort and physical stamina.

And thus, on Sunday, we found ourselves at the Holy Sacred Church of the One and True Great God Speed. The penitents were assembled, under a grey, overcast sky, with rain pelting down.

Many of the riders looked at the track and shuddered, because the current race tyre as imposed by the race organisers was not designed for wet, slimy rainy conditions. Which resulted in much bending of knees in fervent prayer and scrubbing of tyres.

Everyone was trying to remove the molding varnish from the tyre surface, so that there would be some semblance of grip when the bikes shot off the grid.

The race finally came down to this guy…

… and this guy… who won on points when the second race was red-flagged due to wet conditions.

Worhsipping at the altar of speed is not the easiest endeavour in the world. Any sin is rewarded instantly and painfully. Usually resulting in scars that will inspire awed silence in pubs.

Any momentary lapse of concentration is also very painful, with much tearing of hair, rending of clothes and beating of chests.

Sniffle. 12/16/2004

I’m just getting off a case of the flu. Mucus and phelgm for the asking, leaking brains, aching joints, the works. I have found my resistance to viral attacks decreasing as I pile on the years. Not so long ago I would have just shrugged this cold off without any effort or a second thought. Now it involves visits to the doctor, anti-histamines, a reluctance to crawl out from under the blankets and general lethargy.

Having now gone into the first week of my vacation, I have received a total of 28 calls from various people at work, along with about 60 e-mails, and 4 faxes. All requiring my attention, in varying degrees of importance. It’s partly my fault, because I was unsure when my leave was supposed to begin, and being told last Monday that my leave was to begin on the day, meant that I did not perform a proper handover of my duties.

Compounded to this is the fact that my replacement was also Smiffy’s replacement, and we have a general cause for chaos. Also non-performance of anything on site. The C.S.S.D is the last major department that has to be installed on the facility, and the only person in the entire project with any in depth knowledge, i.e., me, is on leave. We’ll have fun in a couple of weeks.

Faster.

I went in to the Post Office today to collect a parcel that had been sent to me from the States. I was wondering what it was, and when I opened it, I found this.

‘Faster’ is a documentary of life in the very, very fast lane. It chronicles the the lives, riders and machines of the MotoGP, the premier motorcycle championship in the world. Bikes regularly do over 200 m.p.h at certain tracks, prompting the movie’s tagline “Two wheels, 200 MPH, Every man for himself.”

Although motor racing is a team based sport, at the fine edge of it, it all comes down to one man, and one machine. There is of course a tremendous amount of support behind the scenes, beginning at the factories and racing divisions where these bikes are designed and made, to the hundreds of hours of engineering analysis and testing, to the mechanics and support crew working through the night to prepare bikes for the next morning’s race. But at the end, the fastest, strongest, fittest, most talented rider wins.

More information from here and here.

Many thanks to Bill and Jade for the early Christmas present.

Running down a dream.

We have now reached the end of the year. It’s been fairly quiet for me this year. Can’t say that for the rest of the world though. But I’m grateful for having my family, and my friends. For those of you who entered my life this year, well met, and my life is all the richer for it.

For those I have upset, or were upset because of their association with me, I apologise. For those who have wronged me, every dog has his day.

I have still several things unresolved for the year, notably my career path, and job security. Here’s to the new year. Be careful what you wish for, because you just may get it. Have a smashing Hogmanay.

Girl Friday.

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