Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mentally challenged

In Mexico we say "the one that holds the leg, sins just like the one who kills the cow". I don't know if it's the designer's fault (alone), or company managers' irresponsibility when they authorize (or actually ask) R&D departments to develop certain products... or both. I don't know if it's a matter of professional and civil ethics to decline to work on certain projects. I admired a friend's decision to stop working for a company, when they got a military contract. I guess all those "sustainability workshops" are not making any effect at all, when it comes to the almighty business/profit driven design.

Social entrepreneurship is still just a myth, something that has great risks (you can tell me that)... and is not a real curricular subject at schools... bicicleto o bicicleta?it's just something fun to do on a workshop or a small project designing things with supposedly recycled materials. A few days ago a friend told me that if you give students the choice, they will all line up to design a cell phone, an iPod or a car... and maybe just only one in thousands would sign up for a project involving social causes. And when they do sign up, you may get sometimes someone like the student that made me give up all my hopes about teaching when he said: "why do we have to work this hard and do things right, when those (poor) people are going to be glad with any crap we make for them anyway". Sorry, I lost my train of ideas... but it's going to be one year since that shameful day, and I am still haunted by those words.

Anyway, you know I believe that cars and cars manufacturers are humanity's worse nightmare. I'll post more about the problems with the so called "bio-fuel" later... meanwhile, just ponder how the present world food crisis, was caused by bio-fuel refineries' demand of grains and crops at a higher price than the price set (specially) in developing countries i.e. if you can sell a tonne of rice for more than $1,000 dollars for biofuel, why would you sell it at half that price (or less) to Guinea, Egypt, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, Uzbekistan, Senegal, Haiti, Bolivia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt, India, the Philippines or Thailand even if it's staple food ? Never mind the riots or people going hungry... or falling into extreme poverty.

With that panorama, why would a car manufacturer launch a new "retro" V8 car? Is it arrogance, stupidity or just business as usual? Arrogance, because nothing can make a better statement that you don't give a *** about others, or the environment as a very big and brand new V8. Stupidity, because... at least for me, there's no better way of describing that attitude. And business, because... that's the whole rationale behind press releases and articles about the retro- Dodge Challenger:
"Before Chrysler can get to the business of building greener cars -- and on this score it's the most backward of all the auto companies -- it has to stay in business. Chrysler could never make a dime off the Challenger program and happily write it off as a marketing expense. The relative handful of geezers who buy this car will not be fretting fuel economy, the price of gas or the perspiration of polar bears. The car is aimed like a Hellfire missile at the emotional groins of boomers who have loads of cash and empty nests. They just won't care about other considerations. The car will sell like mad for a year or two and then fall off a cliff. That will make it relatively rare, enough to give it the cachet of a collector's item. As for these cars' environmental irresponsibility, sure, some, but it will be largely symbolic and notional. Sold in relatively low numbers and left to slumber in garages for most of their lives, these neo-pony cars' greenhouse impact will be a rounding error compared to the giant fleets of right-sized commuter cars like the Saturn Aura or the Honda Accord." (abridged from LAT)
Shame on you mates.

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