Saturday, June 15, 2024

An Arrow in Flight


I

Dreamed

I was

An Arrow in Flight

I flew

So Swift

So Sure

So Light

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Of Trump and Jesus

"Jesus of Nazareth.  Donald Trump.

Both were prosecuted and convicted of crimes by the state.

Therefore, they are the same."

This seems to be the logic permeating a substantial portion of American Christianity of late, the portion that sees Jesus and Donald Trump as essentially equivalent persons.  Trump is, by this way of thinking, a martyr, whose struggle is our struggle.  The only reason he is being pursued is that he is the only one who can speak up for the little guy, the only one who knows and speaks the truth.  And like Jesus, he is willing to pay the price for his truth-telling.

This is, of course, utterly insane.  

One could just as easily place Adolph Hitler into that Venn Diagram, only Hitler actually went to prison for the beer-fueled uprising he instigated in Munich.  Like Hitler, the trial and conviction of Adolph Hitler only cemented his popularity among his followers, for precisely the same reason that Trumpists take Trump's convictions as a marker of his legitimacy.  Only a true patriot would be willing to suffer for us!  Just like Jesus!  And Hitler!  Yay TrumpJesusHitler!

But just as Jesus and Adolph were nothing alike, so too Donald and Jesus are nothing alike.

The two bear no resemblance to one another whatsoever morally or personally.  They are, in point of fact, the opposite sort of person entirely.  Making the argument that they are the same is a marker of a disordered mind.

"Are you saying my mind is disordered?" might come the snarled aggression response from the avowed Trumpist, who has learned that threats and bullying are their most effective tools in silencing opponents. 

Yes.  Yes I am.  Insofar as you are in thrall, yes.

But I will admit that there's something inaccurate about my statement.  

That way of putting it assumes that Trumpism is a physical pathology, a peculiar and pernicious neurodivergence or imbalance in brain chemistry.  

It is not.  

Trumpism is first and foremost a moral disease, the same moral disease that has afflicted humankind since we were first driven from Eden. It is the willingness to blame others for our own mistakes.  It is the desire to resent, to attack, and to manipulate truth to our own ends.  It is the hate of one's enemies, and the love of mammon, and the delight in violence and violent thoughts. 

It is a disorder of the soul, a spiritual illness.  

To use some pointlessly overcomplicated words, Trumpism is a sociopolitical manifestation of Augustinian concupiscence.  It tastes of the fruit of the knowledge of evil, its' sickly sticky siren song sweet as Turkish Delight straight from the cold hand of Jadis.  

There, I suppose, you do have your theological connection, because the reason we human beings need Jesus so utterly is our hunger to be ruled by men like Donald.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Stalk and Vine

At the far northeastern corner of my little suburban lot, the sunflowers are again rising.  I've been growing them for several years now, and they're a delight.  This year, my little three by eight patch is thick with their rising stalks and greenery, and being the vigorous plants they are, they stand nearly at shoulder height already.  

The flowers are coming.

As plants, my helianthus are a gift to the garden for many reasons.  They're wildly attractive to pollinators, who then grace the flowers of my beans and tomatoes.  Situated right by the sidewalk, their beneficent compound flowers are a clear pleasure to passers by and magic for children.  

Their seeds feed passing birds in late summer, and the occasional odd vagrant.  Even after feeding the birds in an Optimally Poppins sort of way, their abundant seed heads provide ample stock for the next years planting.  That, and their dried stalks become my garden stakes for the next year.

For all of their robustness, sunflowers have a weakness.  They are, in this era of rising winds, vulnerable to the roaring blast of downbursts and squall lines.  In my first few seasons growing them, I'd lose many to storms, to the point where I started supporting them with stakes and lines.  That helped, but it was a little fiddly.

This year, though, I'm doing something different.

From an old dogwood stump, wild grapevines started growing.  Their tendrils snake through the stalks, and in the way of most vines, can threaten to overwhelm the sunflowers.  Left unchecked, the tangle of sprawling, smothering wild grape would easily overwhelm the whole stand of sunflowers.  It'd become a mass of fruitless grape, the leaves intercepting the light, the tendrils strangling the sunflower leaves.  The sunflowers would struggle.

I thought about systematically tearing the vine out last year, as I have with sweet, murderous honeysuckle in the past.

But then the thought came to me:  I could use it.  Useless as it seems, fruitless as it is, it could be helpful.  With regular and strategic trimming, the wild grape becomes something different.  The vines I let grow, and I let them secure themselves to the stalks.

Then, once a week or so, I cut it back, to be sure it's not dominating the sunflowers.

With the wild grape acting as organic support lines, the sunflowers are more resistant to high winds.  The complex matrix of tendrils fasten the stalks one to another, strengthening the whole, and all of them become stabilized by the root system of the grape.  

With a little effort, attention, and some judicious trimming, even wild grapes can serve a good purpose.

There's some comfort in that.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

In the Shadow of Her Majesty, Chapter Twenty Three

Chapter Twenty Three: My Second Argument with Diego


My erstwhile host was sitting at the large, plain table in the centre of the room, gazing with deep intensity at the screen of an ancient computer.  It was dim, the space unlit, as the soft hush of dusk without pressed in upon the chamber, with the sole illumination in the space being that very screen; the effect was decidedly morbid and funereal, which was appropriate given the immediacy of recent loss.  


He did not rise, nor shift his gaze upward to mark my arrival, so intent was he upon his task; given the dark radiance of his grim mood, I refrained for several moments from even announcing my presence.  An awkward moment passed, then another, and then several more, until at long last, just as I was preparing to either cough or make a formal proclamation of my response to his summons, he looked up and met my gaze.


Diego’s comely visage was tight and hard, lips pursed, jaw clenched, giving to his aspect an unquestionable ferocity; and yet in the fae-blue light of his timeworn machine, I could see his golden eyes abrim and glistening with the dew of his sorrow, which was so intertwined with his fury as to sharpen the flavour of wrath and woe alike.  Beneath his eyes, the dark circles of sleeplessness stood as shadows of his sorrow; I had rested, but I could be sure that he had not.  


“You’re awake.”   His voice was a flat and featureless expanse, yet also charged with a nameless, burgeoning menace; he added, in a low growling sotto voce, “Finally xxxxing awake.”


I realised, at this precise moment, that he was grievously wounded, and that from his place of anguish at the loss of his lover this conversation might become a dark impediment to the establishment of our common purpose.  His proverbial teeth were bared, his soul raw and bloodied, and like all injured wild creatures wearied and desperate at the end of a chase, he was not to be approached lightly.


He rose slowly and with effort, although the effort involved seemed less a struggle to stand than a struggle not to spring wildly, madly forward in a blind rage.


I cleared my throat.  “You had asked to see me.  Please do forgive my inability to meet with you sooner, but I was completely overcome with exhaustion, and in such a state was unable to…”


“Glad you got your beauty rest,” he said brusquely, interrupting my apology in a rude but not unanticipated manner.  “We’re all pretty xxxxing tired.  But there’s more xxxx to be done.  Look at this.”


He turned the portable computer around, the screen now facing in my direction, and with a deft motion slid it across the smooth wood surface of the table.


“Tell me what you see.”  


I peered down at the images, which were only partially occluded by areas where the screen had faded, or where individual pixels had failed.  What met my gaze were pictures of the Caddiganite fire base.  It was, in both construction and evident population, rather larger than I would have anticipated, with numerous buildings of substantial construction, and the manifold evidences of vehicles both martial and of more utilitarian purpose.


“Ernest?”  I said, motioning him to come to my side and provide insight.  “Could you please give me your critical assessment of this facility?”


Stepping forward, my stalwart aide leaned forward, and proceeded to interface directly with the venerable machine, showing precisely the sort of capacity I would expect from a Series 9.  Images and videos flashed across the screen in blindingly rapid succession, blinking in and out so swiftly that the effect was dizzying.  Ernest was not, of course, reviewing this data visually, and the images I was seeing were merely a side effect of his direct encounter with the relevant information.


“I have completed my review of the reconnaissance data, Milady.  The facility observed covers three point two acres, and appears to be heavily fortified, with multiple rings of razorwire, evidence of minelaying both antivehicle and antipersonnel, and significant automated defensive hardpoint enhancements in these fifteen locations along the perimeter wall.”  A series of illuminated circles popped into being, highlighting the hardpoints of which he spoke.  “Total projected combat strength, battalion level, approximately seven hundred Caddiganites, thirty two armoured vehicles, to include ten main battle tanks of pre-collapse design.  Substantial ground to air capacity is evident, here, here and here.  Here, to the north north west, there’s construction on a landing strip, to augment landing pads for rotorcraft at these two locations.  The central building, here, is particularly well-constructed, and given the generator…here…appears to be designed for a combination of research and/or assembly purposes.”


Diego grunted, then spoke in a low growl.  “Yeah.  Exactly.  There’s no xxxxing way we can deal with that xxxx.  Just no way.  Even if we play every mutual security chit with every collective in the entire region.”  His eyes flared with an inchoate fury, which suddenly coalesced in a terrible focus upon my person.  Something within him had broken, and a dark insidious flame now burned in his heart.


“We should never have saved you,” he hissed.  “Just told your xxxxing bot to xxxx off.  Never have done any of this.  If you hadn’t been xxxxing around doing xxxx knows what, if you hadn’t let those fascist xxxxxxxxxers get their xxxxing hands around your precious selfish tech, none of this would ever have…”


Here, dear reader, one might expect that I would have been wounded, struck to the quick by the stark cruelty of his fulminations.  They were, I will confess, more cutting and antipathetic than I had anticipated, and such a cruel and marked variance from his recent benignant declamations (as reported by Raj) that one less versed in the nature of loss might have taken mortal offence.  


Yet loss and anguish are not strangers to me, orphaned as I now am, and my many years of good counsel from the wise crones of the Ladies Aid Society following Mother’s passing had well prepared me for such a seemingly incongruous outburst.  


When our hearts are wounded to the quick, and our very selves shimmer with the anguish of loss and fear, it is all too human to turn the blades of our blind howling pain against the very souls who would give us succour.  In these past few days, I had come to know Diego as a man of passion, of volatile Latin temperament, whose intellect was oft untempered by the restraints of reason and prudence.  It was, in many ways, his gift, and what made him a man of action and a worthy ally.  Now, however, as he lashed out savagely and without consideration, his gift had become his hubris, and was a threat to our mutual purpose.


The night before, he had been singing my praises to one and all.  But a long seething day of waiting, following a sleepless night of weeping and rage?  That could turn a soul to dark and terrible thoughts, and even to finding blame in even their closest companions.


Was it comprehensible?  Of course.  Was it forgivable?  As Her Majesty shows abundant grace, absolutely.  


But permissible?  No.  Never.


One must never tolerate in oneself emotions that destroy the fundaments of decorum, for, as the inestimable Mme. Toussaint so rightly asserts, 


Il ne faut jamais permettre que ses blessures justifient le mal d'autrui, et dans de tels domaines, la retenue et l'introspection sont les marques d'une société véritablement gracieuse.


It is of equal import for one to be clear and forthright about what is and is not acceptable behaviour, and to do so in the manner most likely to bring about a restoration of civil relation.  Diego was a man of volcanic temperament, and just as a forest blaze is commonly thwarted by the efficacious advance burning of available fuel, both reason and my feminine intuition concurred that I must meet fire with fire.


This is why I set aside my customary probity and set myself about responding in kind: with an interruption.  As he raged, I mouthed a single word, without sound or breath:  Amplify.  


Then I imposed my will.


“Are. You. Mad?”  


It is difficult, from these words alone, to grasp the intensity of my fervent interruption.  Each word, in rising volume, with the last of a pitch and timbre close to a shriek.  With that last word, I stepped forward, eyes ablaze, and struck the table with the flat of my hand, augmenting my voice with a percussive slap.  That was not all: Ernest, having instantly attended to the meaning of my soundless instruction, and always attuned to the needs of the moment, added to my intent by receiving my words and amplifying them through his own system of sound production, pitching in over and undertones, to the effect that my voice roared deafening from all directions as if it emanated from the very fabric of the universe itself.


Diego was, understandably and visibly startled, for he had not expected the sort of reply that arrives as a Jovian thunderclap.  That was my advantage, and I pressed it.


“How dare you jeopardise our alliance!  Such aspersions are beneath you as a man, and as a leader among your people!”


“If you hadn’t…” he roared back, attempting to recover, to rally to the redoubt of his misguided self-righteousness.  I would have none of it.


“Blame? What right have you to blame me, and for what?  For having the audacity to assume I would not be molested on my journeys?  For being most rudely assaulted by our mutual enemies, where my very life and person was in the most intimate of jeopardies?  For putting my own life at risk in my heartfelt attempt to save you?  For killing to save you, when I have never before taken the life of another human being?”  


My words, still bearing the force of Ernest’s synthetic emphases, thrust forth as sharp as a fighting epee; I could see each of them find their mark.  Diego’s face contorted, his inner struggle now roiling the surface of his person in ways terrible to see.  He was pinioned by my logic and sound sentiment, from which no words of his might offer escape.


Finally, in wordless reply, Diego seized one of the sturdy wooden chairs that encircled the table in the grasp of his immensely powerful cybernetic arm, and with a singularly terrible effortlessness hurled it against the hewn log floor of the Central Committee building.  There, it shattered with a great clangour, as he roared with a deep and rasping fury.  Neither his bellowing utterance nor his act of vandalism were, I noted well, directed at my person, but downwards, as if he would smite at the foundations of the earth itself.  His cries continued, and he folded in and around himself; his entire body balling up, flesh and metal manifesting the energies of his loss and anguish as the tension of a spring twisted to breaking.


In reply, and noting his new redirection, my next words were tightly measured and scalpel-precise; with Ernest at my side, I stepped closer to deliver them at the very instant his raging ceased.  I raised my hand for Ernest to cease his efforts.  Here, the only voice must be my own.


“Caddigan murdered my father. Caddigan murdered your lover.  He threatens both of our people.  I know you are tired.  But do not waste. Your righteous anger.  On your friends.  I am your friend, Diego.  Remember our cause.  This is.  Our.  Cause.”


Diego let out a long, hitching breath, and then a slower inhalation as he rose and uncoiled to his full height.  I sensed, as his now-softened eyes turned to me, that the daemon had left him.  There was a pause, as he struggled to compose himself.


“I’m…sorry.  That was, that was wrong. I was wrong.  Please, forgive me, Rebecca.  I have been…  I owe you my…”


I could see the confused exhaustion upon him, the familiar weight of loss upon his shoulders, and my heart stirred with a deep sympathy.  I rounded the table, and placed my hand against the cool alloy of his shoulder.


“Of course, Diego.  Of course.  Grief can be such madness.  I know the choleric depths of its wrath so very well myself.”


“Thank you.” 


“You are as exhausted as I have been, Diego. You need to rest. There is work that must be done tomorrow.”


“OK.  I will…Rebecca.  Again, I’m…sorry.”  With that, he sighed again, and began to make his way towards the staircase.  He stopped, and again turned his gaze to me.  His weary eyes had a peculiar sparkle about them, and a wry smile spread across the contumely perfection of his face.


“Rebecca.”


“Yes?”


His eyebrow arched, and the smile spread beneath still-welling eyes, his expression conveying a most peculiar admixture of sorrow and mischief.  


“Lucretia was my sister.”  And with that, he took his leave.


Ah.  Well.  


One can’t be right about everything, I suppose.





Chapter Twenty Four: A Walk in the Night (forthcoming)

Saturday, June 8, 2024

In the Shadow of Her Majesty, Chapter Twenty Two

Chapter Twenty Two:  I Finally Collapse


Following my utterly satisfying repast, I found suddenly that a heavy but not unwelcome fatigue once again filled me, and I took my leave from Raj and the genial company in the refectory.  


The weight of that fatigue proved rather greater than I anticipated, for at the moment I stepped out of the threshold of the refectory, I was suddenly overcome by weariness in the entirety of my person, body and soul, such that it felt that I might at any moment crumple in upon myself like an incompetently prepared souffle or a sandcastle finally yielding to the relentless depredations of Poseidon.  It required a herculean effort to put foot in front of foot, and my eyes fluttered as I struggled to cling to the waking world.


This was not, let me say again as a matter of certainty, the selfsame mental and moral debility that had at points recent overcome me, for whilst the weight of events most harrowing had made their indelible imprint upon me, in this particular instance my rising lassitude was a function of insuperable physical exhaustion and the satisfaction of my corporeal hunger.  Truth be told, there are points even to this day when I will find grief at Father’s loss weighs so heavily on my soul that I must take sabbath from the day’s affairs; to deny this would be prideful and foolish.  


Yet even so, in this moment it was simply the accumulating effects of days of unusually trying effort, coupled with a night of sleep fitful and ill-formed by my intrusively ravenous appetancy.  With that hunger sated, my corporeal form cried out for the rest that is the need of all humankind.


I tottered, my head for a moment lolling on forward, and had the doughty Ernest not been at my side, I am certain that I might have simply collapsed into the welcome softness of the muddy ground between the refectory and my lodgings, where I might have slept in a contented heap upon the wet soil.


“Milady, you are severely wearied,” he said, appearing at my arm.  “Let me assist you to your quarters.”


I nodded in reply, for speech itself seemed to have become an effort beyond my capacity, and with the greatest gratitude took his kindly offer of support.  I took the arm that he proffered, and felt the indefatigable vigour of his well wrought mechanisms as a sure support to my wavering capacities.  We made our way together along the short journey to my humble accommodation, as I attempted without success to acknowledge those who greeted us in a most friendly manner along the path.  Many did so, which was yet another sign of the change in the attitude of all to my presence among them; no longer was I viewed as a danger to their wellbeing, but as a newfound ally and dear friend.


I know my duty, particularly when I am the beneficiary of the hospitality of others, but I will confess that, being barely lucid, I was hardly as gracious as I might have been.  Querying Ernest afterwards, he assured me that all could clearly see the state I was in, and that he could just as clearly hear their sympathetic whispers about how much I had been of service to their cause.  Nonetheless, I do wish I had been more receptive to their well-wishes.


With Ernest’s help, I found my way to my room, where I fell upon my bed without even the slightest attention to my customary ablutions.  There, as I had the night before, I found the ministrations of Somnus upon me at the very moment my cheek found the rough fabric of my pillow; in but a breath I entered the dreamless, timeless oblivion that was the irresistible desire of my mortal flesh.


—--


“Milady.  Milady?”


Ernest’s voice, kindly and urgent, was the very next thing that impinged upon my consciousness.  I sat upright, blinking at the room as if I had never before seen it.  I was evidently most severely befuddled, insomuch as I straddled Lethe, one foot in the real, the other in that shadowed land; in my clouded state I felt for a moment quite cross, for why should he wake me, how dare he wake me, when I had just finally fallen asleep?  Even in such a condition, I am shaped by years of discipline in matters of protocol and propriety towards one’s servants, and I would like to assert that this is the reason I did not give full voice to my irritation.


In actuality, however, it was that my efforts to form words of stern rebuke were utterly unsuccessful, as I was yet not in a state that could be meaningfully described as coherent.


“Ern-urn!  Wha…umbaseeba!  Sa sa!  But…sleepuh…sluffa…huh?”


Ernest, unflappable as he invariably is, received my garbled admonition for what it was, and continued in his duties.


“Milady, Acting Chair Cruz Campo is at the door. He would like to speak with you urgently.”


“Akko Cha Campo wha? Deeyayg? Oh.  No.  I.  Uh.”


“Shall I inform him that you are indisposed at this time?”


I nodded, my eyes closing.


With that, I let out a long sigh, and fell back upon my bed as one bereft of life; there I remained, insensate, for hours.


Such ladylike eloquence!  Such a peerless Peer!  I am glad that the full recollection of that moment rests only within the memory of Ernest himself, who has confirmed for me…to the point of replaying this whole episode in its entirety, both physically and verbally…that these were the precise sounds that emanated from my person, and the exact actions I took.  I do recall it somewhat, of course, but that recollection is of the manner of most similarly impaired organic memory; it is more a matter of sense impressions, all of which are fragmented and blurred.


I share it with you, dear reader, because I now find it rather amusing, in the way that one must when encountering any moment that punctures one’s overinflated sense of pride.  This is a vital corrective to any illusions you might have of my capacity, for many of the events that I have recently recounted may have given you the erroneous impression that I am a woman of unsurpassable competence.  This is not so, for I am, as you are, but a mortal creature, and thus prone to all of the imperfections that are our lot in this world; it behoves all to receive such moments of uninvited perspicuity into our nature with amusement and good humour.


Let us now proceed.


—-


When I finally awoke, I found Ernest still standing diligent by the doorway.  He informed me, utterly without judgement, that I had slept until the early evening, and that he recommended that I might consider making my way to visit with Diego at my earliest convenience, once I had adequately refreshed both my person and my appearance.


This I accomplished with no little effort, for I was utterly dishevelled and still quite discombobulated, but with my efforts supplemented by Ernest’s careful attentions, I was able to restore a modicum of propriety to my person.  I found myself again mourning the particular and familiar touch of Amanda’s aid in tending to my person; while this in no way meant to diminish  Ernest’s efforts, Amanda had become over the years as fully a part of my waking ritual as my own hands, and it was with some effort that I refrained from shedding tears at her absence.  This would have confounded the application of my various facial powders and necessities, and I was not about to cause further delay.


My restoration complete, Ernest and I took our leave of my humble quarters, and made our way to the headquarters building, the selfsame building that I described for you in the fourteenth chapter, where we knew Diego would be once again awaiting us.


The day was waning, and it had evidently been a pleasant one, with a clear sky and sun-kissed clouds marking a welcome improvement in the weather.


Once again, the anarchists around us were singularly well disposed to our persons, and our progress towards the Central Committee Building was impeded by numerous conversations and expressions of heartfelt gratitude and welcome from individuals I had not yet had the pleasure to meet; as I was now of a condition to express my deep reciprocal feeling, I did so.  As had previously proven the case amongst these earnest but crude folk, my elocution proved a source of amusement and delight, and I must confess I found myself equally entertained by their profane but warm expressions of welcome.


When we finally reached the point of my rendezvous with Diego, some considerable time had passed, and late afternoon was yielding to the soft blanket of dusk.  I was…from the beauty of the early evening, my now-rested state, and the kind welcome and well-met salutations of all those around me…of a most pleasant temper when I reached the meeting room at the top of the wood-hewn stairs.


If only the same could have been said for Diego.



Chapter Twenty Three: My Second Argument with Diego (forthcoming)


Friday, June 7, 2024

Which is the Better Choice for the Planet: Tesla Model 3 vs. Yamaha XMax 300



I ride a scooter these days, a little Yamaha XMax 300 with a three hundred cubic centimeter single cylinder engine.  

I bought it to reduce my fossil fuel consumption, and given that electric motorcycling isn't yet viable from a range perspective, it was the ride that exactly matched the use-case for fun two wheeled efficient transportation.  My needs: reliability, efficiency, the ability to travel comfortably at highway speeds, and the ability to carry two full bags worth of groceries.  The little Yammy has done all of that.  It's a trooper, and nearly twice as efficient as the already-thrifty motorcycle I previously rode.

Despite being near-optimal for my needs, it's a rare bird in the United States, even though it's popular in Europe and Asia.  In four years of ownership, I've never seen another one on the road in America.

What I do see are plenty of Tesla Model 3 drivers, more and more as time goes on.  The Model 3 (and the larger, hatchback Model Y) are reasonably priced, with the sort of range that makes electric cars a reasonable option.  They're sanely sized, spartan in design, and the most successful non-ICE vehicle in the US.  


Recognizing that a maxiscooter and an electric sedan are a teensy weensy bit different, each nonetheless presents as practical, functional, hyperefficient, and ecologically sound transportation, so I got to wondering: which is more efficient?  

Meaning, broadly, which has less impact on the environment, and is the thriftier choice for the individual who wants to move freely about in our culture?

For that, I enlisted the neutral assistance of my good buddy ChatGPT 4.o, which I queried about total ecological impact and total cost of ownership.  Our Budding Robot Overlord's calculations can be found at the end of this post, just so's ya know.

The Tesla, which is ten times heavier and costs six times as much, starts out at a significant production and distribution disadvantage.  Mining and producing all that additional materiel has a nontrivial impact.  It is, however, more efficient to operate, and has far less carbon emissions.  Nonzero, of course, as most electric networks are not yet carbon neutral, but far better than the Yamaha.

From an ecological standpoint, given existing systems of energy production, the Tesla becomes the better choice at around the 630,000 mile mark.   If you are able to consistently charge it from a 100% carbon neutral source, like a home solar array, that figure changes drastically, dropping to a mere 96,000 miles, or six to seven years of use.

From the standpoint of cost to operate, things look different for the owner, as the Tesla's lower energy use doesn't catch up with the Yamaha's far lower cost of ownership until both have been driven over...um...2,000,000 miles.  That's two million miles.  This is, of course, an absurd number.  The battery pack of the Tesla would likely require multiple replacements over such a period, assuming it hadn't completely fallen apart at that point.  

Given that I ride my XMax about 4,500 miles a year, I wouldn't break even for Four Hundred Years.  I mean, I take decent care of myself, but even exercise and a vegetarian diet can't stave off Osiris for quite that long.

Long and short of it: The Model 3 is safer, carries four or five in comfort, and is...reliability and build quality challenges aside...an excellent choice if you want to move away from ICE.  From the standpoint of care for the environment, it's a vastly better choice than pretty much every other four wheeled conveyance sold in America.

But the Yamaha makes a hell of a lot more sense as ecological personal transportation.  The environmental impact is, normal use considered, less, because of course it's less.  It uses a factor of ten less material to produce, a tenth of the energy to transport, and far less resource to maintain.  

It's agile, fun, wind-in-your face, and practical.  It's also far more affordable, being within reach for a much larger swath of the world's population.  I mean, there are places where the XMax isn't just for eccentric middle-aged men, but...hip.  

If every able-bodied American who's just running to the store for a few things or commuting rode one, the impacts on carbon emissions would be staggering.


(see work, below.  Feel free to peck at it if you're a Tesla Fanboi.)


Reviewing all available data about production, distribution, and energy efficiency during use, which of these two vehicles is more ecologically sound: The Tesla Model 3 or the Yamaha XMax 300?

ChatGPT

To determine which vehicle is more ecologically sound, the Tesla Model 3 or the Yamaha XMax 300, we'll evaluate the key aspects of production, distribution, and energy efficiency during use.

1. Production

Tesla Model 3:

  • Battery Production: The production of electric vehicle (EV) batteries, particularly lithium-ion batteries, has a significant environmental impact due to the extraction of raw materials like lithium, cobalt, and nickel. Battery production is energy-intensive and contributes substantially to the vehicle's overall carbon footprint.
  • Vehicle Manufacturing: The overall manufacturing process of the Tesla Model 3 involves high energy consumption, though Tesla claims to use a significant portion of renewable energy in its factories.

Yamaha XMax 300:

  • Combustion Engine Production: Manufacturing a combustion engine involves the extraction and processing of metals and other materials. While it may be less energy-intensive than battery production, it still has a notable environmental impact.
  • Vehicle Manufacturing: Similar to other traditional vehicles, the production of the Yamaha XMax 300 involves a combination of metal and plastic parts, which contribute to its carbon footprint.

2. Distribution

Tesla Model 3:

  • Global Distribution: Tesla vehicles are manufactured in multiple locations, with significant distribution networks to reach global markets. The carbon footprint of shipping vehicles worldwide can be substantial.

Yamaha XMax 300:

  • Regional Distribution: Yamaha scooters are typically manufactured closer to their target markets, often in multiple factories worldwide. This can reduce the carbon footprint associated with distribution compared to Tesla’s more centralized production approach.

3. Energy Efficiency During Use

Tesla Model 3:

  • Electricity Use: The Model 3 is powered by electricity, which can be sourced from renewable or non-renewable resources. The environmental impact of electricity use depends heavily on the local energy mix. In areas with a high proportion of renewable energy, the Model 3 is very efficient and eco-friendly.
  • Efficiency: The Model 3 has a high efficiency rate with around 4-5 miles per kWh, which translates to lower emissions if the electricity is sourced sustainably.

Yamaha XMax 300:

  • Fuel Use: The XMax 300 is powered by gasoline. The combustion of gasoline produces CO2 and other pollutants.
  • Fuel Efficiency: The XMax 300 achieves approximately 70-80 miles per gallon, which is relatively high for a combustion engine vehicle, resulting in lower emissions compared to many other gas-powered vehicles but still higher than an EV running on renewable energy.

Overall Ecological Soundness

  • Production Impact: The production of the Tesla Model 3, especially its battery, has a higher initial environmental impact compared to the Yamaha XMax 300.
  • Distribution Impact: The Yamaha XMax 300 may have a lower distribution carbon footprint due to regional manufacturing.
  • Energy Efficiency: During use, the Tesla Model 3 has the potential to be much more environmentally friendly if charged with renewable energy. The Yamaha XMax 300, while efficient for a gasoline-powered vehicle, still produces emissions during use.

Conclusion

The ecological soundness of these vehicles varies depending on the context:

  • If the electricity for the Tesla Model 3 comes from renewable sources, it is likely more ecologically sound in the long term despite its higher production impact.
  • If the electricity is primarily from non-renewable sources, the ecological benefit of the Tesla Model 3 decreases, making the Yamaha XMax 300 potentially more comparable in terms of overall ecological impact.
  • Considering regions with mixed energy sources, the Tesla Model 3 may still hold an edge over the Yamaha XMax 300 due to its zero tailpipe emissions and potential for renewable energy use.

In summary, the Tesla Model 3 is generally more ecologically sound during its use phase, especially in regions with high renewable energy penetration. However, its production and distribution phases have a higher environmental impact compared to the Yamaha XMax 300. Balancing these factors, the Tesla Model 3 has the potential to be more ecologically beneficial overall, particularly as the global energy grid becomes greener.

ChatGPT

Gross vehicle weight (GVW) significantly impacts the ecological footprint of vehicles. Let's examine how the GVW of the Tesla Model 3 and Yamaha XMax 300 influences their environmental impact during production, distribution, and use.

1. Production Impact

Tesla Model 3:

  • Weight and Materials: The Tesla Model 3 has a curb weight of approximately 3,552 pounds (1,611 kg). The production of a heavier vehicle requires more raw materials (such as metals, plastics, and composites) and energy, resulting in a higher carbon footprint.
  • Battery Weight: A significant portion of the Tesla Model 3’s weight comes from its battery pack, which is around 1,000 pounds (454 kg). Battery production is particularly energy-intensive and has substantial environmental impacts due to mining and processing of raw materials like lithium, cobalt, and nickel.

Yamaha XMax 300:

  • Weight and Materials: The Yamaha XMax 300 has a much lower curb weight of around 397 pounds (180 kg). Producing a lighter vehicle requires fewer materials and less energy, leading to a smaller carbon footprint compared to heavier vehicles.
  • Engine Weight: The combustion engine of the XMax 300 is lighter and less resource-intensive to produce than an EV battery.

2. Distribution Impact

Tesla Model 3:

  • Transportation: Heavier vehicles like the Tesla Model 3 require more energy to transport during distribution. This results in higher fuel consumption and emissions for each unit transported, whether by sea, rail, or road.
  • Packaging and Handling: Heavier vehicles also necessitate more robust packaging and handling equipment, further increasing the energy use and carbon footprint during distribution.

Yamaha XMax 300:

  • Transportation: Lighter vehicles like the Yamaha XMax 300 are more efficient to transport. Lower weight means less fuel consumption per unit during shipping, reducing the overall emissions associated with distribution.
  • Packaging and Handling: The lighter weight also simplifies packaging and handling, contributing to lower overall energy consumption and emissions.

3. Energy Efficiency During Use

Tesla Model 3:

  • Energy Consumption: Heavier vehicles require more energy to operate. While the Model 3 is efficient for an electric vehicle, its weight still means it consumes more electricity per mile than a lighter vehicle would. This is particularly relevant if the electricity is generated from non-renewable sources.
  • Regenerative Braking: EVs like the Model 3 use regenerative braking, which can recapture some energy and improve efficiency, partly mitigating the impact of the vehicle's weight during use.

Yamaha XMax 300:

  • Fuel Efficiency: The lighter weight of the XMax 300 contributes to its high fuel efficiency. Less mass means the engine can work less hard to move the vehicle, resulting in lower fuel consumption and emissions compared to heavier vehicles.

Summary of Weight Impact

  1. Production:

    • Tesla Model 3: Higher production impact due to greater material use and energy consumption from battery production.
    • Yamaha XMax 300: Lower production impact due to fewer materials and less energy-intensive manufacturing processes.
  2. Distribution:

    • Tesla Model 3: Higher distribution impact due to increased energy consumption for transporting a heavier vehicle.
    • Yamaha XMax 300: Lower distribution impact due to its lighter weight, resulting in less fuel consumption during shipping.
  3. Energy Efficiency During Use:

    • Tesla Model 3: Higher energy consumption due to its weight, though mitigated by the efficiency of electric motors and regenerative braking.
    • Yamaha XMax 300: Lower energy consumption due to lighter weight, leading to higher fuel efficiency.

Conclusion

The gross vehicle weight significantly affects the overall ecological footprint of both the Tesla Model 3 and Yamaha XMax 300. Heavier vehicles generally have higher production and distribution impacts and require more energy to operate.

  • The Yamaha XMax 300: Its lower weight translates to a smaller environmental footprint in production and distribution. During use, its high fuel efficiency further reduces its ecological impact compared to many other combustion engine vehicles.
  • The Tesla Model 3: Despite its higher weight and associated production and distribution impacts, it can still be more ecologically sound during its use phase, especially if charged with renewable energy. The weight's impact on energy consumption during use is partly offset by the efficiency of electric drivetrains and regenerative braking.

In summary, the gross vehicle weight is a crucial factor in evaluating the ecological soundness of a vehicle, with lighter vehicles generally having an advantage in production and distribution phases. However, the Tesla Model 3 can still be more ecologically beneficial during its operational phase, depending on the energy source used for charging.

ChatGPT

To estimate the mileage break-even point at which the Tesla Model 3's higher efficiency would negate the Yamaha XMax 300's significant advantage in production and distribution, we need to compare their total lifecycle emissions. This involves considering emissions from production, distribution, and use phases.

Assumptions and Simplifications

  1. Production Emissions:

    • Tesla Model 3: Higher due to battery production. Estimate: 12 metric tons CO2 equivalent (CO2e).
    • Yamaha XMax 300: Lower due to simpler production. Estimate: 1.5 metric tons CO2e.
  2. Distribution Emissions:

    • Tesla Model 3: Heavier, higher impact. Estimate: 1 metric ton CO2e.
    • Yamaha XMax 300: Lighter, lower impact. Estimate: 0.1 metric ton CO2e.
  3. Use Phase Emissions:

    • Tesla Model 3: Energy efficiency of 4 miles/kWh. Assume electricity generation emits 0.4 kg CO2e/kWh.
    • Yamaha XMax 300: Fuel efficiency of 75 miles/gallon. Gasoline emits about 8.887 kg CO2e/gallon.

Total Emissions Calculation

Production and Distribution Emissions

  • Tesla Model 3: 12+1=13 metric tons CO2e12 + 1 = 13 \text{ metric tons CO2e}
  • Yamaha XMax 300: 1.5+0.1=1.6 metric tons CO2e1.5 + 0.1 = 1.6 \text{ metric tons CO2e}

Use Phase Emissions Per Mile

  • Tesla Model 3:

    • Electricity usage=1 kWh4 miles=0.25 kWh/mile \text{Electricity usage} = \frac{1 \text{ kWh}}{4 \text{ miles}} = 0.25 \text{ kWh/mile}
    • Emissions=0.25 kWh/mile×0.4 kg CO2e/kWh=0.1 kg CO2e/mile \text{Emissions} = 0.25 \text{ kWh/mile} \times 0.4 \text{ kg CO2e/kWh} = 0.1 \text{ kg CO2e/mile}
  • Yamaha XMax 300:

    • Fuel usage=1 gallon75 miles=0.0133 gallons/mile \text{Fuel usage} = \frac{1 \text{ gallon}}{75 \text{ miles}} = 0.0133 \text{ gallons/mile}
    • Emissions=0.0133 gallons/mile×8.887 kg CO2e/gallon=0.118 kg CO2e/mile \text{Emissions} = 0.0133 \text{ gallons/mile} \times 8.887 \text{ kg CO2e/gallon} = 0.118 \text{ kg CO2e/mile}

Break-Even Calculation

We need to find the mileage MM at which the total emissions of both vehicles are equal. Set the total emissions of the Tesla Model 3 equal to the total emissions of the Yamaha XMax 300:

13 metric tons CO2e+0.1 kg CO2e/mile×M=1.6 metric tons CO2e+0.118 kg CO2e/mile×M13 \text{ metric tons CO2e} + 0.1 \text{ kg CO2e/mile} \times M = 1.6 \text{ metric tons CO2e} + 0.118 \text{ kg CO2e/mile} \times M

Convert metric tons to kg for consistency:

13,000 kg CO2e+0.1 kg CO2e/mile×M=1,600 kg CO2e+0.118 kg CO2e/mile×M13,000 \text{ kg CO2e} + 0.1 \text{ kg CO2e/mile} \times M = 1,600 \text{ kg CO2e} + 0.118 \text{ kg CO2e/mile} \times M

Rearrange to solve for MM:

13,000+0.1M=1,600+0.118M13,000 + 0.1M = 1,600 + 0.118M

13,0001,600=0.118M0.1M13,000 - 1,600 = 0.118M - 0.1M

11,400=0.018M11,400 = 0.018M

M=11,4000.018M = \frac{11,400}{0.018}

M633,333 milesM \approx 633,333 \text{ miles}

Conclusion

The Tesla Model 3's higher efficiency during the use phase would negate the Yamaha XMax 300's advantage in production and distribution at approximately 633,333 miles. This is a rough estimate, as actual emissions can vary based on factors like the local energy mix for electricity, driving habits, and advancements in vehicle manufacturing processes. However, this gives a general idea of the mileage break-even point considering the given assumptions.

ChatGPT

To estimate the economic break-even point between the Tesla Model 3 and the Yamaha XMax 300, we'll consider the purchase price, operating costs, and fuel/electricity costs in Virginia.

Assumptions and Data

  1. Purchase Prices:

    • Tesla Model 3: Approximately $40,000.
    • Yamaha XMax 300: Approximately $6,000.
  2. Fuel and Electricity Costs in Virginia:

    • Electricity: $0.12 per kWh.
    • Gasoline: $3.50 per gallon.
  3. Energy Efficiency:

    • Tesla Model 3: 4 miles per kWh.
    • Yamaha XMax 300: 75 miles per gallon.

Operating Costs Per Mile

Tesla Model 3:

  • Electricity Cost per Mile:
    • Energy consumption: 0.25 kWh/mile (4 miles per kWh).
    • Cost per mile: 0.25 kWh/mile × $0.12/kWh = $0.03 per mile.

Yamaha XMax 300:

  • Fuel Cost per Mile:
    • Fuel consumption: 0.0133 gallons/mile (75 miles per gallon).
    • Cost per mile: 0.0133 gallons/mile × $3.50/gallon = $0.04655 per mile.

Total Cost Calculation

To find the break-even point, we need to determine the total cost of ownership for both vehicles, including the purchase price and operating costs over a certain mileage MM.

  1. Total Cost of Ownership Formula:

    • Tesla Model 3: Total Cost=Purchase Price+(Cost per Mile×M)\text{Total Cost} = \text{Purchase Price} + (\text{Cost per Mile} \times M)
    • Yamaha XMax 300: Total Cost=Purchase Price+(Cost per Mile×M)\text{Total Cost} = \text{Purchase Price} + (\text{Cost per Mile} \times M)
  2. Set the total costs equal to find MM: 40,000+(0.03×M)=6,000+(0.04655×M)40,000 + (0.03 \times M) = 6,000 + (0.04655 \times M)

Solving for MM:

40,000+0.03M=6,000+0.04655M40,000 + 0.03M = 6,000 + 0.04655M

40,0006,000=0.04655M0.03M40,000 - 6,000 = 0.04655M - 0.03M

34,000=0.01655M34,000 = 0.01655M

M=34,0000.01655M = \frac{34,000}{0.01655}

M2,054,378 milesM \approx 2,054,378 \text{ miles}

Conclusion

The economic break-even point, where the total cost of ownership of the Tesla Model 3 becomes equal to that of the Yamaha XMax 300, is approximately 2,054,378 miles. This is an extremely high mileage and suggests that, from a purely economic perspective, the Yamaha XMax 300 would be significantly cheaper to own and operate over the typical lifespan of most vehicles.

This high break-even mileage is due to the much lower initial purchase price of the Yamaha XMax 300 and the relatively small difference in operating costs per mile. However, it's worth noting that the Tesla Model 3 offers other benefits, such as lower emissions (if charged with renewable energy), greater utility as a full-sized car, and potential savings from reduced maintenance costs associated with electric vehicles.


ChatGPT

You're very welcome! I'm glad I could help. If you have any more questions or need further assistance in the future, feel free to ask. Have a great day!

Ah...wait! One last question occurs to me: If the Tesla's energy is 100% renewable, sourced from either solar, wind, or a similarly carbon neutral production process, how would this change the ecological break-even point in your above calculations?
ChatGPT

If the Tesla Model 3's energy is 100% renewable, sourced from solar, wind, or similarly carbon-neutral processes, its operational emissions would be effectively zero. This significantly impacts the ecological break-even point because the ongoing emissions during use would be eliminated.

Revised Emissions Per Mile

  • Tesla Model 3 with 100% Renewable Energy:

    • Operational emissions: 0 kg CO2e/mile0 \text{ kg CO2e/mile}
  • Yamaha XMax 300 (unchanged):

    • Operational emissions: 0.118 kg CO2e/mile0.118 \text{ kg CO2e/mile}

Total Emissions Calculation

Production and Distribution Emissions (unchanged):

  • Tesla Model 3: 13,000 kg CO2e13,000 \text{ kg CO2e}
  • Yamaha XMax 300: 1,600 kg CO2e1,600 \text{ kg CO2e}

Break-Even Calculation

We need to find the mileage MM at which the total emissions of both vehicles are equal, considering the Tesla Model 3 now has zero operational emissions.

13,000 kg CO2e=1,600 kg CO2e+0.118 kg CO2e/mile×M13,000 \text{ kg CO2e} = 1,600 \text{ kg CO2e} + 0.118 \text{ kg CO2e/mile} \times M

Solving for MM:

13,0001,600=0.118M13,000 - 1,600 = 0.118M

11,400=0.118M11,400 = 0.118M

M=11,4000.118M = \frac{11,400}{0.118}

M96,610 milesM \approx 96,610 \text{ miles}

Conclusion

If the Tesla Model 3 uses 100% renewable energy, the ecological break-even point, where the total emissions of the Tesla become equal to the Yamaha XMax 300, would be approximately 96,610 miles.

This is a significantly lower break-even mileage compared to the scenario where the Tesla Model 3 is charged using the average US electricity mix. It underscores the substantial impact of using renewable energy on the ecological footprint of electric vehicles.

Excellent. Thank you.