Wealth


What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

— Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (1975)

cocacola_l

(Thanks to Thom for pointing me down the road to this quote.)

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Success Breeds HateWhen people are presented with the alternatives of hating themselves for their failure or hating others for their success, they seldom choose to hate themselves.

–Thomas Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, p. 77 (2005).

To paraphrase George Monbiot:

There is not enough oil.  We are all going to die!

. . . oh, wait . . .

There is too much oil.  We are all going to die!

It must be really depressing being an environmental alarmist.  No matter what happens, you have a compelling need to see it as a dire threat to the very existence of humanity.

As one would expect, Mr. Monbiot fails to note that much of the United State’s newly found energy wealth is in the form of natural gas, and as a result, “total [U.S] CO2 emissions this year are on track to drop to the lowest level since 1991.”

It's always darkest just before it goes pitch black.

If you were wondering where all the Puritanical guilt went as our society become more secularized, I think the environmental movement has found it for us.

Mozambique’s new energy reserves may not be pretty or clean, but they have two advantages that trump everything else: they are lucrative, and, unlike the unicorns that the global climate movement insists will descend from the Misty Mountains any minute and solve all our problems while saving us money, they are real.

Walter Russel Meed, Via Meadia

The question came up recently asking what are the most beautiful machines ever made by man.  So, I thought I would post my list.  I did not chose these machines because they are the fastest, strongest or best performers in their fields.  I chose them because they spark an emotional, sensual, visceral reaction at the base of my brain — They are beautiful.

You will notice that the list is skewed toward transportation.  My personal aesthetic sensibilites undoubtedly contribute to this bias, but I also think that vehicles occupy a sweet-spot in industrial design.  They are durable enough that the effort to make them beautiful is worthwhile and yet not so expensive or purpose built that utility completely overides other considerations.  This list also specifically includes machines and not man’s other creations such as clothing, architecture or purely artistic works.  Those may have to be the subject of another list sometime.

Think I missed something?  I’m sure you’ll let me know.

10.  Bugatti Type 57S Atlantic

We start the list with a pretty exclusive beauty.  Only four were made, and only two survive today.

. . .

9.  Oil Refinery at Night

There are a number of refineries along I-15 in North Salt Lake.  I use to drive past them every day on my way to work.  In the early morning with the fog rolling in off of the Lake and the waste gas flaring, they were amazingly beautiful.

. . .

8.  Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing

The potent radial engine out front combined with the smooth curves and delicate lines so ably capture the strength and elegance of the Art Deco aesthetic.

. . .

7.  J Class Yachts

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face and a grey dawn breaking.

– John Masefield

There is just something about the image of a ship, sails taught and running before the wind, that captures the imagination.  And I don’t think any other ship comes as close to the pure expression of the ideal.

. . .

6.  Macbook Air

Pictures do not do justice to any of these machines, but especially this one.  The smooth lines and simplicity are compelling.  I still have to fondle it everytime I go into an Apple store.

. . .

5.  Supermarine Spitfire

The inclusion of this most iconic of aircraft needs no justification.  However, (because I know it will come up if more than one person ever reads this) I considered and intentially left our the P-51 Mustang.  While the Mustang is undoubtedly a more capable aircraft, it is nowhere near as beautiful.

. . .

4.  Mac Motorcycles Peashooter

I love motorcycles, and there a lot of them that could have made it onto this list.  But this offering from Mac Motorcycles so perfectly reflects an elemental motorcycleness that it had to be at the top (even though it hasn’t actually been made yet).

. . .

3.  Harry Winston Opus X

This watch is exquisite even in these still photos, but you really must see the movement in motion to appreciate the true genius of the design.

. . .

2.  Nemesis NXT

An aeronautical siren — a creature so beautiful and so sinister that even though you know it wants to kill you, you can’t help yearning to touch it.

. . .

1.  Astin Martin DB9

This car balances a sublime harmony between elegance and animal athleticism.  Plenty of sports cars look fast, but this one exudes power and sensuality like the love child of Mac Truck and a Lotus Elise.

. . .

Honorable Mentions — because 10 is never enough.

1934 Chrysler Airflow

(I had this at number 10, but the curves on that Bugatti . . . )  We like to romanticize beauty as universal and enduring, but it sometimes shows itself to be driven by cultural norms.  The flowing lines of the Chrysler Airflow push all the right buttons for me, but its initial reception generated all the enthusiam of a Milli Vanilli reunion tour.

I love this picture of the Airflow next to a Union Pacific M10000 streamliner

. . .

General Dynamics F-16 Falcon

. . .

Louis XIII Fowling Piece

. . .

BMW R1100RS

. . .

“Mallard” LNER Class A4 4468 Steam Locomotive

. . .

 

As often as I consider these things, I am ready to say with my self, that God has bestowed his Blessings upon Men that have neither hearts nor skill to use them.  For, why are we surrounded with the Sea?  Surely that our Wants at home might be supply’d by our Navigation into other Countries, the least and easiest Labour.  By this we taste the Spices of Arabia, yet never feel the scorching Sun which brings them forth; we shine in Silks which our Hands have never wrought; we drink of Vinyards which we never planted; the Treasures of those Mines are ours, in which we have never digg’d; we only plough the Deep, and reap the Harvest of every Country in the World.

— Henry Martyn, Considerations on the East-India Trade, p. 37 (1701).

An inspired treatise on free trade 75 years before Adam Smith.  It also brought to mind one of my favorite songs.

For if you can give her one gold piece,
Then I can give her three.
For I am bold John Barbour,
And I plough the raging sea.

John Barbour by Great Big Sea.

(HT EconTalk)

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