No Parking Zone

May 8, 2007

Both of the previous entries in the Crimes Against Machinery category here have covered the topic as it applies to automobiles. In particular, it has covered the topic as it applies to exorbitantly expensive automobiles. We lovers of machinery are not so limited in our tastes, however! We become indignant at the mistreatment of even much more mundane artifacts. Even machines which have reached the end of their designed life are worthy of respect and proper treatment.

Last week, the nation of India was host to a story to make any technology enthusiast distressed. The citizens of Mumbai awoke to discover a decommissioned Boeing 737 sitting in the road. After having its tail and wings removed, including the engines, it had been placed on a trailer to be transported to a flight school for use in training air crews. However, the driver took a wrong turn somewhere along the way. Faced with an overpass too low to go under, and the thirty meter length of the aircraft prohibiting any likelihood of backing up safely, the driver simply abandoned the load in the middle of the street.

The plane was left to languish for days as nobody took responsibility for it. The story eventually made the news after local residents became upset that the huge plane was interfering with local businesses. The municipal government was criticized for its apparent lack of interest in removing the plane. Then, just as suddenly as it had appeared, the plane vanished. Nobody seems to have any idea where it went, or who was responsible for moving it.

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Physics is easier when it’s all in straight lines

March 28, 2007

I find that I must update my list of Crimes Against Machinery that I began in my earlier post about the shameful mistreatment of a Bugatti Veyron. The BBC is reporting that comedian and actor Eddie Griffin destroyed an Enzo Ferrari. Other news outlets have also picked up the story.

This is, again, likely something the seriousness of which will not be immediately apparent to some of you. I will do my very best to explain why. Once more, I resort to images to speak several thousand words on my behalf. This was a process that turned something beautiful:

Nose-on Enzo Ferrari

 Enzo Ferrari on the road

Enzo Ferrari front three-quarters shot

Into something tragic:

I do NOT want to talk about it

Once again, this incident, and the way it has been handled, leaves me to wonder.

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Where are my priorities?

March 14, 2007

Last week, I opened up a web browser, and noticed on the BBC’s news page an article (now no longer available, sadly) that nearly broke my heart. Some Muppet had destroyed a Bugatti Veyron. Yes, it made me upset enough that I started using British insults. This might have been because the story was on the BBC, and the incident happened in the UK, but I think it was mostly because it grabbed me somewhere down in my gut, and my more usual American-style insults just seemed too standard for me to use at a time like this.

Now, some of you are not likely to have quite grasped the enormity of this crime. I will do my best to illustrate. This person, their name never mentioned in the story or in anything I’ve seen in the news since, took what was once a finely crafted thing of surpassing grace and beauty…

Red Bugatti Veyron

Blue Bugatti Veyron

…and turned it into a twisted mixture of shame and tragedy:

The shattered remains of a once beautiful car.

This car, in the configuration you see there, has a 16-cylinder engine which produces more than a thousand (yes, that’s 1,000) horsepower. It can go from zero to sixty in a hair over two and a half seconds. This car retails for roughly one and a half million dollars. Let me write that number out for you too: $1,500,000. Its top speed is a little over 250 miles per hour. This car is, in fact, the fastest production model in the world. There have been only a few hundred of them ever built, and now, there is one less.

Oh, yes. In the process, the driver and his young passenger were involved in a 100 mph crash in which their car spun several times before striking another vehicle with several passengers, including a woman seven months pregnant, and then careening at high speed into the trees.

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