I Can Finally Have My Rocket Belt!

Juan Manuel is my new hero, plain and simple! Since the Bell RocketBelt of the early 1960′s, the world has been disappointingly devoid of this amazing invention, but no longer. Juan Manuel, a self-taught engineer from Mexico has been working diligently for nearly 30 years to develop a working rocket belt and now he has.

Supposedly the biggest trick to making these rigs work is getting the throttle to operate smoothly enough, but there are a number of other challenges as well. They run on 90% pure hydrogen peroxide which is extremely caustic, so material compatibility is a huge factor. You can’t just march into your nearest drug store and pick up this highly concentrated chemical either, so there are also many issues surrounding the distillation process of the fuel.

Lozano’s commitment to his projects is truly impressive. He has financed everything himself, and come up with a product that seems to work every bit as well as the old Bel Rocket Belt, but looks even cooler! What’s more, I can have one of these Jet Packs on sale now for $125,000! That may seem like a lot of money, but it is really very reasonable when you consider what you get:

1. A fully-tested, custom-made flying rocket belt,
2. This belt has been proved to be the most stable design and easier to fly
3. A special machine to make our own unlimited supply of rocket fuel
4. Hands-on training in the process and the equipment
5. Flight training of 10 flights in your own rocket belt
6. Maintenance and setup training
7. 24/7 expert support
8. Housing and food are included during training

When you think that the original rocket belt cost Bell Aerosystems $250,000 dollars in 1960, and that the guys from “The Rocket Belt Caper” spent a great deal more, you can only conclude that $125,000 is very reasonable indeed. This is not to say I can run out and buy one, but I admit that I am tempted by thoughts of being a full-time professional jet pack pilot.

Well done Lozano! My hat goes off to you!

Little Japanese Trucks

With the ridiculous price of fuel these days, combined with the fact that I’ll be needing a new car soon, I’ve been thinking about what type of vehicle will fit my driving needs by handling well in mud and snow, but still get decent gas milage. I was excited to find that Best Used Tractors is importing “Japanese mini trucks” for the American market.

I was incredibly disappointed to learn, however, that the newer trucks cannot be used on US roadways, which brings me to the point of this story. If you wish to import a Japanese mini truck and use it on American roads, it must be made in 1980 or earlier to avoid restrictions. While I’m sure that the the government would claim that this is due to safety standards, or any of a hundred other bureaucratic reasons, the fact remains the same. Four wheel drive vehicles, made by respected manufacturers such as Honda may not be used on US roads even though we are entering a global fuel shortage, and they are among the most fuel efficient vehicles on the planet. Evidently, we can drive as many Hummers and Lincoln Navigators as we wish, but try to use something that sips fuel rather than guzzles it and the D.O.T. will put you in your place. It’s really a shame.

According to Best Used Tractors, the Japanese have restrictions that discourage the use of aging vehicles, so most of these mini trucks have only about 6,000 miles on them when they are decommissioned. Needless to say, these little trucks have a lot of life left in them, and a more or less steady supply of them is virtually assured.

Due to regulations Americans are unable to import a Japanese mini truck manufactured in 1998 or later. However, the average number of miles driven per year in Japan is only about 6,000, so these vehicles usually have a lot of remaining usability.

I wonder what it would take to get the U.S. government to accept them. I can imagine the person who fights these restrictions would do well in the court of public opinion with petroleum prices as high as they are.

Here are some more details about the trucks:

Starting in the sixties the Japanese manufactured what they termed “Kei class” vehicles (now generally called “K-class”). Kei means “light weight”. These were built as a less expensive, fuel efficient, shorter, narrower, and lighter alternative to the standard size and weight vehicles termed “joyousha”. The K-class vehicles have included passenger cars, vans, and mini trucks. Best Used Tractors imports used K-class mini trucks, but not the vans or passenger cars. The Japanese have used these small off road trucks to perform a myriad of burden carrier tasks. They have often equipped the rear truck beds of these little trucks with specialized industry specific equipment. When many consider their special purpose vehicles options they often find used mini trucks from Japan to be their best choice.

Zach points out that safety standards need to be imposed by government agencies, and that the restrictions prohibiting the use of these trucks are reasonable. I maintain, however, that the government is overstepping its bounds by limiting what I can buy. For instance, believe that it is reasonable for the FDA to regulate the contents of my food. Should these regulations not be in place, it could contain dangerous levels of any number of toxins without my knowing it. This does not change, however, the fact that I can still buy bleach at the market. I am free to drink it if I wish, but I would do so knowing that it is poison because the government requires that the bottle be labeled.

When a motorist buys a motorcycle he or she does so knowing and accepting inherent risks of riding it. If these little trucks are deemed to not meet American vehicle standards that is fine. Inform me about it, but let me happily drive away in my new – used little truck.

UPDATE: They’re not little japanese trucks, but Casey over at maisonbisson has a story about a really cool little electric car.


All Fingers Pointing in The “Right” Direction

The fingers are pointing all over Washington, and the Bush administration somehow expects us to believe that the local governments in Louisiana and Mississippi should have had everything under control so his vacation would not have had to be tragically truncated.

The city of New Orleans was completely under water and this President has the nerve to be critical of local law enforcement and state government officials for not having the resources to handle, on their own, the single worst natural disaster this country has ever faced.

Sure, Mr. President… Perhaps you should not have appointed an incompetent GOP activist named Mike Brown to run FEMA. A person who had absolutely no experience to qualify him to run any government agency, let alone the one charged with saving lives in the face of massive disasters. Maybe you just thought you could give cushy jobs to the good ol’ boys network and coast on through with nothing to prove their disturbing lack of competence.

Perhaps if Condoleeza Rice had not found it more important to go shoe shopping in New York than to go back to Washington where she could get involved with the rescue effort, you might not find so many fingers pointing your way.

Some say the Left is “spinning” this against the Republicans, but I say we’re just calling it as we see it.

A poll taken on September 4, 2005 shows that only 12% of people give the federal response an excellent rating. 16% label it as good, while 25% call it fair and 45% call it poor.

Even among Republicans, there are serious doubts about the federal response to the hurricane. Only 47% of those in President Bush’s party say the federal response has been good or excellent, while Fifty-one percent say it has been fair or poor.

Rasmussen reports that only 45% of American adults now approve of the way Bush is performing in his role as President. A whopping 53% disapprove.

Gallup polling organization placed Bush’s approval at 40 percent, which is an all-time low. American Research Group has his approval as low as 36%.

in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, 57% of those surveyed disapproved of the president’s handling of the war in Iraq. 53% said the war was not worth it.

It is becoming more and more clear each day that, in almost every poll, a smaller and smaller minority of Americans are able to support President Bush and the Republican-led Congress. If you ask me, Bush is finally having to answer to his lack of moral fiber and astonishing incompetence.

Thanks to BlogCritics for the statistics.