Sanjana Kumar goes to the movies

I have an imaginary automobile. It is the finest hybrid of German and Japanese engineering. It has a peppy little engine and a turning radius so small it would make a baby camel cry, and a six-speed manual transmission, and it is powered by the urine of vegan bears.

My imaginary father asked me why I would possibly want to buy an imaginary car with a manual transmission. Obviously, whichever marketing campaign brainwashed him in the first place wasn't strong enough on the memetics, because after borrowing my imaginary car, he shut the hell up. You see, it's considerably more fun to drive than an automatic.

There are other benefits as well, of course. The primary one is that the transmission does what I want.

An automatic transmission is configured for maximum “comfort”, so it wastes a lot of power when shifting. With a manual, you can slip from gear to gear with minimal clutch time, or in some cases, if you're feeling sassy, without using the clutch at all. You can control your engine speed so that your shift will be just as smooth as an automatic without the egregiously long clutch disengagement or shift overlap. You also can see the road in front of you, so you're always going to be smarter than an automatic transmission, unless you don't understand how slopes work or what collisions with other cars mean to your well-being.

Now some NRA member is going to point out that you can get a shift kit and tweak your automatic to be less awful.

While spending money on this type of thing sounds like a great idea, a shift kit is not going to bring an automatic into the same league as my car. I can still start the car when the battery's dead. I can get higher fuel efficiency (vegan bears don't exactly urinate for free). I can shift into fifth gear, and coming from a full stop, drive up a hill without stalling (this is particularly useful when a squirrel has gnawed the teeth off of all your other gears). Furthermore, shift kit or not, an automatic is absolutely no fun.

Someday, when transmissions have advanced into the realm of liquid hyperspace buckminsterfullerene cones that commune with the unicorns, and they'll have cameras and radar feeding the car's computer with useful information about its surroundings so it can make intelligent shift decisions faster than a human. Then I'll have to choose between saner and more fun. That era has not yet arrived.

This is a lousy metaphor for debhelper.

Posted on 2009-12-13
Tags: parabola, transmission