Archive for the ‘cars’ tag
Don’t really have much more to say about this than Mark Larson — from who I discovered it — said:
I really like the whole mood and vibe of this review. A smart writer who’s not super-invested in the industry or the product in general, but still curious and open-minded, talking about a new-to-them thing.
Tom Vanderbilt has an enjoyable piece in Wired about the convergence between Google’s famous driverless car, and the progress toward a similar goal being made by traditional automakers. He spends some time, as well, considering the legal wasteland that exists around these technologies. The crucial point though:
[As we ride, Google’s driver-less] Prius begins to seem like the Platonic ideal of a driver, against which all others fall short. It can think faster than any mortal driver. It can attend to more information, react more quickly to emergencies, and keep track of more complicated routes. It never panics. It never gets angry. It never even blinks. In short, it is better than human in just about every way.
(via The Browser)
This is a great wide-ranging piece about parking, urban design, and the appeal to visitors of those methods used in various southern California cities. But it’s better that that kind of dry sentence, I swear. It starts with an interesting anecdote about the rather famous Disney Hall:
Yet before an auditorium could be raised, a six-floor subterranean garage capable of holding 2,188 cars needed to be sunk below it at a cost of $110 million—money raised from county bonds. Parking spaces can be amazingly expensive to fabricate. In aboveground structures they cost as much as $40,000 apiece. Belowground, all that excavating and shoring may run a developer $140,000 per space. The debt on Disney Hall’s garage would have to be paid off for decades to come, and as it turned out, a minimum schedule of 128 annual shows would be enough to cover the bill. The figure “128” was even written into the L.A. Philharmonic’s lease.
Until I saw this Flickr set of the Washington State Department of Transportation’s sign shop, I’d never stopped to think about where exactly those road signs come from.
Also, the Washington State Department of Transportation has a Flickr account?
(via BB Gadgets)
There’s no doubt in my mind that this doesn’t capture everyone, but this seems like a reasonable explanation of most of the opposition to the auto industry bailout:
Most Americans simply no longer identify with the domestic auto industry (or with the states of Michigan and Ohio). To the Southerners who now make up the core constituency of the Republican Party, it’s a bunch of coddled, unionized workers trying to get handouts that the South’s auto industry (Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, Mercedes, BMW …) doesn’t need. To the coastal urbanites and suburbanites who now make up the core constituency of the Democratic Party, it’s an industry that makes crappy big cars and fights against higher fuel efficiency standards. And to the business press it’s the worst thing of all: a trio of companies that are neither exciting nor financially successful.
I was about to post to Twitter my displeasure with the Democrat’s indefatigable plan to give money to Detroit, when I saw that David Brook said it much better than I would:
Not so long ago, corporate giants with names like PanAm, ITT and Montgomery Ward roamed the earth. They faded and were replaced by new companies with names like Microsoft, Southwest Airlines and Target. The U.S. became famous for this pattern of decay and new growth. Over time, American government built a bigger safety net so workers could survive the vicissitudes of this creative destruction — with unemployment insurance and soon, one hopes, health care security. But the government has generally not interfered in the dynamic process itself, which is the source of the country’s prosperity.
But this, apparently, is about to change. Democrats from Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi want to grant immortality to General Motors, Chrysler and Ford. They have decided to follow an earlier $25 billion loan with a $50 billion bailout, which would inevitably be followed by more billions later, because if these companies are not permitted to go bankrupt now, they never will be.
This bit, further down the page, was also good:
It is all a reminder that the biggest threat to a healthy economy is not the socialists of campaign lore. It’s C.E.O.’s. It’s politically powerful crony capitalists who use their influence to create a stagnant corporate welfare state.
The National Weather Service think they may have found a driver going 130 miles per hour around Chicago. Using a weather doppler. Who knew? As Gizmodo explains, It works something like this:
Sometimes, when a warm layer of air rolls in up above the surface, the beam from the Doppler radar can be deflected towards the ground—picking up traffic and other objects much like a police radar gun. The weather service alluded to the fact that the “speeder” could have been nothing more than noise, but it still makes you wonder how long it will be before they figure out how to bust motorists from space.
An interesting look at the reality of the much heralded and fretted over Tata Nano:
Malhotra is having second thoughts. He’s done the math and realized that once taxes and insurance costs are added, the price of the entry-level Nano rises to just over $3,000. For an extra $500, he says, he could buy a decent used car with a more powerful engine and air conditioning, which the Nano won’t have.
Philadelphia has an interesting plan to get people to slow down: paint optical illusions onto the road.
There are so many of them that we’re ignoring the road. So says John Staddon:
And I began to think that the American system of traffic control, with its many signs and stops, and with its specific rules tailored to every bend in the road, has had the unintended consequence of causing more accidents than it prevents. Paradoxically, almost every new sign put up in the U.S. probably makes drivers a little safer on the stretch of road it guards. But collectively, the forests of signs along American roadways, and the multitude of rules to look out for, are quite deadly.
Despite my ambivalence about that thesis, I do enjoy his railing against stop signs: “The four-way stop deserves special recognition as a masterpiece of counterproductive public-safety efforts.”