Tesla sets a drag record for fastest production car

What people still fail to realize about electric cars, due to negative PR from anti-green types, is that 100% of the torque is available to the wheels.

Which means, if you want sporty, you’ll want electric:

“The Tesla Model S Performance ended up running a best time of 12.371 @ 110.84 MPH with 0-60 MPH coming up in just 3.9 seconds.  The National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA) was on site running their Winter EV Nationals and verified the Tesla runs to have set a new world record for the quickest production electric vehicle in the 1/4 mile.”

(Via » Tesla Model S Performance sets World Record for the Quickest Production Electric Car – DragTimes.com Drag Racing, Fast Cars, Muscle Cars Blog.)

High speed rail’s future may yet be in Texas

I have this strong suspicion that the first high speed rail demonstrator in the US will probably be in Texas given the troubles California is running into. Still, if it’s demonstrated in Texas, struggles into California, and the North East Corridor continues making improvements, we may yet see an idea who’s time is well over due. And having it work in Texas will take it back out of the culture war it somehow slipped into and back into ‘does it work for this leg’ sort of discussion that’s really more interesting.

“Dallas and Houston are the ideal distance for high-speed rail, about 230 miles apart. A one-way rail trip is expected to take less than 90 minutes.
Each metro area is an economic powerhouse. Dallas and Houston have fast-growing, young populations that are roughly the same size.

The cities are also separated by flat terrain, a better fit for the closed corridor and dedicated track necessary to reach speeds of 200 mph. No costly tunnels needed.”

(Via For high-speed rail’s future in Texas, the private sector dares to go where government won’t | Dallas Morning News.)

Oh, yeah, combine that with Texas showing some serious wind power inroads (over a third of the energy produced for a brief moment not too long ago), you have an interesting dichotomy happening there.

Metro areas reponsible for most of America’s population growth now

The US is an urban nation (as far as how people actually choose to live), even though its mythologies and politics often don’t reflect that as much as they need to.

Neat map:

NewImage

“Nearly one in seven Americans lives in the metropolitan areas of the country’s three largest cities: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.”

(Via Metropolitan areas are now fueling virtually all of America’s population growth.)

On Cars and generations

Between Millenials one side of the pincer not being interested in driving nearly to the extent previous generations were, and between baby boomers retiring and realizing it would be nice to be able to walk places, a very interesting demographic crunch is coming our way:

“It used to be that having your own car provided the ultimate sense of freedom for young adults, allowing them a means to get together with friends, establish independence and separate from their parents. It was a critical right of passage to real adulthood to drive your own car, and it was the one place you could blast music without your parents complaining. Popular movies of the later Baby Boomer’s and Gen X’s coming of age, such as Risky Business and Dazed and Confused shaped this generation’s sense of self, portraying images of fancy sports cars as the ultimate young adult possession.

Today however, older teens and young adults don’t need cars to achieve a sense of self and freedom. This generation’s coming of age consisted of graduating from the Internet and CD-ROM computer games to hand-held mobile devices where they’re establishing identities, relationships, and individualism online all day long–as much as, if not more than, in the real world.”

(Via Millennials Don’t Care About Owning Cars, And Car Makers Can’t Figure Out Why | Co.Exist | ideas + impact.)

Interesting thing in Europe, too:

We know that Europeans love their bicycles — think Amsterdam or Paris. Denmark even has highways specifically for cyclists.

Indeed, earlier this month, NPR’s Lauren Frayer reported that Spain, which has long had a love affair with cars, is embracing the bicycle: For the first time on record, Lauren noted, bicycles outsold cars in the country.

But it’s becoming a Continent-wide phenomenon. More bikes were sold in Italy than cars — for the first time since World War II.

This prompted us to look at the figures across the 27 member states of the European Union for both cars and bicycles. New-car registrations for Cyprus and Malta weren’t available, so we took them out of the comparison.

Here’s what we found: Bicycle sales outpaced new-car sales last year in every one of those countries, except Belgium and Luxembourg. The top five countries by bicycle sales can be seen in the top chart.

Carbon market collapse on its way?

Hold onto your britches?

“In a new book, former oil geologist and government adviser on renewable energy, Dr. Jeremy Leggett, identifies five ‘global systemic risks directly connected to energy’ which, he says, together ‘threaten capital markets and hence the global economy’ in a way that could trigger a global crash sometime between 2015 and 2020.

According to Leggett, a wide range of experts and insiders ‘from diverse sectors spanning academia, industry, the military and the oil industry itself, including until recently the International Energy Agency or, at least, key individuals or factions therein’ are expecting an oil crunch ‘within a few years,’ most likely ‘within a window from 2015 to 2020.’”

(Via Ex govt adviser: “global market shock” from “oil crash” could hit in 2015 | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com.)

More people will be able to sign up for healthcare throughout the year, which I’d wondered about

Millions of people losing jobs or changing jobs, moving to freelance, will be able to sign up for ACA all throughout the year. That’s in addition to the 6 or so million who signed up over the last months. I also have an article somewhere that pointed out we still have no idea how many people signed up for ACA outside the exchanges. In Oregon that doubled the signups.

“The ACA’s state Marketplaces, in contrast, provide a non-discriminatory home for those losing their insurance coverage. In many cases, the loss of insurance coverage is what is known as a ‘qualifying event’ that allows individuals to purchase insurance on their state Marketplace even after the open enrollment deadline. And for those seeing a sharp drop in income due to job loss, the tax credits available through the ACA exchanges can provide a much more affordable option than COBRA; in about half of the states, Medicaid will also be available for those suffering the largest income losses.

The number of Americans that will eligible for these qualifying events is large. In 2012, for example, 7.6 million people lost coverage and became uninsured. Almost half of this group, or 3.4 million, cited loss of job as the reason for losing insurance; another 600,000 cited loss of student insurance upon graduation or due to aging out of parental coverage; another 200,000 cited divorce as the source of insurance loss; while 60,000 lose insurance because they move. All of these are qualifying events that would trigger a special enrollment period for people who are currently insured but who lose access to coverage over the course of a year. These figures suggest that roughly 4 million Americans who previously faced the harsh reality of life without insurance can now access fairly priced and often subsidized insurance through state and federal exchanges, or, in many states, expanded Medicaid coverage.”

(Via Obamacare Enrollment Is Far From Over.)

ACA Sign Ups puts the number of people who became covered, as a result of finding out about Medicare/Medicaid when trying to sign up for ACA, kids put under parents’ plans, is somewhere between 14.6 to 22 million.

NewImage

High rise with fairly radical amount of outdoor space

NewImage

This is fairly fascinating piece of design:

“Looking a little like a giant white pinecone, the design for this new high-rise apartment building in Montpellier, France, uses strategically placed balconies and shades to give residents the maximum outdoor space without blocking views or taking up too much room on the ground.”

(Via This Amazing High-Rise Apartment Building Looks Like A Giant Tree | Co.Exist | ideas + impact.)

Holy crap: there’s a giant planet far out beyond where the comets are made… maybe

This is so sense-of-wonder amazing to me. A bunch of researchers found a large object out there beyond Pluto. Which is cool. But after analyzing it they think its orbit hints at something really, really big out there.

Hold on Chewie, that ain’t no moon:

“Intriguingly, Sheppard’s team also found a strange alignment when they looked at the orbits of 2012 VP113, Sedna and 10 other objects that lie closer to the sun. ‘It was a big surprise to us,’ he says.

One explanation for the alignment could be the tug of a rocky planet that is 10 times the mass of Earth that orbits the sun at 250 AU, the team calculate. That world would be cold and faint – and would push and pull at the closer objects like a distant but powerful puppeteer.”

(Via New dwarf planet hints at giant world far beyond Pluto – space – 26 March 2014 – New Scientist.)

You know what’s cool? I’m a grown ass dude and every few years my whole understanding of the solar system gets readjusted as we learn more.

Science!

Seasteading… or try living on an island

Interesting link via, I think, Paul Graham Raven (half my links are on Pocket, which tags where I saved the link which lets me attribute, but Safari’s Read It Later doesn’t, which means I have to rely on my memory)…

What do you get from living on a natural seastead oops I mean small island? Well, you get a different kind of time – a different set of distractions. Not simplicity, but a reallocation of complexity that suits some people. You get too many things to list here. The one I want to talk about is that you see your material dependencies more clearly. That is, you have to carry the gas that you buy. You know where your water comes from, even if it’s just as technologically mediated as a Brooklynite’s water – maybe more – because you have to replace the pump from time to time. It’s not that you have less of a supply chain, it’s that you pay more attention to it because you’re the last link in it. You unload your kit, your cargo, your stuff, from a literal-ass boat that goes across the water.

So here is what I can tell you: our material culture is vast. The substrate of comfortable, middle-class-as-portrayed-in-primetime American life is ginormous, far beyond anyone’s understanding in any depth.

From 6, 3: Seasteading by Craig Loyd.

I grew up on a boat, anchored off an island. This times a hundred. You become a teeny bit more aware of the fact that you’re on the tail end of a supply line when on an island.

My interest in things like being off the grid aren’t so much in a desire to drop out of the complexity of modern life, but out of a desire to decentralize a creaky system that I view as failing to properly account for carbon costs, and due to the fact that American politicians are basically now, due to Southernist dogma, refusing to invest in infrastructure. The lights failed at the last Super Bowl, which as a friend of mine recently said, indicates America’s inability to claim to have first world infrastructure anymore. The country I live in can no longer guarantee the lights will remain on… yeah, I’m going to need to think about that creaky system I’m plugged into come next powerful snowstorm/flood/grid failure.

To be honest, I’d prefer to see more investment in infrastructure and a simple carbon tax to price externalities.

I’ve written about seasteads a couple times in fiction. I tend to try and portray them with hints of the islands I’ve encountered. I do think someday I’ll need to sit down and do a whole story that’s just about that. Living on a small island might read as SF to a larger part of my audience…

The Skiffy and Fanty Show is trying to take their World SF Tour to Worldcon

Shaun Duke is trying to get out and interview more international authors and is looking for help to do it via Go Fund Me:

“What is the World SF Tour?

Throughout 2014, The Skiffy and Fanty Show will focus much of its attention on science fiction and fantasy works from places outside of the United States. This will consist of interviews, movie discussions, the occasional Torture Cinema special, and discussions of World SF w/ locals. It’s a fairly large project, but it’s one I think is worthwhile. Additional details about the project can be found here.”

(Via Send the World SF Tour to Worldcon! by Shaun Duke – GoFundMe.)

One of the milestones they unlocked during the funding campaign was a review of one of my favorite novels, Tim Powers’ The Anubis Gates:

“Although one of his thicker, longer novels, I think that The Anubis Gates is one of Powers’ most accessible novels. It’s complete in one volume and chock full of allusions, magic, and history, begging the reader to learn more after (and with Kindles these days, during) the reading of the novel, and the prose is just gorgeous. The early 1980’s style means that the novel does focus much more on plot and setting than characterization, although the novel has plenty of the latter as well. How can you, for example, resist a character named Dog-Face Joe? Or Horrabin, a dangerous clown running a gang of beggars in London?”

(Via Mining the Genre Asteroid: The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers | The Skiffy and Fanty Show.)