First person to cycle to the South Pole!

Shortly before Christmas, we heard about 35 year-old British adventurer Maria Leijerstam’s planned attempt to ride to the South Pole on a recumbent fat-tired tricycle. On December 27th at 1am GMT, she achieved that goal, becoming the first person to ever successfully cycle from the edge of the Antarctic continent to the Pole.

Leijerstam used a modified version of the commercially-available Sprint trike, made by recumbent tricycle manufacturer Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE). She chose to go with a recumbent trike because it would allow her to maintain stability in the often very-high winds. This allowed her to concentrate simply on moving forward, instead of having to waste time and effort keeping her balance.

The strategy paid off, as she not only made it, but also beat two other cyclists who had set out for the Pole on two-wheelers, days before her Dec. 17th start date. Her victory wasn’t just due to the fact that she could move faster, but also because the stability of her trike allowed her to take a different route that was shorter but technically more challenging.

That “shorter” route was nonetheless approximately 644 km long, stretching from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf, up over Leverett Glacier, and onward to the South Pole.

Bravo! Difficult enough to develop, plan and build the whole process of a challenge like this. That took two years of training in Siberia, Norway and Iceland.

Having the courage, stamina and complete physical skill to win a first like this one – is worth worldwide recognition.

One Christian arguing with another over the 10 Commandments – hits him in the face with her bible

A conversation about the 10 Commandments led to blows between a man and a woman at a Cartersville motel.

According to a police report, Carolyn Unfricht and Daniel Camarda were arrested on charges of simple battery in connection with a physical altercation that followed a discussion about the Bible and the Commandments. Unfricht was also accused of trespassing, the report says.

Unfricht and Camarda were “highly intoxicated with slurred speech and having some difficulty walking,” authorities said.

A Cartersville police officer responded to the Crown Inn just after 1 a.m. Saturday morning. When the officer entered the room, there was blood on the carpet and a bloody towel in the sink, the report says.

Unfricht told the officer that the conversation “became heated” and she hit Camarda across the face with a Bible she was holding. The blow left a mark on Camarda’s face and broke his glasses.

Unfricht said Camarda “slung her across the room,” where she hit the television and a table, according to the report. She sustained a cut to her head and injured her right foot…

The pair was arrested and taken to the Cartersville Police Department and then booked into the Bartow County Jail.

Unmarried Christians? Married Christians? To each other or someone else – fighting in a motel at 1AM?

They were charged under laws governing family violence. Har.

Best photos of the year 2013 from Reuters

WARNING: SOME IMAGES CONTAIN GRAPHIC CONTENT OR NUDITY In this showcase of some of Reuters’ most memorable photos, the photographers offer a behind the scenes account of the images that helped define the year. 93 PHOTOS

I’ve featured a few of these over the year. Here’s a link to all 93. So far, the Thomson Group’s purchase of the venerable news organization hasn’t screwed-up their reputation for news photos – gathering and distribution. I wish I could say the same about the quality and neutrality of the news articles.

Things looked as if there wouldn’t be any negative conservative changes – the neutral character of Reuters news gathering was, after all, part of the value of the company. To my mind, they’re on the way to doing the same crap that will diminish a wonderful history the same way Rupert Murdoch has crushed the WALL STREET JOURNAL.

Back to the point. A couple of samples of the photos:

Click to enlargeDARRIN ZAMMIT LUPI, Malta

A man runs up the “gostra”, a pole covered in grease, during the religious feast of St Julian

Click to enlargeBRIAN BLANCO, United States

Members of the North Florida Survival Group wait with their rifles before heading out to perform enemy contact drills

Click to enlargeSAJID HOSSAIN, Bangladesh

The hand of a garment worker is seen among the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building…

Building is a vending machine for electric carsharing in China

kandi carsharing vending machine

China’s cities are blanketed by toxic haze with air pollution that can shut down places like Beijing. Of course, there are many citizens who want to move from a scooter to a car, but that could create more pollution. In steps carsharing, and an idea from Kandi Technologies Group that its small electric vehicles could be part of the solution in the city of Hangzhou, an hour-long train ride from Shanghai.

Kandi produces a small, Smart-car like EV that can go 75 miles on a charge and reach a top speed of 50 miles per hour. Seems like boilerplate EV territory, right? Except that they’re being stored in vending machine-like parking garages and can be rented for $3.25 per hour…

Through its joint venture with Geely Automotive, Kandi plans to build 750 of these garages in Hangzhou over the next four years. This will be supported by the government and Kandi’s 50-50 joint venture with Geely Automotive. Kandi wins, too, since it could supply up to 100,000 EVs to serve carsharers. If things work well in Hangzhou, this business model could spread to other Chinese cities and regions such as Shanghai, Shandong and Hainan.

I probably need to take a half-step-in here and sort out the usual myths about air pollution causes. Motor traffic is not the major source – almost ever. China’s problem is the same that afflicted the UK back when Glasgow was known as Auld Reekie and London’s famous fog was in fact smog.

The solution in China will occur with the completion of plans to do what London did – in the 1950’s. Eliminate coal fires for cooking and heating in homes. Good for 50% of all pollution. It will take completing a build-out of NatGas transmission pipelines and supplies – and hooking up all those homes.

I remember living through the same conversion in the New England factory town where I grew up. Believe me I did not miss waking up in the morning, throwing open my bedroom window and scraping away the layer of soot from the window sill before I leaned out to check out the day.