Life without coffee?

“What would life be without coffee?” King Louis XV of France is said to have asked. “But, then, what is life even with coffee?” he added. Truer, or more apt, words for the present moment were never spoken, now usable as a kind of daily catechism. At a time when coffee remains one of the few things that the anxious sleeper can look forward to in the morning….giving as it does at least an illusion of recharge and a fresh start, the charge has invariably slipped away by the time the latest grim briefing comes…

This change is real, and is reflected in the numbers. As Jonathan Morris documents in his recent book, “Coffee: A Global History”, epicurean coffeehouses in the United States numbered in the hundreds in 1989, and in the tens of thousands by 2013. A lot of that is Starbucks, but not all. Roasters in Italy went from exporting twelve million kilograms of espresso in 1988 to more than a hundred and seventy million in 2015. Not surprisingly, the growth of a coffee culture has been trailed, and sometimes advanced, by a coffee literature, which arrived in predictable waves, each reflecting a thriving genre. First, we got a fan’s literature—“the little bean that changed the world”—with histories of coffee consumption and appreciations of coffee preparations. (The language of wine appreciation was adapted to coffee, especially a fixation on terroir—single origins, single estates, even micro lots.) Then came the gonzo, adventurer approach: the obsessive who gives up normal life to pursue coffee’s mysteries. And, finally, a moralizing literature that rehearsed a familiar lecture on the hidden cost of the addiction…

This is worth reading if you haven’t any problem with the worst of several styles of writing loved by The New Yorker. Never use 8 words in a sentence when you can use 38 (or more). See what I just did. It happens almost every paragraph.

I have been guilty of every fault I find in the article…including obscurant conclusions. But, RTFA. It is well recommended. And in The New Yorker, after all.

Tesla uses the cars they sell…like computers

Volkswagen CEO Hebert Diess has admitted that Tesla has a significant lead when it comes to software and its use in its self-driving program, according to leaked internal communications.

Tesla pioneered over-the-air software updates in the auto industry.

At first, it was touted more as a smartphone-like feature that enables your car to have a better user experience over time.

However, Tesla’s use of over-the-air software updates has evolved, and it is also now at the center of the automaker’s effort to achieve a fully self-driving system.

But what is of greater concern for VW’s CEO is Tesla’s use of software in its Autopilot program:

“What worries me the most is the capabilities in the assistance systems. 500,000 Teslas function as a neural network that continuously collects data and provides the customer a new driving experience every 14 days with improved properties. No other automobile manufacturer can do that today.”

No shit, Sherlock. At least, Hebert Diess recognizes the qualitative change wrought by Elon Musk. He’s brought motor vehicle production into the realm of digital management. He built-in a feedback loop providing information using conduits every competitor should be using to update their products. And using them to provide frequent, near-live data…if not live. Built into the vehicle operating system.