Electric Supercar sets fastest production car lap record at Nurburgring

You’re probably tired of hearing about the Nurburgring Nordschleife at the moment. Hot hatches have been battling relentlessly for the front-drive lap record, and Mercedes now owns the rear-wheel drive record. One intrepid soul even did a lap on two wheels. But these records all pale in comparison to the time laid down by Chinese newcomer NIO. The company has claimed a blistering new lap record at the Nordschleife with its EP9 supercar.

All the records mentioned in the intro are class-specific. The Honda Civic Type-R is the fastest front-wheel drive car to lap the North Loop, and the AMG GT R is the quickest rear-driver. But the NIO EP9 clocked a 6:45.900 lap, topping the Radical SR8LM by 2.1 seconds and Lamborghini’s Huracan Performante by 6 seconds to become the outright fastest production car around the Nurburgring.

Here’s the rest of the article from newatlas.com. But, here’s the home site for NIO – which features gorgeous photography of the EP9 and even their soon-to-be-on-the-roads of China 7 passenger SUV.

The EP9 is definitely the more expensive of the two. $1.48 million. 1300+ DC electric horsepower.

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Travelers Chant ‘Lock Him Up’ — Chump In Trump Hat Is Removed From Plane

Passengers chanted “lock him up” as United Airlines had a man sporting a Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” campaign hat is removed from a flight in Shanghai. The man delayed takeoff for hours as he was escorted from the flight for being belligerent…

The incident is the latest in a slew of mid-air confrontations this year, with United hitting the headlines for an ugly incident involving a staff member. This time, passengers were reportedly upset with the unnamed man in the Trump campaign hat for refusing to allow anyone to sit next to him on Flight 187, apparently because he had been refused an upgrade.

❝ He became so disruptive that airline staff told passengers to exit the plane so that they could remove him before the flight could travel to its destination in Newark, according to the airline. By the time the plane took off, it had to make an unscheduled stop in San Francisco to replace the crew, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

In scenes reminiscent of Trump taunting 2016 presidential rival Hillary Clinton at campaign rallies, videos show people in the terminal at Shanghai Pudong International Airport chanting “charge him” and “lock him up” at the man.

Preferably, have him share a cell with The Donald. They deserve each other.

Swimming Reindeer


Click to enlargeWikimedia Commons

❝ In 1866 French engineer Peccadeau de l’Isle discovered the sculptures of two swimming reindeer on the banks of the River Aveyron. Each had been carved from a mammoth tusk about 13,000 years ago. The carvings had historic as well as artistic value: They showed that humans, mammoths, and reindeer had coexisted in France during the ice age, when the climate of France resembled that of modern Siberia.

❝ Amazingly, it wasn’t until 1904 that anyone thought to try fitting the two pieces together — it was discovered that they were two parts of a single sculpture. Today they form the oldest piece of art in the British Museum.

The British Museum rocks. Even though it’s full of stolen goods.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Suicide Rates Keep Rising

❝ Those of us who work in pediatric intensive care have frequent encounters with the problem of suicide and attempted suicide. It has seemed to me for some years that the numbers are increasing, and this has been shown to be the case. After years of declining, the suicide rate in our country has been increasing, now at about 125 percent of the rate of several decades ago.

This increase accelerated after 2006. Although all age groups showed an increase, the rate among women, particularly adolescent girls, took a notable jump. In 2012 suicide was the second leading cause of death in adolescents aged 12 to 19 years, accounting for more deaths in this age group than cancer, heart disease, influenza, pneumonia, diabetes mellitus, human immunodeficiency virus, and stroke combined…

❝ Actual suicide is just the tip of the iceberg, since, at least among adolescent girls who attempt it typically with drug overdose, there are as many as 90 attempts for every death. Since a large number of these attempts end up in the PICU, I’m not surprised we are seeing more and more of them come through our doors. A few other points are worth noting here. The success statistics for adolescent boys are unfortunately much higher because boys tend to use more violent means than girls, such as hanging, firearms, or automobiles.

However, although rates for boys are up slightly, they really haven’t changed much. It’s also important to realize suicide attempts are a spectrum — some are more serious than others. Many girls take an overdose and then immediately tell somebody about it. These are often called suicide gestures and can be quite impulsive. Some use the term “cry for help” to describe them. More ominous are children who carefully plan, such as by hoarding powerful drugs in secret and taking them in a setting where they won’t be found. They may leave a suicide note. I couldn’t find any data about whether these different categories are discordant in the rate increase, but I assume the two are tracking together. Finally, a child may not know which drugs are truly dangerous. I have seen very serious suicide attempts by children who take overdoses of what we know to be innocuous medications but the child does not.

❝ Regardless of what category the attempt is, of course, the child needs mental health services subsequently. These days we find a child’s text messages to be very helpful. So why the increase in adolescent girls?

I’ll give you the spoiler. Dr. Johnson doesn’t know the answer. He’s in early stages of his examination as are many others. We also happen to live in a society so screwed-up that suicide is increasing for most age groups.

You still should RTFA. He has suggestions. He has hopes. He has other scientists to help him.

Report from Europe: People Here Think Trump Is a Laughingstock

❝ “Chaos.”
“Circus.”
“Laughingstock.”

Those were just a few of the comments I heard in Berlin this week from senior European officials trying to make sense of the meltdown in Washington at just the moment when a politically imploding President Trump embarks on what he called “my big foreign trip” in the morning’s kickoff tweet…

❝ Many I spoke with said they had made a fundamental mistake of viewing Trump primarily as an ideologue with whom they disagreed rather than what he increasingly appears to be: an ill-prepared newcomer to the world stage, with uninformed views and a largely untested team that will now be sorely tried by a 9-day, 5-stop world tour that would be wildly ambitious even for a seasoned global leader…

❝ “People are less worried than they were six weeks ago, less afraid,” a senior German government official with extensive experience in the United States told me. “Now they see the clownish nature.” Or, as another German said on the sidelines of a meeting here devoted to taking stock of 70 years of U.S.-German relations, “People here think Trump is a laughingstock.”

“The dominant reaction to Trump right now is mockery,” Jacob Heilbrunn, the editor of the conservative journal the National Interest, told the meeting at the German Foreign Office here while moderating a panel on Trump’s foreign policy…Michael Werz, a German expert from the liberal U.S. think tank Center for American Progress, agreed, adding he was struck by “how rapidly the American brand is depreciating over the last 20 weeks.”…

❝ Some of the reported preparations for the NATO session in Brussels this week suggest just how much the volatile-clown theory of the American president has now taken hold.

RTFA for the details. If you have an ongoing interest, an educated understanding of the history of US-Euro relations – you will find the clown prince of the White House even more of a handicap to balance and comprehensive progress than the typical conservative’s Ugly American.

Way More Americans Probably Are Atheists Than We Thought

❝ After signing an executive order earlier this month that seeks to relax restrictions on the political activities of tax-exempt churches, President Trump said the order was an important affirmation of the American identity. “We’re a nation of believers,” he said. Trump is right in one sense — 69 percent of Americans say a belief in God is an important part of being American — but he’s wrong demographically: Atheists constitute a culturally significant part of American society.

❝ We’re not sure how significant, though. The number of atheists in the U.S. is still a matter of considerable debate. Recent surveys have found that only about one in 10 Americans report that they do not believe in God, and only about 3 percent identify as atheist. But a new study suggests that the true number of atheists could be much larger, perhaps even 10 times larger than previously estimated.

❝ The authors of the study, published earlier this year, adopted a novel way to measure atheist identity. Instead of asking about belief in God directly, they provided a list of seemingly innocuous statements and then asked: “How many of these statements are true of you?” Respondents in a control group were given a list of nine statements, such as “I own a dog” and “I am a vegetarian.” The test group received all the same statements plus one that read, “I do not believe in God.” The totals from the test group were then compared to those from the control group, allowing researchers to estimate the number of people who identify as atheists without requiring any of the respondents to directly state that they don’t believe in God. The study concludes that roughly one-quarter (26 percent) of Americans likely do not believe in God.

While this result is fairly stunning and not consistent with any published survey results, there is good reason to suspect that more direct measures significantly underestimate the number of atheists.

Interesting article. Interesting methods. Having figured out I knew enough science to be an atheist by age 13, a philosophical materialist by age 18 – the questions are moot. If not boring. But, then, I don’t know anyone following my personal blog who’s older than me either. 🙂 Sorted these questions a long, long time ago.

Americans are a small measure less chickenshit about such questions, nowadays. Small.

3 more years, every Chinese coal plant will be more efficient than every US coal plant


Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China has gotten tired of this — Trump says it will Make America Great, again

❝ President Trump and his administration have claimed that the Paris climate accord is a “bad deal” because it requires much more of the US than of China. This reflects an enduring conservative paranoia that the Chinese are getting one over on us…

In support of this position, conservatives point to the fact that dozens of coal plants have either recently been built or are in the planning or construction phases in China. This, they say, gives the lie to the country’s promises.

❝ It can be difficult for the average news consumer to sort out this dispute. The Chinese government is notoriously opaque, the situation is developing rapidly, and most of what reaches US media is shallow he-said, she-said coverage.

Happily, the Center for American Progress is on the case. It recently sent a team of researchers to China to investigate its energy markets, analyze regulatory and plant construction data, and interview Chinese coal miners and coal plant operators. It sought to answer a simple question: What is China doing about coal?

The result is a report — authored by Melanie Hart, Luke Bassett, and Blaine Johnson — that offers the clearest picture yet of the big picture on coal in China. And a closer look, it turns out, utterly destroys the conservative argument. Far from sitting back and coasting while the US acts, China is waging an aggressive, multi-front campaign to clean up coal before eventually phasing it out — reducing emissions from existing plants, mothballing older plants, and raising standards for new plants. Unlike the US, it is on track to exceed its Paris carbon reduction commitments.

In short, while the US dithers along in a cosmically stupid dispute over whether science is real, China is tackling climate change with all guns blazing. The US, not China, is the laggard in this relationship.

RTFA. You ain’t seeing this side of the topic in news-as-entertainment newspapers or TV coverage. Since our extended family includes a couple of geeks who’ve actually earned our respective livings working for a portion of the matrix of US energy producers, the discussions can be interesting.

Yes, we’re convinced that coal, nuclear fission, natgas [in a while] can and should be left behind. Cost as well as having a healthy planet being the deciding element. Which points out even further the corruption of so-called fiscal conservatives who support backwards crap like coal-generated electricity.

Trump is an ignorant neurotic. Pence leads the rest of the bobbleheads.


A wax dummy got the office – and the politician stands in the museum

❝ When history holds its trial to account for the Donald Trump presidency, Trump himself will be acquitted on grounds of madness. History will look at his behavior, his erratic and childish lying and his flamboyant ignorance of history itself and pronounce the man, like George III, a cuckoo for whom restraint, but not punishment, was necessary. Such will not be the case for Mike Pence, the toady vice president and the personification of much that has gone wrong in Washington.

❝ On any given day, Pence will do his customary spot-on imitation of a bobblehead. Standing near Trump in the Oval Office, he will nod his head robotically as the president says one asinine thing after another and then, maybe along with others, he will be honored with a lie or a version of the truth so mangled by contradictions and fabrications that a day in the White House is like a week on LSD.

❝ I pick on Pence because he is the most prominent and highest-ranked of President Trump’s lackeys. Like with all of them, Pence’s touching naivete and trust are routinely abused. He vouches for things that are not true — no talk of sanctions between Mike Flynn and the Russians, for instance, or more recently the reason James B. Comey was fired as FBI director. In both instances, the president either lied to him or failed to tell him the truth. The result was the same: The vice president appeared clueless.

❝ I don’t feel an iota of sympathy for Pence. He was among a perfidious group of political opportunists who pushed Trump’s candidacy while having to know that he was intellectually, temperamentally and morally unfit for the presidency. They stuck with him as he mocked the disabled, belittled women, insulted Hispanics, libeled Mexicans and promiscuously promised the impossible and ridiculous — all that “Day One” nonsense like how the wall would be built and Mexico would pay for it.

Read it and weep, folks. Weep for American families, American workers who voted for our so-called president and got every right-wing slug from Ryan to Pence, McConnell [again] and McCarthy. Creeps who couldn’t be elected to the presidency on a dare filled with diamonds. But, their grubby ideology of profiteering for the wealthiest and austerity for actual working-class Americans is the rulebook someone reads to Trump every morning.

RTFA for a bit more editorializing by folks from the Washington POST. They also do a terrific job of journalism as it should be. Not the craven pap that passes along press releases pretending to be news coated in goose grease.