Car Companies Are Copying One Thing Tesla Always Does Right

Auto manufacturers are entering an arms race of electrification, hawking concept EVs with increasingly luxurious cabins, self-driving driving assistance features, and gargantuan batteries capable of unnecessarily long driving distances. These defining features help brands stand out in a sea of compact crossover EVs, but one thing is common between them: the public charging experience sucks. At the Consumer Electronics Show 2023, some manufacturers announced plans to change that.

EV adoption is expected to grow to 29.5 percent of all new car sales in 2030, up from roughly 3.4 percent in 2021.

But explosive growth has a drawback – it creates more demand for the paltry public charging infrastructure available in most of the U.S. As a result, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis are angling to get ahead of the problem by developing their own charging networks tailored toward its customers.

Drivers arriving at broken public charging stations are an increasingly common story on social media. Although most EV owners refuel at their home, more apartment dwellers are opting for EVs despite not having a dedicated charging spot, and most drivers need to venture beyond their usual haunts once in a while and into areas where stations may be scarce. Worse, the few that are available may be broken when they get there.

These charging fails aren’t just bad for owners – they could become cautionary tales that sour future buyers on a technology into which automotive manufacturers are pouring billions of dollars. One way to protect that investment is to take control of the public charging experience.

Getting ahead of the curve not only works driving down the road…not a bad idea in business, as well.

Sharing privately with friends on Facebook — may have been very public

❝ As many as 14 million Facebook users who thought they were posting items they only wanted their friends or smaller groups to see may have been posting that content publicly, the company said Thursday.

According to Facebook, a software bug — which was live for 10 days in May — updated the audience for some users’ posts to “public” without any warning. Facebook typically lets users select the audiences who get to see posts; that setting is “sticky,” which means it remains the default until it is manually updated.

And then there’s a school of thought that believes there never was a bug. Just a switch clicked or left switched on – accidentally.

Diesel ban approved for German cities

❝ German cities will be allowed to ban older diesel vehicles from some areas following a landmark court ruling.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig said the cities of Stuttgart and Duesseldorf could legally ban older, more polluting diesel cars from zones worst affected by pollution.

The ruling sets a precedent for other cities and analysts said it could lead to similar action across Europe…

❝ The ruling by a top federal court came after German states had appealed against bans imposed by local courts in Stuttgart and Duesseldorf…

The likelihood now is that the German government will rush to introduce some sort of national policy, to ensure at least some level of consistency across the country.

I imagine some US cities and states will take the lead here to step out ahead of an incompetent Congress and a White House that pimps for 19th Century industrial standards.

Public smoking bans linked with rapid public health benefits

The analysis of 11 studies done in North America and Europe, involving more than 2.5 million births, and nearly 250,000 asthma exacerbations, showed that rates of both preterm births and hospital attendance for asthma were reduced by 10% within a year of smoke-free laws coming into effect.

Currently only 16% of the world’s population is covered by comprehensive smoke-free laws, and 40% of children worldwide are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke. To date, most studies have looked at the impact of smoking bans on adult outcomes, but children account for more than a quarter of all deaths and over half of all healthy years of life lost due to exposure to second-hand smoke…

Dr Jasper Been, lead author, says…”Together with the known health benefits in adults, our study provides clear evidence that smoking bans have considerable public health benefits for perinatal and child health, and provides strong support for WHO recommendations to create smoke-free public environments on a national level.”*

“This research has demonstrated the very considerable potential that smoke-free legislation offers to reduce preterm births and childhood asthma attacks,” says study co-author Professor Aziz Sheikh, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, USA, and the University of Edinburgh, UK. “The many countries that are yet to enforce smoke-free legislation should in the light of these findings reconsider their positions on this important health policy question.”

…Sara Kalkhoran and Stanton Glantz from the University of California San Francisco…point out that, “Medical expenses for asthma exceeded US$50 billion in the USA in 2007, and US$20 billion in Europe in 2006. If asthma emergency department visits and admissions to hospital decreased by even 10%, the savings in the USA and Europe together would be US$7 billion annually.”

They conclude, “The cigarette companies, their allies, and the groups they sponsor have long used claims of economic harm, particularly to restaurants, bars, and casinos, to oppose smoke-free laws despite consistent evidence to the contrary. By contrast, the rapid economic benefits that smoke-free laws and other tobacco control policies bring in terms of reduced medical costs are real. Rarely can such a simple intervention improve health and reduce medical costs so swiftly and substantially.”

Folks who understand the realities of scientific study have no difficulty comprehending works like this one. Frankly, I doubt if even our Congress-critters would have a problem getting it. The problem there – as is the case with most political bodies – is the dollars tossed into the winds of election campaigns by tobacco companies, growers and the rest of the sleazy denizens of the smoking industry.

Perish the thought our politicians actually work at serving the citizens of their various electorates. Not when the core values determining political priority and primacy have to include dollar signs.

Arizona still the Mississippi of the West – passes law preventing lawsuits against bigots

The Arizona legislature sent a bill to the Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk Thursday that would carve a massive hole into state law allowing business owners to turn away gay and lesbian customers, employers to deny equal pay to women, or individuals to renege on contract obligations–as long as they claim to be doing so in the name of religion.

Brewer, a Republican who vetoed similar legislation last year, has not said whether she will sign the bill.

“With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation,” Anna Tovar, the state senate Democratic minority leader, said in a statement Wednesday after the bill cleared the state Senate. “This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.”

The Arizona bill is one of several bills across the country aimed at providing legal protection to those who wish to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. As of Friday, however, it’s the only one to actually pass, with similar bills in Idaho, Tennessee, and South Dakota being defeated and a bill in Kansas being held up in the state Senate.

While the bills vary in scope, Arizona’s is among the most broad, expanding that state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act to make it easier for individuals and for-profit businesses to bypass neutral state laws or regulations as long as religion is the reason for doing so

I presume by now the Arizona legislature includes a line item in the state budget for “funds to be wasted defending unconstitutional laws which make bigots feel happy about who they elected”.

Five year olds are generous — when someone is watching!

Not even up to 5-year-old standards

Children as young as five are generous when others are aware of their actions, but antisocial when sharing with a recipient who can’t see them…

Adults are more likely to behave in ways that enhance their reputation when they are being watched or their actions are likely to be made public than when they are anonymous, but this study examines the origins of such behavior in young children for the first time. For their study, the researchers presented five year olds with stickers and gave them the option of sharing one or four stickers with another five year old. The authors found that children were more generous when they could see the recipient than when the recipient was hidden from view, and were also more generous when they had to give stickers in a transparent container rather than an opaque one (meaning the recipient could see what they were receiving). They also found that these behaviors were independent of how many stickers the children were given to keep for themselves.

According to the authors, these results show that children as young as five can make strategic choices about whether to be generous, depending on whether or not a recipient is aware of their actions. Kristin Lyn Leimgruber explains, “Although the frequency with which children acted antisocially is striking, the conditions under which they chose to act generously are even more interesting and suggest that children likely use much more sophisticated prosocial strategies than we previously assumed. Much like the patterns of charity we see in adults, donation tendencies in children appear to be driven by the amount of information available to others about their actions — for both adults and children, the more others know about their actions, the more likely they are to act generously.”

Har. Warms the cockles of my heart when independent research offers mild appreciation for my cynicism about our species.

More of the original research over here.

Genetics firm hides vital breast cancer data to guarantee profits

The company that makes the world’s biggest-selling gene test for breast and ovarian cancers is refusing to share groundbreaking knowledge that could benefit patients, academics claim.

Myriad Genetics is accused of deliberately withholding data that could help other scientists to understand cancer genetics, on the grounds that the information is commercially sensitive.

The healthcare company manufactures the test for determining whether women carry potentially lethal mutations of the two genes linked with inherited forms of breast and ovarian cancer. It has a monopoly on the tests in the United States and is about to start more aggressive marketing in Europe.

“We are very concerned that such important data is being withheld from those who need it,” said Professor Martina Cornel, chair of the European Society of Human Genetics policy committee.

While Myriad is refusing to let other scientists have access to its data, the company has free access to the public databases compiled by other scientists, Professor Cornel said…

In addition to testing for the cancer-causing mutations on the two BRCA genes, Myriad uses its tests to compile a database of other mutations known as “variants of unknown significance” (VUS) which it gathers from patients and their family members.

The company initially stopped sharing this information with other researchers in 2004 because of difficulties in matching data formats. However, in 2005 it adopted a deliberate policy of retaining the data as a trade secret, according to a study led by Robert Cook-Deegan of Duke University in North Carolina, a former member of the US Office of Technology Assessment.

Since then, Myriad has refused to share data on BRCA gene variants – which is normally done by placing the information in public databases – on the grounds that the data is proprietary information gathered as a result of its BRCA Analysis tests, on which it retains the patent rights…

Which is what can happen when scientists start thinking and acting like capitalists and politicians – instead of scientists.

There is nothing unusual about scientists patenting their work and dedicating profits to universities and the private production firms they start. Ignoring the whole process, the breadth of research that serves as foundation for their work is egregious, damaging to science and wholly thoughtless about the world’s population they should be serving with their work.

They still can only eat one steak at a time.

Tree on New Haven Green felled by storm unearths skeleton

Talk about an eerie Halloween story. Hurricane turned Superstorm Sandy toppled a majestic old oak on the Upper Green and intertwined in the dirt and roots was a human skeleton.

Police were called, as was the state medical examiner.

But there was no horror story to be told.

The very old bones likely are centuries old dating back to when the Green was used as a cemetery during colonial times until the Grove Street cemetery was chartered in 1797. There remain an estimated 5,000 people buried under the Green.

The tree toppled sometime during the evening on Monday during high winds from the hurricane. On Tuesday, a passerby noticed something unusual. It looked like human bones. She contacted police…

This will, of course, freak out the superstitious among us. The New Haven Green – aside from being the best location in town for a demonstration – hosts a number of public concerts over the summer season. I can just hear the titters from those who are going to pass on spreading a picnic and blanket there, next year, now that they know there are beaucoup human remains buried below.

Purchase a Portland Loo

The Portland Loo is a cost effective public restroom that provides maximum function in minimal space. The Loo is safe, accessible and easy to maintain.

The Portland Loo is manufactured in Portland, Oregon as one unit, easy for transporting and installation.

Designed to promote public safety (CEPTED)
Highly durable/vandal resistant
Designed to be open 24/7 without an attendant
Solar-powered/LED lighting
Site almost anywhere (with sewer and water hook-up)
Advertising/art/sponsorship panels included

I’ll bet this is something your town or city could use. We aren’t exactly overbuilt with convenient support facilities for ordinary citizens in Santa Fe.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Tell the FCC how you feel about sports blackouts!

As a result of the campaign by and others – the FCC is asking for public comment over the next month on its sports blackout rule. The FCC’s rule props up the leagues’ own blackout rules by prohibiting cable and satellite carriers from carrying a game if local broadcasters are prohibited from carrying the game because of league blackout rules. Sports Fans Coalition and other groups have asked the FCC to eliminate this rule because we think the government shouldn’t be in the business of supporting counterproductive and unethical blackout policies.

SFC is currently creating a website to make it easier for you to submit comments to the FCC, but in the meantime, if you’re chomping at the bit to put in your two cents, please see below. Remember that your name and comments will be visible to the public, so please be respectful. But feel free to share the details of your own frustrations with blackouts.

To submit a comment:

1. Your message will need to be in the form of an attachment, so just open up a Word document, write your message and save it.
2. Click here to be redirected to the FCC’s electronic filing system.
3. Where it says proceeding number, enter 12-3.
4. Fill out the required information and attach the saved Word document with your message.
5. That’s it!

Need help with what to say? Feel free to copy or adapt this example for yourself:

It’s time to end to the sports blackout rule. It is an unnecessary and anti-consumer regulation that only benefits team owners. Fans and taxpayers have already heavily subsidized professional sports, so blackouts are unethical and punish fans who can’t afford the high cost of attending games or who don’t have the right TV provider. The government should not be in the business of propping up sports leagues’ counterproductive blackouts. Keep the games on the air!

Overdue. And a terrific example of citizen pressure on the government getting the beginning of a result. The rest is up to you…