1,300-voice choir sings a protest song dedicated to our Fake President

Choir! Choir! Choir! has never been afraid to get political. Over the years, Toronto’s tireless drop-in choir has had some choice words for Rob Ford, Vladimir Putin and, most recently, Donald Trump.

Recently, they doubled down their anti-POTUS efforts with a massive protest singalong. Choir leaders Nobu Adilman and Daveed Goldman originally planned to sing MILCK’s breakout hit, “Quiet”…at the choir’s regular Tuesday and Wednesday night sessions at Clinton’s Tavern, but there was so much interest that they decided to upscale their efforts. They booked the Phoenix Concert Theatre, sold more than 1,000 tickets within a day…and invited MILCK to join the party.

Watch the video above to see what happened.

Lampociclo hand-builds e-bikes a la 1920s motorcycles


Back in their earliest days, motorcycles were little more than bicycles with engines. Italian manufacturer Lampociclo is trying to bring that simple, timeless style back for the modern day e-bike market. Its bikes combine the latest technology with styling cues from a time gone by…

Though its bikes also bear similarities to older models, such as the Werner Motocyclette from around the turn of the century, Lampociclo says its design ethic is inspired specifically by motorcycles from the 1920s. This retro influence comes through in available components like the springy leather saddle, oversized LED headlight and handlebars.

Lampociclo’s motor and battery look large and unwieldy compared to the hub motors and frame-integrated batteries of other modern e-bike designs, but they mirror the frame-filling engines and tanks of classic motor bicycles from the likes of Indian and Harley-Davidson. The battery is stored in the lockable, hand-welded aluminum “tank” hanging from the top tube. That tank even comes complete with an available “gas cap” covering the charging port. The lithium iron phosphate battery takes about six hours to charge…

Each Lampociclo bike is handcrafted and custom built, giving the buyer much input into its equipment. He or she can select from different gearbox, saddle, grip, wheel and handlebar options, as well as add accessories like baskets and racks. The steel frame comes in three different sizes and a variety of colors.

They don’t have list pricing because they consider each bike a hand-built special – but you can probably get a quote through their website.

The concept ain’t silly at all. Electric bikes are booming in Asia. No doubt our right-wing politicians will work to guarantee a slow enough recovery – if not another crash – to keep jobs scarce. Just the right transportation when you haven’t any spare cash.

Yes, that may just mean something more like WalMart than Lampociclo.

A biplane may be the quietest way to break the sound barrier

For 27 years, the Concorde provided its passengers with a rare luxury: time saved. For a pricey fare, the sleek supersonic jet ferried its ticketholders from New York to Paris in a mere three-and-a-half hours — just enough time for a nap and an aperitif. Over the years, expensive tickets, high fuel costs, limited seating and noise disruption from the jet’s sonic boom slowed interest and ticket sales. On Nov. 26, 2003, the Concorde — and commercial supersonic travel — retired from service.

Since then, a number of groups have been working on designs for the next generation of supersonic jets. Now an MIT researcher has come up with a concept that may solve many of the problems that grounded the Concorde. Qiqi Wang, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics, says the solution, in principle, is simple: Instead of flying with one wing to a side, why not two?

Wang and his colleagues Rui Hu, a postdoc in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Antony Jameson, a professor of engineering at Stanford University, have shown through a computer model that a modified biplane can, in fact, produce significantly less drag than a conventional single-wing aircraft at supersonic cruise speeds…

This decreased drag, according to Wang, means the plane would require less fuel to fly. It also means the plane would produce less of a sonic boom…

With Wang’s design, a jet with two wings — one positioned above the other — would cancel out the shock waves produced from either wing alone. Wang credits German engineer Adolf Busemann for the original concept. In the 1950s, Busemann came up with a biplane design that essentially eliminates shock waves at supersonic speeds…

The team’s next step is to design a three-dimensional model to account for other factors affecting flight. While the MIT researchers are looking for a single optimal design for supersonic flight, Wang points out that a group in Japan has made progress in designing a Busemann-like biplane with moving parts: The wings would essentially change shape in mid-flight to attain supersonic speeds.

Between fuel savings and quiet transition to supersonic speed it would be terrific to have a plane capable of Concorde-level service once again. Not that I’m interested in ever flying again until we rid that transportation mode of governance by paranoids.

Recording the sound of some of the planet’s quietest creatures

As the Bang Goes The Theory team investigates some of the noise of modern life, they also find time to measure the sounds of some of the quieter creatures on the planet.

In a sound-proofed room, Jem Stansfield listens in on an experiment to try and catch the sounds of a maggot, snail and the footsteps of a centipede.

Like the sound of one hand clapping – and I won’t even try a political allusion.

Eco Whisper Turbine unveiled – quiet and efficient

Brisbane’s Renewable Energy Solutions Australia (RESA) recently unveiled the first working installation of what is claimed to be the world’s quietest wind turbine. The Eco Whisper Turbine is capable of producing 20kW of electricity despite being about half the height and having half the blade diameter of more familiar three-bladed solutions, and is able to automatically adjust the position of the blades to maximize wind capture.

Much of the noise produced by small wind turbines occurs when air spills off the tip of the blades but thanks to a unique cowl/ring design, the Eco Whisper Turbine is said to benefit from near-silent operation. RESA says that its design can produce more than 30 percent more energy than other turbine solutions over a wide range of wind conditions – that translates to up to 45,000 kWh per year in optimum conditions.

The company expects its grid or off-grid green energy solution to meet the medium to high power needs in urban and rural applications like airports, business parks, commercial sites and universities. The company’s Michael Le Messurier reports that interest from the industry has been overwhelming since the first installation was recently unveiled at Austeng Engineering in Geelong, Victoria.

Standing 21.1 meters (69.225 feet) tall from tip to toe, a 6.5 meter (21.325 foot) diameter blade sits at the top of a hinged steel pole that can be lowered for maintenance or during extreme weather conditions – although the structure is designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 220 km/h (136.7 mph). The central hub and the 30 blades that fan out from it are made from aluminum, and the solution incorporates dynamic slew drive technology that negates the need for a tail.

Other noteworthy benefits of this turbine development include a low start up speed and high visibility that should help the local bird population avoid injury.

I’ll have to get my blog editing-mate down in Oz to check this out for me. Sooner or later, we will supplement energy needs here at Lot 4 and take advantage of nature’s resources to add wind and sun electricity generation.

Challenge Bibendum – Mister Bib still rocks!

For the tenth time in twelve years, Michelin is sponsoring something called the Challenge Bibendum. This global event has been held in Europe, the U.S., Asia and, now, Brazil. Michelin invited us down to check of some of the work people are doing to improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles around the world. We’ll have those reports up throughout the rest of the week, but we wanted to start by understanding why a tire company would go through all the trouble of organizing this many people and cars so many times in so many places. The short answer is that Michelin is able to learn a lot from these events, and that helps the company make the tires that car companies might not know they want yet.

For example, Didier Miraton, one of Michelin’s three managing partners (the company doesn’t have a CEO) said:

Working through the Challenge Bibendum and with all of the players in the electrical mobility industry, we came to realize that autonomy [i.e., range] on an electrical urban vehicle was 30 to 40 percent linked to the fuel efficiency of the tire, therefore, it gave us the thrust to go into the direction of the low-emission tire, the urban electrical vehicle tire, that would provide very fuel low efficiency not just to reduce CO2 impact but actually to allow this kind of vehicle to run because it would bring autonomy that would make them viable…

Terry Gettys, director of the research and development process of the Michelin Group, added:

Fundamentally, designing tires for electric vehicles is not different than for engined vehicles. We are working with car manufacturers to see what specific tuning they require. Many of them, for example, are targeting urban applications, city environments, so they are looking more at lower speed, very low noise tuning. As a result, the tires may be tuned that way, but the fundamental performances are not changed. You still need the impact for handling and comfort, you still need to try and optimize the rolling resistance. The tires that we are demonstrating optimized for electric vehicles go in two design directions. One of them is a very small tire with a very small rim, a 10-inch rim. It’s pretty much a standard rim, but sized small. The vehicle manufacturer has downsized the brake system as well, inspired by some racing systems. … The other concept is a 21-inch tire … a tall and narrow tire. That’s optimizing packaging in the vehicle in a different manner, optimizing the vehicle width space of the vehicle as well as [aerodynamics].

Been following the track via this link – and interesting stuff added every day.

Hybrid cars may include vroom-tones for safety’s sake

These are the guys passing the laws

For decades, automakers have been on a quest to make cars quieter: an auto that purrs, and glides almost silently in traffic.

They have finally succeeded. Plug-in hybrid and electric cars, it turns out, not only reduce air pollution, they cut noise pollution as well with their whisper-quiet motors. But that has created a different problem. They aren’t noisy enough.

So safety experts, worried that hybrids pose a threat if pedestrians, children and others can’t hear them approaching, want automakers to supply some digitally enhanced vroom. Indeed, just as cellphones have ring tones, “car tones” may not be far behind — an option for owners of electric vehicles to choose the sound their cars emit.

One possibility is choosing your own noise,” said Nathalie Bauters, a spokeswoman for BMW’s Mini division, who added that such technology could be added to one of BMW’s electric vehicles in the future.

The notion that battery E.V.’s and plug-in hybrids might be too quiet has gained backing in Congress, among federal regulators and on the Internet. The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, introduced early this year, would require a federal safety standard to protect pedestrians from ultra-quiet cars.

Rolls-Royce used to advertise that “When one of our cars passes by the only sound you hear is from the tyres – because we don’t make tyres.”

I’m of two minds on this. On one hand, this could be as stupid as early days of automobiles when states required cars to be preceded by someone on foot carrying an alarm lantern aloft on a pole – so people might restrain their horses. After all, automobiles already are equipped with horns. They work just fine as a warning – presuming the driver has their brain switched on.

On the other – I admit I already have stepped out in front of a Lexus RX400h in a supermarket parking lot. Scared the bejeebus out of myself. The only noise was the sound of his tyres. And he was too polite to blow the damned horn.

Irate movie patron shoots talker – resumes watching the movie

A Philadelphia man faces charges including attempted murder after allegedly shooting another man who was talking during the new Brad Pitt movie.

James Joseph Cialella Jr., 29, allegedly became enraged after two other men talked during a Christmas night screening of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday. The victim — who was apparently chatting with his son during the movie — told police Cialella told him to be quiet and threw popcorn at his son at about 9:30 p.m.

The man, whose identity was not reported, said some words were exchanged and Cialella then got out of his seat. The man said he got up to protect his son, and Cialella then shot him in the arm with a .380-calibre gun, the newspaper reported.

As patrons ran from the theater, Cialella reportedly went back to his seat and resumed watching the movie — until police showed up to arrest him on charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and weapons violations.

Cripes. He didn’t move to another part of the theatre?

California legislature says cars in electric mode are too quiet

Electric and hybrid vehicles may be better for the environment, but the California Legislature says they’re bad for the blind.

It has passed a bill to ensure that the vehicles make enough noise to be heard by visually impaired people about to cross a street. The measure would establish a committee to study the issue and recommend ways the vehicles could make more noise.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles says more than 300,000 of the vehicles are on state roads. Officials say they don’t keep statistics on pedestrian accidents involving those vehicles.

I have to admit it; but, I almost stepped out in front of a hybrid Lexus in a parking lot a few weeks back. The only noise it made was the sound of the tyres on the asphalt.

Still, this sounds only weird enough for California. And Google hasn’t found me anyone killed by a Prius!