Category Archives: Energy

Transit Management Leaders: Copenhagen Bans Cars; Sweden Halves Pedestrian Deaths

Copenhagen is estimating a $1-2 million gain every day — that’s right, EVERY DAY — when people in the city ride bicycles instead of drive cars. Since the biggest friction to cycling is the fact that cars kill those around them either immediately (crash) or slow and painfully (disease), a great deal of money and time is being spent by the Danes to isolate cars and reduce societal harms.

In other words, restricting the violence of cars enables Copenhagen’s population to flourish in multiple ways:

The city’s investment in impressive cycling infrastructure is paying off in multiple ways. For not only are there many health benefits to getting more people to use bikes, there are some serious economic gains too. Cycling is a great, low-impact form of exercise which can build muscle, bone density, and increase cardiovascular fitness. Figures from the finance minister suggests that every time someone rides 1 km on their bike in Copenhagen, the city experiences an economic gain of 4.80 krone, or about 75 US cents. If that ride replaces an equivalent car journey, the gain rises to 10.09 krone per km, or around $1.55. And with 1.4 million km cycled every day, that’s a potential benefit to the city of between $1.05m and $2.17m, daily.

That’s the World Economic Forum reporting these numbers, and perhaps even more impressive is the risk management graph they offer readers. Apparently Copenhagen has invested an average of $10m each year over 13 years in cycling infrastructure, which is now believed to return benefits of $300-600m each year. Here is what the investment return looks like in terms of safety and ridership:

As distance ridden on bicycles goes up, health risks go down significantly across the population. That is just health risk related directly to cycling, as there will be additional health risk reductions in terms of physical and mental fitness. The World Economic Forum turns to UK data on this point:

…a single ‘cycling city’ worth £377 million to the National Health Service in healthcare cost savings

I wrote the other day about a cities around the world that are banning cars altogether in their city center, some on an accelerated 5-year timeline such as Oslo and Madrid.

Given all the data above, it should come as no surprise Copenhagen is considering the same road forward and banning cars entirely from some neighborhoods.

Don’t worry Americans, we also have a few car-free neighborhoods, believe it or not. My favorite part of a study of where to live in America without danger from cars is the disclaimer at the beginning of the list:

New York City is not included in this listing. If it was, neighborhoods from that city would dominate the entire list. In fact, you could place the whole of Manhattan on this list as only 5% of residents use a car for their daily trips

With the most-successful city out of the running, the list then goes on to recommend being in the Tenderloin of SF. The author clearly hasn’t tried riding down the infamous Golden Gate corridor of Tenderloin cars parked or driving in the bike lanes.

Why anyone would eliminate the best option in America and then recommend living in a filthy run-down neighborhood with awful bike and pedestrian access options…is beyond this blog post. But it definitely shows American analysts often don’t understand this transit topic.

First, they don’t factor for overall health improvements as a function of car-less urban spaces. They just draw a circle around transit stations and measure nothing else. That isn’t how this works.

Second, based on the radius of the circle they think like car drivers and assume you are better off living directly above a subway as if it’s a straight substitute for having a car in your garage. Remember at the start of this post how the distance traveled by foot/bike leads to multiple facets of financial and health improvement?

Forget about the model where you roll out of bed and stumble into an elevator that drops you into a car so you can avoid using a muscle. Wrong quality of life model.

Notice that the author admits these errors in analysis, without even realizing it:

…this area of San Francisco is known for drugs and crime, it is surrounded by very desirable places to live. It’s also lies adjacent to the rapid transit line, BART

Yeah, go live in the desirable places surrounding the transit line, not inside the train station. Moreover, let’s be honest here, the author also regurgitates an old American white supremacist trope, probably without even knowing.

All of San Francisco is known for drugs, and crime is widespread. You literally can’t go to a neighborhood in SF and find it free of drugs. This tracks to the rather sad fact that Nixon’s racist “war on drugs” still lives on, giving people the impression urban areas are dangerous because “drugs and crime” (Nixon’s propagandist way of saying blacks and pacifists).

We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities [by turning them into rubble and building highways through]

In fact, the only reason Highway 101 abruptly ends at Octavia and does not cut through the Haight (a formerly black neighborhood) and Golden Gate Park as planned is because civil-rights protests blocked “disruption” for white-flight-suburb road construction. There is no highway to this day running through urban SF because quality of life protests against it meant the successful rejection of white supremacist propaganda, which meant streets and houses instead of overpasses and parking lots.

Tenderloin is not more dangerous than the Mission area, which also lies “adjacent to the rapid transit line”, and it certainly is not more dangerous than the Marina if you are measuring getting raped by white football player who just moved to SF to party and “get some” before getting appointed to Vice President or the Supreme Court.

Nixon was elected because he said things like blacks can’t handle drugs, and he enacted policies to incarcerate blacks and not whites for the same behaviors. And that’s just a modern version of America First, which in the early 1900s under President Wilson argued non-whites (Irish, German, Blacks…) couldn’t handle liquor.

Prohibition was passed to destroy black lives, while whites could continue producing and drinking because notes from wealthy/connected doctors cited “medicinal” reasons.

Anyway, if you want to cite SF, look at the SOMA neighborhood sitting at the head of the CalTrain station, adjacent to the new high-speed rail station, and also on the new north-south local transit line, which will feed into BART, not to mention on the water with easy access to the ferry.

SOMA has far superior pedestrian, cycle and transit options to the Tenderloin or any other neighborhood in the city. This tracks historically to SOMA having amazing trolley grids before the car enthusiasts ripped it all up to drive up air/noise pollution and cause traffic jams as their preferred lifestyle.

Ok, back to the Scandinavian leaders in transit management. Sweden in 1997 set about trying to cut down to zero the number of pedestrians killed by cars. The strategy used has produced impressive results, yet nowhere near the kind of zero-death safety they had targeted:

Since the scheme began, road deaths have almost halved: 270 people died in road accidents in Sweden in 2016. Twenty years earlier the figure was 541.

America lags so far behind on this topic, its numbers are in a completely different ballpark. While Sweden is annoyed that it only has seen a 50% reduction in death from cars, some states in the US are actually tracking increases. Texas, for example, apparently is aborting human life at an alarming rate by repeatedly failing to address cars as a threat to health.

NSC estimates traffic fatalities in Texas have jumped 7 percent from 2015 to 2017

This is not normal, or acceptable, and could easily be going the other direction. NY proves to the rest of America what needs to be done, by deploying solutions similar to those proven in Denmark and Sweden:

NSC estimates traffic fatalities in New York fell 3 percent last year and have dropped 15 percent over the last two years. Safety advocates say the decline may be due to New York City’s push to eliminate traffic deaths by lowering speed limits, adding bike lanes and more pedestrian shelters.

“Changes like those being made in New York can save lives,” said [Deborah Hersman, CEO of the National Safety Council]

When NYC releases the financial and healthcare benefits that derive from fewer cars, maybe it will help steer the discussion forward in Texas. Seems unlikely, though, as Texans do not seem to be pro-life as much as they think their success is measured by ability to collect and carelessly operate things that kill others.

American cities in places like Texas paint a stark contrast to the quality of life stories around the world, and especially Scandinavia, that highlight enabling people with the freedom to live, without being unjustly harmed. The automobile industry is going through a transformation that will be wise to learn from the leaders, gaining trust in urban areas committed to freedom and justice through respect for diverse ideas and modes of movement.

American transit managers of the southern states who watch their neighbors and friends be killed by drivers without feeling any guilt should in the near future be about as common as politicians today who would look the other way when they see slave drivers.

Binocular Night Vision Goggle II

One deep dark night on a dirt road on a remote mountain of an even more remote island, I rode swiftly downhill, passenger of a pickup truck. The driver shut our lights off. We sat in silence as the truck skidded and careened along the dusty road.

I barely could see the driver’s hands rolling quickly back and forth on the steering wheel to keep us from driving off the cliff ledge to our left. He didn’t slow down after lights-out, and when I turned my head more towards him he said warmly l’appel du vide or something like that and smiled broadly at the barely visible road ahead.

While the road itself is seen better with headlamps, by shutting them off we actually expanded our visibility further and were safer overall. And of course we revealed ourselves less dramatically (noise and dust still were emitted), which can reduce blindness in oncoming vehicles.

With so many experiences like this in the past, I often see lights as pollution and wonder how much longer we must accept theories of Victorian street-lamps as safer?

Apparently, the original lighting in London was so poor in 1763 that James Boswell was able to have sex with a prostitute on Westminster Bridge. The shadows and gloom of the pre-electrified world not just provided privacy for Mr Boswell’s actions but it was also a haven for crime.

To be fair I have seen couples having sex in the broad daylight on the eastbound platform at Charlton Station (CTN) in London, so it might not just be about visibility. Anyway, developing better vision integrated directly into the windshield, or our glasses seems like a much more sane and modern idea than trying to increase lumens everywhere. We wear sunglasses while driving, why not a night glass?

We save immense amounts of energy when we choose to leverage starlight and ambient heat, and reveal so much more…fortunately the US military is a big investor in technology along these lines and the latest iteration sounds quite nice:

The BNVD amplifies the small amount of existing light emitted by stars, the moon’s glow or other ambient light sources, and uses the light to clearly display objects in detail in very dark conditions. The COTI uses heat energy from the Marine’s surroundings to add a thermal overlay which allows the image to be viewed more clearly.

This seems light years ahead of driving with a common joint electronics Portable Visual Detecting or Range and Bearing, Search (AN/PVS)

Jaywalking is a Fantasy Crime

Brilliant comedy routine by Hannibal Buress

Humor helps underscore a very real problem with Jaywalking laws, which any historian should be able to tell you:

What sets jaywalking apart is that it never should have been against the law in the first place. City streets were meant for foot traffic and horses from ancient times until the early twentieth century. As a result, early automobiles found themselves alongside all sorts of pedestrians. To make way for cars, literally and figuratively, wealthy drivers and the U.S. auto industry set out to stigmatize lower-class pedestrians who crossed streets at will. Those who wouldn’t step aside for vehicles became known as “jay walkers”…

Or more exactly, clowns were repeatedly rammed by cars in public displays paid for by car manufacturers, to shame anyone walking on the street

Auto campaigners lobbied police to publicly shame transgressors by whistling or shouting at them — and even carrying women back to the sidewalk — instead of quietly reprimanding or fining them. They staged safety campaigns in which actors dressed in 19th-century garb, or as clowns, were hired to cross the street illegally, signifying that the practice was outdated and foolish. In a 1924 New York safety campaign, a clown was marched in front of a slow-moving Model T and rammed repeatedly.

I cover some of this history in my presentations on big data security, such as “Security in a World of Intelligent Machines

If you look carefully at that police notice from 1866 London it has two modes of operation for the red and green street lights:

  • CAUTION: all persons in charge of vehicles and horses are warned to pass the crossing with care, and due regard for the safety of foot passengers
  • STOP: vehicles and horses shall be stopped on each side of the crossing to allow passage of persons on foot; notice being given to all persons in charge of vehicles and horses to stop clear of the crossing

British railroad managers took ship right-of-way red/green lanterns and recommended using them to stop vehicles so pedestrians could walk safely.

American car manufacturers then took that street light concept and flipped it around completely, telling pedestrians to stay off roads, inventing a fantasy crime to shame and physically harm certain races of people for not driving.

Yes, you read that right. Racism permeates America’s enforcement of this fantasy crime:

In cases like jaywalking, which often hinge on police discretion, blacks accounted for 95 percent of all arrests.

And just to make the point even starker, North Dakota lawmakers in 2017 actively promoted the concept of using vehicles as a weapon to murder pedestrians, awarding zero liability for drivers:

A bill introduced by an oil patch lawmaker would provide an exemption for the driver of a motor vehicle if they unintentionally injured or killed a pedestrian obstructing traffic on a public road or highway.

“It’s shifting the burden of proof from the motor vehicle driver to the pedestrian,” said Rep. Keith Kempenich, R-Bowman

Several months later, Kempenich’s campaign led to a federal civil rights investigation of a white nationalist for murder instead of the zero liability for killing people with cars, which he had promoted to them.

One person was killed and 19 were hurt when a speeding car slammed into a throng of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, where a “Unite the Right” rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups had been scheduled to take place, the city tweeted on its verified account.

A 32-year-old woman was killed while walking across the street, Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said. Police were still in the process of notifying her family.

[…]

Federal authorities said a civil rights investigation into the deadly crash was opened hours after it happened.

In related news, dozens of cities today are restoring pedestrian rights and looking at ways to ban cars from streets:

  • Oslo, Norway
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Chengdu, China
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Paris, France
  • London, England
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Bogoto, Colombia
  • San Francisco, USA
  • New York, USA

And while Jaywalking is a fantasy crime that produces little if any positive results, Pontevedra, Spain is being called a paradise after banning cars across most of the city. It is quite clearly the opposite of the city in the Buress comedy routine:

Lores became mayor after 12 years in opposition, and within a month had pedestrianised all 300,000 sq m of the medieval centre, paving the streets with granite flagstones.

“The historical centre was dead,” he says. “There were a lot of drugs, it was full of cars – it was a marginal zone. It was a city in decline, polluted, and there were a lot of traffic accidents. It was stagnant. Most people who had a chance to leave did so. At first we thought of improving traffic conditions but couldn’t come up with a workable plan. Instead we decided to take back the public space for the residents and to do this we decided to get rid of cars.”

The results they have reported are amazing. Can’t wait to hear what Buress has to say about it.

Police Say Man Who Stole Tesla Model 3 Charged With Battery

Many moons ago you may remember this introduction to one of my car-hacking posts:

First, you need a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You can ask your friends or family for their VIN. You can walk into a parking lot, especially a Jeep dealer’s, and look at the VIN. Or you can search craigslist for a VIN. I used the SF bay area site but you can search anywhere using a simple URL modification…

The VIN is a token, a fairly important one, that requires manufacturers to use threat models to think about adversarial usage. Alas it sits in plain view both in person and online.

We interrupt this PSA about credential management to bring you a hot story about a brand new cutting edge technology Model 3 Tesla being stolen.

…a regular at the Trevls EV-only rent-a-car company in Minnesota was the key suspect in stealing a Model 3 rental car owned by the agency. According to the owner of Trevls, John Marino, the man simply walked up to the Model 3, opened it, got in, started it and drove off. Bloomington police are saying that “the man somehow manipulated the Tesla app to unlock and start the car, disabling the GPS before leaving town.”

The key here for the key suspect, puns intended, seems to be that this Tesla was rented before. The suspect had the VIN associated with his account and used the application, so was a temporary valid driver. A VIN has to be associated with an account to run the application, and I think most Tesla owners would not want any path for their public VINs to be “matched” to someone else’s account.

Alas, a rental company does exactly that, putting a VIN in random people’s accounts. The rental company claims they remove the VIN from a customer account after their rental, thus denying any further authorization. However, this driver likely realized since he was authenticated as a driver of that car at least once he probably could contact Tesla support and somehow convince them to add the VIN back to his account without authorization of the rental company. Or maybe the removal process wasn’t clean. Deprovisioning is notoriously hard in any credential system.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the Tesla application and driver support system wasn’t sufficiently threat modeled for the kind of VIN use that rental companies require, let alone social engineering talent of rental customers.

It reminds me once of sitting down with an automobile manufacturer and telling them while I enjoyed hacking cars I wasn’t about to start inserting USB into my rentals…and they interrupted me with a disgusted look on their face to say “WHY NOT?” I meekly explained I thought a lab was more appropriate as it would be dangerous for others to be renting cars I had been hacking on, especially when rental use wasn’t in the threat models (it wasn’t).

Police were scrambling for clues when this Tesla disappeared because, after the suspect reportedly disabled GPS, all the usual tracking signals (e.g. NFC/RFID scanning) on Interstate roads weren’t being helpful. The Tesla owner (rental company), on the other hand, noticed the stolen car being connected to the charging network and 1,000 miles from the scene of the crime (Minnesota to Texas in two days). Police simply went to the charging station and there they found the lazy thief, who despite noticing a loophole in authorization and means to disable GPS failed to think about other ways he could be charged.

And yes I wrote this entire thing just for the puns. You’re welcome.

Update Sept 15: Telsa has pushed an update (2018.34.1) that offers a “PIN to drive” security option to limit use of a key.

No word yet on the “forgot PIN, enter credentials to drive” flow resilience to social engineering. More to the point this update does not seem to leverage PIN to drive when using the mobile application with “keyless driving”…perhaps because if you can enter credentials for keyless driving you could start the car with the same credentials in the forgot PIN screen.

Harley-Davidson Moves Research to Northern California

Well I have to say I was wrong twelve years ago about diesel motorcycles. No matter how patient I was for those Kawasaki to arrive, in the back of my head it was clear that hackers around me loved the zero-power-curve of electric bikes more than the long-distance of diesel.

At one point many years ago I was stuck in a long car ride around rural France (ask me another time about war-driving) with an aeronautical engineer and to kill time I opined about the benefits of light motorcycles with batteries easily outperforming gasoline. Only a few months later, back stateside, I received an email thanking me because he had built one himself and now was commuting effortlessly and with a smile.

I was gruntled, yet still awaited news of a diesel. Something about the plug-in/range didn’t suit my sense of riding.

With Harley, king of the long-haul open-road bikes, making a major electric research announcement like this, I officially give up on diesel bikes making it to civilian life:

Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE: HOG) announced today it will establish a new research and development facility in Northern California to support its future product portfolio, including the company’s first complete line of electric vehicles.

Many, many years ago I worked on Cabletron switches, which in a bizarre twist led me to Milwaukee, WI. Unbeknownst to many, if not most, Harley was at that time doing cutting edge IT deployments. Also I attended wedding parties there of Harley workers that ended with the couple describing Harleys they would ride to California. I mean high-tech Harleys in California does make sense, in spite of their oil-splattered tinkering owners group heritage.

Until now my heart still ached for that Kawasaki diesel dual-sport we were promised. Oh well. The time has come to say diesel bikes aren’t going to make headlines. Perhaps electric range soon will be less of an issue as Harley clearly thinks about that spectrum. But will HOGs be able to keep their tinkering ways or is DRM also coming?

Israeli Raider Micro-ATV

Israelis have successfully shrunken the ATV to micro-size with a new electric “Raider”, unless you want to believe they have enlarged the electric skateboard to giant-size…or is it a stretched segway?

I want to believe four-wheeling has advantages, yet in every action scene above I found myself imagining a two-wheeler doing it more efficiently (further and faster) on same charge. Sure, two-wheels requires training yet we’re talking about a highly trained operator in this market, right? If nothing else I would fiddle with a two-wheeler that splits wheels and extends axles into four, rather than be stuck all the time in a four-wheel mode.

Ok, one advantage I will grant is that if the Raider can be configured as driver-less then it’s far, far easier to manufacture and operate than two-wheels. Real advantages there. Someone could hit the panic button and their Raider would be like a medic drone and return them to safety. Or if you wanted the Raider to drop you off and then secretly make its own way to a pickup zone, also better than two-wheel options.

Meat is Murder on the Environment

After decades of seeing activists lay out the obvious economics of meat, and reading research by economists confirming the obvious, it looks as if the market finally is shifting. Eating meat is by far the number one impact to climate change and executives are starting to execute on the meatless menu, as you will see in a minute.

It always has seemed weird to me that if you wanted to remove meat from your work meals, or airplanes for that matter, you had to check a special box. Really it should be the other way around. If someone wants to add meat, let them be the “special” case.

I suppose executive dinners and board meetings should have something like this:

please check box if you want a major global catastrophic impact from your meal

Makes little to no sense to have meat automatically, and people should have to choose to accelerate global destruction, rather than set it as the mindless default.

Let me be clear here. I’m not saying I would never check the box. I’m not saying there would never be need for meat. I would always want the default to be meatless. When I say make it rare I mean it both ways. The economics of why are obvious, as I will probably say continuously and forever.

For example, years ago I was running the “Global Calculator” created for economic modeling, and reducing meat consumption undeniably had more impact than any other factors.

The Global Calculator is a model of the world’s energy, land and food systems to 2050. It allows you to explore the world’s options for tackling climate change and see how they all add up. With the Calculator, you can find out whether everyone can have a good lifestyle while also tackling climate change.

A sad and ironic side note here is the fact that meat consumption is the top factor in the “extinction crisis“, as 3/4 of earth’s animal population is disappearing at an alarming rate.

  1. climate change
  2. agriculture
  3. poaching
  4. pollution
  5. disease

I think it still may be counter-intuitive for a lot of folks when they hear they should stop eating meat to reduce climate change to prevent extinction of animals.

If you really like meat you will eat it rarely. Get it?

Thus a logical approach to solving many of the expensive problems people face today and into the future is to limit meat consumption within commercial space, because that’s where some expansive top-down decisions easily are made.

Imagine Google removing meat from its school-lunch-like program for its school-campus-like facilities for its school-children-like staff running its school-peer-review-like search engine. Alas, that probably means real executive leadership (not exactly what you get with kids trying to stay in school forever) where someone issues a simple order to reflect a principled stand (pun intended).

The first step on this path really should be Mar-a-Lago converts to vegan-only menus and becomes a research center for climate change, but I digress…

Instead it looks like Wework is the first apparently to be woke, as it has removed meat from its menus.

…told its 6,000 global staff that they will no longer be able to expense meals including meat, and that it won’t pay for any red meat, poultry or pork at WeWork events. In an email to employees this week outlining the new policy, co-founder Miguel McKelvey said the firm’s upcoming internal “Summer Camp” retreat would offer no meat options for attendees.

“New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact,” said McKelvey in the memo, “even more than switching to a hybrid car.”

It’s crazy to me that someone is calling out new research here when there is so much legacy work, but I guess that covers the question why they waited so long to do the right thing.

And just in case any of the typical extremist right-wing tech professionals (Shout out to the 303!) read this blog post, I offer this tasty morsel on vaccinating the mind against climate change falsehoods:

To find the most compelling climate change falsehood currently influencing public opinion, van der Linden and colleagues tested popular statements from corners of the internet on a nationally representative sample of US citizens, with each one rated for familiarity and persuasiveness.

The winner: the assertion that there is no consensus among scientists, apparently supported by the Oregon Global Warming Petition Project. This website claims to hold a petition signed by “over 31,000 American scientists” stating there is no evidence that human CO2 release will cause climate change.

The study also used the accurate statement that “97% of scientists agree on manmade climate change”. Prior work by van der Linden has shown this fact about scientific consensus is an effective ‘gateway’ for public acceptance of climate change.

Bring out the facts! I’ve noticed security professionals often ignore climate change harm and need facts as a gateway to accept that there are risks. Maybe a good time to drop facts on these self-proclaimed risk management elites is when they head to Las Vegas this summer…observe them carelessly gorging on meat while claiming to care about threats to their environment, and hand them an invite them to an exclusive WeWork party.

Cars Are Just Primitive Exoskeletons

The “carriage” form-factor is ancient.

So even though today we say “car” instead of carriage, we should know that to augment a single person’s travel with a giant opulent box is primitive thinking, and obviously doesn’t scale well to meet modern transit needs. Study after study by design experts have shown us how illogical it is to continue to build and use cars:

Fortunately, modern exoskeletons are more suited (no pun intended) to the flexibility of both the traveler and those around. Rex is a good example of why some data scientists are spending their entire career trying to unravel “gait” in order analyse and improve the “signature” of human movement. They discuss here how they are improving mobility for augmentation of a particular target audience:

This is an early-stage and yet it still shows us how wrong it is to use a car. When I expand such technology use to everyone I imagine people putting on a pair of auto-trousers to jog 10 miles at 20 mph to “commute” while exercising, or to lift rubble off people for 12 hours without breaks after an earthquake, or both.

We already see this class of power-assist augmented travel in tiny form-factors in the latest generation of electric bicycles, like the Shimano e8000 motor. It adds power as a cyclist pedals, creating a mixed-drive model:

For what it’s worth, the “gait” (wobble) of bicycles also is super complicated and a rich area of data science research. Robots fail miserably (nice try Yamaha) to emulate the nuance of controlling/driving two-wheels. Anyone saying driverless cars will reduce deaths isn’t looking at why driverless cars are more likely than human drivers to crash into pedestrians and cyclists. Any human can ride a bicycle, but to a driverless car this prediction tree is an impenetrable puzzle:

Unlike sitting in a cage, the possibilities of micro-engines form-fitted to the human body are seemingly endless, just like the branches in that tree. So it makes less and less sense for anyone to want cages for personal transit, unless they’re trying to make a forceful statement by taking up shared space to deny freedom to others.

What is missing in the above sequence of photos? One where cars are completely gone, like bell-bottom trousers, because they waste so much for so little gain, lowering quality of life for everyone involved.

Floating around in a giant private box really is a status thing, when you think about it. It’s a poorly thought out exoskeleton, like a massive blow-up suit or fluffy dress that everyone has to clean up after (and avoid being hit by). Here’s some excellent perspective on the stupidity of carrying forward the carriage design into modern transit:

Rapstatus tells us cars still get a lot of lip service so I suspect we’re a long way from carriages being relegated to ancient history, where they belong.

Nontheless I’m told new generations have less patience for carriages, and so I hope already they visualize something like this when people ask them if they would get in a car to get around…

Cyclists Defeat Cars in Urban Speed Challenge

This should be obvious to anyone who rides a bicycle in a city. Alas we also have studies to prove it true, year after year:

Since the event began in 2009, one mode has ruled supreme in terms of speed.

“People on bikes have beaten their car-driving counterparts more than two-thirds of the time,” Jane says. “A lot of people are surprised by that, because they don’t realize how fast and convenient cycling for transportation can be.”

This is confirmed by a 2017 study from the German Federal Environmental Agency, which determined that–in an urban setting–bikes are faster than cars for trips up to five kilometres. As it turns out, drivers vastly underestimate time spent sitting in traffic, searching for parking, and walking to their final destination.

Two-thirds is a crushing defeat for cars, and that’s simply measuring performance. When you add in the health and environment benefits it begs the question what people really value when riding in a car in a city.

Meitnerium

Scientific American has a nice write-up of the theoretical physicist who discovered nuclear fission and was denied credit, yet assigned blame:

While the celebrity Meitner deserved was blatantly denied her, an undeserved association with the atomic bomb was bestowed. Meitner was outright opposed to nuclear weapons: “I will have nothing to do with a bomb!” Indeed, she was the only prominent Allied physicist to refuse an invitation to work on its construction at Los Alamos.

  • 1878 born in Vienna, Austria, third of eight children in middle-class family
  • 1892 at age 14 offered no more school, by 19th-century Austrian standards for girls. begins private lessons
  • 1905 earns PhD in physics from University of Vienna
  • 1907 moves to Berlin to access modern lab for research. denied her own lab because a woman, given an office in a basement closet, forced to use bathroom in a restaurant “down the street”
  • 1908 publishes three papers
  • 1909 publishes six papers
  • 1917 given salary and independent physics position
  • 1926 first woman in Germany to be made full professor
  • 1934 intrigued by Fermi work, begins research into nuclear reaction of uranium
  • 1938 Nazi regime forces her to leave Germany, because Jewish
  • 1944 Nobel prize awarded to the Berlin man who ran the lab she used for experiments

Amazing to see how determined she was and how she blazed a trail for others to do good. And yet the things she did, men wouldn’t give her credit for, while the thing she opposed was blamed on her instead.