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BMW i-8

BMW i-8

Dinoasurs like me who have an affinity for muscular cars powered soley by our long deceased dinosaur cousins will have to get used to the fact that the sports cars of the future are going to be driven at least partially by electrons.  Of course, those electrons are still produced by our long deceased dinosaur cousins.  But I digress…

Now BMW has unveiled it’s new plug-in hybrid sports coupe for 2015, the i8.  Gone are the days when a BMW’s model number would tell you the specifics about the car – engine displacement, body style, etc. – apparently this one was named after an Interstate Highway?  No matter.  Autoblog gives us a complete and thorough road test of the $130,000 plus coupe which is powered by a 129 horsepower 96 Kw electric motor up front and a 231 horsepower turbocharged 1.5 liter 3 cylinder gasoline engine in the rear.  My guess is they took the venerable 3 liter six and lopped it in half.  A computer decides whether you get gas powered rear wheel drive or electric powered front wheel drive (or a combination of both) based on settings chosen by the driver and the heaviness of the driver’s right foot.  The tandem power plants deliver a combined 362 horsepower and 420 pounds feet of torque which will propel the i8 from 0-60 in a non-hybrid like 4.3 seconds.  This is due in large part to the coupe’s miniscule curb weight of 3,285 lbs. which translates into a horsepower to weight ratio of a shade more that 220 hp/ton.  Not bad.  And looks – wow!  Like a concept car.  I keep asking where are the flying cars that futurists of the sixties promised us – this one doesn’t fly, but looks like it could (or should).

 

BMW-i8-Frankfurt-motor-debut-front-3-4

 

BMW-i8-Frankfurt-motor-debut-rear-3-4

 

Impressive design, impressive engineering and impressive performance.  I would expect no less from BMW.  However… as deep as it is in design, engineering and performance, it comes up short in convenience and practicality.  There are no cupholders for the occupants of the front seats (!) and with an engine in the front and the back, there is no trunk for your junk.  BMW has yet to release economy figures.  $130K + seems like a stretch unless you’re just trying to out status the neighbors.  I still think for the money I’d have an Audi R-8.  Screw the environment.

 

Cross posted at the blog: Men Out Of Work

What makes a human different from an animal?

What makes a human different from an animal?

Or what makes a human “human” and an animal “not human”?  Well, it’s not physical charactersitics because there are animals that share our physical characteristics.  Humans have a soul and animals do not?  There is no physical proof of the presence or absence of a soul in humans or animals for that matter.  These questions and rebuttals can proceed ad infinitum.  Eventually the question is begged: Do Animals Have Rights?

I don’t think this stuff up on my own.  Usually someone a lot smarter and more articulate than I am writes something that get me thinking.  And this time it’s no different.  Via Althouse I found this article:  http://althouse.blogspot.com/2014/04/in-his-animal-law-classes-wise-told-me.html

Which in turn led me to this NYT article: “Should a Chimp Be Able To Sue It’s Owner?”

Both of these articles look at the question more from the perspective of “in the eyes of the law, what makes a human different from an animal?”  For one thing a human can communicate with his/her attorney or the court.  If the client can’t then someone is given power of attorney and the right to speak for the one who can’t.    Well that could be done for an animal as well, right?  Hmmm…  One thing seems for certain – humans are unique among the other animals of the earth and I don’t make that statement simply from the arrogance of being the Apex Predator.  And since we are unique, there is something that makes us so.  But exactly what is it?  Up for debate – ad infinitum.

And it will only get more complicated…

 

What about Robot Animals?

What about Robot Animals?

can people carry on a face to face conversation anymore?

can people carry on a face to face conversation anymore?

Well, can teens carry on a face to face conversation anymore.  They’re people, aren’t they?  I know I’ve noticed, probably so have you at times, in a coffeshop or pizzeria the table where there is sitting a group of young people, teens or a little older.  And they are all staring at their phones instead of interacting with each other.  It’s almost a cliche, it’s so common.  Young people are heavily dependent on (obsessed with?) their devices for communication.  And they’re good at it.  But can they bring it old school?  Analoggy style?  Actual face-to-face conversation with a real person who is right there with you In Real Life?  Skype  and other face chatting doesn’t count.

I’m not the only one who’s wondering.  In The Atlantic Paul Barnwell writes: My Students Don’t Know How To Have A Conversation.  Subtitled  “Students’ reliance on screens  for communication is detracting-and distracting-from their engagement in real-time talk.”,  the article is a teacher’s tale of challenging his high school students to put down their phones and effectively converse and communicate ideas with each other.  It was not an easy task.  Barnwell leads off the article with this statement:

Recently I stood in front of my class, observing an all-too-familiar scene. Most of my students were covertly—or so they thought—pecking away at their smartphones under their desks, checking their Facebook feeds and texts.

He proceeds to tell his High School Junior English class that he will be giving them assignments designed to help them practice, or in some cases learn a basic skill they would need in real life: holding a conversation.  The article then details some of the types of assignments given and results achieved as well as some of the shortfalls regarding our approach to teaching and communicating “in the 21st century”.  It would be worth the few minutes of your time to click over and read the whole thing.  Barnwell  is obviously a committed educator who is thinking of how he might serve his students after they move on from his classroon into their adult lives.  There is much emphasis in education today on technology:  many schools supply each student with a laptop and encourage electronic communication, submitting assignments via e-mail and the like.  This emphasis on technology is an overemphasis in my opinion.  While Barnwell doesn’t explicity share this estimation, he does seem to concede the possibility:

It might sound like a funny question, but we need to ask ourselves: Is there any 21st-century skill more important than being able to sustain confident, coherent conversation?

I for one do not find it a funny question, and I think the answer is clearly “No there is not a more important 21st century skill than being able to sustain confident, coherent conversation”.  The ability to receive, process, formulate and express concepts verbally is the very foundation of communication and learning.  If one had no skills other than those, it would still be possible to learn any other skills needed.  And without the skill to communicate verbally, the neccessary exchange of information for all other learning cannot succeed.  So before a child (teen? young adult? any person?) needs internet access or a smartphone or a laptop they first need to learn to use the computer between their ears.

 

 

Lessons in Human Nature…

Lessons in Human Nature…

… a continuing series.  Today we explore the disinclination of people to do things they don’t want to do regardless of the level of persuasion placed on them by other people who think they know what’s best for everyone.

Draw Your Own Conclusion

Draw Your Own Conclusion

 

Two things have jumped out at me from the news in the last few days.  The first one is that two states, New York and Massachussettts have recently passed legislation requiring that owners of certain rifles register them with the state and that the laws have been largely ignored.  State officials were taken by surprise and are not sure what the next step will be.  The second is that after the deadline has passed requiring people to enroll in a healthcare plan under The Affordable Care Act, many are still not doing it.  And their reasons for not purchasing healthcare insurance are the same reasons they didn’t do it before the law was passed.  And so passage of the law had no effect on their reasoning for inaction.

Moral?  Some people cannot be coerced into taking an action they do not wish to take regardless of whether it is actually (arguably) in their best interest to take that action.  People will do what they want to do and they won’t do what they don’t want to do.  But what I find discomforting about all this is that there appears to be a belief among our political class that they can circumvent human nature (or laws of physics, or economics) with the stroke of a pen.  And even more discomforting is that they feel no guilt over their actions since they believe are “helping” you.

 

St. Augustine brings it…

St. Augustine brings it…

 

“Truth is like a lion, you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose and it will defend itself.”.

Saint Augustine

 

You're welcome Lion

Don’t Worry…Be Happy

Don’t Worry…Be Happy

I entitled this post “Don’t Worry…Be Happy” because it sounded better than “As spirits in a material world, we sometimes have a hard time living an existence in a solid three dimensional space”.  Because here on earth over the long eons of human evolution we have learned that in order to achieve a certain outcome (our will), certain physical efforts must be made.  We have learned, initially as a matter of survival that physical things must be moved or changed to suit our will or desired outcome.  The physical solutions that were (and are) required to solve physical problems are of no effect for non three dimensional issues.  Physical assertions will produce no results in the realm of the mind.

Remember that there are aspects of our lives that are not physical.  There is a great deal that goes on inside our heads.  Certainly we are physical creatures and we exist in a solid world governed by physical (as in physics) laws.  But there is a spiritual component to our being as well that is unbound by laws of gravity, inertia etc.  Can we understand the difference between the physical and the spiritual and how to initiate changes that cannot be accomplished by movements of the physical?  How can we make changes in our non-physical realm to bring about desired outcomes?  Or is it, in fact, possible at all?  Spritually are we just along for the ride?  Do the constraints of the physical world limit the possibilities of the spiritual?  I ask these questions rhetorically, since there may not be an answer, or conversely there may be too many answers.

Seriously...

But seriously…

 

There are many things in life that people wish they could change, and in pursuit of that change we often entangle the physical and the spiritual.  We build physical barriers between ourselves and the actions that might bring those changes about.  Aren’t we strange critters.

Most people would tell you they want to be happy.  But if you ask an unhappy person what would make them happy?  Likely they will name the lack of certain material possessions.  Or they may cite the existence of conditions beyond their control for their unhappiness, as in how can I be happy when Panda Bears are going extinct?.  Or they will project onto others the blame for their condition:  Why does no one love me (when I do not love myself?).

We all have things in our lives that cause us to worry, to be angry or to be sad and these are often things outside of ourselves and beyond our control.  Can we accept the fact that there are things beyond our control or beyond our influence, and understand influence versus control?  You only control you.  You may influence others or events, but you cannot control them.

So ask yourself if you are serious about being happy.  One needn’t justify a conscious decision to live a happy and joyous life.  Act locally, and by locally I mean within the boundaries of your skull.  Stay within yourself, geographically and chronologically; Try to see this picture in your mind – envision the universe as a target and you are at the very center point of the “bull’s eye”.  In fact the center point is in the center of your mind.  The concentric circles of the target extend around that point, the first rings inside you, and then more around you, then extending out to infinity.  You control only the center point.  You have no control over the rest, the best you can do is influence.   So don’t worry, be happy.  And see what influence it has on your world.

 

How to read this here blog thingy

How to read this here blog thingy

I write about anything that happens to be of interest to me, and the subject matter is varied.  If you like what I write about some subjects but don’t care for others, look on the sidebar to the right.  You will see “categories”.  All my posts fit into one or more of these categories.  Click on the category you are most intersted in, and you will see only posts in that category.  Simple.  Within my posts I often link to additional information and/or another blog or article that inspired the post.  When you see a word in red text, that is a link to additional information.  Click on it and the link will open in a new tab.  Any pictures within a post can usually be viewed in a larger version by simply clicking on the picture.

click on the picture to see it larger

click on the picture to see it larger

 

Please comment! To the left of the title you will see a box with the date and below it a box that says comments.  Click there and a dialogue box will open where you will be able to write comments on the article. This is how I know you’re reading and I welcome all feedback on my writing. You will be asked for your name and e-mail adress but don’t worry!  You can use an alias if you don’t want to disclose your name and your e-mail adress will not be displayed, nor will I spam you.  I moderate all the comments so I will see your comment.

Thanks! and Enjoy!

Since we are on the subject of guitarists

Since we are on the subject of guitarists

As you know I think that Steve Howe is one of the best rock guitarists of all time.  Seems I never shut up about it.  Notice I sad ONE OF.  There are other greats as well and don’t pretend there aren’t.  Anyhoo… if you are a fan of Jimmy Page (who isn’t?), The Edge (of course) and Jack White (who?) you will want to watch this video which I came across at Ace of Spades HQ.  It’s a documentary featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White and it’s called It Might Get Loud.  You have to settle for a link because embedding is disabled for this video. So you get an introduction to Jack White instead:

 

Pretty Crazy.  Also – Go Read Ace.

Viking Rat invades Swedish Kitchen – is Dispatched to Valhalla

Viking Rat invades Swedish Kitchen – is Dispatched to Valhalla

According to this story  in the U.K. Daily Mail, a Swedish family was terrorized by a 15 inch (not including the tail) rat that made it’s home behind their dishwasher.  Their first clue that there was trouble afoot:  the cat refused to go into the kitchen.

Artist's depiction

Artist’s depiction

 

The pros were called in and got out the “industrial sized traps”.  The rat took the bait, the trap snapped, and the rat took off with the trap around his neck.  According to the homeowner, the rat crawled under a plant and “choked himself to death”.  So apparently a suicide.  I’m not sure if that will qualify the rodent for entry to Valhalla.

How Can An Airliner Just disappear? Part IV

How Can An Airliner Just disappear? Part IV

This is now officially a criminal investigation, as reported in The Washington Post.  The Airliner’s ACARS system initiated periodic “handshakes”with comm satellites approximately every 30 minutes for an additional seven hours after civilian radar contact was lost.  The plane’s location could not be ascertained from the signals and it is not known whether the plane was in flight for the duration of that time or if it had landed, nor is it clear whether it crashed or was landed and shut down when the system stopped communicating.

The exact amount of fuel on board is not known, but it would  have been sufficient for the scheduled six hour flight to Beijing and common practice is to carry a minimum 1 hour reserve.  Authorities have several working theories, mainly falling along three lines.  First is that the plane was hijacked either by the crew or terrorist passengers and then crashed intentionally into the Indian Ocean as an act of either terrorism or suicide.  Another theory is that the plane was hijacked by either crew or passengers with the intent to divert and land at an unknown location, but then ran out of fuel and crashed.  The final theory is the same as the second theory except that in this scenario the plane was successfully landed at an unknown location.  This third theory is deemed the unlikeliest, since authorities believe that for this to happen, the plane would have been detected entering either Indian or Pakistani airspace and as of yet there is no indication that this occurred.

Additional information:

ABC News (autoplay video)

CNN

UK Daily Mail

 

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