This Working Replica of Bucky Fuller’s Dymaxion Car Is Scary As Hell

This Working Replica of Bucky Fuller’s Dymaxion Car Is Scary As Hell
By Matt Novak
Apr 24 2015

Buckminster Fuller was either a brilliant inventor or a nutcase charlatan, depending on who you ask. And perhaps no single invention of Bucky’s encapsulates that divide quite like his Dymaxion car. Was it a death trap or a feat of engineering genius? The Wall Street Journal recently tested out a functioning replica and decided it was very much the former.

The vehicle I drove last week is a museum-quality copy of Dymaxion #1, one of three vehicles designed by Fuller and built by the 4D Company in Bridgeport, Conn., in the early 1930s. Jeff Lane, founder of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville and an aficionado of midcentury modern automobiles, commissioned the vehicle to fill out his menagerie of streamlined curiosities. The remaining original Dymaxion, #2, is in the National Auto Museum in Reno and is undrivable.

“I liked the early car,” said Mr. Lane. “It was the closest to Bucky’s original concept.”

Dymaxion # 1 is something of a fatalistic choice. It crashed at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, killing the test driver and injuring two passengers in an accident that was splashed across front pages, scaring off investors. Later it was sold to Gulf Oil and was burned to the axles in a refueling incident.


Video: 3:24 min

Obama Calls Police Violence a “Crisis,” Condemns Mass Neglect of Poor

[Note: Article has link to video of Obama’s complete 14 minute remarks on the topic. Most of the MSM only showed short chopped up versions of it. Worth looking at the entire speech! DLH]

Obama Calls Police Violence a “Crisis,” Condemns Mass Neglect of Poor
By Ben Mathis-Lilley
Apr 28 2015

Fielding a question about Baltimore during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Obama spoke at length about crime and police brutality Wednesday. Obama condemned Monday night’s rioting and expressed sympathy with injured officers, but also called the persistence of police violence across the country “troubling” and cataloged the systematic failures that seemingly make such issues inevitable. It was an unusually stark and perhaps even pessimistic take coming from Obama, whose statements on other recent police issues have tended to be fairly conservative and evenhanded—and whose political image is, of course, built on hope and optimism.

The president was responding specifically to a question about whether the seeming epidemic of police-community conflict constitutes a “national crisis,” and whether his own comments on such matters since Trayvon Martin’s 2012 death have been insufficient. The initial section of his extended response—he said that he wanted to make six points about the subject—expressed sympathy for the family of the late Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody, and to the Baltimore officers who have been injured. As he did after violence in Ferguson, Obama also condemned rioting and looting as the opportunistic and counterproductive acts of “criminals and thugs.” Said Obama: “It is not a protest. It is not a statement. It is a handful of people taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes and they need to be treated as criminals.”

Subsequently, though, Obama pivoted to a broader discussion of the backlash against police violence, and his tone became sharper.

The violence that happened yesterday distracted from the fact that you had seen multiple days of peaceful protests that were focused on entirely legitimate concerns of these communities in Baltimore, led by clergy and community leaders. And they were constructive and they were thoughtful. And frankly it didn’t get that much attention. And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and the thousands of demonstrators who did things the right way, I think, have been lost in the discussion.
He acknowledged the seeming deluge of similar incidents:

Since Ferguson and the task force that we’ve put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions. And it comes up, it seems like, once a week now. Or once every couple of weeks. And so I think it’s pretty understandable why the leaders of civil rights organizations, but more importantly moms and dads across the country, might start saying, this is a crisis. What I’d say is, this has been a slow-rolling crisis, this has been going on for a long time. This is not new and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.

Discussing the administration’s work reforming local police departments—including race-related retraining and grants to purchase body cameras—Obama challenged “organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions” to acknowledge that incidents of violence against unarmed suspects are “not good for police. … There’s some police who aren’t doing the right thing.” He detailed problems in low-income neighborhoods including inferior schools, drug addiction, unjust sentencing, the so-called school-to-prison pipeline, and the decline of manufacturing jobs—and suggested that the largest problem of all is public disinterest in the conditions of poor communities.


From Ferguson to Baltimore: The Fruits of Government-Sponsored Segregation

From Ferguson to Baltimore: The Fruits of Government-Sponsored Segregation
Apr 29 2015

In Baltimore in 1910, a black Yale law school graduate purchased a home in a previously all-white neighborhood. The Baltimore city government reacted by adopting a residential segregation ordinance, restricting African Americans to designated blocks. Explaining the policy, Baltimore’s mayor proclaimed, “Blacks should be quarantined in isolated slums in order to reduce the incidence of civil disturbance, to prevent the spread of communicable disease into the nearby White neighborhoods, and to protect property values among the White majority.”

Thus began a century of federal, state, and local policies to quarantine Baltimore’s black population in isolated slums—policies that continue to the present day, as federal housing subsidy policies still disproportionately directlow-income black families to segregated neighborhoods and away from middle class suburbs.

Whenever young black men riot in response to police brutality or murder, as they have done in Baltimore this week, we’re tempted to think we can address the problem by improving police quality—training officers not to use excessive force, implementing community policing, encouraging police to be more sensitive, prohibiting racial profiling, and so on. These are all good, necessary, and important things to do. But such proposals ignore the obvious reality that the protests are not really (or primarily) about policing.

In 1968, following hundreds of similar riots nationwide, a commission appointed by President Lyndon Johnson concluded that “[o]ur nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal” and that “[s]egregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans.” The Kerner Commission (headed by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner) added that “[w]hat white Americans have never fully understood—but what the Negro can never forget—is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.”

In the last 50 years, the two societies have become even more unequal. Although a relatively small black middle class has been permitted to integrate itself into mainstream America, those left behind are more segregated now than they were in 1968.

When the Kerner Commission blamed “white society” and “white institutions,” it employed euphemisms to avoid naming the culprits everyone knew at the time. It was not a vague white society that created ghettos but government—federal, state, and local—that employed explicitly racial laws, policies, and regulations to ensure that black Americans would live impoverished, and separately from whites. Baltimore’s ghetto was not created by private discrimination, income differences, personal preferences, or demographic trends, but by purposeful action of government in violation of the Fifth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments. These constitutional violations have never been remedied, and we are paying the price in the violence we saw this week.

Following the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August, I wrote The Making of Ferguson, a history of the state-sponsored segregation in St. Louis County that set the stage for police-community hostility there. Virtually every one of the racially explicit federal, state, and local policies of segregation pursued in St. Louis has a parallel in policies pursued by government in Baltimore.

In 1917, the U.S. Supreme Court found ordinances like Baltimore’s 1910 segregation rule unconstitutional, not because they abridged African Americans’ rights to live where they could afford, but because they restricted the property rights of (white) homeowners to sell to whomever they wished. Baltimore’s mayor responded by instructing city building inspectors and health department investigators to cite for code violations anyone who rented or sold to blacks in predominantly white neighborhoods. Five years later, the next Baltimore mayor formalized this approach by forming an official Committee on Segregation and appointing the City Solicitor to lead it. The committee coordinated the efforts of the building and health departments with those of the real estate industry and white community organizations to apply pressure to any whites tempted to sell or rent to blacks. Members of the city’s real estate board, for example, accompanied building and health inspectors to warn property owners not to violate the city’s color line.


Tesla’s new “Powerwall” home battery will cost $3,500 for 10kWh units

Tesla’s new “Powerwall” home battery will cost $3,500 for 10kWh units
Elon Musk extols the virtues of battery power in an evening press conference.
By Megan Geuss
Apr 30 2015

HAWTHORNE, Calif.—In the sleek warehouse of Tesla’s Design Studio, CEO and co-founder Elon Musk announced the company’s latest products—a line of stationary batteries for households and utilities meant to store energy so that it can be used when energy is scarce and/or expensive.

The home stationary battery will be called the Powerwall and it will cost $3,500 for a 10kWh unit. That unit is optimized to deal with serving a house if the traditional power grid goes down. A cheaper, $3,000 version will have a 7kWh capacity, and it will be able to help a house with solar panels deal with the daily fluctuations in energy supply.

The prices don’t include installation, and Tesla said it would be working with certified installers including SolarCity and others. Musk said that leasing the battery would be an option, and that the price point was “without any incentives” from local, state, or federal governments.

The battery weighs 220 pounds, and must be wall-mounted, but it can be located on and inside or outside wall.

In a Q&A before the event, Musk said that the batteries will have thermal management systems to allow them to power houses in hot and cold climates too—the batteries have an operating temperature range of -20C (-4F) to 43C (110F).

“The key thing for the Powerwall on the consumer side is it’s beautiful, it fits on the wall, you can put it on the outside wall of your house,” Musk told journalists. “It’s only about 6 inches thick and a few feet across and a few feet tall.”

The battery will come with a 10-year guarantee and come with integrated management software: “It will be connected to the Internet so we can create smart micro-grids,” Musk said. A version of the Powerwall specs published after the event noted that the 10 year warranty can optionally be extended another 10 years after the first warranty is up.

The Powerwall include a DC to DC converter, and “a DC to AC inverter may already be there if you have solar,” he added. “The ideal solution is really to combine this with solar, [the price of installation] is going to vary on a house by house basis. Some houses are more complex than others.”

Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel said that the Powerwall is a 400 volt battery that “doesn’t use heavy gauge wire, so that makes the installation easier.”

“You could be totally free of the grid if you want,” Musk said.


How Apple single-handedly lays waste to conservative ideology

[Note: This item comes from friend Mike Cheponis. DLH]

How Apple single-handedly lays waste to conservative ideology
By kos
Apr 28 2015

Tuesday morning, riding high after yet another gangbusters quarter, Apple reached a new high, worth more than $760 BILLION. This makes it worth more than, well, a ton of things, including all but 18 COUNTRIES in the world.
Think about that … Apple is worth more than the GDP of Saudi Arabia, or Switzerland, or Sweden. And despite being this financial juggernaut, the company is still experiencing double-digit growth. In just the past three months, Apple booked profits of $13.6 billion on $58 billion in revenue. Four years ago, the last of Steve Jobs’ reign, he bragged about hitting $50 billion in revenue … for the YEAR.

Not only are those numbers eye-watering, but that profit margin is the envy of the entire business world. The company has just shy of $200 billion in its cash horde, even as it has stepped up efforts to return cash to its shareholders. A $1 trillion valuation isn’t far away.

So by all objective measures, Apple is the most successful company in the modern era. (The Dutch East India Company wins overall top honors, with an inflation-adjusted valuation of $7.3 trillion.) Yet, keep in mind the following:

* Apple is based on California, and continues to expand its operations in the state. Conservatives bray incessantly about the Golden State’s “high taxes and burdensome regulations,” yet the world’s most high-value and innovative companies continue to be based here. You don’t see Apple or its peers fleeing to tax havens like Alabama. Why? Because those taxes and regulations actually create a favorable business climate for Apple, delivering it the talent it desperately needs.

* Apple is a corporate leader in diversity. Sure, CEO Tim Cook is the most powerful out-gay person in the corporate world, if not the entire country, but the company itself has long been a champion for gay rights, even excluding anti-gay material from the iOS app store. It seems that unlike conservative orthodoxy, tolerance and respect for people’s private life are good for business.

* Apple takes global climate change seriously, as the image at the top of this post makes crystal clear: “We don’t want to debate climate change. We want to stop it.” To that effort, Apple is spending gazillions on reducing its carbon footprint and generating its power via renewables. Not only is it good for the environment, however, but Apple makes the case that it is good for the bottom line, a reality that conservatives insist on glossing over in their desperate attempts to destroy this planet. (And yes, right wingers are waging proxy battles to reverse Apple’s investments.)

In short, conservatives are convinced that it is impossible to profit without trashing the world we live in, that environmental regulations are overly burdensome, and that our natural resources exist only to be exploited. Apple proves that profit and environmental degradation can be mutually exclusive.


The sharing economy is here to stay

The sharing economy is here to stay
Apr 30 2015

The sharing economy has been taking a bit of a beating recently. Uber continues to attract controversy, Airbnb seems to be in the news for all the wrong reasons, and car sharing is yet to become a genuine replacement for inner city vehicle ownership.

But, innovators are a lot like tightrope walkers in the circus. They require a delicate balancing act between many masters – clients, practitioners and others. Every year we may have heard the same old story, but we’re at a time where innovation is taking the road less traveled. Sustainable startups in the sharing economy are exploding. A recent survey from PricewaterhouseCoopersshows that the sharing economy is growing faster than ever.

Of the 44 percent of American adults who are familiar with the sharing economy, 86 percent say it makes life more affordable, 83 percent say it makes life more convenient and efficient and 78 percent say it builds a stronger community, according to NPR.

Take for instance the case of VIA, an up and coming transit app. They are the latest startup to attract funding and recently raised $27 million. The startup is a ride-hailing app that connects several passengers who are headed in the same route, sends a professional driver to pick them up within 10 minutes and drop them off in one spot. Likewise, Yeloha, a peer-to-peer solar network is gaining attention in the same market. The trend of ‘sharing is caring’ seems to be unavoidable, from sharing cars to homes.

Sharing, being the operable word, as this is one of the first lessons we learned as a child in kindergarten. While traditional businesses follow a simple formula: create a product, sell it and make money. In the past few years, an alternative model has come into play based on a childhood exercise. One where consumers have more choices, tools, information and more peer-to-peer power.

If you look through the eyes of a corporation, the role of customers and employees have become blurred. Conceptualize a scenario, where you walk into a convenience store and they announce that a specific brand will pay you $100 to help fill shelves that need restocking. Since you’re already in the store, you might as well take the opportunity to make a few dollars. There’s a company that does just that called, Wonolo.

They find workers to complete odd jobs and the crowd can become apart of your company. You’ll be able to crowd-augment every single business unit on demand, flexibly, at a local level. This startup actually belongs to a major retailer brand, Coca-Cola, and if corporations such as these are getting on the ‘sharing’ ship, one should board before it sails away.

Amiad Soto, CEO of Guesty (a fellow sharing economy enthusiast) is right on point when he explains that,

“the emerging sharing economy represents an entirely new way of doing business – such a different model from the past that it could even be defined as a new economy altogether. This new economy is already disrupting many aspects of the old one. “

Many economists refer to this as the era of Hypercapitalism.

Taking into account all the buzz about the sharing economy, one cannot argue that this year we’ll see a dramatic change in this industry, how it works and what it means.


The case for cuts was a lie. Why does Britain still believe it?

[Note: This item comes from friend Mike Cheponis. DLH]

The case for cuts was a lie. Why does Britain still believe it?
The austerity delusion
By Paul Krugman
Apr 29 2015

In May 2010, as Britain headed into its last general election, elites all across the western world were gripped by austerity fever, a strange malady that combined extravagant fear with blithe optimism. Every country running significant budget deficits – as nearly all were in the aftermath of the financial crisis – was deemed at imminent risk of becoming another Greece unless it immediately began cutting spending and raising taxes. Concerns that imposing such austerity in already depressed economies would deepen their depression and delay recovery were airily dismissed; fiscal probity, we were assured, would inspire business-boosting confidence, and all would be well.

People holding these beliefs came to be widely known in economic circles as “austerians” – a term coined by the economist Rob Parenteau – and for a while the austerian ideology swept all before it.

But that was five years ago, and the fever has long since broken. Greece is now seen as it should have been seen from the beginning – as a unique case, with few lessons for the rest of us. It is impossible for countries such as the US and the UK, which borrow in their own currencies, to experience Greek-style crises, because they cannot run out of money – they can always print more. Even within the eurozone, borrowing costs plunged once the European Central Bank began to do its job and protect its clients against self-fulfilling panics by standing ready to buy government bonds if necessary. As I write this, Italy and Spain have no trouble raising cash – they can borrow at the lowest rates in their history, indeed considerably below those in Britain – and even Portugal’s interest rates are within a whisker of those paid by HM Treasury.

On the other side of the ledger, the benefits of improved confidence failed to make their promised appearance. Since the global turn to austerity in 2010, every country that introduced significant austerity has seen its economy suffer, with the depth of the suffering closely related to the harshness of the austerity. In late 2012, the IMF’s chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, went so far as to issue what amounted to a mea culpa: although his organisation never bought into the notion that austerity would actually boost economic growth, the IMF now believes that it massively understated the damage that spending cuts inflict on a weak economy.

Meanwhile, all of the economic research that allegedly supported the austerity push has been discredited. Widely touted statistical results were, it turned out, based on highly dubious assumptions and procedures – plus a few outright mistakes – and evaporated under closer scrutiny.

It is rare, in the history of economic thought, for debates to get resolved this decisively. The austerian ideology that dominated elite discourse five years ago has collapsed, to the point where hardly anyone still believes it. Hardly anyone, that is, except the coalition that still rules Britain – and most of the British media.

I don’t know how many Britons realise the extent to which their economic debate has diverged from the rest of the western world – the extent to which the UK seems stuck on obsessions that have been mainly laughed out of the discourse elsewhere. George Osborne and David Cameron boast that their policies saved Britain from a Greek-style crisis of soaring interest rates, apparently oblivious to the fact that interest rates are at historic lows all across the western world. The press seizes on Ed Miliband’s failure to mention the budget deficit in a speech as a huge gaffe, a supposed revelation of irresponsibility; meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is talking, seriously, not about budget deficits but about the “fun deficit” facing America’s children.

Is there some good reason why deficit obsession should still rule in Britain, even as it fades away everywhere else? No. This country is not different. The economics of austerity are the same – and the intellectual case as bankrupt – in Britain as everywhere else.