Tony Posawatz, Fisker CEO, waxes on clean tech and… gun control?

Tony Posawatz, CEO of nearly defunct, taxpayer-funded Fisker (who is telling congress they may be filing for bankruptcy), is shown in a brief clip talking to Alan Murray at the 2013 ECO:nomics conference. Tony talks about adoption of new technology, market penetration, and, “hey, well, we made something”

“I won’t get political on anyone here today, but if the gun industry was as regulated as my industry, we’d have a lot less issues, if you will.”

Wait, what? Someone who can scarcely manage the production of an over-priced, sometimes-running electric car has the nerve to make an non-sequitur aside at firearms?

If anything, the largest difference is one of privilege (vehicles, driving), and constitutional rights (2nd Amendment). And second, by that logic, certain urban centers in this great nation of ours should be an oasis of low-crime (looking at you DC, Chicago, Philly, NYC).

I’m not discounting further efforts that we ought to make to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, but it’s sad to see yet another smart individual equate more laws with less crime.


I am the target audience

There has been endless blabber going on about Audi’s “Green Police” super bowl commercial designed to attract attention to its new A3 2.0 TDI.

I usually would consider fellow Northwest resident, columnist, and left-wing greenie, David Roberts, to be of the same worldview on, well, anything.  However, in his latest Grist column, I agree with his closing paragraph…

Anyway, not to overthink it (ahem), but the ad is not just another pot shot at greens. It’s an appeal to a new and growing demographic that isn’t hard-core environmentalist—and doesn’t particularly like hard-core environmentalists—but that basically wants to do the right thing. Audi’s effort to reach them, however clumsy, is actually a bit ahead of the curve.

Yes, I am the target audience of this ad (if that’s an accurate translation); and I would hardly call it clumsy.  It made me laugh out loud!  And, unlike many other ads (US Census Bureau, I’m looking at you), I remembered who was selling what.  The riff on Cheap Trick’s “Dream Police” was brilliant, too.

Look, I’m in favor of conservation, I recycle to keep the regular “garbage” output to a minimum, and I try to simply use less of anything that I must.  Not because of some moral authority; mostly because it’s practical.  And I want my kids to have the same shot at fishing and hunting that I had growing up.  I want them to have the same or similar air and water quality I enjoyed.  I want logging companies to keep up the great work they’ve been doing with one of our many great, renewable and sustainable resources here in the Northwest.  And, I would really like to get out of my old 90s Ford clunker into a new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid!

Audi is a bit rich for my blood, and I would much rather buy an award-winning American vehicle that is not only a hybrid, but is also more survivable than a hatchback.

Still, the torque those diesel engines put out are amazing, and, well, Audi makes some amazing vehicles, period, but I digress.

Anyway, I part company with David on his insistence in calling those of us limited-government types, “teabaggers.”  Which is rather ironic — though not surprising — considering his opening whine line…

Is it me or were the Super Bowl commercials this year unusually ugly, misogynistic, and, worst of all, unfunny?

Meh, some were, but mostly just you, David.

The TSA FAIL continues

Lurita Doan @Big Government gives a terrific rundown on the security impotence of the TSA:

Just days ago, while standing in a long line of frustrated travelers at Dulles airport in Virginia, I received a painful reminder. TSA screeners were operating a few of the processing lanes to clear travelers, and I suggested that it looked as if TSA might need to open up more lanes to handle the holiday traffic. “No”, the TSA screener responded, “we have the right number of lanes open, it’s just that there are too many passengers.”

The TSA security kabuki theater continues.  Until this administration’s mindset changes, every last one of us that dares to fly are screwed.

Critical Stupidity

Let me make this very clear: I like bicycles and I like the idea of biking to work/elsewhere without having to use gas and getting/staying fit in the process.  In fact, I would REALLY love to start riding to my local Park&Ride instead of driving (it’s only 4-5 miles away).  However, I DO NOT like Critical Mass.

Critical Mass originally existed to draw attention to how unfriendly cities were to bicyclists.  It has now become a way to simply intimidate and piss off drivers.  This is most recently evidenced by a report in today’s Seattle Times.

Just after 7 p.m. Friday, the group of at least 100 bicyclists was moving en masse down East Aloha Street when a man and his girlfriend in a Subaru station wagon tried to pull out of a parking spot, said Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson.

For years, Critical Mass has held monthly public bike rides through Seattle to demonstrate for bicyclists’ road rights. The riders commonly engage in what they call “corking,” in which several bikers block cars while the mass of riders passes.

According to Jamieson, witnesses told officers that as the Critical Mass group moved down the street blocking traffic, some riders got in the way of the Subaru and prevented it from leaving. Some bikers sat on the car and were banging on it, he said.

“The driver was pretty fearful that he was about to be assaulted by the bicyclists,” Jamieson said.

There is an alleged eyewitness account of the rider of that smashed bike.  It’s in the Seattle Stranger (aka Seattle’s Sex Rag), so you have to take it with a grain of salt.  If it were in the Seattle Weekly, I’d give them the benefit of the doubt.

Other eyewitness accounts point out pretty clearly, to me, that the guy was being illegally detained and intimidated.  He just wanted to move on and likely didn’t understand what was going on… not that he was required to know what was going on.  Sure he may have been yelling, but he just wanted out of there.  He probably grazed a cyclist.  I’ve heard of these CM participants going ape and kicking idling/waiting cars, so you can imagine the tizzy some might be sent into if they *gasp* were bumped by an evil vehicle they were detaining.

The whole thing clearly flew apart at some point.  Whatever the driver did, it did not justify ANY other cyclists smashing in his windows and assulting him through a window.  That is vigilantism and certainly not civil disobedience; much more like anarchy.

Anyway, my message to cyclists: we are aware of you. I spend most of my time downtown as a pedestrian and I get to observe many cyclists, drivers, and their interactions.  Their interactions are mostly good.  I see both run red lights, both occasionally going the wrong way down streets, and both, at one point or another, have nearly run me down/over when I have a clear right of way.  What else I see cyclists doing: flying from street to sidewalk to street (something cars can’t casually do), yelling at cars as they’re cutting them off (drivers typically do this other drivers), flying through red lights long after it has turned (traffic cams now issue citations – can’t do so for cyclists).

Congratulations: you have nearly reached parity.  Enough demonstrations.

Ford Gets It

Nice to see an American auto company that gets it.  Now if they could just increase their reliability and match the electrical-system quality found in Honda and/or Toyota!

Ford Motor, which devoted itself for nearly 20 years to putting millions of Americans into big pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles, is about to drastically alter its focus to building more small cars.

The struggling automaker, reacting to what it sees as a rapid and permanent shift in consumer tastes brought on by high gas prices, plans to unveil its new direction on Thursday, when it will report quarterly earnings.

Among the changes, Ford is expected to announce that it will convert three of its North American assembly plants from trucks to cars, according to people familiar with the plans.

And as part of the huge bet it is placing on the future direction of the troubled American auto industry, Ford will realign factories to manufacture more fuel-efficient engines and produce six of its next European car models for the United States market.

Honestly, they should have been doing this already.  I mean, look at the way the Honda, Toyota, and Kia manufacturers have absolutely dominated that market!  As one analyst states the obvious.

Industry analysts believe Ford cannot wait any longer to reshape its manufacturing operations and step up production of smaller cars.

“Trucks and SUV’s have been so central to their strategy for so long, but the bottom line is that consumers have moved on,” said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Duh.  Let’s go, my fellow citizens, and be modest with our money and means of transport.  Not because I suggest so or because the government makes you, but because it’s just a good freaking idea for all of us.  It’s called stewardship.

So, when do we get to see the modest European Mondeo that Bond drove in Casino Royale?  I own an older, American version (known as the Contour).

Sound Transit Arrogance

Back from an extended vacation. Enough national-level ranting. Time to set upon some local nut burgers!

Here in the Seattle area we have a cluster &#@% a transit authority known as Sound Transit.  Sound Transit is years behind and billions over budget on what they have agreed to deliver.  Their arrogance has always shone through, but this is ridiculous (emphasis mine):

Sound Transit parked a new train next to Interstate 5 at Tukwila, where the public would see the agency’s progress toward next year’s grand opening of the light-rail system.

Trouble is, the site was also a prime showcase site for taggers.

The vandalism was reported to transit officials early today. The train is to be cleaned by Sunday, said spokeswoman Linda Robson.

It has been parked on an elevated guideway near the southbound freeway lanes — just north of exits to Southcenter and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. It’s a conspicuous place where 131,000 vehicles pass each weekday in the southbound direction alone.

A passer-by, Mike Muller of Tacoma, said he phoned Sound Transit several days ago to complain that the train looked like a prime target, and was assured the agency has 24-hour security. He worried that taxpayers would be stuck with a cleanup bill, he said.

But Sound Transit invested up front in paint-removal equipment and training, so its own crews will clean the damage at “minimal” cost, said Robson. “It’s one of the things you plan for when you operate an urban transit system.”

Dori Monson, a local talking head that the local libs here don’t like (surprise), unloaded:

Here’s what makes this story particularly outrageous: On June 19th, a listener to my show contacted Sound Transit and expressed concern that this train car could be vandalized. Here’s the e-mail that Mike Muller sent to Sound Transit nearly three weeks ago:

On 6/19/08 at 4:49 PM Mike Muller wrote:

I have noticed a new Sound Link Train sitting dead on the tracks near
S. 144th Street and I-5.
Curious this is sitting there at nite (12:45 AM) instead of being taken
back to the main ST building? Seen it there more than once. I have heard ST has the tunnel done and some testing being done, but leaving a train in that area at nite?

I would think vandalism could occur.

Do you have security on this train sitting there all nite?

Mike Muller

Here is the response Mike got from Sound Transit:
On 6/23/08 at 8:05 AM Doering, Carol wrote:

Thank you for your inquiry Mr. Muller. In response to your inquiry sent
Thursday, June 19th, please know that safeguards are in place to insure
that the light rail vehicle is secure while maintained at the present
site. Link Light rail is now in its testing phase and you will be
seeing more light rail cars on the track as testing progresses.

Our outreach staff is now scheduling briefings and will be present
throughout the community at fairs and festivals to educate the public
about light rail safety. Please let me know if you would like someone
from our staff to visit your community to learn more.

Carol A. Doering
Sound Transit

So here you have a citizen raising a legitimate concern about security of a public asset – and he was told “safeguards are in place to insure that the light rail vehicle is secure while maintained at the present site”. Two weeks later, the train is hit by taggers.

What were the safeguards? And if there were safeguards in place, why were vandals able to do thousands of dollars worth of damage? Was ST simply lying to a citizen whose concern obviously had great merit? I find it amazing that Mike was able to anticipate the results of ST’s stunt – but all of the six-figure salaried employees and elected officials who oversee the agency could not. But, what the heck, it’s just a few thousand more tax dollars – there’s plenty more where that came from.

According to one of the commenters, apparently the guard on duty had a ridiculous distance to traverse in order to inevitably hit the head.  That’s completely unconfirmed, but would fall inline with ST’s brilliant record of safeguarding not only taxpayer assets, but money, as well.

We’ll see how this plays out; not that I expect the local media to do much digging.  Public transit and those that work in it are holy, blameless creatures.

As much as I love public transit and improving on it, this particular transit authority needs to be replaced.  Taxpayers shouldn’t just lamely expect waste and $#!& to happen, they should demand excellence and accountability.  That means, when thing frack up, heads roll, just like they would in the REAL world.

Like that’s going to happen any decade soon.