Saturday, September 29, 2007

230 MPG?!?!

I'm impressed... and intrigued!

From the Gizmodo article:

How's 230mpg while driving at 55mph? Yes, that's short of the 330mpg first promised last year, but that's a real world number demonstrated as the company rolled out the first working prototype of this diesel-electric car in March. Part of the secret to that great mpg number is its drag coefficient of 0.11, extremely slippery. The company's also claiming a 0-60 time of 10 seconds.

It looks way-cool, too. We especially like the view from the rear of this car—it looks like a flying saucer, and the view from the side? Why, it's a banana on wheels, and we mean that in the nicest way.

And the pricing? The company insists all this tech will cost around $20K, and say the first Apteras will be delivered in "approximately 12 months." That's a long time to lend someone $500 interest-free, but hey, this is an extraordinary design so maybe we'll give 'em a pass this time.

What's the right thing to do?

Because I follow alternative energy news so closely I usually can't help but to follow the rest of the news that goes on around the world to some degree. Which isn't to say I'm actually interested in what else is going on, to be perfectly honest. I find the bulk of news that comes out is either entertaining or boring, not pertinent, passionate, or inspirational.

The problem with this sort of selective apathy I've acquired comes when I come across a particular event outside of my admittedly narrow scope that feels like a punch in the stomach. In this case, I'm referring to the protests in Myanmar.

This is certainly not the most major human rights violation this year but it highlights what I'm talking about. It freaks me out a little bit to hear that 9 people were killed during a peaceful protest but the part that affects me the most is the questions that I am left with...

Do I know the whole story? Was it really peaceful?
What does this say about Myanmar? Democracy? My own country?
Do I care? Why do I care if I do and why don't I if I don't?
Is it truly important to stay on top of world events?
What could I ever hope to do about it?

The most ubiquitous news in America is fluff news, crap news about celebrities, stories about the iPhone. As such, I'm so used to tuning the news out and customizing my news channels for the information I want (Google News Alerts for alternative stuff and for net buzz) that I miss out on a lot of the stuff other people are talking about (conflicts overseas, political stuff at home, etc). I find myself stuck in between wondering whether I should care and what it means if I don't.

I'm drowning in information 24/7. I've got 4 different subjects to study at school, a research project with additional information, I've got the regular day-to-day information about those I love, I have all the stuff from my side projects and work and my book PLUS anything else on top of that like pop culture and entertainment and anything else I want to stay informed on. No complaints here whatsoever but how is a 2007 student with a job and a life and a cause supposed to process anything outside of his current bubble of information?

Is it heartless to avoid seeking out knowledge about what goes on out there?

Friday, September 28, 2007

In the news...

Toyota gets 350 miles out of a hydrogen fuel cell car; possibility for 480 (whoa). How?

"The new model is one quarter more fuel efficient due to improvements in the performance of the fuel cell, Toyota said. The fuel tank capacity has also been increased."

What, don't want to release the information about technology that could be worth billions? Weenies. Begs the question ... who, really, could ask for anything more? MSN destroys their credibility at the end of the article with this statement:
"Fuel-cell cars are widely viewed as the most promising pollution-free vehicles for the future because they are powered by electricity generated through the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen and emit only water as a byproduct."

I'm a huge hydro proponent but this kind of broad proclamation is totally unnecessary for the article and widely viewed as uninformed. MSN: Please keep your heavy-handed social analysis to yourself?

Or me.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Yeah, I guess I'm THAT guy now

Ippy dippy reuseable shopping bags

Yes, I know have off-white shopping bags I take with me to the store. Yes, I shop at Trader Joe's. *sigh* Yes, I make sure my eggs are cruelty-free... and my meat. NO, I don't have dreadlocks now.

I saw a group of students at SDSU the other day promoting (as you can see by the picture) the Enviro-Business Society, or e3. I was very interested to see what they had going and was considering canvas shopping bags anyways so I stopped by and ended up buying a pair. They are (the bags that is) a little bothersome at first but I always thought shopping bags were such a waste. I consider this a "low-hanging fruit" type of change, one that is easy to implement and stay with.

Anyways, the bags made me feel good, the profits went to a (hopefully) good group of kids, it's a win-win folks. Check out the website and watch the video... it's entertaining to say the least. Also, make sure to click through the media gallery. This group put on a green fashion show that I'm sorry that I missed.

Per my usual M.O., however, I do have a critique...

I'm an environmentalist, I'm very green-minded, and I'm an animal lover, this is pretty well-established among people I know. I am, as well as all that, the son of a financial adviser and, as such, green-minded in a different sense. Business and finance is interesting from a "wow look at all that money moving around" perspective AND a sociological perspective as well. If you want to understand what is going on in the majority of public systems or phenomenon, you need to follow the money. Watch where the money goes, comes from, and moves between and you'll be able to explain a big chunk of how our world works. If you don't believe me, try it sometime and you might be surprised. By the way, this is probably one of the oldest axioms around, I'm not claiming sovereignty over this idea.

Point being, environmentalism has just as much to do with finance as it does with technology and good choices. If you want to know how to make green living a real thing, you have to first make it profitable through innovation and/or creative marketing (either make the value for real or make up a perceived value). An "enviro-business" society seems like the perfect answer to social problem of green living. However, as you will notice by leafing through the site, the SDSU group is just a group of environmentalists trying to raise awareness. This, while being a noble cause, is not the answer. We have had grassroots "save the ______" groups for decades and they don't make a lot of headway.

I donate to Environment California and I'll always pick up a shirt or a bag from a group like this. I sign petitions and, when I feel strong enough, I'll send an email or phone call to a member of congress. I wish e3 at SDSU the best of luck raising the public awareness but I'm just not looking for another mailing list to join.

My advice: contact the Finance & Investment Society and start aligning with each other. Get together with true business groups and start talking about a holistic solution. Branch out and make new connections and start thinking about where that symbiosis can lead. Don't be go down the same route other groups have; we don't need 30 groups saying the same thing, we need 30 different approaches to the same problem. Were a synthetic wool suit with leatherette shoes to a green rally and spread the same message. Embrace the "business" aspect of your name and you might just turn a few heads.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I think my blog format is going to change a bit.

Let me be perfectly honest: the main point of this blog is networking, plain and simple. I want to meet people in the alternative transportation industry, people working on great, new technology, people who are motivated by altruism and well as good business sense, people who want to change the world ("...or go home"). It was not my true intention to become a media re-router, a GUI for Google news or anything to that effect. There are certainly enough information sprinklers out there.

The minor goal of the blog is to motivate and inspire people to make the small (or large) changes in their life that contribute to the whole. I believe in the idea of "catalysts of change" and believe that a role model, one that believes truly in what they are doing, is important for any social change. You're not going to listen to a anti-drug speech from Britney, you won't listen to green advice from someone who doesn't recycle and drives an International CXT (the most disturbing non-commercial vehicle to-date).

The articles posted are basically my "a-ha" moments or "oh crap" moments. They are the launching point for my opinions, the basis of my thought process, the crux of my argument. The articles are only here to highlight what I have to say about the issue. And that is, of course, the point of a blog, right? Your own personal media outlet complete with your own biases and perspective?

As such, I should be far more honest with this platform that I have. My motives, in this case, are 100% selfish. I want a successful career in the alternative transportation industry and I see this space as the stepping stone. The news will stay, the commentary will grow and the focus will change.

You might be thinking "so, Josh, you're making your blog more egocentric." No, not really. Consider this: all of the news that I post from Google or Digg or anywhere else is already out there, correct? There are already a million people reading it and commenting on it and posting it. If I determine for myself that something is interesting and begs to be propagated, am I not already being quite arrogant? By thinking that it only holds meaning if I post it, is that not already establishing a sense of self-importance?

But if I still do that but also show you a picture of what I am doing to truly make a difference by being part of the solution, I am now actually CONTRIBUTING. I'm not just a pundit, I'm a news-maker, it makes me a participant rather than an observer. And that, simply put, is the best part of the green movement at large. Take the easy route, swallow the soma, and extricate your concern or research your purchases, speak out boldly, and spread the word.

So, watch this space for changes... more effort on my part, more personal photos, more details about what I personally I am doing. Comment if you'd like, write me if you want and follow my lead... if you care!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tesla roadster hits 245 mile range

Amazing for an all-electric sports car!

Our EPA combined range of 245 miles is the result of an intensive engineering effort to maximize efficiency and provide the highest-possible range without compromising the Roadster’s other key attributes. We are now in the process of certifying these results so you can expect to see them on our window-sticker as soon as production starts.

Note also that the improved efficiency of the Tesla Roadster has provided other benefits – recharge time-per-mile and electricity cost-per-mile have been reduced, while the overall battery lifetime mileage has been improved.

Overall, we are incredibly proud to have developed the highest-range production electric vehicle in history with a result that is very close to our original claim — all while retaining the performance of a world-class sports car.

I would love to get my hands on one for these for an afternoon... 248 horsepower, very lightweight, and, because of the drivetrain (electric motors), torque is available from 0 RPM, i.e. instant full acceleration!

Only $100K too. A bargain to be sure.

Tesla Roadster

Tesla Roadster

Monday, September 24, 2007

The tipping point

Please note that this article comes about two weeks AFTER my post about this industry being an ABSOLUTELY PROFITABLE endeavor. I'm not at all claiming I'm the originator of this idea by any stretch of the imagination, just that I might know what I'm talking about ;)

This, my friends, is the tipping point.

John Doerr is one of Silicon Valley's more successful and higher-profile VCs, with big wins including early investments in Symantec,, and more recently, Google.

This success, I believe, gives his words some weight. So when he says, as he did in November, that global warming is real and that "cleantech" is "the biggest economic opportunity of this century," my ears -- and yours -- should perk up.

The tipping point is that place where you can feel the change happening for real. I think there is a book of the same title and, though we may be talking about the same thing, I'm not directly referring to his hypothesis.

When money goes a certain direction, things happen. This has got to be an economic law of some sort: money makes things happen.

But this is a special kind of money, this is corporate money, BIG money. This isn't federal grant money or concerned citizen donation money, the kind of money that says "oooh, that's nice! I wonder what that is! Here, have some money, I'm curious." This is VC money, dot-com/bomb money, the money that says "uhh, yeah, get off your ass and make things happen, buddy." This is the only kind of money that can save the world.

If you've been reading my blog, you know why this is the ONLY way that this "cleantech" (their word) stuff can get off of the ground. Reading something like this makes me excited x2... first, because we might just turn this place around and second, the glorious feeling that I chose the right career path. Vindication!

Does anyone have any information about green investing? The fund mentioned in the Motley article has not seen any massive spikes or dips which is a good sign for right now. I'd like to more some of my IRA in this direction... hey, I'm betting thousands of dollars and several years for an education to work in the field, why not my nest egg as well, right?!?!?!

What am I even saying... who needs a nest egg or a job when you're already a total baller like me.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Found in the paper

I love digital media and a good amount of the societal changes brought with it. Additionally, I'm not a fan of useless using (overpackaging, spam paper mail, paper bills). So is it may seem funny that I would find something interesting in a paper. There is, however, something to be said about a Sunday morning with someone you love, a cup of coffee and a paper. The picture above, obviously, only represents one of these.

Accoutrements and general interior color choice aside, this residence is amazing. Imagine having this big piece of earth in the middle of your house like that. I'm still trying to wrap my head around what the rock does for temperature regulation. Either way, the house is made of straw and the rock, IMHO, is a gorgeous addition.

More sites here if you're interested.
Sustainable features include:

High-performance window glazing, unobstructed south-facing windows, light shelves to reflect natural light to upper floors, vantage lighting systems, high-performance HVACs, high-efficiency lighting with daylight sensor controls, tankless water heaters, Energy Star appliances, waterless urinals, low-flow showerheads, sensor-activated lavatories, recycled metal for the roof, young-growth lumber, renewable materials like bamboo, kirei, rubber, Marmoleum, re-claimed wood benches, recycled airplane tire door grates, no-VOC and low-VOC paints, low-VOC adhesives and sealants, CRI Green Label carpets, site impact minimization like replanting all existing palms to a new site, light-colored concrete, drought resistant trees, 70% shade cover, demolished building recycling, recycled content steel framing, 30 kW photovoltaic system, Thermosyphon water heater, cross ventilation & thermal chimney with operable windows, dual glaze, low-E windows, low flush toilet, thermal control water taps, drought tolerant native landscaping, beams and all structural supports made from compressed recycled materials, Energy Star cool roof coating, recycled structural steel, engineered lumber, Trex decking, recycled aluminum window frames nontoxic materials, salvageable lumber donated for housing in Mexico, high efficiency refrigeration system, motion sensor lighting throughout, low open-plan dividers and interior windows provide natural light in interior spaces...

That's the list from, like, 3 of the 17 sites. Pretty cool huh? I can't wait to build my own.

What I meant on Friday was...

My post on Friday was a bit disconnected, sorry about that. Let me see if I can explain myself better.

Social conflicts of opinion can usually be seen as a group of optimists ("ops")positioning themselves against a group of pessimists ("mists") or vice versa. Who came first matters in this case because a group of ops can start to change massive public opinion before the mists can get in there. You can apply this model to almost any public debate: the environment, the economy, The War, etc. Even more convenient for me and my theory is that you can MAKE it fit anything: Thai vs Chinese food for dinner, the decision to have kids, MySpace.

When you have these well-defined groups it makes it very easy for the debate to continue ad inifitum. Pick a side, read the appropriate literature, and, soon enough, everyone has an opinion. Unfortunately for the subject at hand, not a lot gets done because it appears to be hard for people to have an opinion and still keep their mind open. A two-party system appears where you're either one or the other, you're either part of the problem or part of the other problem.

The environmental debate rages on just like this, one side versus the other. We're either on a course for utter destruction or everything is completely fine. The grey area is approaching zero like an e^(-x) function.

Just like any social debate, the answer, OF COURSE, always and will always lie in the grey area. If you are unwilling to believe this you need to check your convictions and start reading more.

Which is why I enjoy examining the middle. I like the idea of our chemists and biologists and physicists working diligently (like we enjoy) towards real progress. I also like the idea of them getting to their jobs on magnetic trains, bicycles and EV scooters because that's the only way to get anywhere anymore.

I like the idea that everyone has a backpack they take with them because that's how much stuff you need to get through your day. You have your own coffee cup and silverware and you don't leave home without your touchpad PC/reader or your solid-state hard drive copy.

I like the idea of our crappy, destructive, selfish technology (think thoughtless use of fossil fuels, thoughtless industrial pollution, thoughtless waste creation) crumbling apart as it becomes unnecessary and outdated. I like the thought of vastly unsustainable corporations shrinking and being gutted, forced to make changes that they mocked for years as being "unproductive" and "not profitable." I like the intricacies of biology taking over where human ingenuity has reached a perceived brick wall. And I like the fact that all of this can only happen at such a pace that you have no idea what's happening until it does... because that's just the way it is.

I'm not a hippie and I'm not a captain of industry so I like the grey.

Well, sometimes: