Friday, March 21, 2008

How do you like...

... the new look? Not drastically different but enough, IMHO.

Comments, please!

The Air Car

Some people might file this in the "Well, Now I've Seen Everything" file but I hope that, by the end of this post, you'll realize the folly in doing so.

First, what the heck am I talking about? I'll let the slightly misleadingly titled manufacturer of this vehicle explain:

If you can, imagine a vehicle that runs on air, achieves over 100 gas-equivalent mpg and over 90 mph, has zero to low C02 emissions, seats six, has plenty of space for luggage, cuts no safety corners, and costs no more than an average economy to mid-size vehicle. This is the expected performance of the revolutionary compressed air vehicle that Zero Pollution Motors (ZPM) is introducing to North America. The vehicle is powered by the Compressed Air Engine (CAE) developed by Motor Development International (MDI), a 15-year old company based in Nice, France, and headed by inventor and Formula One race car engineer, Guy Negre. ZPM is the exclusive representative for MDI in the United States.

Plainly put, that's precisely what we need around these parts. It addresses safety, performance, space, and cost. Looks are relative but I like it:

...especially the truck version:

I am obliged to point out the fact that, while it is great to have a car that does not pollute the air with it's actual motion, movement is not free. Energy to propel things comes from somewhere so whether it is combusting high-energy petroleum-based fuel in a confined space or it's using stored electrons to affect electro-magnetic fields, the energy comes from somewhere. In this case, that somewhere is simply an air compressor at your house/gas station that has to be powered somehow.

That being said, this little car, in a VERY creative way, addresses a lot of the problems we face with personal transportation. First, since compressed air is easy to come by and can be created a number of different ways, it is a fantastic decentralized solution. Anywhere that power can be found, an air compressor can exist. It's not directly addressing our global issue with energy but it is definitely an "open-source," "socialistic" solution (meaning that the power to power these cars is not concentrated geographically or politically).

Second, these little cars will stay nice and clean. The engine bay won't get gunked up, no batteries to leak, just air in, air out.

Third, compressed air is certainly less dangerous than compressed hydrogen or non-compressed gasoline, diesel, or ethanol.

Fourth, it's just innovative! What a great idea it is to power cars this way. I mean, what a great excuse for uber-handy men and women to score an air compressor. Let me tell you, between power-washing the car (using less water in the process), popping bolts off my wheels, and power-dusting the storage unit, I could definitely use a little air power in my life. I'm not kidding, I'd love an excuse to have an air compressor and any mechanically inclined human being should feel the same way.

Inhabitat weighs in on this one:
Reservations for the Air Car will begin early this year, and we are sure that interest in the vehicle will run quite high. While there will be different models around, the company is really focusing its efforts on bringing a six-seat modified version of the CityCAT. This new CityCAT version will not only come with more space, but will also come with a more radical version of the MDI engine, that, according to ZPM, will achieve a top speed of up to 96 miles per hour and a stunning 1000 miles travel distance.

EcoGeek does as well:
MDI has developed a way for the car to get a range of over 800 miles! A small petrol engine heats the air, providing the extra energy necessary to get the car up to 95 MPH and more than triples the vehicle's range. So, indeed, you will have to fill up both a gasoline tank and an air tank to get the car to work.

Thumbs up from me! So many options to consider when I get around to buying a new car...

Monday, March 17, 2008

JoshisJosh "news"

I put news in quotes up there to make sure you don't think that somehow my life is all that newsworthy (yet). Here is what is going on in my life and how it all fits together.

-> I'm getting back into the swing on this blog, I'm happy to say. My goal is two posting days per week, Monday and Friday. I'm going for consistency more than anything so if I have to save an article for a couple days, I will. Keeping commenting and keep spreading the word... hopefully these posts help motivate you like they do to me. Also, look forward to a light remodel to this blog... the look is really tiresome to me and I'm itching to show off my minimal HTML skillz.

-> I've been putting in a lot of time building a website for a close friend/family member and, thankfully, I've finally gotten it to a point that we're now just working on content. Please check it out if you have a chance and comment here with what you think (positive or negative... if you don't know me personally, I want your feedback even more).

-> In a similar vein, I've been moving forward with in terms of breadth and depth. I wrote an article, started my new blog at, and added myself to Kudzu, yellowpages, and Yahoo businesses (I would add Google but they want my address and it would be my home address so I'm not sure how I feel about that). Look forward to some new additions to the website, another article, and some new projects.

-> I'm getting into this Twitter thing: It's called "micro-blogging." It first look, it seems like something your teenage daughter might latch on to and, in a way, that's probably true. But the point is just a quick place to update your life and check how others are doing. It works the best when you're on-line for long periods of time (like me) and can update throughout the day. You can update from your phone (meh), by logging in on your site (meh), or by simply adding to you Gtalk or Gchat and sending an IM (bingo). If this sounds at all interesting, add me and start updating! Or just watch my unbelievably exciting life unfold before you! I do intend to use this more and more... possibly as an update tool for a project group (stay tuned).

Feedback? Ideas? Comments? Questions? Add them here or try me at:

Frightening to say the least.

This article from The Guardian, a long-standing, independent news source in the UK, caught my eye today. Summary (in their words):

Global warming is doubling the rate of sea level rise around the world, but attempts to stop it by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be futile, leading researchers will warn today...The oceans will rise nearly half a metre by the end of the century, forcing coastlines back by hundreds of metres, the researchers claim...The analysis showed that during the past 5,000 years, sea levels rose at a rate of around 1mm each year, caused largely by the residual melting of icesheets from the previous ice age. But in the past 150 years, data from tide gauges and satellites show sea levels are rising at 2mm a year.

More damning evidence comes from another study cited in the article:
In two further studies, also published in Science, a team of German researchers put figures on the extent to which the climate is warming compared with any time during the past 650,000 years. They report that levels of the most ubiquitous greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, are rising 200 times faster than could be caused by any natural process. Carbon dioxide levels are now 380 parts per million, some 27% higher and methane levels 130% higher than at any time over the period they analysed.

For me, that's worrisome.

The article goes beyond simply presenting the data and says there is really not a damn thing we can do about it. The sea level will rise, beach-front property will become submerged and the hippies that live a few blocks back will become millionaires. That, literally, could happen.

So why, of all people, do I sound so nonchalant about this disturbing news? First off, it is not surprising to me, it simply reinforces what I know to be, more or less, true. These are appearing in scientific journals, sources of information that are not biased in any direction (or, I should say, they are the least biased sources available). But, I can tell, I'm going to go off on a tangent and lose my original point.

Why isn't this scary? Because no one else gives a rat's ass so why should I? Let me explain..

In keeping up with this blog, I have taught myself a very important lesson about people: nothing gets done until it has to, for one reason or another. On the small scale, people stay in marriages that don't work for decades before finally giving up and wishing they had done so long ago. People waste away in jobs, letting their talent stagnate and atrophy until they feel like there is nothing else around them. Some people ignore growths, symptoms, and poor health until they collapse or reach a critical mass (no pun intended) and end up in the hospital.

On a larger scale, our industries pollute water sources and nature repeatedly until a sharp increase in some kind of mal effect appears and then they move on to a different spot. We're letting our economic situation get worse and worse and worse until... who knows what will swing it back around (*cough* Obama *cough*)? And we will continue down this path until 10K/100K/1mil/10mil/100mil people die or are displaced before massive action begins.

We're seeing the beginnings of very important changes (political leaders citing the environment as an issue [finally], people changing their buying behavior, a fantastic new green culture and community) but we're not going to see any preemptive changes that make a big difference. We will see a scrambling after something major happens and can be undeniably tied to human behavior. I'll be honest; I'm a little scared to think about what has to/might/will happen before this change occurs. I'm not an alarmist and I'm not an extremist but I think the direction we are going is ridiculous and irresponsible and I think that a huge population of people will pay the price - if that hasn't happened already.