Friday Four

Friday, February 19, 2016

1. A writer at Forbes speculates that Tesla might be on the cusp of creating a practical electric car. This sounded nuts to me until I saw that the company might well be close to addressing many of the huge problems that would require:

So what is the black swan event? It is not only that such a mass market electric vehicle could threaten oil demand growth, but that the underlying technological innovations necessary to be competitive with [internal combustion engines] threaten the entire hydrocarbon industry -- not just oil, but natural gas and coal as well. My hypothesis is that if a battery is capable of storing enough energy to move a $25,000 mid-size sedan 300 miles, then it would be cheap and small enough to mount another battery in the garage. If the garage battery is charged by roof-mounted solar and/or wind, it removes the need for incremental electricity generation from central power plants fired by natural gas or coal.
I haven't attempted to calculate how feasible this would be, particularly since a long run of cloudy days (and the current lack of charging capacity of "the grid") could still cause problems. Nevertheless, my many annoyances with global warming hysteria and Tesla's rent-seeking notwithstanding, it would be neat to see such a difficult problem solved.

2. Why would anyone want to use a 3-D printer to make a sundial? Maybe because it casts a shadow with pinholes in the shape of a digital readout of the time. (View the video full screen to see them.)

3. It's geared mainly towards academics, but I have enjoyed following Check Your Premises, the blog of the Ayn Rand Society. In particular, I enjoyed Greg Salmieri's post on "sunlight filtering through green leaves," which explains a recurring image in Ayn Rand's fiction:
...If we look over the passages in which the the lights-though-green-leaves imagery occurs I think we can see that it is, for Rand, a symbol of this view of the world and of what's possible in it -- a symbol of the conviction that she called "the benevolent universe premise." ...
And, later:
Why is it sunlight through green leaves that symbolizes this perspective for Rand? In part, I'm sure it was a personal association. There are other images that could have served the same function for another author with different experiences and preferences. But it is a very suitable image, because, as Dominique puts it "this is not just green, but also the living force of the tree made visible." The thinness and greenness of leaves that gives light the character it has when passing through them, is due to the leaves' essential function in the plant's life -- a function that they're fulfilling precisely when they are illuminated. And, because of their thinness, when they are so illuminated one can see clearly the vessels within each leaf. It is when light streams through the leaves of a tree that we can most fully appreciate that the tree is alive. We live in an environment made up largely of flourishing organisms. In such a world, it is possible for us to flourish as well.
Later this week, Ben Bayer posted a comprehensive reply to a prominent psychologist's recent misrepresentation of Rand at PBS.

Regulars here should note that new posts of Check Your Premises will automatically show up on the blogroll, as they have for some time.

4. Being back in the Northeast, I find that I have to reiterate my disagreement with the main reviewer at Beer Advocate regarding Blithering Idiot, a barley wine by Weyerbacher. The below review, by "OldManMetal," is closer to my own view:
This beer is like a singed cat- it's better than it looks. The fast-vanishing thin tannish head and sparse flecks of lacing that immediately slide back into the collar form a poor contrast to a nice-enough-looking body: hazy, ruby-brown and effervescent. The aroma makes you forget about all that; it is modestly assertive, a self-assured attention-getter that leads with cinnamon-pear-booze, then settles into an inviting, deeply sweet melange of cherry, vinous green grapes, caramel and floral tea, encompassed by alcohol overtones and undertones. The flavor is deep and sweet as well: brown sugar, plum, dark cherry and hints of toffee and cassis chase each other through an ocean of caramel-bread malt and booze, held in check somewhat by a modest herbal bitterness. The finish is caramel-cherry and quite boozy; the linger is boozy too, and lasts a few minutes. The mouthfeel is biggish for the medium-large body and quite warming from the alcohol (it's quite warming going down, too); the texture is viscous and creamy with just a hint of perceived carbonation, perfect for such a big beer...
The negative review I mentioned above does advise waiting a year or so for the barley wine to age. Perhaps I'll try this on a future purchase and then do a side-by-side. My education on beer is lacking in the aging department.

-- CAV


Today: Fixed wording of first sentence in Item 4. 


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, you mention "Blithering Idiot, a barley wine by Weyerbacher." You had me at the name--after a few years on the Internet I found that ("blithering idiot") a very expressive phrase! Note the use of irritating stock phrases you blogged about recently--I've never even seen Jerry Maguire and I know and hate that phrase frame. In the same line, I was tempted to add a "dude" or two here and there, since I actually remember hating that phrase when I first heard it (in I guess the early '90s?), then used it sardonically (no, not ironically, this was full-on sardonic-sarcastic), and now use it for humorous effect.

Oh, and this: "Being back in the Northeast..." Dude, you're below the Mason-Dixon Line! More apposite: You're smack-dab in the middle of the fringe territory of the assorted referents of the term.

Gus Van Horn said...


Dude, after shoveling three feet of show from my driveway and waiting another day and a half for the street to be ploughed, I think I've earned the right to call it "Northeast," at least during the winter. As our go-to sitter put it once, you ARE below the Mason-Dixon, but the weather says your're not in the South."

And speaking of where we live, my wife has now lived in three of the four most dangerous cities in America (and caused me to move to two of them). So, I guess we should move to Detroit some time so check off that box.