Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

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Tagged cars

Is excitement for electric cars “optimism bias”?

Courtesy Tesla

Before I write another word, let the record show that I admire, appreciate, and even covet Tesla cars. Their instant torque, modern styling, simple engines, and overall innovation are a thing of beauty.

But there’s a fundamental problem with electric vehicles today: they’re all powered by dirty energy and heavily subsidized by government incentives, argues Berkeley physicist Richard Muller. “There is little to no environmental benefit, since in most of the world the electricity is derived from coal,” he writes. In fact, “an electric car in China produces more CO2 than does a gasoline car.”

Even in states such as California, where only 25% of their energy is renewable, we’re still along ways from sustainably clean cars. Obviously, we’ve made progress and don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water. But Muller brings up a good point: Is 100 mpg gas mileage from combustable engines (which we’re approaching) more environmentally friendly than a 250 mpg coal-based electric vehicle?

For the time being, Muller argues no. “Prices of batteries have come down, but not nearly enough to negate the high cost of owning such a car.”

All of that could change, of course, with breakthrough gains in battery storage or clean energy. But for now, we’re still in the “Kickstarter” phase of electric vehicles. Exciting but not fail-proof.

Fewer parts which can fail: The most convincing argument for electric cars

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The world wouldn’t be as amazing today if it weren’t for the combustable car engine, pictured at left.

But this engine is 100 years old, has a lot of moving parts that can fail, and isn’t nearly as simple, efficient, or as powerfully fast as the much simpler and smaller engine pictured at right—a newer Tesla motor that fits neatly between rear wheels.

“I think many people don’t realize what we are witnessing at the moment,” writes Quora expert Andrius Adamonis. “Several years from now, we will look back and think, ‘WOW! We used to have engines that were powered by small EXPLOSIONS inside!'”

The world’s greatest inventions have one thing in common

courtesy image

courtesy image

I recently finished Highbrow’s excellent 10-day course on inventions that changed the world.

In keeping score, half of the cited inventions quickened the sharing of information (writing, printing press, telephone, personal computer, internet). A third hastened our transportation (steam engine, automobile, airplanes). One marginalizes or maximizes physical dominance, depending on who owns more of it (gunpowder). And the last one lengthens our days (light bulb).

Interestingly, every one of these inventions involve some element of speed. The speed of a bullet. The speed of light. The speed of travel. The speed of knowledge. That’s why the world moves at an increasing rate. Our greatest inventions all involve speed.

Even this century’s greatest inventions largely involve speed. How fast you can get new or old music to your ears (iTunes, Spotify). How fast you can get answers to questions (Google). How fast you can connect with friends and family (Facebook, SMS). And how fast you can see the latest cat videos (YouTube).

Of course, many of these inventions involve size, frequency, and power. But when it comes to bigger, stronger, better, and faster—always bet on faster. It’s the future. And it’s likely what the “next big thing” will do more than others.

Click: A few of my favorite links this month

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In an effort to reduce the spam I email to friends and family, take this:

Although ideal for families, my car doesn’t attract the ladies

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I’m a volunteer youth leader, which means I chaperon on Tuesday nights and teach Sunday School once a month.

Two weeks ago, a couple of leaders and I took the lads to the rec center to play racquetball. Afterwards, one of the freshman boys riding in my car rolled down the shotgun window to cat call a girl he knew.

“You realize you’re riding in a station wagon,” I told him. “Yeah, that might not be a good idea,” his passenger friend added.

The window was quickly rolled up.

I’m about to buy a swagger wagon

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In preparation for a bigger car, Lindsey and I sold our beloved Jeep this weekend. As a replacement, we’re planning to buy a 2007 Ford Freestyle, which seats 6-7, but handles like car instead of a splashy SUV or van. After seeing the above commercial, I’m officially calling our anticipated new ride the Swagger Wagon. Only better because it’ll look like a Volvo instead of a paddy wagon.

Boycott companies that beg for bailout money

They can take away my representation, but that can’t take away my purchasing power.

I’ve said it before, but it’s been frustrating to watch the ballooning growth of our national debt, after eight years of unprecedented ballooning. For a long time, it seemed as if I was powerlessness to what was going on—like I couldn’t fight back.

Not anymore.

Continue reading…

Oh the irony of multi-level marketers

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It’s a little difficult to read, but that posh, Geo Prism promises you can make $20k a month while working from home. Now I understand a lot of millionaires drive run-down cars, because cars are a lousy investment. But something tells me this guy isn’t a millionaire (hint: it’s the tasteless ad written in long hand).

[Photo by Mark Ormond, while driving even]

Hey Big Oil: Since when did you become “energy” companies?

Dear Big Oil (Exxon Mobil, Chevron, you know who you are):

I’ve grown weary of seeing your good-will commercials where you now refer to yourselves as “energy companies.” Sorry fellas, but your record profits this year didn’t come from any alternative energy. It came from oil.

But that will soon change. As clever and courageous scientist develop cheaper, sustainable fuels that you don’t control, I’ll smile as you scramble to adapt and suddenly drop your prices. Competition can be such a drag, I know — especially after going uncontested for 100 years.

So… good luck with your rebranding efforts (snickers).

Love,

Smooth Harold

I killed a deer with my Jeep on Dec. 1


This is the front grill of my 1999 Jeep Cherokee after colliding with a large deer while heading south on East Canyon Road just outside of Orem. You should have seen the deer.

I’m happy to report that Lindsey, Sadie, Maddie, and I are all fine — though it could have been much worse had I not just plowed through the thing, especially given the snowy conditions. Jeep is currently under repair at the body shop.

Immediately after hitting the prancing beast at 55 miles per hour and pulling over to power down my smoking engine, Sadie kept repeating, “Scary.” It was.

General Motors scored Omega Supreme on free Transformers advertising

Despite its recent troubles, General Motors is the luckiest company in the world over the next few weeks according to Jalopnik. The car-loving blog — while heavily praising the movie’s entertainment value– says the highly-anticipated Transformers movie is basically a 144-minute commercial for GM. From the article:

“What makes this arrangement so amazing is that GM didn’t pay Paramount a single dime to get it done. That’s right — not a single penny changed hands between the big n’ beefy automaker and the big n’ beefy studio. Sure, GM provided some in-kind contributions of concept vehicles and the like, and of course they’ve got their own marketing budget running their own marketing campaign — but unlike other automakers, they didn’t drop a single pence into Paramount’s pocket for the privilege of having themselves featured in a movie [aimed at the coveted 15-35 male demographic, you know, the ones that buy a lot of cars] about cars that change into robots.”

Lucky…

NOTE: Transformers looks incredible! At first I thought the movie and its premise seemed too lame for the big screen, not to mention juvenile and over the top. But after seeing (and hearing) the amazing CG, cinematics, and deep sound, I cannot wait to see this film. “Autobots, transform. And roll out!” (spoiler-free review here)