Posts Tagged ‘Transportation’

Ford E-Bike Concept

21 Sep
Apparently someone decided that building four-wheel vehicles just wasn't enough. The Ford E-Bike Concept ($TBA) is the storied automaker's look at two-wheeled transportation, and true to typical automotive concepts, it...

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Oversecured America

23 Nov

I suppose I agree with Kevin Drum about one aspect of the Transportation Security Administration namely that public outrage about the indignities it imposes seems to me to be 80 percent middle class white people not liking the idea of being placed in the subordinate position of a dominance hierarchy, 19 percent about yearning for America to adopt institutionalized racism as the lodestar of our transportation security policy, and maybe one percent about liberty.

That said, I think everything else Drum says is wrong. I think American air travel security was too tight even before 9/11. I think the main lessons of 9/11 should be that keeping weapons off planes is largely futile and that training of flight crews is highly effective. As of the morning of September 11, 2001 the standing doctrine was to allow hijackers to take control of planes and that’s what happened. As quickly as later that morning doctrine shifted and the passengers and crew of United Flight 93 brought their own plane down, preventing its use as a projectile.

Not just airlines, but America as a whole is, I think, over-secured against terrorist by this kind of weapon screening. One should back up and consider the baseline. If you assume the existence of a person willing to die for Osama bin Laden’s war on America, located within the United States of America, and in possession of a working explosive or firearm, there’s basically nothing stopping him from blowing up the 4/5/6 platform at Union Square or the 54 bus in DC or the Mall of America or even the security line at DFW airport. And yet it doesn’t happen. Does that mean we could get by with no security anywhere? I say: no. But we should start with the idea that the main point of security is simply to push attacks around. The bank has security guards to encourage you to rob the liquor store down the street. Personal security for a handfull of high-ranking government officials makes sense. Better that some madman take a shot at me than take a shot at the President or try to seriously alter the course of American politics by blowing up a restaurant where John Roberts and Sam Alito are having lunch.

But there are real limits to this. Is the life of the Secretary of Agriculture or the Mayor of Indianapolis really that much more valuable than you or me? We should be skeptical. The public choice argument that the government will over-invest in the security of its own facilities and personnel is strong. Airplanes, in this spirit, seem more vulnerable to attack than buses and deserve tougher security. But don’t ask yourself “what amount of hassle and expenditure is worth paying to prevent terrorist attacks,” ask yourself “what amount of hassle and expenditure is worth paying to shift terrorist attacks off airplanes and onto buses”? Much of the resources currently spent on “security” measures would be much better spent on having more police officers. Ordinary violent crime continues to be a very serious problem in America, and reducing its incidence would vastly improve people’s physical security and free up investigatory resources to make serious plots harder to pull off.


Hundred Year Starship Initiative plans to put people on Mars by 2030, bring them back by… well, never (video)

31 Oct
For a while now, there has been a conversation going on in certain circles (you know, space circles): namely, if the most prohibitive part of a manned flight to Mars would be the return trip, why bother returning at all? And besides the whole "dying alone on a hostile planet 55-million-plus kilometers from your family, friends, and loved ones" thing, we think it's a pretty solid consideration. This is just one of the topics of discussion at a recent Long Now Foundation event in San Francisco, where NASA Ames Research Center Director Pete Worden discussed the Hundred Year Starship Initiative, a project NASA Ames and DARPA are undertaking to fund a mission to the red planet by 2030. Indeed if the space program "is now really aimed at settling other worlds," as Worden said, what better way to encourage a permanent settlement than the promise that there will be no coming back -- unless, of course, they figure out how to return on their own. Of course, it's not like they're being left to die: the astronauts can expect supplies from home while they figure out how to get things up and running. As Arizona State University's Dr. Paul Davies, author of a recent paper in Journal of Cosmology, writes, "It would really be little different from the first white settlers of the North American continent, who left Europe with little expectation of return." Except with much less gravity. See Worden spout off in the video after the break.

Continue reading Hundred Year Starship Initiative plans to put people on Mars by 2030, bring them back by... well, never (video)

Hundred Year Starship Initiative plans to put people on Mars by 2030, bring them back by... well, never (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 31 Oct 2010 03:03:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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17 Classic Car User Interfaces, Otherwise Known as Dashboards [Classic Cars]

10 Sep

Sure, your car dashboard may have a lot of cool buttons and computer displays, but chances are it lacks something that many classic cars have in abundance. A little something I like to call "style." OObject has put together a list of 17 classic cars (and even one new classic in the Audi TT) that fall into this classy category—cars like the 1906 Stanely Steamer (which looks like a friggin' time machine), the '58 Chevy Impala and the '57 Porsche 356 Speedster. [OObject]

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