25
Aug 11

Linkwad.

  1. Could the dentist’s drill go the way of bloodletting?
  2. Didja hear about Steve Jobs? Didja didja didja? Anyway, here’s the quotable Steve Jobs.
  3. I guess I slept through the aftershock from Tuesday’s quake.
  4. The Baltimore Grand Prix looks like it’s crashing and burning, even before the green flag drops.
15
Aug 11

Black flag.

Over the weekend, the Sun had a good, if long, piece on the Baltimore Grand Prix, which I’ll summarize in two quotes for the TL;DR set. One!

Parthemos said city employees teamed up with race organizers to produce an economic impact report that indicated the race would have an economic impact of $70 million — nearly twice that of the long-established events in St. Petersburg and Long Beach.

City officials did not complete an independent report on the viability of a street race in Baltimore, but Parthemos said they did their “due diligence.”

“There wasn’t an actual comparison report, but [we were] calling St. Pete’s and having conversations with their teams and calling Long Beach and having conversations with their teams,” she said.

Rawlings-Blake and Parthemos traveled to the Indianapolis 500 last year — at the city’s expense — to meet with IndyCar executives and get an up-close view of how that city puts on a race.

Still, challenges remained. Race backers never produced a title sponsor for the event. And they asked the Maryland Stadium Authority for more time to make bond payments on a $2 million project to create a pit lane in the parking lot at Camden Yards.

Two!

Most races lose money in their first one to three years, according to industry officials. IndyCar builds its schedule around a group of cities, notably Long Beach, Calif., and St. Petersburg, Fla., that have established successful annual events.

Other cities have flirted with street racing, only to see plans fall apart when the rubber met the road.

San Jose, Calif., gave a $4 million subsidy to organizers of the San Jose Grand Prix in the hope that the downtown street race would be a fixture for years to come. It folded in 2007, after three years.

“There’s certainly value to the national, international media exposure,” said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. “It brings people to town. But at some point, you have to decide whether you can afford all of that good stuff.”

The governments of Ontario and Toronto spent $2 million in 2008 to keep the Grand Prix of Toronto there. The race was running deficits and the future of the event was in jeopardy.

In St. Petersburg, the city went from charging race organizers $80,000 annually for firefighters, police and sanitation workers, to giving organizers a $150,000 subsidy for those services.

“If you can break even or even come close in this day and age, or not just get annihilated without a title sponsor, you’ve done a hell of a job,” said veteran racing columnist Robin Miller.

I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion the underpants gnomes were running the city.

06
Jul 11

Linkwad.

  1. Yes, you should absolutely wear a helmet on a motorcycle.
  2. A new, exhaustive profile of Bradley Manning. One of his interlocutors also posted some thoughts on Manning’s situation.
  3. Some ways Google+ is better than Facebook, via @TimOReilly. Google will also require your profile to be public, and rename Blogger and Picasa, in an effort to become more monolithic unify its brands.
  4. Of course corporations are falling over themselves to build surveillance software for China.
  5. Real police tactics being used in robberies by fake police officers.
  6. These LED light bulbs are indeed gorgeous (also: not yet available).
  7. Spanish anti-piracy crusaders charged with stealing €1.3 million.
24
Jun 11

Automation.

Via /., Volkswagen just tested out a semi-self-driving car:

The system maintains a safe distance to the vehicle ahead, drives at a speed selected by the driver, reduces this speed as necessary before a bend, and maintains the vehicle’s central position with respect to lane markers. The system also observes overtaking rules and speed limits. Additionally, stop and start driving maneuvers in traffic jams are also automated.

The good news–or bad, depending on how you look at it–is that compared to the more advanced autonomous driving technologies, Volkswagen’s latest Temporary Auto Pilot is based on a relatively production-like sensor platform, consisting of production-level radar-, camera-, and ultrasonic-based sensors supplemented by a laser scanner and an electronic horizon.

This means that we could see a production version within the next couple of years.

VW is careful to say that owners would need to oversee the system, of course, but this is a big step towards  having personal cabs. On the one hand, this could be great. DUIs could become nonexistent1, and having a computer in charge of acceleration should produce better fuel economy and better traffic flow. On the other hand, being able to do do things while in the car would give people another reason to forgo mass transit, which is a much more effective way to achieve both those things.

  1. Well, for those who can afford self-driving cars.
27
May 11

Linkwad.

  1. People you didn’t know were part Asian, via @Sugarfreak. I knew about Karen O, but none of the rest.
  2. I have a mental list of people who make me feel old, and yes, there are lots of professional athletes on the list.
  3. This is an accurate critique of Parks and Rec, but it’s kind of like complaining that you never see anyone on Friday Night Lights being taught to pass block, or that the Community study group never seems to actually study or go to class or take tests.
  4. Old drivers are the worst, via Caroline. In my experience, Maryland drivers are also pretty stunningly bad.

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