What I’ve been reading

by John Quiggin on July 30, 2005

I’ve decided to do a pre-announcement review of the candidates for the 2005 Hugo Award for best novel. I’ll post a draft before too long, I hope.

But one vision of the future disturbs me. I was reading Charles Stross’ Iron Sunrise (a strong contender, but I liked his Singularity Sky better), set in the 24th century, and he introduces a character who had inherited the masthead of The Times and announced his profession as “warblogger”.

I don’t really suppose our little virtual community is going to last a thousand years, or even 300, but just in case, can’t we find some way to agree on a better name than “blogger”?

Hybrids

by Jon Mandle on July 30, 2005

I recently traded in a 2000 Toyota 4-Runner to buy a new Prius. It’s great. My gas mileage tripled – over its 1500 miles so far, it has averaged around 50 mpg. The sight-lines take a little getting used to – or maybe it’s just the adjustment after climbing down from an SUV – but it handles well and I’ve had no problem with power. I’m very happy with it and its “super ultra low emissions.”

It will also be nice to claim a tax credit next April. However, starting next year, a provision of the new Energy Bill will cap at 60,000 per company the number of hybrids that can claim a credit. “This year alone, Toyota projects it will sell 140,000 hybrids.”

During the two quarters immediately after the cars and trucks of the automakers become ineligible for the full credit, buyers would receive 50 percent of the credit. The next two quarters after that, the credit is 25 percent. The credit is phased out entirely at the end of the fifth full quarter after the automaker sells 60,000 hybrids or advanced diesels.

“By capping the credit, Congress has limited the incentives available to companies that have been at the forefront of hybrid technology” – namely, Toyota and Honda. Way to get those incentives right, guys!

Meanwhile, Toyota is taking full advantage of its remaining incentives. The new Lexus hybrid uses its additional electric power not to increase its gas mileage, which in real world conditions stays exactly the same as its gas-powered equivalent, but to boost its horsepower. (However, the additional power seems to be largely offset by the increased weight of the hybrid system.) And, yes, it still does qualify for the tax incentive – up to the 60,000 cut-off, of course.

Botuli gratia botulorum

by Henry on July 30, 2005

From the back of a packet of “Hans All-Natural Chicken and Apple Sausages”:http://hansallnatural.com/dir/products/itempage.aspx?ItemID=34, I discover the artistic urge that led to the creation of these distinguished offal tubes.

bq. While touring alluring ocean fronts and majestic alpine passages, an epiphany occurred to Hans: create organic sausages as natural as the glistening of the snow and as genuine as the sunset’s glow.

Not quite up there with the “European bake shop”:http://www.kieranhealy.org/blog/archives/000159.html, but a noble ambition nonetheless.

Diving into infinite

by Eszter Hargittai on July 30, 2005

These two image collections don’t have to constitute a time sink depending on when you are able to tear yourself away from them.