Tuesday: Tilted

I miss prosthesis and mended souls
Trample over beauty while singing their thoughts
I match them with my euphoria
When they said “Je suis plus folle que toi”

— excerpt, Tilted by Christine And The Queens

We’ve spent (and will spend) a lot of time looking at Americans this month, given the two major parties’ political conventions back to back. Yeah, we’ll look at Russia with a gimlet eye directed by media. But we could use a look away.

The artist in this video is actually Héloïse Letissier; Christine and the Queens is the stage name she and a group of transgender supporting artists use, though many of her works are solo performances. Letissier’s work isn’t confined to music alone as she also works in graphic arts. Her work frequently combines French and English lyrics with strong synthpop beat, making for wide appeal outside of France. If you like Tilted, try the mournful but earworm-y Paradis Perdus and the more hip-hoppy No Harm Is Done.


Eat more cyber

Motor mayhem

  • Tesla driver ‘speeding’ before Florida crash (Reuters) — IMO, the truck driver still bears some responsibility here, failed to yield to oncoming vehicle in spite of their speed. But I don’t have all the data, can’t be certain. One thing I can be more sure of: Tesla’s ‘driving-assist software’ should NOT be perceived as autopilot. If this was true autopilot, the software would have adjusted the vehicle’s speed to meet and not exceed the posted limit.
  • U.S. District court gives prelim approval to Volkswagen’s $15B settlement (LAT) — Settlement covers consumers’ and EPA’s suit on passenger diesels with emissions cheat devices. The deal offers car owners to choose a vehicle buy-back on 2.0L passenger diesel models. VW Group’s 3.0L models are not included in this preliminary offer.
  • Volkswagen owners in EU get an apology, not a check (Politico.EU) — They are NOT happy with the disparity between the $15B initial settlement offered to US passenger diesel owners and the lip service offered to EU vehicle owners.

    “For the same car, in the U.S., you get a compensation, while in Europe you get an apology,” said Maroš Šefčovič, a Commission vice president overseeing energy and climate policy. “I don’t think it is fair.”

    Yeah, it’s not fair, and VW’s head engineer Ulrich Eichhorn is wrong when he says EU customers aren’t damaged. Baloney–the entire EU is damaged by higher NOX and other pollutants generated by these fraudulent cars. People are sick and dying because EU’s biggest automaker is poisoning the air.

Science-y schtuff

  • WHO: Antibiotic resistance a bigger threat than cancer within ~30 years (Euronews) — The rise of superbugs and inadequate research is already costing tens of thousands lives each year and beaucoup money. It will only get worse if the use of antibiotics remains excessive and research doesn’t increase.
  • Plasma technology may extend storage life of fruits (ScienceDaily) — Plasma technology — using energy applied to a gas — can zap bacteria on surface of fruit to prevent deterioration the bacteria cause. Except it’s expensive compared to simply washing fruit with known natural antibacterial agents. Like vinegar and water. Plasma tech might be best used on soft fruits like berries which don’t handle washing very well. But still, more energy required, and any heat generated might cook the fruit. ~smh~
  • Better beer through yeast (Nature) — Soon-to-be-published paper will detail 150 yeast strains’ genomes in an effort to help beermakers find the perfect yeast. What happens when they find The One, though? Will we lose our excuse for sampling widely and deeply?

Longread for your next commute
Belt magazine offers a four-part series, Walking to Cleveland by Drew Philps. It’s a travelogue of sorts, documenting Philp’s journey on foot from Dearborn to Cleveland in time for the Republican National Convention. Visit the Midwest with read.

Catch you later!

14 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    One more “motor mayhem” kind of news story to drop in here, for bmaz and other F1 folks, from the Australian “Daily Telegraph”:

    Bernie Ecclestone’s mother-in-law kidnapped in Brazil with ransom demand of $48.75 million

    FORMULA ONE supremo Bernie Ecclestone’s mother-in-law has reportedly been kidnapped in Brazil.

    According to Brazilian magazine Veja, Aparecida Schunck, 67, was taken on Friday in the neighbourhood of Interlagos, Sao Paulo, with her kidnappers said to be demanding a ransom of 120 million Brazilian reals ($AU48.75 million). . . .

    Note: $AU48.75 million = $US36.45 million

  2. bloopie2 says:

    “Plasma technology may extend life of fruits.” Okay. Is a potato a fruit or a vegetable? If the former, then I’m in good shape—my TV is a plasma model, and so this couch potato will live longer. No?

  3. bloopie2 says:

    Apparently one “Autopilot” feature that was in use at the time was “Traffic-Aware Cruise Control”. I doubt that Tesla drivers would use (or want to pay for) any cruise control system that would not exceed the posted limit. Traffic on many limited access highways run at five to fifteen miles per hour over the posted limit, in my experience, and who’s going to want to pay for a feature, designed for highway use, that won’t allow you to keep up with the traffic? And this: I’m not aware of any other existing (non-autopilot) cruise control that is so limited; why should this one be?
    Another thought: The article says that the posted limit on this divided highway was 55 mph. How can that speed limit be safe, when oncoming traffic can legally turn across your lanes to make a left turn onto a side street? Seems to me there’s a real possibility of bad highway design and operation here; either left turns should be prohibited, or a traffic light should be installed. Reminds me of a fatal crash on Long Island (link below) of a stretch limo that tried to make a U-turn on a rather narrow divided highway and got rammed, killing four young women. (Note, the article says that a year later they still haven’t installed a left turn arrow, which is the thing that is needed.)

  4. scribe says:

    Tesla is desperate to pin this on the driver and not their autopilot, for all sorts of liability reasons.
    Reminds me of a case about 15 yr ago where Ford, desperate to cover up some defect or another that killed a woman, went so far as to get the victim’s husband indicted for some flavor of homicide, claiming he and not their car had been at fault. It was one of the uglier cases I’ve seen. But, for those of you who don’t hang around courthouses, you have to understand this: the thuggiest civil litigators, the ones who know no bounds when it comes to defending their clients against allegations of wrongdoing and against products liability suits (where “fault” has no place, because of strict liability), are the ones who defend the car companies. Followed closely by the ones who defend drug-makers against defective product claims and the ones hired by title insurance companies to defend claims on title insurance (to real estate).
    I know. I’ve been there.
    So, don’t be surprised when Tesla tries, and keeps trying, to blame the driver for their autopilot’s failure.
    As to the Euros dissatisfied with their lesser VW settlements? That’s what you get when you don’t have a tort system. You get nothing.

    • rugger9 says:

      Good point about the tort system. It’s all about keeping everyone honest, and for some it is the threat that the financial hit will be greater than any profit from bad behavior that will keep them in line. That’s why “tort reform” is high on the list of ALEC initiatives, because then there is some “cost certainty” that can be factored into the benefit to cost analysis. Whether it shows up as caps on damage rewards or as limits on class actions the effect is to severely reduce the liability owed for bad behavior by companies. Does anyone have the latest on litigations for West, Texas’ fertilizer plant explosion?
      As far as liability dodging goes, we have in CA our Pacific Graft and Extortion (they’ll cash checks made out that way, I’ve tested it) trial for blowing up San Bruno because the executives directed blowing off required maintenance and testing to raise their bonuses. In general, they have maneuvered the trial scope to the point where the explosion isn’t even mentioned as a key point, except for how the PG&E and PUC sought to cover up their bad behavior. Early in the process, we would read how the defense lawyers were busy blaming the dead for causing the firestorm even when it was completely clear that Pipeline 132 was solely to blame. That’s continuing for another week or so for testimony.
      There are two ways to make it hurt enough. First, make the liability so high that no B/C analysis would ever be favorable (this is what class actions are designed to do), and second, throw the fraud artists in jail. This is why the bankers have not changed their ways, because Eric Holder’s DOJ winked at clear cut fraud and decided that investor confidence might be less if bad actors were jailed. Heck, even Ronald Reagan jailed the S&L types, and their crimes were not at the same scale as the 2008 meltdown on Shrub’s watch.

      • John Casper says:

        Agree with you and scribe.

        It’s driving insurers’ net income. They can pay attorneys a fraction of what they’re not paying out in claims.

  5. Bardi says:

    “Tesla’s ‘driving-assist software’ should NOT be perceived as autopilot.”

    Not certain what your point is, Rayne. Aircraft autopilots are, indeed, flying assist devices, yet they are also called autopilots. No pilot I know (or wish to know) would watch a movie, relying totally on any autopilot.

    Call it what it is, the driver screwed up and paid for it with his life. The poor design of the highway was a major contributor. I read that the speed limit was 65, the car at impact was doing 74, which is considered not enough of a differential for many state police to pull one over. I agree that even 45 would have been way too fast for a “highway” that permits truck turns across traffic without a light.

  6. bloopie2 says:

    The Tesla “Traffic-Aware Cruise Control” feature noted in the article really seems to be just like other companies’ corresponding features. For example, here’s a description of the Tesla feature. “With TACC, you can let Model S handle the gas and brakes. Even in stop-and-go traffic, Model S will accelerate and brake according the distance to the car in front.” Mercedes- Benz and Acura both describe, on their respective websites, systems that operate similarly. And this article from TechRadar says: “The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 challenges Tesla’s Autopilot with Drive Pilot… Mercedes’ latest E300 can drive itself on the highway.” So, I think we need to do more than just blame Tesla. If this had happened with an Acura, would anyone care? (And this is why NTSB investigations take a year—they don’t just jump to conclusions.)

    • bloopie2 says:

      Please no one take my posts as criticism of a position. I have learned a heck of a lot from looking into this Tesla matter that was originally raised by our host, and so I thank her for that.

  7. Rayne says:

    Bardi (9:25) — Here’s Consumer Reports on Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’ feature:

    “By marketing their feature as ‘Autopilot,’ Tesla gives consumers a false sense of security,” says Laura MacCleery, vice president of consumer policy and mobilization for Consumer Reports. “In the long run, advanced active safety technologies in vehicles could make our roads safer. But today, we’re deeply concerned that consumers are being sold a pile of promises about unproven technology. ‘Autopilot’ can’t actually drive the car, yet it allows consumers to have their hands off the steering wheel for minutes at a time. Tesla should disable automatic steering in its cars until it updates the program to verify that the driver’s hands are on the wheel.”

    Companies must commit immediately to name automated features with descriptive—not exaggerated—titles, MacCleery adds, noting that automakers should roll out new features only when they’re certain they are safe.

    Unlike aircraft autopilot which is designed and proven to be fully autonomous (mostly because it has far fewer variables than surface travel), Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’ is marketed as autonomous, but isn’t. Buyers are ignoring the warning about monitoring the vehicle’s operation because they have been culturally conditioned to believe a system with autopilot doesn’t need their active, constant oversight. That’s my point, and Consumers Reports agrees but goes even further by saying consumers should not beta-test systems for automakers.

    Clearly the driver (who paid for his and Tesla’s errors with his life) ignored Tesla’s warning and failed to notice the so-called autopilot violated the speed limit.

  8. bloopie2 says:

    Agree 100%–don’t call it ‘Autopilot’. But again this is likely an instance of the Swiss Cheese model of accident causation—too many holes had to line up. Distracted driver, misleading feature name, driving too fast for road conditions, poor road design, truck that should not have turned, high-mounted trailer, etc. So these things may turn out to be rare. Still, it is glaringly obvious that adaptive cruise control is not yet ready for prime time. I’ll bet the plaintiffs’ lawyers are taking note and, if they are smart, are publicly warning the other automakers, so that when an M-B or BMW or whatever does the same thing next year, said automaker won’t be able to say “we weren’t warned”. That would be good not just for the lawyers, but also for their (inevitable, unfortunately) victim clients.

  9. rugger9 says:

    I find it hard to believe that an area as regulated as the EU would not have strict liability laws of some kind. The litigious society that we have here (case in point, Trump’s daily threat to sue someone) may not transfer to Europe, but they have lawyers and litigation as well. I don’t think that VW will be allowed to leave it there.

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