The Power of the Media

Most people I know are aware of Tesla because of my interest in the company and the fact that I am waiting for my turn to buy a Model 3.  Yesterday, I visited one of my friends, who needed help installing a streaming device on his TV.  His first comment to me reinforced what I already know about the news media.  People believe what they see or read in the news media, regardless of the truth.

My friend asked me what I was going to do for a new car now that Tesla is going bankrupt.  He was not joking, but was very serious.  He had read or seen one of the numerous stories about how Tesla is faltering and had not considered that, perhaps, what he was being told was not true.

What my friend didn’t see in the news is that the Tesla Model 3 was the best selling electric vehicle in the United States during the first quarter of this year.  The only news he saw was that a Tesla was involved in a fatal traffic accident here in California and that Tesla is going broke.

It’s unfortunate that someone lost their life in the accident while driving a Tesla Model X.  Why does the media focus on the fact that the vehicle was a Tesla?  This morning, I saw a news report of a 10-car traffic accident in my area where there were 2 fatalities.  There was no mention of what car makes were involved in this accident.

During the week leading up to the end of the last quarter, there were a number of news stories that attacked Tesla’s viability.  As a result, Tesla stock fell at one point by about 15%.  Tesla is making and selling cars that people are lined up to buy.  The news media doesn’t report this and people believe what the news media is telling them.

I have drastically changed how I keep up with what is happening in the world.  The news broadcasts on major networks are more show than news.  When the subject of Tesla is raised, I rely on these 2 facts.  Tesla is the only major car maker building only EV’s and they have a large number of people as owners and owners-in-waiting, who believe in what the company is doing.  Anything negative, designed to keep us driving internal combustion engines, is just static.

Goodbye to Facebook

Recently, Facebook has been front-and-center in the news, concerning the data they collect on their subscribers.  It was reported that, during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a company connected with the Trump campaign was allowed access to a huge amount of personal data maintained by Facebook.

This Facebook news got me thinking about what Facebook was saving about me.  I started looking at my own Facebook account to see what was there.  I discovered that I had joined Facebook 8 years ago in 2010.  That was so long ago, I had forgotten how long I have been on Facebook.  I started digging around my account and found that I had hundreds of photos that were visible to anyone who went to my account online.  I also had thousands upon thousands of posts, likes, shares, tags, and so on.  These individual items spanned all the way back to 2010.  Like many Facebook users, I didn’t consider the fact that everything I was doing on Facebook was being saved, and I mean everything.

I had considered purging what wasn’t relevant to what is going on today.  I discovered that it wasn’t that simple.  Facebook clearly doesn’t want you to delete stuff.  There was no setting allowing the bulk deletion of individual activity items.  Over about 2 hours, I began systematically deleting photos, clearing search histories and location histories.  Yes, every time I checked in somewhere, all the way back to 2010, there was a notation of that in my Facebook account.

This morning, there was a segment on the Today Show on NBC about this topic.  After watching the segment, I learned that there is no way to delete things in the Activity Log unless they are delete one-by-one.  That was discouraging.  The report stated Facebook issued a statement that they would be making it easier for users to delete their content.  My question is, why did they make so difficult to delete content in the first place?

Ultimately, after reading a number of articles online, I came to the conclusion that the only way to delete stuff was to completely delete my account.  It felt a little odd contemplating the complete deletion of my Facebook account.  After all, I had been using Facebook for 8 years and there are people I maintain contact with through Facebook.  However, when I looked at the totality of all of the people listed as friends on my account, I came to the conclusion that most of the people listed as “friends” were people I hadn’t had contact with in years.  Many were people I had worked with during my working career.  Most of them were people who likely don’t hold the same political views as I hold.  I could not come up with a good reason to continue my Facebook account.

When you tell Facebook to delete, it doesn’t delete stuff right away.  Photos are deleted in 90 days.  When the command is sent to Facebook to delete an entire account, a notice advises you that your account will still be there for 2 weeks and that you can go back in and reactivate it, should you choose to do so.  Well, hopefully, in 2 weeks, I will be gone from Facebook.  I already feel a sense of relief.  Now, when I go some place, I won’t feel the conflict of whether or not to check-in on Facebook.  Freedom feels pretty good.

In case you haven’t been paying attention: Tesla’s Autopilot has never been fully autonomous

tesla-model-s-95d_1On Monday, January 22nd, at about 8:30 am, a Tesla Model S, which was reportedly being driven using Autopilot, crashed into the rear of a fire truck on Interstate 405 in Culver City, California.  An article from Reuters quoted a tweet from the fire department, which stated “Amazingly there were no injuries.”   The Tesla’s driver blamed the autopilot for the accident.  The fire truck was stopped in the roadway helping another motorist at the time the accident occurred.

The Model S was reportedly traveling at around 65 MPH when it stuck the parked fire truck, completely demolishing the front end of the Model S.  One fact, which was not highlighted in most of the news articles about this accident, was that the driver walked away from the crash with no injuries.  How likely would it have been that the driver, in any other make of vehicle, would have been uninjured in a similar crash?  I believe it’s not likely.

It was also reported that federal investigators will be looking into the crash.  Why are federal investigators looking into a crash in which it seems obvious that the driver was not paying attention to his driving as he should have been?  If the vehicle had been a Toyota or Subaru and the driver had been using traffic-aware cruise control before the accident, would these articles still have the same tone and would federal investigators be investigating the vehicle manufacturer?  Again, I say not likely.

Since Tesla is way ahead of any other automobile manufacturer, in terms of self-driving technology that is available right now to automobile owners, many are quick to condemn Tesla for not putting enough safeguards on this technology.  I suggest the problem is that some drivers are not serious about their responsibility to safely operate a motor vehicle.

For those not familiar with Tesla’s Autopilot, it is a driver-assist feature that steers the vehicle within a traffic lane and controls the vehicle speed, while considering factors of driver-set speed and the movement of other vehicles traveling in the same direction.  It is not an autonomous driving system, meaning that the driver is still responsible for the safe operation of the vehicle.

It is easy to search YouTube for videos of people driving Tesla vehicles while using Autopilot.  In many a video, I have seen drivers using Autopilot under circumstances that would make me feel very uncomfortable.  Proper operation of a vehicle using Autopilot requires the presence of some common sense, something that a few Tesla drivers seem to be lacking.

Earlier today, I drove my mother to a doctor’s appointment in Los Angeles.  We used her car, which is an ICE SUV, equipped with traffic-aware cruise control.  The cruise control on her car is similar to the Tesla Autopilot, without the car doing the steering.  When the cruise control was activated, the car traveled at the speed I selected and would slow or brake if a vehicle I was following would slow or brake.  I was aware of the Tesla accident before I drove to Los Angeles.  I didn’t think much about that accident until I had an unsettling experience with the operation of the traffic-aware cruise control.

I was traveling on a 5-lane freeway in lane number 4 at around 65 MPH.  I had the traffic-aware cruise control set to a maximum speed of 70 MPH, but the car was traveling at about 65 MPH because that was the speed of the car directly in front of me.  At some point, the car in front made an abrupt lane change to the left.  The reason for this quick movement was now visible in front of me.  There was a semi-trailer directly ahead of me, which was traveling much slower than 65 MPH.  I waited for the traffic-aware cruise control to slow my car, but it didn’t.  I had to apply the brakes myself to avoid crashing into the back of the trailer.  Had I not taken control to slow my car, we would have crashed into the back of the semi-trailer.  The cruise control didn’t seem to recognize the trailer as an obstacle since its speed was so much slower than the car that had been between us.

So, if I had not been fully in control of my vehicle, and I had crashed into the back of the semi-trailer, would I be able to claim that the accident was the fault of the traffic-aware cruise control and not my fault?  Using a driver-assist function that is not fully autonomous does not relieve the driver of their responsibility to be in control of their vehicle at all times.  It’s a pretty simple concept.

Big Oil is Running Scared

During the past 2 weeks, some major milestones were reached in the shift away from using oil to fuel our society’s transportation.  Tesla held a launch event on November 16, 2017, where the public was introduced to the Tesla semi truck and the Tesla Roadster Gen 2.  Then, on November 21, 2017, Tesla opened up orders for the Model 3 to reservation holders, who are not employees or company insiders.

In support of the new Model 3’s that will be on the road, Tesla opened 2 new Supercharger stations.  Tesla already has thousands of superchargers across the United States, but the 2 new stations are unique because of the 40 charging stalls that each station has available.  One new station is in Baker, California and the other is in Kettleman City, California.  The Kettleman City station even has a customer lounge with restrooms, vending machines and a barista serving up beverages.

When I drive on the highway today, it is rare for me to not see at least one Tesla car during my travels.  Just imagine what it will be like once the bulk of the reserved Model 3’s are driving the roadways.  Consider how much gasoline is not being burned when you see any electric vehicle drive by.

The Tesla semi truck is scheduled for delivery in about 3 years.  It will eliminate the need to burn diesel fuel in order to transport goods by truck.  The new Tesla Roadster, when it is available in a couple of years, will out perform any gasoline-powered production vehicle.  The Roadster can accelerate 0-60 MPH in 1.9 seconds, will be able to travel a range of 620 miles on a single charge, and will be priced below what comparable gasoline vehicles cost.  Tesla has proven that there are no good reasons for continuing to burn petroleum products to fuel ground transportation.

In 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, of the oil that the United States consumed, 55% was in the form of gasoline, 21% was for diesel, and 12% was for jet fuel.  The remaining 12% was spread between natural gas, bio-fuels, and other miscellaneous fuels.  More than 75% of the petroleum burned in the United States was used to fuel our cars and trucks on the highways.  What if all that oil was replaced by vehicles using electricity from renewable sources, sources that are available today?  This is what has Big Oil running scared.

My morning routine includes scanning the Internet for news, much like the way many people open and read their morning local newspaper.  In the past 2 weeks, I have see a big jump in the number of negative news articles about Tesla.  On November 21, 2017, Bloomberg posted a story about how Tesla is “Burning Through Nearly Half a Million Dollars Every Hour.”  In the article, Bloomberg describes that their data shows that Tesla is spending $8,000 per minute.  When you read the article, if you are paying attention, you can see the decidedly negative slant to the article.  Bloomberg mentions nothing about how much income Tesla is generating at the same time.

Yesterday, I saw the very same Bloomberg article repeated by the Seattle Times, a full 4 days after it had been published by Bloomberg.  I wonder if a similar article, describing how any big multi-million dollar corporation is spending money, would have been propagated as much as this Tesla article has been propagated?

The bottom line is that there are interests out there, who do not want to see Tesla succeed.  They want us to continue to be dependent on burning oil for our transportation, to continue polluting our atmosphere needlessly, and to continue putting huge profits in their pockets.

There was a time when I was really worried about how we are polluting our atmosphere.  Not enough has changed during the past couple of decades to stop the onslaught of climate change.  Personally, I think we are past the point of being able to stop the disastrous effects of climate change.  We should have been doing what we are doing now about 10-20 years ago.  In the 21st century, when a relative of mine says to me that they would not consider buying a car that does not burn gasoline, and knowing that there are so many more people like that out there, I am not hopeful for a good outcome.

Regardless of the negative attacks directed at Tesla, provided that they do not succumb before I get my Model 3 next spring, at least I will be driving around in my electric car with the knowledge that I tried to do something good for our planet.

 

I have had enough.

I have had enough of hearing what President Trump is doing or what he has done.  Trump gave a speech at the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree that was completely inappropriate for an audience of mostly children.  One of his recent tweets advised everyone that he will ban transgender persons from serving in the military.  There is clear and convincing evidence that Trump and/or his associates engaged with the Russian government in order to alter the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.  When is enough enough?

I knew what kind of a man Donald Trump was before he was elected.  None of what he has done or is doing is a surprise to me.  What is a surprise to me is that there are so many people in this country, who continue to support Donald Trump and what he is doing.

I have reached a point of sensory overload.  Feel free to let me know when President Trump has been removed from office.  Until that time, I would prefer to not hear about him at all.  He hasn’t accomplished anything of value to the citizens of this country during his first 6 months in office.  Clearly, I’m not missing anything if I tune him out.  Maybe if more people did, like the news media, he would become bored and would go away of his own accord.  Now that would be news I’d love to hear.