So Cadillac introduces a bicycle. Is this good news or bad? On the one hand, you have a major car company endorsing the idea of human-powered transportation. On the other hand, they're doing it to -- you guessed it, brainiac -- sell more Cadillacs. The notion is to use this "unexpected brand contact" to reach younger buyers. Who, having just spent $500-$1900 on a Cadillac bike, will presumably think nothing of dropping another $40,000 on a luxury car. Disturbing, yes, but mostly it's just weird. Whatever happened to a good old-fashioned Schwinn?
There's nothing green about the in-car gizmos featured in this MSNBC piece. Unless you consider the underlying message: Americans are never, ever, ever, not ever, going to give up their cars. Why would you, when espresso and a toilet are within reach? Imagine the possibilities.
A wire story just caught my eye. The subject? How Toyota is preparing for the potential backlash caused by its growing popularity in the U.S. (Cue Lee Greenwood here.) Seems that last month, Toyota's U.S. sales increased 7.8 percent, while GM's fell 5.5 percent and Ford's fell 3. It's just part of the bad Detroit juju of late. But according to this article, Toyota -- maker of some of the most fuel-efficient cars on the planet -- is hastening to remind us that it, too, makes gas guzzlers. And that it, too, could be hurt by tougher fuel economy standards in the U.S. There are too many amazing angles to poke at here. But what a sad state we're in when the good guys have to pump up their bad reputation.
Among the press releases meandering into the Grist inbox this morning was one from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The council's weary flacks put their best spin on today's Senate energy-bill vote with this headline: "Senate Energy Bill: A Substantial Improvement Relative to the House Bill and to Bills Passed in 2003." I'm laughing with them, not at them. By all means, let's take what we can get.
In a fabulous bit of word play worthy of the best geeks among us, the town of Lamar, Colorado, has launched a letter-writing campaign to convince Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee to support wind power. Just so happens Lamar I is home to more than 100 turbines, and pretty darn happy about it. In fact, a group of ranchers is planning to build another facility this year. But Lamar II has lately been raising a federal stink about the "puny ... high-cost" energy source. I ain't sayin' who's right and who's wrong. But it seems like those ranchers know puny when they see it.
Methinks the oil barons might be getting desperate. Either that, or they're doing their brainstorming in, uh, new locations. A new industry "study" makes the following startling announcement: Gas is cheaper than booze! Here's what the study said: "On a per-barrel basis, gasoline is America's bargain liquid: 10 percent cheaper than bottled water, a third the cost of milk, a fifth the cost of beer, and less than 2 percent the cost of a bottle of Jack Daniels." I guess that whole "you're only paying half as much as they do in Europe" argument didn't work. Thanks, guys, for bringing it to a level we can all comprehend.
Back in March, we reported on a pending EPA decision that would have allowed untreated sewage to be released on a regular basis. Yuck. We're happy to report that someone -- namely 98,000 people who took the time to make comments, and hardy Congressman Bart Stupak (D.-Mich.) and cohorts -- convinced the EPA that was gross. Last week, the agency announced that it would not approve the proposal, which had been lingering in the air since 2003. "Blending is not a long-term solution," said EPA administrator Benjamin Grumbles. "Our goal is to reduce overflows and increase treatment of wastewater to protect human health and the environment." What a concept! Now if only Stupak could work his bulldog magic on mercury. Or carbon. Or ... oh, fine, I'll just be happy about semi-clean sewage for now.
OK, I've worked at a weekly paper. I know how tough it is to put out annual summer guides and make them feel fresh. I mean, how many new things can you say about berrypicking and lighthouses? But Seattle Weekly's latest issue gave me pause. They headlined their summer guide 50 Ways to Celebrate Global Warming. All in good fun, I know. And I like good fun (I mean, look where I work). But I also know there are an awful lot of literal-minded readers out there. And now may not be the time to make this huge concern sound ... fun. I'll lighten up now. Happy summer!
Best local creation to emerge from the recent discovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker in Arkansas: a haircut that pays tribute. For $25, you too can sport a moussed mohawk painted red, white, and black. Second best: the ivory-billed cheeseburger. Um ... gross. And finally, best factoid to surface in the media hype: the former name of bird town Brinkley, Ak., is Lick Skillet.