Our Favorite Rides of 2019
> Every week The Wall Street Journal’s My Ride column profiles vehicles and their owners, with surprising back stories. Here’s a look back at 2019.
> A young Studebaker fan, a historic race car made newly famous by a Matt Damon movie and a Corvette expert’s Corvette are among the My Ride column’s highlights this year
Zombie Miles And Napa Weekends: How A Week With Chauffeurs Showed The Major Flaw In Our Self-Driving Car Future
> A few years ago, Mustapha Harb realized there was a problem in his field of research about how autonomous cars will change the way people travel. The solution to the problem he settled on was as simple as it was revealing.
> Using 13 volunteers (a very small sample size due to budgetary constraints) from the San Francisco Bay Area who owned cars, Harb and his team studied their travel patterns using GPS trackers on their cars and phones for one week, then gave them a chauffeur for a week who would drive the participants’ personal vehicles for them. Finally, the researchers observed the subjects for a final week to look for any changes returning to their chauffeur-less life.
Cars Were Banned on 14th Street. The Apocalypse Did Not Come.
How to Reassure Someone
> You’re asking me if something I didn’t see looks like something you’ve never seen.
> It’s a simple yes or no question.
Also: red light cameras.
What Internet Memes Get Wrong About Breezewood, Pennsylvania
> However, the idea that the photo is placeless is, to be blunt, nonsense. As others have pointed out before me, the setting is instantly recognizable as Breezewood and only Breezewood. Far from being “Every Town, U.S.A.,” Breezewood is a weird, improbable blip of a place. It’s what an architect might call a unique urban condition—a churning mini-city where the population nearly turns over every hour. (For this reason, and for the place’s sheer, unembarrassed honky-tonk, I’m a Breezewood fan.)
Billionaire insists he has legal parking spot on West Village street, infuriating neighbors who say he created a fake space for himself
This may be equal parts hilarious and infuriating.
Motorbikes in Taiwan. 3:27.
Parking Enforcers Who Chalk Tires Violate The Constitution
> A federal appeals court ruled Monday that “chalking” is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Terrible business, chalking.
> Law professor Orin Kerr, noting that he had never seen a chalking case before, said parking enforcement officers could sidestep the constitutional issue altogether by simply taking a photo of the car rather than using chalk.
Ah, yes, much better.
Chicago Parking Ticket Visualization
> In this post, I want to show off a fun little web app I made for visualizing parking tickets in Chicago, but because I’ve spent so much time on the overall project, I figured I’d share the story that got me to this point. In many ways, this work is the foundation for my interest in public records and transparency, so it has a very special place in my heart.
In 1909, it took two days for a car to get from Washington to Richmond
> It soldiered on for a few more miles, then broke down while crossing Jonas Ford in Brandy Station, six miles north of Culpeper. Today, there is a Walmart Supercenter not far from where The Post car gave out, but back then, there wasn’t. The car was towed to Culpeper by a team of horses.
> The Post telegraphed Washington for a new car while the Times-Dispatch vehicle continued on to Orange for the night. On Wednesday, The Post’s replacement vehicle arrived. It traveled a quarter-mile before it too broke down. The Post’s good-roads crew would arrive in Richmond on Thursday morning by train.
Elon Musk’s first Boring Company tunnel opens, but the roller-coaster ride has just begun
> For Elon Musk’s very difficult year, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
> Specifically, it’s a 1.14-mile tunnel the inventor and beleaguered CEO of Tesla Motors says is a first step in solving “soul-destroying” urban traffic. In 2016, Musk — already busy running two high-profile companies — founded a construction firm called the Boring Company to tackle gridlock by drilling underground. Some thought it was a joke. Two years of big promises and $40 million later, his just-in-time innovation machine delivered a functioning test tunnel late Tuesday.
> What’s it like to ride through Elon’s tunnel? Bumpy, but that’s all part of the ride on a Musk enterprise.
Counting All Cars
> Pondering the evolution of electronic tolling, the system that doesn’t slow you down even as it charges you to use it. It has roots in the theremin—sorta.
RFID from the great seal bug to your windshield.
Philadelphia Fights Gridlock With Ticket Blitz
> Traffic crawls along downtown’s Chestnut Street, horns honking as cars block the intersection. Up ahead, construction claims one of three lanes, and a Canada Dry delivery truck is parked in the bus lane, forcing city buses to squeeze by.
> On a recent weekday, a police officer wrote a $76 ticket to the Canada Dry truck on Chestnut Street—its fifth parking citation in one morning. “Where else would we park?” delivery worker Parrish Deale said, unfazed by the stack of tickets on the truck’s dashboard. “We’ve got to make these deliveries.”
Hong Kong-Zhuhai bridge: World's longest sea bridge in pictures
> The 55km bridge and tunnel linking Hong Kong to mainland China via Macau has opened, years late.
There are pictures.
Virgin Galactic's Rocket Man
> The ace pilot risking his life to fulfill Richard Branson’s billion-dollar quest to make commercial space travel a reality.
> Stucky had piloted SpaceShipTwo on two dozen previous test flights, including three of the four times that it had fired its rocket booster, which was necessary to propel it into space. On October 31, 2014, he watched the fourth such flight from mission control; it crashed in the desert, killing his best friend. On this morning, Stucky would be piloting the fifth rocket-powered flight, on a new iteration of the spaceship. A successful test would restore the program’s lustre.
And a little note at the end, unrelated to the crash:
> As it turned out, there had been a glitch in the gyros’ software; the manufacturer had issued a patch, but hadn’t indicated that it fixed a major problem, so Virgin Galactic hadn’t installed it.
1968 Jaguar E-Type Zero: Revamping the Vintage Roadster as an Electric Car
> This, Mr. Hannig engaged politely, is a Jaguar E-Type Zero: a 1968 E-Type Series 1.5 roadster sympathetically converted by the factory to an electric car. Under that famous louvered hood is a 40-kWh battery pack sized to fit the space vacated by the 4.2-liter inline six. In the space where the four-speed Moss gearbox used to live is a compact 295-hp, 332-lb-ft AC electric motor (the voltage inverter is in the back, in the previous spare-tire well). A single reduction gear drives a prop shaft to the E-Type’s original differential.
Cincinnati Joins the List of Cities Saying ‘No’ to Parking Minimums
> Last week, City Council removed requirements that developers build parking facilities or spaces when they develop in the downtown, Over the Rhine (OTR) and Pendleton neighborhoods, as well as parts of Mount Auburn and the West End, according to City Beat.
Sensation Seeking and Hedge Funds
> We show that motivated by sensation seeking, hedge fund managers who own powerful sports cars take on more investment risk but do not deliver higher returns, resulting in lower Sharpe ratios, information ratios, and alphas. Moreover, sensation‐seeking managers trade more frequently, actively, and unconventionally, and prefer lottery‐like stocks. We show further that some investors are themselves susceptible to sensation seeking and that sensation‐seeking investors fuel the demand for sensation‐seeking managers. While investors perceive sensation seekers to be less competent, they do not fully appreciate the superior investment skills of sensation‐avoiding fund managers.
> The empirical results are striking. We ﬁnd that hedge fund managers who purchase performance cars take on more investment risk than do fund managers who eschew performance cars. Speciﬁcally, sports car drivers exhibit annualized return standard deviations that are 1.80 percentage points, or 16.61%, higher than those of nonsports car drivers. Similarly,funds managed by drivers of high horsepower and high torque automobiles deliver more volatile returns. Conversely, we ﬁnd that managers who acquire practical but unexciting cars take on less investment risk relative to managers who shun these cars. Minivan owners,for example, generate annualized return standard deviations that are 1.28 percentage points,or 11.74%, lower than do other owners. Moreover, managers who purchase cars with high passenger volumes and excellent safety ratings also produce more stable returns.
Treasure Hunter Searches Rhine River—for a Steam Engine
> Horst Müller likes trains. It makes sense. As a child he lived with his family on the top floor of Cochem station. He once celebrated Christmas dinner in the cab of a steam engine with his father, a driver. He’s collected model trains, devoured train books and photographed trains since he was 12, and eventually became a driver himself. For the past 30 years he has moved beyond “like” to obsession. His fixation: Find a 19th-century cast-iron steam engine lost in the Rhine river before it even took its first journey.
> “If it’s not the locomotive,” said Mr. Forkmann, “it can only be the Nibelung hoard”—the fabulous “Rhine gold” of Germanic folklore. For Mr. Müller, that would be a great disappointment.
> Why is it taking so long for Detroit to figure out how to make a car as good as the Japanese? Well, there’s some very interesting answers to that question, and all of them can be found right here-- at a car plant in Fremont, California, called NUMMI. NUMMI stands for New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated.
Describing previous GM plants:
> All those mistakes added up at a GM plant, and the results were littered around the lots outside-- hundreds of misassembled cars. Cars that came off the line missing parts. Cars that needed to be fixed before they could be shipped out to the dealers. In a Toyota plant, there was nothing like this. Why did a GM plant produce so many screwed up cars? One cardinal rule that everybody in the company knew.
> The line could never stop. Never stop the line.
> Because the theory was, they’ll stop it all the time. They don’t want to work, you know, they want to sit and play cards or whatever. You know, that was a free break for them, if the line stops, so you wouldn’t give them the ability to stop the line.
> What got me was the fact that they had a cross bolt, and they stopped the line to repair it. Ream the hole, put the bolt back in, instead of sending it on and putting all the other junk on top of it, so you have to take it off and repair it. And whoever puts it back isn’t skilled in putting trim back, so they’re going to mess that up.
> That impressed me. Said, gee, that makes sense, fix it now so you don’t have to go through all this stuff.