Category Archives: Energy

Environmentally Responsible Contemporary Take On Classic Western Ranch Design

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The design for the Caterpillar House, sited on the rolling hills of the Santa Lucia Preserve, sought to accentuate a connection to the land. Having lived in a Cliff May home, the owner approached the project with a love of modern ranch houses and seeking an environmentally-conscious response to a beautiful site.

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The Caterpillar House implements sustainable elements while exploring a contemporary version of the ranch ideals: massing that is low and horizontal, an open plan with a strong connection between indoor and outdoor spaces, and main living areas that focus informally on the kitchen.

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Excavated earth was repurposed for the construction of rammed earth walls gently curving in response to the site’s contours and functioning as a thermal mass, regulating temperatures from day to night. Capturing rainwater for irrigation, three tanks sit close to the home.

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Large south-facing glass doors open the main living area to a large covered porch and to an outdoor patio with sunshades that expand and contract to allow for a flexible entertaining area that responds to the client’s needs. The glazing, natural ventilation and operable shading also act as a passive heating and cooling system, cooling the house in the summer and warming the house in winter. Artfully done, integrated photovoltaic panels enable the house to produce all of its energy requirements without compromising the graceful curve of the low roof against the hill.

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Caterpillar House is designed by Feldman Architecture

 


Cadillac ELR — Another Shot From The New General’s U.S. Arsenal

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Click on Images For Larger Views

Cadillac steps up its game yet one more time with yet one more totally new model in the lineup: ELR. This time the U.S.’ top tier car manufacturer brings its dynamic design language to the Volt technology package.

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Actually, this is a car that could sell on design alone — its green bonafides make ELR compelling. The fantastic electric Tesla Model S presents a great image great, too, but it looks like several other cars in general, whereas the ELR design is truly unique and distinctive—it stands out everywhere. The two-door CTS is a really good design direction… but this ELR is even better. Many green-minded Europeans will find this to be the first Cadillac they would ever be happy to own and drive everyday. We Americans should step up, as well. Our home team has done well.

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While the ELR does indeed utilize both the FWD platform (I’d prefer rear or all-track) and the Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) hybrid powertrain that were introduced in the Volt, those elements have been tuned to suit the coupe’s premium character. And, speaking of premium character… yes, that’s actual stitched leather and Alcantara covering the dash, doors, and full length center console, as well as the seats. The wood grain? Yes, real wood. Premium? Seems so.

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“The ELR is an unprecedented combination of luxury, advanced engineering and progressive design in a coupe that is both sporty and environmentally friendly”, said Cadillac global vice president Bon Ferguson. “This is a pivotal moment in Cadillac’s history.”

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Measuring 4,724 mm (186.0 in) in length, 1,847 mm (72.7 in) in width and 1,420 mm (55.9 in) in height, the ELR is longer, wider and shorter than the Volt and, at 2,965 mm (106.1 in), it has a slightly longer wheelbase.

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Its hybrid powertrain comprises of a 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, a naturally-aspirated 84HP 1.4-liter gasoline engine that functions as a generator and two electric motors with a combined output of 181HP — creating instantly available torque that is 12 percent greater than the 3.6-liter V6 in the SRX crossover.

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ELR has an all-electric, zero-emissions range of 35 miles (56 km) plus, when the gasoline generator  kicks in, the range is extended to 300 miles (480 km), so there are no concerns about finding a charging station.

Although the suspension layout is, by necessity, the same as the Volt’s, the much wider front and rear tracks, the use of aluminum in the HiPer strut front suspension with hydraulic ride bushings, the CDC electronically controlled dampers, and the 20-inch alloy wheels promise a more sporting drive.

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The Cadillac ELR will enter production in late 2013 and go on sale in the beginning of 2014. The company hasn’t announced official pricing yet, but estimates bring it close to US$60,000 after state and federal tax credits.

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Faustian urGe Manifesto

Ensuring That Serving “Capital” Interests Must Also Serve To Broadly Improve The Lives Of “We The People”

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CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST often bemoans ethical failures while he also attempts to mitigate, in some minuscule way, the social damages he and too many other citizens suffer from “Traditional” American Values (social and business). Inappropriate personal agendas and indifference toward obligation and ethics are significant annoyances that he addresses by trying to learn more — what wags the world and why.

Given the circus of extremes on display in society and within the political realm since President Obama’s re-election, CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST is currently working through the conundrum of how so many intelligent, educated people manage to place their feet in their mouths while their heads are so firmly up their arses.

He’s frustrated, and believes the nation is threatened, by libertarianism — knowing the objectivist/libertarian belief system is inappropriate to a fruitful, functional society. Libertarians disregard a profound reality: We are responsible for the decisions we make, yes, but we’re not responsible for the options we’re given. Thus, CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST believes that we should create that “society we would want if we didn’t know in advance who we’d be.”

He sees that another libertarian delusion is establishment of the fanciful “self-made” individual. The laughable concept discounts external influence or inspiration and exhibits a blatant disregard for the interconnectedness that is the human condition.

He remains convinced that we humans do not have to destroy each other to survive (as in two wars extinguishing 100,000+ lives as revenge for the prior killing of 3000) but that we choose to do so… not the nonsense propounded that genetics or patriotism demands it. CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST knows we have the ability to reason and that too many simply choose the easier way of reactive non-thought.

Though imbued with a simmering cauldron of rage just below his deceptively pleasant (and not altogether unpleasant looking) exterior, he’s always willing to self-examine and learn — yearning for family, friends, community members to take the same ride.

The hope… the desire… the craving… for forward movement and betterment on cultural, political, and individual levels are woven into his personal fabric, with key objectives toward equality/equitability*, liberty, fraternity, justice-for-all, empathy, self-awareness, growth, momentum, compassion, and humor.

(*EQUALITY of advancement opportunity and treatment under the law and social memes — EQUITABILITY of rewards and outcomes [economic and social])

On EQUALITY:

It appears that a large number of citizens seeking minimalist government from the Right are for strong government, though, when it favors their perceived social interests, such as interfering with the reproductive rights of women, the marriage rights of non-heterosexuals, and the civil rights of non-whites.

CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST relishes challenging the authority of political, religious, and societal priests, as he liberally supports marriage for everyone, equal rights for everyone, less poison for the environment, progressive taxation, removal of corporate personhood, financial regulation enforcement up to and including criminal incarceration, the elimination of all “consensual crimes,” and many other positions that lead conservatives to squirm uncomfortably in their seats.

On EQUITABILITY:

The Right will argue that allowing the free market to function will fix our problems. But, the free market doesn’t guarantee social outcomes, merely economic ones. Yes, it may provide more efficiency on the whole and grow the economy faster as a whole, but by itself doesn’t guarantee how wealth is distributed. The Right cannot be indifferent to the consequences of a middle-class life undermined, nor can it be indifferent to half the population’s inability to buy the products and services that businesses sell.

The Left would argue that the solution is for laws to transfer wealth from the rich to the middle class. But, while that would increase consumption, depending on the scope, it could threaten the amount of capital available to investment by the transfer itself and by eliminating incentives to invest. The Left cannot be indifferent to the fact that one can’t invest what they don’t have, and that no one will accept the risk of investment if the payoff is transferred completely away.

CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST understands the take away to be that “reasonableness” must prevail as to the extent, but transfers of some wealth should ensue as a part of the solution. So, let’s avoid extreme redistribution and focus on finding the correct amount that ameliorates the problems at hand (which will improve sales and garner more aggregate profit for firms, shareholders, and stakeholders… alike) while retaining enough incentives to invest and risk take.

As a Social-Capitalist/Social-Democrat**, CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST favors smart government — a government as big or as small as needed to achieve progressive social and capital ends, ensuring that serving “capital” interests must also serve to improve the lives of “We the people” broadly (hence, “Social”).

“Our” government’s job is best done when it benefits all of the people, and not just capital interests — as he interpretes the right favors.

(**Social Democracy is exhibited as an economic precept of Social Capitalism. The contemporary social democratic movement seeks to reform capitalism to align it with the ethical ideals of social justice while maintaining the efficient and wealth-building capitalist mode of production, as opposed to creating an alternative socialist economic system. Practical modern social democratic policies include the promotion of the commonweal, and the creation of economic democracy as a means to secure stakeholders’ rights.)

“This vast number of worlds, the enormous scale of the universe, in my view, has been taken into account, even superficially, in virtually no religion, and especially no Western religions.” – Carl Sagan

Taking exception with the very concept of “American Exceptionalism,” CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST feels compelled to explore these issues in rambling-though-coherent thoughts and an adventurous assortment of arbitrary amusements.

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Liberalism is “Life.”

It is an unrelenting pursuit of freedom from physical dangers that can kill or disable us.

  • The Liberal believes it is a nation’s job to protect its citizens from physical harm, whether from external sources, such as hostile nations, or internal ones, like crime, disease, or hunger. Without the solid ground of physical wellbeing, our nation and its citizens cannot enjoy the benefits of being free.
  • Liberals believe in a strong military, well suited to defend the nation.
  • Liberals believe in good laws, hard-working police, and a just legal system to protect its citizens from crime.
  • Liberals believe in affordable health care for everyone, to keep our people strong.
  • And Liberals believe in the availability of food and shelter for its needy, not as a hand out but as a reasonable step in moving all Americans toward self-reliance and the freedom that comes with it.

Liberalism is “Liberty.”

It is the freedom to do as your conscience dictates without impeding another’s rights. Liberalism established a nation where personal belief and self-determination are protected, not persecuted; where hard work is rewarded, not demanded; and where each person is bestowed with the ability to better his or her life because of citizenship, not class.

  • Liberals believe in freedom of speech to protect us from political oppression.
  • Liberals believe in sound regulations to protect us from economic oppression.
  • Liberals believe in just laws to protect us from social oppression.
  • And Liberals believe in quality education to protect us from the oppression of ignorance.

Liberalism is “The Pursuit of Happiness.”

It is the freedom to create an environment where the individual can excel. What is freedom if it cannot be used to better our lives? A truly free society must be one where its members can rise above their limitations and expand their futures — it is “The American Dream,” and it’s alive and well in the heart of the Liberal.

  • Liberals believe in equal opportunities for all to rise above our means.
  • Liberals believe in equal opportunities to rise above our education levels.
  • Liberals believe in equal opportunities to rise above our social status.
  • And Liberals believe each and every family should have an equal opportunity to make this world better for their children.

Based on these tenets, Liberalism is not the monster it’s made out to be by the opposition.

  • It is pro individual and pro family.
  • It is pro community and pro country.
  • Liberalism is, by its very definition, the heart and soul of what it means to be an American.
  • It stands against tyranny of any kind, whether international or domestic.
  • It works to remove abuse and fight crime.
  • And it strives to eliminate the idea of a wasted life by not wasting resources and opportunities.

Global Warming Over 16 Years — Humankind’s Contribution Illustrated


China Opens Longest High-Speed Rail Line — Republicans Keep U.S. Stuck At The Depot In Last Century’s Trains

China began service Wednesday morning on the world’s longest high-speed rail line…

…covering a distance in eight hours that is about equal to that from New York to Key West, Fla., or from London across Europe to Belgrade, Serbia.

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Trains traveling 300 kilometers, or 186 miles, an hour, began regular service between Beijing and Guangzhou, the main metropolis in southeastern China. Older trains still in service on a parallel rail line take 21 hours; Amtrak trains from New York to Miami, a shorter distance, still take nearly 30 hours.

Completion of the Beijing-Guangzhou route — roughly 1,200 miles — is the latest sign that China has resumed rapid construction on one of the world’s largest and most ambitious infrastructure projects, a network of four north-south routes and four east-west routes that span the country.

Significant spending on the project has helped jump-start the Chinese economy twice: in 2009, during the global financial crisis, and again this autumn, after a brief but sharp economic slowdown over the summer.

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Due to Republicans, the United States has yet to embrace the future of transportation…

…while high-speed trains have been zooming commuters across the continents of Europe and Asia for decades.

President Obama, in his 2011 State of the Union speech, called for a high-speed rail system over the next 25 years. However, Mr. Obama’s proposal to spend $53 billion on high-speed rail over the next six years hit a roadblock when Congressional Republicans eliminated money for that plan for the year.

The year before, newly elected Republican governors in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin turned down federal money their Democratic predecessors had won for new rail routes, lest their states have to cover most of the costs for trains that would draw few riders.

The cuts will not halt the rail program since unspent money remains that can be used on new projects. But they leave the future of high-speed rail in the United States unclear. So far roughly $10 billion has been approved for high-speed rail, but it has been spread to dozens of projects around the country.

China builds its future while American Republicans hold back United States abilities.

China builds its future while American Republicans hold back United States abilities.


Compare & Contrast: Time For U.S. To Repair Its Antiquated Infrastructure


Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent — A Liberal’s Calm Before The Storm

Made glorious summer by this sun of Windy City;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried…

…for how long?

For some of us the inauguration of Barack Obama ushered in the potential for an era of liberal progress, of recovery from the dark clouds of George W. Bush… illegal wars, reactionary social policy, and economic destruction.

The republican party nomination process stimulated my presaging fear of tumult as I witnessed enthusiastic applause for the proposed destruction / elimination of women’s’ rights, civil and marriage rights, health care access, criminalized physical expressions of hate, and responsible stewardship of earth’s resources.

While I know that I am not alone in my liberal desires for a more progressive and better nation, it sure feels a lot lonelier.

As I contemplated my sense of alienation and just how far I am away from the American political norm, a battery of political spectrum tests proved that, indeed, I am a Liberal Elite in a right wing, conservative nation…and it is not a good feeling.

For the Liberal Elite contemplating the national mood, it may soon be another kind of Winter…the end (winter) of our contentment…