Two interesting EV stories today

The Times has two interesting stories on EV’s in today’s paper. (I suppose the word “paper” will long outlive its use as the actual medium for delivering news, just as “glove compartment” remains the nom-de-choice for the storage compartment in cars, even though “gloves” are so rarely stored there. But I digress.)

I have gifted both articles for non-subscribers. First:

This is a known issue, of course, but given the dramatic cold that’s hitting the country right now, there are a lot of “don’t own a charger at home” (for whatever reason) for whom the decreased range and/or lack of public charging facilities has them rethinking the whole thing.

And second:

In this article some are advocating a change in the incentives, away from broad, general rebates available to everyone and more towards heavy drivers, the idea being that reducing gas/diesel usage (and therefore emissions) should be the key ingredient, and people who drive over 100 miles a day will have a greater impact than someone who jaunts to the grocery store and back once or twice a week.

Anyway, more EV news in the, uh, news.


I wonder what the younger generation makes of the mysterious symbol for the old-style telephone receiver.

That unique shape is familiar to oldsters but has no relation to the modern rectangular cell phone shape (which is useless as a symbol).


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Or the rotary phone itself:


On my :iphone: the old-style telephone receiver symbol :telephone_receiver: means not “a telephone” but rather “I wish to have a live audio only call with someone.”

Language, symbolic written and spoken, changes with technology.

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Or, saying “tick tok tick tok” to someone, to imply that time is passing. When was the last time any of us had a watch with a balance wheel, or a pendulum clock?


That’s a good approach. Or, another way to put it, if your boat is leaking, patch the big holes first.


Got a grandmother clock in my front hall … my father made it. Nice chimes.

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My office has a battery-powered clock that has a loud ticking second hand. It’s round and has actual hands that point to numbers on the face.

One of the tests for dementa asks the person to draw the hands on a clock face. (e.g. "Draw the clock face for 4:43.) I think many of the younger generation would have trouble with this.


They could just as easily change the test to “Draw a home screen with 5 apps on it, with app icons of different colors.” :sweat_smile:

I have 4 pendulum clocks in my house; 1 grandfather clock and 3 wooden gear pendulum clocks that I’ve built from kits designed by a German clock maker/designer. They take me about 2 months to build and another 2 months to get running correctly. Friction is the enemy!

When we have family sleep over, the tic tic sound drives them crazy so I stop them. To me, it’s background noise that doesn’t even register.

This is a dual pendulum clock designed to honor master clock maker John Harrison who made clocks in the late 1700s. At a time (no pun intended) when a clock was considered accurate if it was only off 5-10 minutes a day, he was building pendulum clocks that were accurate to a few seconds a month.

They’re mesmerizing to watch (no pun intended, again), but I can’t upload videos.


Engineer me says TRULY Beautiful. I have never seen a dual pendulum in a household.


My dear departed mother married an engineer who was son and grandson of engineers, and raised three engineer children, including me. Dad took her to Greenwich Observatory where the original longitude clocks lived.

She got infected by the longitude timekeeping bug and read and asked questions. Years later, when she was starting to show signs of senility at age 93, I took her to Europe for a last glorious visit. We went to Greenwich. In the room with the longitude clocks she observed school children bored. She swung into action, demanding their attention and did Socratic educational questioning. When we left after a half hour or so a museum exec took me aside to ask if Mom was for sale.

Solving the longitude problem was one of the greatest events in human knowledge.

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This story was very misleading. The Chicago folks were living in apartments and buying used Teslas. They had no garages to charge their cars. They all descended on the local chargers at the same time.

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Absolutely!! The best minds on the planet couldn’t figure it out over the course of centuries. Mankind figured out North-South distance calculations many centuries ago, even at sea. But once you were out of site of land, there was no way to calculate how far east or west you were except by dead reckoning (appropriately named as thousand of sailors died due to calculation errors). Galileo (who discovered the principles of pendulums and thought they would be a great way to keep time), figured out how to calculate east-west using Jupiter’s moons, but that was not practical at sea (only worked on clear nights when Jupiter was visible and there were no waves and you had a big telescope and a very accurate clock).

Enter John Harrison who designed and built a spring driven, double pendulum clock with a grasshopper escapement that kept extremely accurate time at sea. Problem solved.

I highly recommend Dava Sobel’s book, Longitude. On eBay, you can pickup a used hardcover illustrated version for under $10.

Another clock:


What you hear are the gears driving the second hand. The timekeeping is done by a quartz crystal.


His first effort, wondrous to see operating, failed it’s sea trials. He could not figure out how to compensate for torque, when the ship tacked.

His fourth chronometer went in a completely different direction, based on a pocket watch, which was not affected by torque.

Some years ago, a film was produced about Harrison’s development of his chronometers, and Rupert Gould’s restoration of them in the 20th century.


Steve, many thanks for posting this. I had no idea. I just downloaded it from Amazon Prime for less than $4. Very excited to watch it.

OK, so I’m a geek.


Geekism is good. There are flox of interesting stories of invention and exploration.

The opening of “Longitude” reminds me of many of the places I worked over the years: a seaman is hung for having the nerve to say the Captain’s navigation was wrong. The next day, the ship runs on the rocks. Many are killed, including the Captain, whose navigation had been wrong.


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My parents had an 8’ tall grandfather clock made in the early 1900s. The clockmaker’s grandson was taking care of all the clocks his grandfather had made and sold. Yes, it did the quarter-hour/half-hour/three-quarter dongs AND bonged the hours on the hour. You got used to it. BIG house.

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Solving the problem of a chronometer that would be accurate enough to use for oceanic navigation was easier than collecting on the prize for the accomplishment.

Great story, but I’m not sure how accurate it is.

One thing I’m convinced is accurate is that one of the Captain’s descendants is currently running Boeing.

Another great story (that I view skeptically) was told to me by a local clock builder. The English and French were in a great fight about where the Prime Meridian should be located; the English wanted it to run through Greenwich and the French wanted it to run through Paris. The fight went on for years. Finally, the Brits proposed that the International Date Line run through the middle of the Pacific Ocean where neither of the countries cared about. The French looked at the great void of land and said sure, looks good. Turned out that when the International Date Line was circled around the globe, it just happened to run through Greenwich.