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It Seems The New York Times Is Lost When It Comes To Tesla




In 2012, the NYT published an account of a road trip in the then-new Model S that writer John M. Broder chose to turn into a turd-in-the-punchbowl story, claiming that his Tesla ran out of juice and left him stranded in the snow. What Mr. Broder didn’t know was that Model S records everything in a log, like an airliner’s black box, and that Tesla had access to this data (he was surely also unaware of Elon Musk’s typical reaction to public criticism).

Tesla said the logs showed that Broder had deliberately run down the battery in order to get a juicy contrarian scoop. The Times grudgingly conceded that Broder had “left himself open to valid criticism.” The story spread to news outlets on every continent, and dozens of Tesla enthusiasts reenacted Broder’s midnight ride for themselves. In the end, the controversy made a lot more people aware of the young company and its vehicles. Elon Musk had played the New York Times like an electric violin (see my 2017 book for a full account of this entertaining interlude).

In June of this year, the Times took another road trip, and published another anti-EV piece, arguing that the “grand vision” of electric vehicles as the cars of the future “may founder on something most drivers take for granted: the pit stop.” In short, the argument is that EVs aren’t ready for prime time because they’re inconvenient for long road trips.

However, this time the Times didn’t take a trip in a Tesla. Reporter Ivan Penn drove a Chevy Bolt from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, a 540-mile round trip, stopping along the way to charge and to solicit negative comments from other drivers.

Some of the charging caveats mentioned in the article are legitimate – one sometimes has to wait for a charging station, especially at busy locations and times, and stations can also be out of order or blocked. Chargers are sometimes slower than their advertised top speeds, especially when more than one car is plugged in (savvy Tesla drivers know to avoid paired chargers when possible). The Times seems to have had particularly bad luck that day – in two cases technical foul-ups prevented the Bolt from charging at the fastest rates.

People who live in multi-unit dwellings such as apartments or condos, or anyone who doesn’t have an assigned parking space, may not have any good options for charging their EVs. This is a real issue, but the example the Times chose to dramatize it was unfortunate. A Mr. Martin of Burbank, California recently bought a Tesla Model 3, but found that his homeowners association would not let him install a charger in the garage. In fact, in California, it is generally illegal for HOAs to prevent people from installing charging stations. The Golden State enacted a statute protecting the rights of MUD-dwelling EV drivers in 2011, and clarified the law in 2018. If Mr. Martin is reading this, we encourage him to speak with his HOA again, after printing out the relevant statute and reading ChargePoint’s tips for dealing with HOAs. (We also encourage the Times to do a little Googling before taking the next man-on-the-street tale of woe at face value.)

In fact, most of the Joe Sixpack complaints the Times recorded on its road trip demonstrate not problems with EVs, but rather an ignorance of how EVs work. The owner of an older BMW i3 seems not to understand that an EV with a 120-mile range and no DC fast charging is not suitable for long road trips, any more than a Corvette is suitable for hauling a couch. A teacher (not of math, apparently) said she had considered buying an EV but feared that charging it on trips to see her mother, who lives 100 miles away, would be “a headache” (100 times two still equals 200, and most new EVs sold in the US have ranges over 200 miles [they also all come with Level 1 charging adapters, and her mom might just have an extension cord]).

Ben Sullins, the host of Teslanomics, produced a video pointing out the weaknesses of the Times piece, which he said was based on “a worst-case scenario” (actually, he said it was “complete B.S.”). To prove his point, he took the same trip in a Tesla Model 3 Long Range model. He stopped at the same charging station in Baker where the Times heard so many anti-EV comments, and added an (unneeded) extra cushion of range in the time it took to use the rest room and buy a snack – 10 minutes. In Vegas, he charged overnight at his hotel, and woke up the next morning ready to drive back to LA – without stopping to charge.

Sullins points out several highly dubious statements in the Times article.

“Most electric cars need to be plugged in after they’ve traveled 200 to 250 miles,” quoth the Times. However, in Q1 of 2019, Tesla sales represented 75% of EV sales in the US – that’s “most electric cars” by any reasonable definition. The lowest-range vehicle Tesla offers has a range of 310 miles. The Chevy Bolt represented a little over 10% of EV sales in Q1 2019, so it’s quite a stretch to claim that that model represents “most electric cars.”

“Chargers are often missing in the places where people need them,” saith the Times. Sullins answers: “On this trip, I passed five Superchargers. In LA, there are dozens more, plus hundreds of destination chargers, and these are just the Tesla options.” While there are certainly areas in which public chargers are rare, in California and Nevada, the region in which the Times chose to make its test, chargers are “bountiful.”

“For Bolts as for other electric vehicles, experts generally recommend keeping it 30 to 80 percent charged for optimal battery life,” the Times asserts. This may be true for the Bolt, but it is not the case for Teslas.

“[EVs] have been held back partly by decisions that automakers and other businesses have made.” This is true, although not in the way the Times meant. The main decision that’s holding back EVs is the legacy automakers’ decision not to market them. “Tesla…has built more than 1,500 charging stations around the world [since the Times ran this article in June, the total has grown to 1,604], but they can fill up only Tesla cars.” And how has this “held back EVs,” exactly? Many auto industry execs have said that Tesla was an inspiration and a major factor in advancing electrification. I’ve never heard of one who said Tesla’s Supercharger network was holding the industry back.

“There is not a single standard for plugs, so some electric-car drivers have to carry multiple adapters. Nor is there a single approach for how car owners pay for electricity, with some companies charging by the power consumed…and others charging by the time spent at the charger.” The Times didn’t explain why either of these facts should present much of a problem.

One final example from Sullins’s video, and we’ll unplug and get back on the road. “Charging on average costs $10 for about 200 miles, depending on the car, or about half the typical cost of gasoline for that distance, according to AAA,” writes the Times’ Mr. Penn. “Our experience was not as economical: We spent about $67 on electricity, perhaps $10 less than we might have on gas.”

Ben Sullins calls this “madness,” and points out that the many Tesla buyers who take advantage of a referral get 1,000 miles worth of free Supercharging, and more than a few have free Supercharging for life. Ah, but the Times chose to travel in a Chevy Bolt, instead of the far more popular Tesla Model 3.

Mr. Penn concludes his article with a discussion of some of the initiatives currently underway to expand access to public charging. To be fair, his piece isn’t entirely an anti-EV screed – just the headline and the first two thirds of the article. His intended point seems to be that EVs have a long way to go before they catch up to the convenience of legacy vehicles. But what the article really reveals is that EVs from legacy automakers have a long way to go before they catch up to Tesla.


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Oboe player dies in fall at concert hall before performance




Oboe player dies in fall at concert hall before performance

A Miami symphony oboe player died after she tumbled down a flight of stairs minutes before a season-opening concert performance, the band said.

Greater Miami Symphonic Band member Janice Thomson, 62, hit her head Sunday when she fell on the tile floor of the lobby of the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall in Coral Gables, according to the symphony’s Facebook page.

One concertgoer said she was in the lobby purchasing a ticket when she heard a “bone-crunching splat,” the Miami Herald reported.

“We turned around and everyone was screaming and she was on the floor bleeding,” Grace Harrington told the newspaper. “Everyone was running to get her. They were screaming for a doctor.”

Thompson was rushed with internal bleeding to Jackson South Medical Center, where she succumbed Monday to her injuries, the Miami Herald reported.

The Greater Miami Symphonic Band said Monday that it will dedicate their Dec. 10 concert to Thomson.

“As has been our tradition, we will have an unoccupied seat in the oboe section with a single rose on it,” the band wrote on Facebook.


By James Smith

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Venice Floods Because of Highest Tide in 50 Year




Venice devastated by second highest tide in history

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) – Venice’s mayor called the city a disaster zone on Wednesday after the second highest tide ever recorded swept through it overnight, flooding its historic basilica and leaving many squares and alleyways deep under water.
A local man from Pellestrina, one of the many islands in the Venetian lagoon, died when he was struck by lightning while using an electric water pump, the fire brigade said.

City officials said the tide peaked at 187 cm (6ft 2ins) at 10.50 p.m. (2150 GMT) on Tuesday, just short of the record 194 cm set in 1966.Night-time footage showed a torrent of water whipped up by high winds raging through the city centre while Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, described a scene of “apocalyptic devastation”.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the situation was dramatic. “We ask the government to help us. The cost will be high. This is the result of climate change,” he said on Twitter.

He said he would declare a disaster zone and ask the government to call a state of emergency, which would allow funds to be freed to address the damage.

Saint Mark’s Square was submerged by more than one metre of water, while the adjacent Saint Mark’s Basilica was flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years – but the fourth in the last 20.

A flood barrier was designed in 1984 to protect Venice from the kind of high tides that hit the city on Tuesday, but the multi-billion euro project, known as Mose, has been plagued by corruption scandals and is still not operative.

Brugnaro said the basilica had suffered “grave damage”, but no details were available on the state of its mainly Byzantine interior, famous for its rich mosaics.

Its administrator said the basilica had aged 20 years in a single day when it was flooded last year.
Some tourists appeared to enjoy the drama, with one man filmed swimming across Saint Mark’s Square wearing only shorts on Tuesday evening.

“Venice is on its knees.. the art, the basilica, the shops and the homes, a disaster.. The city is bracing itself for the next high tide,” Zaia said on TV.

The luxury Hotel Gritti, a landmark of Venice which looks onto the Lagoon, was also flooded.

On Wednesday morning the tide level fell to 145 cm but was expected to rise back to 160 cm during the day.

Local authorities and the government’s civil protection unit will hold a news conference at 1100 GMT.

The overnight surge triggered several fires, including one at the International Gallery of Modern Art Ca’ Pesaro, with hundreds of calls to the fire brigade.

Video on social media showed deep water flowing like a river along one of Venice’s main thoroughfares. Other footage showed large waves hammering boats moored alongside the Doge’s Palace and surging over the stone sidewalks.

“A high tide of 187 cm is going to leave an indelible wound,” Brugnaro said.

Much of Italy has been pummelled by torrential rains in recent days, with widespread flooding, especially in the southern heel and toe of the country.

In Matera, this year’s European Capital of Culture, rain water cascaded through the streets and inundated the city’s famous cave-dwelling district.

Further bad weather is forecast for the coming days.

Reporting by Riccardo Bastianello; Writing by Crispian Balmer, Giulia Segreti and Gavin Jones; editing by Grant McCool and John Stonestreet

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Disney Plus streaming package debuts Tuesday with Marvel, Star Wars and more





The new service is $7 a month, commercial free

NEW YORK — Disney will sprinkle its pixie dust on the streaming arena Tuesday, as its Disney Plus service debuts with an arsenal of marquee franchises including Marvel and Star Wars, original series with a built-in fan base and a cheap price to boot.

The $7-a-month commercial-free service is poised to set the standard for other services like WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock to follow, as major media companies behind hit TV shows and movies seek to siphon the subscription revenue now going to Netflix and other streaming giants.

Disney’s properties speak to its strengths. Besides classic characters such as Snow White and Pinocchio, Disney has Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic — big names that most people would recognize. Disney Plus will also have all 30 past seasons of “The Simpsons.” Original shows include “The Mandalorian,” set in the Star Wars universe, and one on the Marvel character Loki.

“I really love both the Star Wars and Marvel franchises and I grew up watching classic Disney shows and movies so I do think there will be enough content for me,” she said.

Marlina Yates, who works in marketing in Kansas City, said she signed up because of her husband’s enthusiasm about the Star Wars series “The Mandalorian” and her daughter’s “love affair with princesses and everything Disney.”

Disney Plus’s $7 a month price is about half of the $13 Netflix charges for its most popular plan, and there are discounts for paying for a full year up front. Disney is also offering a $13 package bundling Disney Plus with two other services it owns, Hulu and ESPN Plus. That’s $5 cheaper than signing up for each one individually.

Everything won’t be available to stream right away, though, as Disney needs to wait for existing deals with rival services to expire. Recent movies missing at launch include the animated Pixar movie “Coco” and the live-action “Beauty and the Beast.” Others like “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” haven’t been released for streaming yet. Disney expects 620 movies and 10,000 TV episodes by 2024, up from 500 movies and 7,500 episodes on Tuesday.

Disney has said that it is losing about $150 million in licensing revenue in the most recent fiscal year from terminating deals with Netflix and other services. But Disney is betting that what it makes through subscriptions will more than make up for that — at least eventually.

Disney is boosting its subscription base initially with heavy promos, much as Apple TV Plus has done and HBO Max and Peacock plan to do. Members of Disney’s free D23 fan club were eligible to buy three years of Disney Plus service up front for the price of two years. Customers of some Verizon wireless and home-internet plans can get a year free.

The hope is that subscribers will stick around once they see what the service offers.

Long-term success is by no means guaranteed. With a slew of services launching, subscription fees can add up quickly. Consumers might be reluctant to drop an existing service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime to pay for something untested.

“I can’t keep up with so many services. It gets expensive,” said William Pearson, a Drexel University student who describes himself as a “massive” Marvel fan but already pays for Netflix, HBO and the DC Comics streaming service.

But compared with other newcomers, experts believe Disney will have no problem gaining — and keeping — the 60 million to 90 million worldwide subscribers it is targeting for 2024. It took Netflix twice as long to get to 90 million.

“Disney Plus has a gigantic array of content and a library that’s unmatched, so it feels like an easy addition for consumers to get a gigantic library at that low price,” said Tim Hanlon, CEO of Vertere Group.

Bernie McTernan, internet and media analyst at Rosenblatt Securities, said Apple’s venture into streaming, Apple TV Plus, has to build brand recognition for its new shows, while viewers may have difficulties seeing what HBO Max offers beyond the standard HBO subscription.

Source Denver Post

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