Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Elon Musk's plan to use a new business model to help save the planet

Elon Musk was the founder of Paypal and he is now, among other things, the CEO of Tesla Motors.

What's interesting about the NY Times article below is that it seems to indicate that Musk has developed a new business model based on his awareness of human nature and his concern for the environment. 

For example, everybody knows that gas-burning cars pollute the environment. Few people have, however, abandoned their gas-burning cars because these cars make their lives easier. So although people know they are polluting the environment, they just don't seem to think about it nor does this make them want to switch to electrically generated cars (which would not contribute to adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere).

Therefore, Musk wants to appeal to everyone's self interest since appealing to the interests of the planet does not seem to work. It is Musk's intention to make a car that is better and cheaper than fossil-fuel (gas-burning) cars so that people will want to switch to cars which are better for the environment, and they will switch for completely selfish reasons.

Here is an interesting and thought-provoking article followed by interesting vocabulary from the article and some good discussion questions. 

The article:


to be unveiled - to be revealed

to hit a speed bump - a speed bump is a literal bump in the road that drivers have to slow down for; these speed bumps are often placed near schools so that drivers will not speed through areas where there are children. Figuratively, a speed bump is anything that slows your progress down. The speed bump in this article is the fact that a man died while driving a Tesla run by auto-pilot and this is causing problems for Tesla.

premature - too early

fatality - a death

to hail something as - to praise something as 

to be bent on - to be committed to; if you are bent on something, you have determined you are going to do something and it might not be possible to stop you

muttering - when you are upset and can't stop saying something quietly to yourself, but you don't want others to hear what you are saying

schadenfreude - this is a German word...it means to feel happy when someone you don't like is suffering 

a sheer need - a pure or obvious need

to crank out - to produce

ramping up production - increasing production

his wit is dry and understated - his sense of humor is very subtle

the turd in the punch bowl - a turd is a piece of crap or shit; a punch bowl is a bowl filled with a type of fruit drink that you often find at parties (people scoop the punch out of the bowl with a scooper and fill their cups with it). So to have a turd in your punch bowl is to have something disgusting in something you would like to use. He is saying that we are ignoring these greenhouse gases but we would not ignore a turd in a punch bowl.

to epitomize - to be the best example of (so here the Paris accords (meetings) were the perfect example of how slowly the governments around the world work to solve problems)

to be agile - to be flexible

resentment - when you dislike someone or something because you think they have hurt you

a disruptive entrepreneur - usually the word disruptive has a negative meaning but here it means Musk has disrupted the way entrepreneurs usually do business and he is forcing them to change

a nagging question - a question that won't go away; one person nags another person if he keeps bothering him: i.e. Did you take out the garbage? When will you take out the garbage? Didn't you say you were going to do this? Can you do this soon? etc.

volatile - unstable

audacity - being bold, showing courage when nobody expects you to

to muse about something - to think deeply about something

the advent of something - the beginning of something

flaws - problems or errors in some type of system 

detractors - people who disagree with Musk

full throttle forward - to go forward as fast as possible


What do you think motivates Elon Musk?

How does he want to contribute to saving the planet?

Should he be held accountable for the man who died in the auto-pilot car?

Is Tesla using its drivers as guinea pigs? (A guinea pig is a small furry animal that some scientists use for experiments. So let's say there is a new restaurant in your neighborhood but you don't know whether it is good. And let's say your roommate says he is hungry and looking for a restaurant. You might tell him to go to the new restaurant because you want to use him as a guinea pig - you want to test the restaurant on him first before you try it.)

Was the death a big deal to you?

Why do energy companies view Tesla 'warily'?

How might Musk be the Henry Ford of this era?

What will finally motivate people to buy electric cars?

Who would be more successful in regard to protecting the environment - business or government?

How is the government helping business to create 'greener' technology?

What impact will Tesla cars have in the immediate future?

How is Musk influencing other businesses?

Should more scientists try to be entrepreneurs?

What is Musk's background?

Do we really need autopilot cars?

Can autopilot ever really work?

Did Brown cause his own death?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hope Solo (Sore Loser?) Insults the Swedish Women's Soccer Team

Photo of Solo from the Washington Post

I have to admit that I have never liked the US women's soccer team. The USA is a very racially and ethnically diverse country, yet the women's team is almost always made of all-white girls. I find this to be very problematic. There's something wrong here that needs to be fixed.

Speaking of problematic, after the US women were eliminated from the Olympics, the goal-keeper, Hope Solo, verbally attacked the Swedish team for being 'cowards'. A coward is someone who is scared or frightened to do something others would expect him/her to do. Solo said that the Swedish team, which beat the American team, had not taken risks and had played purely defensive soccer.

However, the US women have been so dominant in international competition because of circumstances in the USA which other women on other national teams do not enjoy.  For example, all of the US women played college soccer. In the USA colleges which receive money from the US government HAVE TO provide a fair amount of money to women's sports programs if they have men's sports programs. So the college teams these women played for all received excellent funding from their colleges/universities.

The US women also play for professional women's soccer teams. In Japan, which has been highly competitive with the US team, and which beat the USA in 2011 for the World Cup, the women hold down 9-5 jobs and train when they can. Sweden has a women's soccer league, but I would still argue that the USA will always be dominant as long as the college system exists. The US women play highly competitive soccer throughout college on especially well-funded teams in organized athletic conferences.

So how dare Hope Solo attack the Swedish women?! The American team approaches soccer competition with an advantage over other teams and in what often seems to me to be an arrogant and aggressive manner. If the Swedish women are 'cowards' then maybe the US women are 'bullies' - people who are bigger and stronger and who enjoy physically scaring and frightening others.

Thank you Sweden for beating the US women! The cowards beat the bullies.

By the way, I wanted to introduce you to the expression "a sore loser". This is a player who does not take a loss with character and dignity, but who complains and attacks the opponent after a loss. In the USA we believe that if you compete as well as you can, you can be proud even if you do not win a game. If you complain after a loss, you are called a sore loser. To be sore means to be in pain or to be suffering. It is an insulting term.

The article about Hope Solo's attack on the Swedish women:

Vocabulary from the article about Hope Solo and her insults against the Swedes:

to rip someone or something - in this case it means to verbally attack s/o or s/t

a coward - someone who refuses to take action because of fear

to suffer a loss - to experience a loss...try to remember you can use the verb 'to suffer' with the words 'loss' or 'defeat'

a brutal meltdown - a meltdown is when everything goes wrong, usually because a person or group panics or loses their sense of calm. So a brutal meltdown would be an extreme case of totally failing to do what one had intended to do

to be less than complimentary - to be less than complimentary is to be insulting and not to reach the level of complimenting someone

courageous - showing courage, bravery, a lack of fear

we showed a lot of heart - we demonstrated a lot of character, courage, we showed inner strength

a combative game - like a war

They dropped into a 50 - I apologize ...I have no idea what she's talking about

to press - to be aggressive on offense

conservatively - without taking risks

lost in this rant is Solo calling out Sundhage - a rant is a long and angry speech. "...lost in this rant..." means that people are missing the fact that in Solo's rant against Sweden she specifically attacked the coach of Sweden, Pia Sundhage, who used to be the American coach and who is, apparently, someone Solo doesn't like.

a simple reply to the jab - the jab means the insult. Sundhage's reply was: "I don't give a crap what Hope Solo says." 

to be heated - to be upset (this term is rarely used, don't worry about using 'heated' in this way - 'heated' is, however, often used as a adjective in this manner: they had a heated debate, a heated discussion, a heated argument...meaning a passionate debate, discussion, argument)

to be gracious - to show good character, kindness, a lack of anger and hatred

to bow out - to lose a competition and to leave

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Chicago Police (Stupidly) Shoot at Each Other and Kill Another Black Teenager

Some police officers in the USA still do not seem to be intelligent or ethical enough to get the messages that America is shouting at them: "Just because a person may have committed a crime, you DO NOT have the right to kill the person!" and "Black lives matter!" ('Black lives matter' means that black lives are important and the police need to stop killing black men because of racist attitudes.)

In Chicago, ANOTHER unarmed black teenager was killed recently by the (very corrupt and STUPID) Chicago Police Department. (to be unarmed means to be without a weapon)

Apparently the black teen had stolen a car. He crashed the car into two police cars and then started running away to escape. 

Ridiculously, after the car crash, police started shooting all over the place, to the point where many confused cops (police officers) apparently thought that the black teen had a gun and was shooting at them. However, it was the cops basically shooting at each other.

Ultimately, a cop caught up to the black teen and shot him IN THE BACK.

Every week we seem to hear stories like this and every week police officers in America STUPIDLY keep illegally killing people regardless of public anger and protests. The only alternative, now, is to begin throwing cops in jail for LONG prison terms if they shoot at unarmed citizens.  

An article from the Chicago Tribune:

Vocabulary from the article:

procedural errors - these are mistakes made in regard to the way you are supposed to do your job; the police made several mistakes in doing their job - they should not have shot at each other (obviously) and they should not have shot a teenager in the back.

fatal - deadly

succession - one after the other

a fleeing vehicle - a car driving away

in harm's way - capable of being harmed

to be armed - to have a gun or other weapon

erroneously - falsely, incorrectly

barreling in his direction - moving in his direction with great speed and force, like a barrel rolling toward you

acting with uncharacteristic swiftness - Chicago's corrupt mayor and corrupt police department usually take a lot of time to cover up police abuses - this time they acted more quickly...swiftness means quickness

the oversight agency - an agency that is supposed to monitor the police and punish them if they do something wrong. In Chicago, oversight agencies NEVER see anything wrong

her heart went out to O'Neal's family - she felt sympathy for them

to be devastated by something - to be in shock and deep depression at the same time; a person is often devastated after some horrible tragedy or sudden death of someone he/she knows

a trade school or ComEd - a trade school is a school where you learn a job skill; ComEd is the electric company in Chicago

a Jaguar convertible - a sports car with no top

shouting down someone - yelling so loudly that the other person cannot speak

activists - people who believe something is wrong and who try to change things

Superintendent - the head or boss of the Chicago police

Bridging that gap... - they are using words the Superintendent was using and making fun of him for lying

a scapegoat - someone you blame for a problem caused by someone else. So the activist is saying the corrupt (dishonest) mayor is to blame, but he is forcing the black Superintendent to take the blame publicly

retreated - ran away

to be transparent - to be completely honest

shell casings - what flies out of a gun when bullets are shot

distraught - panicky, scared, shocked, depressed

This is so f_____ up - This is so fucked up. This is what the killer cop said. He then says, "I don't want anything..." He meant to use the past tense: "I didn't want anything to happen to that fucking guy." 

sergeant - someone who supervises lower-level cops

The way s____'s going... - "The way shit's going, I'm going to get crucified..." The way things are happening, I am going to be punished severely and ruined because of this.

to reassure the officer - to make the officer feel better

...he was in a hot car - he was in a stolen car. So the sergeant, unbelievably, is saying, "Don't worry, you killed a guy who stole a car. Nobody will even care. he was a criminal."

to contradict oneself - to say something against what you had previously said

a special prosecutor - an objective lawyer from the government to determine whether the cops who shot their guns should be arrested

coldblooded - something rationally chosen. Actually, this shooting was not coldblooded.

to commend each other - to congratulate each other, to say "Good job!" to each other

to wrap up the probe - to end the investigation

a raft of reforms - a number of new policies to change what was wrong