Why Teslas Are Bad At Towing

Jason Fenske does a nice job explaining why the Cybertruck will not tow well: high efficiency gives electric vehicles competitive ranges despite their batteries’ low energy capacity, but also means that even a light, 5,000 pound trailer will slash that figure. In distance = energy / force, a small numerator (low capacity) causes range to drop off much faster as the denominator (towed weight) increases. See the blue graph below, which depicts range (the y-axis) as a function of towed weight (the x-axis). Traditional vehicles, although less efficient, have vast energy stores; in their case, a high numerator means the denominator has much less of an impact as it increases. See this in the green graph.

Force graph with a high versus low numerator

As I said about the Cybertruck last week, “it’s not a very good sportscar, and it’s not a very good truck.” I still think electric vehicles will revolutionize the overland space, but it will take years for the batteries to get there.

Lightning Round

I often see articles that I would like to talk about, but that I do not feel warrant a whole post here. Twitter is the obvious choice for quips like these, but I have little love for the service, prefer to keep all my work on my own platform, and feel that nuanced opinions should not come in 280 character bursts. Occasional “lightning rounds” will fill that gap. Together, a handful of these micro posts will make a full one, giving me somewhere to share things that used to just slip through the cracks.

First Crack Release Notes, November 2019

A few days late, again, but here it is: First Crack’s release notes for November, 2019. Again in October, like in September, I spent most of my dev time on an Instapaper-like read later service. I use it every day, and plan to release it. I did get a couple things done, though; once again, I did not neglect First Crack entirely.

Thoughts on Tesla's Cybertruck

I like to think about things. To riff off Austin Kleon, I want to become a professional writer so that I can be a professional thinker. For now, though, as I have said many times before, I write to clarify, condense, and record my thoughts. I have sat down today to talk about Tesla’s new Cybertruck — not because the Internet needs one more hot take, but rather to pursue those goals.

How to Encourage a Blogging Culture at Your Company

I like this post a lot, and the idea even more: Noah Gibbs lays out some good reasons to encourage a culture of blogging within an organization, and solid strategies for getting started. My boss floated an idea like this a few weeks ago, and while I had my doubts at first, time — and this piece — have changed my mind. More to follow.

Hot Takes on Tesla's Cybertruck

I spent the morning reading hot takes on Tesla’s new Cybertruck. I have some more thinking to do, but Jason Torchinsky wrote a great post on the truck’s design, and Kim Reynolds did a nice job approaching the topic from a manufacturing standpoint. Andrew Collins also has a nice comparison of the Cybertruck versus some of its competitors, which is beats on all fronts.

You Can't Lift Because You're Not Trying

I have a few things to say here, so let me say them all up front. Your diet doesn’t matter. Your training plan doesn’t matter. The reason you will never reach your goal is because you don’t want to. You don’t work hard enough to achieve it, and nowhere near hard enough for anything like a diet or training plan to make a difference. Those factors come into play at such a high level, one so far from where you are now, that all the time and effort you pour into these areas is wasted. Now let me explain.

The Wothahellizat

I found this incredible rig on Pinterest, of all places. Inspiration for the next version of mine.

Pipe to/from the clipboard in Bash script

At home, I can send a link from any device to a local web server that saves it for later. Then, when I have time to read, I can see all my saved articles, move them into folders, and refer back to them as needed. At work, though, those links go into a text file. When I get home, I find the text file, open it, copy the list, clear the file, close it, and then send the list to the server. pbcopy makes that process just a little easier. Now, cat ingest.txt > pbcophy & echo "" > ingest.txt puts the contents of ingest.txt on my clipboard and then clears the file, so I can add the links through the web interface with just a bit less hassle.

Start before you think you're ready

“Me, personally, I became a professional writer so I could be a professional reader.”

I love that line. The rest of Austin Kleon’s post is good, but that line is great.

You really can fool some of the people, all of the time

The Economist took an interesting look at how citizens view politicians when they lie, and their conclusion warrants concern:

“You might expect (or hope) that thoughtful people would be more amenable to the force of fact-based evidence than most. Alas, no. According to David Perkins of Harvard University, the brighter people are, the more deftly they can conjure up post-hoc justifications for arguments that back their own side.”

This leads well into a point Ryan Holiday made back in March, in It’s Not Enough to Be Right — You Also Have to Be Kind:

“There is this unshakeable assumption that if they can just present the right fact[, ...] that people will change their minds. ... After spending years and millions of words and hours of video on this, we’ve had almost zero success. Why? Because you can’t reason people out of positions they didn’t reason themselves into. No one responds well to having their identity attacked. No argument made in bad faith — that the person on the other side is a moron or a dupe or a racist or a snowflake — is ever going to be received in good faith.”

The sooner this becomes not just common knowledge, but also common practice, the sooner we can move beyond petty divisions and focus on steering the empire from total collapse.

Inside the Microsoft team tracking the world's most dangerous hackers

Patrick O’Neill did a nice job explaining why Microsoft, as an organization, does threat intelligence so well. Yes, it has piles of money and legions of smart people to throw at this problem, but Microsoft’s biggest leg up over everyone else is the massive data flow its ubiquity enables. This means its Threat Intelligence Center sees things no one else does, and has the context to identify malicious activity that — even given the same raw data — no one else would know to flag. Those looking to step into the cybersecurity realm, even if just to beef up their home network, should take note.

You may also find these resources useful:

Bollinger's electric trucks will cost $125,000

“Michigan-based electric truck startup Bollinger Motors has finally announced the price of its rugged electric trucks, the Jeep-like B1 and the B2 pickup. Both vehicles will start at an eye-popping $125,000 ...”

Well, nevermind.

The Internet and the Third Estate

Ben Thompson, likening Facebook to the printing press:

“... the printing press effectively overthrew the First Estate, leading to the establishment of nation-states and the creation and empowerment of a new nobility[, the Second Estate]. The implication of overthrowing the Second Estate, via the empowerment of commoners[, the Third Estate], is almost too radical to imagine.”

A fascinating perspective. The First Estate did not lose control without a fight — and a great deal of complaining — and it seems the Second Estate will follow suit. Ben made this point back in 2016 in The Voters Decide, but did a much better job in here.

Since this has become a politics-adjacent post, I have found Mathew Stoller’s BIG newsletter quite interesting over the last few weeks, too. As promised, I continue to update Keeping Up with Current Events to reflect the list of websites and newsletters I use to stay well-informed; Mat and Ben have both made the list.

More bash tricks

Jude Robinson over at Coderwall posted quick fixes for two long-time annoyances with bash, one for tab completion — case insensitivity and having to double-tap the Tab key to view partial matches — along with what I will call contextual command history: the ability to type cd and then use the arrow keys to work through all previous entries that started with cd. Finally.

How We Stay Connected Sailing the World

Jason and Nikki Wynn wrote a fantastic article that explains how they get Internet access on their sailboat. I spend a lot of time thinking about this, as I prepare to one day build and live in my own RV. I have an article in the works that outlines a few different approaches, as well as my own plan. In brief, though, I plan to use a dedicated LTE modem for my primary connection, with a satellite link as a fallback. This will give me a stronger connection than a cellphone, hotspot, or even the oft-cited WeBoost in most of the Americas. On the off-chance I have no signal but need one, satellite data prices have come down enough to make that a viable way to ensure I always have some sort of connectivity.

Pound for Pound

The “pound for pound” metric does a fine job of comparing two peoples’ relative strength. It accounts for the difference between someone weighing in at 175 who deadlifts 585, and me weighing in at 220 who deadlifts the same. I have a lot of respect for that other guy. This metric does not trump absolute numbers, though. Argue all you want, but the pound for pound “stronger” person, who maxes out with weights someone else uses to warm up, is far weaker; that other guy’s max would break him. You may convince yourself that an arbitrary ratio makes them comparable, but the iron will crush that argument, too.

Computer Files are Going Extinct

From Simon Pitt over at OneZero, emphasis mine:

“The other day, I came across a website I’d written over two decades ago. I double-clicked the file, and it opened and ran perfectly. Then I tried to run a website I’d written 18 months ago and found I couldn’t run it without firing up a web server, and when I ran NPM install, one or two of those 65,000 files had issues that meant node failed to install them and the website didn’t run. When I did get it working, it needed a database. And then it relied on some third-party APIs and there was an issue with CORS because I hadn’t whitelisted localhost. My website made of files carried on, chugging along. This isn’t me saying that things were better in the old days. I’m just saying that years ago websites were made of files; now they are made of dependencies.

Call me old-fashioned, but I do think things were better in the old days, so I’ll stick to static files and vanilla Python for my projects.

Writing is Thinking

The first time I read through Steph Smith’s Writing is Thinking: Learning to Write with Confidence, I thought it was fine. Then I read it again. The second time, I thought it was great — an interesting breakdown of a much more mature writing process than my own, that gave me some good ideas for writing more and writing better. I have not done much writing about writing since I started again, but I hope to; maybe something like this, about how Steph’s piece changes my process, will be my first.