I think the annual winter more than compensates for earthquake and fire risk. I grew up in the Detroit area, and I'll take the earthquake and fire risk in the hills around LA over winter, thanks.
I agree that many class action lawsuits look stupid. There is value, however, in some of them. Suppose that some company harms 1,000,000 people for $10 each. It's not worth any attorney's time or money to go after the company, so the company can continue harming millions more people with impunity. With a class action suit, there's sufficient incentive for an attorney to take the case on behalf of the millions of people harmed. It's true that none of them get much of anything (maybe a coupon for leftover toenail clippings of the CEO or something, and only after filling out a 100 page claim form), but if the attorney wins, it can (and should) create a disincentive for the company to continue harming additional people and for other companies to engage in similar harms.
Plus you'd be living in Hemet...
The patent linked in TFA shows a filing date of 2009. Unless I'm missing something.
Prius is a slug when it comes to acceleration. IIRC, the Prius V does 0-60 in in about 10.7 seconds, and that's empty. When I test drove one it felt like a slug going over a tiny bump of a hill. I live at the top of a big hill, and wanted a small wagon that I can put a lot of stuff in and carry bikes on top. Add that stuff to a V, and it's not going anywhere. I got a Cmax, and it's very well behaved-- I don't drive slow and I get 41 mpg combined without adjusting my driving style. Take your foot off the accelerator in the Cmax and it coasts along fine. If you put your foot back on, you can maintain speed in EV mode for several miles before the ICE kicks back in-- it has a larger battery than the Prius and with the current software will EV at up to 85 mph.
I have a C-max, which has the same drivetrain as the fusion. My understanding is that when it uses engine braking it basically fans the engine, using the pistons to drive air through, but doesn't run fuel. I think it only does this with the "hill assist" mode (on the side of the shifter) engaged, though it could be slightly different on the Fusion.
I agree that they did a nice job of making it behave like you expect from decades of drive ICE cars. They made the hybrid interface relatively non-distracting, and gave it enough power that you can accelerate when you need it. The general UI is also what you expect after decades of driving, unlike the Prius.
Was it really not filed until 2009? Isn't there more than 10 years of prior art on this?
I can probably dig up more than a few sites that had episodic content accessible by predetermined URLs that long predated the filing. Probably from enough different content providers to declare it obvious (in the patent sense) as well.
It was even true in the 60's and 70's-- Bell Labs funded an enormous amount of fundamental research with the money raked in by their monopoly. The cosmic microwave background (which really still has not practical value) was discovered by Bell Labs researchers. As they shut down the research they went on to populate a lot of university physics departments. IBM also funded a great deal of basic research. Xerox funded a lot of more practical stuff, but was terrible at commercializing it. Jobs at those places were at least as desirable for researchers in the 60's and 70's as faculty jobs.
Take the Fourier transform for instance -- once upon a time, it would have been considered pure math, but today, DSP wouldn't exist without it. To focus only on those that *we* think are utilitarian can be extremely myopic, not to mention downright arrogant.
The Fourier transform was a direct result of the desire to better understand heat transfer while boring cannons. You should pick a better example, though they can be hard to find. Most discoveries seem to come from an itch that needs to be scratched.
USA Cycling did the same thing back in the 90's with the "Superbike" for the '96 olympics and spent a ton of money on machines and got very little bang for the buck. Somebody still has to pedal it...
FWIW, the reality for most of cycling (i.e. most geared racing), most racers are equipped with 10 or 11 gears on the back, and 2 in front, and nearly everyone in a race will have the same set of gears. Even then, there will be variations in what gears the riders will choose to put on the front (sometimes compact vs. standard, but also larger or smaller chainrings), and occasionally in back (pyrenees vs. alps). And once you get to a reasonably high level, all bicycles can be made to be below the minimum allowed weight (6.8 kg) and riders actually have to add weight to make their machines race legal. Again, this puts smaller riders at a disadvantage because the machine is a larger fraction of the ride+machine weight, and machines for smaller riders would normally weigh less than those for larger riders.
The weight minimum is probably a bigger issue in track racing, where the minimum weight is the same, but the amount of stuff on the bike is much less-- only one gear in front and back, no freehub, no derailleurs, no shifters, no brakes. I'm not small and not a weight weenie, and have had to add weight to bikes to make weight. I know small women who had to drop lengths of chain down their seat tube to get their bikes up to the minimum.
What's shameful is that I didn't even notice how blatant it was until it was pointed out on another TV show.
I've seen it even worse in Burn Notice-- something like "If you're going to ditch someone chasing you in a pursuit, you need a car with a lot of acceleration, quick handling, and great braking. That means something like the [make][model] is ideal". Followed by what amounts to a car commercial of a chase, with lots of logo shots.
The universe probably finds some convenient way to force things to reasonable values. The density going to zero was just an example of a particular case. And quantum gravitation? Show me before you tell me where it kicks in. The universe is going to do what it's going to do, and it's generally well behaved, despite what happens where theories break down.
And how much of that is due to the elevation difference between SLC (~1288 m) and Sochi (near sea level). I'm too lazy to do the math for all of them, but based on my experience in cycling at sea level vs. 1500 m, those look like substantially attributable to the elevation. Add in differences in ice quality, and you might have all the difference. A more appropriate comparison is to look at how they've been doing against all their international competition over the past year, looking at performances at the same venue on the same day, and extrapolating.
This article: why higher elevation is better even points out that the final training for the US team was done at elevation. Training at sea level and using hypoxic tents at night might have been a better idea.
For instance, in cycling one major decision is which gears you put on your bike for a given race. Some people are better with bigger gears, and some smaller gears. Forcing everyone to use the same ones would put people at a disadvantage.
This isn't a problem: just give them all a multi-speed bike that has ALL the gears. The only reason you'd only put some gears on a bike for a given race is because you're trying to eliminate extra weight and streamline the bike for the conditions it'll see in that race (you're trying to optimize it). If everyone has the exact same bike, this isn't necessary. No, this bike won't be as optimal for any one person as a custom-built (and -geared) bike, but it'll have all the gearings that any of the athletes might want, and eliminate the machinery as a competitive advantage
And the machines still make it unfair- if you homogenize the machines to that extent then you end up homogenizing the people who can be competitive, as well. Staying with your example, small cyclists tend to have high power to weight, but low overall power, so it makes them more suited to climbing. Putting them on bikes with "all the possible gears" at the expense of weight means that the machine is a larger fraction of the rider+weight than for larger cyclists, thus using the machine to take away some of their real physical advantage. Even racing in a very controlled environment (i.e. a velodrome, where it's essentially dead flat), where riders are allowed to choose any gear they want (but only one gear), riders in a given race will choose different gears depending on their riding and racing style (spin vs mash, breakaway for laps vs. sit in and sprint). Sticking everyone in the same gear will likely put some of them at a disadvantage (which is intentionally done in junior racing, for both physical and fairness reasons).