The Atlantic has an article asking whether autonomous cars need windows. If there's no driver, will the passengers want to look outside? In the summer, will anyone want to endure the relentless heat from the sun? The robot cars offer us a great opportunity to rethink the platform which is largely devoted to supporting the driver. But if a computer is in charge and it sees with dozens of cameras ringing the car, what else can we change? What else don't we need? What can improve?
From a marketing point of view, using treated sewage to create drinking water is a proposition that has proved difficult to sell to customers. Now John Schwartz writes in the NYT that as California scrambles for ways to cope with its crippling drought and the mandatory water restrictions imposed last month by Gov. Jerry Brown, enticing people to drink recycled water is requiring California residents to get past what experts call the "yuck" factor. Efforts in the 1990s to develop water reuse in San Diego and Los Angeles were beaten back by activists who denounced what they called, devastatingly, "toilet to tap." Orange County swung people to the idea of drinking recycled water with a special purification plant which has been operating since 2008 avoiding a backlash with a massive public relations campaign that involved more than 2,000 community presentations. The county does not run its purified water directly into drinking water treatment plants; instead, it sends the water underground to replenish the area's aquifers and to be diluted by the natural water supply. This environmental buffer seems to provide an emotional buffer for consumers as well.
In 2000, Los Angeles actually completed a sewage reclamation plant capable of providing water to 120,000 homes — the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys.The plan was abandoned after public outrage. Angelenos, it seemed, were too good to drink perfectly safe recycled water — dismissed as "toilet to tap." But Los Angeles is ready to try again, with plans to provide a quarter of the city's needs by 2024 with recycled water and captured storm water routed through aquifers. "The difference between this and 2000 is everyone wants this to happen," says Marty Adams. The inevitable squeamishness over drinking water that was once waste ignores a fundamental fact, says George Tchobanoglous: "When it comes down to it, water is water. Everyone who lives downstream on a river is drinking recycled water."
The Simpsons were just renewed for their 27 and 28th seasons. What shenanigans will they get into next?