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Yikes, the open tabs are taking over the world!

So … a gigantic Sunday morning linkathon …

  • The technology is ancient. Mark Twain knew all about it. But making gunpowder with urine is taking the gun blogs by storm. Smoky black powder it’ll be. But one more way that all the self-righteous bans in the world won’t end firearms.
  • We all know not to talk to cops, but in a moment of surprise and stress, the temptation to “cooperate” is enormous. The astute Ken White explains the WHY of things in a way that might help us zip our lips.
  • The Motley Fool test drives an Elio.
  • Another way Oregon did its pot legalization better than Washington: a reprieve for past offenders.
  • And even in benighted Massachusetts a judge tells cops they can’t stop drivers for pot alone.
  • Eeeeeew. Another government-aided environmental mess
  • Ray Bradbury, Epictetus, and the real reason we should quit coddling every weak, fainting, “offended” soul.
  • Hillary vs FOIA.
  • White House considered disguising malware as updates. Heck, what else is new? In this era of forced cloud computing Microsoft does that routinely.
  • Student studying counterterrorism gets questioned by school security for … um, reading a book about terrorism.
  • Can you really “create a public disturbance” that only you and the cop involved can hear?
  • Netflix knows the exact moment you get hooked on a streaming series. (But they can’t tell when I watch my Orange is the New Black DVDs with the Internet connection disabled!)


  1. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty September 27, 2015 9:45 am

    Gunpowder made with urine. Sounds fair in a pinch. Still have not read anything to indicate that primers can be home made… Can those be 3D printed now? I can’t keep up with all this stuff. πŸ™‚

  2. Pat
    Pat September 27, 2015 9:49 am

    I have two questions about the Elio: I wonder 1) how fast — including pickup in passing — it can go; and 2) if it can be seen well, especially on a high-speed highway. (Except for the colors, of course πŸ™‚ — I love the orange.)

  3. Claire
    Claire September 27, 2015 10:35 am

    Pat — Good questions! I’d expect visibility to be decent, especially since the Elio is about as long and tall as a small passenger car — only much narrower. (And, as you say, with those COLORS! IF the Elio delivers as promised, I’m going to have a hard time deciding between the apple green and creamsicle orange, myself.)

    I expect nobody knows yet exactly how speedy it’ll be on acceleration and passing. I think they’re engineering it to go up to 100 mph, but since the most current prototype Elio contains only a prototype engine, I doubt anybody’s sure. They just posted pix of what’s supposed to be the real engine on Friday.

    For the time being I continue to take all Elio claims with a grain of salt. I’m guessing if they make it to production their base price will be more like $10,000, rather than the $6,800 they keep repeating. But heck, that still ain’t bad. Even their base model is supposed to have air conditioning, air bags, automated windows, etc.

  4. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal September 27, 2015 10:44 am

    Now I want to make gunpowder. I tried many years ago, and came up with something that burned fast, smelled awful (like it burned the hairs out of my nose), but wouldn’t explode. Now I see some of the things I did wrong.


    My sister recently discovered the Elio- and now she wants one.

  5. Graystone
    Graystone September 27, 2015 11:21 am

    The big thing with the Elio that NOBODY seems to mention is that it’s classified as a MOTORCYCLE, and as such, requires a motorcycle license to operate.
    Great, if you live in a state where no motorcycle license is required. But I’m 74, and live in a state where a motorcycle license is required, so the bloom is off the rose for me.

  6. Claire
    Claire September 27, 2015 11:44 am

    Graystone — Actually, Elio does mention that a lot. They’ve got lobbyists working on that from state to state. Both the licensing and helmet laws. IIRC, they’ve about got the helmet requirements knocked out; only two states left to go, I think. Not sure about the licensing part.

  7. Graystone
    Graystone September 27, 2015 1:49 pm


    Thanks for setting me straight. Last I checked, the licensing was the big obstacle, and the one that would be a deal-breaker for many.

  8. Claire
    Claire September 27, 2015 3:13 pm

    I can see why motorcycle licensing would be a deal killer, especially if getting such a license actually required a person to demonstrate the ability to ride an open two-wheeler.

    FWIW, in addition to working at the state level, Elio (and other would-be manufacturers of enclosed three-wheelers) are trying to get Congress to define a new type of vehicle, the autocycle:

    Doesn’t look like the bill has gone anywhere yet:

    But this seems like pretty commonsense stuff and with even carmakers like Toyota interested in the autocycle business, it seems hopeful.

  9. Jim B.
    Jim B. September 27, 2015 4:48 pm

    Try the Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses. At the time I was learning, they had three tiers of courses and I took them all. You only really need the first one to pass and get the endorsement on your license, which I have. They’re an organization run mainly by volunteers and experienced riders, so they know what they’re talking about. They helped me passed the course on the first go.

    As for the Autocycle legalisties, I hope they’re successful, I’ve always like the idea of those three wheelers. Small, sporty, frugal. Like the Polaris Slingshot.

  10. jed
    jed September 27, 2015 6:21 pm

    @ML: While I don’t keep on the state of the art in 3D printing, I’d say, no, on 3D printing primers. Or even 3D printing percussion caps.

    A modern primer has 2 metal parts. The cup and the anvil. Both are metal stampings, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone could come up with a way to DIY those. I could be wrong; perhaps the metallurgy is important. Percussion caps appear to be simpler.

    The harder part is in formulating the charge in the cap or primer. As these are percussive explosives, more care is needed in making them. Sure, not impossible. But I think if I were making my own blackpowder, it’d be for use in a flint lock, or a fused firearm.

  11. Jorge
    Jorge September 27, 2015 6:35 pm

    The description of an Elio sounds like a fancy tuk-tuk, without cargo capability. I do not know about the US but you can buy those for much less than USD 6,800 in a lot of the world. What am I missing?

  12. Claire
    Claire September 27, 2015 7:39 pm

    “What am I missing?”

    Air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, newly developed engine, high-tech aerodynamic design, power windows, 100 mph capability, airbags … and U.S. regulations.

    Don’t see too many tuk-tuks in the U.S. at any price. No Tata Nanos, either. Thanks to our “protective” government.

  13. LarryA
    LarryA September 27, 2015 9:40 pm

    I read somewhere (dead tree) that the Apache reloaded cartridges back during the Indian Wars. Then there are today’s black market ammo folks in Pakistan.

  14. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty September 28, 2015 6:34 am

    Guess I’m just too old and set in my ways. This three wheeled “car” doesn’t appeal to me at all, any more than motorcycles ever did. I like the solid reliability of four wheels, legs, whatever, on things I ride or ride in.

    So, how would this tricycle car deal with heavy wind or deep snow? Not, I suspect. And the real deal breaker would be the lack of cargo space.

    For city commuters and people without children or cargo to haul, I’m sure it would be good. Just don’t see it replacing regular cars for the rest of us. πŸ™‚

    And my first thought when I read about the tandem two seat arrangement was: Will give a whole new meaning to the term “backseat driver.” LOL

  15. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair September 28, 2015 7:47 am

    I’ve been wanting an Elio for a few years now. Paul Elio’s latest target ship date is late 2016, but he still needs a couple hundred million dollars in investment before he can begin production. They’re building their fifth prototype vehicle, which has the target engine and transmission. They’ve designed a built a neat little three-cylinder engine of their own.

    I, too, doubt they’ll manage to hit their target price of $6,800, but I think they WILL get very close to their target highway efficiency of 84 mpg. Assuming they find enough investment capital to build one at all.

  16. Claire
    Claire September 28, 2015 8:11 am

    “So, how would this tricycle car deal with heavy wind or deep snow? Not, I suspect. And the real deal breaker would be the lack of cargo space.”

    The Elio is being positioned primarily as a commuter car, and a second car. It’s not intended to be all things to all people.

    Elio is also seen as a first, and one-and-only, car for people who might normally buy a junker (me!), but in that case I agree that the lack of cargo space is a problem.

    OTOH, Paul Elio is aggressively encouraging aftermarket suppliers to offer hosts of options for his car, and it won’t surprise me if those include things like clever luggage racks and/or tiny bugger-lugger trailers.

    I have to concur with Bill, though. It’s still an open question whether the Elio will ever come to market at all.

  17. LarryA
    LarryA September 28, 2015 8:27 am

    I suppose at my age the Elio would be an alternative to a bicycle.

    What I’d really rush out to buy is a Jeep without all the electronic gizmos everybody thinks I need, particularly some of the stuff mandated by Congress. I can crank windows down and manually move seats, thankyouverymuch. And I wish the passenger-side rearview mirror wasn’t distorted.

    I just wrote an article about a guy who’s been fixing cars for 40 years. He says, “”Under the hood it’s parts connected by wires connected to other parts by wires connected to more parts, all communicating. Everything has to be happy for a car to work properly. When we get one in that isn’t, we connect a pod to the datalink under the hood, and link that to a laptop. It may take 5, 6, 7 hours to find a solution.” The upside, he says, is that today’s cars are much safer and far more fuel efficient.


  18. Mark P
    Mark P September 28, 2015 10:07 am

    I continue to use Windows, including 10, primarily because it offers a digital ink capability on the devices I use that no one else has. Security and privacy on my systems is obviously a big concern for me, but I find a lot of stuff on the Internet, including the link you posted in this list, pretty overblown. A more reasoned take on those particular MS updates, and MS’s policy and practices on privacy in general can be found at Woody Leonard’s “Woody on Windows” column on InfoWorld:

    Woody is a long-time Windows user, but not blind about the downsides that go along with that.

  19. Laird
    Laird September 28, 2015 10:27 am

    My initial concern in looking at the Elio was safety. Personally, I like having a lot of steel around me for protection. But I went to their website and they do talk about that some. Apparently there is a solid roll cage around the passenger compartment, as well as airbags and a crumple zone. So I guess that’s all OK, although I still have my doubts about taking it on the highway. I could see using it to commute to work, where you’re only travelling at 25-30 miles per hour, but at highway speeds? I don’t think so.

    Separate item: In the article about making black powder from urine (which seems really interesting, although I haven’t watched the videos yet), did anyone notice this link at the bottom: That looks like fun!

  20. MJR
    MJR September 28, 2015 11:43 am

    A few years ago I first saw the Elio and I liked it then as I do now. For me it looks like the perfect second car. In spring/summer/fall when my wife and I are at our busiest my wife has the SUV and I the Elio which would be perfect. As for the winter… I would store it.

    Safety issues are about the same as having a motorcycle, possibly a little better because of the role cage. Having ridden bikes in my youth this doesn’t really bother me. As Heinlein said β€œThe death rate is the same for everybody, one life one death sooner or later.”

    In Ontario Canada they have adapted the motorcycle license by adding a section that covers 3 wheeled vehicles IE the Can-Am Spider. I think the Elio is better than the spider in three ways. The Elio is enclosed so the driver doesn’t have to worry about rain, when alone there is space for the golf clubs in the back plus it is half the cost of a spider. As for me I want one so I don’t have to schedule things around my wife in the spring/summer/fall time frame when we are both busy. I just hope that they are sold up here before I die…

  21. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau September 30, 2015 7:53 am

    Thanks for that link about protecting feelings.

    Sometimes I wonder if this is one of those “glass half full or half empty” kind of things. The SJWs are annoying, but are they only annoying because they now have a platform (just like the rest of us) that the entire world can observe? Think about the material we can access, versus what we could access 30 years ago. Aren’t our experiences vastly more broad now? Who cares if some individual gets a bug up his ass about nothing? Make fun of him in your blog!

    The world was a lot more plain and controlled and censored, a few decades ago.

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