SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — When I've thought about driverless cars, which if you believe Sergey Brin, will be available within "several years," I've tended to think of them as a drop-in replacement for our current automobiles. So, you'd buy a VW Automaton and it would sit in your driveway until you wanted to go somewhere. Then, you'd hop in, say, "Take me to Lake Merritt," and then just sit back and pop in the latest Animal Collective while the computer drove.
But maybe that's not what would happen at all. Changes in transportation technology have tended to be accompanied by changes to transportation systems, too. Long-time technologist Brad Templeton argues that this will, in fact, be the case. And he's even got an idea of what the big shift might be. We could enter the age of the "whistlecar." If one can hire a cheap specialized 'robotaxi' (or whistlecar) on demand when one has a special automotive need," Templeton writes, "car users can elect to purchase a vehicle only for their most common needs, rather than trying to meet almost all of them -- or to not purchase at all."
This vision is kind of stunning: imagine the Kiva Systems logistics robots that now speed around major warehouses, but for people. Transportation-as-a-service models could really take off in a world of hyperoptimized robotaxis. Not only would the robotaxis be built differently from normal cars, but people's private vehicles (if they had one) would change as they realized how they could use the new system more effectively.
That is to say: right now, people buy big old SUVs and cars that drive 400 miles on a tank because they are buying for the maximum number of use cases. Really, most people drive their cars a few dozen miles at most and they do it alone. People have WAY more car than they need. So, Templeton's conceit is that if we had roaming driverless vehicles that would show up at your door when you called one, you might be inclined to buy "less car" because you'd get the rest on-demand.
My own thought: perhaps when you bought a small, electric vehicle, you'd get a "service plan" that came with X number of trips in a driverless vehicle of your choosing; your bundle would be the small, energy efficient daily car and access to self-driving vans, trucks, station wagons, and sports cars.
Templeton's theorizing could also answer some of the critiques from transit-oriented environmentalists who see driverless cars as perpetuating the doomed auto-heavy American system. Don't think about the driverless car as a fossil-fuel powered car replacement; think of it as one mode of a radically more efficient system: what could you do now within a system that now has free-floating semi-autonomous people transporters?
Let's say the tech opens up the system to change. Templeton's main argument is that the new system would bounce back on the tech. The design of cars would change because they'd have a new set of uses, possibilities, and constraints. I'll just provide the bullet list here of what might happen to cars in the auto-automobile era.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Throughout our nation’s worst racial tensions, Birmingham Civil Rights attorney Arthur Davis Shores was a pioneer who dared to step into the white man’s courtroom, bravely representing civil rights cases for some 25 years before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. arrived in Birmingham in 1963 with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. A quiet gentleman with a deep Christian faith, Shores worked tirelessly for equal rights. Shores was notably one of the attorneys who smuggled scraps of paper from Dr. King’s jail cell -- the now infamous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In this excerpt from 'The Gentle Giant Of Dynamite Hill: The Untold Story of Arthur Shores and his Family’s Fight for Civil Rights,' his daughters Helen Shores Lee and Barbara S. Shores write of their father’s involvement in this historic moment in civil rights’ history.
On April 3, 1963, during the Selective Buying Campaign, the SCLC staged sit-ins inside several downtown whites-only lunch counters. Three days later, police arrested 45 protesters as they marched from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church to Birmingham’s city jail. The next day, police arrested even more protesters, whom Daddy represented in court. The city charged $100 for each person’s bail, and Daddy, Mr. Gaston, and others raised much of the bail money so these protesters could leave jail and go home.
In light of the protests, Judge W. A. Jenkins Jr. ordered that the civil rights leaders, including Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy and Fred Shuttlesworth, organize no future protests in Birmingham.
On Good Friday, April 12, 1963, police arrested Dr. King and placed him in a Birmingham city jail cell in solitary confinement. The small cell held a metal-slatted cot with no mattress, a toilet and sink, and a mirror on the back wall. The cell had no overhead light or other light source. He spent most of his imprisonment in the dark. King later called those long hours and days in solitary confinement “the most frustrating and bewildering” he had ever lived.
On the second day of King’s confinement, Bull Connor in City Hall granted three attorneys permission to visit Dr. King. They were Norman Amaker from the NAACP, Orzell Billingsley, and our father. Perhaps one of them took Dr. King the ad that ran in the Birmingham News where eight local white ministers referred to King as a troublemaker. In any event, King read the ad and felt that he had to somehow respond to it.
Letter from Birmingham Jail
Dr. King had no paper, so he wrote his response around the edges of the newspaper ad and on pieces of toilet paper in his cell. Later, Daddy or one of the other attorneys brought him a notepad. King could only work in the daytime when he had enough scant light to see. When he finished the response, our father and his other attorneys secretly slipped the assorted bits and pieces of the letter from King’s cell and into the hands of NAACP’s Wyatt Walker. Walker and his secretary, Willie Pearl Mackey, pieced together the scraps of paper, and Mackey typed out the rough draft of the letter.
Andrew Young recalled that Willie Pearl Mackey “had a terrible time reading Martin’s handwriting. Most of the letter was brought in installments delivered from the jail by our attorneys, Clarence Jones, Ozell Billingsley, and Arthur Shores, during their trips to jail to visit Martin.” When Mackey had finished typing the draft, one of King’s lawyers smuggled it back to Dr. King to edit and make corrections. Then one of the lawyers carried it back to Walker.
In his response, on April 16, 1963, Dr. King addressed directly the eight white pastors (“My dear fellow clergymen”) who had written the newspaper ad. Using passages and characters from the Bible, he eloquently explained his reasons for coming to Birmingham (because he found injustice in the city), and he outlined both the process and the goal of his visit and activities, carefully describing the four basic steps of his nonviolent campaign: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. He also called Birmingham the most segregated city in the United States and mentioned its ugly record of brutality, including the Negroes’ unjust treatment by courts and the unsolved bombings. He told the clergymen: “The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.”
His response ran to more than 7,000 words in length. By May 13, 1963, the American Friends Service Committee (Quaker) had received permission from the SCLC to print the letter for wide dissemination and published 50,000 copies of the document in pamphlet form for national distribution. Other publications printed King’s Letter, including the Christian Century, the Saturday Evening Post, the Birmingham News and Atlantic Monthly, among others.
Half a Century Later
Almost a half-century later, theologians are still calling King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail “towering” and “magnificent.” In his letter,
King clearly cataloged the injustices faced by African Americans. He called “white moderates” to task and forcefully reminded them that justice delayed was justice denied. And most famously, citing Augustine, he claimed that “an unjust law is no law at all...” King had reason, justice, facts, and conviction on his side -- as well as the gospel. He did not need vitriol, and he did not employ it. —www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — On August 19, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a national student group focused on anti-war efforts and student issues that re-emerged in 2006, formally approved a merger with Occupy Colleges.
A previous national vote by the Occupy Colleges National Assembly was followed by intense discussion and a corresponding vote by the National Working Committee of SDS, which resulted in an unanimous decision to band together. In partnership, the two groups produced a single organization with a shared pool of resources and common SDS identity.
Occupy Colleges chapters as they currently exist going into the upcoming school year have all been given a affiliate status within the national SDS network. Like SDS, Occupy chapters reserve full independence to make group decisions such as changing their names or becoming active members in the national committees. However, campus-based occupations have been encouraged to formally found SDS chapters with their own respective administrations.
Occupy Colleges co-facilitator Natalia Abrams spoke enthusiastically about the strength of the new collaboration and noted that “it was the dream of Occupy Colleges at our inception to join with SDS in order to strengthen the student movement.” Stephanie Taylor of the SDS National Working Committee added “this merger signifies not an end or a beginning to our respective local movements but rather a burgeoning of our critical, collective, national movement as students and youth. SDS has always stood as the largest multi-issue, multi-tendency progressive student organization in the country and we are excited to have Occupy Colleges officially join us—we know this is a positive advancement for the student movement at large.”
Details of upcoming campaigns will be discussed and plotted at the SDS national convention on October 26 at the University of Florida, Gainesville.—www.shafaqna.com/english
source: The Nation.