Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Can NASCAR Survive?

I love NASCAR. I watch the races on TV, go to the tracks, I even driven on several of the super speedways.

Every wonder what fascinates guys about NASCAR?

It is explosions, not wrecks -- explosions.

Every since the 9th century when the Chinese invented gun powder, men have been fascinated about explosions. The sound, the power - fascinating as Spock would say.

What we have tried very successfully to do in auto racing is harness the power of an explosion and turn it into something useful - like motion.

When an 4 cylinder engine is turning 9,000 RPMs that's 9,000 explosions per minute. In a big stock car V-8, that's 18,000 explosions per minute Success!

Formula 1 cars shriek, Indy cars whine but stock cars roar. You can hear the explosions and the power. Stand close enough grand national stock car you can actually feel the power.

If you go to Daytona for either of the two NASCAR races, the ground actually trembles on the starting lap. Now that's sound and fury.

I am one of those guys that routes the TV race sound thru the stereo, all 500 watts or so, and when they say crank it up -- I do. The Bose speakers leap to life.

The dogs hide, the bird puts her head under her wing, the wine glasses rattle. I think I have actually seen the curtains flutter.

Explosions at their absolute best. I love it!

This week there was a lot of press about electric cars. I think they are the wave of the future. We are one breakthrough away from the electric powered vehicle going viral as they say. It will either be in electric motor technology or battery science. There are literally thousands of researchers working on the problem as you read this.

What happens to NASCAR when cars go electric?

No explosions. No sound, no fury, no ground trembling just silence or a soft whoooosh as they blow by at 200MPH.

To get a feel for how all of this might work, during this weeks race, I set up a large fan, cranked up the stereo and then simply pushed MUTE and turned on the fan.

The silence was deafening. Even my Coors Light didn't look as inviting

I can't imagine what it would be like in the grandstands. You would actually have to talk to the person next to you because you could hear them.

NASCAR needs to start a research program on a noisy electric motor because without the sound and the fury, it just won't be NASCAR.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Where Will the Artists Go?

Salt Creek Art Works is closing soon. Salt Creek Artworks provides studios and galleries for "struggling" local artists. Some of them have been struggling there for a lot of years.

The Tampa Bay Times reported the property has been sold and will be converted into a parking lot for the fish processing plant next door.

Probably some irony in all of that.

Hum the tune: They "Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot"

There is a lot of history in this place. Once the Perma House Furniture store, ART WORKS has been on 4th street South for 20 years or so. I have been to a number of art shows and fund raisers there, it is about what you would expect an art studio/gallery to be, comfortable, interesting and full of fascinating people.

The big question is: Now what?

Will the St. Petersburg arts community, so fond of itself and its accomplishments, promoter of St. Petersburg as an arts destination, step up and find a new location for this important art center, or will they come running to City Council for a hand out to help the starving artists.

With the arts community never reluctant to dip into the public trough, look for the latter.
It's time for Chihuly, the people who operate the Dali and some of the other more successful art operations in town to step up and help their struggling brethren.

The City can help with zoning and permitting to make a relocation easier.

With Mayor Foster looking at a $13 million dollar budget short fall, thinking about raising taxes and creating convoluted fees, it's time for the arts to help the artists.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jim Kennedy's New Group

Last Thursday, City Council member Jim Kennedy laid out his recruitment plans for a new community based action group, St. Pete Together. The group will include people who live and work in St. Petersburg.

Last time I checked Council people were selected by a district primary and voted on City wide by the people who actually live here and pay taxes. The objective was to elect someone who represented them.

Council member Kennedy has been more than a little bit self serving in his tenure on City Council, and this whole St. Pete Together thing looks like could easily morph into a grass roots effort or a Political Action Committee in the Jim Kennedy for Mayor effort.

It's also kind of interesting that a City Staff Member, Kewa Wright, is going to be Kennedy's point person for this effort. Is that really a proper use of City resources when the Neighborhoods can hardly get a seat at the table in City decisions and the budget is in shambles?

Going down this road, can Rick Kriseman start the Legislative Friends of St. Petersburg Focus Group and request City a paid administrative aid for help, or how about the Rick Baker and the Committee to Develop the New Baker Plan. Do they get City supplied help? Or the Leslie Curran Global Initiative For the Arts in St. Pete? They will need domestic and international city paid support people.

The whole concept looks typical Kennedy and highly suspect. Before any City resources are invested in this latest Kennedy effort, City Council and the Administration should ask what they are opening the door to.

Do we really want every council member to have their own little political action group out there supported by staff?

Maybe it would be a good idea if Council member Kennedy, caught up with the Neighborhood Associations in his District and started representing their interests. There is more than enough there to keep him busy.

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