Lutz race proves CTS-V


The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 2008. (Flickr creative commons photo from joeross)

I sent out a Facebook update a few days ago about a cool marketing concept: Bob Lutz, a famous General Motors executive, challenged his competitors to a race.

“May the best car win,” the GM ads now proclaim, a genius marketing strategy for the situation if I ever saw one. Lutz’ race was the logical extension of it.

The premise was that Lutz would drive the Cadillac CTS-V, claiming there’s no other production, stock, sedan in the world that can win against the model.

(For those of you who don’t know, “production” means you can buy it and drive it on the road, “stock” means it’s not modified after you buy it, and “sedan” means 4-door.)

The race featured engineers, journalists, “normal” people and Lutz. Looks like Mercedes-Benz opted out of the race, but BMW, Audi and Jag sent their emissaries. And got slaughtered.

I’m happy to see GM doing so well with its new advertising campaign and money-back guarantee. They’re making great cars nowadays, even if they are among the most socially- and environmentally-irresponsible car companies. I probably wouldn’t buy from them because of that, but I love the CTS-V’s design, and I can’t help but feel some odd nationalistic pride for one of America’s car companies.

If only they’d buy Aptera and adapt other parts of their company to follow its standards of operation.


The Aptera Typ-1e. (Flickr Creative Commons photo from Ho0n)

(P.S. — Happy birthday to my little sister Christin, who turns 22 Sunday!)

Best of Twitter 5: Links to others’ green stuff part I

Flickr CC photo from susiepie.

Flickr CC photo from susiepie.

Contest: What’s the “greenest” concept you can think of? Mine is the “100 Thing Challenge.” Only 100 personal possessions. Could you do it? 2:11 PM Feb 20th

And visit— a site (and book) that ranks companies for responsibility. Almost all products have a better option. 11:01 AM Feb 25th

Cell phone radiation harmful? Who knows, but I won’t take chances. This low-rad cell list is constantly updated: 12:19 PM Feb 26th

“How am I gonna find these local farms to sell to me directly?” Excuses, excuses. Almost everyone has one nearby. 10:15 PM Feb 27th

I may not have mentioned The Story of Stuff here. Shame on me. Ever wonder where your stuff comes from and where it goes? 10:22 PM Feb 28th

NPR’s Morning Edition today had a story on my friends’ green economic development coalition. 86:31 PM Mar 3rd (See next tweet, also)

As a matter of fact, I’m a guest blogger on their site, Remember Wilmington, Ohio from 60 Minutes? Yeah, that’s us. 6:32 PM Mar 3rd

You’d think someone would have come up with this a long time ago: postage for sending AND returning – 9:26 AM Mar 6th (See next tweet, also)

In case it wasn’t clear, two-way postage eliminates the need for envelopes inside envelopes. Death to the SASE! 10:12 AM Mar 6th

Planning for a speech about organic food. Using Ann Cooper’s “Lunch Lessons” and George Pyle’s “Raising Less Corn, More Hell” 2:21 PM Mar 28th

My ideas on organic food line up closely with Mark Bittman’s when he wrote a week ago: 2:47 PM Mar 28th

Do you read Orion? It’s the artistic, philosophical side of the environmental movement. A brilliant and beautiful magazine. 9:41 PM Apr 1st

Toxics now, IRE conference later


Since right now I’m technically still on vacation, I’ll delay my stories about the IRE conference until Thursday or Friday when I get back to Ohio. Right now I’m in Boston seeing what there is to see, eating and drinking what there is to eat and drink, with a friend who just graduated from MIT.

But this morning I ended up making posts to Facebook and Twitter about a(n apparently) favorite subject of mine lately, toxics. Why not share with readers here, as well?

This is a thrilling find for me: The Toxic 100.

Compiled by investigators at a UMass think tank, the site provides raw and analyzed data from the EPA and can help you find whether your beloved hometown company is really a dirty scumbag.

Along the same lines, I encourage you to visit The Smokestack Effect, a USA Today report I learned of (at the IRE conference) by the project’s editor, Blake Morrison.

It overlays EPA data about toxic and carcinogenic air emissions with the locations of just about every school in the country — and you can add your own if you don’t see it on there. It ranks each of the 128,000 schools by percentile of how polluted the air is, around (and likely in) them.

The project got started when USA Today heard of a school closing in Cincinnati and obtained data from EPA to rank air quality in different areas around the country. Quickly the paper found that something like 435 schools actually had worse air quality than the one that closed in Cincy. Not many of those 435 have closed yet, and a large percentage of them are in low-income areas.

But if your child or small sibling attends a school in the top 20 percentiles, it’s generally harmful to health, said Morrison. Personally, I wouldn’t send my (future) children to a school in the top 30.

Last but not least, remember the Better World Shopper book that gave us information about products’ impacts on society and the environment? Now it’s hit Web 2.0.

I’ve been fascinated by bar-code scanning technology and its potential for us to retrieve information from the Internet about products — really about any object in the “real world.”

Now the concept behind the Better World Shopper (although not the same group) is fueling a living website called GoodGuide. According to this New York Times article, the site’s 3Gs iPhone (That is, the new iPhone model to be released Friday) application will be able to scan bar codes to get you info about products on the fly.

Talk about awesome. Think of the impact on society if we all shunned products that destroyed us and the Earth. As long as good investigative journalism is retained, compaies won’t be able to keep that stuff a secret in order to make windfall profits.

I had shied away from replacing my current phone with an iPhone out of distaste for consumerism. But if the iPhone itself battles unchecked consumerism in all other areas of my purchasing, doesn’t that justify it? Maybe. Short of Wendell Berry’s idea of a “local economy,” I think this is the best device yet for making the world a better place. Annie Leonard would be proud. (See her Story of Stuff here and on the left sidebar.)