Category Archives: Uncategorized

REN SUPERLECTRIC A RUNAWAY HIT

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by Douglas Black, March 21, 2017

There is yet another player in the super electric car game, and this one really gets close to what we imagined the 21st Century would look like when we were kids.  The Ren, a bubble-canopied should be the first production model with a turbine-back electric powertrain, is breaking the nearly new mold for electric supercars.  Chinese manufacturer Techrules worked from the ground up and harnessed the design chops of famed designers Fabrizio and Giorgetto Giugiaro who took the world of aerospace as their inspiration.

See more at New Atlas

The cloth was pulled off at the recent Geneva Auto Show.  Here are some pictures.

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Douglas Black

 

Douglas Black is a Futurist, Historian, Writer and Photographer in Chicago.

The Laurel Wreath of Empire

AmericusAugustusTrumpius

I typically shy away from political statements or positions in this blog, with the exception of climate science.  But today I feel compelled to speak my piece, and welcome shares or comments.

Donald Trump is not that smart.  I have known businessmen like him who were given far too much credit for cleverness and business savvy when their success was built upon a stratagem of unethical behavior, buying influence, and bullying.  Trump has taken this business model to the penultimate degree.  The only step higher would be empirical totalitarianism, and I believe if the Laurel Wreath of Emperor were within his grasp, Donald Trump would take it.

Our democratic system of government is at stake.  We must rely on our mechanism of government to at least clip the wings of dictatorship now, or at most, impeach the President and let V.P. Pence and Speaker Ryan hold the office for the balance of the term.

What do you think?

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Douglas Black is an historian, futurist, writer and photographer in Chicago.

Supercar Gallery – CAS2017

February 10, 2017   by Douglas Black

The Supercar Gallery at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show showcases some of the most elegant and exclusive bespoke medallions in Chicago.  My personal favorite? The Rolls-Royce Black Badge Wraith.  Compromise is not in our vocabulary.

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bmw-cycle-selfie Douglas Black is a futurist, historian, writer and photographer in Chicago.  He also writes historical fiction under the name Duke Pierce Reade, including the online serial anthology THE RED AND THE GOLD available at Channillo.com

2017 Chicago Auto Show

setting-up-cas17-marqueeOpening breakfast of the two-day media preview started with bacon, which is always a good way to begin for me.  The opening remarks by Jill Ciminillo, the new president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), lead me to believe I am not alone because she mentioned it twice.

The Head of Design-Global for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA), Ottawa born design genius Ralph Gilles, keynoted the breakfast meeting with a presentation that grabbed the attention of all in the room.  Usually these talks are full of facts and figures suited more for the investor meetings and boardroom thrashings by stakeholders, and are often boringly self-serving dribble.  Not this one.

Gilles talked Sci-Fi, AI, Sentience and Infinite Memory.  He tipped his hat to his competitors, like BMW and Tesla, and he tossed out questions like, “Have any of you yet heard of BINA48 Hanson Robotics?” then left it there with a teaser slide.  I will definitely look them up.

There were, of course, some facts and figures, and bragging on the new nameplates added to the FCA Group – Alfa Romeo and Maserati.  But it wasn’t just info dump, Gilles is head of design for these guys, too, and he said stay tuned for cool stuff for “a whole new generation” from Maserati.  I cannot wait.

JEEP is in an exciting space as well.  One on one Gilles told me he was very excited about the “dual personality of the new Renegade and the expanding personality of the Grand Cherokee” models.  One of the factoids thrown out was that overall JEEP sales have climbed from 497,000 units in 2008 to 1,200,000 in 2016.

 

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Dodge Durango SRT Unveiling

The Dodge Durango SRT, said Gilles, will be unveiled today.  Some already say it is one bad-ass machine, the “supercharged 7-passenger Charger that sounds like a muscle car”.  And speaking of Dodge, the passion of the MOPAR Car Clubs around the world are matched by the fervor of the Alfa Romeo fans, a factor in their acquisition of the nameplate.FIAT is looking into bringing its larger platform to the US market as the FIAT Toro truck is already #1 in Latin America, according to Mr. Gilles.

And then about the future, the designer had an awesome concept vehicle to talk about (the vehicle itself is on a slow boat to China for the Beijing Auto Show).  It began with a group of a couple dozen millennials picked by Gilles to answer, “What does your generation want?”  Answers came as questions like, Why do we need a grille if it’s electric, Why can’t we move the wheels out to the max if there’s no engine compartment, and Why won’t my car talk to me nicely?

PORTAL is something unlike any concept I have ever seen, a ‘third room’ of your living space, and the promotional video said it all with images, no words.  So I am just offering eye candy here.

PORTAL eye candy video on YouTube

Finally, no surprise, the MAMA Family Vehicle of the Year went to the Chrysler Pacifica, and after accepting the award for FCA-NA, Bruce Velisek, Director – Chrysler Brand at FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, gave me the best sound bite ever – “the Pacifica makes parenting easier, and life better.  We’re making mini vans sexy again.”

 

Founded in 1991, and now in its 26th year, the Midwest Automotive Media Association comprises 278 automotive journalists and public relations professionals from 25 states, D.C. and Canada.  Jim Mateja, MAMA’s first president and automotive writer for the Chicago Tribune for over 45 years, recently passed away and was honored at the breakfast to a round of applause.

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bmw-cycle-selfie

 

Douglas Black is a futurist, historian, writer and photographer based in Chicago.  He also writes historical fiction under the name Duke Pierce Reade, including the online serial anthology THE RED AND THE GOLD found on Channillo.com

 

No Applause

THE EMPTY SEATS GAME

by Douglas Black, April 29, 2015

An Empty Day
An Empty Day

History was made today in baseball.  It was not a remarkably played game.  It wasn’t a perfect game, nor even a no-hitter.  Willy Mays was not pushing 5 home runs in one outing.  The game was historic due to its silence.

This happened today in the same Baltimore Orioles stadium, the great Camden Yards, where, when new and pristine, this writer was sitting along the first base line during filming a scene or two of the movie “Major League” starring Charlie Sheen, and it was pandemonium.

Over the last several weeks America has been boiling over racial strife, arson, looting and the militarization of law enforcement within our cities.  Riots this week in Baltimore have caused postponements of games in the Orioles home stand against the Chicago White Sox.

Listening to the radio play by play in todays game, one could not help but notice the obtuse silence that punctuated the spaces between a snap of the ball to catcher’s mitt, crack of the bat, and the clapping of encouragement from the O’s dugouts as they took a commanding 6-0 lead in the first inning.  Every hit sounds like a home run.

There were in fact a few hundred spectators – those sports writers, news hounds, employees and opportunists outside the right field fence, not unlike the roof toppers beyond the fiscal enclosures of Wrigley Field.

Perhaps it was possible to relocate the game forty some miles away to the home of the Washington Nationals.  But no, not to be, but not because of anything other than innocent cross town rivalry.  I wonder if, 100 years ago, when the great Walter Johnson was pitching so unbelievably well for the Washington Senators, should they have needed to play a temporary venue such as the home of the Philadelphia Athletics, would Connie Mack have been so accommodating?  Certainly not. Simply business.

Kansas City Monarchs
Kansas City Monarchs

When we think of historic games we think of Jackie Robinson or Satchel Page being allowed to show their dominance in the Great American Game.  We think of Willy Mays and the amazing catch.  We think of Hank Aaron and his home run that surpassed the Babe in career long balls.  And we think of the great Rube Foster who took the Kansas City Monarchs to the first Negro National League World Series when he was a player and executive.

We should not be happy about a new historical mark in Major League Baseball being set by such unpleasantness.  Our game, and our nation, should be past this.

There was another eerie thing about today’s game – there was no applause after the playing of our National Anthem.