Channel 19 – March 20091

| March 25, 2009

Keen on green

The latest incursion of the word green into contemporary language comes from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which invokes an old environmentalist’s term to describe the American Trucking Associations’ January pitch to Congress for speed limiters and heavier vehicles. “‘Greenwashing’ speed limiters, heavier trucks is dangerous,” reads the headline of the press release. Derived from whitewash, greenwashing is usually used to describe a large corporation’s attempt to mask the danger of a product by touting its environmental benefits.

Monster mayhem

Motorists and truckers on Lamar Boulevard in Austin, Texas, got the scare (or laugh) of a lifetime early one January morning when hackers broke into two portable digital road signs and reprogrammed them to warn of the unthinkable. “Zombies in area! Run,” read one message that no doubt gave pause to drivers. TxDOT officials instead sped in pursuit of the offending party. Given the alertness of some a.m. rush-hour drivers and the definition of a zombie – a corpse somehow brought to life – we wonder if there might have been some truth to the sign. As of press time, the offending hackers hadn’t been apprehended, and a poll on predictify.com leaned heavily in favor of a negatory, good buddy, on the question of whether they ever would be.

Nuclear physics, anyone?

It’s not often truckers show up in the New Yorker, a magazine associated most often with upscale urban types and lonely fiction writers. In the December issue, though, J.B. Hunt driver John Coster-Mullen was featured in a story by David Samuels about Coster-Mullen’s 15 years of research into the history and technical specifications of the Little Boy and Fat Man atomic bombs, dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945. Though still officially classified information, the engineering behind the Manhattan Project receives its most accurate public account to date in Coster-Mullen’s Atom Bombs book.

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