Why the low gas tax should be hiked

The federal gas tax is not at its lowest level in history. But it’s really, really close when you adjust for inflation. And that comparable low rate stands as one of the big reasons it should be hiked.

Bob Lutz: Bumpy Road Ahead for Electric Cars Without a Gas Tax Hike

Bob Lutz, former General Motors (s GM) Vice Chairman and Chevy Volt frontman is not usually one to hedge, and he’s true to form in his expectations for how consumers will greet the upcoming extended-range electric Chevy Volt. According to an article from Reuters today, he told reporters at the Los Angeles Auto Show, “I’m absolutely sure that demand will not be a limiting factor,” for the success of the Volt. That is, if the price comes down.

But when it comes to strategies for making plug-in vehicles more competitive on the mass market — where GM expects its Volt to be priced on the high end, at around $40,000 — Lutz told Reuters that gas prices will need to be hiked up through taxes in order for most prospective car buyers in the U.S. to cough up the extra dough for an electric car. Then he hedged: “We’re not advocating that but if it doesn’t happen it’s going to be very difficult for these technologies.” By 2015, Lutz said he expects the total market for rechargeable vehicles to reach only 250,000-300,000 units annually. Read More about Bob Lutz: Bumpy Road Ahead for Electric Cars Without a Gas Tax Hike

Updated: San Francisco to Get Super-Fast Broadband From Comcast

Updated: Next week, several Bay Area cities, including San Francisco, will get 50 Mbps broadband service from Comcast (s CMCSA) as the cable company continues its DOCSIS 3.0 expansion. Om may not be a fan of Comcast’s 250 GB per month cap or history of P2P throttling, but the speeds may tempt him, especially on the upload side. Comcast will offer several packages, including 50 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 10 Mbps of upstream speed for $139.95 a month, as well as 22 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 5 Mbps of upstream speed for $62.95 a month.
On April 28, the following towns will have access to the wideband service: Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, Broadmoor, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Pacifica, Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, South San Francisco, Stanford and Woodside. Comcast didn’t say when San Francisco proper would get service, but noted, “[F]aster speeds will be available in other portions of the Bay Area later in 2009.”

Daily Sprout

Brits Develop Carbon-Eating Cement: A new kind of cement based on magnesium silicates requires much less heating than the conventional stuff (which accounts for 5 percent of global carbon emissions) and absorbs large amounts of CO2 as it hardens. — The Guardian

Gimme a $2-a-Gallon Gas Tax, Says…Texas Oil Man?!: “There’s a reason that everybody in Europe drives roller skates and here we drive SUVs. It’s because Europe has a huge tax on gasoline.” — Fortune

Record Insurance Payouts, Courtesy of Climate Change: Adjusted for inflation, 2008 was the third most expensive year on record for the German reinsurer Munich Re. The company is now calling for an international plan to halve emissions by 2050. — NYT’s Green Inc.

2009 Forecast: Hot Hot Hot: UK climate scientists expect the 2009 to be among the five warmest years on record, indicating a rapid return of global temperature to a long-term warming trend and an increasing probability of record temperatures after 2009. — Green Car Congress

Climate Change Off Hook for Neanderthals’ Doom: Recent analysis of late-Pleistocene hominid habitation delivers a solid blow to the popular hypothesis that climate change did them in. Now it looks like they just couldn’t compete with modern humans. — Wired Science

No, Seriously: Microsoft Patents Page Up & Page Down

Put this in the category of “you gotta be kidding me.” Microsoft has applied for and received a patent (U.S. Patent #7,415,666) that essentially patents “Page Up/Page Down” functionality. The patent (Timothy D Sellers, Heather L. Grantham, Joshua A. Dersch) that was filed in March 2005 is yet another proof that our patent system is as (if not more) dysfunctional as Britney Spears.

Method and system for navigating paginated content in page-based increments

A method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed. In one implementation, pressing a Page Down or Page Up keyboard key/button allows a user to begin at any starting vertical location within a page, and navigate to that same location on the next or previous page.

For example, if a user is viewing a page starting in a viewing area from the middle of that page and ending at the bottom, a Page Down command will cause the next page to be shown in the viewing area starting at the middle of the next page and ending at the bottom of the next page. Similar behavior occurs when there is more than one column of pages being displayed in a row.