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Austin man brings vintage pens back to life

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Austin man brings vintage pens back to life


AUSTIN, Texas — Dan Zazove is a retired attorney who lives in Austin. He spends his time restoring vintage pens. His fascination with old writing instruments goes back decades.

“My father was a salesman and he won an award. The award he won was a Parker 51 pen and pencil set. I really loved those,” said Zazove.

He’s now part of the Austin Pen Club. Members share a passion for all kinds of pens. The group includes Zazove’s friends Craig Bond and Doug Haugen. Some of Haugen’s pens date back to World War II. They were designed to write and save lives. The pen’s clip is shorter so it wouldn’t attract attention.

“They needed to have the pen covered by the flap of the pocket so that the clip didn’t reflect and give your position away to the enemy,” said Haugen.

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Zazove’s own pen collection isn’t as large as it used to be. Nowadays his passion is keeping the art of writing alive with every pen he repairs. 

“It’s pausing, and thinking and organizing your thoughts in a way that you cannot get writing on a computer. It’s very rewarding when you’ve restored a pen for somebody and they say, ‘I’m going to give this to my granddaughter. She’s very excited to have grandpa’s pen or grandma’s pen,’” he said.

Zazove knows the ins and outs of each pen he restores. He knows the history, what it’s made of, even who might have used it. His job is to keep the pens in top-top shape for the next generation.

“It fulfills me so I’ll keep doing it for people. I enjoy it very much,” he said.



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Austin, TX

Tesla found a way to get out of environmental regulations at its Texas gigafactory

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Tesla found a way to get out of environmental regulations at its Texas gigafactory


  • Tesla’s gigafactory outside Austin won’t have to follow the city’s environmental regulations. 
  • The EV company was granted an exemption thanks to a new state law.
  • Elon Musk has said the property will be an “ecological paradise,” but Tesla has a history of violating the environment. 

Tesla’s massive gigafactory outside Austin, Texas will no longer have to follow local environmental regulations, thanks to a recent state law.

Tesla’s 2,500-acre property, which includes its 10-million-square-foot electric vehicle gigafactory, is in unincorporated land on the outskirts of Austin.

Despite not being directly in the city, most of that land was still part of Austin’s “extraterritorial jurisdiction” (ETJ), which allowed the city to regulate developments outside its limits.

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In February, Tesla applied for an exemption from Austin’s ETJ, which the city’s Planning Department approved in March.

The exemption was first reported by the Austin Business Journal this week.

The exemption was possible thanks to a new state law that went into effect in September and allows landowners to request to be removed from jurisdictions so that they can develop land with fewer regulations.

Several cities in the state have already sued to block the law, including Grand Prairie, which argued in a filing that the law will hurt the city’s ability to protect the health, safety, and welfare of those who live in and around its borders.

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But under the law, cities don’t have much leeway to deny a landowner’s request, Austin’s director of planning previously said, according to the Austin Business Journal.

Tesla’s ETJ exemption will enable the electric vehicle company to further develop its land without having to follow the city’s environmental restrictions, which an Austin city spokesperson acknowledged could harm locals.

“Releasing properties from the ETJ impacts the City because development in the ETJ is subject to limited subdivision regulation as well as regulation of water quality and flooding issues,” Shelley Parks, an Austin city spokesperson, said in a statement to Business Insider. “All affect people in both the ETJ and the City itself.” 

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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When the Texas gigafactory was still under construction before its 2022 opening, Elon Musk promised it would be an “ecological paradise” with walking trails for the public along the neighboring Colorado River.

Musk’s companies have had issues with environmental regulations in the past, however. In February, Tesla settled a lawsuit accusing them of mishandling hazardous waste in California. Meanwhile, the Boring Company has been accused of letting untreated wastewater drain into the Colorado River.



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Why University of Texas at Austin Researchers Made Compostable Sequins and Recruited Designers

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Why University of Texas at Austin Researchers Made Compostable Sequins and Recruited Designers


Instead of having material researchers just holed up in labs tinkering with new theories and concepts, the University of Texas at Austin enlisted some of them to join forces with other faculty, students and alumni in the school’s division of textiles and apparel.

Together they combined research expertise and fashion design knowledge to demonstrate how newly developed sustainable sequins can be used in a variety of ways. Now visitors to the Texas Science & Natural History Museum on UT Austin’s campus can see their creations in “Particles of Color: Where Science Meets Fashion,” which runs through the summer of 2025.

“Particles of Color: Where Science Meets Fashion,” explores the use of compostable, plant-based and biodegradable materials in clothing, accessories, jewelry and art. The 50 glittering objects on display were made with polylactic acid, a compostable material, that has been combined with natural and nontoxic dyes to create colorful, stylish clothes, jewelry and art. Made from agricultural waste, polylactic acid is easy to work with since it does not dissolve in water, but it will break down if composted, said Jessica Ciarla, a faculty member in the Division of Textiles and Apparel who is behind the exhibition.

“Polylactic acid is a bioplastic that has been tested and developed for other fields and is part of a growing global market, so it is a real contender in the space,” Ciarla said. “It can also be melted down and reused so it makes it an ideal choice for zero-waste production.”

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For added eco-friendliness, the team used non-toxic colorants such as algae, natural dyes, spices and food waste to create an organic color spectrum. “Approaching this research from an interdisciplinary perspective by synthesizing science, design and engineering has allowed us to see what the future of the fashion industry can entail from a collaborative perspective,” she said.

Museum goers are more accustomed to checking out the prehistoric dinosaur fossils in the galleries, but this new direction is meant to lead them to a vision of a cleaner, brighter future for the fashion industry. Science and fashion is an enticing combination, as more companies, consumers and organizations are increasingly considering how their actions and purchases play into environmental waste and impact the planet.

The impetus for this is to show the public what is developed in the lab in order to engage with the community and the fashion industry about the synthesis of science and fashion, according to Ciarla.

“Sustainability is no longer about what we need to do in the future, it is about what we can do now. We need to move the industry from using petroleum-based plastics to better options,” she said. “There are valuable resources typically viewed as trash such as agriculture waste that can be used to create plant-based plastics that provide cleaner options.”

How each of the designers featured the sustainable sequins in their work that is on display in “Particles of Color” reflects its multiple potential applications.

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The sustainable sequins can be used in different elements of fashion design.

Image Courtesy University of Texas at Austin

Ciarla is also previewing a prototype of a non-woven textile she created using denim and paperboard made from cereal boxes to develop a fabric that could be used for handbags. Visitors can check out the first experimental prototype of this textile in a digitally printed fabric that Ciarla made into mini handbags with floral sequins attached. She explained, “Showing how other materials derived from waste can work together is a look towards our future research and how we intend to expand our material development to other segments of the textile and material supply industry.”

“Particles of Color” also provides a commentary for the fashion industry’s contribution to plastics pollution. Of the 100 billion items of clothing that are produced each year, 70 percent of them are made of plastic, according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition. Creating all those synthetic materials for polyester, nylon and acrylics annually involves using what amounts to the equivalent of 300 million bathtubs filled with petroleum. Ciarla said, “We wanted to show that there is a way to create something better with the materials we have right now.”

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Developing a commercial prototype is in the works, and the exhibit’s industry partners have highlighted a few of the diverse applications. Designers like Diana Broussard of New York City and Nikolaj Storm of Copenhagen incorporated the sustainable material into their respective garments and accessories that are on display. As is often the case, when it comes to materializing concepts into production, the next step is to generate funding so that Ciarla and her team can expand product offerings and work with manufacturing facilities, who can “help us scale up while integrating our core beliefs of building a sustainable business model,” she said.

The museum’s director Carolyn Connerat said that visitors “can explore how research happening right here on the UT Austin campus can make an impact on the natural world by creating compostable materials used in clothing we all can wear.”

Paricles of Color

The University of Texas at Austin is highlighting the work of researchers in fashion design.

Photo by Nolan Zunk/Courtesy the University of Texas at Austin

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UT’s research into sustainable sequins started five years ago, when a President’s Award for Global Learning was presented to Ciarla; Nathaniel Lynd, an associate professor in the McKetta department of chemical engineering, and Luisa Gil Fandino, an associate professor of textiles and apparel.

The show highlights how UT researchers adapted the material for use in fashion, and there are fashion examples created by designers from Austin and New York.

The installation is the first new exhibition at Texas Science & Natural History Museum since it reopened in September 2023 after an 18-month closure and extensive renovation. The fourth floor of the museum has been designated the Science Frontiers Gallery and is designed to house exhibits on advanced scientific research and demonstrate how scientific discovery can help address current issues and concerns.



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Tesla shares rise on plans to accelerate launch of ‘more affordable’ models

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Tesla shares rise on plans to accelerate launch of ‘more affordable’ models


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Tesla has pledged to bring forward the launch of “more affordable” models of its electric vehicles, helping its stock recover some of its recent losses despite reporting a 9 per cent decline in first-quarter revenue amid a sharp fall in sales.

In a filing on Tuesday, the electric-car maker said it had “updated our future vehicle line-up to accelerate the launch of new models ahead of our previously communicated start of production in the second half of 2025”.

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It added that these would include “more affordable” vehicles that could be produced on its existing manufacturing lines. Tesla shares rose more than 12 per cent in after-hours trading.

Chief executive Elon Musk said in January that Tesla was preparing to start production of a new lower-cost car next year, priced at $25,000 and dubbed Model 2. The stock had fallen on a Reuters report earlier this month that the project had been shelved, which Musk denied.

On a conference call, Musk refused to be drawn on specific plans for an affordable “next generation vehicle” or how it would be produced using Tesla’s current infrastructure. He had previously said the Model 2 would require a new “revolutionary manufacturing system” at factories in Austin, Texas, as well as in Mexico.

Instead, Musk said more information would be given alongside an August announcement about “robotaxis” and sketched an ambitious vision for Tesla as an “AI and robotics company” based around its autonomous driving system and humanoid robots.

“If you value Tesla just as an auto company you fundamentally have the wrong framework. If you ask the wrong question, the right answer is impossible,” he said. “If somebody doesn’t believe Tesla is going to solve autonomy they should not be an investor in the company. And we will and we are.”

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The results come at turbulent time for Musk and the EV sector. Before Tuesday’s after-hours share price rise, Tesla stock had plunged more than 40 per cent since the start of the year after warning of slowing vehicle deliveries, eroding profit margins, a potential move of its incorporation to Texas from Delaware and revealing plans to cut more than 10 per cent of its workforce — at least 14,000 jobs.

Most big US carmakers have reported a drop in EV sales due to softening consumer demand, a shift in preference to hybrids and increased competition from low-cost options from Chinese brands.

“While Tesla has real issues to contend with, we believe the company’s long-term upward trajectory remains intact,” said Christopher Tsai of Tsai Capital, which holds Tesla stock. “The potential for high-margin autonomy revenue should not go unheeded.”

Absent the enthusiasm about a new vehicle line-up, the underlying financial performance remained disappointing. First-quarter revenue fell to $21.3bn from $23.3bn in the same period last year, missing analysts’ expectations for $22.3bn. That marks Tesla’s first year-on-year quarterly drop since the start of 2020.

Adjusted earnings per share almost halved from a year ago to 45 cents, versus estimates for 52 cents, and the carmaker reported a sixth consecutive quarter of declining gross margins. The closely watched financial metric fell to 17.4 per cent, down from a peak of 29.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2022.

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“We experienced numerous challenges, from the Red Sea conflict and the arson attack at Gigafactory Berlin, to the gradual [increase in production] of the updated Model 3 in Fremont,” Tesla said of the start to the year. “Global EV sales continue to be under pressure as many carmakers prioritise hybrid over EVs. ”

Earlier this month, Tesla said it had delivered 386,810 electric cars between January and March, a fifth lower than the previous quarter, and 8 per cent below the same period in 2023. It has continued to cut prices for its most popular models as unsold-vehicle inventory piles up: that measure rose to 28 days of supply from 15 days a year ago.

Tesla still makes more than 80 per cent of its revenue from selling cars. Excluding the effects of regulatory credits, the gross margin from its automotive unit — a closely watched measure of its core operations — fell to 16.4 per cent for the quarter, down from 19 per cent a year ago.

Musk’s commitment to AI was evident in a big jump in “AI infrastructure capex” to $1bn, resulting in cash flow of negative $2.5bn in the period.

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He said that Tesla had installed 35,000 H100 Nvidia AI model training graphics processing units and that this number would rise to 85,000 by year end. He added that its humanoid robot, dubbed Optimus, would be “more valuable than everything else combined”.

Musk is also seeking to change the company’s state of incorporation to Texas, partly in protest at a Delaware court decision to void a $56bn pay package he was awarded in 2018. Shareholders will vote on the move and whether to reaffirm his share award at its annual meeting in June.

Additional reporting by Richard Waters



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