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Comment: Re:One Assumption (Score 3, Interesting) 609 609

Quote: "The Tea Party and similar ultra conservative factions are forcing Republicans to keep fighting culture wars. . ."

The Tea Party has no position on cultural issues. The Tea Party has no position on gay marriage, or abortion, or immigration, or drug legalization. It's a one-issue group, just like the NRA is a one-issue group. The NRA's issue is guns. The Tea Party's issue is the national debt.

I know, there are many in this world who will try to tell you different. Most of those are either liberals trying to tar the Tea Party, or social conservatives trying to hijack it. Neither group are tea partiers. (And IMHO, Ted Cruz is no Tea Partier either. He walked away from us to do his own thing shortly after getting elected.)

Comment: Re:not a new topic (Score 1) 365 365

Yes, I wondered if I should have alluded to that. However. . . Global thermonuclear war ain't what it used to be. Although the likelihood of some kind of nuclear exchange hasn't gone away at all, not many of us still envision "blowing up the world" the way we used to with 10,000+ H-bombs going off all at once.

Comment: not a new topic (Score 4, Interesting) 365 365

As an old-timer (or at least a mid-timer), I can remember this very issue being raised and discussed as far back as the late 1970s by people in the SF community, such as Jerry Pournelle, for one example. Of course, then we had the prospects of global thermonuclear war hanging over our heads as well, so the idea of the world having to rebuild everything didn't seem far-fetched at all.

The other issue was whether we could even keep modern technological-industrial civilization running. There was a very serious fear that "resource depletion" would cause everything to collapse without any need to invoke armageddon. Those fears have, thus far, proven mostly unfounded for reasons alluded in TFA: because we have developed high-tech machinery that can recover even low-grade deposits of ores and fossil fuels. That still doesn't mean the question won't crop up again at some time in the future, though, and we still have periodic scares over commodities such as: copper, gold, rare earths, and of course, "Peak Oil". The solution that Pournelle advocated back in the 1970s, exploiting the resources of outer space, is still out on the fringe somewhere.

Comment: Re:Jesus! (Score 4, Insightful) 85 85

Why does this lie keep getting repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated. . . It's been going on for YEARS now. It gets frustrating after a while, especially since anybody could spend a couple of minutes with Google and find out the facts.

I think most normal people without an axe to grind understand that there are other sources of electrical power besides coal, and that we do have nuclear plants, and we do have hydro plants, and we do have natural gas, and we do have wind farms, and we even have a small (but rapidly growing) amount of solar. Some of them may even known that the percentage of power from coal in the US has been dropping for years and is well under half now. So, when you talk about a highly polluting coal-powered electric car, you're only making yourself look dumb in front of everyone.

Comment: Range Anxiety Anxiety (Score 5, Funny) 286 286

First of all, "Range Anxiety" is a registered trademark of General Motors. I hope Elon doesn't get in trouble for using it without GM's permission!

Most people who actually own electric cars experience very little range anxiety. Far more common is "range anxiety anxiety": the fear that if you got an electric car, you might experience range anxiety.

Also prevalent among car makers is "range anxiety anxiety anxiety": the fear that, if you made an electric car, range anxiety anxiety might prevent people from buying it.

Remember folks, we have nothing to fear but. . . fear itself!

Comment: I'd go for C (Score 4, Interesting) 407 407

Yes... You can do OOP in C. With todays toolchains, libraries and techniques, C is more viable than a lot of people give credit for.

I personally have always disliked C++, and I know I'm not the only one. I've been OK with Obj-C, but... It is a bit eccentric, and it's probably on the way out with Apple now promoting Swift.

C, on the other hand, is eternal and evergreen.

Comment: Tesla and Leaf are different (Score 1) 212 212

The study seems focused on Leaf, but the Tesla has an active cooling system that the Leaf lacks. Some Leafs in hot climates had a lot of battery degradation. That doesn't seem to be happening with the Teslas, nor should it.

Li-ion cells do degrade with both time and charge-and-discharge cycles. Data coming in from Teslas seems to indicate time is much less a factor, and charge cycles are the main determinant. The implication is that a bigger battery pack will last longer, since it takes more driving miles to put the same number of cycles on it.

Comment: Re:Cd of 0.36 in the 21st century??? (Score 1) 128 128

Several of the Roadster's limitations (and I suspect aerodynamics falls into this category) resulted from the design process, which was basically starting with a Lotus Elise and then modifying, and modifying, and modifying... It imposed a lot of constraints, and Elon Musk later admitted it was a mistake not to design a new vehicle from a blank sheet of paper.

Comment: Keeping it Readable (Score 4, Insightful) 368 368

Yes, I also have griped about SF that shoehorns the distant future into the mold of today, or of the past. I have special disdain for those who want to recreate the wild west, or the age of piracy, or empires of the past with space opera trappings. If you love the old west, write westerns, man! The obsession with FTL travel (which seems unlikely to ever really become possible) also ties in with this.

To my way of thinking, conventional literature at its best explores the human condition. SF at its best explores how the human(-ish) condition could be different. SF that doesn't make it different seems like wasted potential, a missed opportunity.


I learned a long time ago that SF stories and SF writers have limitations that they must work within. SF is about ideas, and there are limits to how many new and unfamiliar ideas you can cram into a story without either losing your readers or getting lost yourself. Your readers are embedded in the culture of today. Even if you as a writer can mentally break out of the culture of today, bringing your readers along for that ride is extremely difficult.

You might want to write a story exploring the potential of AI and robotics. Or nuclear fusion power. Or asteroid mining. Or molecular manufacturing. Or life extension. All good topics. Now try to write a novel where *all* of those scenarios have become real and are interacting with one another. Oops... That's going to be really hard to pull off without ending up in a muddled mess, and it's also going to be hard to explore each of those ideas in the depth it deserves. (Especially if you also have, you know... characters, and a plot, and so forth!)

Comment: Re:Not cursive, but fountain pen vs ballpoint pen! (Score 1) 523 523

"...and I never learned how to use the fountain properly."

Give one a try! It only takes a few minutes to learn: orient the nib to the page, use a light touch, try holding it at a lower angle. You'll be doing just fine in no time, and soon you'll also discover it's less tiring to your hand than a ballpoint.

Comment: Re:Just cursive, or all writing? (Score 1) 523 523

Keep in mind that for a lot of us old-timers, cursive writing isn't "fancy" and was never meant to be. It's simply what we were taught and always used -- or what we always used after second grade, anyhow. I'm not sure why it's now "archaic", yet somehow the little kiddie writing is still considered necessary.

Comment: Re:CORRECTION!!!!!! (Score 1) 523 523

Something has got lost in translation here.

Writing in longhand or cursive is not "calligraphy". The styles and tools used are very different. How so many people (you're far from the only one) have come to equate cursive with calligraphy, I just don't know. You claim "NO ONE writes in calligraphy", but I can assure you that many, many people write in cursive.

Comment: Re:quick notes? (Score 1) 523 523

No. Writing with a fountain pen is out-of-mainstream, but it's not "exceedingly rare". If it was, we wouldn't have 25+ (by my count) brands of bottled fountain pen ink on the market today! Also, most of these are used for daily writing, not for "calligraphy". Fountain pens are actually not that great for calligraphy, and buying actual calligraphy pens and calligraphy ink is much better if you want to get into that.

Work expands to fill the time available. -- Cyril Northcote Parkinson, "The Economist", 1955