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Comment: Re:I grew up in Atlanta... (Score 1) 723

by sgtrock (#46143577) Attached to: Atlanta Gambled With Winter Storm and Lost

While it may be counterintuitive, my experience has been that using engine braking is generally more forgiving than the traditional brakes. For me, it's a lot easier to manage the friction coefficient with the engine than the brakes because braking force tends to be much more binary in nature. When slippery conditions exist, you're either on the brake pedal or you're not (although ABS helps here).

In fact, one reason that I really like a manual transmission is that manipulating the clutch and engine RPMs in combination with the transmission goes a long way toward getting just the right balance to slow down without losing traction. Newer computerized automatic trannies and engines do the same thing. So far, though, I haven't found a combination in a mass produced vehicle that does a very good job of it. Maybe we'll see some additional improvement in this space in the future.

Comment: Winter driving in the Twin Cities (Score 1) 723

by sgtrock (#46117537) Attached to: Atlanta Gambled With Winter Storm and Lost

I won't argue that most people in the Twin Cities with 4WD and AWD vehicles don't have a clue how to drive them. I've passed enough of them sitting forlornly in the ditch on Hwy 10 over the years! :-D

That said, though, we're not talking about the loose nuts behind the wheel but the inherent capabilities of the vehicles themselves. When I was living northeast of Elk River up near the Isanti-Anoka county line and commuting to the south side of St. Paul, I traded in the 2WD pickup for the 4WD and was glad that I did. The 4WD was MUCH better at handling deep snow, which in turn made using back roads as an alternative to jammed up freeways at least plausible. Engine braking with 4WD also made avoiding the idiots who were overdriving a lot easier. ;-)

We lived far enough out back then that about 1/3 of the drive home was well off the freeway, too. More than once I had to tackle the last 10 miles or so on unplowed county roads with up to a foot of snow on the road. I hated that stretch in my 2WD pickup. In those conditions the truck had a tendency to break traction even with 150 lbs of sand behind the rear wheels. BTW, I tried my wife's Saturn a couple of times but it wasn't much better as it was too low to the ground for the deep stuff.

Now that I'm living in Woodbury and commuting to Richfield, I no longer regard 4WD as a necessity. I never see more than the 4-6 inches of the white stuff that you mentioned. I sold off the 4WD pickup a couple of years ago and I'm driving a front wheel drive sedan. I still miss the extra traction of that old 4WD pickup, though.

My next vehicle is probably going to be a smaller SUV with a towing package. Something that I can get up to the lakes with, out in the woods hunting, and reasonable gas mileage. Now, if Tesla would simply build a 4WD vehicle with a decent range... Hey, a fella can dream, can't he? ;-)

Comment: Re:I grew up in Atlanta... (Score 1) 723

by sgtrock (#46113437) Attached to: Atlanta Gambled With Winter Storm and Lost

Don't even get me started on how unnecessary 4 wheel drive is, you can do 6+ inches of snow in 2 wheel drive just fine

With you so far...

and 4 wheel drive does nothing to help you stop any faster

Aaand this old fallacy shows up.

Look, I grew up in northern Minnesota and I have commuted to work in the Twin Cities for nearly 30 years. My commute these days is about 25 miles one way and used to be about 50. Trust me, I know driving in bad conditions. :-)

I've driven rear wheel drive mini-pickups, front wheel drive sedans, all wheel drive mini-SUVs, and a couple of 1/2 ton pickups (one two wheel drive, one 4 wheel). The little all wheel drive SUVs and the 4x4 were by FAR the best vehicles in snow for both acceleration and stopping.

You don't rely on just the brakes, use the engine. Downshift!. The extra braking force applied through the second axle can make all the difference.*

Granted, it's easier to manage with a manual transmission and clutch than an automatic. However, even the cheapest automatic tranny has at least one low gear below Drive. Use it!

*Note: Most vehicles are sold with open differentials so a two wheel drive is really a one wheel drive in bad conditions while a 4WD is really a 2WD. However, the extra axle not only means twice the force applied, but the force is applied on two different parts of the road surface. This can make all the difference in some circumstances.

Comment: Re:Right idea, wrong amendment (Score 1) 263

by sgtrock (#46102485) Attached to: Cameron's IP Advisor: Throw Persistent Copyright Infringers In Jail

Sigh. I'm on your side and you just don't know it. :-)

I suggest that you go back and re-read what you wrote initially, the 6th amendment, then go read Federalist Paper #84. The 9th and 10th amendments were added precisely to prevent the sort of misinterpretation that you were railing against in the first place. The courts had to rule the way that they did specifically because the 9th and 10 amendments were added. (Not that they haven't been trampled with every increasing frequency by judges who should know better.)

Comment: Right idea, wrong amendment (Score 1) 263

by sgtrock (#46050023) Attached to: Cameron's IP Advisor: Throw Persistent Copyright Infringers In Jail

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Why does everyone forget these two?

Comment: Re:People in powerful places (Score 1) 199

by sgtrock (#45862607) Attached to: Losing Aaron

First things first. Based upon what I've read elsewhere, it's still not clear that Aaron was guilty of ANY crime. A decent defense attorney might have been able to demonstrate that. Unfortunately, because Aaron couldn't afford decent counsel, the Federal prosecutor took the opportunity to just pile on lots of bogus charges to the few that were questionable to begin with in order to force him to take a plea deal.

Do the time? First you have to do the crime.

Comment: Re:And I Will Stop Buying... (Score 1) 521

by sgtrock (#45800507) Attached to: Ford Rolls the Dice With Breakthrough F-150 Aluminum Pickup Truck

Depends on where you want to go or do. 4WD isn't a necessity, but it sure is handy for getting in and out of the woods on unmaintained logging trails. Besides the obvious recreational value, there are times when it comes in handy for working, too. A buddy of mine and I used to split hauling duty when we went in to cut firewood, for example. We could get a lot more out with my '97 4WD fully loaded plus towing a loaded trailer than we could with his 2WD Dodge with automatic transmission. I think we figured that we were getting 6-7 cords with my vehicle vs. 2-4 with his.

I'm a HUGE believer in manual transmissions. Sadly, I don't think anyone is selling a 1/2 ton pickup or SUV with one any longer. Don't know what I'll do when it comes time to go car shopping again. :-(

Comment: Re:And I Will Stop Buying... (Score 1) 521

by sgtrock (#45798735) Attached to: Ford Rolls the Dice With Breakthrough F-150 Aluminum Pickup Truck

Let me guess: 2WD automatic transmission in the F150 and no weight behind the rear wheels, right? I'll grant you, one thing that Ford never got quite right was the gearing in their 2WD automatic truck trannies. Never enough torque when you needed it.

Also, let me ask. Did the Dakota come with a limited slip differential? The F150s that I owned didn't have one, although my dad's old 1970 Mustang did. Makes quite a difference in traction.

Comment: Re:And I Will Stop Buying... (Score 1) 521

by sgtrock (#45797995) Attached to: Ford Rolls the Dice With Breakthrough F-150 Aluminum Pickup Truck

I know you're trolling because this is the second time that you posted this, but what the hell.

I live in Minnesota. I've never been a single manufacturer buyer. Over the past 30+ years my immediate family has owned Volkswagens, Toyotas, Mazdas, Saturns, Chevys, and yes, Fords. I've bought cars of all sizes as well as pickups.

To your complaints, the best vehicle that I ever owned in terms of both durability and its ability to avoid getting stuck in the snow was a 1997 F150 XLT 4x4 with the 4.6L V8 and standard 5 speed manual transmission (4 speed plus an overdrive gear). I only got the truck stuck so bad that I needed help getting out once when I dropped the front end into a really deep, narrow mud hole while 4 wheeling.

I drove that truck nearly 300,000 miles in 15 years. It never had an engine overhaul in all that time. I finally replaced the clutch at 275,000 miles and there was still some wear left on the clutch face. Rust didn't become an issue until right before I sold it.

I only sold the truck because we had two kids going off to college and needed to cut down on the number of vehicles sitting in the driveway. It was the oldest vehicle we had by about 6 years, sooo... There are times I still miss driving it, though.

The second most reliable vehicle that I owned was a 1987 F150 XLT 2 wheel drive with the big V6 (250cc? not sure any more) and manual 4 speed transmission (basically, a 3 speed with a low low "granny" gear for 1st). I drove that one for 10 years and well over 150,000 miles. Again, never had an overhaul or a new clutch. And again, rust was not an issue.

That one got stuck a little easier because of the lack of 4 wheel and the light ass end when it wasn't loaded. It was easy enough to compensate for, though. I just threw about 150 lbs behind each rear wheel well and didn't treat it as a 4x4. I can only recall getting stuck in it twice.

The first time was when my wife and I were out in the woods on an old, unmaintained logging trail. No big deal, really. She wanted a chance to drive it out there but didn't know how to read the ground. There was a wet patch where the road was really soggy and she drove into it instead of around it. :-) My fault for not realizing soon enough that she didn't see it.

The second was on an iced up 90 degree curve. There was a school bus and about a dozen cars and pickups off the road on both sides. I was only a 1/2 mile from home after a long commute, so I tried to squeak through at about 5 miles an hour. I literally slid off the road on the inside of the turn. Trust me, nobody was getting through that corner that night without 4 wheel drive, studs (illegal here), and/or a lot of luck. ;-)

Both vehicles handled snow pretty well, although the 4x4 was obviously far better with really deep snow. I commuted over 50 miles every day for a long time through some pretty nasty Minnesota blizzards. Never had a problem getting home in snow.

Ice, OTOH, is not a pickup's friend. You have so much mass that if you break traction you're going skating. NEVER overdrive your vehicle.

Comment: Re:Economics (Score 1) 178

by sgtrock (#45414207) Attached to: Desert Farming Experiment Yields Good Initial Results

"We" already are starving and overpopulated**.

"we" are not. In fact, only a small portion of the world now faces starvation, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

The evidence so far strongly suggests that we now live in a "winner-take-all" world economy, where technological advances do not filter down and only serve to deepen the inequality both within a countries population and between countries.

Again, alarmist babble with little basis in fact. The truth is that the technological revolution of the last 200+ years has extended the average lifespan worldwide from around 30 in 1800 for most people to well over 70. Even the poorest people have seen average life expectancy go from 30 to about 60.

Is everyone where they need to be? No. But let's stop with the Chicken Little imatation, shall we, so we can concentrated on the remaining problems? This scientific research/engineering project is exploring one of those ways to extend benefits to exactly the groups that need it most. Why not just evaluate the feasibility of the project, both economic and environmental, on its own merits?

Comment: Re:Attn: Slashdot Socialists!! You Are Screwed. (Score 3, Informative) 333

by sgtrock (#45271501) Attached to: How Kentucky Built the Country's Best ACA Exchange

Nevertheless, you get what you pay for and most Americans get healthcare which is higher-quality than that received by Europeans

That is simply not true. Life expectancy. Infant mortality. Deaths from burns. Drownings. Deaths from falls. Deaths from poison.

Pick any metric that you like and you'll see similar results. The reality is that the U.S. paying FAR more than virtually all other countries for health care and getting demonstrably poorer results than many, including most of Europe. (We're tied with the Marshall Islands with Tuvalu and Niue close behind. Everyone else spends far less than we do.)

Worse, if you set any of the graphs in motion it becomes blatantly clear that for the past several years, we have been spending ever more on health care and seeing next to no improvment. It's most blatantly obvious in the case of infant mortality but the same trend is clear for virtually all variables. Meanwhile, country after country following more 'socialist' models are seeing far better results from the dollars that they spend.

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