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Comment The US needs more practical bikes (Score 4, Interesting) 342

Part of the problem with biking culture in the US it is an evolution of racing/track/BMX bikes. These are designed for weight reduction and aerodynamics rather than comfort. Exposed chains are almost universal, necessitating having your leg cuff rolled up or rubber banded, if you try to wear normal clothes.

Meanwhile in places like The Netherlands and Denmark, bikes are built to be practical for normal people in normal clothes to ride in a comfortable position. Step-through bikes are the norm and are not considered "women's" bikes.

The first image on this page is a Dutch-style bike. The lower pics are the closest thing America has to offer. http://clevercycles.com/blog/2007/06/26/dutchness/

Notice on the Dutch bike:

1) UPRIGHT POSTURE -- for comfort rather than aerodynamics
2) FULL CHAIN CASE -- So you can wear *regular clothes* without getting grease all over them or having them get caught in the gears.
3) COAT GUARD OVER REAR WHEEL -- If you wear loose, long clothes like coats, jackets, or skirts (or a tux), it will not get caught in the rear spokes.
4) LARGE FENDERS -- Also to keep your clothes clean if the ground is wet or dirty!

These things add weight to the bike or add wind resistance. Sports bikes in the US shun all these things. Unfortunately, sports bike design has affected even "city" bikes in the US, which means that people barely remember what a full chain case or coat guard are anymore.

In the Netherlands, people go out clubbing on their bikes wearing their sexy outfits. Members of parliament bike to work wearing their suit and tie.

If we want people to switch to bikes in the US, we need features like these so people don't have the inconvenience of having to change clothes or roll up their pant leg (and still risk grease or nicks on their calves). These are all obvious solutions that are just not as obvious to American bicyclists because they never see them now.

Comment Thankfully this is not in EVERY country. (Score 1) 398

Products in Japan tend to come in packaging that is easy to open and close again (for durable goods anyway).

In fact, I often store some things from Japan in the original packaging because it also makes a convenient case to hold it.

(Japanese FOOD, on the other hand, tends to come hideously overpackaged in many concentric layers of paper and plastic that all goes to waste.)

Comment This is a TERRIBLE design. (Score 2) 279

This building is completely not built on a human scale. It places offices and services far from eachother. It's seemed DESIGNED to make people drive.

Take the giant ring and compress it into a 20-40 story dome. Not only would it result in better interconnection between offices, cafeterias, and such, but it would bemore energy efficient (a dome has the least amount of surface area to exchange heat with the outside).

It would use less land, leaving more space for parkland, a farm, solar plant, whatever you want to use it for.

Instead of building a huge fucking parking garage you could place it next to a Caltrain station, and encourage people to use Caltrain to get to work instead of driving.

Hell they could build it in Santa Clara by the Caltrain station there (there's a ton of poorly used space on the north side of it). This is a stop for not only Caltrain (San Jose San Francisco), but also Capitol Corridor (San Jose Oakland Sacramento), and ACE (San Jose Livermore Stockton).

Comment Re:Just for comparison.... (Score 1) 159

Except driving REALLY costs over fifty cents a mile when you figure in all the money you're actually spending on your car, not just the gasoline (gasoline in the US is very cheap, and is actually NOT the majority cost of driving).

Moreover, even at 50 cents a mile, you're still assuming that you're getting free labor from an unpaid worker -- the driver (who is probably you). During this whole time when you could be working on a paper, talking to friends, drinking vodka, playing angry birds, or whatever.... instead you're focusing on not killing yourself or others while you operate a large heavy machine that could veer out of control at any second if your concentration lapses.

Driving is NOT cheap, we just ignore the costs.

Comment Re:If God had meant for man to fly... (Score 1) 449

Well, you could always take the safest way to travel -- the train.

In Europe it's about as fast as flying for moderate distances. Unfortunately in the U.S. it's not competitive except for the DC/NYC/Boston route (Acela).

But here's the cool thing -- even on a slow train you can get work done since you're not busy driving. You can sit at a nice big table or cozy up at the bar and have a cocktail. Try *THAT* driving.

Granted the nice bar is in first class. (Though on Amtrak if you're in first class on a long-distance train, you actually have your own private room. It's like staying in a hotel but you're going somewhere. Or if you're working on the move, you can think of it as your private office on wheels).

Even the coach seats are the size of a first class airline seat, plus you can get up and go hang out in the aforementioned lounge with your laptop and wifi. (Wifi on some trains, on some others you'll need a cellular data connection).

It's honestly the nicest way to travel. =) Try it sometime. And don't be scared off from first class -- even the cheapest room comes with 3 meals a day (steak, duck, etc.) as part of the price, free wine (on some trains), etc. On one trip I took from SF -> LA, I went with someone. Ticket $50 each, and room $50/each (the room costs the same no matter how many people you have in it). Getting the room paid for itself in meals and drinks (meals in the onboard restaurant, and $5 for the wine tasting that got us about 8 glasses of wine each =P )

Comment Re:Sounds like a headache (Score 1) 1306

I want to live in a place where I can walk to the store, where the proprietor knows my name, have my kids be able to walk to school (or take the subway) and actually make friends and interact with other human beings, and not have to cart everyone around cloistered from the world in an otherwise-useless two ton cage burning ancient dead organisms.

The problem is that the U.S. doesn't *build* these places anymore. Instead they build the giant 50's road-utopias that they're used to building, and even worse -- my taxes have to pay for all that extra sewer line, power line, and *ROAD* that goes there! (And don't go on about the gas tax paying for it, it only pays for major highways, and even then not entirely. All the gajillion miles of road that feed your suburban house come out of other taxes).

Because we don't build real walkable non-auto-centric towns anymore, the supply of such places is VERY short, so now I have to pay through the nose for it.

There's crazy unmet demand in this country, and it's caused by the continual senseless sucking of urban tax dollars to exurban projects. I'm sick of paying for your freeway, sewer, etc. and not even having this fact recognized (yet the exurb people howl and scream when we try to get some public transit built here)

Comment Re:Sounds like a headache (Score 1) 1306

I feel like a sardine in a can when I am asked to commute for an hour in a tiny metal cage (called an automobile). Even worse, I'm forced to constantly due an activity that I do not want to do (drive), as if I try to do other things (like work on my computer, cuddle a date, etc.) I am putting my life and the lives of others at risk as well as breaking numerous safety laws.

My apartment may be smaller than your exurb house, but when I think about it I'm only ever in one room at a time anyway. Why do I need lots of rooms when only one is occupied at any given moment? Excluding sanitation reasons (bathroom, kitchen), one or two rooms can easily serve the purpose of any other room. Unless you're talking about very specialized environments, like a home gym, which I don't really need since I live in a dense area and I only have to walk 500 ft to get to the nearest gym.

Yet for some reason to get an apartment in a real city, I have to fight against hundreds of thousands of people who all want this scarce resource, whereas the people who want to live in sprawly exurbs have vast new product being made for them every day, much of it at taxpayer expense -- and the reason for this is because the government subsidizes exurbs and taxes the cities to pay for it.

All roads should be tolled, just like planes and trains. Make the subsidies explicit (all transportation has to be subsidized to some degree, but more some reason we do a much better job of being unaware of the massive automobile subsidies).

With regards to privacy, there should be a way to anonymously pay the toll (anonymous e-cash paid for with real cash, etc.). One-time-use tickets if you want, etc.

Comment Re:Sounds like a headache (Score 1) 1306

What's going to happen to our farms, forests, etc. then?

Who's going to pay for our sewer systems, power systems, etc. that will have to be geometrically larger due to all the extra miles that must be traveled?

Living far apart has large negative impacts by causing massive expansion of the infrastructure that modern life requires.

Comment Re:Gameplay may transcend borders... (Score 2, Interesting) 84

Essentially it goes like this:

Someone who is "overly masculine" to the point of bodybuilding, etc., is obviously obsessed with masculinity. They are obsessed with masculinity because they don't value femininity at all -- because they're gay. ESPECIALLY if they are constantly around men who have a similar physique. In Japan nothing is gayer than a bodybuilder's gym.

If you really want to get the girls, you have a boyish charm, and focus on a softer form of male beauty.

Also, if you like to wear pink frilly dresses it's under the assumption that you're a perv, not gay. (Think of Ed Wood and why he crossdressed. He did it because he WAS into women, and styling himself as one made him feel closer to them.)

That said, there is also an effeminate gay stereotype in Japan, but they are treated almost as women rather than gay men. ...but what's gayer -- an obsession with dresses or an obsession with ripped beefy muscles and oiled glistening skin?

(See other reply to this post for an explanation of "Bara")

Comment Re:So....the CIA wrote it? (Score 1) 322

Japan was defeated but they refused an unconditional surrender. Everything at the time indicated that they would fight to the last man. What are you supposed to do?

I dunno, maybe something like conditional surrender? You don't need unconditional surrender to win a war. By the end of the conflict the Japanese had few conditions beyond keeping the imperial court in place. This was not very much to ask for, considering we let them keep the monarchy anyway in the end.

Comment Re:There are *VAST* wild Unagi stocks! (Score 3, Interesting) 204

Actually I should clarify, because I wasn't being quite honest or accurate in my previous post. The invasive species in the South East U.S. is a different species than the eels in question in the article. The pest fish that escaped the farms is the Asian Swamp Eel. While it is often sold as "unagi" and is somewhat analogous in flavor, the specific eel in question is the Japanese Eel, which does not live in the Western Hemisphere. The Asian Swamp Eel is actually from a different taxonomic order.

The closest analog in the Western Hemisphere is the American Eel, which is also endangered, partly due to the invasion of the Asian Swamp Eel.

That said, the Asian Swamp Eel works perfectly fine in similar roles, and is quite tasty. Unfortunately you can't really call it "unagi" in a respectable Japanese fish market, even if it's called that when sold in many fish markets outside of Japan.

Comment There are *VAST* wild Unagi stocks! (Score 1) 204

Unagi infestations are actually a HUGE problem along the U.S. gulf coast! A long time ago, some enterprising farmer tried raising unagi for the Japanese-American market, and some managed to escape. They are now a huge problem in places like Florida and Alabama, where they outcompete and kill off native fish species, foul nets, etc. They're considered a massive pest fish and there have long been attempts at finding ways to poison them, etc.

A much better solution would be to just eat the damn things. We can export tons of these wild unagi to the Japanese if we decide to. There is currently NO shortage of them.

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