I've been around NIF and it is an amazing machine. It's also designed (and funded) to study warm dense matter physics like equations of state at high density for nukes, not fusion. Use of NIF for fusion is a great side-benefit and hopefully they can get useful data from it.
The HiPER project to design a fusion reactor based on fast ignition has been though an initial concept design phase, but is now waiting further development. There is still a lot of research which needs to be done in target physics, lasers, and materials before ICF is ready to build an ITER-like machine
The physics behind the ITER tokamak on the other hand is quite well understood at this point. Sure there are outstanding issues which are still being worked on (ELMS, divertor detachment, RWM control spring to mind) but we're pretty confident it will work. The design of ITER started in 88, and before that the INTOR project in '78, but it has taken a long time for politicians actually put some serious resources behind it. Hopefully it won't take that long for ICF projects like HiPER to be taken seriously and funded at a level which will make them happen
if your taxes pay for research, then you get access to it, no exceptions.
What about classified research? e.g. weapons research? There need to be some exceptions, but they should be the exception, not the rule
Wholeheartedly agree that for trains and walking / cycling would be an excellent alternative. I own a car, but haven't driven it for over 6 months as I simply haven't needed to: walk to work (20 mins each way), walk or cycle to the shops and take the train for longer journeys.
Whilst driving can be enjoyable, there is nothing fun about motorway (freeway) driving. For long distances I'd much rather be in a train where I can walk around, stretch my legs, have a table to do some work on, even use Wifi on many of them. If I need a car where I'm going, hiring one at the other end is often pretty cheap.
Unfortunately, this is possible because I live close to the middle of town within walking distance of public transport. The dreams of living in bigger houses with individual transport far from the unwashed masses which the GP seems to object to, have lead to sprawling suburbs where it's almost impossible to walk anywhere. Either it's simply too far or because the planners assumed everyone would drive and made pavements (sidewalks) which end in 4 lane highways.
The options are then pretty limited: develop better, greener individual transport, or large-scale demolition and rebuilding in higher density areas which can be served more efficiently by public transport. Don't think the second one's going to be all that popular...
In short, yes Polywells are an interesting design along with many other alternative fusion reactor designs (stellarators being most advanced, but also spheromaks, gas dynamic traps etc.). They're worth investigating, but as yet the only devices which have demonstrated long operation (minutes to hours in Tore-Supra) at fusion-relevant temperatures (10s of keV) and significant fusion power output are tokamaks. Hence why this remains the main direction of research.
Unfortunately we seem to be in a minority, and finding laptops with trackpoints is really hard. Impressed with the sturdiness of Lenovo laptops (still using an IBM-branded X41 from 2006), but you do pay through the nose for them...
In summary: Bring back Trackpoint (and get off my lawn)!
Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.