Linky Friday: Tech Edition

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115 Responses

  1. Avatar Chris says:

    [S1]: That one is awesome in the literal sense.Report

  2. Avatar Glyph says:

    [PLM2] – Holy crap.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Its a miracle that we managed to go through the Cold War without killing everybody considering the ideologically-driven passion on both sides. America and the USSR did a relatively good job of keeping their crazies in line.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        more than 30 minute delay. Thank god for that.
        I’m surprised India/Pakistan haven’t gotten nuclear yet.
        I suppose that’s our fault too.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I caught one of those TV programs once that talked about the some of the top close calls (Cuban Missile Crisis being the best-known – and possibly even a closer call than you think it was, when you dig down into it – but there were also systems malfunctions, etc.)

        Pretty sobering stuff.

        Showing my age, but when I clicked on the link, A.) I immediately suspected it was a nuclear ramjet from the picture and B.) I immediately thought of “The Doomsday Machine” from ST:TOS, flying on and on sowing destruction even after its original targets were long dead.

        About the only thing that could make this thing worse would be if it somehow sucked up materials from the explosions it caused and recycled them, so as to keep going for all time.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I’m surprised India/Pakistan haven’t gotten nuclear yet.

        Second strike capability does have stabilizing effects.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        hard to keep anything stable with 5 minutes lead time. Just takes a broken circuit and a bit of panic.
        Ah, well, at least they aren’t running ENIACs anymore.Report

  3. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    That speed limit article is entirely about highway speeds, but most of the activism I’ve seen about speed limits deals with speeds in residential neighborhoods or urban areas. The article only makes sense if you assume that the cars have zero interaction with pedestrians (or bicyclists). That’s not realistic for a large amount (I’d bet on a majority) of the driving that takes place–on suburban arterials, city streets, residential neighborhoods, etc.

    When we talk speed limits, highways aren’t really what’s important. What kills is high speed in areas with lots of pedestrians or bikers. That’s why stuff like Vision Zero is so important.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Byrd’s Highways always seem to have signs about bikes on them.
      I’m not sure why someone thought a 60mph highway would be a good place to have bikes on…Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Why have cycling on a highway with 60 mph traffic? Because it’s the only properly paved road that goes from point A to point B in anything like a straight line, perhaps?

        I don’t know, I’m asking – I don’t even know what a Byrd’s Highway is.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Yes, but… that’s still hella dangerous. and we haven’t even started on the 9% grades…
        Robert C. Byrd’s Highway System == most paved roads in WV.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Dragonfrog’s answer is correct. There are even a few segments of interstates you can legally bicycle on because it’s the most feasible route. Interstate 5 over Grapevine pass north of L.A. and south of Bakersfield is–or at least was the last I knew–one of them.

        Although for the intrepid, riding the old Ridge Route would be a spectacular trip. Is there anyone else here who’s driven the whole Ridge Route between the Central Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley? Burt? Francis?Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        A buddy of mine is on a looong bike ride (so far he’s been riding almost a year and gone from Edmonton to Cajamarca, Peru). When he came into LA he took a more coastal route – the 101 and then the 1 through Point Mugu state park.

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        I thought about driving the Old Ridge Route once. Got about ten miles into it and the road was closed to regular traffic — four-wheel drive vehicles only. (Well, it had rained about a month previously, cleaning up after that sort of thing takes time.)

        The bit I got to drive on was super, super twisty with lots of tight blind curves; even those guys who like to go from Pasadena to Llano on Highway 2 on their crotch-rockets for fun on the weekends would find it somewhere between “sporting” and “death-defyingly challenging” at anything over about twenty miles an hour.

        As for riding a bicycle up or down the Grapevine, dude, count me the fish out. I’ve no God to pray to, as the only apparent means to maintaining my own life during such an endeavor would be divine intervention to protect me from a deadly cocktail of a) getting squished by a truck, b) having my heart burst within my rib cage, and c) dropping the bike while going downhill at speed and the resulting combination of gravity and wind exceeding the coefficient of friction.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      In pittsburgh, we closed a few roads to auto traffic (one was unsafe, the other was “deliberately unsafe” — riddled with potholes that the residents didn’t want fixed, because it would allow folks to drive faster through their neighborhood).

      What the officer is saying (and he does mention more residential areas), is that you can do better traffic engineering than a speed limit sign. I think it’s safe to say that a big pothole reduces traffic speed better than a sign.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller says:

        Sure, but the sign is important as well (for legal liability, if nothing else). Engineering can and should be used to get people to drive slower naturally, but it should also be backed by a legal regimen.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        but it should also be backed by a legal regimen.

        As long as the limit is reasonable for the road. The article also touches on areas where the limit is set artificially low in order to raise revenue through tickets.Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller says:

      Did a bit of digging and check this out. It’s from 2009 so a bit out of date, but the overall picture is clear: there were 33,808 fatalites on U.S. roadways, and only 3.7% of them occurred on Interstates, with another 8% occurring on state highways where the speed limit was 55 mph or higher. The vast bulk of deaths come on roads that have lower speed limits, and roads that have lower speed limits are ones that run through towns or cities and have a mix of uses rather than being pure highways. There’s a huge difference between being hit by a car at 20 mph vs. being hit at 30 mph, and that’s what speed limits should be focusing on. Whether the interstate speed limit is 55 or 75 is mostly an irrelevant sideshow.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Or, since most people drive at whatever speed they want to anyway, less the speed limits and more the physical engineering to induce people to drive at safe speeds.

        The most dangerous bits of roadway around my house are the ones where it becomes in some ways physically highway-like, even just for a few blocks, but the requirement for people to walk across the road, cyclists to get through that stretch, etc. don’t magically go away. And for the most part, the speed limits don’t change on those stretches, just people’s driving speeds.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        You are correct, but keep in mind that the bulk of speed enforcement is done on highways and higher speed arterials. I think part of the effort to get realistic speed limits on highways & arterials is so speeding enforcement can focus on the pedestrian heavy residentials, where it is much more likely to kill.

        Alternatively, it can encourage municipalities to think about engineering the speed limits & pedestrian/cyclist safety, rather than just posting them. Speed humps, tables, intersection hubs are all useful ways to keep residential speeds low without drastically increasing the cost of roadways. Same with bike lanes & pedestrian over/under passes.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:


      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Think raised crosswalkReport

      • Avatar Mo says:

        @dan-miller How does this compare to passenger miles/minutes driven? Or is this a case like the statistic where you are most likely to die in a car accident within 5 miles of your house, but part of that reason is because you spend so much of your driving time in that area that of course that’s the case.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        @mo that’s probably a large part of it. But there’s also this

        So getting people to actually slow down from 50 to 30 km/h (from about 31 to 19 mph) could apparently increase the survival chances of struck pedestrians from 15% to 95%. As well as presumably reducing the number of collisions themselves, as everyone would have that much longer to react.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller says:

        @mo I don’t think so. On the basis of this data from the Federal Highway Administration, 33% of all vehicle-miles takes place on either interstates or other freeways and expressways, with 14% on roads they call local (the categories in between these two are arterial roads and collectors). That 33% of unequivocal highway driving only accounts for 11% of all road deaths (going by my earlier source) so if anything highway driving is much safer for all involved than local driving. This is based on miles traveled and not time spent, but it’s a pretty good starting place.

        I don’t really have a problem with higher speed limits on highways. My only concerns are that 1) it’s an extremely minor problem, as we can see by the fact that it causes a disproportionately small number of traffic deaths and 2) a lot of people unfortunately extrapolate from “speed limits are too low on highways” to “speed limits are too low” to “I should be able to drive 35-40 mph on a two-lane residential street next to an elementary school”. Adjust the limits on highways, or don’t, and it won’t have an impact on traffic safety much either way; but if that attitude leads to a more relaxed stance towards speeding on non-highway streets, we’ll see more deaths and less walkable environments.Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        @dan-miller Vehicle miles != passenger miles. Especially when you consider that highway miles are going to be disproportionately solo (commutes, freight, etc.) and local driving is more likely to have multiple passengers (and therefore fatalities in an accident). I would also hypothesize that DUIs happen disproportionately on local roads rather than highways. I would like to see those confounding factors taken into account.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        I’d have guessed the opposite – that people are more likely to look for opportunities to get the car full & share gas money when they’re travelling further, the highway has more road trips and less popping out to the store for groceries, etc.

        As to DUIs, it probably depends on what you’re counting – percentage of DUI that takes place on city vs. country roads, or percentage of drivers who are DUI on city vs. country roads. If you’re in a city with decent transit, you can take a bus, train, or cab home if you’ve been drinking. In the country, you’re not likely to get home from the bar any other way than by driving.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        An old rule for teachers setting up their classroom says that if you don’t want kids to run, don’t create long straightaways. A 4-year-old sees 15 feet of uninterrupted floor space and it practically begs him to get up to four speed. As such, you design with that in mind.Report

  4. Avatar Kim says:

    Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways…
    Prime example of how appeals to authority are great at convincing liberal arts folks to give up cash.Report

  5. Avatar Aaron david says:

    M5- Your bad knee and my collapsed disk.Report

  6. Avatar Kim says:

    Geckofeet are cool.
    Is your dust magnetic?Report

  7. Avatar James Hanley says:

    TR5: I wouldn’t bet on solar roadways, but I wouldn’t bet against solar parking lots for recharging electric vehicles.

    PLM2: This is so going into my cold war/MAD lecture in my nuclear weapons and power class! Thanks! And as Glyph said, holy crap.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Enough to put money on it, chump?Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


      unlikely, since parking lots are covered with cars, causing shadows (unless that particular lot is empty during the day & hooked into a battery).

      Solar sidewalks might be more doable, but even that has problems.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        you put the solar panels above the cars (on wheels). Duh.
        Use a few light pipes to pipe in a bit of light.
        Human eyes are logarithmic, they’ll adjust.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        If you want to cover parking with solar panels, we are already doing that. For example, the Huntington Beach, CA Central Public Library has the entire parking lot covered, for a lot less money than $70/sq foot.

        Solar Roadways are only useful if they are the roadway, not covering the roadway.

        If I wanted to extract energy from roadways, I’d try to seed the roadbed with piezoelectric devices, or the asphalt/concrete with device that utilize the Seebeck effect.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        precisely my point.
        solar freakin’ roadways.
        (apparently the lawyers said they oughtn’t to use fucking).Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Yeah, solar parking lots COVER the parking lot. Cars in shade + solar power = everyone wins.

        As a Houston native, I understand the value of good shade for a parked car nine or ten months of the year….Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Even here in Seattle it’s nice. Keep me out of the sun & the rain.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        My hometown (Teaneck, NJ) put solar panels over most of the municipal owned lots (and some other outdoor spaces) that allowed for them. For at least a decade now, they had a small panel atop every street light. I don’t know what the effect of all this is, but I imagine we’ll be seeing more of it.

        Then again, with winters like what we had in the NE last year, maybe not…

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        The original set of posts at Tom Murphy’s Do the Math site is a must-read for anyone who thinks striving for the exotic solutions (piezo, Peltier) is a good idea. At least for the US Western Interconnect, geographically dispersed wind, solar, run-of-river hydro (and there’s actually a surprising amount of undeveloped conventional hydro in the West, but not in convenient places), pumped hydro storage, plus efficiency and a certain amount of excess capacity are probably sufficient. Efficiency is a terrific investment. Eg, move long-haul truck freight onto rail and (a) you save large amounts of energy/ton, (b) your highways last much longer because those big trucks are responsible for the lion’s share of the surface damage to the roads (it’s a fourth-power law based on axle weight), and (c) it’s then possible to convert to electric. But efficiency alone is not enough — you still want a tens-of-MWs power source to run a steel arc furnace, even if you’re recycling scrap.

        Current federal policy discourages renewables — other than conventional hydro — in multiple ways. I’m an advocate of changing those policies, but suspect that the West needs to leave the Union in order to overcome Eastern interests. But that’s just me.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        When you say “Seattle parking lots”, are you including SR 520?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @michael-cain You’ve mentioned before that US policy is against renewables. Is this a case of laws banning renewables, or just entrenched subsidies for the legacy players skewing the playing field?

        And honestly, trying to use any of our roads as power generators is, well, we’d have to exhausted all other options. Even if you got the bulk of heavy loads off the roads (which would mean laying how many miles of rail?), we’d have to engineer better roads, with better materials, etc. to make the effort worthwhile, or winters, accidents, tree falls, rock slides, earthquakes, etc would be messing with everything.

        There are better ways to do things before we go this route.

        Although the embedded LEDs would be cool, until the first time some kid hacked them.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Let me pick two examples. I’m talking electricity here, rather than something like liquid fuels. And for the most part, I’m not talking so much about active new policy-making as that history has delivered us to a point where renewables are at a disadvantage, and there are vested interests who would prefer not to change things.

        The FERC-recommended guidelines for how wholesale markets should work assume dispatchable power sources: ie, sources for which you could say, absent some sort of serious breakdown, will be able to deliver 280 MW of power continuously during the period from 3-4 PM on Tuesday the 17th. A wind farm can only generate power when the wind blows. My list of places where wind has been the most successful in sometimes providing a quite large share of the load — Spain, parts of northern Europe, Colorado — have dispatching rules that take all the wind power that’s available.

        Reliability planning — done right — is a complex problem that gets harder when intermittent renewable sources are included. To use an example, for a long time ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) simply refused to include wind farms in their calculations, a serious disadvantage. There actually are reasons why that might be appropriate for the Texas Interconnect — a single large high pressure system in the summer can becalm all of the Texas Great Plains wind farms at once. Building a reliable electricity supply out of renewables that suffer intermittency on various scales requires diversity — diversity of types, and within a type geographic diversity. The Western Electricity Coordinating Council responsible for the Western Interconnect is the only one of the reliability bodies for which those conditions are satisfied — but overarching policy is set by the NERC, and for the majority of NERC’s members, renewables have a rather limited role.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        So it isn’t the sources themselves, but their reliability.

        Which is why people keep trying to make variations on the draft towers work, because they are much less dependant on the weather.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        So it isn’t the sources themselves, but their reliability.

        Reliability used in a very specific way. I prefer “intermittency,” because a PV solar panel is very reliable at converting incoming visible light to electricity over a period measured in years. Probably less maintenance down-time per year than a coal-fired steam turbine. On an hour-ahead or even day-ahead basis, the panel’s output is pretty predictable, and that’s getting better as our weather forecasts improve. But it’s not reliable in the sense that NERC uses, which aligns closely with “dispatchable.”Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Got it!

        Curious: Perhaps we should be making more of an effort to couple solar/wind to batteries of some type (kinetic, potential, thermal, or electro-chemical).Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Curious: Perhaps we should be making more of an effort to couple solar/wind to batteries of some type (kinetic, potential, thermal, or electro-chemical).

        I’ve written (and tossed) three or four responses to this question as they grew into oversized monsters.

        I’ll settle for: (a) everyone who has a storage tech capable of medium-scale power output (one to a few MW) is trying to tie it to solar/wind; (b) the goal of all those folks is to try to make individual sites (some as small as a single wind turbine) more like dispatchable sources; given the current regulatory regime, that’s not an unreasonable approach; and (c) it’s not the only approach.

        This map shows pumped hydro deployment at some stage of proposal/permitting in the 48 contiguous states (map by the National Hydropower Association). If all of those (some massive) pumped hydro stations were built in the West, smoothing out intermittent renewable sources gets a lot easier. But it’s not a feasible approach in the East, and the current regulatory regime (largely determined by Eastern interests) is rather antagonistic towards large pumped hydro.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Crud. Unfortunate phrasing. The map shows proposed future deployments, not current deployments, to illustrate the point that the West wants to grow pumped hydro, the East doesn’t/can’t.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        OK, I’m not sure why this didn’t gel in my head before this, but essentially you are saying that because of the way the east coast is setup, the west coast is severely limited in what it can do to deploy & use renewables, even if most of that power will stay in the west?Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Keep in mind that I’m considerably more paranoid about this than most westerners :^) I also think that it’s a bunch of small things piling up, not a small number of explicit anti-West things. So far, anyway. Did I mention paranoid?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        You’re only paranoid if they aren’t really out to get you.

        Also, since we’ve mentioned RAH down below: “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.” But in all seriousness, if our political masters really want renewables to take off, should prudence not suggest different policies for different regions?Report

    • Avatar Mo says:

      Solar driveways would be great for distributed energy. Also, no more shoveling snow.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird says:

    TR6: one of the things you might notice if you visit Colorado Springs is that the parking lot setups are just thiiis close to being antisocial. You see the store you want to go to but you have to drive around and up and loop back.

    Apparently, there was a big problem with nobody knowing how anyone else drove (we’ve got 5 military bases within a stone’s throw of each other here in town, which means we have drivers from all over the country assuming that everyone else is the same flavor of crazy as they are). Accidents were common.

    Anyway, by putting the stores and parking lots on the other side of a short/easy maze, the engineers found that they could force people, no matter what part of the country they were from, to drive 10 miles per hour.Report

  9. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Will, I love the section heading font!Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Yeah, I’m totally going to keep using it. As it turns out, that was the direct translation from the Google doc you gave me.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        What am I missing? The post looks like it’s using a standard “h1” tag.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Historically — well, at least last week — the section headings simply used the <strong> tag on a one-word paragraph. On my browser, this week’s section headings are rendered in huge bold text. Of course, I don’t always get the effect of people’s efforts to do exotic things with fonts, because I tell Firefox to always use my choice of fonts, not what the document specifies. I started doing it years ago as a defense against the hordes that think they’re graphic designers.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I used the H1 tag in the doc I sent Will, I just like the way it translated over.Report

  10. Avatar James Pearce says:

    TR4: “But I do worry about the privacy/tracking aspects of it when it comes to overzealous law enforcement & the NSA.”

    I can see legitimate and useful applications of this when it comes to law enforcement, but what is the NSA going to do with this stuff?Report

  11. Avatar ian351c says:

    TR3 – Seems like this would be limited to low RPM applications given the friction of the rotating cylinders against the head (amazing that they get 14:1 compression in that configuration). That and centrifugal forces that would come into play with the air/fuel mixture at high RPM. You would end up with the fuel washing the outward facing cylinder walls if it spun fast enough. I like the idea of the simplified “valve train” though.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      Not every engine needs to rev like a Formula 1 racer. It’s also possible the animation is very simplified. They may be injecting fuel closer to the axis so the forces at play will disperse the mix as appropriate.

      I have no idea, honestly. I haven’t seen details of the design.Report

  12. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    PLM3: I used to watch reruns of Law & Order: SVU when something was keeping me up late at night. I was always astounded at how freely the writers had them arrest innocent people on the basis of almost nothing, do the perp walk, ruin reputations, and never seem to get in trouble over it.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      I understand why the police do it (although I wish we could see them when they do), I am just disgusted at how willing the media is to eat it up & regurgitate everything the authorities tell them.

      There was a time when the media used to be suspicious of authority.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Though that was never the case in any Dick Wolf production. (hell, he should get as much credit for Giulani’s election as anyone else).

        Though to be fair to Mr. Wolf, it’s always been very rare for TV programs to show police in anything else but an overall positive light. (even in the Wire and the Shield, they are not wholesale villains)Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Well, TV shows & movies always have the luxury of only smearing the name of guilty people, if they want. Which, of course, causes the fans of such shows to have a bias that the police would never smear the name of someone who wasn’t guilty.Report

      • Avatar dhex says:

        how does a guy named dick wolf get a job producing a show about sex crimes?Report

  13. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    I’m surprised I’ve not gotten comments on the Brenner interview:

    SB: Today the Americans have developed a new culture in science based on the slavery of graduate students. Now graduate students of American institutions are afraid. He just performs. He’s got to perform. The post-doc is an indentured labourer. We now have labs that don’t work in the same way as the early labs where people were independent, where they could have their own ideas and could pursue them.

    The most important thing today is for young people to take responsibility, to actually know how to formulate an idea and how to work on it. Not to buy into the so-called apprenticeship. I think you can only foster that by having sort of deviant studies. That is, you go on and do something really different. Then I think you will be able to foster it.

    But today there is no way to do this without money. That’s the difficulty. In order to do science you have to have it supported. The supporters now, the bureaucrats of science, do not wish to take any risks. So in order to get it supported, they want to know from the start that it will work. This means you have to have preliminary information, which means that you are bound to follow the straight and narrow.

    There’s no exploration any more except in a very few places. You know like someone going off to study Neanderthal bones. Can you see this happening anywhere else? No, you see, because he would need to do something that’s important to advance the aims of the people who fund science.

    I think I’ve often divided people into two classes: Catholics and Methodists. Catholics are people who sit on committees and devise huge schemes in order to try to change things, but nothing’s happened. Nothing happens because the committee is a regression to the mean, and the mean is mediocre. Now what you’ve got to do is good works in your own parish. That’s a Methodist.


  14. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

    Traditional Masculinity and Sexual Preferences

    I’m shocked SHOCKED that a feminist woman is turned off by her husband not displaying enough masculine traits.Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

      My favorite part is this reply from someone who identifies himself as a “cishetmale”.

      It took me a few seconds to realize that he meant that he is a regular, normal guy.

      Of course, I don’t know how regular and normal he is using the word “cishetmale”.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      Errr, where is this coming from?Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

        To answer your question literally: Jezebel.

        To answer what you really meant: if I see a link I like to share, I will put it in the comments to Linky Friday.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        The second part.

        I was just curious if this was in response to something specific.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      This reminds me of the Louie episode where he’s out on a date and this ahole teenager starts to bully him. Rather than get into a fistfight with the kid, Louie gives soft answers until he goes away. At which point Louie’s date leaves, because she no longer finds him attractive.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

        Amy Landecker, who played his date in that episode, ended up playing his mother in later episodes, including one in the same season.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Which is, I guess, a victory – the woman who wants an aggressive and violent man realizes this isn’t one, and gets out. The man who values nonviolence and reason realizes this isn’t a partner who shares those values, and gets out.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      I don’t get this link. I mean, tastes are individual.

      I’m a brunette, and I like brunettes, but I wouldn’t go nuts if my brother (also a brunette) said he just couldn’t date anyone who wasn’t blond.

      All I’m getting here is “feminist prefers masculine men”. Um, so what? I like redheads.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Feminists aren’t supposed to like masculine men, because masculinity is bad & the source of all the problems in the world (or something like that).Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        This all reminds me of this post, which was about some studies that show feminists have better attitudes about men than non-feminists. I shall repeat due to awesomeness:

        I mean, I get why people THINK it [that feminists hate men], but it’s not really thinking through what’s going on very clearly. Like, they assume that feminists invented all the stuff men do to women or something, and non-feminists either don’t notice it, or like it, or it doesn’t happen to them. But it still does, and I don’t think they like it any more than we do. But if you don’t deconstruct it, it ends up festering as this resentment that men are giant jerks to you but you don’t know why and you can’t do anything about it and you can’t say anything about it. It’s not like street harassment or assault or threats of rape only happen to feminists. It’s not like sexist jokes or judgement of bodies only happen to feminists. But I think talking about it and analyzing it helps a lot in seeing it as being a societal problem and a problem with how men are taught and raised and how society privileges them, rather than just feeling like your feelings are invalid and have no place and just building up this frustration at men. Also, that you realize you can have spaces without this, that this is not the default way people HAVE to function, and you can have safe spaces, and spaces with men who are aware of their male privilege, and make friends with those men, rather than the “that’s just the way men are and we have to live with it *sigh*” attitude that a lot of the rest of society teaches us.

        People think feminists dislike men when in fact we dislike assholes. Assholes cannot see the difference.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        People think feminists dislike men when in fact we dislike assholes

        I agree, with one caveat.

        I think most people will agree that there is behavior that firmly places a given person in the asshole/bitch territory, and behavior that places one in the doormat/dishrag zone. But there is a large, fuzzy border between those areas where, for the sake of the alliteration, the bitch/bastard is in the eye of the beholder.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      As the discussion suggests – this may be an instance of depression.

      So, spouse A is less attracted to spouse B who’s not displaying their usual level of initiative and happiness, possibly going through depression, and pushes for B to get counselling.

      This has as near as I can tell exactly nothing to do with feminism.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

        This has as near as I can tell exactly nothing to do with feminism.

        Except that…

        1) The author self identifies as a feminist.

        B) The artcile was on a Jezebel website.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Well, if feminism requires men to be baby talkers who won’t throw out broken computers over the course of three (3!) moves, then you may have a point. I ‘m not sure why a critique of masculinity has anything to do with here frustrations. She clearly identified the problem, didn’t she: that her man is no longer assertive? Christ, if assertiveness is exclusively a property of masculinity then feminism is really fishing confused, no?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        I don’t think feminism requires that, but I think some feminists are confused as to what masculinity is, and don’t understand that the parts they like are not by default coupled with the negative aspects of it.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        Yesterday I literally watched a soft-spoken, femme dude chat with a feminist woman at a party and then make plans to sleep with her. She seemed quite interested. So, a datapoint, I guess.

        On the other hand I found him entirely too milquetoast.

        Po-ta-to, po-tah-to.

        Myself, I do enjoy the occasional masculine man. But it is a certain kind of masculinity, which I’m not sure if I can fully articulate. But it is not the loudmouth boor, nor the arrogant shithead, nor the pushy dudebro, nor the smug little man-child. It’s not the trashy guy with a big, dumb smile who makes jokes about tits and dicks. Nah. None of that shit at all. And certainly it is not the pretense of silence, the man who fakes stoicism, but inside is a screaming brat who misses his mommy.

        But in some men there is a kind of liquid confidence, that bends like reeds and knows itself. These men have a quiet smile rather than a quiet frown. They are gentle.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I don’t think feminism requires that, but I think some feminists are confused as to what masculinity is

        By the same token, some men are confused about what masculinity is, no? Or are they? Is it possible for a man to be confused about this sorta thing?Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        Heh. I’d love to hear a few of you describe precisely what masculinity is.

        By decree, this shall be declared Intractable Semantics Day!Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Defining what masculinity is about as easy as objectively defining what the best flavor of ice cream is. We might have fun talking about it, we could certainly go on about the things we really like and even find some agreement. But there would always be parts that are idiosyncratic views.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        I think the number of men who are confused as to what is masculine are legion.Report

  15. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    E5: Random thoughts…

    Observation. My electric bill is divided into two parts. One part is for the electricity I use, and reflects what the utility pays for power from generators. The largest generator is the utility itself, so those power costs are regulated (capital plus operating costs plus a modest profit) rather than negotiated (eg, from independently owned wind farms). The other part of the bill pays for the transmission and distribution grids, and I owe those amounts no matter how much or little electricity I use. Again, capital recovery plus operating costs plus a modest profit.

    In a properly regulated regime the utility can’t go into a death spiral unless the rules are rigged against it. If the transmission and distribution costs are built into the per-kWh price of electricity, sure: as you sell less electricity you have to charge more to recover the fixed costs, which chases more customers into small-scale solar, so you sell less, etc. If the utility is properly compensated for the cost of the transmission and distribution grids by the people connected to them, then no: they’re a smaller business, but people have to abandon the grid to put them out of business.

    The more extreme advocates of small-scale solar are asking that the rules be rigged against the utility. They want the grid costs loaded into the per-kWh charge; they want on-demand power from the grid; and they want to dump power into the grid on-demand at the same price they pay. If it’s unexpectedly cloudy this hot afternoon, finding last-minute electricity supplies is the utilities’ problem. If it’s unexpectedly sunny, they want other generators with whom the utility has contracted for supply to be forced to reduce their output to keep the grid stable. In one sense, it’s another case of “privatize the benefits” for people rich enough to buy a solar array, and “socialize the costs” to the extent possible.

    I continue to say that the states of the US Western Interconnect have decided, consciously or not, on a much lower carbon heavily renewables electricity future. I think it’s a smart decision for that region. I think small-scale solar has a role to play. I think the extreme “utilities are doomed” small-scale solar folks are wrong, and because they’re not willing to play nice with the rest of society, I’m not willing to give them everything they want. I think that the federal rules about how electricity markets are supposed to function make renewable power much more expensive than it needs to be, and ways around that will have to be found. I think some states are going to have to revamp their regulatory strategy.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:



      I have no trouble with utilities either refusing to allow for home solar to dump to the grid, or for allowing it but only paying wholesale, rather than retail. I see value in home solar all on it’s own as helping to reduce load on the grid as much as possible, especially as the price comes down for solar. That said, I get that utilities are not always given a choice in this.

      But I think utilities are silly to try & fight home solar, as the article suggests they might be. Ignore it, sure, or embrace it. But fighting it seems a bad move.Report

  16. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Vey SF-ish today.

    TR5: if you use the solar power to make the roads move, you’re in Heinlein’s Future History.

    M6: If only Frank Herbert had know about that, he could have given the Fremen desertwear that wasn’t complete nonsense. (The “stillsuits” that collect and recycle sweat would also result in death from heatstroke.)

    PLM2: The linked article calls it (oddly) a “flying crowbar”. There was a different proposal for a kinetic weapon that literally was a fleet of flying crowbars orbiting the earth. They also had engines that generated enough thrust to move them out of orbit to hit some earthbound target. No warhead, just an impact with immense kinetic energy. Who came up with this idea? Jerry Pournelle.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      Was that before or after Heinlein had our namesake say something to the effect of, “We’ll throw rocks at ’em”? With a terminal velocity around 25,000 mph, even modest masses make a big BOOM.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      I always thought ‘”The Roads Must Roll” was a silly concept by which to explore the greater topic.

      At least now we know how the worms survived.

      That sounds like God Rods, although I thought those were satellites armed with 10 meter long tungsten rods?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        There’s a earlier story that’s rarely republished called Let There be Light, about the invention of those solar panels by a sexy blonde physicist, written in a sort of faux Mickey Spillane style. It’s so awful it’s great.

        There are variants where they’re launched from a satellite and others where they’re free-flying (based on some quick Googling.)Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        That sounds… familiar? I read all his short stories so many years ago…Report

  17. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Another from the Brenner interview:

    I have sometimes given a lecture in America called “The Casino Fund”. In the Casino Fund, every organisation that gives money to science gives 1% of that to the Casino Fund and writes it off. So now who runs the Casino Fund? You give it to me. You give it to people like me, to successful gamblers. People who have done all this who can have different ideas about projects and people, and you let us allocate it.

    You should hear the uproar. No sooner did I sit down then all the business people stand up and say, how can we ensure payback on our investment? My answer was, okay make it 0.1%. But nobody wants to accept the risk. Of course we would love it if we were to put it to work. We’d love it for nothing. They won’t even allow 1%. And of course all the academics say we’ve got to have peer review. But I don’t believe in peer review because I think it’s very distorted and as I’ve said, it’s simply a regression to the mean.

    I think peer review is hindering science. In fact, I think it has become a completely corrupt system. It’s corrupt in many ways, in that scientists and academics have handed over to the editors of these journals the ability to make judgment on science and scientists. There are universities in America, and I’ve heard from many committees, that we won’t consider people’s publications in low impact factor journals.

    Now I mean, people are trying to do something, but I think it’s not publish or perish, it’s publish in the okay places [or perish]. And this has assembled a most ridiculous group of people. I wrote a column for many years in the nineties, in a journal called Current Biology. In one article, “Hard Cases”, I campaigned against this [culture] because I think it is not only bad, it’s corrupt. In other words it puts the judgment in the hands of people who really have no reason to exercise judgment at all. And that’s all been done in the aid of commerce, because they are now giant organisations making money out of it.


  18. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Star explosion/light burst video is amazing. The comments claim that the perception of expansion is just emitted light moving thru existing space stuff. But that stuff is clearly expanding.

    The little oscillating engine is pretty cool. Have you heard about the mighty engine? (Of course you have.) Do you have any info about when we might see it on the production line?

    Well, that’s certainly not how I want to get down off a mountain. Those kids are fishing nuts! But I can’t imagine experiencing a bigger adrenaline rush either. So there’s that.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


      Of course it is, if something is expanding that fast, there is a wavefront pushing things. The light is just moving faster than the wave front.

      Yes, I’ve heard of the MYT engine. Not a bad concept, but Raph needs some serious marketing & PR help. As for the Duke engine, no idea. The problem with many alternative IC engines is getting them accepted into a large scale production line in order to prove the design is workable. I’m still amazed that Mazda ever took a chance on the Wankel engine. I’m hoping as CAFE standards rise, more companies will take chances on the new & old but unused configurations/cycles.

      As for the wing suits, you need to know your route down, and that the slope will be no shallower than your rate of descent. You can’t just leap off any old mountain.Report

  19. Avatar Mike Schilling says:


    You don’t get down off a mountain, you get down off a duck.Report