The Tesla Diaries: 6. Autopilot

(This post is part of a blog series. In case you haven’t read it, here’s the first post.)

We’re technophiles. Of course we said “yes” to the free trial of Autopilot. We figured we’d check it out, have a little fun playing with it, and then go back to driving for ourselves.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about Autopilot. People misinterpret the name to mean “autonomous.” That’s definitely on Tesla’s agenda for the future, but as of 2017 we’re not there yet. Nikola’s hardware will never be capable of full autonomy (although the hardware on Teslas being made today will be, once the software has been fully developed).

Autopilot is best described as a suite of driver-assistance tools. The human driver is still, always, responsible for what the car is doing. Autopilot simply helps out with some of the easier driving tasks, which frees up the human driver for what s/he does best: watching the other drivers on the road.

We understood almost none of this when we accepted the free trial. Continue reading

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Bridge Across the Stars: An Original Sci-Fi Bridge Anthology

Sci-Fi Bridge, the promotional brainchild of authors Rhett Bruno and Chris Porteau, is releasing anthology that features original fiction by a host of writers, including Book View Cafe’s own Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, who offers a brand new, original novelette entitled “Water Babies”.

The anthology will be available January 16, 2018 at a special introductory price of $2.99 for the first month. The price goes up to $4.99 after that, so buy early buy often. This collection of stories would make a dandy intro to SF for your friends and family.

The universe is dangerous, wondrous—a vast canvas upon which humanity sketches its hopes for the future.

In this anthology, you’ll find seventeen never-before-seen tales of conflict and heroism, exploration and discovery, endurance and triumph. Flee the apocalypse of modern-day Earth, fly a fighter in the cold emptiness of deep space, and find new life on the distant shores of an alien world. You might even discover something about yourself as each author opens a window on the soul of mankind. Who are we, really? Should we survive? How do we become something greater without losing what makes us human? Continue reading

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White Dwarf Stars and Other Wonders

White dwarf’s inner makeup is mapped for the first time

Tiny changes in a white dwarf’s brightness reveal that the stellar corpse has more oxygen in its core than expected, researchers report online January 8 in Nature. The finding could challenge theories of how stars live and die, and may have implications for measuring the expansion of the universe.

As a star ages, it sheds most of its gas into space until all that remains is a dense core of carbon and oxygen, the ashes of a lifetime of burning helium. That core, plus a thin shellacking of helium, is called a white dwarf.

Luckily, some white dwarfs encode their inner nature on their surface. These stars change their brightness in response to internal vibrations. Astrophysicists can infer a star’s internal structure from the vibrations, similar to how geologists learn about Earth’s interior by measuring seismic waves during an earthquake. Continue reading

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BVC Announces Gothic West by Jill Zeller

Gothic West by Jill ZellerGothic West

by Jill Zeller

Halves and half-nots. Haves and have-nots. He was a Have-not and the woman uncomfortably sharing a train nook with him was a Have. There was no in-between any more.

Las Vegas is no longer the party city it once was. It has become a place where the gap between rich and poor is wider than the nearby Grand Canyon. Owen Frost has made choices he never wanted to make. When he arrives for his job as a tutor of the child of Evelyn Sayles, one of the richest women in this changed world, he wonders if he’s made another. Continue reading

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BVC Eats COMFORT FOOD: Oatmeal two ways

I love oatmeal, especially during the winter. Whether it’s cooked cereal, an ingredient in bread or rolls, or the major component of a chewy cookie, that mild, nutty flavor is always a favorite. Cookies. I can live without cake or … Continue reading

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The Reluctant Traveler Looks at Inventors

First, a word about semantics. And modifiers. My initial title for this blog modified ‘Inventors’ with ‘Female’. Then as I thought more about the necessity of having to add ‘female’ as a modifier to certain nouns generally biased toward males, i.e., female doctors, female pilots, female engineers, I decided against it. Aren’t we past this yet?

No, and here is an explanation of why I say this.

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper earned her masters in mathematics at Yale University in 1930 and her P.h.D in physics at that same university in 1934. She struggled to get into the Navy during WWII, and once safely there, she devoted her capacious brain to computational efforts, the result of which was UNIVAC and the development of COBOL, one of the most widely used computer “languages” in the world.

Along the way she acquired a husband and then lost him to divorce, never remarrying. Such is the life of many inventors.

Continue reading

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The Rambling Writer Returns to Greece, Part 14: Ancient Akrotiri on Santorini

Enter the eerie ruins of ancient Akrotiri, where ash from the catastrophic volcanic eruption of the island Thera in 1600 BC buried and preserved beautiful images of the vanished Minoan-style culture.

NOTE: Since my 4-month backpacking trip around Greece too many years ago, I had been longing to return to this magical land of myth, history, and dramatic landscapes. I recently made a fabulous 3-week return trip there, to research additional settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT. My first post in the new series, on September 30, gives an overview of my rambles with my husband Thor from Athens to the islands of Rhodes, Santorini, and Naxos, and finally a pilgrimage to the ancient center of the world at Delphi.

From our hotel on the lip of the Santorini/Thira caldera, Thor and I walked through the hot maze of town to a very busy small bus station, where we managed to get seats for a quick trip through winding lanes and across the lower part of the island to the southern shore of the lagoon and the ancient site of Akrotiri. (Hidden in the photo below behind the curve of the hill at upper right) Continue reading

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New Worlds: Rivers

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

To launch us into the New Year, I’m going to go back to the physical world for a moment, rather than the social one, and talk about rivers: how they work, how they’re used, and how not to do them.

Let’s start with that last point. And as my illustrative example, I’m going to use something that is both near and dear to my heart and hydrologically nonsensical: the empire of Rokugan from the game Legend of the Five Rings.

Continue reading

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Moore on Gender and Fighting on the SFWA Blog

Nancy Jane Moore’s essay “Fighting and Gender” is up on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America blog. Drawing on her thirty-eight years of martial arts training, she discusses how body type — rather than gender — dictates fighting style.


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A Tricoastal Woman: Nostalgia for the Future

Starfarers OmnibusI am rarely nostalgic for events in my own past. There are periods I remember loving — being at Clarion West, for example — but I don’t want to go back there now. I’ve changed and the world has changed and the sheer joy of an experience is rarely something that can be replicated.

I feel much the same way about the late 1960s or many of my years training in Aikido in morning class at the D.C. dojo. It was a special time, but it isn’t possible to hold onto it.

But as a lifelong reader, I have sometimes fallen into a state something like nostalgia for places and settings I’ve read about. Some of those places were real.

I suspect I’ve spent much of my life wanting to live in Paris in comfortable rooms so I can meet my friends for serious intellectual discussions in cafes over chocolate (in the mornings) and wine (at night). You know, the world of de Beauvoir and Sartre, with perhaps some of the various groups or artists or other writers thrown in. Continue reading

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