Tip from the MathWorks, via email. (I knew there was a reason to stay on that mailing list!)
Gene Weingarten establishes his (minimal) car creds and tells it like it is in his review of the new Chevy Volt:
This would be a good time to address an issue I’d hoped would be pivotal: This car is designed to annoy people like me, by which I mean obnoxious, proselytizing proponents of clutch-and-stick driving.
I consider Americans’ love affair with the automatic transmission to be a national disgrace, symptomatic of our softness as a people. This preference is lazy, unsophisticated and dumbed-down — as I see it, philosophically inextricable from our lard-butted, couch-potato affinity for junk food, junk TV and celebrity gossip.
The Volt doesn’t come with a stick shift option. I was poised to hate it for that reason alone, if necessary — my fallback position — until I learned that the car, basically, has no transmission at all.
That’s the nature of an electric motor drive train: It speeds up and slows down smoothly without the need for “torque mediation,” a term I just made up because I don’t understand the actual physics. The Volt motors are almost always operating at one gear speed. The Volt’s acceleration is smooth and steady; you don’t experience that familiar, momentary, squishy ebb in power during automatic-transmission gear changes.
Disrespecting this car because it doesn’t have a clutch seems churlish and off-point, like disrespecting dogs because they don’t have gills.
For all its Victorian stoicism and sense of duty, this princess dream shares the mixture of openness and elitism that gives princesses their contemporary appeal. Like the superhero, the princess has a special identity and destiny. She is more than an ordinary girl. But her value is not determined by playground hierarchies. You don’t have to be popular to be a princess. You can be an iconoclast, even an outcast, but you must be worthy. You must be good. In this version, as my then-5-year-old niece once wrote me, “Anyone can be a PRINCESS.”
Learn more: read Francis Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess online.
…and this gal applies expertise to a really irritating problem!