I have just finished writing an article entitled "Flame Wars and Other Online Arguments". This is a sequel, of sorts, to the most popular article I ever wrote, "Internet Trolls", which currently garners nearly 2000 hits a week. That certainly beats the number of hits this blog gets, which is a somewhat smaller number that also starts with a 2. No, smaller than that. You should be thinking, "And who's the other person?"

The sequel article, which I guess I could call "Son of Internet Trolls" or SOIT, explores the various ways people online get into acrimonious debates. Consider it a how-to manual for — wait a sec, "SOIT" isn't a very good acronym, is it?

Well, it could be worse. I was reading today about a lobby group named "Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space". I salute their sentiments, but how successful can they be at getting through to NASA's top administrator?

"Mr. Goldin? It's GNAWNPS on the line."
"No, not the World Health Organization. GNAWNPS."
"Uh, are you all right, Ms. Jones?"

As I understand it, GNWAMPS is dead-set against something called the "Safe Affordable Fission Engine", which is a 100-kilowatt nuclear generator that some people think would be just dandy to put on interplanetary probes. You might wonder why GNAWNPS is worried. After all, its very name says it's safe. And its acronym is SAFE. I assume its slogan is, "You can't say SAFE without saying 'safe'." The idea, I gather, is that it's ... safe. Perfectly safe. So stop worrying about it.

If somebody's working that hard to convince me something's risk-free, it clearly scares even the inventors.

Rather than lie awake at night fretting about lumps of Uranium-235 crashing through your roof, I'd like to recommend that you check out that new article I wrote about: "Flame Wars and Other Online Arguments". I've now linked to it twice in one article, so you know it must be good.

If you have any comments or suggestions, you can click on the "Discuss" link below and post a message. But please, no fighting.

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