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Comment: Re:$1.1 Trillion over 54 years... (Score 1) 540

by BranMan (#47889479) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

Hi Dave,
    Whew. Thanks for the reply. Have to take this one at a time - there is just too much. I'm afraid you have lived much too sheltered a life.

Freedom of Religion - is very special, and it is not everywhere by any stretch of the imagination. Common across the world? Wow. Um... No. Iraq is falling apart due to a lack of this - people are killing each other over there in Sunni vs. Shiite violence. They are two sects of the Muslim religion, and everyone in Iraq thinks of themselves as Sunni or Shiite - not Iraqi. It is tearing them apart - to the brink of genocide. Look into it - please. The news media does a poor job of it.

Also look into the persecution of Muslim immigrants in France - they were rioting because they were not allowed to get jobs - by the government. Look into the IRA - Catholic vs. Protestant in Ireland. Killing each other with bombs and machine guns just for being of the 'wrong' religion. Look into the background of the Puritans having to leave England in the 1600s (yes it was a long time ago) - can you even conceive of the level of DESPERATION of a religious group to leave everything they own and have ever known to embark on ships to reach a new land they have never seen to maybe, god willing, survive the journey, just to have a chance to live in peace and practice their religion? I know I can't.

I use the examples above as France, England, Ireland seem very very close to what America is like. There are hundreds more examples all through history. I don't know - Crusades anyone?

Freedom of Religion is very rare - rarer than it seems growing up in the US. Not unique to the US, but rare. Unique may be that we actually codified it into Law - the very Constitution itself.

And no, I don't think American culture is this list of things - I think it is built on these things, like the foundation to a building. It is these basic things that helps make us different in the world, and allows us to do all the awesome things we do.

Comment: Re:$1.1 Trillion over 54 years... (Score 1) 540

by BranMan (#47883257) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

I will answer this as a serious question: What is American Culture? Complicated question - complicated answer:

Nationalism - we started as a Nation - collection - of States. Roughly the size and specialization of European countries. Forming as a Nation we have changed from early days "I'm a Virginian!" to modern days "I'm an American!". This is in vast difference to the rest of the world - the old USSR never got this far as it never held together long enough, even though it too was a collection of States - there is no tribal-ism, there is no clan-ism, racial bigotry is minimal (there are those who would argue, but compared to the rest of the world that erupts in literal genocide from time to time, ours is nothing).

Upward Mobility - by and large there is no constraint on individuals becoming successful. Gates is a billionaire, but so is Zimmerman. Refugees can come here with the clothes on their backs and little else and become successful business people. As a corollary to that we have homeless too.

Rule of Law - The Law rules the land, and with some argument, covers all equally. Property rights are pretty much paramount - what is yours remains yours. We have exceptions to that that some would argue, and I agree there is no absolute. But the fact that those exceptions get such attention is because they are rare. And worth fighting against. If the government or a corporation wants to do something bad, they need to hide it. And be in a shit-storm if it comes out.

Freedom of Religion - Pretty much a founding principal, and makes us one of the few places in the world there can be open talk of the FSM without fear of repercussions.

Capitalism - Basically we have an economy that works by incentive (I do things to make money, then can spend it how I want) instead of direction. Greed is a great motivator and helps us work hard - cause it benefits us. Directly.

Global Economic Interdependence - We NEED the world - the whole world - as we need materials that are scattered all over the planet. That is a big reason we are in everyone's business - we need to keep the oil, and wheat, and molybdenum, and rare earths, and everything else flowing everywhere, just so we can do all the things we do. So we work to keep the world stable (for us) as that benefits us (greed again - great motivator!) directly.

How's that for a starter - fee free to add to the list.

Comment: Re:No, it wasn't. (Score 1) 463

by BranMan (#47816821) Attached to: Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges

Actually the PO DID break traffic regulations - says so right in the summary. The reason he hit the biker is that the PO drifted into the bike lane. That is the infraction. He was distracted by his laptop, went out of his lane, and struck a biker who was in the correct lane. PO's fault, and it definitely should be negligent homicide.

Comment: Living laboratory? (Score 1) 41

by BranMan (#47811793) Attached to: Saturn's F Ring Is Now Three Times As Wide As During the Voyager Flybys

This is a really interesting finding. So far as I know, even a lowly 3 body gravitational interaction cannot be exactly predicted. I'm wondering though - if enough high quality observations of the F-ring can be gathered over a period of years, is it possible to use them as a life-sized demonstration of the N-body gravitational solution? And could we curve-fit or otherwise reverse-engineer the paths of specific particles (or groups of them) to come up with (at least) better approximations for such N-body interactions?

Now THAT would really be something.

Comment: Re:Mars Direct - Unanswered? (Score 1) 57

by BranMan (#47415653) Attached to: Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration

I just thought of an analogy that may be very fitting. Few know this, but the first submarines used in combat were built during the US Civil War (or WoNA, whatever floats your boat). It was possible, but incredibly dangerous, and more than one was lost entirely.

Fast forward to WWI and WWII, where submarines were solid, dependable, and safe (to a large degree - not including combat of course). And on to the modern nuclear subs - downright luxurious in comparison.

So, Space Flight was in the Civil War era with the Apollo missions to the moon - we could do it, just, and it was incredibly dangerous, and we nearly lost one (13). The Shuttles were more of WWI tech level - still really dangerous, but doable on a regular basis.

We need to reach the stage in Space Flight analogous to nuclear subs, I think, before we can reach Mars. We just aren't there yet. And without wars to push the development (like it did subs) it may take a while.

That's why Mars is 20 years away. Still.

Comment: Re:Will no one think of the Irish Obama? (Score 1) 646

by BranMan (#47276455) Attached to: Washington Redskins Stripped of Trademarks

Why does everyone seem to think Obama is African-American? We have yet to elect an African-American president - and may never at this rate. Obama's mother is American. His father is African. That makes him the first African American president, with nothing at all in common with African-Americans. Historically, culturally, or genealogically

Why does everyone overlook that?.

Comment: Re:https (Score 1) 104

by BranMan (#47264773) Attached to: Google and Facebook Can Be Legally Intercepted, Says UK Spy Boss

Against the average Joe, fairly secure. Against the wrong people? Not even a speed bump. HTTPS works using Public Key encryption, not Secret Key encryption. That difference makes all the difference - Public key encryption is used to generate Secret keys, which are then used to pass information back an forth securely.

      The problem is that Public key only depends on mathematically hard problems to make is secure (it's a hard math problem to break it, but not anywhere near impossible) vs Secret key, in which the key is basically random, and can be made long enough (i.e. use enough bits) to be physically impossible to break, no matter what (though often fewer bits than that are used to make it faster). Public key also has part of it public (hence the name) and part private. If you know the private key - game over - 'cause the Public key is already out there, by design.

      Piled on top of that are Certificates that make sure you are using the right Public key to talk to who you want using encryption. Assume all the Certificates and Certificate Authorities (who vouch for them) have been compromised. Assume Public keys used by a lot of people have been broken (I'd include HTTPS to any well known group).

      Today? I'd assume HTTPS is not secure - at all. Kinda leaves you SOL though, so really we're stuck with it.

      Does that help?

"Right now I feel that I've got my feet on the ground as far as my head is concerned." -- Baseball pitcher Bo Belinsky