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Comment: Re:great. now lets remove the ban on (Score 1) 276

by Cimexus (#47321285) Attached to: Federal Judge Rules US No-fly List Violates Constitution

Uh, most (non-LCC) carriers outside of North America?

Hell, on Qantas in Australia (to take an example I know of, I'm sure there are others), you get fed in all classes, even on short 40 minute flights. Free drinks too, including wine or beer if it's a weekday flight after 5pm.

Comment: Re:Good! (Score 1) 619

by Cimexus (#47278833) Attached to: 2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

What you probably think is a good quality road, isn't, by international standards. There are decent roads around (interstates are usually OK - they are Federally funded of course) but a lot of state/county/local roads, in my area at least, are just shockingly bad. Cracks and uneven joints and poorly patched potholes everywhere. They had to lower the speed limit from 40 to 25 on one road near my place last winter because the cold temperatures had caused it to warp so badly.

Road markings are the other thing that are really bad in the US - often very faded, worn, and impossible to see at night or in the rain, even on major highways. In other countries these are bright, reflective white and with much more common/denser usage of cats eyes or raised reflective bumps.

Yes these are "first world problems" in some ways, but the ~average~ condition of US road infrastructure genuinely is worse than all other (developed) countries I've ,lived in - Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, France, the UK, Germany, Hong Kong. Raising gas tax may not be the solution - but infrastructure does need a big injection of funds from somewhere.

I also think some of the problem boils down to the inefficiency of having road maintenance managed at so many different levels of government - city/local, county, state, Federal. I know of a few roads in my area that don't get repaired because a town is fighting with the county about who has responsibility etc.

Comment: Re:Good! (Score 4, Insightful) 619

by Cimexus (#47277017) Attached to: 2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

As someone that moved to the US a couple of years ago but have previously lived in Europe, Japan and Australia - you guys do have very cheap fuel compared to virtually any other developed country you care to name.

Those other countries/regions are in decreasing order of cost ... while fuel in Australia is only maybe 1.5x the cost in the US, Europe is close to 2.5-3.0x.

The difference is of course down to the levels of taxation (the actual cost of oil/fuel itself is relatively similar everywhere on earth). But frankly, US roads are in terrible condition compared to the average road in those other regions I mentioned. I'd be glad to pay more for fuel if we could get some decent roads out of it. Most of them here in the Midwest are horribly bumpy and uneven ... patches upon patches upon patches on roads that really should have been completely ripped up and relayed years ago. I kind of understand now why cars don't seem to last as long in the US as in other countries - it's partly weather (particularly winter salt), but partly that they get slowly rattled to pieces death just by driving around!

Comment: Re:Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra (Score 1) 465

In Australia at least, the football they play in America is referred to as gridiron, or simply 'American Football'.

Yes I am aware that in America, 'gridiron' refers to the field it's played on, not the game itself. However this is not the case elsewhere, for some unknown reason.

Rugby, in either of its incarnations (Rugby Union and Rugby League, which have quite different rules from each other), doesn't have downs. In League there's an enforced turnover of the ball if it hasn't been kicked downfield (which means it generally gets caught by the other team effecting a change in possession) within 6 plays ... but there's no 'minimum distance gained'-type requirement like downs.

Comment: Re:Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra (Score 5, Insightful) 465

Even if it's not used in American English (which honestly, is surprising to me), it's not exactly obtuse or difficult to work it out. Putting ones tools down (and stopping work). What else could it mean? The only possible other interpretation is 'downing', as in 'consuming' ones tools, which obviously doesn't make any sense in this context.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 2) 320

It's virtually impossible to make a cellphone call from a plane in flight. Firstly, for all but a very small portion of its likely path, MH370 was over the open ocean (no cell towers out there). Secondly, even over land, a plane is a hollow metal cylinder and a rather effective Faraday cage. Unless you're flying low'n'slow (e.g. 9/11), holding a call is very diffcult. I've tried it before and while I might occasionally get a few bars worth of signal, it's not useable in the real world.

Comment: Re:And the "Target" Country is..... (Score 1) 320

I wonder if they've thought through what all this spying on 'allies' is doing to them, long term.

The change in attitudes towards the US in friendly, allied countries - the UKs and Australias and Canadas and Germanys of the world - has changed noticeably in the last 20 years. We quite liked you guys in the 90s. The US had a positive image and was an popular place to visit. But now you have a whole generation who is really quite anti-American. This shift in attitude started with Iraq (II), particularly in the countries that, due to treaty or otherwise, committed (and lost) troops to that conflict for what was felt to be no good reason. It deepened when you started treating tourists like criminals (taking first two, and then all ten fingerprints of everyone who enters, even just to transit and connect to another flight elsewhere). And now, all this NSA stuff is compounding the situation.

Diplomats and politicians and businessmen won't see much of this shift in attitude. In the circles they roam in (educated, generally middle-aged to older people), nothing much has changed. But there is a ~significant~ anti-American streak, in supposedly allied, Western countries, among younger people (say, the under-25s). It's not (usually) a burning hatred or anything as dramatic as that, more a general feeling of resentment and 'screw those guys'. Not seen as a place to visit as much either - quite a few of my friends 'wouldn't visit me in the US if [I] paid them' (I live in the US currently ... I move around a lot for work). Just seen as too much hassle with the fingerprinting and the scary, rude border officers (though, I personally think that's just an LAX thing ... SFO and DFW seem a lot friendlier!)

Whether this or justified or not is somewhat moot - that generation will eventually occupy the positions of influence and power in politics and business, and attitudes formed in youth are often difficult to change (although, they will generally mellow with age). The US is big and powerful and could reasonably argue its allies need it more than it needs them; nonetheless, they rely on friendly countries in obscure corners of the world for a lot of their ability to project military power (bases) and collect intel (communications installations, listening stations etc.) I just wonder if they've considered what a general shift in attitude towards the US in the rest of the western world would mean, long term...

Comment: Re:get real (Score 1) 320

Heh, I had to read that in my head in an American accent before I 'got it' ... to me they sound nothing alike.

But yeah, given how crappy most GSM (or other cell phone) calls sound, I'd be surprised if any text to speech system could do this en masse with enough accuracy to make it useful.

Comment: Re:Combined with the ringing phones ? (Score 3, Interesting) 382

Yes that is interesting. Although we are just going on hearsay to an extent. Is there PROOF that passengers' phones were ringing (i.e. those phones were definitely on the plane, and definitely rang)? Or is it just a case of some relatives believing what they want to believe (which I don't blame them for, in the traumatic situation they are in).

Furthermore there are other potential explanations for that, including phones auto-forwarded to other numbers or diverted to a malfunctioning voicemail or answering machine system when not in range of a tower. This is especially possible for internationally routed calls (which sometimes do some pretty weird things).

If it is true, it certainly does suggest that the plane remained flying (and at a low altitude) for some time after 'disappearing', or at least that the plane crashed somewhere within range of a cell tower and some phones survived the crash.

Comment: Re:Don't they have to fly that thing around? (Score 1) 330

by Cimexus (#46478953) Attached to: What If the Next Presidential Limo Was a Tesla?

The Beast goes everywhere. They load it onto the plane and drive the President around in it when he makes any official visit to a country. So it's not just "on American soil" you need to worry about.

I strongly suspect it's the most-widely-travelled wheeled vehicle on earth actually :)

Comment: Charging solutions (Score 5, Insightful) 330

by Cimexus (#46477843) Attached to: What If the Next Presidential Limo Was a Tesla?

While I have no doubt that you could build a fully electric vehicle that would meet the specs required for the President's limo, I think the biggest hurdle will be charging it. The Beast is one of the only vehicles in the world that drives in countries all over the world without being registered, or modified in accordance with the local market. I've seen the Beast myself here in Canberra, Australia a couple of times. It is kind of a novelty seeing a left-hand drive vehicle with US license plates cruising around on the 'wrong' side of the road in Australia. :)

But I digress. Countries all use different shaped plugs, different voltages etc. and the charging infrastructure in some places the president might visit is not always reliable. Yes you can ensure that US embassies and the presidential plane/other vehicles have the right systems in place. But you never know what might happen ... one day they might be stuck somewhere with insufficient range and no charging options. Gasoline OTOH, you can find almost anywhere, and can carry a spare supply of it quite easily compared to lugging around some kind of backup battery. I think for that reason it'll be a while before you see a vehicle built for this purpose be fully electric. Maybe a hybrid would work. But I think all-electric vehicles need to become more widespread globally and another decade or two of track record behind them before they would fit the bill for this need.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl