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Comment: Background (Score 2) 188

by Hans Adler (#46620455) Attached to: UN Court: Japanese Whaling "Not Scientific"

I have said it before, but I think it's worth repeating:

When it comes to exploiting (other) natural resources in a high seas region it's important to prove that you have been economically active there for a long time, and still are. The whaling is an investment. This investment requires that the programme is pretty openly non-scientific. Just 'scientific' enough so a sufficient number of other countries in the International Whaling Commission can be convinced to allow it, where necessary through a bribe. But no more so, because at some point later Japan will have to prove that it was an economic activity, not research.

Comment: Re:The country is already out of step with Europe (Score 1) 149

by Hans Adler (#46498255) Attached to: Hungarian Law Says Photogs Must Ask Permission To Take Pictures

I was asked for sources on the pogromes against gypsies, and it was questioned that the ruling party was involved. As this was only from memory, here is what I found out with a quick search.

Apparently, the worst incident so far was the one in Gyöngyöspata, a village with 2500 inhabitants and a Jobbik mayor. Jobbik is fascist party comparable to the Greek party Golden Dawn. It does not seem to have been in any government coalition. However, the incident in Gyöngyöspata was so serious that it reflects very badly indeed on the government for not preventing it or at least ending it swiftly. Here is what happened.

In March/April 2011, the leader of a local right-wing militia invited neo-nazis from around the country to his estate for military exercises. In the sequel, local gypsies were terrorised by uniformed nazis for several weeks. In the end, the Hungarian Red Cross chartered several busses and evacuated 300 women and children.

So for several reasons it wasn't precise to say the ruling party (Fidesz) openly supports pogroms. Jobbik is quite open about it but has 'only' little over 10% of votes nationally and has never been the ruling party. And Fidesz doesn't support the pogroms openly but only through selective action. This may, however, be due in part to a large percentage of Jobbik supporters in government institutions such as the police.

Regarding the desire to annex parts of neighbouring countries: The reactions here speak for themselves. *Of course* these were once Hungarian. And before that they belonged to another country which also left its traces in the languages represented in the region. It's like that everyhwere in Europe. The Alsace region of France was once German, and the old people there (as well as some of the young ones) speak a German dialect. (And the trains still run on the right-hand side as in Germany, not on the left-hand side as in France.) Yet nobody in Germany wants to annex it. Nowadays. That's what the EU is all about.

Comment: The country is already out of step with Europe (Score 4, Informative) 149

by Hans Adler (#46490591) Attached to: Hungarian Law Says Photogs Must Ask Permission To Take Pictures

Hungary was deprived of an important step in the development of today's Europe: fascism. And they insist on catching up without any shortcuts. Unfortunately I am not joking. As the current government wants Hungary to leave the European Union anyway, they are shamelessly breaking all of its principles. Apparently this is only going to end after the Hungarians have spectacularly lost a war right in the heart of Europe.

Being homeless is now officially a crime. The ruling party quite openly supports pogroms against gypsies. Hungary is quite open about wanting to annex all Hungarian-speaking regions of neighbouring countries. (Ethnic Hungarians in those countries can already obtain Hungarian passports.) The media is censored to such a degree that when the current law came into effect, lots of journalists had to look for a job immediately as they were left with a choice between creeping up the government's posteriors or facing draconian punishment. Even citizens from other European countries cannot by land in Hungary. Austrian farmers who already own land in Hungary are punished when they cross the border in a tractor to cultivate it. When the Swiss Franc rose a lot, causing problems for enormous numbers of Hungarians (and Hungarian institutions) that idiotically had taken Swiss loans because of the low nominal interest rates, Hungary *unilaterally* decided that they only have to pay back these loans to the amount owed theoretically if the exchange rate had been constant. In other words, the Hungarian government unilaterally partially dispossessed the banks of an EFTA country.

The new photography law is just another in a series of rubber laws that criminalise almost everything so that they can be applied selectively to members of the opposition and other likely targets.

Open Source

The MinnowBoard is a Low-Cost, Open Hardware Single-Board Computer (Video) 84

Posted by Roblimo
from the open-source-software-is-followed-by-open-source-hardware-like-summer-follows-spring dept.
Out in the Northeast Texas town of Ft. Worth, a company called CircuitCo started making something they called the BeagleBoard -- an open source hardware single-board computer for educators and experimenters. Now, with help and support from Intel, they're making and supporting the Atom-based MinnowBoard, which is also open source, and comes with Angstrom Linux to help experimenters get started with it. David Anders is the Senior Embedded Systems Engineer at CircuitCo. Slashdot's Timothy Lord met David at LinuxCon North America 2013 in New Orleans and made this video of him talking about the recently-released MinnowBoard and the more mature BeagleBoard.

Comment: I think I know what this is about. (Score 3, Informative) 142

by Hans Adler (#44670275) Attached to: Australian University Unveils New Carbon-Trapping Bricks

The article says they have spent 6 years researching the technology. 6 years ago is also when German researchers published their discovery: (The German version of the Wikipedia article is much more informative.)

As far as I know, it started with a researcher wondering how exactly the Earth produced coal and oil and discovering that for almost a century nobody had done any new experiments. So he did some, adding some of today's knowledge.

It turns out that if you put water and basically arbitrary organic waste (wood, grass cuttings, leaves, entire weeds, whatever) into a pressure cooker, add some citric acid as a catalyser and then heat it to 200 degrees Celsius, then you get an exothermic reaction which makes the stuff keep that temperature without further input of energy. Provided you are not using an ordinary pressure cooker (which will explode) but some special thingy.

You stop the reaction after 8-12 hours and filtrate the water to get the product. Depending on the precise time you stop, you can create topsoil, oil, brown coal or low-quality stone coal. While the method doesn't seem to produce any excess heat, you can theoretically make an industrialised country CO2 neutral by treating all of its green waste that way and storing the resulting low-quality coal underground, e.g. in an old coal mine.

Comment: It was the Germans' fault. (Score 3, Informative) 258

by Hans Adler (#44195025) Attached to: Man Campaigns For Addition of 'Th' Key To Keyboard

As Gutenberg was German, the first printing presses only had letters as required for German. Discarding the umlauts from the printing presses imported from Germany was easy, but creating new letter types for eth and thorn was tricky. An initial workaround for eth was to use y because in certain handwritings the two looked similar. Later they used th for both eth and thorn.

Comment: Re:Units in the summary (Score 1) 307

by Hans Adler (#43923945) Attached to: Chinese Firm Approved To Raise World's Tallest Building In 90 Days

Well, yes, there are times when I have to use the system of measurement used by roughly 5 % of the world population rather than the one used by the other 95%. But there shouldn't be so many of these occasions.

Just like a news report in the US should not assume familiarity with the Spanish language just because it's the mother tongue of 12 % of the US population.

Comment: Little known fact about whaling (Score 5, Interesting) 311

by Hans Adler (#43894347) Attached to: With Sales Down, Whale Meat Flogged As Source of Strength

It's not really about whales or their meat. It's about oil and similar resources.

According to international treaties, under certain conditions a country has the right to drill for oil in a certain area if it has traditionally and recently been exploiting the area economically in other ways. This explains a few things about the Japanese whaling programme that would make no sense otherwise. Why they are doing this even though they have no need for the meat, as the article makes clear. But also why they are not making a better effort to disguise the whaling as scientific. Sure, they are arguing before the IWC that it's primarily scientific. But sooner or later they will have to argue before a different body that it's primarily economic, and has always been so. The more obviously economic the programme is, the better it is for their purpose, so long as they can get away with it before the IWC.

Comment: Re:Impossible? (Score 5, Informative) 192

by Hans Adler (#43801871) Attached to: One-Time Pad From Caltech Offers Uncrackable Cryptography

Who would have thought that the f... article addresses this devilishly ingenious workaround?

"And even if Eve steals the glass, they estimate that it would take her at least 24 hours to extract any relevant information about its structure.

This extraction can only be done by passing light through the glass at a rate that is limited by the amount of heat this creates (since any heating changes the microstructure of the material). And the time this takes should give the owners enough time to realise what has happened and take the necessary mitigating actions."

Comment: Re:Relative of the tomato??? (Score 1) 116

by Hans Adler (#43728743) Attached to: Carnivorous Plant Ejects Junk DNA

Obviously you (the authors) are not to blame for this. In the original article everything was in the proper context. But the author of the report in Science should have explained what bladderworts are like and instead ran away with a misunderstood bit of information ripped out of context. *This* is what provoked comments such as "Where pray tell then are the GM tomatoes that eat aphids?" and references to killer tomatos. (Of course, otherwise we might have been speculating instead on how many of you gave their lives for science during this research. Carnivorous plants are still a man-bits-dog topic, after all.)

Comment: Relative of the tomato??? (Score 3, Informative) 116

by Hans Adler (#43715063) Attached to: Carnivorous Plant Ejects Junk DNA

That claim is seriously misleading. According to Wikipedia, the closest connection between the bladderwort and the tomato seems to be that both are asterids of clade euasterids I. As are all other solanaceae besides tomatos (e.g. potatos, tobacco, petunias), all other lamiales besides bladderwort (e.g. acanthus, olives, plantains - the little green plants not the bananas, verbena) and many other plants such as forget-me-nots or gentiana. Initially they even got the time of the evolutionary split wrong by a factor of 1000!

I guess the truth is that the tomato genome is exceptionally well known and the two species are close enough to make a comparison reasonable. And to quote from the actual original article's abstract: "Unexpectedly, we identified at least three rounds of WGD [whole genome duplication] in U. gibba since common ancestry with tomato (Solanum) and grape (Vitis)."

Comment: Re:How do they taste? (Score 3, Interesting) 626

by Hans Adler (#43709447) Attached to: UN Says: Why Not Eat More Insects?

Obviously, in affluent countries you will have to make them expensive, not cheap.

Insects aren't so different from shrimps, and apparently grasshoppers have a similar taste. Here is an article on the taste of insects:

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -- John Muir