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Comment: outsider question: why the USA embargo on Cuba? (Score 3, Interesting) 141

by fantomas (#48912555) Attached to: Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

Not a flamebait question/troll even though it might seem so!

This article does indeed show how folk can be creative under a restrictive government: the Cuban authorities don't look like the victim when they are not allowing their own citizens access to the internet (anybody know what their justification is - I'd be interested to know the official reasoning).

But on the other side and in a more general sense, can somebody tell me why the USA still has an embargo against Cuba? (sensible answers only please). It's really perplexing for an outsider so reasonable answers would be welcomed. The USA doesn't have a problem with quite open trade and relations with other nominally communist states (e.g. China, Vietnam). It doesn't mind trading with other countries it was at war with 50 years ago. It doesn't mind trading with countries who had /still have nuclear missiles pointing at it. It doesn't mind embracing countries with poor human rights records.

Is it because of the proximity of Cuba, or some other reason? Really curious, feels like an odd hang over from a cold war that finished before many slashdotters were born...


Comment: Maybe US space is not the only game in town? (Score 1) 39

by fantomas (#48900465) Attached to: Europe and China Will Team Up For a Robotic Space Mission

Perhaps the EU scientists see China as being a future significant space science / engineering power and is exploring potential future relationships. Maybe EU space scientists don't see the USA and Russia as the only major players in town. Given that that Chinese are one of the two nations that are capable of launching humans successfully into space at present it would seem fair enough to take them seriously and work with them.

Comment: Forget paranoia, more likely about the $$ it costs (Score 3, Insightful) 325

by fantomas (#48546285) Attached to: Heathrow Plane In Near Miss With Drone

Let's trust Wikipedia on bird strikes and assume that small objects (under about 10kg) rarely cause a catastrophic collision, mostly it looks like bird strikes and similar are survivable for planes, they just cost lots of money. Looks like most aircraft aren't going to fall out of the sky even faced with a drone operator who successfully crashes into a plane. However the photos show it can make a pretty mess of expensive jet engines.

So I suspect that commercial interest might also be at play, it would be in the airlines' interest to claim a terrorism threat to stop idiots going to the supermarket in the morning then flying a drone near commercial airspace in the afternoon. Going to cost a lot to replace one of those jet engines from the look of the wikipedia photos showing what happens when a bird hits them.

Seems like if you want to commit an act of terror then a 5kg lump of plastic isn't likely to knock an airliner out of the sky, but it will probably cost the airlines a lot of money so I can imagine they'd quite like some regulations in place to stop idiots flying them near their planes.

Comment: yes but we're a group of islands in the Atlantic (Score 1) 90

by fantomas (#48469461) Attached to: WaveNET – the Floating, Flexible Wave Energy Generator

This may be so but we (the British Isles) are a group of islands in the Atlantic, we get waves rolling around our coastline 24/7, coming in a long way across open ocean, and we've got a lot of sea. We're a relatively small island and people get protective about windfarms getting built on land. So it's a reliable source of energy to explore in a place not many folk mind too much having installations on, definitely worth researching scaleable solutions here.

Comment: Depends where: LHR: 191k passengers/ day (Score 1) 237

by fantomas (#48386907) Attached to: Will Lyft and Uber's Shared-Ride Service Hurt Public Transit?

London Heathrow sees 191,000 people arrive and depart per day.

Excluding passengers in transit, that's still going to be an awful lot of people moving in and out of the airport on the edge of London. I can't see you shifting them all in 4 person cars without more traffic jams that already plague the M25 (ok, I suspect from your post you're unhappy with more than 1 to 2 people per car, but in principle car sharing and multiple car passengers is feasible).

Maybe airports can be serviced in small rural areas by cars but in major metropolitan areas mass transit systems are more efficient.

Comment: Are the police involved? (regarding death threats) (Score 1) 239

by fantomas (#48153581) Attached to: How Women Became Gamers Through D&D

I understand that cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian, who made the statement that the best thing men could do to support women was to believe them when they say they are being harassed, has had a death threat made against her. Are the police involved? If somebody made an anonymous death threat against me I'd call the police and expect them to take it seriously. How is this being handled in this case (I don't know how things work in the USA).


Navy Tests Unpowered Exoskeleton 79

Posted by timothy
from the not-for-body-surfing dept.
gurps_npc (621217) writes "CNN has a very interesting article about an unpowered exoskeleton system called Fortis. Unlike the more famous TALOS system, this exoskeleton uses zero electricity, so it does not need batteries or an extension cord. Power requirements have always been the problem with powered exoskeletons, as batteries are heavy. The system is made out of lightweight aluminum and heavy tools connect directly to it. The weight of the tools is supported by the exoskeleton, so your arms, back and legs don't have to carry it. You only need to use muscle to move the tool, not simply carry it. The exoskeleton does not make you stronger. Instead it effectively increases your stamina by relieving fatigue caused by carrying the heavy tool.

First Man To Walk In Space Reveals How Mission Nearly Ended In Disaster 122

Posted by timothy
from the complicated-endeavor dept.
wired_parrot writes Nearly fifty years after the first spacewalk by soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, he's given a rare interview to the BBC revealing how the mission very nearly ended in disaster. Minutes after he stepped into space, Leonov realised his suit had inflated like a balloon, preventing him from getting back inside. Later on, the cosmonauts narrowly avoided being obliterated in a huge fireball when oxygen levels soared inside the craft. And on the way back to Earth, the crew was exposed to enormous G-forces, landing hundreds of kilometres off target in a remote corner of Siberia populated by wolves and bears.

Maps Suggest Marco Polo May Have "Discovered" America 276

Posted by samzenpus
from the he-saw-it-first dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with news about maps attributed to Marco Polo that seem to show the coast of Alaska. "For a guy who claimed to spend 17 years in China as a confidant of Kublai Khan, Marco Polo left a surprisingly skimpy paper trail. No Asian sources mention the footloose Italian. The only record of his 13th-century odyssey through the Far East is the hot air of his own Travels, which was actually an "as told to" penned by a writer of romances. But a set of 14 parchments, now collected and exhaustively studied for the first time, give us a raft of new stories about Polo's journeys and something notably missing from his own account: maps. If genuine, the maps would show that Polo recorded the shape of the Alaskan coast—and the strait separating it from Asia—four centuries before Vitus Bering, the Danish explorer long considered the first European to do so. Perhaps more important, they suggest Polo was aware of the New World two centuries before Columbus."

Comment: No, I'm his age and we learnt metric (Score 1) 942

by fantomas (#48041309) Attached to: David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

> It couldn't possibly be because he's older... was taught imperial when he was in school... and humans tend to go with what they know?


  I was born the same year as him and we were all taught metric units in England from the beginning of school, imperial units were never used. We were introduced to it in passing when we were aged about 8 or 9 as a funny old system that people used to use so we might come across from our older relatives it but not something we should pay very much attention to . Britain in the late 60s early 70s was still optimistic and looking to a scientific new future, white heat of technology and all that, and metric measurement was seen as part of the scientific new future (remember we had decimalisation of our currency at the same time, 1971, so we'd moved to 100 pennies to the pound from 12 pennies to the shilling, twenty shillings to the pound: imperial units were out of fashion). Metric measurement was pretty well known even by our parents at the time who'd gone to school in Imperial times (literally: pre 1947 when India, Pakistan and Burma were part of the empire, run from London) and taken for granted.

  Of course I should be fair and note that according to wikipedia, DC went to an exclusive private school from the age of seven so perhaps they had rum ideas about education and believe the empire was about to return and taught the kids a dead measurement system... but if it followed the national guidance on curriculum, he would have learnt metric.

We still have a passing knowledge of imperial units in the UK, folk still know a handful, but it's a very partial and incomplete understanding and the majority of people under 50 would look at you as being a bit crazy if you said you wanted them to work in pounds and ounces and feet and inches. Most of them wouldn't know how many pounds were in a hundredweight or feet in a furlong.

DC is trying to out UKIP the UKIP and gain favour with the over 60s Little Englander vote.

Comment: Not in school when they are 6 years old (Score 1) 942

by fantomas (#48041059) Attached to: David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

The article is in response to David Cameron's opinion that he'd prefer school children to learn Imperial units instead of metric as their first means of measuring the world. It's what he wants 6 year olds to learn.

I'd agree it would be interesting to give people an insight into old measurements for those folk who want to work with equipment that still has legacy imperial hardware around that they might encounter, e.g. 16-20 year olds starting an apprenticeship in some engineering domains. But I don't think working with imperial measurements is the same level of priority as the majority of other subjects that 6-11 year olds should learn. Unless you live in the USA or Liberia (I think these are the only two countries in the world to use imperial measurements as their main system?). And I definitely don't think rocket scientists should learn them, we all know how well that US Mars spacecraft faired when there was a mixup on the US side between imperial and metric measurements ;-)

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