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Comment: Re: nonsense (Score 4, Insightful) 385

by Rei (#49630453) Attached to: The Medical Bill Mystery

Really? We in countries with single payer are clamouring for a system more like America's? That's fresh. America's healthcare system is a boogieman concept here, the sort of thing that one scares voters with - "my opponent's policies will make out healthcare system end up like America's!" Even conservative Americaphiles are usually scared of it.

Comment: Re:THIS will drive the adoption of the auto-driver (Score 1) 190

by DerekLyons (#49629619) Attached to: Self-Driving Big Rigs Become a Reality

*Certainly* the autodriver will not be able to "handle" a rig in the context of a terminal; there are just too bloody many variables to see that happening soon. But for the bulk of long-haul miles? I can certainly see a sort of 'local pilotage' system developing where trucks are driven by a human to a terminal on the outskirts of a metro area. From that point the human gets out and the autodriver takes it to a similar terminal at the destination city, where a local 'pilot' gets in and handles the truck from there.

In other words - reinventing a less efficient version of the railroad.

Comment: Re:Last time one was used? (Score 1) 54

by DerekLyons (#49627235) Attached to: SpaceX Testing Passenger Escape System Tomorrow

I suppose its not a bad thing to have just in case but I don't see the reasoning behind the fixation on it as a design requirement and their ranting about its "importance" in press releases. In almost 300 manned space launches a Launch Escape system has only been of verifiable use in a single incident(Soyuz T-10-1).

My wife and I have owned vehicles with airbags for nearly twenty years. By your logic, we could have gotten rid of them since we never needed them.

Until a week ago.

Comment: Re:Last time one was used? (Score 1) 54

by DerekLyons (#49627215) Attached to: SpaceX Testing Passenger Escape System Tomorrow

Also, SpaceX has done something rather clever. The abort propellent and engines will eventually be used for propulsive landings instead of coming down under canopy. So their abort system isn't a total waste.

Clever in some respects - but not without risks and drawbacks. (As compared to the toss-it-unused style generally in use otherwise.) Since the spacecraft is (intended to be) re-useable up to ten time "without significant refurbishment", all limited life components (notably the seals) have to last that long. Since it's carried the whole flight, the system has to survive all flight phases. And most notably, it increases the orbited, suspended, and landed weights.

Another consideration is that "traditional" (solid fueled tractor escape motors) were passively stable, while Super Draco very likely is not. "Traditional" systems could also be easily designed to passively steer the vehicle clear of the boosters trajectory, while Super Draco will require active throttling.

I'm not saying anything against the system, only that the cleverness comes with costs that aren't going to be obvious to the untrained eye.

Comment: Re:Hmmm Tasty Whale Tongue (Score 1) 47

Were you trying to say:

"LOL, nei, (th)að var ekki augljóst að "here" ((væri?)) Ísland og að (th)ú værir íslensk. En ((??????)) Google Translate get ég látið eins og hálfviti á tveimur tungumálum. Ef gert er ráð fyrir auðvitað að Slashdot ((sé ekki að flækja Unicodeið?))"

That is:

"LOL, no, it wasn't clear that here is Iceland and that you were were Icelandic. But (????) Google Translate I can come across like an idiot in two languages. If one assumes of course that Slashdot isn't screwing up the Unicode"?

Comment: Re:Hmmm Tasty Whale Tongue (Score 1) 47

I'll reiterate: People here think it's a ridiculous product. The page is stupid marketing to foreigners. Yes, there are separate accent and apostrophe keys (in case you're curious, here's what an Icelandic keyboard layout looks like). Hákarl (the fermented shark you refer to) isn't eaten commonly, it's actually fairly rarely eaten (though some people do like it). Most of the foods you'd consider weird are rarely consumed, like sheep heads, skate, etc, often associated with a particular festival or whatnot. Probably the only things you'd find weird that are eaten fairly commonly are horse and fish jerky (harðfiskur). Lamb is commonly eaten here but you probably wouldn't find that weird. We also have a lot of dairy products you don't have but I don't think you'd find most of them that weird. Anyway, probably the most commonly-eaten food here is pizza ;) Hamburgers and hotdogs are common too (though our hotdogs are made of lamb).

Whale is eaten here but rarely. Nearly half of the catch consumed in Iceland is eaten by tourists (a large percentage of which, I should add, come from America). Also I'm continually surprised by the percentage of Americans who criticize Iceland for whaling but don't know that America whales too, and no small amount (producing thousands of tonnes of whale meat per year). Yes, they're "natives" whaling, but 1) it's no less traditional for Icelanders to whale than it is for Alaskan natives, 2) Alaskan natives use modern equipment for whaling too, including chasing them down in speedboats, killing them with modern equipment, and dragging them on shore with backhoes; and 3) Alaskan whales end up no less dead than Icelandic ones. None of the Icelandic whale populations are threatened.

Anyone who wants to discourage whaling over here, a few tips.

One, don't come out with the self-righteous stuff, because it doesn't fly. Not only does the US whale too, but receiving lectures on morality from a country where a majority of the population supports torture and who engages in all sorts of obscene human rights abuses and whose domestic livestock are mostly raised in factory farms in horrible conditions doesn't exactly come across well.

Secondly, know that any overt pressure is just going to cause backlash, and the more overt, the more the backlash. Many of you may see for example Paul Watson as a hero. Here he's seen as a ecoterrorist; he literally sent people in to sink ships right in the public harbour. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to distance yourself from these sort of people. You don't make friends by talking up people who come in and wreck up the place.

Third, understand the local perspective. It's not only that they've been eaten traditionally since Iceland was settled (indeed, the word for "beached whale" also means "jackpot" or "godsend", because in the old days it could mean the difference between life or death for a whole town). It's that they live free out in the open ocean, growing up their whole lives unhindered by man (except when, say, a NATO ship uses a super-powerful anti-sub sonar in the area or whatnot :P), living a pretty much idyllic life - and a single whale provides a vast amount of meat. Meanwhile, pigs for example - also highly intelligent animals - grow up in horrible squalid conditions in many of the countries that criticize Iceland .

Fourth, there are actual arguments you can make that have effect, and have on their own been discouraging whale consumption - but which foreigners who oppose whaling rarely make. Probably the foremost of these is the health issue. Whales, being top predators, tend to have dangerously high levels of heavy metal and organic pollutant contamination. If you want to make someone feel uncomfortable about eating whale meat, point out how much mercury and lead they're eating in that serving. There are also lesser arguments you can make that may or may not have effects on the person, depending on the individual - intelligence (but you better be well versed in the scientific literature, unbacked claims won't fly), for example, or how long it takes a whale to die versus other types of animals slaughtered for meat - but depending on the person, that may or may not be seen as a good argument. But the toxin contamination issue will have an effect on pretty much everyone.

(also, realize that not everyone here eats whale at all, and most people who do eat it only rarely)

Lastly, focus on the tourists. They come in for just a couple days and yet a large chunk of them order whale while they're here. Many of them oppose whaling back home, but it's as if when they come here their strict "morality" goes out the door, in the interest of "trying new things". I don't think they realize that they eat such a large percentage of the Icelandic catch, or that they somehow disconnect from where the meat comes from. There's a campaign here called "Meet Us, Don't Eat Us", encouraging whale watching instead of eating whale meat, and I think that's a very good strategy. The whale watching industry is economic counterpressure to the whaling industry.

(As a side note - I say all of this as a vegetarian).

Comment: Re:Hmmm Tasty Whale Tongue (Score 1) 47

Oh god, it's rare to see such bad English here. Maybe they got my ex's brother to write that page ;) And can they not tell the difference between their accent and apostrophe keys? Also, what stupid stereotyping-about-Iceland-to-market-to-foreigners is this? Just letting people know: almost everyone here thinks this is an absurd product.

Comment: Re:Warp drive? (Score 1) 396

by Rei (#49616883) Attached to: No, NASA Did Not Accidentally Invent Warp Drive

Things like "cold fusion" and this could actually be useful if not managed by irresponsible teams seeking to make headlines for themselves. It can be important to learn when there's things that can throw your measurements off that weren't immediately apparent. You don't need headlines to get the necessary followup; researchers in the field read the peer-reviewed literature and most definitely will take interest in such unexpected results.

If it wasn't for Newton, we wouldn't have to eat bruised apples.

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