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Comment Re:Windows as point of weakness (Score 1) 468

I would say that cockpit windows are a solved problem.

You could say that, but you would be wrong. Cockpit windows remain a weak point aboard modern aircraft. Extensive and costly preventive maintenance programs reduce the risks, but they still regularly crack and leak, and occasionally fail spectacularly. A bit of Googling turned up this freedom-of-information response from the UK's civil aviation authority. It lists 88 pages of in-flight incidents of windscreen damage and failure that occurred - just in the UK - between 2008 and 2013.

Comment Re: Failsafe? (Score 1) 468

This illustrates an important point. From a purely rational safety perspective, you don't actually need the electronic display system to be perfect, with an absolutely impossible zero risk of failure. You just need the system to be less likely to fail - in a way that causes a serious accident - than the known weak point (window) it replaces.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 468

Nobody complains about all those people jammed into a metal tube with no windows powered by a nuclear reactor and dumped into the ocean(s)...

On the other hand, the number of accidents per passenger-mile is probably a lot worse in nuclear submarines than in passenger aircraft. Broadly speaking, an overall higher risk of accidents and fatalities is tolerated in the military.

And honestly, military submarines (or any submarines, really) tend to be much more heavily built than aircraft, and travel at much lower speeds, both of which tend to make crashes much more survivable. Consider, for example, the 2005 collision of the USS San Francisco with a poorly-charted seamount. The fast-attack sub was travelling at its maximum speed (probably around 40 mph) when it smacked into solid rock--that it couldn't see, as they had no windows. Nobody drowned; the ship didn't sink; all of the injuries (and the one fatality) were caused by crew members getting bounced about by the collision. Compare and contrast with just about any aircraft incident involving controlled flight into terrain, where aircraft crumple like beer cans and everybody dies.

Comment Re:Failsafe? (Score 3, Interesting) 468

No, that would wreck the entire engineering of getting rid of the windows in the first place.

In principle, there could be 'emergency' windows that were smaller or more awkwardly placed (perhaps even requiring the use of a periscope or physical light pipe) that could nevertheless still be used to land a plane in the event of a complete failure of the electronic display system. From an engineering standpoint, even a switch from giant wrap-around windows to small portholes is still going to provide some improvement in strength and weight.

That said, it's worth noting two things. First, modern aircraft are so heavily electronics-dependent (and fly-by-wire driven) that in the event of a catastrophic failure of onboard electronics, the loss of virtual windows may not actually be the biggest problem on your plate. Second, modern aircraft are often rated for landing completely blind (at suitably equipped airports); even if you lose the view from the entire front 'window', a landing on instruments is still a reasonable option.

Comment You're actually disproving your own arguments (Score 1) 702

Keep in mind, that TSA has yet to have stopped a single bombing. The only reasons we've not had a plane go down is due to lack of effort, not any increase in security. The few attempts that have been made, made it through the TSA with ease and it was the efforts of passengers or the stupidity of the attacker that saved the plane.

The famous "few attempts that have been made" originated in foreign countries, not in the USA. You admit that there is a "lack of effort". Huh. You'd like us to believe that this is because "teh TSA am stoopid" or something that amounts to that, but in fact it very well could be that the bad guys have decided that the likelihood of getting a bomb on a plane is not "100%" or close to it like you seem to believe but quite a bit below that. I'd say maybe a 5-10% chance of getting through security successfully. Suicide bombers are a limited quantity and the chance of failure could be a disaster because if the would be bomber gets caught by the TSA, the US government now has access to the type of bomb being used and may be able to get the failed terrorist to talk. This is exactly what happened with Richard Reid.

People have car alarms not because they believe that it makes their car impossible to break into but because it raises the bar so that it may be more trouble than it's worth. Actually I think the TSA is working because if it was truly as bad as you and other complainers claim, there would have been a successful attempt already. I think the bad guys have decided that the risk is too high that they won't get away with it and the success would not be worth the risk of getting caught.

I wish I could find out when the last time is that you even flew to/from/within the USA. I had a friend a few years ago who would go into a full blown hissy fit and rant about the TSA, making pretty much the same arguments as you. He last flew around 1998 and he is very likely to never in his life get on a plane again. It has nothing at all to do with the TSA - he has no reason or desire to ever travel by plane. Yet from all his complaining you'd think that he was some kind of hard core road warrior who was at a different US airport every week. I have found that in general the people who complain the most about the TSA are the people who fly the least.

Comment Re:Efficiency (Score 3, Informative) 133

The point is, those solar lights at the dollar store? Yea... Make millions of them, throw them out in the desert, viola, carbon sink. You need to do something more with it beyond the acid, but this is the sort of idea we need to reduce already emitted CO2 after we've stopped creating all the extra.

Even if we ignore the carbon (and other toxic) footprint of creating and strewing millions of semiconductor devices across the desert, I really think you need to think about what happens to the formic acid. Left to its own devices, formic acid slowly and spontaneously decomposes to water and...carbon monoxide. Which is unpleasant enough by itself (and a greenhouse gas in its own right), but which in turn is slowly oxidized in the atmosphere right back to...carbon dioxide.

Comment Re:Treatment sort of worked (Score 2) 299

He died of heart problems. If you read the health effects they are claiming many of them seem just normal for a older person at that time. The rest might could also have been caused by chemical issues more than radiation. Heavy metals are for a large part things you want to avoid putting into your body.

For people who are interested in this sort of thing, the TOXNET entry for americium contains a number of excerpts from published work about the case, medical follow up, and eventual autopsy results. The first six case report entries on that page all involve publications involving McC|uskey; look for entries that refer specifically to "US Transuranium Registry (USTUR) Case 246". Because americium is an alpha emitter that principally deposits in bone, it is the bone and bone marrow that are most affected by exposure, and which show the most lasting (and ongoing) damage.

"...Eight yrs after a 64-year old man was exposed to americium-241 in a chemical explosion/, leukopenia was evaluated by a hematologist. Diagnosis of a possible hypoproliferative, myeloproliferative, or myelodysplastic syndrome was considered...."

"...The bone marrow of /USTUR Case 246/ had been substantially damaged by alpha-irradiation from americium, principally on the bone surfaces. A ... finding was a marked decrease in bone marrow cellularity associated with dilatation of blood sinusoids. The severity of these effects varied according to site and was greatest in the vertebral body, where the marrow was almost acellular, and least in the clavicle. In addition, extensive peritrabecular marrow fibrosis was present in some bones, including the rib and clavicle. ... Fibrosis is a common observation in bones irradiated by bone-seeking radionuclides and has been linked to bone sarcoma induction...."

"...The bones examined were the patella, clavicle, sternum, rib, vertebral body and ossified thyroid cartilage; all showed evidence of radiation damage. The cellularity of most bones was reduced, and little evidence of recent active bone remodeling was seen in any bone other than the vertebra, as concluded from the redistribution of the americium in the vertebral body. In several bones, the architecture was disrupted, with woven bone, abnormal appositional bone deposits, bizarre trabecular structures and marked peritrabecular fibrosis. Growth arrest lines were common. When compared with trabecular bone modeling, that of cortical bone in the rib appeared less disrupted. Overall, the results obtained are consistent with those observed in dogs at a similar level of actinide intake...."

In other words, he was 'lucky' that this accident occurred when he was in his mid-sixties, and that he managed to die of heart disease in his mid-seventies. If the patient had been forty years old instead, he likely would have been looking at a cancer of either the bone (an osteosarcoma or some such, and probably at multiple sites if he lived long enough) or the blood-forming cells (leukemia of some sort).

Comment It's not illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba (Score 1) 190

Let's get this clear - it's not illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba. Not at all.

Got that? Good. Now what is illegal, thanks to President Kennedy, is for Americans to spend money there without prior authorization from the US Department of Treasury. This is how the US government "gets" people who go to Cuba without permission. See, Kennedy signed the order during the Cold War and to prevent the Communists from arguing that the US was repressive and taking away the freedom of its citizens to go to Cuba, Kennedy simply made it illegal to spend money there unless you got special authorization to do so. Very rarely are US citizens truly forbidden from traveling anyway. I think in the past there may have been a few places where we actually legally couldn't travel to, but I'm not sure if any exist any more. I suppose it's worth mentioning that generally it's only when a Republican is president that the US government gets interested in prosecuting citizens for spending money in Cuba without prior authorization. This has not been a high priority of the Clinton or Obama presidencies.

Granted the bit about being able to travel to Cuba legally but not able to spend money there without prior authorization is a fine line and essentially the legal cases against such travelers have involved the US government arguing (probably without proof) that the traveler couldn't go there and not spend money. It's all a crock. It's not well known but my understanding (I have no personal experience here) is that the Obama administration has made it much easier for US citizens to go to Cuba legally via authorized cultural travel groups so there's not really a reason to just skirt the law and go without permission. The Bush administration had much tighter restrictions on travel to Cuba and a history of prosecuting citizens who got caught going there without prior authorization.

Comment Re:Well, this won't backfire! (Score 1) 268

I'm assuming that he's filing suit in California because the Wikimedia Foundation headquarters is there, and it's easier to do it that way than to file fifty-four separate suits (four named editors plus 50 John Does) in 54 different jurisdictions. Further, Barry's lawyers can argue (don't know if it will work) that personal jurisdiction exists for all the defendants, as all of them were engaged in a relationship with the Foundation. Otherwise their case gets a lot messier and a lot more expensive.

Of course, not every lawsuit that is filed is followed through to trial and judgement. (Just as a general observation not related to this particular case -- not every lawsuit is filed with the expectation or intent to follow it through to trial. Lawsuits are often part of PR strategies, sometimes simply to chill public discussion on a particular topic. A big flashy statement of claim is sometimes just a route to a quiet small- or no-money settlement and a gag order.)

And heck, your original point stands. Suing U.S. defendants in a U.K. court would be pretty transparent libel tourism; it wouldn't have a beneficial PR effect, and judgements wouldn't be readily enforceable in the States.

Comment Re:Imminent Threat (Score 1) 249

But personally, I could this as the worst administration in history.

That wasn't the worst sentence in history, but it's got to be right up there.

I'll leave aside your amusingly delusional implication that unwarranted invasions of privacy somehow didn't happen - or weren't attempted by law enforcement with similar enthusiasm and vigour - under the preceding 43 Presidents...

Comment Re:Thanks for pointing out the "briefly" part. (Score 1) 461

Wind and nuclear I understand, but how does gas significantly reduce carbon emmissions? Isn't it still burning stuff and thus producing CO2? How is gas better than coal in this respect?

Nuclear is for a big chunk of base load capacity--plants that take days or weeks to start up and shut down, and so run essentially continuously at their rated output. (Coal plants fill essentially the same niche in fossil-fuel-based generation.) Wind (and solar) stack on top of that; these are variable output plants that can be switched in and out of service quickly as needed to meet demand. Gas turbines, while not emission free, are more efficient (in terms of energy output per ton of carbon emissions) than coal or oil burners, and can be spun up relatively quickly (in a few minutes) to meet spikes in demand. They're a compromise - good fuel efficiency but also high cost - that would be used for a few hours a day, or a few days a month, to fill in gaps in supply.

Comment Re:Well, this won't backfire! (Score 1) 268

That is true, and interesting...but beside the particular point at issue here. The SPEECH Act (ugh) deals with defamation suits against U.S. citizens and residents filed in foreign courts. The case here is the mirror image situation: a case filed in the U.S. against a (hypthetical) overseas defendant.

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