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Comments

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How Women Became Gamers Through D&D

fantomas Are the police involved? (regarding death threats) (239 comments)

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).

about two weeks ago
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What Will It Take To Run a 2-Hour Marathon?

fantomas AC making up facts, references please (254 comments)

Give us your references for where you derived these statistics from, anonymous coward. I suspect you've just made these figures up as other posters with references provide very different figures, but we should be fair and let you offer your evidence.

about three weeks ago
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David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

fantomas No, I'm his age and we learnt metric (942 comments)

> 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?

No.

  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.

about a month ago
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David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

fantomas Not in school when they are 6 years old (942 comments)

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 ;-)

about a month ago
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Mangalyaan Successfully Put Into Mars Orbit

fantomas Imperial Nanking university, China, 258AD (173 comments)

Funny that, I work at a European university and this afternoon I attended a presentation on scholarship, part of which included a history of scholarship and the university. The highly regarded senior lecturer flagged up Imperial Nanking University, 258AD, as the first real university, and made a good case for it, as does wikipedia.

I think you're arguing that a university is only a university if it follows a definition of what one is according to Western European medieval law: I'd say most people would go with a definition that explores how it matches against educational criteria. Something on the lines of a gathering together of scientists and educators to share ideas, engage in research, and communicate expertise to students with the goal of enabling them to achieve mastery (and in turn teach others), while reflecting on the practices of teaching and learning. The educational model that medieval European universities operated on definitely has predecessors elsewhere in the world, such as China, and I could believe India as well.

about a month ago
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Mangalyaan Successfully Put Into Mars Orbit

fantomas but I'm pleased their media is just as bonkers! (173 comments)

Very true. I am pleased one of the stories gives its readers the handy hint that the rocket "weighed nearly 320 tonnes - almost as much as 50 full-grown elephants". Nice to see the media world-wide goes for those handy public friendly measurement analogies to really mess with people's heads. Not sure how many elephants there are to the Library of Congress or a US football pitch however.

about a month ago
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Mangalyaan Successfully Put Into Mars Orbit

fantomas Opens up a new courier option to Mars (173 comments)

Agreed- good science by India - congratulations to ISRO for their work. Certainly it may open up interplanetary exploration in the same way SpaceX have been redefining conversations about getting into earth orbit. the NASA Mars Orbiter cost 671 million. I am sure it is more complex, but I am also sure some spaces agencies may be contacting ISRO to ask about using their platform to transport their experiments to Mars as an interesting alternative to NASA's much more expensive option. More options to getting to Mars presumably means it's more likely more spacecraft will be heading that way?

about a month ago
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With Chinese Investment, Nicaraguan Passage Could Dwarf Panama Canal

fantomas bug/feature: depends on where your home is? (322 comments)

"One of the things most people see as a bug but I see as a feature with China is their ability to just do things.....they can just tell millions of people to move out of the way of an infrastructure project"

Your opinion might vary depending on whether your home is in the path of a development. For some people, having the ability to halt the development and have the decision whether or not to commence destruction of your property arbitrated by a neutral third party is more important than rapid development of large scale projects.

about 3 months ago
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Neanderthals Ate Their Veggies

fantomas Maybe they liked them both (151 comments)

Good question, one I guess the paleo environmental folk might be able to shed light on (what species of flora and fauna were in the area). But folk can really like a big steak when they are hungry and equally really enjoy fresh picked fruits on a hot summer's day, there doesn't need to be a conflict on a taste front. From a survival strategy perspective it makes sense to be happy with either hunted or gathered food sources, reduces your risk of starvation. Your tribe's not going to survive that long if you turn your noses up at eating nuts from a nearby grove of hazelnut trees and insist on walking for 8 hours to maybe track down some meat. Enjoying both increases your chances of doing well.

about 4 months ago
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Cybercriminals Ramp Up Activity Ahead of 2014 World Cup

fantomas Is this greater in scale than the last Olympics? (90 comments)

Is the Brazillian World Cup situation significantly worse than the London Olympics for the cybercrime aspects? I might expect that 'real world face to face crime' (pickpocketing, bag theft, etc. ) might be worse as you'd expect London (as part of a wealthier country) to be better policed than a poorer country with higher levels of local corruption and poverty such as Brazil, but are there big differences between the online crime situations (fake websites, email scams, etc.)? The latter would appear to be more transnational and not so affected by local social/economic/policing conditions.

about 5 months ago
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Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

fantomas the younger ones focus on keeping in a job (519 comments)

Interesting point, but I think the reason for the younger ones focussing on research is not necessarily because they don't like teaching, it is because their chance of attaining job security depends on them focussing on whatever keeps them well regarded and hence likely to get interviewed another short term contract at the end of that teaching year. That something is probably more balanced towards research outputs (regular high quality journal articles being published) than outputs from teaching.

I don't know about the USA but in the UK its not unusual for younger academics to have to pursue consecutive short term contracts for several years, each contract being 1-2 years long, before they have a chance of 'tenure' - a 'permanent' job (something that is open-ended and won't finish in months).

about 5 months ago
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Radioactivity Cleanup At Hanford Nuclear Reservation, 25 Years On

fantomas naive question: does this include all waste? (123 comments)

Completely naive question here - civilised answers welcomed.

I've heard that the new generation reactors will be able to use 'old waste' for fuel. Does this include all sort of waste, or only some of it? For example, I believe that "nuclear waste" doesn't just mean Homer Simpson like glowing green spent fuel rods, but lots of things that have to get packaged up and safely disposed of like technicians' work wear, equipment, anything that comes into contact with radioactive sources. Am I right that this is also called "nuclear waste" (apologies, I really don't know much about the topic). If so, can this be used in the new reactors (I am guessing not all of it)? Does it represent a lot of volume / long term risk to be disposed of?

I get the impression that the term nuclear waste is used in a pretty homogeneous way but that it represents a wide variety of materials. I suppose in the case of decommissioned reactors this probably means some of the structure of the buildings themselves (tonnes of old concrete etc). I'm guessing that this can't get poured into a new reactor as fuel? Is this the big issue with decommissioning, not just old fuel rods but all the surrounding materials?

cheers for any measured responses on such an emotive issue.

about 5 months ago
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James Cameron and Eric Schmidt's SOI Grieve Loss of Nereus ROV

fantomas Isn't this small change for billionaires? (72 comments)

Isn't $6 million small change for Schmidt and Cameron? couldn't they just check out the loose change down the back of the armchair/ in their car's ashtray and pay for a new (and better one)? I am sure several US universities would be more than happy to have one of these folks offer to buy a new submarine for them on the agreement that said donor gets a certain amount of access to it.

Surely this is small change for these folks (and they are canny enough to work out how to make money out of the donation, e.g. by making a film about it).

about 5 months ago
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DogeCoin To the Moon Via a Google Lunar X PRIZE Team

fantomas Meanwhile, DogeVault has been compromised (El Reg) (35 comments)

Meanwhile, The Register reports that DogeVault has been compromised. Might be the micro rovers get a bus ticket to the seaside rather than a flight to the moon instead.

about 5 months ago
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GoPro Project Claims Technology Is Making People Lose Empathy For Homeless

fantomas Norway: super rich country with strong support? (320 comments)

Non-Norwegian here. Isn't Norway one of the richest countries in the world with a strong social support system? So the situations which make somebody homeless in other countries don't apply to Norway?

For example - in USA, I believe that people have to pay for healthcare, and after a certain period of time, no longer get housing benefit support when unemployed (USA person will have to help me here) - so it is possible to be a hard working member of society, but due to illness, get in debt (paying for medicine) and end up homeless (because you can't work, so can't pay your housing bills) so get made homeless, and can't get another place to live because you don't have the money to rent a new place?

If somebody is ill in Norway, do they have to pay for healthcare? if somebody is unemployed, will the state give them financial support to pay their housing costs? If so, you have a very different environment from other countries in the world.

about 6 months ago
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Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

fantomas We don''t do tax returns in the UK,you insensitive (386 comments)

The majority of people in the UK who work for an employer (rather than self-employed), and don't have other income to declare (e.g. part time self-employed in their own hobby business, renting out a property, or rich enough to be generating significant income from investments or savings) don't fill in tax returns, it is managed by their employer through Pay-As-You-Earn. As wikipedia says "because the tax code reflects other income (including the state pension), the PAYE system typically results in the correct amount of tax being paid on all the income of a taxpayer, making a tax return redundant".

Let the flamewar begin :-)

about 7 months ago
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London's Public Bike Data Can Tell Everyone Where You've Been

fantomas Those who use the bicycle hire scheme in London (41 comments)

Those who use the bicycle hire scheme in London, which is a subset of all people. But I agree with you, it's very interesting that the data's public. It might not be a violation of privacy if you've agreed to it when you hire the bike though? Never hired one of those bikes myself so I am not sure what you've agreed to when you click on "ok".

about 7 months ago
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Tesla Used A Third of All Electric-Car Batteries Last Year

fantomas Gigafactory - thous. mill. times typical Detroit? (236 comments)

Is a 'gigafactory' one that is a thousand million times bigger than a typical Detroit automobile factory? I am not quite sure I understand the term....

about 8 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Essays and Short Stories Should Be In a Course On Futurism?

fantomas Futurism? the early C20th art movement? (293 comments)

Well if you're going to teach about Futurism you should definitely include some critical consideration of the effect of industrialisation on European and North American countries, consider how art was affected by the experiences of artists in the First World War, and how it influenced the later art movements such as Art Deco, Surrealism, and Dada.

about 8 months ago

Submissions

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Why are Japanese men refusing to leave their rooms?

fantomas fantomas writes  |  about a year ago

fantomas (94850) writes "The BBC reports on the Japanese phenomenon of Hikikomori: young people, mainly men, who are holed up in rooms in their parents' houses, refusing to go out and engage with society. Why is this happening? and is it a global phenomenon or something purely due to Japanese culture? (we're all familiar with the standing slashdot joke of the geek in their mom's basement for example)"
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"Russians hacking our water pumps" was false alarm

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 2 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "Remember the news that foreign hackers had disrupted US infrastructure, hacking into a water pump and overriding its controls? The Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center (ISTIC) claimed cyber attackers had obtained access using stolen login names and passwords. Well the BBC reports that it was a false alarm..Turns out the pumps were reset by the water engineer responsible for the pumps, who was on holiday in Russia at the time. "A quick and simple phone call to me right away would have defused the whole thing immediately," said the engineer, Jim Mimlitz. However, security experts warn that a real attack might happen some time in the future."
Link to Original Source
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Polish protestor uses drone copter to monitor demo

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 2 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "In recent demonstrations in Warsaw, Poland, a demonstrator has used a drone helicopter spycam, manufactured by Robokopter, to monitor police actions and how they behave towards protestors. Videos show the copter taking off and flying over police lines. A case of man-bites-dog? Is this a first? or do slashdot readers know of similar technology being used by protestors in the USA 'Occupy' movements or elsewhere?"
Link to Original Source
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Iran tests out GEV squadron

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "BBC News reports (in a video) that the Iranian elite Revolutionary Guards have taken delivery of a squadron of "flying boats" better known perhaps as Ground Effect Vehicles. One man reconnaisance versions of the famous Soviet ekranoplan, the Caspian Sea Monster? Meaningless novelties or innovative utilisation of under-used but efficient niche technologies? What do the slashdot crowd think?"
Link to Original Source
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New visa to help innovation in USA?

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "The BBC is reporting on a proposal from Congressman Jared Polis to create a new type of USA visa to encourage entrepreneurs to base themselves in the USA. The Congressman and others are concerned that strict immigration laws in the USA are driving away talent to other countries, while critics argue encouraging immigration takes jobs away from Americans. Should the USA have a new "entrepreneur visa"?"
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High Speed Rail for the Land of the Auto?

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "The BBC reports that "US President Barack Obama has announced his 'vision for high-speed rail' in the country, which would create jobs, ease congestion and save energy". Can rail work in the land where the car is king? Would you travel on the new high speed lines? High speed rail lines are popular in countries like China, Japan and Germany, but would they work in the USA?"
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Poll: how many countries have you visited?

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fantomas writes "Suggestion for a Poll — how many countries have you visited?
  • None: TV gives me all I need to know about strange forn parts
  • One to Three: and they all speak the same language as my mom
  • Under 5: but one of them eats strange breakfasts and speaks odd
  • 5 to 10: and some of them haven't heard of my home town!
  • 10 + : I love travelling! the university of life! where did I come from?
  • Cowboy Neal sends me reports
"
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Iran launches first domestic satellite

fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "Iranian state media is reporting the successful launch of its first domestic satellite, according to the BBC. The satellite was designed for research and telecommunications purposes, the television report said. Iran's first satellite was launched by a Russian rocket in 2005, and in 2007 Iran launched its first rocket capable of getting a payload into space. Congratulations to the newest member of space-faring nations — but doubtless many governments will take their own political slant on whether this is good or bad news. Cynics may suggest this makes the world a more dangerous place, optimists may argue the more peaceful access we have to space the better. What do you think?"
Link to Original Source
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fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 7 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "US stun gun maker Taser is making a new cheaper, version available for fashion conscious members of the public. Cheaper than their current security models, this stylish 'non-lethal weapon' is being launched at an electronics fair in Las Vegas on Monday. The company has not yet revealed exactly how many volts it will deliver, but presumably it will still knock attackers flat. I guess if a bunch of 8 year old terrors now ask me for my wallet and mobile phone, I'll just have to hand them over, being bigger or having a few self defence martial art tricks really aren't going to help me any more. Any slashdotters know any ways of protecting yourself against tasers?"
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fantomas fantomas writes  |  more than 7 years ago

fantomas (94850) writes "The BBC is reporting that the current EU-US talks over data collected from people flying into the USA collapsed last night. The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are insisting on access to the airlines records and 34 pieces of data to be collected from each passenger. According to the undertakings on data protection provided by the US, this includes "personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, and data concerning the health or sex life of the individual". This has been gathered since 2004, but only as a temporary agreement and now renewal is due, national data protection laws in the EU doesn't allow the deal to continue. Chaos may ensue. Airlines who receive to hand over information to US authorities may be fined up to $6000 per passenger, and the passengers themselves held in immigration for hours. Good for the EU on protecting the privacy of their citizens? or are they hindering the War on Terror?"

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