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Space Science

The Dangers Of Amateur Astronomy In Afghanistan 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-to-pick-another-science dept.
Nancy_A writes "Most amateur astronomers take for granted that they can just go outside and enjoy viewing the night sky without encountering many problems. But in order for amateur astronomers in Afghanistan to simply set up a telescope in a dark region, they have to deal with more serious complications, such as making sure the area is clear of land mines, not arousing the suspicions the Taliban or the local police, and watching out for potential bombing raids by the US/UK/Afghan military alliance."
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The Dangers Of Amateur Astronomy In Afghanistan

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @03:20PM (#36752936)

    Most of us in the West complain when we don't have enough science grants or when some Bible-thumper questions our biology textbook.

    These poor bastards have to practice astronomy in a country where 70% of the population is illiterate, where the Koran-thumpers cut people's heads off, and where the occupying military force takes a blow-them-the-fuck-up-and-ask-questions-later approach to anyone who looks like they have a scope.

    Now *that's* rock-hard dedication to getting some astronomical observations.

    On the upside, the piss-poor electrical service probably really cuts down on the light pollution.

    • ... where the Koran-thumpers cut people's heads off ...

      In the middle ages muslims thought very highly of astronomy, so why would the guys wanting to base their society on that era be against astronomy?

      Some of the scientific work was done in central asia, if not Afghanistan then next door. Perhaps you've noticed that some stars and astronomical terms are arabic in origin.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astronomy_in_medieval_Islam [wikipedia.org]

      • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @03:38PM (#36753168) Journal

        In the middle ages muslims thought very highly of astronomy, so why would the guys wanting to base their society on that era be against astronomy?
         

        ...because Wahabbism (the sect of Islam from which the likes of AQ and Taliban are based) isn't exactly out to bring back the days of classical scientific inquiry. The Wahhabist concept of Islam is a lot like Pol Pot's concept of Communism... skewed all to hell and not exactly what you would think, yet will claim to be the mantle and keeper of it.

        • skewed all to hell and not exactly what you would think, yet will claim to be the mantle and keeper of it

          That could be used to describe zealots of any stripe, especially religious but IMHO equally applicable to political and cultural zealots as well.

          • That would be like the world's leading proponent of democracy not allowing their own people to vote for their leader.

            Oh, wait....
            • I take it by your u/n you're a Mackem (I don't mean that as an insult; call me a Tackem if you want), so if you want to decide who leads Labour in the next GE it will cost you £41 p.a. and - paradoxically - only £25 p.a. if you're the only tory in the village. The liberals come cheap at twelve quid a year.
        • by foobsr (693224)

          ..because Wahabbism (the sect of Islam from which the likes of AQ and Taliban are based)

          Wahhabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia. (wikipedia)

          Well, think about it.

          CC.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Wahhabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia.

            Saudis were the majority of attackers on 9/11.

            Well, think about it.

        • Actually, Wahhabism is based in Saudi Arabia. The Taliban got their ideas from a more extreme offshoot of the Deobandi school in India. You can't link Wahhabism to Afghanis.

      • by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @03:41PM (#36753212)

        And don't forget that before the CIA created the Afghan Mujahideen 30 years ago, Afghanistan was a normal society with things like education, electricity, sanitation and equal rights for women (at least in the urban areas). Now those cities and the infrastructure that supported them have been bombed beyond recognition. But of course, none of that matters nearly as much as anticommunism and counterterrorism.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Afghan_Crowd_Circa_1980.png [wikipedia.org]

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @06:31PM (#36755518)

          I am the actual son of an actual ex-Mujahiddeen from Afghanistan, and I second that. Afghanistan was not sand and dirt. Not at all. It was beautiful and green, with the best irrigation system in the world... or so I'm told by my dad. Fact is, they even had plantations with huge water melons, enough to eat, schools, culture, and life wasn't bad at all. Maybe a bit more primitive, but far from a backwards shithole.

          But you got one thing wrong: Soviet Russia was invading Afghanistan at that time. And the US gave them weapons "to defend themselves".
          Of course, it actually was the US and Russia fighting it out with the lives of others, but oh well... It's not as if you'd complain if somebody gives to weapons to defend against an invasion. ^^

          In the end, they lost. Everybody who invades Afghanistan loses. Always. No exceptions. That's kinda an inside-joke in Afghanistan. But it's not because of the human defenses. It's because of the terrain itself.

          What fucked things up, is Karzai being so massively evil, that the Taliban looked good in comparison. That's why they came to power in the first place. And guess who the US set up as the leader again? That's right! Karzai! Including his drug-lord bastard of a brother.

          So now people plant poppy instead of food, as it brings 10 times the money. But no sustainability.

          If you want to do one good thing, give them Internet access wherever you can. One mobile phone tethered to a router with a bit of bandwidth optimization/compression/filtering and a few cheap terminals will do wonders to to a town. No, illiteracy wouldn't prevent those children from "getting" the net. If Afghani children want something, they don't think about if they can do it. They simply do it. :) Like learning to read and write a foreign language, and sharing stuff on YouTube.

          • . Afghanistan was not sand and dirt. Not at all. It was beautiful and green, with the best irrigation system in the world... or so I'm told by my dad. Fact is, they even had plantations with huge water melons, enough to eat, schools, culture, and life wasn't bad at all. Maybe a bit more primitive, but far from a backwards shithole.

            But if you look at how this was largely achieved, especially the infrastructure development after 1950s onward - it was in large part paid by Soviet money and done by Soviet specialists. Ever since independence, Afghani governments have generally tried to stay on the good side of Soviets (Afghanistan was one the first countries in the world to establish official diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia in 1919, for example) - which made sense, considering the common border - and that paid off. Quote [en.rian.ru]:

            "Soviet

          • If everything is true (sorry this is the internet and ./) I would mod you up, if I could.
            I also agree whole heartedly with everything you say.

            Sadly, when defending from one bastard, simply because he is the enemy of your enemy, you often wind up supporting another bastard.
            And yet we are surprised that the people that get caught up in the center of it do not trust us ...

            I also 100% agree with the statement about the internet. Freely available information is the WORST enemy of any government.
            We should not boy

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Unfortunately, these days the Taliban and their radical ilk seem more interested in using science to blow shit up than in building up their culture. If you ever find yourself in a position of blowing up ancient statues because they might anger your sky god, that's a pretty good hint that your society has regressed significantly in its intellectual sophistication.

        • That's not the only reason they blew up the statues. They did the final deed after being insulted that they were offered money for the statues but not to fix their crumbling country.

          When the Afghani head council asked them to provide the money to feed the children instead of fixing the statues, they refused and said, 'No, the money is just for the statues, not for the children'. Herein, they made the decision to destroy the statues

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhas_of_Bamiyan#Dynamiting_and_destruction.2C_March_2001 [wikipedia.org]

          • by x6060 (672364)
            We send quite a bit of aid to Afghanistan and all of that money seems to be filtered off by corruption before it ever reaches anyone actually in need. So Whos to say that money wouldnt have had a similar fate?
        • by perpenso (1613749)

          Unfortunately, these days the Taliban and their radical ilk seem more interested in using science to blow shit up than in building up their culture. If you ever find yourself in a position of blowing up ancient statues because they might anger your sky god, that's a pretty good hint that your society has regressed significantly in its intellectual sophistication.

          Blowing up the Buddhist statues was a major crime in my book but Islam *never* approved of statues or paintings depicting humans, even at its scientific and mathematic peaks. Astronomy doesn't seem to cross any religious line as far as I know. I think the problems with astronomy are more practical, in a war zone people wonder if that telescope is a spotting scope (neither side wants to be observed), a rocket launcher, etc. Waving around green lasers can also be troublesome.

          • Actually, one could make the claim to preserve the statues, as Shaykh Qaradawi did when he flew to Afghanistan to try and intervene. Egypt still has the Sphinx, for example, and the Quran says to go travel the world and see the ruins of civilizations gone by. The Taliban wanted them destroyed because essentially Buddhists hadn't lived in Afghanistan for centuries and since they weren't being used, they saw it as ok and unoffensive to destroy the idols.

            • by perpenso (1613749)

              ... the Quran says to go travel the world and see the ruins of civilizations gone by ...

              Ruins are not necessarily preserved in tact. For example when christian constantinople was conquered by muslims the mosaics were plastered over in the cathedral.

      • by Tarlus (1000874)

        ...so why would the guys wanting to base their society on that era be against astronomy?

        They're not against the astronomy so much as they are against suspicious activity. The guy with the telescope could be (and most likely is) stargazing, or as far as they're concerned he could be scoping out the ideal vantage from which to snipe a government official. Nobody trusts anyone.

        • by magarity (164372)

          They're not against the astronomy so much as they are against suspicious activity. The guy with the telescope could be (and most likely is) stargazing, or as far as they're concerned he could be scoping out the ideal vantage from which to snipe a government official. Nobody trusts anyone.

          No, when the local police commander who has come to check them out calls them a group of half wits for doing a little astronomy that's not just against suspicious activity, it's macho backwater anti-intellectualism.

          I bet there are some US service members at that nearby big base who are interested in astronomy. This group needs to find one to help out with coordinating viewings with patrols so they don't have to worry so much about getting shot.

      • In the middle ages muslims thought very highly of astronomy, so why would the guys wanting to base their society on that era be against astronomy?

        Because Tamerlane and his troops went in and killed everyone but the peasonts.

        What was left was a bunch of ignorant peasants who mostly fear the learning that was once prized in the Islamic world.

      • The Taliban are based more circa-1700s, whereas the "golden age" for the Middle East was closer to 700-1200 AD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age) Whenever a group looks backward and tries to be old-fashioned, they never pick a particularly advanced, progressive period. None of the right-wing "return America to how it used to be" folks want the 1960s with hippies, civil rights, and space exploration, even though 1960 is definitely old-fashioned as it was a half-century ago. They rather have th

        • by perpenso (1613749)

          ... the 1960s with hippies, civil rights, and space exploration, even though 1960 is definitely old-fashioned as it was a half-century ago. They rather have the 1980s wall street 'greed is good' or the 1940s 'white man in charge' eras ...

          I don't think the "recent" decades are as simple as you suggest. What you see accomplished in a generation is not necessarily the accomplishment of that generation's children or new way of thinking or new perspective. The 1960s hippies did not put anyone on the moon, well besides themselves on an acid trip. :-)

          The space exploration of the 1960s was not accomplished by the children of the 60s, it was accomplished by the children of the 40s and 50s that you seem less fond of. The 80s that you are not so f

      • by RockDoctor (15477)
        I was specifically thinking of the Jai Singh observatories in Mughal India, but going to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] reveals a list of very old observatories, many of which are indeed in Central Asia.

        (I'd be somewhat dubious of some of those claims for stone circles etc as "observatories". While some astronomical or calenderic function is very likely, calling them "observatories" seems a bit strong, from what I've seen of dozens of them.)

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it's only fitting that they're doing it around the region where the stuff was first done. though, they probably don't have much of light pollution and can get up to thin air. it's not bad area geographically and even some of taliban must appreciate using stars for navigating. now go try and do archeology in syria..

    • by rwven (663186)

      Give me a break. I'm sure these horrid circumstances extend to FAR more than just astronomy. Every thing that TFA mentions could just as easily apply to going down to the grocery store for these people. In its present form, this is not news.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Now *that's* rock-hard dedication to getting some astronomical observations.

      actually its just far more likely that the media has convinced you that its a lot scarier than it is, the fact that people are bothering to do it shows its reasonably safe in some areas. If life was bad, they wouldn't be have time to dick around look at the stars. They'd be more concerened with eating and surviving.

      • by x6060 (672364)

        That isnt true at all. =\

        I watched a 20 year old kid stole out of his village every day across a minefield. The minefield had been there for 15 years and he knew it was there. I asked a local about it and most of the towns folk would just walk through the minefield to get to one of the neighboring villages. It was just an accepted danger. They could have walked a quarter mile out of their way to go around it, but they didnt. Well every week or 2 it would end poorly for some unlucky bastard, sometimes child

    • These poor bastards have to practice astronomy in a country where 70% of the population is illiterate,

      AND they have to practice it at night, in the dark too!

    • If the occupying military took the blow-them-the-fuck-up-and-ask-questions-later approach there would be about 100 people left living in Afghanistan.
  • Wow such insight! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @03:23PM (#36752976)

    Wow such an insightful article. Who would have thought that it would be dangerous in a country that has been a war zone for over 2 decades?

    • Yea, this has nothing to do with armature astronomy. These woes are just a fact of life in Afghanistan no matter what you're trying to do.
      • Well, to be fair, there are automated drones flying around with sensors for detecting ruby coated optics. You could be targetted a lot easier doing astronomy than, say, picking carrots.
        • Military optics are specially coated to protect from eye damage from the 633nm "ruby red" laser in military rangefinders. It wouldn't make sense to coat amateur astronomy gear with that. So probably no worries on being detected by a drone because of your astronomy equipment.
    • Wow such an insightful article. Who would have thought that it would be dangerous in a country that has been a war zone for over 2 decades?

      Shining green lasers around in a war zone, what could go wrong?

    • by rwven (663186)

      Thank you. I just said as much in a reply to another comment. Going to the grocery store or market for these people is probably harrowing in many places... This isn't an article about astronomy.

      • by jasomill (186436)

        It's not news? It's not insightful? It's not about astronomy? It's a human interest story about the difficulties amateur astronomers face in a war zone, so it might be interesting to some humans — those who regularly visit an astronomy news site, say.

        It's clearly very hard to get a "fair and balanced" perspective on foreign conflicts from news stories [foxnews.com] alone, so I'd argue this sort of reporting is quite important even if one dismisses the "entertainment value" entirely.

        Incidentally, these astronomers d

        • by rwven (663186)

          Did you really just invoke foxnews? Hasn't that been added to Godwin's law by now?

    • Its been four decades. And I've been harassed by police while using my telescope too.

  • Also, be aware that these [nightforceoptics.com] are not telescopes.
  • FTFA:

    “We explained that we are astronomers, but the local police commander approached so to be sure that we are not terrorists and that our telescope had no military application and it is not a rocket launcher. We invited him to watch M4 Star Cluster, but he didn’t like it and said that his own binocular is more powerful. He told us were a group of half-witted and nothing else. One of the police registered our names and listed all our equipment.”

    Yeah this is Afghanistan, the commander was power-tripping, and western police as a whole are 100x better behaved, but the above is yet another example of the idiotic fallacy of "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide" that authoritarians love trotting out to justify increased police powers and intrusions.

    • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @03:32PM (#36753078) Homepage

      Its funny, I almost said this to a cop yesterday.

      I saw that his car (parked in the "police parking only" spot had an expired inspection sticket, so I snapped a couple of quick photos as a "concerned citizen". He came running over to question me.... ROTFL he even asked "who is paying you" LOL!.

      Next day I walk by, he has a new inspection sticker (unlike about 10 other cars, including cruisers in the same lot).

      I was totally kicking myself for not tossing in a "if you have done nothing wrong...."

    • FTFA:

      “We explained that we are astronomers, but the local police commander approached so to be sure that we are not terrorists and that our telescope had no military application and it is not a rocket launcher. We invited him to watch M4 Star Cluster, but he didn’t like it and said that his own binocular is more powerful.

      And he could have been right. Take any cheap beginner telescope that parents will get for their kids (likely what is available in Afghanistan) and 8 out of 10 times a simple pair of binoculars will be better suited as well as not as frustrating to use on the likely cheap mount with the scope.

      While looking at the M4 with my 13" dobsonian is nice, many times for general viewing, especially for others, guests, and novices, a good pair of binocs are better.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Yeah this is Afghanistan, the commander was power-tripping, and western police as a whole are 100x better behaved,

      Sometimes.

      Try again in the us as a non-white, or not an obvious "dad trying to educate his kids", let us know how it goes, assuming they don't shoot you.

      • by PickyH3D (680158)

        Ah yes, because in the US it is frequent for asians, blacks and latinos to be questioned, beaten or shot for carrying a telescope. American police are regularly overzealous, and many times they are just downright stupid, but I have never once heard of someone struggling to explain telescopes. In fact, I used to live near a mountain peak that was frequented by all kinds of people for amateur astronomy without problems from the police. And the police were pretty stupid in that city.

        This type of fear and expec

        • I haven't had problems with cops while using telescopes, but when I was about ten or twelve, I had a lady freak out a bit because she though I was setting up some kind of mortar or rocket launcher. To be fair, she looked -- and sounded -- like she may well have been Vietnamese or Korean, so there's a good chance that she might have lived through some pretty horrific things, and I can understand how a reflector telescope at night might resemble a mortar to someone who doesn't use either one on a regular bas
      • Yeah this is Afghanistan, the commander was power-tripping, and western police as a whole are 100x better behaved,

        Sometimes.

        Try again in the us as a non-white, or not an obvious "dad trying to educate his kids", let us know how it goes, assuming they don't shoot you.

        Actually, even if you take a handful of suburbanite friends out into the country and set up a decent-sized tripod mounted telescope pointed skyward and wait, pretty soon the cops will be by demanding what the hell you think you're doing. Even though it should be pretty damn obvious from the equipment and star charts and red-lens fashlights what the hell you're doing. I can only imagine how much worse it would be if the astronomers were non-white.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Cops in Afghanistan have a good excuse to be paranoid. There legitimately are thousands of people trying to murder them and their loved ones, every day. A cop asking questions, and then registering the names and equipment of the people, really doesn't seem bad at all. If those people had been setting up a rocket launcher, and the cops saw it and did nothing, wouldn't that be far worse?

      Western police don't have that excuse.

    • Some minor harassment happens in the US too. We were doing a star viewing event at a local elementary school. There were perhaps 3 big dobsonians and 2 or so smaller scopes, 20-30 people in the ball field of this school at 10:00 in the fall (so it was very dark, well past sundown) and somehow a police helicopter started circling us. We figured some neighbor must have called about some activity in the school and maybe there was a helicopter already near by so the local authorities dispatched it instead of a

      • You were trespassing. Just because a school is state property doesn't make it open to the public. That was very nice of the police to leave you be after checking on you.

        I've been arrested for that before, but we weren't exactly star gazing.
        • I'm sorry... should have mentioned that this was done with the cooperation of school officials.

          So, we were NOT trespassing. Although I do wonder if someone called the school officials and double checked and that's what called off the 'copter.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      They didn't have anything to hide and nothing happened to them, if you're trying to make a point make it, but getting someone checking out out because you have high end optics on a tripod on the top of a mountain ... IN A FUCKING WARZONE is not exactly an odd thing to ask.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Why do you think it's a justification?

      It's not a justification. If you accept it as an attempt at justification, you are being distracted from finding the real justification and proving it right or wrong.

      The fact is, those who are most worried about legal advancements in intrusion are those who have done something wrong and do have something to hide. And they fight the technology and techniques. Instead of fighting to ensure that these things are only used legally, they try to fight them being used at all

    • by Carnildo (712617)

      You know what the difference between a telescope and a mortar is? The stuff inside the tube.

      If you're in a warzone, checking up on a group of people setting up a tube on a tripod is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

  • FTA:

    But their adventures weren’t over for the night. Next, a pack of dogs approached and began barking loudly. Aghaei said they dispersed the dogs by inventing a new application for green laser pointers.

    Bothersome dogs? Nothing a little permanent eye damage can't remedy.

    • by vlm (69642)

      FTA:

      But their adventures weren’t over for the night. Next, a pack of dogs approached and began barking loudly. Aghaei said they dispersed the dogs by inventing a new application for green laser pointers.

      Bothersome dogs? Nothing a little permanent eye damage can't remedy.

      I suspect its more like the "cat trick" where the chase the dot of light. Never tried it on dogs, probably works pretty well.

      • by hellkyng (1920978) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @03:57PM (#36753420)

        It works EXTREMELY well on most dogs. In fact my dog goes absolutely crazy for it, like crack fiend crazy. She gets so excited she shakes, and that is just when I reach near the box that the laser pointer is in. Then she will run until she passes out, literally, chasing the thing. And finally she goes into withdraw if she doesn't get it for a few days. Like crying, shaking, skittish angry withdraw. She has been clean about two months now, I'm tired of the damn thing.

        • by blair1q (305137)

          Y'know, if, up on a table in the living room, you had a salt-water aquarium...and if, in that aquarium, you had a small, you know, shark... and if, on that shark, you put a harness...

          (do this in a Cristopher Walken voice and just try not to laugh.)

      • My dogs are far more excited to chase the laser pointer than my cat.
    • FTA:

      But their adventures weren’t over for the night. Next, a pack of dogs approached and began barking loudly. Aghaei said they dispersed the dogs by inventing a new application for green laser pointers.

      Bothersome dogs? Nothing a little permanent eye damage can't remedy.

      If there's one thing that makes standing around in a warzone full of special forces US troops safer, it's waving a laser pointer around erratically in the dark whilst setting up a device that looks a lot like a mortar.

  • Yeah, well that is the cost of allowing war to dictate what goes in the ground. Koran-thumpers will hurt you and than ask questions later... that sounds like something we have here... Bible-thumpers who will blow up abortion clinics, or kill you if you don't fit into their way of thought (like that one guy who killed the abortionist that went to the same church because he felt the abortionist was in the wrong.

    Uneducated world, it is bigger than you think. I have ran into so many idiots in the states
  • by Scarred Intellect (1648867) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @03:31PM (#36753068) Homepage Journal

    I spoke to a man that was a college graduate out of Kabul when I was in Golestan, Farah Province, Afghanistan.

    He asked, "Which country is better, the USA or Afghanistan?"
    I replied "I think the USA is a better country."
    "Why?"
    "We have paved roads everywhere, and every house has electricity and running clean water." Only SLIGHTLY off, but it gets the idea across.
    "I think Afghanistan is a better country because I know that those things are impossible. And we have beautiful gardens and can see the moon."
    "We have gardens in America, and we can see the moon, too"
    "I know you are lying, because I have been to college and you cannot see the moon from America."

    This is a true story. Obviously, the dangers of astronomy in Afghanistan are worth the risk, because we cannot see the moon.

    • by idontgno (624372)

      Which is why NASA gave up on going to the moon. We can't see it, and we got tired of risking astronauts and spacecraft on blind shots.

      And the moral of the story is..... "Hard science is hard."

    • by DigiShaman (671371) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @04:12PM (#36753602) Homepage

      Assuming this Afghani wasn't yanking your chain for laughs, that's a serious issue. I'm speaking of the ignorance and hopelessness entrenched in this mans head. I don't blame him either. Conflict is part of their culture. It was there from the moment he was born, and perhaps long after he's dead. Hell, may last another thousand years. Maybe a million. No, what these people need are a bunch of terminals air-dropped into villages with SATCOM uplinks. Hell, it might even be cheaper that the money we've spend so far on this theater of war. Shower them with knowledge, and let God sort it out. It sure wont stop the immediate violence, but I'd bet the ROI would be better in helping them help themselves.

    • Are you sure this wasn't a translation error and he meant stars? Was he surrounded by skyscrapers or something?

  • The article even mentions that their telescope was examined to make sure it wasn't a rocket launcher. This jives with what I think would happen if a bunch of guys went out at night with large tube like objects in that country. It does however sound like they still have to deal with light pollution, but from US bases.
  • Yeah, you don't wanna get caught out in the open mooning a sniper who'll put a shot right up Uranus.

  • This is an interesting example. However, I think it fair to say that the headline could be made more generic:

    Dangers of [X] in [Country Wired in Civil War, Corruption, Insurgency, and Foreign Occupation]
  • Heard: (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @03:50PM (#36753334) Homepage Journal

    "Well, I've never seen that comet before. Hey, I can see it moving! It's almost as if it's heading straight towar ^ `{ &.......[NO CARRIER]

  • by mr_lizard13 (882373) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @03:55PM (#36753394)
    They are plotting a terrorist attack on the moon.

    Bastards.
    • by Pope (17780)
      We're Earthlings, we should blow up Earth things!
    • by cosm (1072588)
      Now we have a reason to go there! I have an idea. Lets train TSA agents as astronauts and send them to the moon. Hell Mars too while we're at it. They can continue to be be the monkeys that they are to ensure that DHS secures the space frontier from intergalactic terrorist. Benefits everybody. Helps manned space exploration, gives the TSA an actual useful mission (although they would not know it from there 'new' mission statement), and I can lololol all the way to the space industry! Even better, have the g
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      That would explain all those damned craters

  • Here in Michigan we were once threatened by a bunch of drunk dudes who were out joyriding while we were out stragazing. Most of the time those type of guys were interested in getting a look through the scopes but these dudes were wacked. No harm came to anyone in this "incident". The only chemical weapons we ever encountered were wielded by the skunks. All in all much safer here.

    The Afghans get props for their dedication to the science. Lets hope it gets better not worse for them.

  • Warzones are dangerous: More at 11.

  • In Arizona, I can not just go out to the middle of nowhere and set up my scope. There are land owners with shotguns. I have to arrange with them where I can set up. Otherwise they shoot first and ask questions later.
    And then there are scorpions and snakes. Granted, they are not as bad as landmines, but they are somewhat of a deterrent.

  • I just RTFA ... he went 20km from Kabul, and was close enough to a military base to get light pollution. Back when I was a lot more active astronomer than I am now, I used to head to a field some 10 km from my hometown (south of Auckland, NZ), which was way the hell away from everything anyhow. No light pollution, no passing strangers. I met a goat once, but that was it.

    Afghanistan is a lot more empty than NZ - he just needs to head out further. Maybe he was purposefully provoking some response to get

  • I know the probability of them having internet access is pretty low, but if that were the case, and they wanted to do astronomy without having to go out into the danger zone, maybe the astronomy community with robotic telescopes around the world would be willing to donate time to help amateur astronomers in war torn regions? I know I could probably find a few hours of time here and there on the robotic scope I have access to.
  • so that was what they were doing before that rocket flew overhead. "Astronomy"
  • Same goes for kiting.

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