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Space Science

The Dangers Of Amateur Astronomy In Afghanistan 137

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 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."
    "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 TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@carpanet.PERIODnet minus punct> 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...."

  • by Scarred Intellect ( 1648867 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @04:31PM (#36753866) Homepage Journal

    As far as I could tell he was dead serious. He didn't believe that we could have paved roads everywhere and electricity and clean running water everywhere. He thought that I was yanking HIS chain.

    And I agree, it's not his fault at all. It's simply what he's been taught, and it's unfortunate that he doesn't have access to learning materials outside of his instructors.

  • 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.

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.