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Driving from Alaska to Siberia 183

Pelerin writes "The team from the Ice Challenger project are driving from Alaska to Provodanya, in Siberia; across the 56-mile field of ice floes that each winter "joins" America and Russia. At the last minute the Russian authorities have denied the entry permit but the crew says they're on track to reach the Big Diomedes islands, which lie across the date line, thereby proving it's possible to do this. This feat is not as easy as it sounds due to the harsh Artic winter conditions, and the fact that the ice floes themselves are drifting at a pretty good clip. It takes a specially built vehicle to tackle this adventure. Geek quotient: pretty high :)" If you just want to drive to Alaska, you might go with Philip Greenspun. And if these guys don't make the trip to Russia this year, they might not get a chance. Update: 04/08 12:21 GMT by T : DrShrink adds to the story: "The two made it to Siberia, however were turned back due to not gaining permission to enter Russian territory."
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Driving from Alaska to Siberia

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  • Ouch (Score:3, Funny)

    by BrianGa ( 536442 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @07:59PM (#3301043)
    I hope your car's heater is working...
    • Not the most brilliant decision:

      Hey Cletus, all this Arctic Ocean ice is makin' me cold. Let's turn up the heat a lit--


    • Yeah it would be good if their engine is running. ;-)
  • I love roadtrips. Damn, I love roadtrips. I have always thought it would be really cool to drive from Tierra del Fuego to South Africa. (Stopping throughout Asia, Russia, Europe, etc.) However, other then the sheer amount of time it would take, this crossing area was another big obstical. Quite frankly, I think a bridge that was passable over the pacific would just be damn cool. DAMN cool!
    • Best way to do it (Score:5, Informative)

      by epseps ( 39675 ) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:40AM (#3301850)
      It would be expensive and dangerous. You would need a REAL SUV with a winch, extra fuel and would need permission and armed escorts through Peru (some of the land is occupied by Sendera Luminoso) and then you may have to go through some sketchy areas occupied by the FARC in Columbia. (the FARC would love to kidnap an adventurous traveler, but they rarely kill foreigners...but you might get caught in the crossfire of the Columbian army and the FARC). Also no real roads exist in the Putomayo district of Columbia nor are they really "roads" in the tradtional sense in Northern Columbia or southern Panama (also FARC and ELN hangouts). Once you went from Panama to Mexico hopefully the worst problems you would have would be repairs, gas and bribes. Through these countries you might have to register the car with the police upon both entering and exiting the country and have proof of insureance that is valid in all of them ($$$).

      After that it would be smoothe sailing from I-5 in San Diego up to (I think) Homer Alaska...asside from the 'migra' agents searching the hell out of your vehicle. Once you get to Homer, you'd have problems. The Provedeniya route is limited, the best bet would be to sell the car in Alaska and head by boat to Dutch Harbor. There you could try booking a bearth on a Russian cargo ship to Madagan Siberia or Vladivostok. Try to buy a Toyota HiLux (the Taliban drove them, and they are the staple of every third world country with a different diffinition of the word "road"). The best would be to get to Magadan because then you could drive to Yakutsk but be prepared to get special permission from the Russians to enter in Madagan...a bribe might succeed). Last I heard, Yakutsk to Irkutsk was still drivable in the winter but sketchy during the summer (permafrost...drop by the museum of permafrost studies in Yakutsk and enjoy "milk tar" with the locals) from there, you would probably be prevented by the army from driving further (but who would not want to see Lake Baikal in Irkutsk?) by this time you would have already accumalated enough 'macho points' and a massive credit card debt so you could just continue on to Moscow with the Trans-Siberian railroad or you might want to pay through the nose and get your HiLux put on the train to let you off in Ekaterinburg and drive through there to the Black Sea. When there you would have the tough choice of proceeding through Russia through Georgia (civil war with muslim fundies in the north), Armenia (occasional war with Azerbaijan) and Turkey (war with PKK) or go the long way of Ukraine (bribes), Romania (Bribes), Bulgaria (beatings and bribes) and Turkey (shitty bribes).

      Istanbul is cool, hang out there for a while at a youth hostel, make Australian girls lust after you.

      From there your only choice is to drive through Syria. Hope you can get the car through and hope you don't have a Jewish sounding name or have been to Isreal (they will call it 'Occupied Palestine'..use that term to not get your car confiscated).

      You Cannot drive from Syria to Lebanon to Isreal, so your best bet is to go through Jordan (use 'Occupied Palestine' as the term again to get some tea. The term for bribe is 'Baksheesh' offer it by asking if there is any way that they can help you).

      Going from Jordan to Isreal should be doable. Be prepared to answer alot of questions from the IDF, explain to them that you are a nutball with alot of money or so into debt that you hope to be killed in Africa.

      Isreal to Egypt...probably doable, depending on the politics at the time. But from Egypt it will be tricky.

      You may be able to cross into the Sudan from Egypt at Wadi Halfa but the Sudan is kinda pissed at the US right now (marry a Swiss person in Istanbul if you can...they have an excellent dental plan as well) and US citizens are forbidden from entering Libya by the US state department (I hear the Libyans don't stamp your passport but also don't like the fact that you have been in Isreal) This is where your trip would most likely stop without getting on a plane. If you could cross in the Sudan you would be stopped by the military as you got near the South, where they have been having a civil war for about 20 years and what little roads exist are probably unpassable. In Libya you would have to drive at night through the Sahara along routes used by illigal immigrant smugglers from Niger....Lots of bandits, and the desert might kill you before you got to Niamy or Mali.

      You also couldn't get around The Democratic Republic of Congo, due to poor roads and "Africa's World War" going on. It is also unlikely that you would be able to get past Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda as well.

      Not to worry though , going to Isreal would have stopped you from getting this far to begin with.

      I pulled my hair out planning this trip a few years ago, but I was not going to drive, just try to see how far I could get without using an airplane while seeing as much land as possible.

      Plan a short version of the trip and you'll have a blast. Traveling is great.
      • But I'd be hesitant to do it with an Israel stamp in my passport.

        See This Site [] for one example, he mentions several others he met doing the same thing.

        A couple other notes: A "Hi-Lux" is basically a 4-runner. The Land Cruiser is the flagship and the real workhorse.

        One option that I've heard of that works for entering internationally blacklisted countries is to have two passports. Most of the people I've know have had duel citizenship, but others have just managed to get a second passport "somehow". Usually that is only effective if you plan to reenter the "somewhat friendly" country after your visit to the "unfriendly" country. I knew this to be used from Zimbabwe to South Africa back when ZA was the censured country. The main passport only showed entry and exit to Zimbabwe. The "reserve" passport had lots of border crossings from Zimbabwe to South Africa.

        • The Land Cruiser is the flagship and the real workhorse

          I'd say that the Land Rover is the real workhorse of OR driving. Entering SA with a Japanese car? Pish.

          (teasing all my friends who own _very_ well made Toyota SUVs ;-) )

          97 Disco
          94 D90

  • This feat is not as easy as it sounds

    This doesn't sound very easy at all to me. I don't usually think of Alaska and Siberia being connected, and I'd imagine crossing the ice between them would be quite hazardous.

    • Well, he is referring to this hysteria that the north polar icecap has been reduced to slush already.

      Obviously, from the photos on the websites mentioned (except for the LATimes hysterical sky falling/cap melting article), the area where the crossig is being attempted is solid and rugged.

      As for others that expand the hysteria to all of this being caused by humans, well that is just another item for to deal with.
      • The Bering Strait is ice-covered, but IIRC it's never really solid. The currents are too strong, so the ice keeps moving, in the form of lots of solid slabs grinding together. The trick is not to fall into the cracks between floes and not to get tipped over by the ridges, etc., raised by collisions between floes. A really big "snowmobile" would help with the first two problems, but it can't be too big or you'll run the risk of smaller floes sinking under the weight.

        Also, there's the problem of navigating on floes that are drifting at several mph. Does GPS work well up there? The worst navigation error would be to wind up on a floe drifting away from the rest.
        • Ahh, thanks for the info and hope you get modded up as informative!

          Does GPS work well up there?

          GPS will work fine, should be little problem picking up 3+ satellites (only need a 4th for altitude and you already kow you are at sea level for real) and your GPS plots you to a real location that without the errors introduced by other nav. methods.
  • by cscx ( 541332 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @08:09PM (#3301078) Homepage
    ...they're on track to reach the Big Diomedes islands, which lie across the date line, thereby proving it's possible to do this. This feat is not as easy as it sounds...

    I think they are overanalyzing this. To cross the International Date Line regardless of weather, one would only need a time machine...
  • commuting (Score:5, Funny)

    by CmdrTaco (editor) ( 564483 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @08:13PM (#3301092)
    Who knows, this may set a new trend for rectruiting firms in Alaska. Work in Alaska by day, live in cheap Siberia by night! On paper, a 56 mile commute doesn't seem so bad... they'd only tell you that it's over a field of ice floes after you sign the deal. Of course, this section of Alaska probably has less than a burdgeoning tech industry.
    • Don't laugh. I lived in Alaska for many years and knew folks who went to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks by day and commuted 60 or so miles to thier ultra cheap log cabins by night. Cabins with no plumbing mind you. You'd be surprized where you'll find techies and what they'll cook up... no plumbing but they had electricity and phone somehow. I hear you can even get Cable broadband now in some of he small communities along the Al-Can highway.

      Ofcourse I'm living in Bavaria now so I don't keep up with things Alaskan as much as I should.
  • I saw a TLC program a month or so ago, where they used some specialized trucks to drive accross antarctica... They had some problems with huge ravines and blown tyres, frozen motor oil, etc. etc. but they made it.
    Note: it _could_ have been the arctic, i forget now... but it's awesome all the same.
    • It was the antartic. They used, IIRC, big Toyota Land Cruisers with very fat tires set to something like 4psi. They also had these really long extension bars front and back to keep the from falling into bottomless ice cracks. For the most part it looked no much worse than a simple drive to the store, at least like a drive to the store here in Wisconsin...

      It looks like a fun adventure crossing the Bering Strait. I really like the screw propulsion. I don't think those guys are going to have any real issues, other than politcal.
  • At least it's shorter than the Iditarod. In the Tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and more), there was a mock contest running on the local sports radio station that had tickets to sit on one of the sleds at the Iditarod for the entire race. Of course, they also promised that they would do all of the winners' work and homework and the like, so it was pretty easy to spot (I happen to be very gullible).
  • Truck on snowy mountainpeak.
    Truck in middle of desert on 5,000 ft verticle igneous intrusion.
    Truck standing valiently atop glacial ice peak.
    Truck conquering lunar crater.
    Truck dodging Russian customs officials after traversing Bering Strait.
  • by beowulf_26 ( 512332 ) <beowulf_26 AT hotmail DOT com> on Sunday April 07, 2002 @08:17PM (#3301104) Homepage
    They fail to mention the reason that the Russians denied access was because their sattelite intelligence showed that the "specially built vehicle" was going to deposit four Tanyas and an Engineer.
    • by rosewood ( 99925 )
      I am truely sorry I am banned from moderating and I wish I had some mod points

      This made me giggle like a girl
    • "They fail to mention the reason that the Russians denied access was because their sattelite intelligence showed that the "specially built vehicle" was going to deposit four Tanyas and an Engineer. "

      Well they do have a legit concern. Thanks to Edison, they could no longer legally build Tesla Coils.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 07, 2002 @08:19PM (#3301109)
    Two brothers in North Carolina [] have apparently developed a new transportation device, which allows you to move through the air. They're calling this vehicle an aeroplane, or plane for short. Initial tests look very promising, and some of the designs [] look good.

    I think something like this would be incredibly useful for getting from Alaska to Sibera both easily and quickly. Ice is very slippery! Perhaps one day you could even fly from major US cities such as New York to major Russian cities like Moscow. Give it a century, and these aeroplanes will be everywhere!
  • "Driving"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wheel Of Fish ( 305792 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @08:20PM (#3301115) Homepage
    If they're floating on water some of the time, are they really "driving" from Alaska to Siberia? If that thing were to navigate across a lake, I wouldn't say it's done the impossible by "driving" across the lake. If it did the whole thing while touching solid ice, it'd make more sense.

    I'm not saying that this isn't an amazing feat; on the contrary, I think the term makes it seem like what they're doing is easy, and we may all be able to do it soon enough. I'm still waiting for word on when that giant bridge is gonna go up.
    • I wish the article had been more detailed on this point. Are they 100% planning to "drive" over water to make the trip, or is that ability just a safety precaution?
      • Well, that thing doesn't look all that seaworthy, even though it floats, so I hope there's plenty of ice for them...
      • I think the idea is that if the ice breaks up beneath them they can climb back onto solid ice. Otherwise this would all be kind of silly. We've had boats that can navigate icey water for years.
    • You'd think a hovercraft would be a better vehicle, too.
      • > You'd think a hovercraft would be a better vehicle, too.

        Looks like they're going over pretty lumpy stuff at times, could be tough on skirts. These things have tracks as well as the screw things.
        Fans would probably need deicing systems which will reduce the efficiency.
  • Amphibious vehicle? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @08:23PM (#3301122) Homepage
    While it looks like quite an amazing feat regardless, there are some pictures of that special vehicle floating in water; if it is amphibious, it kind of streteches the definition of "driving" across. If at times you're floating, it is sort of like taking a boat when necessary.
  • ... They're halfway across the 'bridge': Bill: "This bridge is pretty shaky, who was the engineer of this thing?" Ted (looks at travel guide): "God." Bill: "Oh, he's good. Well then it must be safe..." *Ice shifting in background* Good luck!
  • Oh my... (Score:5, Funny)

    by OgdEnigmaX ( 535667 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @08:27PM (#3301137)
    For the love of God, or Webster, or both Funk and Wagnalls, it's Arctic, not Artic.

    A little review...

    Artic []

    Arctic []

    Artic []

    Arctic []

    • Oh for the love of God, or King James, or Shakespeare, it's "thou" not "you". A hundred years from now people may read "Arctic" in some old book and the teacher will inform her students that "this is the archaic spelling of Artic".

      • Re:Oh my... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by NonSequor ( 230139 )
        I'm completely in favor of bringing back "thou." You may have noticed various attempts at pluralizing "you." These efforts are pointless as "you" is already plural. "Thou" is the singular form. At some point in the past the speakers of the English language collectively decided to be excessively polite and address everone using the more formal "you." So now we refer to a party with whom we are speaking by means of a plural pronoun, regardless of whether or not more than one person is being addressed.

        By the way, a comparison using Google as an ad hoc measure of the popularity of a spelling of a word showed "arctic" to be vastly more common than "artic." "Artic" is little more than a common misspelling of "arctic."

        • Re:Oh my... (Score:4, Funny)

          by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Monday April 08, 2002 @12:03AM (#3301678) Journal

          I'm completely in favor of bringing back "thou." You may have noticed various attempts at pluralizing "you." These efforts are pointless as "you" is already plural.

          That's why I'm so glad to live in Virginia, where I can use "you" (or better yet, y') for the singular and "y'all" for a group. In more formal settings, "you all" is applied to the group. If it's a crowd full of snobs, just use "you" and assume they can deduce the meaning from context. You can also use "everybody" to refer to a group of snobs. Unless they are also grammar nazis, they will assume that "everybody" is short for "everybody in the room". Of course, if you have to speak to a room full of Yankee grammar nazis, may God have mercy on your soul. Maybe some day those Yankee bumpkins will figure out how to talk. :)

        • The difference between "thou" and "you" has nothing to do with number. It's all about familiarity: "thou" is the familiar form (used with pals, family and subordinates) and "you" is the formal form (used with strangers, superiors, etc.) It's exactly like the difference between "tu" and "usted." Both "thou" and "you" can function as singular or plural, although in a group situation you'll tend to use the more formal form (this goes for contintental Spanish as well as early modern English)-- probably erring on the side of safety (wouldn't want the serfs thinking you like 'em.)
  • I consider myself a political fence rider--let me just get that out there now. The latimes article at the end of the article just sucked the life out of me. It directly describes the weird discomfort of a way of life ending(?)--certainly changing. 'Figure those people have been there 2500 years. They've adapted to the worst imaginable environment on earth and suddenly within a decade, it's all different! That's just beyond my comprehension.

    I think that was the first time I ever read something and thought "Crap, it could all be CO and Methane by the time my unborn kids are old enough to drive." That's some scary shit to think at 22.

    These are the kind of environmental articles that get my attention. It's not some steven seagal-like attempt to blame it all on big business nor an impassioned plea to adopt neo-luddite policies. It offers no solution (at least it hadn't when I got to the point I could no longer read it). It just throws out the facts and leaves and unspoken challenge to do something about it.

    Who the fuck knows what's going on with our planet, but until we can figure out a way to break free of this solar system, maybe we should be taking better care of the place. Maybe that's just me though and I should be modded down for being a flamebait-throwing, karma seeking troll.

    I just wanted to go on record there.....

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I live in OR, on the coast. Whale watching is a major tourist trap down here. Everyone down here has noted (including scientists) that the population of grey whales has rebounded significantly this year, and their health is MUCH better.

      Despite the rather fatalist view of the article, there is a LOT of fluctuation in nature, and really, we're only beginning to notice it now, methinks, because we're far enough along in our record keeping...
    • I wanted to write in with the same sentiment, that it's ironic that the most significant story on /. today is a link added almost as an afterthought. Look at some of the other stories up today... A new JPG standard? A PC made out of a toolbox? The frigging ice on the planet is melting and we're going to end up washed up, for pete's sake! I know the tech-friendly demographic of people on /. who seldom see the big blue room are inclined to downplay the environmental impact tech has, but the mindset demonstrated here is simply staggering.

      That having been said, what we do about this `unspoken challenge' seems to be the nub of the matter. Personally, I'm all for tech. I just think it could be approached differently. It's much easier for media and environmentalist groups to trace the symptom of ecological devastation to tech and industry, but that's just another symptom.

      The real killer here is that there is so much tech and industry. There has to be, to fulfill society's collective demand. There wouldn't be so much demand if there weren't so much society. There's too many people, people! How much more simple could it be? People write it off as an insoluble problem so easily, and then turn around and do work like this on human cloning [], conveniently forgetting and contributing the problem they'd written off as supposedly insoluble.

      Fact is, it isn't insoluble. It'll be solved, if nothing else, when we grow to the planet's limit, pushing out every species `useless' to us in the process, and face starvation in the midst of an ecological backlash. So the problem will be solved sooner or later; the only thing we get to choose is how.

      Stop breeding! Would it really be so bad, a few generations where two people get together and produce a total of one offspring? Every time a suburban couple gets together and says to one another, "How many children do you want, dear? Six? Seven?" what they're really saying is, "It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things how many children we produce. It's a decision we can base purely on our individual preference. It'll just mean bulldozing a few more acres of rainforest somewhere, that's all. And we can do as we like with them, they do belong to mankind after all." More specious Manifest Destiny reasoning. These are the people who believe that life survives by going to the supermarket. Just because we've taken to living in large boxes and don't have to look at it doesn't mean we aren't part of the food chain. Not that there's much of one left, as we're destroying biodiversity at an alarming pace, meaning that when the climate does shift as it's doing there won't be enough species able to cope or adapt to continue a viable natural food chain. So many millions of years of natural selection, gone in just a few thousand years. But that's okay, because in the meantime we can breed without a second thought, carry our toolbox PC's to LAN parties, and hovercraft across the Northwest Passage area when it melts in a few years. I'm sorry, but if you want my participation in such massive devastation I'd need a much better bribe than that. Honestly, most of the people in our society aren't even happy with the lives they have from such destruction. Hardly seems worth it, does it?

      For an extremely insightful look at our society's mindset, and an examination of how it impacts the world, I highly recommend Ishmael [] by Daniel Quinn. Life-changing stuff.

      • Industrialized nations are already down to simple replacement breeding (I believe the US runs a little high due to our continued agriculture, something like 2.4 kids/couple, but it's counterbalanced by countries like Sweden and Japan that run as low as 1.8. 2.1 is considered replacement). Population is continuing to grow because live expectancy continues rising, but we are definately headed towards a steady state within the next 20 years.

        The problem is MENA and sub-Saharan Africa. The MENA countries are in some ways bigger problems, because they are by and large uppper-middle class countries (though they've slipped in recent years), so they have low infant mortality rates, but they have not experienced the drop in fertility that Asia did during its rise to industrialization. Sub-Saharan Africa is a different problem; they're still poor, so they have an abysmally low life expectancy, but they make up for it by having an absurdly high number of children (Nigeria has a fertility rate of over 8! Can you even imagine that, if the AVERAGE woman in America had 8 children, to say nothing of the statistical outliers).

        So, all you folks who want us to breed less, you're preaching to the choir. Women in industrialized countries are just too busy to want to take care of a half dozen children. As the costs for having children rises (both real money spent for things like education, and the potential income sacrificed by women staying home to look after the kids), families will choose to have fewer kids. You can see it happening in the world today, and as incomes rise, it will just keep happening.

        • The problem is MENA and sub-Saharan Africa.

          I don't dispute that birth rates in less developed countries is higher. However, if I choose to have one child, think about the resources this child will consume. Computers, rides to school, movies, music, ballet class. Education. My time; my spouse's time. 15+ years of educators' time. All the books I can find. Fresh food shipped from Brazil. Thousands of dollars of health care. Any opportunity that I can give this child, I will.

          Now think about the resources a child born in Uganda will consume. Okay, really think about it. If its lucky, food on a regular basis. If its lucky, a set of clothing that fits, and a couple shots.

          The comment that we here in the developed world should think about our breeding is not without merit. It's true that other places have more kids. But they're using so much less. Now, I can't do a whole lot about women in Nigeria who have, on average, eight kids.

          But I can recognize that if I choose to have kids here, I'm placing a bigger burden on the planet with my one than all eight of that woman's.

          • ...but they're using so much less... What you are failing to realize is that eventually that poor Ugandan child (multiplied rather a lot of course, plus all the other countries where it will have analogues) will eventually get pissed off about the lack of resources they have. Thanks to export of Western culture, they will hear of this wonderful place where the streets are made of gold, nobody has to work, and everything is given to you. They'll either come to where they think that place is and in all likelihood, be unable to find that world, or simply hate from afar. They'll be pissed off and resentful. More folks who don't like the west and would be more than happy to have it pulled down from it's high horse. It's not simply resource consumption where this causes a problem. Marx may have been off on some things, but it doesn't take a genius to see that widening gaps between haves and have nots causes a problem.
      • Stop breeding! Would it really be so bad, a few generations where two people get together and produce a total of one offspring?

        While I agree with your sentiments, the problem ain't the average Slashdot reader. Check out the Population Reference Bureau" []. Especially useful is their DataFinder feature. Compare stats for "developed" vs. "less-developed" world regions. The developed world has a birth rate of 11 (per 1000 people) vs. a death rate of 10. That's just about replacement breeding, with a project 4% increase by 2050. Less-developed regions, on the other hand, have a birth rate of 25 vs. a death rate of you a 58% projected population increase by 2050! That's staggering. There's similar differences by economic class within developed regions (poorer people breeding much more than wealthier people).
    • by Snafoo ( 38566 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @09:52PM (#3301341) Homepage
      Really. I had the opposite reaction; I found that article to be precisely the sort of maudlin self-contradictory guck that makes me question my staunch (medium-far) leftist politics.

      The article runs: Scientists are chatting up the elders of this ancient people to better understand how warm weather is destroying 2500 years of tradition; but, wait, at least on the Siberian side of things, the Soviets got there first, and all the elders that actually knew anything about hunting are all dead; the current batch has only been going at this hunting thing since the death of the Soviet Union; oh, and a few centuries back the Artic was waaay warmer than it was until recently, and the climate swing killed a bunch of guys then, too; but it's all really sad and stuff that more scientists aren't willing to forsake their precious 'facts and figures' to really *talk* to these wonderful, hardy, precious little men and women.

      *Bleech*. Yet another make-work puff-piece assignment for a journalist who apparently knows that any contradiction can make sense if you tart it up in the right sort of narrative.

      I could go on. However, I'll close with one final question: Why in God's name do Americans still refer to the Inuit as 'Eskimos'? It shows all the social sensitivity of 'negro' or 'indian'.
      • Why in God's name do Americans still refer to the Inuit as 'Eskimos'? It shows all the social sensitivity of 'negro' or 'indian'.

        As a Canadian living (legally) in the U.S.A., I've asked a few people that when they used the term "Eskimo". I explained, that it essentially means "eater of raw meat", and while true to an extent, is regarded as an insult (heck, I like steak tartare too). Canadians have used the more politically correct term "Inuit" for quite some time now. The response I get is usually one of shock and ignorance: "Really? I didn't know that!" suggesting that any offence is unintentional. I usually explain the difference and let people chose what terms to use in the future. (I'm not about to be the political correctness police).

        • > I explained, that it essentially means "eater of raw meat".

          This probably isn't true though so many people believe it that it might as well be. It in reality probably describes something to do with the lacing of a snowshoe, and is from the Algonquin language Montagnais rather than an Abenake dialect as was originally believed.

          See more or less any online dictionary for more information, also some more detail at:

          here []

          If you haven't dealt with Algonquin languages before, the 'Goddard' mentioned there is essentially the most reknown Algonquinist there is. If there is anyone who is able to correctly speak on things as difficult as dead Algonquin languages it is he.

          Of course since the word is perceived as offensive already, there is little else we can do but treat it as offensive. Words such as Inuit are perhaps more accurate, anyways.

          It is very rare that a native american tribe actually (historically) has a name for itself; hence so many of them are named by other tribes, resulting in persistant (sometimes true) rumors about the insulting nature of these names. (Most that are still around have of course adopted names from some source by now)
          • Thanks for the correction and references. "Eskimo" as "eater of raw meat" was taught as fact to school children in 1970s Quebec. I should probably have verified my sources better.
            • Oh I don't think it's really your fault or under your control that you made that mistake - as the link I gave suggests near the bottom of it, more or less all of Canada switched to near official use of 'inuit' because of the common belief (and pressure from Inuit political groups) that 'eskimo' did mean 'eater of raw meat'. I don't imagine you're alone among Canadians, and most Americans who know anything about the word probably believe the same.

              Language myths like these have a strange way of spreading very easily, and being totally unkillable once they do. There is something very believable about strange claims about little known languages.
      • and the climate swing killed a bunch of guys then, too;

        Could be. They disappeared. Could've been like the Vikings during the cold snap, who moved south into Europe on their neighbors, who moved in on their neghbors, who... yeah. Or like several other cultures in warmer regions, such as the Maya and, if memory serves, the Inca, who had great stone structures that are the only things that stand as a testament to the fact that they were there. Neighboring peoples refer to (I think it's the Maya) as "those who left". Not entirely discouraging to imagine of a civilization that had its problems, but was still socially cohesive enough to pick up and head somewhere else for a new kind of life when their ways didn't work.

        I do see what you mean about a puff-piece though. And like most articles it sells itself on being sensationalistic, even if this one is slyly so. I don't think the mercantilism behind the article necessarily negates the ecological situation though.

        Why in God's name do Americans still refer to the Inuit as 'Eskimos'? It shows all the social sensitivity of 'negro' or 'indian'.

        My guess? For the same reason journalists refer to someone by name, add a comma, and tell the reader who the heck this person is. Considering how often Inuit are referred to by the media, and the average level of education, `Eskimo' is something the people of this culture recognize (if as nothing but where all those Eskimo Pies come from).

      • Hrm. I think I see what you mean about the article, but I didn't feel like it was that bad. It seemed like the journalist presented all the different facts without blaming anybody at all. And without making the contradiction that you describe.

        And the journalist was trying to explain why the locals sometimes distrust the scientists. Well explained. Facts were presented, not a position. It seems like a trite, sad story because what is actually happening is a sad story. The descriptions of previous climate swings killing other people is there precisely to suggest that there might not be a good solution.

        Iduno. Maybe I'm just used to college-grade maudlin guck, so professional-grade maudlin guck fools me completely. I liked the article a lot.
      • It shows all the social sensitivity of 'negro' or 'indian'.

        You mean, like the "American Indian Movement"?

        "Native American" is a catch-all term invented by the US Department of the Interior that lumps together peoples as disparate as Inuit, Samoans, Nez Perce, Yuma, and Seneca. "Indian" is a *more* specific term, as it generally doesn't include various Polynesians and Micronesians and folks from tribes outside the continental US.

        I've neber known an Indian who was offended by the term "Indian"; those who take offense to that term seem mostly to be well-meaning but self-important staunch white leftists who wouldn't know the difference between a Susquehanna and an Apache. "Native American" is generally to be avoided, but what they'd really rather for you to call them is their real name.
    • Study a little history and/or geology. Climate changes. Humans have adapted their lifestyles to these changing climates for a long time. Realizing that the climate is changing, and that this will have cultural impacts, isn't by itself reason to freak out.

      Look, I live in Seattle -- a city which, just 10,000 years ago, was buried under a sheet of ice three thousand feet thick.

      Or consider Greenland, which is quite inhospitable today but was inhabited by the Vikings in the unusually warm period about a thousand years ago. Then things started to get colder again, and all the (relatively few by modern standards) people who were living there died off. They went through almost the exact reverse of the situation you are describing, but the cause of that climate change was certainly not the actions of humans.

      Note that I'm not making any statements about the degree to which global warming is occurring, how much humans are contributing to it, or how much we should do about it. All I'm saying is that when you say "that's [i.e. climate change on the order of a decade or two] beyond my comprehension," you ought to realize that this is hardly the first time such things have occurred and will certainly not be the last. The planet is a dynamic system, and changes are the norm, not the exception.

  • Taking the Tunnel. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @08:36PM (#3301162) Journal
    They could always wait and take the Bering Straight Tunnel [] when it is completed.

    After the completion of the English Channel Tunnel, this is now seen to be at least in the realm of possibility.

    Heck, there has been some discussion on this [] already.

    • It looks like the group linked to wants the Bering Straights tunnel to be rail-only, so no driving after all. In fact, it looks like it's intended for commercial traffic, not for the general public at all. Good thing too, because being rail-only, you'd have to get Amtrak running trains up there, which put bluntly, ain't gonna happen. They're actually seeking congressional approval to shut down juat about all their lines except the Northeast corridor from Boston to Philadelphia.
      • Why only Amtrak? Are you discounting Russian trains and transport?
      • All long tunnels are rail-only. There are several problems with letting people operate their own vehicles in long tunnels:

        1) you have to vent the exhaust fumes. You can use forced air on short tunnels under rivers, and vent tunnels under mountains, but the Bering Strait tunnel is far too long for that.

        2) individually operated vehicles mean that you'll have accidents. It's difficult to send emergency crews 20 miles into a tunnel.

        3) individually operated vehicles mean that you'll have idiots who run out of gas, or have mechanical breakdowns, etc.

        Customs is also much easier with rail systems on either side. Each country can handle customs at the rail station on its own side, there's never any concern about traffic backing up into the tunnel if you only have a limited number of electric trains that shuttle back and forth through the tunnel. With vehicular traffic, you would really need to have each country operate its customs offices in the other country, with a clear shot on the other side.

        That's a standard practice already, e.g., US Customs clears passengers at many Canadian airports instead of clearing them stateside, but it's always preferable to operate customs on your own territory due to jurisdictional issues.
        • i definately agree that having controlled transportation through a long tunnel has many advantage, but..:

          1. are you saying that exhaust fumes from the controlled transportation (CT) will not need to be exhausted or vented?

          2/3. CT vehicles can also have accidents and mechanical problems. the frequency isn't as great, but the impact when it happens is devistating. when a plane headed for houston then on to Phoenix is grounded for repairs for 2 hours,lots of people are impacted.

          i've taken a train acroos from canada to the US, and the customs isn't any easier than at the drive up window. when you arrive at customs with 300 other people arriveing at the same time, people have to wait. and the train doesn't re-leave untill all people are checked again.
    • This web site ( must be one of the most outdated ones I have seen recently. It is referring in several places to a presentation to be held in July 1997...

      But then again, the plan started in 1906, so what are 5 years without update?

  • ... before global warming melts all of the ice.

    Just think, they could set a world record for driving from New York to Paris that would last
    for a thousand years or so.
  • by GrouchoMarx ( 153170 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @09:09PM (#3301242) Homepage
    Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis already did this, as I recall. Well, they floated [] across. :-)
  • I couldn't copy the text because it is done in Flash, but I was disappointed to see this narrow view of our planet postulated in "Old World" = Europe, and "New World"= The Americas. What has happened to Africa and Australia? Would they be old or new or really really old (as in Australia, which is probably the oldest continent).
    Also, they want to establish an Overland Race around the world from New York to London, wouldn't it be more challenging to go New York to, say Johannesburg?
  • by Peale ( 9155 ) on Sunday April 07, 2002 @09:15PM (#3301254) Homepage Journal
    I must say, I think that's totally cool. I can't believe they denied the entry permit, however.

    It's a shame they couldn't make a permanant roadway (I know, I know, it's 56 miles, but it'd still be cool.
    • Actually, making a permanent roadway will benefit only US and Chukotka, because
      Chukotka itself has no reliable connections (no hard-surface roads, no railroads) with Russia
      • Actually, making a permanent roadway will benefit only US and Chukotka, because Chukotka itself has no reliable connections (no hard-surface roads, no railroads) with Russia mainland.

        Except there is no way you can build a permenant roadway over pack ice. The only way of doing it is by all terrain vehicles.
    • You Can't Believe?! (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think MORE western tourists and other folks need to be denied permit to enter Russia, so that they maybe look at how THEIR countries deal with us. I am a Russian studiing in Canada. I can SEE the U.S. from my Residence's window. Yet, I can't go there. Guess why. No, I don't want to settle there. I just want to hike around the Finger Lakes in NY. You guys are so used to the fact that you can go anywhere while not letting all those "inferior" people into your countries! This has to come to an end. The more publicity such refusals receive, the better.
  • Canadian Winters (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    In Canada the winters have been changing pretty drastically in the past decade.

    I'm 18 years old. I've lived above and below the Arctic Circle, mostly in the Maritimes.

    All of the winters in Canada have been following strange patterns. A really harsh, cold, brutal winter, with a cool summer, followed by a warm winter with lots of freezing rain, followed by a boiling summer, then back to the brutal winter.

    This didn't happen before. I've also noticed much more drastic weather changes then before; especially out East. Normally the Atlantic ocean is a stabilizer, keeping temperatures normal. When I was in St. John's a couple of years ago we had a day in the summer where it was -10(C, for all you Americans) in the morning, and +25 in the afternoon. This was Newfoundland, right on the ocean. Truly terrifying.

    I don't think that the issue here any more is who/ what caused this crazy weather; it might just be the way the world works, it might be man-made global warming. What we have to do now is plan for it; the ice melting creates a lot more problems then the guys in Ottawa or Washington suspect.

    It changes the weather, so the farmers, it causes animals to change their migratory patterns (anyone else in Canada notice the geese leaving at wierd times now?), which causes the hunting and fishing industries to change, which cause the food industries and all of their subsidaries to compensate, etc. etc.

    In a couple of years things will never be the same.
  • A snocat that floats, big whoop. Here the snowland there are zillions of them running around grooming trails for skiers and snowmobiliers. Other than some add ons it seems pretty OEM to me.
  • But it does look kind of fun =)
  • The machine looks like a thing from Junkyard Wars... Just alot prettier.

    It better be for 200,000 pounds.

  • You know, it might be my general mood just now, but after reading Greenspun's job offer, I am outraged.

    He'll be flying around in a quarter million dollar airplane, while some schmoe schleps around driving his books, bicycles and dog bed for thousands of miles all summer long? Not only that, but when he's around, his serf will sleep in a tent outside?

    Sounds like a great way to spend the summer. What a jackass.
    • Indeed. As I posted to a list:

      Still looking after a forced departure from aD?

      Have you lost all self-respect? Are you in need of a regular insults?
      Get your kicks from listening to the crazed rantings of a pompous asshole?
      Do you envy Francis from "Malcolm in the Middle"?

      Well, fret not young masochist, as your ship has come in.

      Highlights include:
      - Sitting hours on end in plush comfort behind the wheel of a Winnebago
      - Hooking up and unhooking RV
      - Ridding the RV of human waste products (cleaning out the shit)
      - Filling RV with gasoline, oil, and LP gas
      - Comfy bed on the ground next to the RV
      - Philip's companionship

      Those with any dignity at all need not apply.

      [If you know Philip like some of us know Philip, this really wasn't too much of a surprise.]
    • Loosen up dude. You're just jealous that he's 38 and retired ,and able to go swanning off in his own airplane.

      Some of us would be happy to just get a cheap holiday somewhere scenic, away from our wife, children and computers for a while, and rest our tired eyes away from our CRT focused life.

      The thought of making that journey sounds cool, you could start you're own web blog about it and really brush up on your photography.

      I think having to drive the SUV for a free holiday is a pretty good trade off.

      It sure sounds like a good way to spend the summer to me.

      Well I've applied and I'm sure he'll get thousands more applicants.

  • It is a boat with wheels. In many pictures they are floating in water. Definatly nothing special except maybe because it is a first.
  • This oughta' do wonders for the ole' karma, but...

    I think I'll stick to living here in South Florida, thank you very much.

  • Why not build a bridge? There's a 8 mile bridge over icy waters in Canada x.htm []

  • There's been a lot of press lately about not only Antarctic ice shelf collapses but also Arctic ice melting. It's causing serious problems for seals, polar bears that eat seals, and Inuit and Siberians who hunt seals and whales, as well as for anybody sailing up there.
  • It's Provideniya, not provodanya.

    afaik all those places on the Russian shore of the Bering strait primarily serve as Air Force bases.
  • Anyone else see a problem with this?


Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!