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The Billion-Dollar Website

thrich81 Re:Did you expect anything else? (194 comments)

Well, I've got karma to burn and this AC got modded up to +2 insightful, so look, the argument that the current President and VP have never run/managed "anything" and so are unsuitable for the positions would be valid EXCEPT that the previous President and VP had vast private sector and government managerial experience (or at least they were sold to us that way) and they screwed up running the country at least as badly as the current administration. So, from observation of the actual, real world experiences we've gone through in the last 15 years it would seem to be clear that previous managerial experience has no correlation with good administration of the Executive branch of the US government.

about a week ago

The Billion-Dollar Website

thrich81 Re:better summary (194 comments)

So we would have been better off hiring the friends of the Bush campaign who did such a bang up job of efficient contracting in Iraq?

about a week ago

3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

thrich81 Re:11 out of 11 (393 comments)

Great list, thanks for doing the research, but I don't think you can pin Apollo 1 on the Saturn 1B at all -- that fire was 100% due to faults in the payload, the Apollo Command Module. In your list I would say the most impressive run is the Saturn 1 -- ten out of ten successes back in the old days, first launch in 1961, and they were using a very early model liquid hydrogen upper stage in the last six flights. If you count the Saturn 1B as just an upgraded Saturn 1, then it was 19 straight successes -- 19 out of 19 attempts.

about two weeks ago

Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

thrich81 Re:And yet (268 comments)

"the reason a government exists is to serve the people, not to earn a profit
- wrong. The reason that governments exist is our inertia, laziness and jealousy. Originally governments were all nobility with the power in hand to kill you."
No, you both are wrong on this count. The reason governments exist is because nation-states with organized governments can out-compete any other form of human organization both economically and militarily. It is conceivable that this is a local minimum in human organizational effectiveness but it has been true for some thousands of years now (often with a closely integrated religion included). This statement of reality says nothing about the desirability or morality of government but it is a statement of fact for now. Will some super-national organizations (multinational corporations) superseded governments some day -- I hope not in my lifetime. As far as the libertarian dream of loosely organized self-reliant bands of free living peoples becoming dominant? -- it's been tried, isn't going to happen.

about two weeks ago

Was America's Top Rocketeer a Communist Spy? The FBI Thought So

thrich81 Re:White Werhner von Braun may be many things... (165 comments)

Issues with this:
1) Just because von Braun may have had a hand in picking some workers does not imply he was fully aware of the conditions in Mittelwerk (location of the underground factories). Do you think he approved of his "hand-picked" technical workers being worked to death?
2) It's not like those slave laborers would have had blissful, easy existences in WWII Germany had they not been building V-2s. They were doomed in any case. There is nothing von Braun could have done about that. And Mittelwerk was used for other industry also, notably V-1 production, too, with which von Braun had no connection.
It was a horrific situation all around, but von Braun didn't set it up and he didn't have the ability to change it once it was in place. Could he have pressed for better conditions -- maybe, but probably to no avail. And von Braun had an uneasy relationship with the authorities; he got arrested once during that time and barely got out of that himself so he wasn't exactly a man with a lot of leverage to challenge the Nazi system by then.

about three weeks ago

Was America's Top Rocketeer a Communist Spy? The FBI Thought So

thrich81 von Braun didn't take his place (165 comments)

von Braun didn't take anyone's place -- he created his own place in Huntsville. The work on rockets on the West Coast and other places in the US continued with little affect by von Braun. For example the Navy's Vanguard project which was supposed to launch the USA's first satellite was a parallel effort to the Army's efforts at Hunstville. And the Air Force developed the Atlas and Titan missiles in other parallel efforts. It just happened that when NASA needed big rockets for Apollo, the Saturn series developed by von Braun's team were the most suitable. Notably, precursors to Apollo, the manned orbital Mercury and Gemini missions, were launched on those Air Force derived boosters. The sentence in the summary is BS. And by all accounts, von Braun was agnostic towards the Nazis, neither a supporter nor a resister, disinterested in politics, but navigating the system he found himself by the time it was too late to get out -- yeah, I know it is more complicated than that, but I don't have a thesis to write here.

about three weeks ago

Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

thrich81 Re:Weakest US President ever (582 comments)

Holy crap, this AC got modded up +2 already? I notice on this story that the stupidest comments so far are all ACs. There should be a rule that whenever someone says how some leader here or there is screwing up, then the commenter is required to say how they would do it better. As everyone who has made it there seems to have found out once elected President of the USA (or Prime Minister of somewhere else), the problems are a lot more complicated when you actually have to deal with them and then the fallout (maybe literally in this case) from your actions. This parent AC is a troll and should be modded as such.

about a month ago

Lawrence Krauss: Congress Is Trying To Defund Scientists At Energy Department

thrich81 Re:Someone has an agenda to push (342 comments)

Care to explain why carbon taxes are bad? Every economist I've read who acknowledges that there are negative externalities with burning carbon based fuels says that the most efficient and non-market distorting way to get the users to pay the cost of the externalities is to impose a carbon tax. Anything else distorts the market for carbon based fuels or you just let the general population bear the cost of the negative externalities irregardless of how the gains from use of the fuels are distributed.

about a month ago

SpaceX Releases Video of Falcon Rocket's Splashdown

thrich81 Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (49 comments)

Hey Mods, but not the idiots who already got to the OP, mod the OP back up, it's not Flamebait. As a total fanboy of SpaceX, I don't totally agree, but there are legitimate points for discussion. I'd say that SpaceX innovations so far are manufacturing and management not extension of spacecraft capabilities, yet. They've got lots of good things in the works but most are not yet demonstrated.

about a month ago

NASA Names Building For Neil Armstrong

thrich81 Re:What, NASA doesn't sell there building naming r (52 comments)

What part of "not only an astronaut, but also as an AEROSPACE ENGINEER, TEST PILOT, and UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR" did you not read in the summary? Nobody worked harder than the early astronauts to get man into space and they were all engineers or scientists. A test pilot is in reality a flying engineer.

about 1 month ago

Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

thrich81 Re:Generating confusion (211 comments)

Hold on there with your Boomer bashing -- someone who is 70 years old NOW is not even a Boomer (missed it by 2 years) and the average age of the Congress people is old, so 10-15 years ago it wasn't Boomers in power but the vestiges of the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation after them. Boomers have only slowly replaced them since. Add that to the outsized influence the older voters in the electorate have and you find that most of the problems blamed on the Boomers (Social Security bankruptcy for one) are actually problems started by their parents.

about a month ago

Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

thrich81 Re:And today (211 comments)

Damn, are memories this short! Constellation, Bush's project for post Shuttle manned space, was underfunded from the very beginning. Read the findings of the Augustine Commission ( which was commissioned by the Office of Science and Technology Policy to review the state of human spaceflight in the US in early 2009. The Commission concluded, "The Committee judged the 9-year old Constellation program to be so behind schedule, underfunded and over budget that meeting any of its goals would not be possible." (quote from the Wikipedia article). I recall seeing the committee head (Norm Augustine) on TV briefing Congress, he basically said that Constellation had spent all its money with little to show for it. The Summary Report from the Commission is available on a NASA website ( and begins with the statements, "The U.S. human spaceflight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory. It is perpetuating the perilous practice of pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources." This was in early 2009 before Obama's first budget.
The committee members were not in any way toadies for the Obama administration but aerospace professionals who knew the business:
Norman Augustine (chairman), former CEO of Lockheed Martin, former chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Future of the United States Space Program[17]
Wanda Austin, CEO of The Aerospace Corporation
Bohdan Bejmuk, former Boeing manager
Leroy Chiao, former NASA astronaut
Christopher Chyba, Princeton University professor
Edward F. Crawley, MIT professor
Jeffrey Greason, co-founder of XCOR Aerospace
Charles Kennel, former director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Lester Lyles, former Air Force general
Sally Ride, former NASA astronaut, 1st American female in space

about a month ago

Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

thrich81 Re:Great example (211 comments)

You also have to remember that the entire American manned space program from Mercury through the Apollo moon landings was in reality just another contest in the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union. Manned space would never have gotten the funding and national priority it got in the 60's without that aspect of it. For many Americans, who were paying the bills, "beating the Russians" was the only reason for it. So to "real leadership and environment that bolsters creative problem solving" I would add, "military level budgets and priorities and wartime sense of urgency". Other than the secrecy of the former, I see little difference between the Manhattan Project and Project Apollo. If you want results on the scale of those projects then it will require similar national level commitment and resources. I've only seen that on endeavors tied to "national security".

about a month ago

Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

thrich81 Re:What if we hadn't? (211 comments)

A little history: By the time of the last Apollo mission to the moon (Dec 1972) US involvement in Vietnam was for all practical purposes over; US direct involvement officially ended in Jan 1973 with the signing of the "Paris Peace Accords". Perhaps an argument could be made that Vietnam took resources which could have gone to Apollo in earlier years, but considering that Apollo had military type budgets and priority through the 60's I doubt it. The period of maximum involvement by the US in both Vietnam and the Apollo program was the same (mid to late 60's). As both were proxy battles against the Soviets in the Cold War, this was not a coincidence. By the early 70's the American people, who were paying the bills for both, were no longer interested in either. However, in what must really be a coincidence, the last mission with Apollo hardware (Apollo-Soyuz) occurred in 1975, the same year that South Vietnam finally fell to the North Vietnam forces, putting a definitive end to that conflict.

about a month ago

Math, Programming, and Language Learning

thrich81 Obligatory Quote by Gauss (241 comments)

TFA tries to make the case (poorly) that Math involves ambiguities and Programming does not.
The greatest of all mathematicians, Carl Friedrich Gauss, stated, "I mean the word proof not in the sense of the lawyers, who set two half proofs equal to a whole one, but in the sense of a mathematician, where half proof = 0, and it is demanded for proof that every doubt becomes impossible."
Not much room for ambiguity in that.

about a month ago

Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine

thrich81 Re:Why fly over a war zone? (752 comments)

In the US Air Force (when I was around it) it was generally slang to refer to all tactical aircraft (including light bombers like A-7s and A-10s) as 'fighters' and their pilots as 'fighter pilots'. This was in contrast to the heavy bombers and transports. The tactical attack aircraft were a lot more similar to the air-to-air fighters than they were to the heavy bombers and often they were dual role anyway. To the general public and press, any small, fast (A-10 is fast in this context), maneuverable military aircraft with weapons is a 'fighter'. And A-10s and SU-25s can carry quite capable air-to-air missiles (AIM-9 for the A-10 and AA-8 for the Su-25) so the distinction even in those cases is not completely clean. I don't think there is a conspiracy here.

about a month ago

With New Horizons Spacecraft a Year Away, What We Know About Pluto

thrich81 Re:Anyone have Cliff Notes? (128 comments)

I dislike replying to an AC, but this sentiment is common enough that I will. Let's examine " You were nowhere before WW2" -- ever heard of Robert Goddard, the American who built and launched the first liquid fueled rocket in 1926? The German rocket programs were largely independent of Goddard's work but following is a quote by Wernher von Braun himself in 1963, "His rockets ... may have been rather crude by present-day standards, but they blazed the trail and incorporated many features used in our most modern rockets and space vehicles." And another quote from von Braun in the same Wikipedia bio of Goddard, "Goddard's experiments in liquid fuel saved us years of work, and enabled us to perfect the V-2 years before it would have been possible." I will not say that the US (and the Soviet Union) didn't get big advances from the German rocket program, but neither country was "nowhere before WW II." Check out Konstantin Tsiolkovsky on the Russian side.

about a month ago

How Deep Does the Multiverse Go?

thrich81 Re:Still nonsense (202 comments)

Although he is a bit abusive I'd cut the AC a bit of slack; your question/comment has been asked several times on this thread and in past ones. The short answer is that space itself can expand faster than the speed of light and so events we observe from a long time ago can be further than c times the time it took for the light to get here. Even events occurring 'now' from regions in space expanding away from us faster than c will eventually become observable to us, although the concepts of distance and time and 'now' can get really tricky under General Relativity. It is all prescribed by General Relativity, or more properly, by some of the easier solutions of the General Relativity field equation which appear to apply to our Universe. You can't use intuition from Special Relativity when the distances and times involved get cosmological. Sorry I don't have a good reference right now, but it's all in Wikipedia (try General Relativity or Hubble Constant or Age of the Universe, maybe). I looked it all up a while back when I got burned (on /.) using my Special Relativity intuition where it didn't apply.

about a month ago

Geographic Segregation By Education

thrich81 Re:Chicken or egg? (230 comments)

" In Austin, people are being priced out of their homes because they voted for every social program out there, and now the taxes are too damn high." -- commonly stated, but bullshit and contradicted by the facts. I own two houses in the Austin area -- one near downtown Austin which I rent out, and one in Williamson County near Cedar Park (suburban, bedroom community to Austin, the anti-Austin politically) where I live. When the two houses were at near identical values the total property taxes on the Williamson County house were HIGHER than the Austin house. The county taxes and and school district taxes were about the same. The Austin Community College taxes were the same. The difference was that the taxes of the Municipal Utility District (entity formed by developers to provide utility services in unincorporated areas normally provided by cities) were higher than the City of Austin taxes. So for the same level of services, I pay more in taxes to the MUD than I would have to the city of Austin -- actually I get fewer services because the MUD has no libraries or "social programs" as Austin has.
The reason that people are being priced out of their homes in Austin is because it is such a desirable place to live that property values are going up rapidly -- my house in Austin has appreciated by a factor of four since I bought it in 1996. Perhaps all those improvements the people of Austin voted for did contribute to the problem because they help to make it such a desirable place to live.

about a month ago

Airbus Patents Windowless Cockpit That Would Increase Pilots' Field of View

thrich81 Re:Why would you do that? (468 comments)

I am a licensed pilot with an instrument rating and a lot of experience from years ago but may not have a typical attitude. Following are some of my rather random thoughts. Pilots are trained to TRUST THEIR INSTRUMENTS unless there is incontrovertible evidence that the instruments are malfunctioning. The times I came closest to crashing or other unpleasant outcomes were when I was trying to fly by eye when I should have been using the instruments to tell me the parameters of flight (both in clear and cloudy conditions), so that is my experience relating to man vs. machine. I think the machines and instruments at the current stage of development are more reliable than the pilots right now. I've seen the processes required for pilot training and licensing and the processes for certification of software in safety critical aviation applications and the software process is more rigorous and the software doesn't get lazy or hungover or inattentive after being certified.
As others have commented this whole thing is going toward pilot-less airliners. As a passenger I don't have a problem with that. Right now the pilots are only there to deal with unusual circumstances and as those are rare, how much confidence do I have that the pilots up front have recent training to deal with the particular problem which has popped up?
On the point of windows, right now the visibility outside of an airliner is pretty poor in my opinion. I suppose a windowless aircraft could be fitted with a periscope for use during a failure of the display screens and the pilots could train to land using that in the 1 in million chance it became necessary. No matter how this is done, the most dangerous part of an airline trip will remain, as it is now, the drive to the airport.

about a month and a half ago


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