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Comment: Re:Russian rocket motors (Score 1) 62

by Bruce Perens (#49787045) Attached to: SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches

Russia would like for us to continue gifting them with cash for 40-year-old missle motors, it's our own government that doesn't want them any longer. For good reason. That did not cause SpaceX to enter the competitive process, they want the U.S. military as a customer. But it probably did make it go faster.

Also, ULA is flying 1960 technology, stuff that Mercury astronauts used, and only recently came up with concept drawings for something new due to competitive pressure from SpaceX. So, I am sure that folks within the Air Force wished for a better vendor but had no choice.

Comment: Context (Score 3, Informative) 62

by Bruce Perens (#49782349) Attached to: SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches

This ends a situation in which two companies that would otherwise have been competitive bidders decided that it would cost them less to be a monopoly, and created their own cartel. Since they were a sole provider, they persuaded the government to pay them a Billion dollars a year simply so that they would retain the capability to manufacture rockets to government requirements.

Yes, there will be at least that Billion in savings and SpaceX so far seems more than competitive with the prices United Launch Alliance was charging. There will be other bidders eventually, as well.

Comment: Re:Compares well (Score 2) 408

No-fault is about taking money away from lawyers, who used to litigate each and every auto accident as a lawsuit in court before the insurers would pay. Eventually the insurers decided that they spent more on lawyers than accident payments, and they had no reason to do so.

If you want to go back to the way things were, you are welcome to spend lots of time and money in court for trivial things, and see how you like it. I will provide you with expert witness testimony for $7.50/minute plus expenses. The lawyers charge more.

In general your insurer can figure out for themselves if you were at fault or not, and AAA insurance usually tells me when they think I was, or wasn't, when they set rates.

Comment: Re:More than $100 (Score 1) 515

If we don't have more than two children per couple, the human race would've died out a long time ago.

I think the proper way to state that is "If we didn't in the past", not "If we don't". If we were to have 2 children per couple (approximately, the real value is enough children to replace each individual but not more) from this day on, it would not be necessary to adjust the number upward to avoid a population bottleneck for tens of thousands of years.

Comment: Re:$30 (Score 1) 515

The Northern California Amtrak is actually pretty good for commuting from Sacramento to the Bay Area and back because the right of way is 4 tracks wide in critical places and it has priority over other trains for much of the time.

Acela in the Boston/NY/DC corridor is also good, because the right of way is 4 tracks or more for most of the way, and it has a track to itself along a lot of the route. Other railroads run on parallel tracks.

For the most part, though, Amtrak suffers from not having exclusive track. It runs on freight lines that host cars so heavy that the rail bends an inch when the wheels are on top of it (I've seen this first hand).

Comment: Re:More than $100 (Score 1) 515

No. If anything, I assert that good trains are a hallmark of the set of good economic policies that lead to the general well-being of the citizenship.

Poor people are poor because they can't get jobs. One of the reasons is that they can't get to jobs. Can't afford a reliable car and insurance and gas in the US? Can't work! Too often, that's the equation.

The other reasons they are poor are that we were equally bad in investing in other things we should have spent more upon publicly, like good primary education. This is caused by more wealthy folks not wanting to pay the necessary taxes.

Comment: Re:More than $100 (Score 1) 515

I have a lawn and there are turkeys and quail in the front yard today and we can hear the coyotes howling some nights (that's on the edge of Berkeley where it meets Contra Costa county). If I want to be in San Francisco, I have to get to the train station, which is a mile away (convenient, by the way, to lower income homes). And then it's all train from there, under the Bay, out again in the middle of the city.

In two more years, I will be able to get to San Jose that way. Right now, that is an hour and twenty minute drive if I start at 6 AM, and two hours if I start later. It will be a shorter time on the train, more relaxing, a hell of a lot safer, and will allow me to work on the way.

This is what railroad transportation can mean for people with lawns.

Comment: Re:$30 (Score 1) 515

Well, I am not convinced by the auto ownership report that failed to include the purchase price (really!)

I think there's a lot about European behavior you're not taking into account - like the kind of car they actually buy (really small compared to ours) and what they use it for (often, just getting to the railroad station), and the clear indication that car ownership was because of their larger middle class which is itself an indication of better economic policies - like having good mass transit.

I think you have the tax picture wrong, and it's still the better-off people who are contributing the most to mass transit through their taxes.

Regarding the bus, I'm not convinced. The biggest problems are that it can't be connected to electricity efficiently (San Francisco's catenary busses can't exceed 40 MPH while on the wire, and rarely approach that speed because they share the route with cars), it is labor intensive compared to rail, and it has the traffic and safety issues of an automobile. And too often light rail is little better than a bus. It's only when there's an exclusive right-of-way that you get efficiency.

And ultimately there may still be people who vote against mass transit, but they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Comment: Re:More than $100 (Score 1) 515

Europe isn't all apartment buildings. Many people have lawns, roads, and good trains.

If I am going to blame anyone, it's going to be whoever encouraged the general public to have more than two children per couple. Which in our case might be the Old Testament. Not those Native Americans you're talking about.

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