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Comment: Instead of labelling content (Score 2) 131

by FatLittleMonkey (#47691563) Attached to: Facebook Tests "Satire" Tag To Avoid Confusion On News Feed

Couldn't they just put a label on the sort of people who not only believe satirical news, but, outraged, spread that "news" to everyone they know.

[Idiot] MagicBob97 shared [link].
[Idiot] catpiss wrote "typical fukink obamu!!!!!! [link]".
[non-idiot] sumdude wrote "uh, guys, teh onion is a satire site".
[Idiot] imtoorealforu shared [link].

Comment: Re:NASA work == public domain, contractor not (Score 1) 160

by FatLittleMonkey (#47691451) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

And further, work done by NASA is public domain, but work done by hired contractors is generally proprietary

Although an outsider, I definitely support your "if the government funds it, the public owns it" open-source efforts.

Re: Games.

Here it's not just proprietary vs open source. Compare KSP and Moonbase Alpha. KSP is an amazingly rich open world simulator that inspires actual "play" and exploration and trial and error. And as you master it, you accidentally learn more about orbital mechanics than by actually studying orbital mechanics. (As former NASA engineer, XKCD cartoonist noted.)

OTOH, Moonbase Alpha is the worst aspects of "grinding" type games, but with no reward. About the most uninspiring game you could possibly create. "Astronaut/Starlite" looks to be cut from the same cloth.

KSP: I built my own rocket and blew it up! Woo! Then I built another one which got to orbit! Now I'm designing a ship for a deep space mission which I'll construct in orbit!
Alpha: I am "soldering" fixed points in someone else's "circuits" against an arbitrary clock. I will see how many circuits I can solder in an hour. And then see if I can beat it.

Moonbase Alpha is mindless drudgery (and I say that as a bookkeeper) that missed not only the entire concept of "a game", but also entirely missed what geeks (and geek kids) like about space.

Comment: Re:Follow the money (Score 1) 160

by FatLittleMonkey (#47685561) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

Flying the same expensive equipment for 30 years and more is not unusual if it lasts that long.

I'm not saying it doesn't happen. B52s are still flying, for example. 60 years next year.

But if you were a mad-obsessed young aircraft engineer looking for a challenge, would you go work at an airline flying five old 707s and mostly doing paperwork for maintenance contractors, or for a manufacturer building brand new aircraft every day, rapidly upgraded model lines, and with a supersonic passenger plane on the books(*)?

(* Trying to think of an aircraft analogy for FalconXX-BFR/MCT.)

Comment: Re:Correction (Score 2) 160

by FatLittleMonkey (#47682815) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

While your general theme is correct, you missed [...] Endeavour

I was going to add a comment about that, but it seemed unnecessarily pedantic. My point was there was no ongoing manufacturing capacity. The same is true of ISS modules, and nearly every other program. Build one unit, stop, disband the team, destroy the manufacturing base, operate the unit for five to ten years and then ask "What next?", start a new system entirely from scratch. Pretend all the while that doing it this way saves money.

For example:

In general, however, I believe we should have started the design and production of a second-generation shuttle during the Bush41 administration

Waiting a decade to begin developing Shuttle Mk II is exactly why NASA sucks so hard. For starters, the first version should have been severely reduced from the ambitions of the actual STS, minimising the number of new technologies for the first generation. Building a 100 tonne space-plane in a single generation was completely nuts. The aim would be whatever you can build in five years, not one day more. Each subsequent generation starts the moment the last first flies. (With early design work starting even sooner.) So the second generation would have started somewhere around 1975, flying by 1980. Third generation flying in '85, fourth generation around '90... But I'm proposing increments that are probably a fraction of the ones you were picturing.

And just to be pedantic, NASA did start work on successors to the Shuttle in that period. So did the USAF. Giant SSTO spaceplanes, like NASP then VentureStar, which repeated every mistake from the STS program. Pushing the state of the art beyond reasonable limits, while insisting that there are "no show stoppers", under-bidding and over-promising, then blowing budgets and under-delivering. Then when you get cancelled, scream for years about funding and a "lack of leadership".

From the other AC:

What about MSL?

MSL went significantly overbudget and overschedule. (Only the gob-smacking failures of JWST makes MSL's budget look reasonable.) But nonetheless, when it landed, people were excited... because NASA had "actually done something". Which suggests that not only are people excited about space, but they are starved for something to be excited about. It's worth noting that, unlike MER, Viking, etc, they built a single version of MSL with no possibility of a backup. Mars 2020 will be based on the same design, but again, will be a single unit. This is a trend at NASA. Like the 8 years between MSL and Mars 2020. Just long enough to lose most of the team, forget most of the lessons learned.

Similarly, not only did MER and MSL not carry any follow-ups to the Viking life experiments, neither will Mars 2020 even though "search for signs of (fossil) life on Mars!" is the centre of the NASA PR for Mars 2020.

Comment: Re:Not Surprising (Score 1) 160

by FatLittleMonkey (#47681431) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

It's no longer "news" to find that a private sector company has a leaner, less bureaucratic environment and workflow than a Federal government agency.

Except almost all work at NASA is done by private contractors. Likewise the development of military technology. The cultural failure extends through the whole aerospace industry except for a few small innovators, of whom SpaceX is the largest.

This isn't just mindless "private sector good, government bad". Most of the harm done to NASA is due to that mindless, unquestioning political belief that the private sector is more efficient... even at government funded programs.

Comment: Re:Not Surprising (Score 2) 160

by FatLittleMonkey (#47681419) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

The poster said "1961". There was a market for commercial satellite launches, there was clearly a value in weather satellites and Landsat type imaging. The military uses for space don't need explaining. So the NASA and Army development in the '50s and very early '60s did indeed create the technology that spawned a commercial space industry.

But during the '60s, the focus shifted from incremental, step-wise development of space technology to the all-in balls-to-the-wall development of Apollo. However, it's important to note that the purpose of Apollo was to develop a heavy lift launcher larger than the Soviets were capable of building and demonstrate it in a way the Soviets weren't capable of matching. It succeeded, and the Soviets pulled their heads in, and everyone signed the Outer Space Treaty. Job done. Last one to the bar buys the first round.

But Apollo wasn't about the myth of Apollo. "We chose to go to the moon in this decade..." blah blah. It was never an exploration program. (For example, only one astronaut amongst the dozen to walk on the moon, just one in the entire Apollo astronaut corps, was an actual geologist. And he only flew on the last ever mission.) Therefore Apollo can't be used to rebut Eepok's explore/commercialise/explore premise.

Comment: Re:Not Surprising (Score 1) 160

by FatLittleMonkey (#47681225) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

Then the military with their 'we-want-it-don't-much-care-how' attitude that brought you the Shuttle Kludge pushed in and pretty much trashed the Shuttle

It's a standard part of the myth, but it's not true. The involvement of the USAF in the Shuttle design came at the request of (and lobbying by) NASA management in order to try to get defence funding for the Shuttle (and when that failed, to just make the Shuttle uncancellable. "National security!" It's part of the reason why the Shuttle (and now SLS) used SRBs, to keep ATK profitable, to preserve ICBM production knowledge.) The USAF initially bought into the bullshit being spread by NASA about the Shuttle's proposed capabilities ("launch once a week, cost under $100m per launch!"), but never enough to contribute funding. And then when the true limits and costs of the Shuttle became apparent, they pulled all involvement and funded the EELV upgrades.

The problems of the Shuttle were entirely of NASA's own making. Likewise "Freedom", now ISS. Likewise JWST. Likewise Constellation/SLS/Orion. Likewise their other failed programs. They, and their strongest supporters in Congress, keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and expecting a different result.

Comment: Re:Not Surprising (Score 1) 160

by FatLittleMonkey (#47681085) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

Adding procedures is easy, removing procedures is hard.

Adding procedures is usually like a bug-fix in a program, correcting for unintended behaviour or interaction in the other procedures. But reducing procedures is more like scrapping an entire code-base and starting with a blank sheet. Exciting, but much bigger and much riskier. (And more likely to go wrong and piss people off. See Slashdot Beta.)

Comment: Re:Not Surprising (Score 3, Insightful) 160

by FatLittleMonkey (#47681043) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

So, who funded the Native Americans who found the "New World" thousands of years before he did?

Their community.

Each explorer of the next-valley-over was reared and fed and protected and trained by the rest of the tribe through mostly communal ownership of major resources. The explorer then returned with news of bounteous herds of Caribou (or clams or whatever) and gave that knowledge to the entire tribe to replay their tolerance for his youthful indulgence. They, in turn, shared the new wealth amongst the whole tribe. The idea that the explorer alone would claim rights to the new land/resource for himself and "sell" access to the others would be so foreign to the tribe they wouldn't understand what the words mean.

[Occasionally, one presumes, groups might break off from the main tribe and forge ahead into the new land, due to politics or ambition. But even then, the ownership of the new resource was shared amongst the break-away tribe.]

Comment: Re:Follow the money (Score 4, Insightful) 160

by FatLittleMonkey (#47680901) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

NASA isn't hot because it hasn't done anything since they retired the Space Shuttle in 2011.

I would suggest that the current malaise at NASA extends through the Shuttle program. Operating a first generation prototype for over a quarter of a century? Hell, just flying the same five vehicles for a quarter of a century (not even replacing those that crashed) is hardly a sign of a place that will thrill an innovative young engineer. It's more like a railway museum than a space agency.

Comment: Re:Japan is still pretty backwards in some ways (Score 1) 143

by FatLittleMonkey (#47673519) Attached to: Telegram Not Dead STOP Alive, Evolving In Japan STOP

It's been seriously suggested. It would provide them with a secondary income stream, increase the number of "banks" in poorer neighbourhoods (which often have a post office but no bank branches, precisely where people often need physical rather than electronic banking), and would thus replace a lot of pay-day-loan/cheque-cashing/pawnshops which do flock to poorer neighbourhoods and charge extortionate fees/interest, thus saving those communities tens of billions of dollars a year. There's about 60 million Americans who lack access to financial services who could benefit from a Postal Bank.

And, of course, the USPS was a savings bank until the '60s.

Here's a report from the USPS Inspector General. (pdf)

But the current Postmaster General is apparently a classic CEO, an MBA idiot who advocates branch closers, service cuts and fee hikes to "save" the post office. And Obama, of course, is terrified to take on the large banks.

Comment: Re:I don't get it. (Score 2) 537

by FatLittleMonkey (#47648213) Attached to: Geneticists Decry Book On Race and Evolution

even though no one is saying that the differences make anyone "superior" or "inferior" to anyone else, merely "different".

Except, you know, the author of the book being discussed, who specifically did rank races by their superiority. (Whites are genetically predisposed to civilisation, blacks to tribal living, Chinese to business, etc.)

Instead of what you said, I think it's the opposite: Whenever people object to the abuse of their research to support a racist/ideological agenda, people like you scream "That's political correctness!" without even attempting to understand what the objections are.

Biology is the only science in which multiplication means the same thing as division.