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Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 814 814

The B-52 requires complete air superiority in the area that it operates because it can't hide from radar except by jamming, so just building a new version wouldn't really work. The B-1 has speed on its side (thought not as much as the original specs) and the B-2 has stealth. The tentatively named B-3 is supposed to replace all of the heavy bombers, though the B-2 will probably stick around for a few decades. That's a reasonable goal, unlike that of the F-35.

It's supposed to use mostly existing technologies instead of planning for advances as happened with (and expanded the cost and schedule of) the B-2, F-22, and F-35. Whether they can actually do that is a giant question mark, but the Air Force is allegedly targeting $500 million to $600 million per plane as the final cost.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 814 814

The Harrier can't meaningfully hover with a full weapons load, either, and it really only takes off vertically at air shows. STOVL is short for "short takeoff, vertical landing". They've been planning ramped takeoffs and vertical landings at sea from the beginning, just like the Harrier uses.

I'm not fond of the F-35, but don't ascribe features to its (at least as problematic) predecessor that aren't there.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 814 814

No, because the F-16 was designed as a multi-role fighter and it did extremely well. When it was announced that both the Air Force and Navy would use it, there was concern because of memories of the F-4 (a good plane for its time, but certainly not without its problems) and the compromises it had. When it was announced that it would also replace the Harrier and was planned to become the most common plane in the military, that's when people started fearing the worst.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 4, Interesting) 814 814

The main problem is the Marines wanting a replacement for the Harrier, something that can do STOL/STOVL operations, and that is completely under their control. The JSF was already under development, and the contractors said they could figure out how to make it fit the Marine requirements. What we got was a fighter that can't dogfight, a strike aircraft with a pitifully small payload, and the political impossibility of starting over from scratch.

One of the lessons that came out of this and the Zumwalt-class destroyer programs is that the military should stop trying to cram every feature into a program. While the proliferation of designs led to unwieldy logistics in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the attempts to simplify everything have resulted in a reduced overall capability and the need to extend the lifetimes of planes the new projects were meant to replace. The F-15 and F-16 will still be around for decades, and may form a larger part of the tactical strike platforms than the USAF would like to admit. The same will probably be the case with the F/A-18E against the Navy's F-35C.

Dedicated designs are the most efficient. Some of them turn out to be spectacular at other jobs. The F-15 was designed with the adage "not a pound for air-to-ground" and yet from it was developed the F-15E Strike Eagle, an extremely effective air-to-ground platform. Hopefully the military is listening when it goes trying to build its next platform, a replacement for the B-1, B-2, and B-52 expected to come online between 2035 and 2045.

Comment: Re:It's called Rocket Science for a reason ... (Score 1) 316 316

I'm neither a kid nor have I forgotten the space race and the political squabbling that accompanied it. I want SpaceX to succeed, but I also want Orbital Sciences and Blue Origin to succeed, and anyone else that can reshape the space launch industry.

But there are people who desperately want to see Elon Musk fail. For that to happen, Tesla and/or SpaceX must fail. These people will hunt for any little indicator that Musk has bitten off more than he could chew and gleefully let everyone know about it.

I'm well aware that there are those who wanted (and still want) NASA to fail. They see NASA as the embodiment of government bureaucracy, slow and inefficient especially when compared to companies like SpaceX, and so they want to get rid of it. NASA is that, but mostly because the missions that they work on tend to be those difficult to replace: some extremely expensive satellites, interplanetary probes, and manned missions. A telecomm satellite lost on launch will be replaced by insurance and the contracted company will build another one. A failed satellite or probe may never be rebuilt (had New Horizons been lost, the atmosphere would have frozen and precipitated out before another probe could reach it). A failed manned mission may result in loss of life. Mission success therefore has higher priority than are the case with most commercial missions.

Comment: External influences (Score 4, Interesting) 111 111

When I was young, I played games from SJG, TSR, Palladium, R. Talsorian, ICE, FASA, and a bunch of one-off studios I can't remember now. Some of the systems worked really well, some required some tweaking, and others were essentially unplayable. But it was easy to see links between systems. Despite the occasional legal threats, there seemed to be a lot of borrowing each other's ideas. Palladium clearly was influenced by TSR (and I think they've admitted that the first version of their rules was essentially heavily modified D&D rules), and R. Talsorian's old D10/D6-based system seemed to have some influences from FASA.

When you're designing a game, what external influences help shape the game? How far can you adopt someone else's ideas before you have to start worrying about lawyers getting involved, and has that changed as the pen & paper RPG has waned in popularity?

Comment: Re:Because job outfit only look for links in googl (Score 1) 146 146

It wasn't that long ago that celebrities were blamed for making the sex tapes in the first place. That seems to be changing now, and for the better.

This will expand as people look around and see that we have foibles. Some people are still going to be jerks about it by not hiring someone because there's a picture of them from 20 years ago holding a joint or by hiring someone because they found the nudies posted a couple of years back and want the chance at seeing it for themselves. But past drug use isn't going to be nearly as much of a deal-killer as it is now, and even current drug use (at least for marijuana) is probably going to subside as a major concern as long as someone isn't high while on the job.

There will still be reasons people don't get hired for things that end up online. Posing while hanging out with the local Klansmen, for example, is going to make someone wary about hiring them for fear of having to deal with racism in the workplace. But being caught toking, flashing a nipple, or even engaging in sexual activities isn't going to be as important.

Comment: Re: Message to Chevrolet (Score 1) 249 249

My wife and I test drove one recently when we had to get her a new car. Aside from a visibility problem for her over her left shoulder, she loved it and we would have bought it. We had it for about a half-hour, and she put it through some good paces, testing acceleration, braking, and essentially slaloming through a mall parking lot. When we got back to the dealer, we realized that the car wasn't even in performance mode. Had that visibility issue not seriously bothered her, we would have bought the car right there instead of getting the Prius-V (which is certainly more practical but a lot less fun).

I'd love to get one, but I work from home and drive *maybe* once a week, so there's no sense in dropping $35K on a new car that will get a few hundred miles put on it each year.

Comment: Re:Because job outfit only look for links in googl (Score 1) 146 146

In the short term, we're still struggling with embarrassing things that we did 5, 10, even 20 years ago. But as time goes by, there is slowly growing acceptance that people do things in private that are publicly considered to be taboo, in bad taste, or crude. One of the interesting things I observed when the Fappening was in the news is that the subjects of the hacking were, by and large, not blamed. The blame was placed on whomever stole the pictures, and few calls for apologies from the various victims were made, and I'm not aware that any of them did apologize for taking the pictures in the first place. Someone is likely to bring them up should any of them run for office, but I don't think voters will care. If anything, it makes them look a little more normal.

When Clinton's reported past drug use was reported (where he claimed not to have inhaled), people made a short fuss and then shrugged their shoulders. Less was made of the younger Bush's drug use, and even less of Obama's. Character imperfections that are shared by a significant minority (or even a majority) of the population are looked past. Where once there was a fear that the only candidates that could run for president were those best able to hide the skeletons in their closets, I think that will fade over time as many of those skeletons won't matter. Within my life, there's a good chance that someone in the White House will get there despite a sex tape being available. A fuss will be made, but ultimately, most people will care more about other matters than that someone recorded their sexual activities.

Comment: Re:It's called Rocket Science for a reason ... (Score 3, Interesting) 316 316

It's initial incident analysis that doesn't need quarterbacking from people who don't have access to internal data. With SpaceX, so many people are anti-Elon that within minutes, people were declaring the company a failure and wondering how long it would take for the entire company to collapse. Orbital Sciences has the advantage that far fewer people even know who they are and they don't have legions of people hoping for them to fail, so being more open up front doesn't carry as much of a downside.

In practice, failures in system development, like unemployment in Russia, happens a lot despite official propaganda to the contrary. -- Paul Licker