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Comment: Fly More Missions and Purchase Launch Services (Score 1) 104

by Baldrson (#47551455) Attached to: SpaceX Executive Calls For $22-25 Billion NASA Budget

Necessity and Incentives Opening the Space Frontier
Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Space
by James Bowery, Chairman
Coalition for Science and Commerce
July 31, 1991

Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Members of the Subcommittee:

I am James Bowery, Chairman of the Coalition for Science and Commerce. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to address the subcommittee on the critical and historic topic of commercial incentives to open the space frontier.

The Coalition for Science and Commerce is a grassroots network of citizen activists supporting greater public funding for diversified scientific research and greater private funding for proprietary technology and services. We believe these are mutually reinforcing policies which have been violated to the detriment of civilization. We believe in the constitutional provision of patents of invention and that the principles of free enterprise pertain to intellectual property. We therefore see technology development as a private sector responsibility. We also recognize that scientific knowledge is our common heritage and is therefore a proper function of government. We oppose government programs that remove procurement authority from scientists, supposedly in service of them. Rather we support the inclusion, on a per-grant basis, of all funding needed to purchase the use of needed goods and services, thereby creating a scientist-driven market for commercial high technology and services. We also oppose government subsidy of technology development. Rather we support legislation and policies that motivate the intelligent investment of private risk capital in the creation of commercially viable intellectual property.

In 1990, after a 3 year effort with Congressman Ron Packard (CA) and a bipartisan team of Congressional leaders, we succeeded in passing the Launch Services Purchase Act of 1990, a law which requires NASA to procure launch services in a commercially reasonable manner from the private sector. The lobbying effort for this legislation came totally from taxpaying citizens acting in their home districts without a direct financial stake -- the kind of political intended by our country's founders, but now rarely seen in America.

We ask citizens who work with us for the most valuable thing they can contribute: The voluntary and targeted investment of time, energy and resources in specific issues and positions which they support as taxpaying citizens of the United States. There is no collective action, no slush-fund and no bureaucracy within the Coalition: Only citizens encouraging each other to make the necessary sacrifices to participate in the political process, which is their birthright and duty as Americans. We are working to give interested taxpayers a voice that can be heard above the din of lobbyists who seek ever increasing government funding for their clients.

Introduction

Americans need a frontier, not a program.

Incentives open frontiers, not plans.

If this Subcommittee hears no other message through the barrage of studies, projections and policy recommendations, it must hear this message. A reformed space policy focused on opening the space frontier through commercial incentives will make all the difference to our future as a world, a nation and as individuals.

Americans Need a Frontier

When Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon, we won the "space race" against the Soviets and entered two decades of diminished expectations.

The Apollo program elicited something deep within Americans. Something almost primal. Apollo was President Kennedy's "New Frontier." But when Americans found it was terminated as nothing more than a Cold War contest, we felt betrayed in ways we are still unable to articulate -- betrayed right down to our pioneering souls. The result is that Americans will never again truly believe in government space programs and plans.

Without a frontier, for the past two decades, Americans have operated under the inevitable conclusion that land, raw materials and wealth itself are fundamentally limited and therefore to be hoarded and controlled -- rather than created. Out of this post-Apollo mentality, a deeply rooted cynicism has led young people into careers as lawyers and financial manipulators rather than farmers, inventors and engineers. It has led to an environmental movement which loathes humanity's natural capacity to transform hostile environments with technology. It has led to cartels, wars over energy and a devastatingly expensive arms race. It has led businesses and investors to remain averse to high risk technology development even as they issue billions in high risk debt vehicles for corporate take-overs. It has led to a preference for real estate speculation over job creating investments, making it nearly impossible for most of those born in the mid-to-late baby boom of the 1950s to establish stable careers, homesteads and equity for retirement, even with two incomes.

In short, the lack of a frontier is leading us away from the progressive values of the Age of Enlightenment, upon which our country was founded, and back to the stagnant feudalistic values of the middle ages. We look to the Japanese for cultural leadership. We forget the rule of law and submit to the rule of bureaucracy, both corporate and governmental; for in a world without frontiers, the future belongs to the bureaucrat, not the pioneer.

No where is this failure of vision more apparent than in our space program where the laws of human nature and politics have overcome the laws of nature and the space frontier as in "Take off your engineering hat and put on your management hat."

First Apollo failed us. Then the shuttle raised and dashed our hopes by failing to provide easy access to space. We now look forward to the proposed space station as the last vestige of a dying dream written of by Werner Von Braun in Collier's magazine during the 1950's, even as its costs skyrocket and its capabilities dwindle into a symbolic gesture of lost greatness.

The pioneering of frontiers is antithetical to bureaucracy and politics. The greatest incentive for opening frontiers is to escape from calcifying institutions. We betray our deepest values when we give ownership of our only frontier to such institutions.

Therefore, these hearings on incentives to open the space frontier are among the most hopeful events in recent history. Those responsible for holding these hearings and acting to create pioneering incentives to finally open the space frontier, are to be commended for their insight, courage and leadership. They are earning for themselves and our entire civilization a place of honor in history.

Incentives Open Frontiers

Over the past few years the Coalition has worked with Congressman Ron Packard and a broad spectrum of other Congressional leaders to introduce and pass a bill providing the most significant incentive for opening the space frontier to date: The Launch Services Purchase Act of 1990. Similar to the Kelly Act of 1925, which created incentives for pioneering aviation, the LSPA seeks to synthesize a commercially reasonable market from existing government demand for launch services. Lowering the cost of access to space through incentives for commercial competition is the most important goal in our space policy because launch costs dominate all others.

Although extensively amended from its original language, the LSPA remains a symbol of pioneering spirit, democracy in action and American values in the one place it counts the most: The Space Frontier.

Congressman Bob Walker's Omnibus Space Commercialization Act of 1991 contains two important provisions which will expand and empower the incentives of the LSPA. The first provision is the return of language in the LSPA to cover the Department of Defense as well as NASA, and to cover all space transportation, not just orbital launch. The second is the substantial funding authorization for launch and payload integration service vouchers under the Department of Transportation. The independence of the Department of Transportation's Office of Commercial Space Transportation creates exactly the kind of checks needed to avoid conflicts of interest. Private investors can trust their capital with such carefully constructed incentives.

Another important provision of the Omnibus Space Commercialization Act is the encouragement of many Federal agencies to participate in space activities. Such variety of funding sources further inhibits the politicization of space by replacing political competition for centralized programmatic control with incentives for performance in technical and commercial competition.

These incentives are helping to open the space frontier because they discriminate on the basis of actual achievement rather than political savvy and psychological appeal. By acting as a market instead of a monopsony or as a source of capital, government funding ceases to control or compete with the initiatives of our citizenry. Instead government rewards viable citizen initiatives with the profits needed to further capitalize space services, while punishing failed management and technology with bankruptcy; conditions virtually impossible to replicate within the space paradigm of the past.

Profit and bankruptcy are as essential to technical progress as mutation and selection are to biological evolution. They are the "invisible hand" that guide private investors to create viable solutions to our needs. Just as mutation and selection led life from water onto dry land, so profit and bankruptcy will remove the earthly limits on life and open to life the limitless ecological range of space.

Distribution of funding in peer-reviewed grants to scientists which patronize commercially competitive companies not only utilizes market forces to optimize infrastructure design and operations, but it also spreads space dollars out to all Congressional districts without multi-year authorizations, technical prejudice or political gamesmanship. This apolitical cashflow creates commercial incentives and it builds solid justifications for the use of our space dollars with a hard-core nation-wide constituency.

But robust justifications and hard-core political constituency pale in significance when compared the explosive energy of Americans challenged by the incentives and freedoms of a frontier.

Americans can best be challenged by the following policy measures:

* Distribute space funding to multiple independent agencies for the funding of unsolicited scientific proposals.

* Require that the experiments be designed to fly on existing commercial services.

* Expose the proposals to review by a patent examiner to ensure the work is genuine science, as defined under intellectual property laws, and therefore not in competition with private sector technology development.

* Require that the principle investigator make the primary procurement decisions free from Federal Acquisition Regulations.

* Minimize abuses and avoid multiyear authorization by keeping grants relatively small.

* As commercial companies establish space operations, support their property rights.

Comprehensive legislative language drafted for discussion by Dr. Andrew Cutler details many of the Coalition's ideas on procurement, property rights and transitional policies. This legislative language is available on request.

Stated simply:

Fly lots of scientific missions using commercial services. Base them on fresh ideas. Let unfashionable ideas find funding. Decentralize procurement decisions. Avoid competition with the private sector by focusing on research rather than development. Enforce new property rights in space as they are defined.

Give Americans a challenge and trust them to react with the resourcefulness and courage of our ancestors who risked everything to cross the oceans to settle a hostile continent. We won't disappoint you.

Conclusion

The space frontier is a hostile environment with unlimited potential that demands our best. We can meet such a challenge only with the strength of our traditional American values -- values uniquely adapted to opening frontiers.

This Subcommittee is in a position of great privilege. The next millennium could witness the restoration of Earth's environment and the transformation of space into an new kind of ecological range, virtually limitless in its extent and diversity. Those creating the incentives that open the space frontier now will be responsible for the fulfillment of this vision which appears to be the ultimate destiny of Western Civilization's progressive tradition.

Comment: Re:I know you're trying to be funny, but... (Score 2, Insightful) 663

by SuperBanana (#47544867) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: "GCC 4.9.0 Seems To Be Terminally Broken"

His manner is coarse

It's not "coarse", it's abusive. Namecalling, mocking, ridicule, hyperbole. That's abuse.

you must admit that he's gotten the job done. Linux advances on schedule, patches get incorporated, code gets tested, and all proceeds smoothly.

I sacrificed a chicken yesterday and successfully committed code. You must admit that the ritualistic sacrifice got the job done.

("Getting the job done" does not, and has never required being abusive to others. Getting the job done while being abusive is not proof that being abusive is required or even was part of, "getting the job done.")

Comment: I know you're trying to be funny, but... (Score 3, Insightful) 663

by SuperBanana (#47544709) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: "GCC 4.9.0 Seems To Be Terminally Broken"

...the people who deserve the apology are the people who were subject to an abusive tirade.

You can point out someone made a mistake. There's no obligation to be "nice" when doing so. There is an obligation to not be abusive, which is what Linus repeatedly does. Abuse includes mockery, ridicule, name calling, etc.

He's being a bully, pure and simple - using his popularity to shove around others. That should not be tolerated, full stop.

Comment: Re:Bitcoin, rent, tor (Score 1) 206

TOR exit nodes are in very short supply, and as a company you already have the protection of incorporation that prevents the biggest fear of exit operators (and the reason there are so few), being caught up in an investigation by police who kick down doors first and ask questions late

LOL....

Comment: Re:power, so no, not really? (Score -1) 206

Clearly you read neither the slashdot text (which says "what should we do with these resources") not "what should we do with this website content." It's not even said that the setup is running a public-facing website, or even a website at all.

The commenter very clearly meant "donate the equipment to us."

Comment: One of the most common failover mistakes... (Score 3, Interesting) 206

Keep everything ready, so you can switch back when the cloud services fail and/or your management team changes.

Did you miss the part about them trying to cut opex? *siiiiiigh*

Even that aside...Maybe the latter, but not the former. One of the most common mistakes of failover environments is using the "old stuff" for failover/backup.

That works great, until you exceed the computing/storage capacity/bandwidth of the original hardware.

Let's say in a year traffic is up 30%. Something goes wrong, big time, with Teh Cloudz. You've done a good job of keeping the old hardware current and replicated. You 'flip the switch'...and the old environment promptly chokes...oops.

Comment: power, so no, not really? (Score 4, Insightful) 206

Unless you're getting power donated as well, you definitely should not be accepting every machine you can get.

If this stuff more than a few years old, the power bill is going to quickly eclipse the cost differential of better hardware.

Electricity costs vary, but a ballpark of 1 watt/year = $1 is roughly right around here. That doesn't include cooling. A probably conservative but very rough ballpark power estimate would be 3kW for that equipment...I didn't count hard drives, the firewall, the router, etc.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 4, Interesting) 199

by mc6809e (#47536863) Attached to: Cable Companies: We're Afraid Netflix Will Demand Payment From ISPs

Yeah, i don't see how their supposed 'netflix is going to extort us' scare is supposed to work. Everything I remember about how the internet works pretty much invalidates the idea.

I think they're looking at how cable companies have to pay content providers to broadcast their content.

Disney, ESPN, CNN, etc all charge the cable company for their content. If the cable company doesn't pay, then their customers don't get the channels.

Will this happen with websites or Netflix? It doesn't seem possible, yet it's hard to know just where all this is going.

Consider facebook. What would happen if suddenly facebook demanded an ISP pay them for access by the ISP's customers? Who would the customers blame? Would they simply give up on facebook or would they hound their ISP to pay up?

Comment: Re:Price of using scientists as political pawns (Score 1) 289

I don't think any serious person thinks that Galileo woke up one morning and said lets do politics.

Oh, yes, every serious person thinks Galileo was being completely apolitical when he published a tract in the common language of the people of the Papal States that put quotes from the sovereign of the Papal States in the mouth of a character named Simpleton.

Comment: Elective surgery on a critical organ (Score 5, Interesting) 535

by SuperBanana (#47524837) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

That's how a friend's father, an eye surgeon, put it.

It doesn't always go right, and (yes, rarely) it goes very wrong. There are no take-backs with the laser surgeries.

If you must, do the surgery that is reversible - they insert a small piece of plastic that corrects the lens shape.

Comment: Re:let me correct that for you. (Score 5, Insightful) 612

by mc6809e (#47505903) Attached to: Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

there was no socialism in east-germany. there was none in east-europe. that was fascism with a tiny bit of communism-appearence thrown in. socialism is found in scandinavia, belgium, netherlands, france, and the former western-germany.

Most Western European countries are mixed economies, mostly capitalist, with some socialism, and a welfare state.

East Germany and the Soviet Union really bought into the idea of Socialism: the state owned everything. Private property was outlawed. You could go to jail for making a profit.

The East Germans were so committed to the idea that the state owned everything that they believed they had a right to build an enormous wall to keep the governments property (people) from escaping to the West.

Comment: You forgot about Chernobyl (Score 1) 230

by SuperBanana (#47491967) Attached to: EPA Mulling Relaxed Radiation Protections For Nuclear Power

230,000 were killed by the Banquiao hydroelectric dam disaster.

Not quite. 20,000 were killed in the immediate flooding. The rest were killed in the epidemics, famines, etc that followed.

Even if the worst nuclear accident in history happened EVERY YEAR, it would still be safer than hydroelectric.

If you're going to claim indirect deaths as you did above, then I'm going to claim indirect deaths too.

http://www.who.int/ionizing_ra...

Chernobyl didn't kill that many people directly/immediately, but it has impacted the health of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. It will continue to do so, for generations. Nuclear disasters never go away.

Where X is 10-100 times larger than Y: Increasing the cancer risks for X people isn't 'better' than immediately wiping Y people off the map.

Comment: There is no "safe" amount of ionizing radiation (Score -1) 230

by SuperBanana (#47491589) Attached to: EPA Mulling Relaxed Radiation Protections For Nuclear Power

I'm sick and tired of the notion that it's OK to pollute, as long as you don't pollute "too much."

200+ chemicals found in samples of people's blood: http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/...

200+ chemicals found in newborn's umbilical core blood: http://www.scientificamerican....

http://www.cdc.gov/exposurerep...

These chemicals by and large don't go away...and time after time, we find chemicals that were thought to be "safe"...aren't. When are we going to learn that? When are we going to require chemicals be considered dangerous until proven otherwise, instead of the present situation, where chemicals are only later shown to be dangerous once scientists and environmental groups collect a mountain of evidence?

Wherever you go...There you are. - Buckaroo Banzai

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