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Comment: Re: But is it reaslistic? (Score 1) 360

by khallow (#47800169) Attached to: Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague

Bioweapons just don't evolve. They must be designed and created. They also don't work well at any rate. Russia and the US didn't agree to stop pursuing them because they thought they could work. They agreed because they had figured out that they just don't work well at all.

Directed evolution is another way to design and create. While I don't know about ISIL, a small terrorist group need not have the same definition of "work well" as a major superpower. For example, I recall Osama bin Laden was reported to be satisfied with the outcome of the 911 attacks. But they wouldn't have served a useful purpose for a hostile superpower since they didn't actually diminish the US's power or weaken their relations with other countries.

Comment: Re:How Does SpaceX Do it? (Score 1) 70

by khallow (#47800045) Attached to: NASA's Competition For Dollars

Only if you're under the influence of sufficient drugs to be having hallucinations, or have a complete lack of understanding of the English language. Given your posting history and complete lack of connection to reality, it's hard to discern which is the case. (Not that it matters, as the end result is the same.)

It's a good thing then that I actually quoted relevant parts of the law in question to address this very concern. That's the law as written - not my creative interpretation of reality or for that matter, your creative interpretation of reality.

And if we approach this from a rational point of view, who is supposed to provide the vision for NASA's activities? Congress and US presidents don't have the ability and a host of many other distractions. Presidents can appoint informal special panels to do the vision thing, but those come and go. They aren't legally binding.

Ultimately, it's NASA who has that job simply because no one in the US government has the right combination of competence and authority.

My view is that NASA has for decades abandoned its primary duties as the organizer and planner for the exploration and development of space by the US. NASA should have resisted and redirected the whims of Congress rather than devolving into yet another government organization whose most important duty is to put the right names on the checks.

Sure, it does some things in space. But I think we should have much higher expectations than that.

Comment: Re:Competition is good. (Score 1) 197

by khallow (#47799839) Attached to: Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

Using the word "government" here is completely unhelpful because it is much to broad. "Military industrial complex" or "Crony Capitalism" would be much more precise and accurate.

I take it you're unfamiliar with the terms "precise" and "accurate". Every government beyond a rather modest size has a military industrial complex. And crony capitalism doesn't even require a government.

Blaming government in general for the specific failures of some corrupted politicians is arguing in favor of anarchy.

Good thing we didn't do that then.

Comment: Re: But is it reaslistic? (Score 1) 360

by khallow (#47799815) Attached to: Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague

Consider how many generations are exposed to these treatments in the real world. Yet we don't see new "bioweapon" strains popping up all the time.

Actually, we do see dangerous drug resistant strains coming up all the time. And why should those environments be even remotely as effective at creating a bioweapon as deliberating creating an environment where the dominant selection processes are for bioweapon potential?

Comment: Re:Competition is good. (Score 1) 197

by khallow (#47799777) Attached to: Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

Look -- I'm as impressed by what SpaceX has achieved as the next guy: basically, I'd describe the pattern as "taking as much unneeded complexity out of the process". But SpaceX couldn't thrive in an environment in which NASA and the government's space program didn't exist. It's a symbiosis (and Elon Musk is clear enough in acknowledging that; actually this clarity is one of his main strengths)

So what do you think NASA does (well supposed to do, I guess, ignoring its role as yet another distribution system for doling out Other Peoples' Money)? And how does developing its own launch vehicle at somewhere around a factor of ten more than SpaceX can help NASA do that?

Comment: Re:Competition is good. (Score 1) 197

by khallow (#47799737) Attached to: Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

Fast forward to 21st century and progress made by SpaceX and others is result of wealth inequality. Few billionaires have some billions they can put into to what they want rather than meeting political objectives (war, votes, whatever).

Ok, so what? In other contexts, that's an interesting observation, say as an argument for wealth inequality. But I don't see it as having any relevance to the current discussion. NASA has a history of occasional interference with private enterprise particularly when NASA projects are threatened or embarrassed. And it remains that SpaceX in particular has demonstrated a much superior ability to design rockets and similar things than NASA does.

Argue all you want, you still have to deal with the tyranny of the Rocket Equation.

I remain puzzled by the point of your post. This so-called "tyranny" permits quite a bit. For example, it doesn't prohibit NASA from consolidating its operations and upping its space game - without even getting another cent in extra funding from Congress. The politics not the physics of the US space program more or less preclude that.

Comment: Re:No miracles (Score 1) 197

by khallow (#47799671) Attached to: Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets
I have to agree with the other replier. Blaming the public's need for accountability for the risk adverse nature of government is silly. It would be far worse without that accountability. Probably not Holodomor level malfeasance, but you certainly aren't considering the negative consequences of removing accountability from the decision-making process for a government entity.

Another thing to remember here is that risk taking isn't automatically a good thing. As the grand parent noted, because government doesn't care about the outcome, they can obsess over things like engine efficiency at any cost rather than building a viable and economical engine. That sort of fatally flawed decision making process isn't going to get any better just because you choose not to look at it or criticize it.

Comment: Re: But is it reaslistic? (Score 1) 360

It is not even close to as easy as you describe often needing 1000s of generations or more, and you end up with something that is antibiotic resistant *on agar*. Your host is not such a simple media.

Thousands of generations? So that's a few years at most assuming that part of the problem really is as tough as you claim. Most definitely, beyond the attention span of an organization like ISIS, we hope.

And then a few passes through rodents to get virulence up for the first try. Sounds moderately tough to me too. But not as tough as trying the same thing with a virus that needs to infect living tissue in order to propagate.

Comment: Re:Competition is good. (Score 5, Informative) 197

by khallow (#47795721) Attached to: Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

How about a couple minutes for you to understand exactly why it wasn't allowed.....playing that time passing song....

It was because NASA needed funding for the Space Shuttle. It had nothing to do with safety. Merely, requiring private companies to post bonds prior to each launch covers your safety concerns without requiring a decade long ban.

Further, it's worth noting that many of the companies which by your reckoning can't be trusted to run a safe commercial launch vehicle are the same ones that were building and running NASA's Space Shuttle (as well as having decades of launch experience under their belts).

Further, it is monumentally stupid to claim that commercial launches can be confused with a nuclear attack. One launch isn't going to take out the USSR. For example, here's a story written shortly after the fall of the Shuttle monopoly.

Some of the agency's likely tactics are already evident. One strategem, reported by several observers close to the Shuttle/ ELV controversy, has been to apply pressure on contractors sup- plying major components to NASA to keep them from entering the ELV business. Although nothing has appeared in official docu- ments, it is said that NASA officials have suggested to possible private competitors that their contracts for Shuttle components might be endangered if these firms engaged in private launches. Another tactic has been to try to delay implementation of "full cost recovery," so that NASA could charge Shuttle customers less than the full cost of launches for long enough to capture the market, with the cost picked up by the taxpayer. This could close down production lines for a number of the components needed to construct and launch ELVs, making their later development far more expensive than would otherwise be the case.

What is most disturbing is that NASA's anti-competitive activities could undermine the President's broad initiative on space commercialization by undermining private sector efforts before they can acquire a firm financial footing. The agency would thereby undercut a number of key benefits for Americans that the initiative would otherwise yield.

The first thing you should do before writing stupid drivel is ask yourself, "Gee, is there really a problem here?" But no, you just had to get that anti-libertarian straw man in without regard for the history.

So what you are telling me is that for some odd reason, despite private rocket launches in their own facilities using their own rockets is now considered okay, and done on a regular basis, you are still in a white hot seething astrorage anger and feeling much butthurt because of the way it used to be a long time ago?

And you should too. Because history has a habit of repeating itself. What's going to happen when NASA has the SLS supply chain and SpaceX has the Falcon Heavy, a cheaper and more reliable competitor?

Well, that SLS supply chain, being better connected politically, are going to use their connections to sabotage SpaceX, just like Space Shuttle proponents did commercial space launch back in the 70s or the launch oligopoly did to various would-be competitors in the 80s and 90s.

They're already playing games with the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program which was an attempt by NASA to encourage commercial launch services, including SpaceX, to supply ISS with supplies and personnel. The number of competitors was reduced from six competitors to two by interference from Congress. There's also fishing expeditions for "anomalies" from recent Falcon 9 launches. Notice that nobody else was targeted by that demand for information despite the alleged problems being common to many other (if not all) launch vehicles (such as propellant and pressurizing gas leaks) or normal outcomes of SpaceX's recent launch procedures (demanding to see data on sea water intrusions for SpaceX stages which splashed down in the ocean while attempting a landing).

I get tired of people failing to see the problems and instead shoehorning things into their favorite ideology.

Comment: Re:How Does SpaceX Do it? (Score 1) 70

by khallow (#47795483) Attached to: NASA's Competition For Dollars

NASA is not supposed to have vision

Bullshit. The law authorizing NASA directs NASA at numerous points to plan and promote things that fall under "having vision". For example:

Congress further declares that such activities shall be the responsibility of, and shall be directed by, a civilian agency exercising control over aeronautical and space activities sponsored by the United States

he Administration seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space

The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies, and living organisms through space.

The establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes.

The most effective utilization of the scientific and engineering resources of the United States, with close cooperation among all interested agencies of the United States in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, facilities, and equipment.

Later on, there's:

plan, direct, and conduct aeronautical and space activities;

That's the vision mandate. It's worth remembering here that Congress isn't the experts on space exploration in the US government, NASA is supposed to be. Nor does Congress have responsibility for promoting and insuring that the US has viable and useful NASA activities. Once again, that's NASA's particular responsibility.

NASA is an engineering and scientific agency (with an overlay of flags-and-footprints) and always has been, not an exploratory agency. They do not exist to feed the wet dreams and masturbation fantasies of the space fanboys.

The above law also has numerous places where it directs NASA to do space exploration or to encourage space exploration by US private sources.

What gets missed in all these clueless and misguided posts about "space fanboys", is that technology and the economics of space activities are progressing and getting into space need not stay as hard and as costly as it is now. Rather than merely decree without much thought that something is permanently impossible or unprofitable, it makes more sense to figure out what thresholds need to be crossed in order for an activity to be possible or profitable.

Even with significant investment, that's unlikely to change for decades, maybe centuries.

Decades is the usual shortest time frame discussed for this sort of thing anyway. You're not in disagreement with most "space fanboys" on that. I think it's a bit dishonest to downplay someone's ambitions as delusions and hallucinations while simultaneously admitting that the only real problem is that you think their estimates of time to achievements are mildly ambitious.

Comment: Re:My money is on SpaceX (Score 1) 197

by khallow (#47795357) Attached to: Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

In October 2003! Do you still believe that SpaceX is really that "fast" and "agile"?

They have demonstrated they are by developing two launch vehicles and several rocket engines in that period of time - for about a tenth the estimated NASA pricing of the task in question.

And I find it odd how you can't figure out that your quote is completely irrelevant to your implied assertion that SpaceX isn't "fast" or "agile". We would expect them to run tests. We would expect some of their tests to fail. This sort of thing is independent of how fast or "agile" they are.

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