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Comment: Re:Weakest US President ever (Score 1) 453

by thrich81 (#47545461) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

Holy crap, this AC got modded up +2 already? I notice on this story that the stupidest comments so far are all ACs. There should be a rule that whenever someone says how some leader here or there is screwing up, then the commenter is required to say how they would do it better. As everyone who has made it there seems to have found out once elected President of the USA (or Prime Minister of somewhere else), the problems are a lot more complicated when you actually have to deal with them and then the fallout (maybe literally in this case) from your actions. This parent AC is a troll and should be modded as such.

Comment: Re:Someone has an agenda to push (Score 4, Insightful) 287

Care to explain why carbon taxes are bad? Every economist I've read who acknowledges that there are negative externalities with burning carbon based fuels says that the most efficient and non-market distorting way to get the users to pay the cost of the externalities is to impose a carbon tax. Anything else distorts the market for carbon based fuels or you just let the general population bear the cost of the negative externalities irregardless of how the gains from use of the fuels are distributed.

Comment: Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (Score 1) 49

by thrich81 (#47518213) Attached to: SpaceX Releases Video of Falcon Rocket's Splashdown

Hey Mods, but not the idiots who already got to the OP, mod the OP back up, it's not Flamebait. As a total fanboy of SpaceX, I don't totally agree, but there are legitimate points for discussion. I'd say that SpaceX innovations so far are manufacturing and management not extension of spacecraft capabilities, yet. They've got lots of good things in the works but most are not yet demonstrated.

Comment: Re:What, NASA doesn't sell there building naming r (Score 4, Insightful) 52

by thrich81 (#47505171) Attached to: NASA Names Building For Neil Armstrong

What part of "not only an astronaut, but also as an AEROSPACE ENGINEER, TEST PILOT, and UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR" did you not read in the summary? Nobody worked harder than the early astronauts to get man into space and they were all engineers or scientists. A test pilot is in reality a flying engineer.

Comment: Re:Generating confusion (Score 1) 211

by thrich81 (#47498357) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

Hold on there with your Boomer bashing -- someone who is 70 years old NOW is not even a Boomer (missed it by 2 years) and the average age of the Congress people is old, so 10-15 years ago it wasn't Boomers in power but the vestiges of the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation after them. Boomers have only slowly replaced them since. Add that to the outsized influence the older voters in the electorate have and you find that most of the problems blamed on the Boomers (Social Security bankruptcy for one) are actually problems started by their parents.

Comment: Re:And today (Score 1) 211

by thrich81 (#47497317) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

Damn, are memories this short! Constellation, Bush's project for post Shuttle manned space, was underfunded from the very beginning. Read the findings of the Augustine Commission ( which was commissioned by the Office of Science and Technology Policy to review the state of human spaceflight in the US in early 2009. The Commission concluded, "The Committee judged the 9-year old Constellation program to be so behind schedule, underfunded and over budget that meeting any of its goals would not be possible." (quote from the Wikipedia article). I recall seeing the committee head (Norm Augustine) on TV briefing Congress, he basically said that Constellation had spent all its money with little to show for it. The Summary Report from the Commission is available on a NASA website ( and begins with the statements, "The U.S. human spaceflight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory. It is perpetuating the perilous practice of pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources." This was in early 2009 before Obama's first budget.
The committee members were not in any way toadies for the Obama administration but aerospace professionals who knew the business:
Norman Augustine (chairman), former CEO of Lockheed Martin, former chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Future of the United States Space Program[17]
Wanda Austin, CEO of The Aerospace Corporation
Bohdan Bejmuk, former Boeing manager
Leroy Chiao, former NASA astronaut
Christopher Chyba, Princeton University professor
Edward F. Crawley, MIT professor
Jeffrey Greason, co-founder of XCOR Aerospace
Charles Kennel, former director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Lester Lyles, former Air Force general
Sally Ride, former NASA astronaut, 1st American female in space

Comment: Re:Great example (Score 1) 211

by thrich81 (#47497179) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

You also have to remember that the entire American manned space program from Mercury through the Apollo moon landings was in reality just another contest in the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union. Manned space would never have gotten the funding and national priority it got in the 60's without that aspect of it. For many Americans, who were paying the bills, "beating the Russians" was the only reason for it. So to "real leadership and environment that bolsters creative problem solving" I would add, "military level budgets and priorities and wartime sense of urgency". Other than the secrecy of the former, I see little difference between the Manhattan Project and Project Apollo. If you want results on the scale of those projects then it will require similar national level commitment and resources. I've only seen that on endeavors tied to "national security".

Comment: Re:What if we hadn't? (Score 1) 211

by thrich81 (#47496237) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

A little history: By the time of the last Apollo mission to the moon (Dec 1972) US involvement in Vietnam was for all practical purposes over; US direct involvement officially ended in Jan 1973 with the signing of the "Paris Peace Accords". Perhaps an argument could be made that Vietnam took resources which could have gone to Apollo in earlier years, but considering that Apollo had military type budgets and priority through the 60's I doubt it. The period of maximum involvement by the US in both Vietnam and the Apollo program was the same (mid to late 60's). As both were proxy battles against the Soviets in the Cold War, this was not a coincidence. By the early 70's the American people, who were paying the bills for both, were no longer interested in either. However, in what must really be a coincidence, the last mission with Apollo hardware (Apollo-Soyuz) occurred in 1975, the same year that South Vietnam finally fell to the North Vietnam forces, putting a definitive end to that conflict.

Comment: Obligatory Quote by Gauss (Score 2) 241

by thrich81 (#47486697) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

TFA tries to make the case (poorly) that Math involves ambiguities and Programming does not.
The greatest of all mathematicians, Carl Friedrich Gauss, stated, "I mean the word proof not in the sense of the lawyers, who set two half proofs equal to a whole one, but in the sense of a mathematician, where half proof = 0, and it is demanded for proof that every doubt becomes impossible."
Not much room for ambiguity in that.

Comment: Re:Why fly over a war zone? (Score 2) 752

by thrich81 (#47478531) Attached to: Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine

In the US Air Force (when I was around it) it was generally slang to refer to all tactical aircraft (including light bombers like A-7s and A-10s) as 'fighters' and their pilots as 'fighter pilots'. This was in contrast to the heavy bombers and transports. The tactical attack aircraft were a lot more similar to the air-to-air fighters than they were to the heavy bombers and often they were dual role anyway. To the general public and press, any small, fast (A-10 is fast in this context), maneuverable military aircraft with weapons is a 'fighter'. And A-10s and SU-25s can carry quite capable air-to-air missiles (AIM-9 for the A-10 and AA-8 for the Su-25) so the distinction even in those cases is not completely clean. I don't think there is a conspiracy here.

Comment: Re:Anyone have Cliff Notes? (Score 3, Interesting) 128

I dislike replying to an AC, but this sentiment is common enough that I will. Let's examine " You were nowhere before WW2" -- ever heard of Robert Goddard, the American who built and launched the first liquid fueled rocket in 1926? The German rocket programs were largely independent of Goddard's work but following is a quote by Wernher von Braun himself in 1963, "His rockets ... may have been rather crude by present-day standards, but they blazed the trail and incorporated many features used in our most modern rockets and space vehicles." And another quote from von Braun in the same Wikipedia bio of Goddard, "Goddard's experiments in liquid fuel saved us years of work, and enabled us to perfect the V-2 years before it would have been possible." I will not say that the US (and the Soviet Union) didn't get big advances from the German rocket program, but neither country was "nowhere before WW II." Check out Konstantin Tsiolkovsky on the Russian side.

Comment: Re:Still nonsense (Score 3, Informative) 202

by thrich81 (#47445181) Attached to: How Deep Does the Multiverse Go?

Although he is a bit abusive I'd cut the AC a bit of slack; your question/comment has been asked several times on this thread and in past ones. The short answer is that space itself can expand faster than the speed of light and so events we observe from a long time ago can be further than c times the time it took for the light to get here. Even events occurring 'now' from regions in space expanding away from us faster than c will eventually become observable to us, although the concepts of distance and time and 'now' can get really tricky under General Relativity. It is all prescribed by General Relativity, or more properly, by some of the easier solutions of the General Relativity field equation which appear to apply to our Universe. You can't use intuition from Special Relativity when the distances and times involved get cosmological. Sorry I don't have a good reference right now, but it's all in Wikipedia (try General Relativity or Hubble Constant or Age of the Universe, maybe). I looked it all up a while back when I got burned (on /.) using my Special Relativity intuition where it didn't apply.

Comment: Re:Chicken or egg? (Score 5, Informative) 230

by thrich81 (#47443189) Attached to: Geographic Segregation By Education

" In Austin, people are being priced out of their homes because they voted for every social program out there, and now the taxes are too damn high." -- commonly stated, but bullshit and contradicted by the facts. I own two houses in the Austin area -- one near downtown Austin which I rent out, and one in Williamson County near Cedar Park (suburban, bedroom community to Austin, the anti-Austin politically) where I live. When the two houses were at near identical values the total property taxes on the Williamson County house were HIGHER than the Austin house. The county taxes and and school district taxes were about the same. The Austin Community College taxes were the same. The difference was that the taxes of the Municipal Utility District (entity formed by developers to provide utility services in unincorporated areas normally provided by cities) were higher than the City of Austin taxes. So for the same level of services, I pay more in taxes to the MUD than I would have to the city of Austin -- actually I get fewer services because the MUD has no libraries or "social programs" as Austin has.
The reason that people are being priced out of their homes in Austin is because it is such a desirable place to live that property values are going up rapidly -- my house in Austin has appreciated by a factor of four since I bought it in 1996. Perhaps all those improvements the people of Austin voted for did contribute to the problem because they help to make it such a desirable place to live.

Comment: Re:Why would you do that? (Score 1) 468

I am a licensed pilot with an instrument rating and a lot of experience from years ago but may not have a typical attitude. Following are some of my rather random thoughts. Pilots are trained to TRUST THEIR INSTRUMENTS unless there is incontrovertible evidence that the instruments are malfunctioning. The times I came closest to crashing or other unpleasant outcomes were when I was trying to fly by eye when I should have been using the instruments to tell me the parameters of flight (both in clear and cloudy conditions), so that is my experience relating to man vs. machine. I think the machines and instruments at the current stage of development are more reliable than the pilots right now. I've seen the processes required for pilot training and licensing and the processes for certification of software in safety critical aviation applications and the software process is more rigorous and the software doesn't get lazy or hungover or inattentive after being certified.
As others have commented this whole thing is going toward pilot-less airliners. As a passenger I don't have a problem with that. Right now the pilots are only there to deal with unusual circumstances and as those are rare, how much confidence do I have that the pilots up front have recent training to deal with the particular problem which has popped up?
On the point of windows, right now the visibility outside of an airliner is pretty poor in my opinion. I suppose a windowless aircraft could be fitted with a periscope for use during a failure of the display screens and the pilots could train to land using that in the 1 in million chance it became necessary. No matter how this is done, the most dangerous part of an airline trip will remain, as it is now, the drive to the airport.

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