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Comment: Re:Wait, what? (Score 1) 187

by virtual_mps (#48616595) Attached to: NASA's $349 Million Empty Tower

Only small engines can be tested currently at stennis (luckily? that's all we have in the inventory). Firing off an F-1 would break a lot of things.

As far is always having been pork, NASA OIG criticized the decision made to build a new stand rather than modifying either of *two* underutilized facilities: http://oig.nasa.gov/audits/rep... The bottom line is that the decision was made without public discussion with all of the stakeholders and was always at high risk of being late and over budget due to the lousy decision making at NASA. (Don't blame all of this on Congress.) Interestingly, the initial cost estimate for A-3 was $390M, but Stennis talked that down to $173M to make it more attractive.

So no, there's very little chance that this will turn out to be great in the end, or that we won't end up paying for modifications to A-3 which would be similar to the modifications needed to use one of the existing facilities for a future engine (except that those could have been modified without an intervening $350M capital expediture). And it's very likely that when the time comes, it will look better on paper to build a new stand than to reuse A-3.

So yes, always pork.

Comment: Re:Wait, what? (Score 1) 187

by virtual_mps (#48615961) Attached to: NASA's $349 Million Empty Tower

You'd have a cogent argument if NASA didn't already have more than one vacuum rocket test stand. They built this one because it was too hard/expensive to modify the others for the new engine. What are the chances that won't happen again? Nope, it's pure pork. Note that the entire Stennis facility was built to test saturn rocket engines far from anything that might break due to the sonic shock. If NASA was in this to preserve infrastructure, *that* is the feature they would have kept. Instead, Stennis now hosts computer facilities for a number of civilian agencies--because the jobs program was more important than being able to test really big rocket engines at the rocket engine test facility.


Why the First Cowboy To Draw Always Gets Shot 398

Posted by timothy
from the more-guns-less-crime dept.
cremeglace writes "Have you ever noticed that the first cowboy to draw his gun in a Hollywood Western is invariably the one to get shot? Nobel-winning physicist Niels Bohr did, once arranging mock duels to test the validity of this cinematic curiosity. Researchers have now confirmed that people indeed move faster if they are reacting, rather than acting first."

Comment: Re:early stealth subs were german inventions (Score 1) 239

by virtual_mps (#30103520) Attached to: Two Sunken Japanese Submarines Found Off Hawaii

Quiet is important, active sonar resistance is less so. The submarine post WWII was important as a strategic deterrence asset (survivable ICBM platform) whose primary threat was other submarines. Neither the missile subs nor the attack subs were going to be pinging away, as that would be suicidal. One of the problems with the rubber coatings were that they'd come lose and bang on the hull as the flapped around -- and [i]that[/i] is something to give a modern submariner nightmares. I doubt that the USA and USSR completely ignored the technology, but they definitely had to solve that adhesive problem first.

Comment: Re:East coast USA? (Score 1) 239

by virtual_mps (#30103414) Attached to: Two Sunken Japanese Submarines Found Off Hawaii

The arctic route is difficult without a nuclear submarine. (Diesels can't run submerged, and batteries aren't going to get you that far.) I can't imagine what you have in mind as the "central route", as a submarine in a canal is not exactly a hard target. So, yes, the southern routes are the only possible approaches.

Comment: Re:Wha? (Score 1) 239

by virtual_mps (#30103346) Attached to: Two Sunken Japanese Submarines Found Off Hawaii

The emperor had the entire populace wound up to fight to the death and that's about the only thing that was going to change his mind

That was the army taking its own initiative, not the emperor. The emperor didn't want the war in the first place and was actively trying to end it by early 1945, but was worried that speaking publicly about doing so would lead to internal rebellion. There was in fact an attempted coup on August 14th (the day before his radio address ending hostilities), lending some credence to this belief.

Comment: Re:Here we go again (Score 2, Insightful) 435

by virtual_mps (#29806183) Attached to: Xbox 360 Update Will Lock Out Unauthorized Storage

Making warranties dependent on manufacturer add-ons is a completely different point of law (Magnusson-Moss Act), and I don't see that it is at issue here. The case for a Sherman Act violation is not clear cut given the lack of an actual monopoly, and the fact that it's not a simple case of banning functionally equivalent parts for no reason other than to boost profits. (The possibility of third-part licensed parts exists, and they're clearly targeting devices which can also be put into computers to modify the stored data--which arguably benefits the community overall.) This isn't to say that they'd necessarily win, but it is not as simple as you're making it out to be.

Comment: Re:Begin here (Score 1) 582

by virtual_mps (#29032601) Attached to: Working Off the Clock, How Much Is Too Much?

As you made the first claim, I look forward to YOU providing the citations to back it up

I didn't actually make a claim, I asked a question:

How many new drugs and medical techniques are developed in Australia? If the answer is "less than in the US", are you prepared to consider that the current screwy US system is actually subsidizing your health care?

That was the question I asked. Based on the tenor of your replies, I guess that the answer is that no, you're not prepared to consider anything beyond your simplistic view of the world. It turns out that a lot of issues are more complex than can be reasonably discussed on slashdot, and that simple solutions like "change the US healthcare system" leave out a lot of details (like where the $100bn/yr currently spent on medical R&D in the US will come from if that system becomes a lot leaner--note that's something like 12.5% of .au GDP, so it probably won't come from there). It's a lot easier to criticize from the outside than to actually make things work in the real world. Are there a lot of inefficiencies in the current system? Of course. Is it perfect? Of course not. Is it ok? That depends, frankly, on where you live. (But most things do.) Is it obvious how to fix all the problems without also screwing up the good things? Hell no--if it were that easy it would have been done by now.

P.S. I know Australians love to have pride in their country, and that's great and all, but R&D that dates back 80 years is more historical curiosity than a current driver of public policy. And, for that matter, Florey (and Chain) would be more than willing to acknowledge that the money for industrialization of penicillin came from the UK & US governments as part of the massive expenditures of WWII--so it's not particularly relevant to how medical research should be funded today. (Unless, of course, another really big war is part of the strategy.)

"Why waste negative entropy on comments, when you could use the same entropy to create bugs instead?" -- Steve Elias