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Comment Re:Alien? (Score 1) 98

In all honesty, they might have gotten more funding for it if it wasn't an ego trip for a billionaire. I never understand what these guys are thinking, slapping their name on everything. You're still going to die dude.

But anyway, do I want to give my money to make sure a billionaire's telescope stays in operation? Not really. Would I give money to see that the Carl Sagan telescope stays in operation? Maybe.

Comment Re:NASA = 3D Realms (Score 5, Insightful) 179

I disagree. NASA hasn't bungled anything. The reason we don't have a replacement is that it takes more than 8 years and every president cancels the last guy's program. We wouldn't have made it to the moon if JFK hadn't been a hugely popular martyr. And even then, as soon as we set foot on the moon, they canceled Apollo. And every president since has canceled the last guy's program - except Carter. Carter, being a one-term president tried but failed to cancel the shuttle and that's the only reason we ever had it.

So Regan had the shuttle. Bush #1 supported a replacement but Clinton canceled it. Clinton supported a replacement (venturestar) but Bush #2 canceled it. Bush #2 supported a replacement (constellation) but Obama canceled it.

I don't see how any of this is NASA's fault.

Comment Re:I blame Bush (Score 1) 205

> The shuttles were only 35% through their rated lifespan.

[citation needed]

It's my understanding that the shuttles were way past their life expectancy. I think your opinion (and a lot of people's opinions) on this issue is clouded by your hatred for Bush. It's not like he personally designed Constellation. It wasn't perfect, but it was doable - and Obama canceled it. Constellation could have been fully funded with just a 1% cut to the department of defense.

Comment Re:A couple visions for the future (Score 1) 271

you don't heat a tube of water, but a tub of oil

Actually, I believe the current state of the art is to use sodium.

Beats me why we don't build more of them

In the past, industrialists were given tremendous power in society because of the economic benefits they produced. As a result, they didn't bother to take care of the environment and often created tremendous pollution. The pendulum has swung pretty far in the other direction and today environmentalists were given enormous power and it seems we can't build *anything*

We the people need to move the pendulum back a bit more to the center. We need leaders who say, "yes, I understand that this solar power plant is going to be built on the habitat of some lizard that nobody has ever heard of. I'm just completely sick about that, really. But it has to be done."

Comment Re:Gender discrimination? Say it ain't so. (Score 1) 224

it is considered so taboo to say that maybe, just MAYBE, men are discrimnated against

I agree that it's taboo, but there happens to be a very good reason why evolution would predispose us to discriminate against males and to find discussion of that discrimination distasteful, even offensive. It comes down to the simple fact that females are considerably more valuable* to the species than are males. We may not like it, but that's the way it is and that's the foundation for all of our instinctive emotional reactions. A woman's problem is a problem for the whole tribe and they take it seriously. A male's problem is a sign of weakness and the tribe will be better off without him. And any tribe whose members do not have these instinctive reactions will be selected for extinction.

That's just the way the world works. If you keep this simple principle in mind while observing any sort of social behavior, you'll find that suddenly the behavior makes a lot more sense.

*valuable in this context means the ability to have children. If a tribe has 20 males and 20 females, and 10 of the males are killed, the tribe will completely recover in just one generation. But if 10 of the females are killed, it make take many generations to recover. Thus, we might imagine many tribes of humans competing with each other. If any of them have instincts that cause them to prefer and protect males (say, if there's a flood and you have a choice to rescue a male or a female, and you choose the male) that tribe will be out competed by the tribes that have the instinct to prefer and protect females. 100,000 years later, we carry the instincts of those successful ancestors.

Note also that this predicts that we'd have a negative instinctive emotional reaction to any woman that doesn't want children, since we instinctively associate "value" with reproductive fitness. So, this explains the discrimination that career women face.

See? It really does explain everything.

Comment Re:Gender discrimination? Say it ain't so. (Score 1) 224

If you find a lost child, you take them to customer service

Which, unfortunately, is in the back of the store right next to the bathrooms. What's very likely to happen is that the paranoid soccer mom is going to see you walking away, hand in hand with her precious snowflake, and she is going absolutely flip out. Just pray she doesn't have a tazer.

most of the "gender differences" we see are primarily nurture, not nature.

In order to say that *most* differences are the result of culture, we'd have to compile a comprehensive list of differences and decide the cause of each one. Since you don't have that list, I don't think you can say that most of them are culture. For my own part, I am prepared to say that some of them are not culture, but are biologically determined, and that some of these appear to be very important differences. For whatever reason, even that statement is taboo in certain circles, where it is said that any and every behavioral difference must be the result of culture and there can be no other possible reason and to suggest otherwise is sexist blasphemy.

Comment Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 224

My daughter

Yeah, let me just stop you right there. Your anecdote does not disprove a statistic. For example, human males tend to be taller than human females. It's a well-established fact. If we have a slashdot thread full of people saying, "bullshit! My wife is taller than me!" does that disprove the statistic? No, it certainly does not. That's a slashdot thread full of selection bias - the only people who care to post are these who disagree.

Congrats on your daughter. Maybe she is unusual, or maybe you can condition her away from her biological norm. Either way, she's an anecdote and does not disprove the statistic.

Comment Re:Science =! Public Policy (Score 3, Insightful) 899

science can be inconvenient.

I think that science isn't popular because all that we see of it is stuff that's depressing. Kids today are bombarded by the message that we've ruined the world, destroyed the planet, and can't do anything right. Why should they get motivated after hearing all of that?

If you want to see a contrast, find some of the old Mr. Wizard videos on youtube or wherever you can find them. The undercurrent that I see in those videos is that everything is knowable, all problems are solvable. That's the mantra that was taught to the generation that landed on the Moon.

The subsequent generation was very much a downer. Now, I'm not blind to the facts. I know that there is a lot of bad news out there. But it seems to me that what we tell kids today is simply, "omfg global warming!" "omfg extinction!" "omfg pacific garbage patch!" And that's all we tell them. We don't follow it up with optimism of any kind, so they come away with the attitude, "fuck this! what's the point of school when we're all going to die?"

Comment [citation needed] (Score 1) 153

Most anybody who was left at the end of the 70s was fired by Reagan

Got a citation for that? Reagan's administration began in 1981 and according to this wiki article, NASA's budget for that year was $11.2 billion, and steadily increased (in real dollars, adjusted for inflation - these are real increases) except for one year, 1985. There was a one-time spike in the budget in 1987 when they got extra money to replace Challenger.

I haven't heard that Reagan fired engineers, and I'd love to see your source

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