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Comment Re:Ambiguity? (Score 1) 367

Anything ? No. Not at all.

But some things ? Yes.

National defense being a better example of this than roads due to the need to reduce conflicts of interest. But I should point out that rent seeking is a notorious example of a thing that frequently requires public funding (and supporting regulation) to exist. The AT&T monopoly probably delayed design and implementation of the eventual internet considerably due to the interference of a state-mandated and supported monopoly with little interest in technology development of this sort (their computer development was in a sector where they experienced competition).

The internet fits in that middle group. Lots of large private networks were built around the same time - but they didn't take off like the internet.

That's pretty strong evidence right there that the internet would have happened anyway.

Designing the technology was not the hard part, in fact some of those large privately owned networks had technology that was, arguably, far more advanced than the internet technology at the time. Yet they didn't become the internet - because to BE an internet you needed a hands-off approach, and a willingness to let everybody use it and evolve it and expand it in all sorts of ways without trying to make money out of them all. A central controller or owner would have prevented it from succeeding. The internet was the exact OPPOSITE of a tragedy of the commons - it was a technology that couldn't happen UNLESS it was a commons.

Again doesn't require public funding to do that.

Really, what is the point of claiming that one needs public funding to have an internet? We conveniently can't have a pure counterexample due to the prevalence of promiscuous government spending. It also ignores the variety and extent of private networks that were being developed at the time, some which became part of the internet which as I already noted is a strong indication to the contrary. It's a variation of the "a few drops dirty the ocean" argument. Government spending is so prevalent that anything can be tainted with it. For example, you then went on to claim that public funding was instrumental to the development of Linux merely because Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux had a free college education in Finland.

My view on such things is that when you uncritically support public spending because the internet (computers, lasers, etc), you're opening the door to all sorts of waste and harms from unaccountable public spending simply because you aren't paying attention. In particular, we have a variety of massive projects that don't do useful things, like $400 billion on a poor jet fighter or $100 billion for a space station that barely does science. Or trillions spent across the developed world to transfer wealth from working people who need it to elderly who don't.

Comment Re:Some privacy is more equal than other (Score 1) 423

Obviously, privacy of police officers is less equal than that of Planned Parenthood officials.

And you have a problem with that why? Police officers on duty don't have the same expectation of privacy that a private non profit and its officials have.

Are PP's employees "entirely different" from policemen?

What law enforcement powers do PP employees have again?

receiving even a little bit of tax money changes everything.

So PP employees should be able to go out and write tickets for speeding and stuff because they get a little tax money?

I notice you don't mention any applicable law. If we just go off of the vague assertion that it "changes everything" rather than a concrete law, then there are plenty of negative ways we could interpret that which make matters worse.

From what I'm reading here, this case doesn't look good for the activists. They committed fraud, they covertly videoed someone (which incidentally may be illegal to do even when the target is a police officer), and libeled Planned Parenthood afterward. The first two are felonies. The last a civil tort.

Comment Re:"Green" technologies aren't sufficient. (Score 2) 227

Or we could, you know, build clean garbage incineration units like they have in Europe which are actually net producers of energy.

Coal burning is actually a net producer of energy too. And if burning trash "cleanly" is so awesome as a power source, then why not dig up some of our monstrous trash heaps and burn those? Cleanly, of course.

BRB I need to throw some batteries away. /s

Comment Re:Can't blame NASA (Score 1) 166

Did NASA let this happen, or did Congress force it on NASA?

I believe both are true. A key point IMHO was in the wake of the massive downsizing from the Saturn V. NASA could no longer maintain the huge infrastructure of the Saturn period in the mid 70s. But rather than resize their ambitions for the budget they were getting, they overbuilt launch infrastructure (the Space Shuttle) in a gamble to get more funding for actual space exploration and development down the road. The Challenger accident ended that gamble.

At that point in 1986, the Shuttle had failed as a tool to gain more funding and enable more space activities. But they continued it for another quarter century, finally ending the program in 2010. We've since 1986 have had a vastly overpriced space station, at least two Shuttle predecessors, and two Saturn V-scale rockets developed without a point by NASA.

If NASA wanted a coherent, productive space strategy, they had numerous times where they could have changed their ways to get that, even in the face of congressional meddling. It has long been more important to lock in funding than it is to actually do anything in space.

Comment Re:Can't blame NASA (Score 1) 166

Agreed. This report smells like sensationalized bullshit that makes light of what things really cost. The cost to essentially re-tool after decades out of the business of anything beyond low-earth orbit space travel has to be paid, and since NASA has to carry out the mission, they're the ones who first have to have everything in place. Measuring this against what contractors get is a head-fake; contractors should be specialists paid just for the piece of the puzzle required from them, so they should get paid less and later, after NASA has figured out to an excruciating degree of certainty what they need and how to get it done right so that contractors don't wind up making something useless.

Unless they had private industry do it. Then they wouldn't need to do all this stuff. It's worth noting that NASA actually did a study where they priced out how much a NASA contract for SpaceX's development of the Falcon 9 would cost. It turned out to be an order of magnitude greater than what SpaceX actually spent on development.

Besides, NASA is not for-profit like the private sector. Money doesn't disappear down a profit hole, CEO bonuses or golden parachutes.

Actually a lot of money does disappear exactly that way since NASA depends on private industry to actually build anything.

Unless there are examples of specific misappropriation

Like the existence of the Space Launch System? No reason for it aside from cash flow to the appropriate congressional districts. It has some of the most terrible economics since Titan III with a very low launch frequency and no compelling need for the capabilities it provides.

except only for pork mandated by Congress, because a congressman wants something sweet in his state or district. In THAT case, don't blame NASA, blame the Congressman (and the people who voted for him).

It's NASA's job to do NASA's job. They let this political rent seeking get way out of hand over the decades.

Comment Re:Can't blame NASA (Score 1) 166

Yep. Turns out NASA doesn't get to say "oops" as often as SpaceX does, which makes things more expensive.

NASA does a lot of stuff which makes things more expensive. In addition to their skewed risk perception, they also reuse the Space Shuttle lineage despite no compelling reason to do so (particularly, the solid rocket motors which generate a variety of costs and risks), employ cost plus contracts (which should be the exclusive realm of gouging law firms), and make some of the worst economic decisions in the federal government.

Comment Re:what's the next plan? (Score 1) 269

Half of Bangladesh being under water is a "first world cause"?

It's not that hard to move a hundred million people. The US, for example, does it every few years.

If anybody will survive catastrophic climate change it will be the "first world".

Come up with evidence first for this alleged "catastrophic" nature. You clearly haven't been reading actual research.

Plus, most of the "first world" is in a temperate climate zone which means it will be warmer, but livable, unlike say the tropics in such a scenario.

Most of the warming won't be in the tropics. And once again, if that really is a problem at some point in the distant future, then move the people. It's not that hard a problem.

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