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Comment Be careful what you wish for... (Score 4, Insightful) 120

I've had the feeling more than once that NASA promotes a lot of ideas that they know are impractical in order to fire up their base of support, which is largely SF fans who can't or won't distinguish fantasy from reality. With an election coming up the strategy works brilliantly, and now they're handed a big pot of money to begin realizing their dreams. So they have to hire a battalion of scientists and engineers to work on growing crops on Mars, squeezing water out of rocks, mining asteroids for minerals, and all the rest. This should be interesting.

Comment Re:We've already failed, apparently (Score 1) 954

It's looking more and more like a certain Sunni extremist group has already obtained one of their primary objectives: polarizing the United States against anyone of middle-eastern origin.

No, we're quite capable of doing that all by ourselves, and we do it because fear is politically useful.

Comment Re:Home of the brave? (Score 0) 954

Nope, sorry. I've lived here all my life and I see it every day: Xenopphobic fear and bigotry are political tools used to induce the common folk to throw their political weight against their own vital interests. It's an integral part of the system. "Ideologies" are no accident; they serve very real political interests. The pathetic thing is that America - or at least conservative America - is starting to resemble Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s despite having none of the same stresses such as enormous unemployment, hyperinflation, and national humiliation from the Versailles treaty. I shudder to think of what would be going on here with any of those things going on.

Comment Re:Because (Score 4, Insightful) 65

For the most part, corporate executives are schooled in business, not engineering. They know planning, reorganizing, finance, merging and acquiring, and (maybe) marketing. Their path to success is through doing those things. Initiatives that originate among the engineers have a long wait to see the light of day -if they ever do - because they first have to be championed by one of the aforementioned executives. That's why innovation in larger companies is done by acquiring products and technology from the outside, and usually not by developing ideas from within. The silver lining is that it creates opportunity for smaller companies that are more focused on their customers' needs and the technologies for satisfying them.

Comment Re:Question (Score 1) 138

Software/web development is the only field I can think of where practitioners delight in ridiculing people outside of their specialty for not knowing everything that they do. I don't see that with medical doctors or lawyers or pharmacists or physicists. Every profession seems to have its own standards for basic maturity.

Comment Re:Or the Gordon Dickson approach (Score 1) 115

I'm trying to imagine, at the time the postal service was organized, what the public reaction would have been if it was announced that your mail would be opened and read, and the information so gained would be sold to merchants, employers, and police in your area. Would people have accepted that in exchange for free postage?

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They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.