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Comment Not a great comparison to Moby-Dick. (Score 2) 135

Moby Dick is fiction, but was highly influenced and factually informed by the tragic events and wreck of the whaleship Essex. Melville was consumed by the stories of the surviving crew, and was inspired by them to write Moby-Dick. It's a fictional work immersed in a strong, accurate nonfiction document.

The following book about the Essex is superb, for those with further interest. It won a nonfiction National Book Award. You will stay up very late reading it.

            In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick.

Comment Re:NASA has become small indeed... (Score 4, Interesting) 108

I will join you in the eye roll, but directed to your post.

I assumed anyone reading my OP would understand I was talking about a specific engineering and exploration *project* rolled up from scratch (which is a colloquial term, with the literary license customary for such usage). Take the logic of your post far enough, and I would have to credit Australopithecus for the discovery of fire.

We all, to paraphrase Newton, stand on the shoulders of giants. So too did the engineers at NASA. This should not require further explanation.

Meanwhile, judging by the serial explosive failures of the 50s rocket tech you mentioned, and the weak tea served up by Mercury vs. the superior Russian tech, Apollo did not have the kind of technological base you've implied, anyway.

If you read a good history of the Apollo effort, you'll find that the engineers *desperately* wanted a clean sheet approach. And they got it. Along with a government that cut red tape and cleared the way for them to do what they were there to do.

Those days are gone.

Comment NASA has become small indeed... (Score 5, Insightful) 108

It took 8 years from Kennedy's speech in 1961 to a human on the moon in 1969. Not only did NASA get a moon rocket designed, tested, and launched in that time, it also got an intermediate rocket program (Gemini) designed, tested, and launched prior to the moon program.

From scratch.

Now we're looking at (maybe) 11 years to develop a working rocket to go to an asteroid. Oh boy, journey to an, umm, space rock. Really stirs the heart, doesn't it? And this after willingly withdrawing from manned spaceflight capacity altogether for at least six years, and counting. Yep, just folding the cards and walking away from the table.

Sure, go ahead and tell me how technically challenging the space rock odyssey will be. But the call of space comes from the same place the call of the sea arose from in the past. To Terra Incognita, where "Here Be Dragons." Sorry, there be no dragons around the space rock.

The technical wizardry missions could and should be handled by robots. Humans should be reserved for missions which stir the soul, or the people who pay for such things (you and me) will stop paying.

It's hard to think of a better demonstration of how the US used to get things done, and how it does things now, than to compare the space program we had 50 years ago to the current version.

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood, and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Comment You think that government is apolitical? (Score 5, Insightful) 640


Everyone has an agenda. Government is the most powerful entity in our mixed society. It is (and has amply proven itself to be) capable of corruption, graft, and political pursuit of goals contrary to the interests of those who are taxed to fund it.

Concentration of power is the problem. Politically, big corporations and big government are a difference without a distinction. They both pursue their own agendas in service to the elites who are stakeholders, and then use propaganda to claim otherwise.

Comment You aren't looking at systemic effects. (Score 4, Insightful) 282

Yes, the phonemaker gets more revenue. However, the money used to fund those replacements comes from an increased levy on all phone purchasers who have coverage. So everyone with coverage pays more for phones. The extra money that everyone pays for phones means less money spent on all other possible purchases. So Apple's revenue increase is Krogers' or Target's or Shell's decrease.

We usually disregard widely-distributed costs and look at local effects. This is especially true of politicians. But those effects are real and directly affect the aggregate economy numbers.

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