Walt, Walt, Walt…


I admire Walt Cunningham as a hero of Apollo, but it’s hard to do so as a policy analyst. The very title of his opinion piece is nonsense:

We must not discard greatest innovator in history

Presumably he’s talking about NASA, and specifically the human spaceflight program. But in fact, due to risk aversion, it is probably the least innovative technology program going, with “Apollo on Steroids” the most prominent and recent example. I’d wager that we get more innovation out of Silicon Valley in a month than we have from the entire history of the human spaceflight program. He expands in the first paragraph:

Continue reading Walt, Walt, Walt…

What A Surprise

The president doesn’t understand how insurance works. It seems he’s just as ignorant about it now as he was when he was a kid. I’d have laughed at him, too. I still do. Or would, if he weren’t running the country.

[Update monday morning]

More (amusing) thoughts from Tom Maguire:

Obama apparently blundered to the common (and thriftier) conclusion, since no one buys collision on a junker.

However, months later he realized that paying more for collision would have been a great idea, so history is re-written. It is now due to ACME’s rapaciousness that they are unwilling to right this wrong and write him a check. And they laughed! Surely Chait can hear the racial overtones there! After the laughter died they should have explained to the college grad that he could file a third-party claim against the other driver, assuming Obama was not at fault, but that also may have been too confusing.

Well. If even Obama can be duped by greedy insurers into saving his money and taking a sensible risk, what hope do the rest of us have? Surely we need these new health insurance mandates to make sure both that we buy policies and that the policies we buy have everything we need, not just everything we (stupidly think we) want.

I find the condescension and arrogance of these “brilliant” “liberals” insufferable.

Graphics Card Question

So my Samsung LCD monitor gave up the ghost (less than a couple years old, I think), and I went out to Frys to get a new replacement. I was looking at the displays and some of them looked like crap (blurry letters). I asked the salesman, and he said that they were being fed with VGA analog, whereas the sharp ones were digital (DVI or HDMI). If I were the manufacturers of those monitors, I’d be pretty unhappy with that situation, but I digress.

Anyway, I determined to not only get a replacement monitor, but to upgrade my video card as well to digital output. So I bought a new LG 21.5″ screen, and an MSI card with an NVidia N220GT engine, and a gig of DDR2 memory.

I got home, put in the card, and it turned out not to work without having to update Linux drivers from NVidia. But in changing it out, I also noticed that the old card (also an NVidia, with 128M of memory) had a DVI output, so I didn’t really need the new one in terms of digital output support. So I’m running with it now.

Question: I’m not a gamer, and don’t do anything really graphics intensive, such as video processing. Is there any point in updating drivers and reinstalling it, or should I just take it back and get my sixty bucks back? Will I see any performance improvement from it?

[Monday morning update]

Thanks for all the input in comments. I don’t need any of the things that y’all say the card will help with, so I’ll be taking it back. If I ever do need it, I’ll get a better one, cheaper, at that time.

Prospects For Constellation Resurrection

Clark Lindsey has some realistic perspective:

After the noise dies away from the hearings on the NASA budget, the harsh reality of NASA’s limited budget is going to sink in with Congress just as it did for the Augustine panel when they started to look at the numbers. Constellation just won’t fit. You can’t fly the ISS, keep all those Shuttle workers employed and proceed with Ares/Orion. Shelby et al will try to save Constellation but the vast majority of the appropriators have much, much higher priorities than NASA and they are not going to boost the agency’s budget just to preserve a $100B+ billion dollar program that the NASA administrator, a blue-ribbon panel, the President and common sense all say is not viable.

He also points to a useful recent precedent:

Despite all that noise and anger and legislative maneuvers, by the end of July the plan was accepted: The F-22: Senate Votes to End Production – TIME – July.22.09. Congress as a whole decided that the negatives were not nearly as bad as claimed and the positives were too good to reject.

If Bolden and the administration push in a similar vigorous and sustained manner for their NASA plan, they will also win. As I’ve noted before, President Obama would no doubt love to battle Congressional members who want to force him to spend tens of billions of dollars on a failed Moon program, especially when most of that opposition consists of supposedly small-government, pro-business, anti-deficit Republicans. (Could just see him in a public forum saying that continuing the Moon program would be “an inexcusable waste of money”.)

I hope that the days of NASA as pork, as opposed to progress, are at least coming to a middle, if not an end. And the ironies continue to abound.

Suborbital Safety

I have some thoughts over at Popular Mechanics, that arose from last week’s suborbital researchers’ conference in Boulder.

[Update a few minutes later]

Wayne Hale (who I was privileged to finally meet in person last week in Boulder) has some thoughts on “human rating.” I like his last quote. It reminds me of another one: “Every time they performed an investigation of the accident, all of the paperwork was found to be in order.”

It’s All In The Name

Some thoughts on the “killer whale” incident. What I find annoying about it (which the article hints at, but doesn’t make explicit) is all of the commentators repeatedly referring to the animal as “the whale.” O’Reilly made a fool of himself on this last night, when he compared an Orca to Moby Dick. Hint to the media — “killer whales” are not whales. They are the largest member of the family Delphinidae. In other words, they are dolphins.

To The Moon, Alice!

Not. Some very useful thoughts from Miles O’Brien.

It is a shame how atrociously this has been reported, with all of the nonsensical talk about “ending human spaceflight.” Of course, it’s partly the administration’s fault, by springing it at the last minute. As Miles notes, anyone with their head in the sunlight could see that Constellation (or at least Ares — killing Orion as well was a legitimate surprise) couldn’t survive in the current (or really, any) environment, but it still came as a shock, with an inadequate description of what is to replace it. I hope that this will be rectified in the coming weeks and months.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!