June 12th, 2010

HALO

Geek Social Fallacies

Went out to PRSFS last night; meeting was in the ass-end of Cheverly, practically in digex' back yard, and since I'd agreed to give one of the members a lift home to Vienna, it seemed only reasonable to get together with P, who is on her three-day weekend from working the midnight shift. The PRSFS meeting...hm. On the one hand, I like talking about science fiction, but on the other hand, I don't like being reminded of these truths:
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So...I dunno. It was good seeing Kyle & Monica, it was nice to see the hostess' charming daughter, but there were 4-5 people there who just got up my nose. Maybe I'll go back next month, and maybe I'll find something more constructive to do.

As mentioned before, returning one of the members to their place in Vienna took until 0100, at which point I got together with P for breakfast at Sheetz and a drive with conversation so we could get caught up with each other. Got home ~0300, full of caffeine, started reading Michael Flynn's The Wreck of The River of Stars to decompress, and that backfired by keeping me up until 0600. Up at 1400 with decent blood sugar...probably going to crash early tonight to get back on a normal sleep schedule.
Boss Coffee

Why you need to GTFO and listen

Jerry Pournelle comments on a a Fred Reed essay:

Current View:
Fred goes further in pointing out that commentators are all bright people and they only talk to other bright people, and get an exaggerated view of human capability.

Some commentators urge letting people invest their Social Security taxes in the stock market. To them it is a question of abstract freedom and probably the Federalist papers. The commentators are smart enough to invest money. I’ll guess that at least half the population isn’t. Go into the tit bar (does it still exist) in Waldorf, Maryland, and ask the dump-truck drivers and nail-pounders what NASDAQ is.

Liberal commentators want everyone to go to college, when about a fifth of people have the brains. Conservatives think that people can rise by hard work and sacrifice as certainly many people have. Thing is, most people can’t. Commentators only see those who made it.

The tendency of the Beltway 99th to live in an imaginary world, of conservatives to think that everybody can be a Horatio Alger, of liberals to believe that inequality arises from discrimination, guarantees wretched policy. Those who can do almost anything need to recognize the existence of those who can do almost nothing. Few of the latter are parasites. The waitress has worked all her life, as has the truck driver. They ended up with nothing.

It's a powerful argument; but is it true? The temptation is to "compassionate conservatism" which is sometimes known as paternalism. There are a lot of people who live their lives in quiet desperation and who are never going to achieve anything of national importance. It's not true that everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.

It is true enough that most of us -- by us I mean me, Fred, those who read this web site -- spend most of our time conversing with other smart people, and few of us have more than very brief interaction with people of IQ 90 or less (16% of the population). Half of the people are by definition below average, but I would suspect that most of the people we know are IQ 110 or above -- 16% of the population. As Fred observes, about 20% of the population has the brains for going to college. Those are the people we generally know. But it hardly makes everyone else stupid.


This is what I keep trying to remind my friends. What you see and hear in Washington D.C. is not truly reflective of how things are in the rest of the country. Shit, it's not even reflective of how things are outside the ring formed by Prince Georges, Montgomery, Arlington and Fairfax Counties. Thing is, if you never get out of the ring and listen to people in Fredericksburg, St. Ansgar, Cameron, and half a hundred other little urbs across the fruited plain, you're not going to know what the hell is going on with those people. And that would be a serious mistake.
Boss Coffee

"We need to fly some rocket ships."

Current View:
That's my recommendation. We don't need a conference. We need an X program. DC/X showed the way. Next step is to build a larger one. I'd go for the full 600,000 GLOW SSX, but we can settle for something smaller (that can never make orbit, or even scare it much, but can teach us a lot about engines and control). DC/X used hydrogen. One of the things we learned from DC/X is you really don't want hydrogen rockets; they are an operational nightmare. Max Hunter always thought we'd end up using propane. (There are those who like methane, but rocket fuel grade methane is hard to obtain and has operations difficulties. Propane is easy to come by and we know a lot about handling it.) The conclusion is obvious, at least to me: build the best propane LOX ship using at least 8 engines that we can build with present technology. Make it somewhere between 100,000 and 600,000 pounds GLOW. Build it, take it to Edwards, and fly it. Build three tail numbers. Fly the first one closer and closer to the envelope and learn all we can. If it prangs -- sometimes X ships do -- you've got the second tail number to fly until the tests are over. With luck the third one is a hangar queen that eventually goes to the Smithsonian.

We don't need a conference, we need to fly some rocket ships.


He ought to know. RTWT.
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