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Pat, In addition to Kuiper and Starlink, there's also OneWeb and Telesat doing their own broadband megaconstellations. It'll be interesting to see how this all shakes out, and if the financial markets will stay hot, frothy, and stupid long enough for more than one of these to make it all the way to market. I think things are different than the late 90s (when Teledesic first proposed a broadband megaconstellation that would "darken the sky with satellites"), but the question is how different. A lot depends on when this bubble that Obama and Trump have blown finally pops. If it lasts another 2-3yrs, we'll likely see at least 2-3 of these make it to operations before the bottom falls out. But if things sour in the next year or so, there's a non-zero chance that none of them will make it all the way to market. Fingers crossed. ~Jon
Pat, I share your concern, but for the neocons I fear that they see that backing Iran into a position where it has nothing to lose with a war is a feature, not a bug. ~Jon
Mr Bolan, I agree with your assessment. Unfortunately, I fear that for many in the Trump administration, policies that make open conflict with Iran more likely may be seen as a feature, not a bug. ~Jon
Pat, While I'm personally pretty skeptical of the "Deep State" conspiracy theories, I think it would be good and fair game for Mueller to investigate those properly. I doubt anyone who believed in those conspiracies would be convinced if Mueller didn't find evidence of wrongdoing, but it's still worth having him do what he can to get to what really happened. ~Jon
Tacitus, Peace. Sorry if I came across as a troll. I don't post on here much, but Pat let me post some space technology/policy stuff on here occasionally. To address your points: 1- Yes, I knew that this was for a FISA warrant not for wiretapping under Section 702. I was just trying to make the point that if the FBI is so corrupt and "deep statey" that we can't trust them even with warranted wiretapping, it seems odds that Nunes was so enthusiastic about expanding the Section 702 *warrantless* wiretapping, which has even less accountability when spying on US citizens. If Nunes had evidence that we can't trust the FBI, even when there are independent checks and balances (like the FISA Court judges, which I note the memo is pretty darned silent on), it seems really odd that he would be leading the charge on giving them more authority with even less accountability. That was my point. 2- My point on the dossier is that we have to be really careful about reading too much into this memo. Sure, it states that the dossier and the Yahoo interview were used as part of the evidence to justify surveillance on Carter Page (who it's worth noting had left the Trump campaign almost a month previous to the first FISA warrant application). But while it talks about how the Steele dossier in general hadn't been corroborated much, most of the Steele dossier had nothing to do with the actual target of the FISA warrant, Carter Page. It's worth noting that the memo is silent on the question of if the *relevant* parts of the Steele dossier for this specific warrant had been independently corroborated or not. I guess its possible that the FBI went to a FISA Judge with just a dossier and a public news article as all of the evidence they brought to bear. Or its possible that they used the tipoff from the dossier, did some digging, and came up with more solid evidence corroborating the fact that there was sufficient probably cause to justify wiretapping Carter. I guess my concern here is that the memo leaves out all sorts of information that if their case was as strong as they make it sound, you wonder why they did that. 3- Just to be clear--as a libertarian, I'm not generally a fan of the FBI, and am totally willing to believe that there are often agents or managers within the FBI with bad agendas. I'm just skeptical of this particular claim of conspiracy. The evidence is thin, the author of the memo isn't exactly an unbiased source (or one with a stellar track record for competence or honesty), and there is lots of other behavioral evidence (like his stance on Section 702) that seem really incongruous with a strong belief that the FBI was filled with criminal conspiracies and coup plotters. 4- In some ways this really reminds me a lot of what's been happening under Erdrogan in Turkey. Claim a deep state conspiracy/coup and use it as a justification for purging people in the government who don't place loyalty to the president over loyalty to their country. Not trying to offend you with any of this (though I wouldn't be surprised if especially point #4 rubs you wrong), just making my observations. I really enjoy this blog and a lot of the reporting and discussion on here. But I'd feel remiss in not stating my piece here. ~Jon
Tacitus, Color me politely skeptical for a few reasons: 1- If Nunes really believes that the FBI is lying on FISA warrant applications, and has known so for at least a month at this point, why did he just ramrod through legislation that extended and expanded Section 702 warrantless wiretapping powers just two weeks ago? If he was really worried that the FBI was lying on warrant applications, wouldn't that imply even more that they couldn't be trusted with warrantless spying on US citizens? AIUI, during the hearings on amendments to that bill, that would've tried adding extra protections against abuse (which he successfully squashed), he argued that there was no evidence of abuse of the process, and that such safeguards were not necessary. Basically at the exact same time that he was writing a memo claiming such abuses... 2- The memo doesn't say anything one way or another about if the specific claims that were material to this actual FISA warrant were independently vetted or not. It implies, but doesn't state, which leaves me suspicious. If the FBI saw some claims about Carter Page in the dossier, but then were able to independently vet those claims, why does the original source matter? Nunes is trying to make it sound like (without explicitly saying) that the only evidence was the dossier and the Yahoo news article. But the fact that he wasn't more explicit makes me suspicious. Remember, in addition to the accused people in this post, a FISC judge also had to sign off on this application, knowing that it was investigating someone very politically sensitive. Do you really think that the judge is that dumb, or is he also complicit? Or more likely, is there additional evidence that was in the warrant that Nunes conveniently didn't mention in his memo because he knew it would be really hard for that evidence to be declassified? I'm a libertarian. I didn't vote for Hillary and am glad she's not in office. But everything about this memo seems fishy. ~Jon ~Jon
Robert, One of the thing that has bugged me the most about the release the memo crowd is how many of them literally just got through voting for extending and expanding the very FISA surveillance powers they claim were abused by the FBI and DoJ. Some of them knew about this memo at the time they were arguing for and voting for giving more secret surveillance power to the government. As a libertarian, I can believe that the FBI is an agency that has too much power for flawed mortals, and that that power can get abused by unscrupulous individuals. But if that's the case and they really have evidence for it, they sure aren't voting as though they actually believe their memo... ~Jon
Pat, I'm sort of conflicted on this. I'm definitely not a Russophobe (Romney's Coldwar-esque rhetoric was a big part of why I didn't vote for him in spite of being Mormon), and I agree that a lot of the Borg hates Trump for not being sufficiently Russophobic like they are. But on the other hand, I do wonder about a lot of this. It's not that meeting with a diplomat is wrong, because it's not. But the fact that so many of Trump's aides have both met with Russian representatives *and* tried to hide it that makes me wonder what's up. Why try to hide something that's perfectly legal? There's a chance that all of them independently accidentally forgot communicating with the Russians during the campaign, but that seems more and more unlikely the more cases we see. I don't want a return to the US-Russian relations we had under Obama with Clinton at the State Department. But I also am a bit concerned when people are acting like they have something they need to cover up. Plus, while I would like to see good relations with Russia, I'd like to keep them short of blowing Putin big wet sloppy kisses. He's an authoritarian who does a lot that isn't up to the standards I'd like to hold the US to. There ought to be some more sane middle ground than the extremes staked out by Trump on one hand and the Clinton on the other hand. That's my $0.02, ~Jon
Toggle Commented Mar 4, 2017 on What ambassadors do ... at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Pat, Interesting analysis as always! Re: Iran, I worry that those who think Trump was genuinely opposed to war in the Middle East are going to end up being "rode hard and put away wet" as I think the idiom goes. I hope the Iranians find some common sense soon, because otherwise things are going to get messy in a hurry in the Middle East. At least it sounds like Mattis, in spite of my worries, is actually acting as a little bit of a damper on the rest of the Iran hawks. Still a really scary situation. A war with Iran isn't going to stay contained for long. Re: Dodd-Frank. There probably are elements of Dodd-Frank that in hindsight are either ineffective or even counterproductive. But a) fixing legislation is Congress's job, not the POTUS's, and b) the timing here might be really poor. As a friend of mine pointed out over lunch yesterday, because of all the money pumped into the system via Quantitative Easing, the stock market is currently trading at a P/E ratio 2x the historic average. And we've been longer since a recession than the typical inter-recession average. Which suggests there's a good chance for a downturn soon, regardless of what Trump does. But if it say started crashing next week, everyone is going to blame it on Trump repealing or gutting Dodd-Frank, regardless of what the real cause was. So even if you think Dodd-Frank was bad, now might not be the best time to try and ram through Executive Order-driven reforms. ~Jon
Toggle Commented Feb 5, 2017 on A couple more things ... at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Pat, I really enjoyed watching the SpaceX return to flight video on Saturday. We took a break from our normal Saturday management meeting to watch through the end of first stage recovery. Elon has a great team there at SpaceX. It's impressive to see what they've been able to pull off. My last startup was also doing (much smaller and less impressive) VTVL rockets, so I can definitely appreciate what goes into making something like this work on any scale, but I still get blown away by the fact that that is a 10 story tall rocket landing on the barge. I had always been skeptical that he'd get barge landing reliable, but he's proven me wrong. I just hope their competitor ULA eventually comes around to powered-landing reuse. ULA is looking at reuse already, but a much less ambitious form. ULA is one of our bigger customers at my current startup, so I'd like to see them keep evolving to stay competitive with SpaceX. Plus, for all the awesomeness of what SpaceX has pulled off technically, I like how ULA treats its vendors and partners a lot better--SpaceX has a bit of a reputation for stealing others IP and pulling everything in-house, and never sharing the limelight, while ULA actively cultivates and publicly praises collaborations with small businesses and startups like mine. But yeah, it's been cool to see powered landing reusable rockets go from sci-fi as a young teen to reality with multiple companies (SpaceX, Blue Origin, Masten, and several other groups) during the first third of my career. It'll be neat to see where things go from here. I still have a promise to keep with my oldest that we'd go to the moon together some day. ~Jon
Toggle Commented Jan 16, 2017 on A Perfect Landing at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Pat, So that's where the term "hot wash" comes from? Makes sense. One of my business guys always used the phrase, and I wasn't sure where it came from. ~Jon
This is a bit of a tangent, but it's interesting to note that Evan McMullin (the temporarily ex-Republican "independent" presidential candidate who might just win Utah's electoral college votes) came out of the CTC side of the CIA, before working at Goldman Sachs and then serving as a defense policy staffer for House Republicans. Explains a lot about his Syrian world view (and why he's such a heartthrob with the few Neocons who aren't voting for Hillary this year). But as I said, that's really tangential to your point. ~Jon
Pat, I forgot to say that I agree with you, the GOP should either dump Trump, or if they can't, they should bail out for at least this election. At least my fellow Mormon GOPers have shown some backbone by unendorsing him. I'm not holding my breath for a mass exodus to the former GOP governors though. That would require more spine than I think the GOP has. ~Jon
Toggle Commented Oct 8, 2016 on HC wants "open borders" at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Pat, I know I might be in a minority here, but I would have respected Clinton more if she had stayed true to the sentiments reflected in this quote, instead of pandering to the lowest common denominator of her base. I think freer trade and more open immigration (at least removing the quota on work visas) would be steps in the right direction. FWIW, I went to a Gary Johnson rally here in Denver on Monday, and he made the case for more open immigration and freer trade very powerfully. They were some of the topics he seemed most passionate about. I know not all readers of this site agree with that, but his positions on trade and immigration are some of what attracts me most to voting for Johnson. To me Clinton's sin here is hypocrisy--abandoning what could've been a principled stance for cynical political expedience. YMMV, ~Jon
Toggle Commented Oct 8, 2016 on HC wants "open borders" at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Will, I just wish they weren't both focused on such huge rockets as their next steps. The rapid reusability part is the key innovation, not the size. Right now one of the only companies working on a more sane sized fully-reusable vehicle is my previous company, Masten Space Systems. Masten, Boeing, and Northrup Grumman each were given about $6M each to do some feasibility study work on a rapidly reusable first stage for a two-stage rocket that can put 3000-5000lb into orbit. DARPA will be announcing their Phase II selection (for a $140M development/demonstration contract) in the next few months. If Masten beats the odds and wins--they've grown about 10x since I left, but are still less than 50 people, I think that's a much better size range to demonstrate high flight rate reusability. We'll see. ~Jon
Mike, If you look at Musk's predictions for SpaceX in the past, they usually take ~2x longer than expected. One joke some of us have made is that Musk is a Martian, and he keeps forgetting to do the unit conversion from Mars years into Earth years... So yeah, 2024 seems wildly optimistic. 2032? Much less crazy, though I still think BFR/ITS are way too big for a next step. ~Jon
TTG, I agree that bigger than 4-6 person groups makes a lot of sense, though something more in the 10-20 range would've allowed for a more reasonable sized system. I just hope my friends at Space Works can get their "Induced Torpor" technology to work. They're being funded by NASA's NIAC program to investigate the idea, and it looks plausible. If they could make that work, a 100 person ship could be much smaller, since you could keep most of the people in torpor for most of the trip. ~Jon
JLD, You'd almost never be in a space suit--you'd be inside interconnected pressurized building most of the time. You'd probably only ever venture outside in a suit when absolutely necessary. There are places in the world during winter that aren't that different from that situation. I wouldn't want to move there permanently myself, but it would be an interesting place to visit. ~Jon
Babak, I think a more accurate way of putting it is that we don't know yet if humans can successfully adapt to the Mars environment. We have billions of data points at 1-gravity, a couple hundred at zero-gravity, but no data points at anywhere between. We have no idea how much gravity humans need to be healthy. I may be you need almost a full 1G. It may be that we can adapt to lunar gravity. We literally do not know, and have no good way of testing that on Earth. But it can be tested fairly reasonably on-orbit (I did a few blog posts over the past five years on one of the better ways to get the data quickly: I wish Elon saw getting this data as a higher priority. ~Jon
Pat, Before I try responding to some of the above comments, my high-level take is that the underlying concepts (launcher reuse, on-orbit refueling, propellant production on Mars) are all sound. I just think he's picked a scale that's overly ambitious, and the assumptions behind his cost model are overly optimistic. If he manages to make the technical side work, I think he won't hit his ambitious $140-500k/passenger ticket price, but he might hit $5-10M per passenger, which is already 1000x cheaper than how NASA would do things. I had a longer take on my personal space technology/policy blog here: ~Jon
Pat, I voted for Gary last time, when I knew there was no chance, and in spite of all his flaws, I'm probably more excited to vote for him this time. He may not be articulate, or quick on his feet when it comes to trivia, but from all I've seen he appears to be honest, humble, decent, non-corrupt, reasonable, a non-militarist, willing to find ways to work with people across the political spectrum to achieve libertarianish ends, and for getting government's nose out of tasks it shouldn't be doing, and then making sure that what it is supposed to be doing is done well and efficiently. I wish he had a better chance, and I wish he didn't stick his foot in his mouth as much. But even though I live in one of the swingier of swing states (Colorado), I fully intend to vote for Gary. I'm also planning to research what it would take to get an imitative on the ballot here in Colorado to change elections (presidential, US house/senate, governor, and state legislatures at least) from the current plurality first-past-the-pole approach to an Instant Runoff Vote approach. That would make it a lot easier in the future for people to vote their conscience, not just voting for one of the two major parties out of fear that Tweedle-dee might win if they don't vote for Tweedle-dum. ~Jon PS Did you see Elon's Mars settlement presentation this week?
Toggle Commented Sep 30, 2016 on The Road to Damascus ... at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Pat, Finding evidence of life either on other planets/moons in the solar system, or via exoplanet astronomy seems pretty likely over the next 50 years. Personally my money is more on finding life via exoplanet astronomy. There are plans being developed for telescopes that are sensitive enough to be able to visually image habitable planets around nearby stars and do spectroscopy on their atmospheres. At least for life similar to what we understand it on earth, finding bio-signatures in exoplanet atmospheres (gas traces that are currently expected to be products of life like say excess oxygen) should be feasible. I know people working on such telescopes. Finding life inside the solar system is also possible, and it will be interesting to see what happens if we do. I know some have suggested that especially if there is evidence for existing life on Mars, that some would want to preserve the planet from human landings, to avoid contamination. If it's just past life though, they'd have a harder time making that argument. Also, Mars isn't the only place to look for life. There are asteroids like Ceres with tons of water in them (I think more than Earth!), moons like Europa that have subsurface liquid water oceans (heated by tidal forces), etc. I guess that religious or not, the idea that Earth is the only planet in the universe with life on it seems so ridiculously unlikely. From an irreligious standpoint, the idea that somehow earth is unique among hundreds of billions of planets in our galaxy alone seems crazy. But even from a religious perspective, the idea that God would create a huge universe with trillions of trillions of solar systems and planets, and only put life on one of them also seems silly and wasteful. Of course, I'm Mormon, and while I roll my eyes at some of the sci-fi mischaracterizations of our beliefs, we do believe that the Earth isn't the only planet with life on it. That said, the interesting question for me is how ubiquitous is life really? How common are other intelligent species out there? Any close enough we could eventually detect and/or communicate with them? If there are, how do you resolve Fermi's Paradox? Who knows. But it's going to be awesome to start finding out. :-) ~Jon
Pat, I may have missed what triggered this new rule, and while I generally applaud trying to keep SST free of political vitriol, I'm a fan of giving people at least one warning. Mostly because I know I'm liable to forget this post and slip up at some point, and wouldn't want to get myself banned. :-) ~Jon
Chris, Pat, Using counter battery artillery against Turkish artillery would probably give Turkey the excuse it needs to invade. Russia and Syria are probably being patient and trying not to give Turkey the excuse it wants. ~Jon
I'm planning on voting for Rand Paul in the primaries, though he's got zero chance of winning the GOP nod. I registered republican twice so I could vote for his dad in the primary. I'll almost certainly end up voting third party again in the general election. Rand and Sanders are the only two candidates who aren't total war-mongers, and who have any respect for American's privacy. I think Sanders is economically clueless, while Rand sucks on immigration in my book--I'm a lot more pro-immigration than most on this list, having spent a few years in a developing country as a young adult. Between the two, Rand wins for me. In the general election, I'll be trying to find a 3rd party person who is non-warmonger, pro-immigration, and economically clueful. Probably libertarian party again if their candidate isn't too crazy. As for stats--Male, 35, eligible to vote. ~Jon