Space Travel

You Can't Shut Down Space

It's time to get rockets as far from NASA's grasp as possible.

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On the 34th day of the recent government shutdown at 4 p.m., a huge cloud billowed out from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. It had been produced by a successful static test fire of the Falcon 9, which will ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station sometime in the next few months. It will be the first such flight since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, essentially marking an American return to manned spaceflight.

On the day of the test fire, about 95 percent of NASA's workforce was on furlough, having been deemed non-essential to government functioning. How did NASA manage such a milestone with a skeleton crew?

It didn't. The Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon capsule that sits atop it were built by SpaceX, a privately held company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk. The vehicle's tests and flights are being conducted on contract with NASA as part of the Commercial Crew Program, which represents a tiny fraction of the overall cost of the U.S. space effort. The program is a classic study in the power and pitfalls of privatization, and it may be our best chance to get off this godforsaken rock.

Before it can stage a manned flight, SpaceX must execute one final dress rehearsal, duplicating the planned mission but without actual human beings in the capsule. It looked, for a while, like the government might still be shut down when that time came. SpaceX and NASA both indicated that the launch would nonetheless happen on schedule.

The federal government wound up reopening the day after the test fire, well before the planned launch. But it could certainly be shuttered again, given that the underlying political battle is far from resolved. And legislation emerging from this shutdown will make future shutdowns less politically painful by guaranteeing back pay to government workers. What's more, since the goal of the commercial launch industry is to greatly increase launch frequency, there's a good chance the government will at some point be shut down at a crucial moment in space travel.

The Commercial Crew Program was deemed essential this time and therefore escaped the wrath of politics. But that won't always be the case. And in this instance, key elements of other relevant agencies—notably the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)—were up and functioning, thanks to some lucky budgetary timing that might not always align so neatly. This is the danger of intermingling private and public: There are efficiency gains and cost savings from the private side, but the dysfunction of the public sector leaks into the efforts of the firms.

Privatization should push further, aiming to remove as much of human enterprise as possible from the blast zone of politics. It's pure madness to make the success of manned space missions contingent on President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreeing about how many steel slats Congress is willing to fund at the Mexican border.

Even if they don't have direct NASA funding or contracts, commercial space companies are not safe from the vagaries of government. The CEO of the space startup Vector recently tweeted that a test flight to orbit was being held up by a lack of FAA approval. "Shutdown stops FAA's ability to finish our launch license," wrote Jim Cantrell. "Hoping DC gets its act together soon." This is why privatization isn't enough—deregulation is also crucial.

Trump put it best, actually, when he said at a March cabinet meeting: "Rich guys, they love rocket ships. That's good. That's better than us paying for them. And I noticed the prices of the last one, that they said it cost $80 million. If the government did it, the same thing would have cost probably 40, 50 times that amount of money. I mean, literally, when I heard $80 million—you know, I'm so used to hearing different numbers with NASA."

Rich entrepreneurs aren't the only ones who love rocket ships. That's another good reason to protect space from politics by moving as much of it as possible into the private sector: Rich officeholders love space too—but they don't understand it.

Shortly after his inauguration, for example, The Atlantic reported that Donald Trump asked NASA to consider sending up the first test of the Space Launch System (SLS) as a manned flight. That is, the White House asked whether Boeing—which is building a vehicle in direct competition with SpaceX under more conventional contracting terms—could skip the step where you send an empty capsule up before putting actual humans in the tin can. Trump's interest, of course, was driven by a desire to see the return to crewed American space flights during his presidential term.

That may or may not be a good idea. As Reason has argued, NASA is probably overcautious about risk. But this is a decision between aerospace engineers and astronauts. It shouldn't be subject to the demands of political showmanship or executed on timelines determined by elections instead of the movement of planetary bodies.

Meanwhile, SLS, the project over which the government has the most control, is also the furthest behind schedule. "At its current rate, we project that Boeing will expend at least $8.9 billion through 2021—double the amount initially planned—while delivery of the first Core Stage has slipped 2.5 years from June 2017 to December 2019 and may slip further," an October Office of the Inspector General report found.

Not only that, but SLS is single-use. Each launch requires a new vehicle to be constructed, with a price tag of about $1 billion each. And its parts, unlike those of the SpaceX system, are not recoverable or reusable.

According to a plan NASA submitted to the Office of Management and Budget shortly before the shutdown, the agency has the equivalent of 17,856 full-time employees. Of those, about 800 are needed to "protect life and property," which more or less amounted to keeping the folks in the International Space Station alive, keeping NASA property secure, and keeping the Commercial Crew Program moving forward.

The government was essentially stalled for one-tenth of its working year. That would be hard for any firm to recover from. Yet about 17,000 NASA staff will get compensated, in the end, for work they didn't do.

For some people, even the promise of a (belatedly) paid vacation isn't enough to make the struggle with a federal bureaucracy worth it. Shutdowns make it harder for the government to attract and keep the best and brightest. For a long time, NASA was able to take a captive workforce for granted. Wanna be an astronaut? NASA is the only game in town. Rocket scientist? NASA. That guy in the white vest from that movie? NASA. That lady in the cool glasses from that other movie? NASA.

But now? "We didn't have a mass exodus," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in his remarks welcoming back furloughed workers. "I think had this gone on longer, we would have. But we did lose people—onesies and twosies—across the agency and even here at headquarters."

When conditions change for private companies, they adapt in different, more efficient ways. SpaceX just did a round of layoffs, announcing the departure of about 10 percent of the company's 6,000 employees. Another player, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, laid off about 40 employees as it transitioned to a new home for its commercial flights at the (mostly publicly funded) New Mexico Spaceport.

A space launch industry that is more private than public would also be more fun. You may recall when Musk launched a car into space just because in early 2018. After he got in trouble with just about everyone—including his own boards and the Securities and Exchange Commission—for a podcast interview he did while smoking weed in September, NASA's Bridenstine jumped on him for it, saying to a group of reporters in November: "I will tell you that was not helpful, and that did not inspire confidence, and the leaders of these organizations need to take that as an example of what to do when you lead an organization that's going to launch American astronauts." NASA's solution was to conduct "a cultural assessment study in coordination with our commercial partners to ensure the companies are meeting NASA's requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a drug-free environment."

This is obviously a CYA activity, though it's hard to imagine that if a bunch of astronauts die in a fireball over a populated area anyone will say, "Oh, well, NASA did conduct those cultural fit assessments in 2019. What more could it have done?" But it's also hard to imagine that a visionary CEO smoking pot on a podcast has much to do with workplace safety.

When one rocket-building rich guy cracks up, it's handy to have a couple more waiting in the wings. (See what I did there?) Musk is making people nervous, even as he currently leads the pack. But look over here: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is racking up victories as well. His firm, Blue Origin, is building on a reusable model similar to SpaceX's and has had considerable success on the launchpad. The company has secured some modest contracts from NASA, but it's less entangled with the federal government than SpaceX is. Of course, for that very reason, Blue Origin may find it trickier to get approvals and licenses for launches than its more state-symbiotic counterparts. And then there's the open question of whether Trump would stoop so low as to instruct his agencies to deny permissions to Bezos' space company just because he happens to have a beef with Bezos' newspaper company.

There's a deeper truth in those high furlough figures: A space program isn't essential to the functioning of government. Indeed, the vast majority of nation-states operate quite cheerfully without a space program at all. Just because something is vitally important—essential even—doesn't mean we should rely on government to get it done. Quite the opposite.

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112 responses to “You Can't Shut Down Space

  1. Figure out warp drive, artificial gravity, and replicator technology, and then maybe I’ll be interested. Maybe.

    1. Replicator technology… Already solved by evolution, in the form of “life-forms”.

      Artificial gravity… Can be created by centrifugal force, in your spinning ship or space habitat.

      Warp drive… If the (insecure, ego-maniacal, narcissistic, etc.) drives of Der TrumpfenFuhrer are NOT already very seriously warped, then I don’t know whose are! So we already have warped drives ass well…

      1. Trumpty Dumpty, He’s quite off-the-wall,
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        He sits and snorts His coke with a spoon,
        Then He brazenly shoots us His moon!
        They say He’ll be impeached by June,
        Man, oh man, June cannot come too soon!
        So He sits and jiggles His balls,
        Then He Twitters upon the walls
        “Some come here to sit and think,
        Some come here to shit and stink
        But I come here to scratch my balls,
        And read the writings on the walls
        Here I sit, My cheeks a-flexin’
        Giving birth to another Texan!
        Here I sit, on the pooper,
        Giving birth to another state trooper!
        He who writes these lines of wit,
        Wraps His Trump in little balls,
        He who reads these lines of wit,
        Eats those loser’s balls of shit!”

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  2. There’s a deeper truth in those high furlough figures: A space program isn’t essential to the functioning of government

    And government isn’t essential to the functioning of a space program.

    And, KMW, get Suderman off the Reason podcast. He is terrible.

    1. And, KMW, get Suderman off the Reason podcast. He is terrible.

      There is no version of the Suder-verse in which this is possible.

      1. Not in the next 80 years, at least.

        1. Does Suder-Man sling suder-webs around? Or is Suder-Man merely a netizen of the web, hence his name, Suder-Man ?

          Last but snot least, if Suder-Man got into a fight with Snooter-Man, who would win, and why? (Please keep in mind that Snooter-Man can wield the dreaded Booger Beam, and I highly doubt that Suder-Man can do THAT!!!)

          Inquiring minds want to KNOW, dammit!!!

          1. SQRSLY was one cat not even old Johnny Blaze woulda messed with. Crazy like a rabid dog. Nobody knew what the sam hill he was yakkin’ about half the time, and the other half of the time they didn’t like one bit of it.

          2. He does whatever a Suder can.

            1. Spins a fib, any size
              Talking Trump, telling lies

              Watch out,
              here comes Suderman…

              1. Is he honest? listen chump
                He thinks we’re all Forrest Gump

                Can’t craft stories, to save his life
                Steals ideas, from his wife

                Hey there,
                here comes Suderman…

        1. Hey! That’s not kosher around here!

      2. Kathy is more than just a sweet pair of gams and a look that could kill at fifty paces. She’s smart like a fox, and she’s playin’ it cool in the henhouse. Cats like ol’ Suder-Man better keep their wits about them if they wanna keep their melon intact. In a while, alligators.

  3. We can all celebrate the move of the space program to more commercial control. It important to remember that the space program has always been a hybrid operation with the private sector being a big part and the government being the funding source. Even today with more commercial development the government will be the primary funding source. The fact is the capitalization needed for this work is really too large for the private sector.

    Another point is the politicization of the space program. This has always been true and is no where more evident that the Apollo moon program. This was really done to show we could bet the Russia’s at something. And while landing a man on the moon is really neat, the unmanned flights to the various planets have been cheaper and yielded much more data. It would be nice to see a President say something like, ” let ship the manned Mars trip, because for about half that we can send probes to a number of planets.” Just saying.

    1. A couple of human geologists on Mars could accomplish in minutes what it takes our robots months to do.

      1. Robots don’t need life support systems, food, air, space suits, or waste removal. So, NO, humans are not a better strategy. You can send many robots for the cost of a human.

        And you don’t need to have a return system with rocket engines and fuel. Unless it’s a suicide mission.

        1. There is a compromise position: put humans in orbit around other planets, so they can remotely operate probes on the surface in real time. With sufficiently sophisticated robots, that would be almost as effective as having humans on the surface, but at much lower cost than landing on other planets and taking off for return.

  4. Not a big fan of public-private partnerships. These businesses will probably lend cover and legitimacy to NASA, and we’ll end up paying more taxes for more government spending on space fun.

  5. Not a big fan of public-private partnerships. These businesses will probably lend cover and legitimacy to NASA, and we’ll end up paying more taxes for more government spending on space fun.

    1. Government spending on Space has brought us a great deal that we otherwise might not have; a lot of medical scanning tech, a great deal of miniaturization, advances in computers, advances in computer modeling…it’s quite a list. And that completely skips the possibilities of moving out onto the solar system; moving dirty processes like iron refining out of the ecosystem springs to mind.

      Be3sides, if the money hadn’t been spent on space, they would have spent it on governing YOU.

      1. [citation needed]
        I have seen many many claims to trickle-down tech, all debunked, and since you’re the one claiming some benefit, it behooves you to show real examples, not just general claims to “medical scanning tech” or the even more nebulous “miniaturization”. Computers were advancing on their own for the business world, and it is telling that the F-22 electronics, for instance, were designed three times as the commercial world got so far ahead of the military tech that the military parts were no longer being made.

        The last bit, justifying space expenditure “because they would have spent it anyway”, is ludicrous.

        1. F-22 avionics obselescense is not a “private vs public” issue… It’s a volume issue.

          You aren’t putting your nifty new stuff into safety critical components and when you’re only making a couple hundred no one is going to keep the plant running just for you. Private space ventures have the same problem.

          You do put those nifty thing on all the other stuff you have around and those are the things that drove miniaturization, low power components etc.

          1. F-22 obsolescence is a prime example of how government does NOT drive the market. The commercial market outstripped the government’s requirements twice. If the commercial market had been hitching a ride on the government’s coat tails, it would have been satisfied with what was available for the F-22, there would have been no progress beyond what the F-22 demanded.

            Only a statist-sucker could possibly read anything else into F-22 obsolescence.

      2. The seen and the unseen. No one knows what we might otherwise have had ? had the government let us keep our money or had the government “invested” differently.
        It is begging the question to say “but look at all the stuff we got because of the space program.”

        1. “The seen and the unseen. No one knows what we might otherwise have had ? had the government let us keep our money or had the government “invested” differently.”

          Exactly.
          The opportunity costs here are tremendous, and to assume the space program was and is the highest and best use of those resources is to claim you KNOW what’s best for mankind.
          It’s a fail.

      3. Negative Ghost Rider.

        The best you can say is that government spending has brought that technology forward through time *slightly and at massive expense*. IOW, we would have still gotten those advances anyway – just a few years down the road (and with a much lower overall cost).

        Very little miniaturization or advances in computers have anything to do with space tech – most of it has been normal industry improvements due to competing in the consumer market. As for advances in computer modeling – what? You mean for nuclear explosions and ‘climate change’? Certainly not in any other area.

  6. Discredited #TrumpRussia denialist Michael Tracey’s meltdown continues.

    And so, the events set into motion by Hillary’s craven conspiracy-mongering dominated US politics for nearly 3 years — doing irreparable damage to the body politic, and ultimately empowering Trump. The depravities inflicted on the country by the Clintons never seem to stop

    He’s actually blaming Hillary Clinton ? the most qualified Presidential candidate in history ? for the terrifying situation the US is in. Newsflash: the people “empowering Trump” are the ones who deny the obvious truth that he’s Putin’s Puppet. Like you and Glenn Greenwald.

    1. If this is intended as satire, you need to stop; there are people who actually BELIEVE that.

      1. Hey, I defend OBL’s right to continually make an ass of himself!

        1. OBL is making asses of Tony and the others who don’t get the joke.

      2. So?

        They deserve what they get in the way of high blood pressure and coronaries.
        (And their panic helps identify who to ignore)

  7. Glenn Greenwald is such a hack. Here’s his shallow analysis of Beto.

    This is like a clich? bot at this point, reflexively churning out vapid platitudes. It seems inevitable that people will quickly tire of mush like this no matter how many things he finds to jump on top of or how many sweaty exercise videos he puts on Instagram

    If you’re going to criticize Beto, the proper way is to remind people he’s not diverse enough. But don’t pretend to be unimpressed by his oratory skills or social media savvy.

    #LibertariansForBeto

    1. He sounds like a happy but overly sentimental drunk lately.

      1. It’s even funnier when Tony doesn’t get the joke.

        1. Which joke, OBL or Beto?

          1. Tony|3.31.19 @ 7:57PM|#
            “Which joke, OBL or Beto?”

            Folks, Tony doesn’t realize *HE’S* the joke.

            1. But not nearly as funny a joke as when your cousin pulled your undies down for the first time.

              1. Tony|3.31.19 @ 10:41PM|#
                “But not nearly as funny a joke as when your cousin pulled your undies down for the first time.”

                Folks, Tony doesn’t realize *HE’S* the joke, regardless of his fantasies.

              2. But not nearly as funny a joke as when your cousin pulled your undies down for the first time.

                Tony, she only did that for the sake of profit. This is what happens when government subsidies and other forms of theft become integral parts of business plans.

    2. This is like a clich? bot at this point, reflexively churning out vapid platitudes. It seems inevitable that people will quickly tire of mush like this no matter how many things he finds to jump on top of or how many sweaty exercise videos he puts on Instagram

      Progs love this shit. Hence Kennedys – Jack, Bobby, Teddy, Joe, Caroline. And Obama of course.

      1. Excuse me, but where’s his vagina?

  8. There was a congressional meeting on Wednesday in regards to the SLS rocket KMW mentioned. Ars Technica described it like this:

    “A Florida representative wanted to make sure that his state, home of the Kennedy Space Center, continued to receive lucrative contracts to build ground launch systems. A Mississippi representative was concerned that NASA’s plan to accelerate development of the SLS rocket would take work away from southern Mississippi’s Stennis Space Center, which is slated to perform key test firings. No one, aside from Bridenstine, seemed particularly concerned about the president’s goal of a 2024 human landing on the Moon.

    —-Ars Technica

    The SLS rocket is just a jobs program.

    1. “I had a guaranteed military sale with SLS. Renovation program. Spare parts for 25 years. Who cares if it worked or not?”

      – Dick Jones

  9. This is a NASA website that lists all the “2019 Deep Space Exploration Systems Supplier Locations”.

    http://www.nasa.gov/specials/E…..index.html

    The text at the bottom reads:

    “Men and women in all 50 states are hard at work building NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Systems to support missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond . . . . These missions are critical to the space economy, fueling new industries and technologies, supporting job growth, and furthering the demand for a highly skilled workforce.”

    It’s a jobs program. They even market it as a jobs program.

  10. As Sun Ra said – Space is the Place. He is private owned.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgz-iQ5lSw4

    1. Thanks for this!!

    2. Saw Sun Ra live in the 70s. Even high on LSD the shit was wierd.

      1. An American original…just like Frank.

      2. “Saw Sun Ra live in the 70s. Even high on LSD the shit was wierd.”

        We left; that is an acquired taste, and I wasn’t gonna acquire it.

  11. If after 60 years, ‘private space companies’ are still pretty much entirely dependent on govt revenues; then they aren’t freaking ‘private space companies’. All this nonsense about ‘privatizing NASA’ is in the same vein as ‘privatizing DoD by hiring mercenaries’. It is cronyism intended to transfer public assets to private pockets for far less than they are actually worth – cuz of some asinine idiocy that somehow the private sector is better at creating money (not value – money) than govt is.

    If the proposal has no excess value; then stop funding it and shitcan everybody.

    If it is just expensive cuz govt kinda sucks at managing it, then shitcan the incompetents and bring in better talent.

    This really ISN’T rocket science.

    1. Such a word twister you are.

      You apparently think that a multi-billion dollar jobs program which promises to eventually produce a rocket is good, good, good, and means that a private company, spending its own funds to develop a cheaper alternative sooner, should thus be forbidden from selling its product to the government, because …. it embarrasses the government? It’s no longer a private company if it sells to the government?

      I bet Dell and a whole lot of private companies sell to the government; in fact, I’d beta paycheck on it, because I know of no government computer manufacturer. Even the government super computers are made from commercial parts.

      I wonder what kinds of cars the government builds for its own use? They sure have a lot of Detroit SUVs, but then, the bailout made them government companies, didn’t it.

      Fuck off, slaver. You don’t have a clue about the difference between private and public, like every other statist fuckhead.

      1. There is no private market to support the ‘space’ business. PERIOD.

        Comparing that to computers or cars or EVERY FUCKING OTHER INDUSTRY that is driven by PRIVATE transactions?

        YOU are the one who doesn’t know the fucking difference between an actual free market and privatized teat-sucking.

        1. There’s a very robust commercial market in private communications and remote sensing satellites. You might have a point if you were talking about manned spaceflight. Though, there is history of paid orbital space tourism (gov provider); so at least some demand is there. Also, Virgin Galactic already has revenue from deposits on short, suborbital flights. Blue origin is expected to begin offering commercial suborbital flights within the next year or so. Both of those endeavors are completely private.

          1. Also a Japanese billionaire has put down a deposit (undisclosed amt) with Spacex, speculated to be in the tens or hundreds of millions, for a flight around the moon this next decade.

        2. JFree|3.31.19 @ 2:24PM|#
          “There is no private market to support the ‘space’ business. PERIOD.”

          “Commercial Satellite Launch Service Market size was valued at over USD 5 billion in 2017 and is estimated to exhibit over 2.5% CAGR from 2018 to 2024.”
          http://www.gminsights.com/indu…..ice-market

          You still think Dewey won that election?

      2. Eventually produce a rocket?

        Space X is real. They have many contracts including NASA.

        All goes back to the classic 101 essay.

        Nobody can make a pencil.

        1. Just to be clear, my jibe at “eventually produce a rocket” was directed at NASA’s nifty new rocket which may never actually be anything more than a jobs program.

    2. “If it is just expensive cuz govt kinda sucks at managing it, then shitcan the incompetents and bring in better talent.”

      Yep, we just need the RIGHT top men!

    3. If it is just expensive cuz govt kinda sucks at managing it, then shitcan the incompetents and bring in better

      After a short time with the guv those ‘better’ will be incompetents.

  12. . . . you can’t take the skies from me . .

  13. As a ninth-grade civics paper, this would be an A (well-written, especially for a 15-year-old). In the real world, it’s a C (the standard malcontent’s lament — cherry-picked, simplistic, overwrought, naive).

    1. And in the real world, amongst educated, well-adjusted individuals…you’re a crank, also a screaming bore.

    2. Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|3.31.19 @ 2:35PM|#
      “As a ninth-grade civics paper, this would be an A (well-written, especially for a 15-year-old)”

      As if asshole here has any idea what happens in the 9th grade.
      Pretty sure we have the only boy who was shaving when he left the 6th grade; learning to be this assholish ain’t easy.

  14. Ever since James Hansen infiltrated NASA’s GISS for purposes of replacing temperature records with fake data, the agency has deteriorated into a State Science Institute straight out of Atlas Shrugged. Honest scientists add error bars if they suspect measurements are imperfect. Moles and con artists replace measurementdata with fake numbers and hide the originals. (http://tinyurl.com/y287uauq) With the Cold War over it is high time NASA were privatized into honest competitiveness at least on a par with USHCN.

  15. Anyone here read lennyletter.com?

    Hillary Clinton Is More Than a President; She is an idea, a world-historical heroine, light itself.

    When people told me they hated Hillary Clinton or (far worse) that they were “not fans,” I wish I had said in no uncertain terms: “I love Hillary Clinton. I am in awe of her. I am set free by her. She will be the finest world leader our galaxy has ever seen.”

    … Hillary Clinton did everything right in this campaign, and she won more votes than her opponent did. She won. She cannot be faulted, criticized, or analyzed for even one more second. Instead, she will be decorated as an epochal heroine far too extraordinary to be contained by the mere White House. Let that revolting president-elect be Millard Fillmore or Herbert Hoover or whatever. Hillary is Athena.

    Read the whole thing. It’s really excellent.

    #StillWithHer

    1. She belongs to a much more elite class of Americans, the more-than-presidents. Neil Armstrong, Martin Luther King Jr., Alexander Fucking Hamilton.

      Beautiful. Thanks, OBL!

    2. Jesus, really scraping the bottom of the barrel there.

  16. OK, this is troubling. I enjoy laughing at #TrumpRussia denialists who rant on Twitter and beg for money on Patreon. But a #TrumpRussia denialist being given space in a major magazine like Rolling Stone? That suggests there’s something wrong with the media.

    Taibbi: On Russiagate and Our Refusal to Face Why Trump Won

    Rolling Stone is ordinarily known for such terrific, well-researched journalism too. What happened? Are they under Russian ownership now?

    1. Rolling Stone is ordinarily known for such terrific, well-researched journalism too.

      Ok, that made me laugh.

  17. i get paid over $ 180 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home . i just got paid $ 8550 in my previ month it sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it. http://www.home.jobs89.com

  18. Why aren’t we building a wall between us and Zeta Reticuli? Talk about illegal aliens.

    1. Because walls are inherently evil. You’d know that if you paid attention to Shikha Dalmia.

      1. I disagree. I may be in the minority, but I am vehemently against open-concept floor plans.

        1. I like walls, I like rooms with doors, and I like hallways.
          Designers pack up and go home once they’ve turned your house into an art installation. We meanwhile have to live in them.
          I’d really like to have this conversation at some point.

          1. Glad to hear it, Tony. The first guy who tried to sleep with me wanted to do it in a park, but I insisted on paying for a hotel room. Considering how bad he was at gay sex, I think he was a police officer just trying to justify his overtime. It’s strange how the only legal way to get paid to have sex in New Jersey is to work for the vice squad.

            1. I was just talking about kitchens being functional spaces rather than entertaining spaces…

    2. Aliens can’t be illegal!

      1. So … will the Facebook prohibition of White separatist groups apply to the BDSMovement, or is this guy not White enough for Facebook?

  19. Maybe you can’t shut down space, but Trump says he’s shutting down the border. Which will be a good thing, because we’re losing billions of dollars to Mexico in trade so shutting it down will be good for our economy.

    Which raises the question: Is Trump A) economically illiterate and really doesn’t grasp the fact that trade is a two-way street, B) cynical enough to know that most people are economically illiterate and he can get away with selling horseshit like this, C) crazy and just spouting whatever random reasons for doing crazy shit he can come up with, D) a grown-ass man with the mentality of a three-year old throwing a temper tantrum and breaking his toys because his mommy won’t buy him a pony, E) a poster child for some sort of stream-of-consciousness Tourette’s where random stuff that pops into his head is compelled to be expelled through his pie-hole, or F) some combination of all of the above?

    1. I’ve heard Trump make some comments before that leads me to believe he thinks of trade as a zero-sum game, that in any deal there’s one side that wins and one side that loses and that money is how you keep score. He doesn’t realize that money is a tool, a means to an end and not an end in itself. Money is only useful in that it can be used to buy stuff, it’s the stuff money can buy that has value and not the money itself. So to a normal person, if you trade a dollar for a Coke, both you and the shopkeeper are better off because you each got something you value more in exchange for something you value less. Trump I think would scoff at that idea, the shopkeeper is obviously better off because he got the dollar and all you got was a Coke and all the argument in the world that obviously you valued the Coke more than the dollar or you wouldn’t have made the trade, that as far as you’re concerned the Coke is worth more than a dollar, would just be hand-waved away. And certain people would say he’s right.

      1. Yeah, we do have to push for free trade. Things are still not that bad, but it’s better to nip this in the bud. Maybe I should seek the NJLP nomination to run for congress next year and highlight free trade as a campaign issue.

    2. I’ll take F for $2000, Jerry, if you throw in “successful at completely discombobulating his enemies while he gets things done.”

  20. Which makes me think about a couple other things Trump has said. If you remember during the campaign he claimed to have a simple secret plan to defeat ISIS which seemed to be “Bomb the shit out of them and take their oil” with no recognition that it’s not quite that simple and that’s not a plan. Couple that with his off-hand comment that if we catch terrorists we should also kill their wives and children and families and when someone pointed out that this would be a war crime and the military would refuse to follow such an order, Trump just shrugged and asserted that “the military will do what I tell them to do”. So, again, is Trump so ignorant that he doesn’t know ordering killing innocent civilians is an order for a war crime the military is duty-bound to refuse to obey, is he crazy enough to seriously believe that if he orders the military to commit war crimes that they’ll do it, is he cynical enough to believe that most people would applaud a “kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out” statement because they’re too ignorant to know things just don’t work that way, was it just a random thought that popped into his head and fell out of his face and when somebody challenges one of his random thoughts it’s just a knee-jerk reaction with him to defend the statement rather than think for two fucking seconds about the possibility that what just fell out of his face was a dumb thing to say and that if he had bothered to think about it for two seconds he shouldn’t have said it?

    1. And so what did Trump mean by “bomb the shit out of them and take their oil”? Did he actually mean “bomb the terrorists” without realizing the difficulty in that when the terrorists don’t wear uniforms and mix in amongst the citizenry or did he just nonchalantly suggest we should just bomb the shit out of everybody and if we kill a few million innocent men, women, and children, oh, well, so what if deliberately targeting civilian populations is a war crime, it’s not like the military will refuse to do it because “the military will do what I tell them to do”.

      So what happens when Trump decides if Congress won’t give him his wall to keep out the barbarian hordes invading our southern border his only alternative is a military response and he sends the Army down to the Rio Grande and orders them to start indiscriminately machine-gunning the columns of unarmed civilian men, women and children? Anybody want to bet that certain people on this comment board won’t argue that Trump is absolutely correct to do so, that we are in fact being invaded and if the invaders won’t retreat we have no choice but to repel them with lethal force to whatever extent lethal force is needed? And if the military balks at machine-gunning civilians, you can bet there would be plenty of Trump’s supporters volunteering to do the job those traitorous cowards in the military won’t do.

      1. Look Jerry. The answer is simple. Trump has a plan, he has only the best plans, he is the master planner, just look at how much money he has and how many hot women he has fucked. The end!

      2. Jerryskids|3.31.19 @ 7:16PM|#
        Jerryskids|3.31.19 @ 7:17PM|#
        Jerryskids|3.31.19 @ 7:19PM|#
        Jerryskids|3.31.19 @ 7:20PM|#
        “Trump…Trump…Trump…Trump… Trump…Trump…Trump…Trump…
        Trump…Trump…Trump…Trump… Trump…Trump…Trump…Trump… Trump…Trump…Trump…Trump… Trump…Trump…Trump…Trump…
        Trump…Trump…Trump…Trump…
        Trump…Trump…Trump…Trump..
        .Trump…Trump…Trump…Trump…Trump…”

        “Diagnosis and Treatment of Trump Derangement Syndrome”
        […]
        “Many of you know that we psychologists have a diagnostic system manual DSM to diagnose emotional disorders. The DSM has Diagnostic Criteria which describe the disorder as well as define the characteristics which support the diagnosis.
        Because we will never see Trump Derangement Syndrome as a disorder in the DSM, I thought I would take a crack at it.

        Diagnostic Criteria for Trump Derangement Syndrome. TDS
        A. Repetitive outbursts of inexplicable behavior at anything regarding Trump….”
        http://wataugarepubs.blogspot……trump.html

        Seek help; you need it.

        1. Don’t pay attention to the things Trump says and does, pretend like he’s the president he sees in the mirror each morning!

          But his critics are the ones who are deranged.

      3. DUDE… I will TOTALLY vote for Trump in 2020 if he has the military start shooting border jumpers! I mean, they ARE illegally entering our sovereign nation after all. It seems pretty legit to me.

    2. is he crazy enough to seriously believe that if he orders the military to commit war crimes that they’ll do it

      He’s right. They would.

      1. Well, some will refuse and get shot or imprisoned…

  21. Space-sharks with frikken laser beams on their heads!

  22. If all those UFO sightings are real, let’s hope the aliens are friendly and will at the very least try to limit the human militarization of space.

    But who am I kidding, either the UFOs aren’t aliens, or if they are, they’re just waiting for global warming to flood us with boiling water so we become more delicious to their ravening alien jaws.

    1. The bast argument for other intelligent life in the universe is that they stay away from us.

      1. Maybe even the BEST argument – – – –

  23. RIP in peace Nipsey Hussle. Poet, rapper, etc.

  24. RIP in peace Nipsey Hussle. Poet, rapper, etc.

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  28. Shortly after his inauguration, for example, The Atlantic reported that Donald Trump asked NASA to consider sending up the first test of the Space Launch System (SLS) as a manned flight. That is, the White House asked whether Boeing?which is building a vehicle in direct competition with SpaceX under more conventional contracting terms?could skip the step where you send an empty capsule up before putting actual humans in the tin can. Trump’s interest, of course, was driven by a desire to see the return to crewed American space flights during his presidential term.

    That may or may not be a good idea. As Reason has argued, NASA is probably overcautious about risk. But this is a decision between aerospace engineers and astronauts. It shouldn’t be subject to the demands of political showmanship or executed on timelines determined by elections instead of the movement of planetary bodies.

    And people complained about dwarf tossing.

  29. I still suspect we would have invented Tang without the bazillion dollar space program.

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  31. “Just because something is vitally important?essential even?doesn’t mean we should rely on government to get it done. Quite the opposite.”

    truer words have rarely been spoken ?

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