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Amateur Hour At The “Company” — Why Now?
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Amateur Hour At The “Company”

“All these conspiracy theories have the two basic problems: one, they believe the government is competent. And two, they believe the government can keep a secret.” – Richard Clarke

Laura Rozen has another article with a new example of the CIA torture briefing timeline being garbage.

If you remove a classified document from a file, you have to log it. The Congressional briefing materials were classified, so there should be a log showing when they were removed, who removed them, and when they were returned. If you are giving a classified briefing, everyone in the briefing area has to be identified and logged to ensure they possess the proper clearance to hear the briefing. This is the normal, standard process, and those logs should exist. If they don’t exist, as seems to be case, then the CIA has major classified control issues in addition to its other problems. These are standard government office procedures, not special intelligence requirements.

The CIA can’t even create a frame-up that will stand up to minimal scrutiny, so why should anyone accept that they are competent enough to make the country safe. Nothing that was under the control of the Hedgemony for eight years can be assumed to be functional. The widespread practice of replacing professionals with political appointees has led to the general loss of effective government functions.


1 hipparchia { 05.21.09 at 8:25 pm }

Nothing that was under the control of the Hedgemony for eight years can be assumed to be functional.

amen to that. and a separate amen to your next sentence:

The widespread practice of replacing professionals with political appointees has led to the general loss of effective government functions.

in the intial cia vs pelosi flap, i just assumed the cia was either lying, or incompetent, or both, and the more that came out about this, the more it looked like ‘both’.

hipparchia´s last blog post..

2 distributrocap { 05.21.09 at 8:36 pm }

it is truly amazing how much our govt has devolved into an episode of American Idol

3 Kryten42 { 05.21.09 at 9:27 pm }

You know my views on the CIA. 😉 And they were formed before the Rumsfeld team terrorized the USA and the rest of the World, and made the CIA even worse, something I’d thought somewhat unlikely given what I know. Ahh well… I’m always ready to be surprised by people exceeding my high expectations of incredible stupidity.

Have you heard the latest about Gov failure Bryan (and all)? (Yes, it can get worse!)

Worldwide GPS may die in 2010, say US gov

Worldwide GPS may die in 2010, say US gov
Can the fanbois live without it?
By Rik Myslewski in San Francisco • Get more from this author
Posted in Mobile, 21st May 2009 00:48 GMT

The global positioning system (GPS) operated by the US government could fail as early as next year.

According to a report (PDF) by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), the independent and nonpartisan agency charged with keeping track of government efficiency (or lack thereof), “It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption.”

The report cites the failure of the US Air Force to successfully complete the current GPS IIF satellite program, which has cost $870m (£550m) more than originally estimated and is now three years behind schedule. The first IIF satellite is now scheduled to be launched in November of this year. Hope it works.

Even more worrisome is the new GPS IIIA satellite program. According to the report, the Air Force told the GAO that it will complete this upgraded program three years faster than the IIF program – a schedule that the GAO kindly calls “optimistic”.

If – when? – the IIIA program falls behind, the GAO cautions that “there will be an increased likelihood that in 2010, as old satellites begin to fail, the overall GPS constellation will fall below the number of satellites required to provide the level of GPS service that the U.S. government commits to.”

In other words, not only will your iPhone not know where it is, but neither will your geotagging camera accurately insert location info into your photos’ metadata, nor your car’s navigation system help you find your way out of the morass of freeways that is Los Angeles.

And then there’s the small matter of the US Army and Marines knowing where the hell they are as they trudge through Afghanistan’s Helmand Province in search of poppy fields and Toyota-trucking terrorists.

Predator drones? Cruise missiles? Nighttime bombing runs? Fuggedaboutit.

The GAO – possibly the only US government agency known to not mince words – doesn’t shift the blame to a few bad apples. “Of particular concern is leadership for GPS acquisition,” the report pointedly points out, “as GAO and other studies have found the lack of a single point of authority for space programs and frequent turnover in program managers have hampered requirements setting, funding stability, and resource allocation.”

In other words, failure starts at the top and trickles down.

The GAO recommends that the US secretary of defense “appoint a single authority to oversee the development of GPS, including space, ground control, and user equipment assets, to ensure these assets are synchronized and well executed, and potential disruptions are minimized.”

If that doesn’t happen, and you find yourself driving somewhere north of nowhere next year and your car’s navigation system suddenly kicks the bucket, leaving you cluelessly lost, don’t say the GAO didn’t warn you.

Some background on the guy in charge:

Col. David W. Madden took command of the GPS Wing, Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command at Los Angeles Air Force Base on June 18, 2007. Col. Wesley A. Ballenger, Jr., who served as the GPS System Program Director and Commander of the GPS Wing for more than four years, is relocating to Washington, D.C., as deputy director of Global Power Programs.

Madden has been vice commander of the GPS Wing since July 2006. He worked with the GPS Joint Program Office during 2001-02 as program manager for the Combat Survivor Evader Locator, a handheld survival radio with an embedded GPS receiver. He holds an electrical engineering degree and a master’s degree.

And the USA laugh when the Koreans or Iran have problems getting things up! (Though, they do eventually succeed at least. The USA, on the other hand, appear to be regressing). 😆 Fun times ahead!

4 Bryan { 05.21.09 at 9:27 pm }

It was stupid, Hipparchia. I could have created a convincing frame readily, but you can’t do it, if you don’t have any records. I don’t think they have the records. I think the entire system broke down and they stopped keeping records.

Except I think Idol has more accurate vote counts these days, DC. Minnesota still doesn’t have its second Senator from a November election.

5 Bryan { 05.21.09 at 9:55 pm }

Steve Bates covered the GPS problem at his place.

The EU obviously was paying attention and is starting to launch their own version.

As I said at Steve’s, if it doesn’t go boom, the GOP has no interest in it. Rumsfeld wanted to reduce costs at all cost, and didn’t even replace equipment that was damaged on the battlefield. He certainly wouldn’t have understood the need for the GPS satellite network to be in military hands, and was probably thinking of selling it off to a private company for exploitation.

Obviously the Hedgemony felt the weapons received “divine guidance” rather than a series of satellites orbiting the planet.

6 Kryten42 { 05.21.09 at 9:59 pm }

Well… Here is something that may amaze you (It did me!!) LOL

DARPA may have a solution (or, partial, military only, solution)… and it’s not at all something they would usually do, and it may even work without costing trillions!! I’m in awe!

DARPA in useful, easily-achievable project shocker
System likely to actually work: Sackings expected
By Lewis Page
Posted in Science, 18th May 2009 09:50 GMT

Renowned Pentagon crazytech agency DARPA, which normally wouldn’t touch a piece of low-hanging fruit with a bargepole, has announced a new plan which seems strangely practical and achievable. The idea is to develop a backup for satnav location systems using radio “signals of opportunity”.

DARPA refers to the plan as “Robust Surface Navigation” (RSN), making it clear that we aren’t on about nuclear missiles, smart bombs or other such things which use satnav – just military units or systems down on the ground. In some situations, such as “urban canyons” or forest with dense overhead foliage, such users often struggle to get a decent fix using satnav.

Hence DARPA would like it if US military navigation hardware could also sniff out other radio transmissions in the neighbourhood. These might be special nav beacons emplaced by US forces, but the scheme is aimed more at “radio emitters not originally intended for location and navigation (such as commercial communications satellites, commercial radio and television broadcast towers, or mobile telephone towers)”, according to DARPA. It’s intended “to counter localized jamming or global failure of the Global Positioning System (GPS) … and to complement GPS capabilities in situations for which it was not intended”.

The weird thing about this – in a DARPA context – is that it’s fairly simple and do-able. Most mobile phones, using Google’s free map software, can get some kind of fix – potentially a fairly decent one – by simply looking at the cell towers nearby. Any device equipped with Wi-Fi can tap into a database of MAC IDs and locations, and so get an idea where it is. Similar plans are eminently achievable using Bluetooth or other radio protocols.

Thus any modern smartphone – equipped with GPS, WiFi, cell and Bluetooth radios – is already potentially an RSN device. Indeed, various forms of “assisted GPS” are already routinely used.

So DARPA’s RSN programme appears to be shooting at an open goal, really. Certainly at first sight, there’s nothing very “DARPA hard” about this one.

Even so, the agency announced last week that it would award $22m to take RSN to Phase 2 – which will see the project move forward from studies to “a functional prototype of the RSN system [which] must solve the fundamental problem of navigation and geolocation in GPS-denied areas, especially in difficult environments of inside buildings and in urban canyons.”

It seems very likely that something useful and functional will emerge from this quickly. It won’t unexpectedly morph into something else, perhaps not very militarily useful (eg the internet, with which the agency was heavily involved at an early stage).

This doesn’t seem like proper DARPA behaviour at all. Heads will probably roll once management find out about it.

DARPA in useful, easily-achievable project shocker

Yeah… I’m laughing! 😆

7 Bryan { 05.21.09 at 10:20 pm }

Actually, DARPA does do small projects, but they don’t make news, and many don’t generate civilian spin-offs. Actually, let me qualify by saying they did do these projects. I doubt they were allowed to do anything that didn’t involve multiple million dollar projects with basic research in an area of interest to a well connected corporation under the Hedgemony. You can probably guess who would end up with the patents.

Like all GOP public-private projects, the public gets the expenses and private industry gets the profits.

Heads rolled at DARPA earlier because they refused to expend funds until goals were met, and that upset Rummy. The fact that contractors had to wait for their money just because they were late and over budget.

8 hipparchia { 05.21.09 at 10:47 pm }

I don’t think they have the records. I think the entire system broke down and they stopped keeping records.

sounds plausible to me.

hipparchia´s last blog post..

9 hipparchia { 05.21.09 at 10:48 pm }

google + darpa = scary

hipparchia´s last blog post..

10 Bryan { 05.21.09 at 11:01 pm }

‘Records, we don’t need no stinkin’ records.”

DARPA is supposed to do far out things, but Google wouldn’t exist without one of those things.

11 Kryten42 { 05.21.09 at 11:04 pm }


DARPA is like our DSTO. Phased-array RADAR wouldn’t exist (well, OK… maybe it would, but wouldn’t be as good!) without DSTO (Jindalee) and those sacrificial sheep. 😉 LOL

12 Bryan { 05.21.09 at 11:57 pm }

People forget that heavy duty R&D that was once part of the business model has all but disappeared. Industry is into milking profits from old technology, not looking for something new.

Without government programs, basic research is dependent on universities who are facing ever shrinking budgets. We need the “mad scientists” to solve problems we don’t even know we have yet.

Maybe someone should build a monument to the heroic sacrifices of the sheep. It’s better than spending money to dredge an MP’s moat.

13 hipparchia { 05.22.09 at 12:32 am }

DARPA is supposed to do far out things, but Google wouldn’t exist without one of those things.

i have fond thoughts of al gore every time i put fingers to keyboard, and i use a number of google’s products, but darpa and google together add a whole new dimension to military-industrial complex.

hipparchia´s last blog post..

14 Kryten42 { 05.22.09 at 2:08 am }

Speaking of Google… 😉 Check this:

Google: Let us keep search data or die

I love ‘Le Reg!’ as it’s fondly known. 😉

15 Kryten42 { 05.22.09 at 2:13 am }

Ahhh… what the heck! One more from Le Reg! LOL

2060: Humvee-sized, bulletproof meat-eating spiders attack
Armoured arctic arachnids, the big-game hunter’s dream

Don’t be afraid… be bloody terrified! 😯

16 Bryan { 05.22.09 at 12:11 pm }

Most of the really “wicked” stuff that DARPA cooks up suffers from one little constraint: it can’t work in this space-time continuum. The ones I loved were the devices that couldn’t be used in anything but a hard vacuum, near absolute zero. They weren’t supposed to be space projects, but that is the only place they might work. Then there was the class of things that were reduced to be mounted in aircraft, until someone figured out that the required cooling systems were actually getting larger as the devices got smaller.

The amazing thing is that real stories occasionally appear in the Register, but you always have to apologize for using them.

17 hipparchia { 05.22.09 at 8:12 pm }

– nice coat. what kind is it?
– wolf spider.

i don’t think we’ll have to worry about them getting to humvee-size, i think the fur trappers will wipe out the species once they reach mink [or maybe fox] size.

but yeah, i can totally see google saying let us keep your data or die, even in the absence of any threat like a pandemic.

google’s corporate ethos was once don’t be evil, but i can totally see them slipping into full partnership mode with the military-industrial-police-state-complex, not because they’re inherently evil, but because [1] solving the technical challenges will be fun, and [2] that’s one of the few segments of govt [and society] that’s going to be able to toss $$ around and throw it at unlikely but interesting projects.

hipparchia´s last blog post..

18 Kryten42 { 05.22.09 at 8:14 pm }

LOL That’s true. 😉

I like Le Reg because of it’s irreverent style, why else? Kinda like TDS, they bury the facts in there, somewhere. I’ve noticed lately they seem to publish more ‘current news’ based stories, but with the inevitable twist. Like that one on the arachnids, based on fact, but they had fun with it. 🙂

I was laughing at another last night. About the fact that the USAF has crashed a third of their drones, but the Army, who use NCO’s haven’t so far. LOL

USAF slammed for pranging Predators on manual

Seems the Army lads are peeved that the USAF lads are calling them amateurs, when they have a much better record than the flyboys. The Army (wisely) decided to use an auto-landing system, the USAF decided their pilots could land them fine without help. Ahhh… Inter-service rivalry is wonderful isn’t it? 😀

19 Bryan { 05.22.09 at 9:15 pm }

Google does seem to slipped into a power trip, even if it is mostly unconsciously. They certainly are not overly cognaisant of users privacy concerns, and the reason I don’t have a Blogger back up site is that I didn’t like the new terms of use that came with Blogger 2.

They truly believe they are doing good, and don’t understand why people might not agree.

It doesn’t occur to the Air Force that these are different skill sets. The drones don’t fly like the standard aircraft that real pilots are familiar with, and real pilots tend to depend more on their feel for the aircraft than their instruments. Ain’t no feedback on a drone. Been there and done that, and it is in many ways easier to land real airplanes than sims, and when you add the control lag of being thousands of miles away and bouncing off a satellite, you know there are going to be problems – for one thing you can’t sense the side winds on landing.

The on-board system can read and react to the sensor input in real time.

My Dad controlled drones initially with a telephone dial sending pulses that operated stepper motors. He had a number of different RC vehicles after he retired, and he and other veterans of the testing program regularly flew their RC aircraft from one of the unused auxiliary fields on Eglin.

20 hipparchia { 05.23.09 at 1:20 am }

i’ve generally found the register to be sorta ho-hum myself, but the humvee-sized bullet-proof spiders are cool! thanks for that.

hipparchia´s last blog post..

21 hipparchia { 05.23.09 at 1:31 am }

i stayed with blogger after it got eated by google, mostly because i want my anti-war and anti-insurance posts to add to the general linkage out there in the ethersphere on these subjects, tiny as my contribution may be.

also, feral cats need all the friendly pr they can get [note to self: now… where did they hide the camera?!]

hipparchia´s last blog post..

22 Bryan { 05.23.09 at 10:01 am }

The UK libel laws do sort of put a damper on what you can do, so they have to tone it down to some degree.

I don’t disagree, and I’m probably more conscious of privacy issues than most people from having lived in countries where they aren’t exactly a top priority of the the people in power. The Hedgemony was a lot like Greece under the Colonels, Spain under Franco, or Iran under the Shah.

23 Kryten42 { 05.23.09 at 10:57 am }

I’m sure DARPA will come up with a way to harvest the giant arachnids for their armour, eventually, they’ll breed them in captivity and force them to extrude armour for the military. LOL

And yeah, that was one of Le Reg’s better stories in awhile. 😉 I think they just got too warn out tracking all the hilarity during the Bushmoron/Blair/Howard Unholy Trinity Administrations! It exhausted me reading it, my face ached laughing! The editors and reporters must have been totally knackered just trying to decided which of each days day’s usual torrent of rampant idiocy and hilarity to publish! 😆

You know… now that the unholy trinity are gone and almost forgotten… the level of hysterical laughter in the World has dropped considerably. Kinda sad really… but then one only has to remember that we actually managed to survive them, albeit by the skin of our teeth, to realise that too much hilarity can be the death of us. 😉

PS. If you are worried about Google tracking what you do (which they do when you use ANY of their tools or products), you can use an excellent firefox extension called CustomizeGoogle that essentially takes care of most of that (and removes the annoying ad’s, unless you want them). It’s fully configurable to suit your needs. 🙂

CustomizeGoogle is a Firefox extension that enhances Google search results by adding extra information (like links to Yahoo, Ask.com, MSN etc) and removing unwanted information (like ads and spam).

* Use Google Suggest (suggest words while you’re typing)
* Add links to competitors
* Rewrite links to point straight to the images in Google Images
* Removes image copying restrictions in Google Book Search
* Secure Gmail and Google Calendar, switch to https
* Block Google Analytics cookies
* Hide the Gmail spam counter
* Make URL previews on sponsored links visible
* Add favicons in the web search result
* Remove ads
* Anonymize your Google userid
* Add a result counter in search result
* Filter spammy websites from search results
* Add links to WayBack Machine (webpage history)
* Remove click tracking
* Add links from Google to your bookmark manager
* Use a fixed font for Gmail mail bodies
* Stream Google search result pages
* Sticky Google Preferences

24 Bryan { 05.23.09 at 12:19 pm }

DARPA will do the research on the armor, then some company “friendly” to a few Congresscritters will be awarded the rights to manufacture it and make all of the profits without paying back the cost of the research.

DARPA needs to become a publicly financed non-profit so we can at least retain some rights over the results of the research. In the long run it could be self-financing with a couple of “Pet Rock” sized commercial products.

It’s paying for all the research and getting nothing back that burns me. NIH does most of the research that PHARMA bills customers for, and NIH has to beg for Congressional funding. This is not the way capitalism is supposed to work. This is not the way intellectual property rights are supposed to work.

It’s like music. When I buy CDs anymore, it is directly from the group, because I’m tired of giving money to big media companies while good musicians get nothing for their creativity because of the “creative” accounting of the media companies.

Most of the money that is supposed to go to the creators of new intellectual property, actually goes for marketing.

25 hipparchia { 05.23.09 at 12:47 pm }

i vacillated for a bit, wondering how much responsibility i should take for the privacy of my readers, but since i’ve got a fan base that you can count on one hand, all of them reasonably privacy-savvy without my help, i decided not to worry about any strays who might wander into my blog.

for the most part, i use google for political, health policy, and cat blogging [and searching], and scatter all the other stuff elsewhere. not a fail-safe system, but oh well.

hipparchia´s last blog post..

26 hipparchia { 05.23.09 at 12:52 pm }

nonono, you people are such small thinkers! darpa will just control the spiders’ brains.

hipparchia´s last blog post..

27 Bryan { 05.23.09 at 3:00 pm }

If DARPA could control spiders’ brains it wouldn’t have a problem getting money from Congress. Of course, something has to be there for control to work. 😈

28 hipparchia { 05.23.09 at 4:17 pm }

If DARPA could control spiders’ brains it wouldn’t have a problem getting money from Congress.

ya got a point there.

Of course, something has to be there for control to work.

apparently, you don’t need much to work with in the first place.

29 Bryan { 05.23.09 at 5:43 pm }

The lobbyists have a lot in common with wasps.

30 hipparchia { 05.23.09 at 6:29 pm }

implying that congresscritters have something in common with roaches. an apt metaphor on so many planes.

hipparchia´s last blog post..Apparently some of my crew have been daylighting while I’ve been at work

31 Bryan { 05.23.09 at 7:10 pm }

Thank you.

32 Kryten42 { 05.23.09 at 9:56 pm }


Well, According to some conspiracy theorists 😉 DARPA tried the mind control thing with HAARP. Others say HAARP Is responsible for global warming and other things. It’s an entertaining read. 😀

Baked ALaska – 60 Greatest Conspiracy Theories

Official site (well, one of them. There are a few! This one is the Book site):
Angels Don’t Play This HAARP – The Military’s Pandora’s Box

Official official site (one of):
HAARP Home Page

Have fun! 😉 😆

PS. It’s well known that Politicians don’t have brains. They are more akin to their roach cousins as you say. They operate purely on stimulus-response, and as hipparcia stated, apt on so many levels (to paraphrase) 😉

33 Bryan { 05.23.09 at 10:26 pm }

We were doing this sort of thing informally in the 1960s, as in we knew it worked but we didn’t really have the equipment to take advantage of it, except by accident, i.e. being in the right place at the right time.

When you fly in the Arctic at 40K feet there are a lot of odd things going on with electro-magnetic waves that would be really nice to be able to pin down, especially when you expect the competition to transit that space if things heat up.

It was secondary, so you logged it, but no one seemed to care. It’s nice to think that someone decided to read some of that stuff.

The HAARP arrays aren’t half as weird as some the antenna farms around the world, it’s just that people can see these, and were totally unaware of what government agencies has used for years.

34 Kryten42 { 05.23.09 at 10:56 pm }

In Fact, all this high-energy and atmospheric research is based mainly on Tesla’s ideas and patents. I sometimes wonder why there seems to be a somewhat quiet but concerted effort to keep his name out of things. *shrug* Maybe the US Gov/MIC is afraid they’d have to pay his family royalties or something. 😉 LOL

Tesla’s True Wireless and HAARP

BTW, I don’t endorse the above. Just something I came across with Le Google as an example. 😉

35 Kryten42 { 05.23.09 at 11:03 pm }

*sigh* I hit ‘post’ when I meant ‘preview’ to check the link. LOL

Ahem. I was going to add:
Tesla argued that something like HAARP wouldn’t work or be very effective. If he is correct, and if the HAARP researchers know this and believe his conclusions (which would have been much easier for them to test than it would have been for Tesla), then why build HAARP?

36 hipparchia { 05.23.09 at 11:06 pm }

the haarp stuff is way cool [i find all that atmospheric chemistry and physics stuff fascinating]. thanks for the links.

my one visit to nyc, i stayed in the hotel where nikola tesla died. i forgot to ask if it was the same room.

hipparchia´s last blog post.."It is way worse than I thought it would be."

37 Bryan { 05.23.09 at 11:40 pm }

If he had died in the room, Hipparchia, being the City, there would have been a brass plaque and a higher price to stay there.

They are dealing with HF, which provides much longer distance communications at a much lower power input than the higher frequencies normally used to provide interference free transmission and line of sight directionality.

If they can figure out how to use the ionosphere instead of fighting it, it would significantly reduce energy costs for long distance comm links.

That’s my wild-ass-guess. The fact that they’re doing it in Alaska, where it really plays hell with comms, especially during the auroras, is also significant, in that if it works there, it will be better everywhere else.

Given that it’s DARPA, not even the researchers may be sure exactly what they are trying to do. Given that it has been going on so long, the current work probably has nothing to do with the original proposal.

38 hipparchia { 05.24.09 at 1:42 am }

Given that it’s DARPA, not even the researchers may be sure exactly what they are trying to do. Given that it has been going on so long, the current work probably has nothing to do with the original proposal.

now that’s my idea of science!

as for the hotel, there’s a plaque on the outside of the bldg. i got a really good deal on the room, but they were undergoing major renovations at the time. wouldn’t surprise me a bit to find out there’s a plaque in the room too, and that it costs more.

hipparchia´s last blog post.."It is way worse than I thought it would be."

39 Bryan { 05.24.09 at 1:07 pm }

Someone has to do it, if we are going to find anything out, and the government is the only funding source available for many researchers, especially for basic research.

The City is very consistent in charging all that the market will bear [and then adding a surcharge].

40 hipparchia { 05.24.09 at 2:58 pm }

…and then adding a surcharge is right. i compared notes with the other people i was meeting with on that trip, and found out i got a pretty good deal. nobody in their right mind would have paid that almost anywhere else in the country, let alone thought of it as a good deal.

otoh, i actually ate pretty cheaply [for a vacationer] while i was there. i paid $7 or $8 for a cup of fruit, a cup yogurt and a cup of coffee for breakfast, but that was really $3 for food value and $5 for the convenience of grabbing breakfast-to-go on my way out of the hotel each morning. lunch and supper came from tiny little delis and such, most of them some kind of ethnic food where i had no idea what i was eating, but where i could get a full meal with enough left over for a snack for $4 or $5.

i’m all for research to solve identified problems, but i really like answering questions just to have answers, whether or not those answers have any immediate practical application. govts can afford this kind of ‘unproductive’ research on the basis of providing jobs, kind of like a wpa/ccc for scientists, and if something applicable comes out of it, so much the better.

hipparchia´s last blog post.."It is way worse than I thought it would be."

41 Bryan { 05.24.09 at 9:07 pm }

If you wander off the main streets, there is a lot of inexpensive food to be found in the City, but a place to sleep is the problem.

With real research you made need to put together answers from multiple labs to come up with a real product, and sometimes the “failures” are more valuable than the successes, as with Post-It notes.

This is another reason it needs to be public, so everyone can read it. You don’t know that some corporate lab has actually solved your problem, because the research in kept in a corporate vault. Research needs to be publicly explained.

42 LadyMin { 05.24.09 at 11:48 pm }

Wow… I spend two days in the sunny garden planting veggies and flowers, away from the computer, and I missed the GPS may fail, there are giant man eating spiders and google is still evil.

LadyMin´s last blog post..Happy Ending for the Robin Family

43 Bryan { 05.24.09 at 11:54 pm }

Don’t worry, Lady Min, my honorary Russian soul tells me that things are going to get a lot worse, so you’ll be able to catch up on “disaster points”.

44 Badtux { 05.25.09 at 1:06 pm }

Regarding DARPA and basic research, at one point in time we actually did have a civilian non-profit basic research organization. It was called the National Science Foundation (NSF), and some people might forget that the ARPANET temporarily became the NSFNET (not to be confused with an *earlier* NSFNET that was based on X.25) during the time period 1986-1995, which transitioned the Internet from being a limited defense contractor communications method tightly controlled by the DoD to basically its current infrastructure of multiple networks connected at interchange points in a mesh.

Unfortunately the NSF was highly politicized after the Republicans took over Congress in ’96, and much of the basic research it was funding was cancelled because it was offensive to people who believe an invisible sky demon created the world 8,000 years ago. DARPA research did not suffer the same problem because DARPA operates semi-secretly and purports its research to be relevant to national defense, which is the third rail of American politics (i.e., if it’s national defense related, touching it is extremely painful if not deadly to a politician). So now…

BTW, I will disagree about the notion that fundamental research is not being currently done by private industry. Intel, for example, is continually pushing the boundaries of optical imaging technology and molecular chemistry in their continual attempt to bludgeon their competitors to death with smaller and smaller semiconductor feature sizes. And while the operating systems research that my employer is doing, and that I am in charge of making sure works, is not high dollar or changing basic theoretical paradigms, it is certainly new basic research on operating systems structure funded by venture capital in hopes of successful commercialization. There are some things, such as high energy physics, where government has to be involved because of the sheer scale of the problems being solved. But for a lot of the smaller research problems, especially the mathematically-based ones, the transition to venture capital funding as vs. NSF funding happened fairly seamlessly as the NSF disintegrated as a funding mechanism for basic research. This of course means we must create a business case for what we’re doing, but (shrug)…

45 Bryan { 05.25.09 at 9:08 pm }

What research that occurs is narrowly targeted towards specific goals. There isn’t the free exploration that occurred at Bell Labs, PARC, Dupont, 3M, IBM, etc. that produce things that were exploited by other people who realized the value of the research that was of no interest to the corporations.

Today’s research, where it exists, is extremely focused, which makes it self-limiting.

Actually, my first connection was to NSFNet as part of a consortium working on medical devices of various kinds, way back when. I was a sys admin doing the care and feeding for the guys who were breadboarding some of the circuits for the devices, rather than any real research.

The biggest problem for NSF was that it thought that things that went boom were failed experiments, while the Repubs like booms. Repubs would rather increase the weapons blast radius to ensure target destruction than to make it more accurate. The ultimate has to be the BOMARC, a surface to air missile with a nuclear warhead. The concept was that the warhead would ensure the destruction of the nuclear bombs on the attacking aircraft. Definitely a large boom.