December 14, 2011

RIP: Soviet rocket scientist, 99

Here's the NYT obituary for 99-year-old Boris Chertok, who was deputy to the great Korolev during the 1950s and 1960s.

When you think about contemporary engineering fiascos like high-speed rail in California, it's hard not to be stunned by how fast America got to the moon. But, then, think about how a bunch of almost unknown guys in the otherwise pervasively cruddy Soviet Union beat America in the the first two laps of the Space Race (first satellite and first man in space). Jerry Pournelle spent a long time staring at spy photos during this era, counting things like mule-drawn wagons, and eventually concluded that the Soviet Union was "Bulgaria with nuclear missiles." And while the Soviets got a copy of the German V-2 blueprints, the Americans got most of the best German rocket designers like von Braun, who had the good sense to surrender to the Americans.

Chertok's boss Sergei Korolev was a giant of the 20th Century who remains almost unknown in the U.S. The Soviets kept his identity secret until after his sudden death during an operation in early 1966. In The Right Stuff, the Project Mercury team doesn't even know his name, just that he's got them spooked. He's like a comic book supervillain to them. Heck, most of the Russians working on rockets didn't know his name. They called him "Chief Designer."

Korolev's life was absurd: he spent 1938-1944 in prison, apparently having been denounced by a rival in the rocket business. Moscow sent him to the notorious Kolyma gold mines in Siberia. After awhile, they figured out that they really didn't want to beat or work their best rocket engineer to death in Siberia and brought him back and locked him up in a First Circle-type camp for scientists. His health was never good after Kolyma. He pretty much worked himself to death in the 1960s, figuring that if the Soviets ever fell behind the Americans, Khrushchev would cancel the program. If he'd lived, would the Soviets have gotten to the moon first? Probably not -- his giant N1 moon rocket turned out to keep blowing up catastrophically -- but he'd pulled a lot of rabbits out of his hat before, and maybe he would have again.

And there were other Soviet rocket designers competing with Korolev who did big things, too, like Mikhail Yangel, whose rockets are still being used. The Soviets weren't all that into central planning for something as important as the Space Race.

Tom Wolfe concluded that the Space Race was a form of ritual single combat, like David and Goliath. In an age of nuclear weapons, that is a very good way to find out who is stronger.

And the Soviet space engineers were more David than Goliath.

64 comments:

jody said...

"Bulgaria with nuclear missiles."

isn't that what russia is today? well they have oil and gas, and they can design a good jet and a good tank and a good sub. but pretty much bulgaria when we're talking about the view from the ground.

"Jerry Pournelle spent a long time staring at spy photos during this era"

too bad he didn't do this for iraq, saving us all the trouble of invading for those WMDs.

how cheeky were those iraqis this week, burning US and israeli flags. LOL @ the united states. LOL at GW bush. america's greatest military blunder.

how much science and engineering could the US have done for the money totally wasted in iraq. the mind boggles.

Anonymous said...

I have always been impressed by the Russians. They have had a hard history, way too many invaders, and an elite that makes ours look downright friendly. Yet these guys still manage to produce some pretty bright individuals who persist in adverse circumstances. They are like the white trash of the Euro world who still manage to be creative.

I've seen it written on this blog before that middle and lower class whites are the great untapped resource in the USA. If they are anything like these Russians, I'd say that is true.

DaveinHackensack said...

"isn't that what russia is today? well they have oil and gas, and they can design a good jet and a good tank and a good sub. but pretty much bulgaria when we're talking about the view from the ground."

Russia also has some impressive civil infrastructure (e.g., subway stations).

FortyP said...

NYT- “Boris Yevseyevich Chertok was born in Lodz, now part of Poland, on March 1, 1912, the son of an accountant.”

Reminds me of the time Vladimir Zhirinovsky was asked about his ethnicity. He said his mother was Russian and his father was an engineer.

Boris Chertok was born on March 1, 1912, in a Jewish family in the Polish city of Lodz (then part of the Russian Empire). He moved to Moscow with his parents at the outbreak of World War I.
www.russianspaceweb.com/chertok.html

Anonymous said...

The 'ritual combat' idea is probably correct.
It's probably the same instinct that is, at root, tthe motivation behind competitive sports and fanatical support for sport's teams.
The ancient male combat and tribal instinct.It seems that the tremendous energy that this instinct unleashes can only be provoked when there is a subconscious agreement that the tribe's existence is under threat.A real old Adam.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Pinker!

Anonymous said...

Actually, in the 1950s and 60s the USSR had very impressive rates of economic growth (far more impressive than anything that the USA could achieve), and although this is a very controversial and unpopular thing to say in an American blog, it made many imprssive industrial achievements.Hence Kruschev's boast 'We will bury you'.Such things as dams, railroads, heavy industry etc.Lest we forget the Tsar Bomba remains the most powerful atomic device ever built - and this was detonated in 1961.
Also, remember, the USSR suffered destruction of life and property on a scale that few Americans could ever imagine in 1941-5.
The so-called Brezhnev period of stagnation occurred in the 70s - this was the justifications of that dumb klutz's Gorbachev's cackhanded economic reforms and consequent destructio of the USSR.
As an aside, I don't really know how bad the 'Brezhnev stagnation' was.Was it a period of low per capita growth or an actual standstill?
In any event the freezing of American wages over generations now (wages are lower now than in 1972), is hardly something to crow about.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, in the 1950s and 60s the USSR had very impressive rates of economic growth (far more impressive than anything that the USA could achieve), and although this is a very controversial and unpopular thing to say in an American blog, it made many imprssive industrial achievements"

...that's because it was a freaking feudal kingdom until the 19th century, AND it had been destroyed by WWII. When you suck, of COURSE there's room to expand.

Don't see why that would bother anyone in the US.

Peter A said...

"Yet these guys still manage to produce some pretty bright individuals who persist in adverse circumstances. "

Many of whom were ethnic Jews, Germans, Poles or Tatars. One of the advantages of a large imperial state is that it can take the cream from a number of different ethnic groups and create a strong elite culture drawing from their different strengths. This is why Austo-Hungary, for example, produced far more interesting thinkers than any of the legacy states have. Arguably the Ottoman Empire also had a far more interesting elite than anything you would find now in Turkey, the Balkans or the Middle East. Of course in these sorts of states the average people tend not to do well.

Anonymous said...

Korolev seems much more important and interesting the Cherlov. What a life.

Jim O said...

One rarely sees nostagia for the communism of the Soviet Union such as that evinced by 12:25.

Impressive rates of growth? Infants have impressive rates of growth, compared to fully-mature adults. So what?

When that growth was stunted, well, we don't really know how bad that was, do we? Well, yes, we do.

Oh, if only we could live in the Leningrad of 1972! Rather than go through this 40-year American stagnation.

Oops! Gotta get off this computer! My iPhone is ringing.

Justthisguy said...

Korolyev died on the operating table due to being operated upon by a surgeon who was a better communist than he was a surgeon. Oh God I hate commies!

(I'm looking at you, Barry Soetoro!)

Steve Sailer said...

Re: Korolev. Yes, he's a giant of the 20th Century who remains almost unknown in the U.S. The Soviets kept his identity sort of secret until his sudden death during an operation in early 1966. In The Right Stuff, the Project Mercury team doesn't even know his name, just that he's got them spooked.

And there were other Soviet rocket designers competing with Korolev who did big things, too. The Soviets weren't all that into central planning for something as important as the Space Race.

beowulf said...

"When you think about contemporary engineering fiascos like high-speed rail in California, it's hard not to be stunned by how fast America got to the moon."

Yeah, makes us look like a half-assed country by comparison. Let's see, between 1941 and 1945, Leslie Groves built the Pentagon and the A-bomb. I doubt a single project of that scale could be replicated today in that short a time, much less two (One World Trade Center won't be completed until 11 years after 9/11).

The president who build out a Vactrain network and the NAWAPA water project will be worthy of a MLK-style stone god memorial. :o)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vactrain#History
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Water_and_Power_Alliance

Florida resident. said...

Wernher von Braun had practical wisdom to adopt ethanol (C2H5-OH), i.e. drinkable substance, chemical compound of alcohol, as a fuel for V-2 rockets. Other substances had probably even slightly better technical characteristics (e.g. methanol, HOC-OH). Meanwhile, ethanol could be (and was) used for bribing other organizations, which was helpful, even in highly organized and orderly Nazi society.

Respectfully, F.r.

Let's! said...

"Tom Wolfe concluded that the Space Race was a form of ritual single combat, like David and Goliath. In an age of nuclear weapons, that is a very good way to find out who is stronger."

That's a pretty fancy explanation. My memory of the times might be a little more modest...i.e., us trying to defend our freedom and independence from a ravenous empire full of nekulturny bullies.

There really was a huge moral component to our country's struggle against Communism and overlooking that dimension could lead us to questionable conclusions.

dearieme said...

"Actually, in the 1950s and 60s the USSR had very impressive rates of economic growth": how do you know?

slumber_j said...

Our Germans were better than their Germans.

Henry Canaday said...

“…they can design a good jet…”

Russia’s new Superjet is essentially a copy of western airframes, with all the complicated stuff – engines, avionics, hydraulic and electric systems – made by western firms.

The Russians made functional transport airplanes during the Cold War. But a modern jet allowed to fly in advanced countries must meet standards for safety, reliability, fuel efficiency, noise and air pollution, competitive economics and maintenance and long-term support that require constant testing and tweaking, very sophisticated project management and business methods.

It took Boeing and Airbus’s constituent firms 60 years to develop the skills to do these things very well for big jets.

James B. Shearer said...

Actually, in the 1950s and 60s the USSR had very impressive rates of economic growth (far more impressive than anything that the USA could achieve), ...

You have to be a bit careful here. After the fall of the USSR it turned out that a lot of economic statistics in the East bloc had been faked. For example East Germany was not as well off as people had thought. Don't know whether the USSR statistics from the 50s and 60s are still considered reliable.

Anonymous said...

The high speed rail is not an "engineering fiasco", its a political fiasco.

NOTA said...

The Iraq war will end up costing about a trillion dollars, not counting all the retirement and long term medical expenses. NIH's budget for 2012 is 32 billion dollars. So, ignoring the time value of money, we could have paid for about 30 years of doubling the NIH budget, producing medical and biological research, for the cost of this pointless clusterfck. That would only do stuff like cure cancer and AIDS, though, not anything really important like ridding the world of a third-rate thug. Also, the spillover effects would be lots of extra PhDs in biological sciences, rather than lots of guys with no arms, legs, or eyes thanks to the war.

The war in Iraq is a great demonstration of the quality of our leaders. It never made any sense, most of its support came from people who knew or should have known the propaganda justifying it wss horseshit, and to this day, to be considered a "serious thinker" on foreign policy you more or less must have supported it, at least among the media/talking head class.

I think this is the general pattern, illustrated more spectacularly with explosions and mass graves than the usual bit of incompetence mixed with malfeasance. The same decisionmsking processes that led to this clusterfck are behind new financial regulations, anti-terrorism policy, etc.

stari_momak said...

Korelev's anonymity seem to be something of an exception. Once of the strange things about the USSR is that despite its communism, it recognized the individual achievements of its weapons engineers. I doubt anyone but aviation buffs could tell you who designed the U-2, but quite a few of us who have 'served' have a passing familiarity with Tupolev (the 'Bear' bomber), Mikoyan and Gurevich (MiGs) , Anotov (transport and recce aircraft) and of course Kalashnikov.

mr_evergreen said...

We got to the moon quite fast. However, this was also a "go get it" kind of thing. It was considered a unifying thing. The idea of getting to the moon, in my opinion, was to beat the Soviet Union. When the USSR sent a man in space(Yuri A. Gagarin), we were not thrilled by being beat by a Communist power. This is probably sent a man to the moon. We were in a race with the Soviet Union.

Today, we are not in a race with anyone.

The California high speed rail fiasco has occurred for the same reason many high speed rail projects have failed. No one wants to spend the money on them South Korea went from being one of the world's poorest nations to having one of the best high speed rail systems in the world. Japan has done the same. France has the TGV. While all of those places were building high speed rail, we, the USA, were still stuck on building highways. We started building the large interstate system for the military. After that, it was used for cars too. We were busy building everything in response to cars. Everything from cities to roads.

Anonymous said...

A bit off topic, but to the poster who thinks that the 40 year American wage stagnation is no big deal:

Basically, a huge proportion of the USA's working population are de facto insolvent, whilst wages have stagnated expenses, especially medical bills have not.The MMM was triggered by an interest rate rise that tipped the marginal off the edge.
Of course the fallout from the MMM not only seriously f*cked up America, it f*cked up the world.I have a sneaking suspicion that the fallout will mean the evntual death of Europe (no, not the abominable EU) in a real meaningful sense - it will be unable to claw its way out of the financial turmoil and low reproductive rates at the same time.The crisis will prove fatal.

Blame globalisation, immigration, the WSJ and 'The Economist' and the stupid politicians who take their bad advice.

Polichinello said...

Deborah Cadbury's Space Race tells Korolev's story. There was a Nat Geo special based on the book, too. One of the things to remember is that the Russians were able to move faster because they didn't mind getting their people killed at a faster rate. They lost 200 people (!) during one disastrous explosion, and they nearly lost a cosmonaut in orbit when his pressurized suit wouldn't let him back in the capsule.

Wolfe's novel mockingly repeats the press' belief that "our rockets always blow up." As usual, the media failed to understand that complex engineering projects require a lot of testing, and those tests, while producing big bangs, are still useful in creating a workable and reliable design. The astronauts, all test pilots, understood this, and they were never really spooked--well, no more than they were with any other new design.

Here in the U.S., all the failures were on display, In the Soviet Union, not so much. But they made sure everyone knew when things went right. That also added to the mystique of the Integral and the Chief Designer.

Anonymous said...

von Braun, who had the good sense to surrender to the Americans.
the ADL wouldn't permit it these days. "nazi space program at nasa"

Anonymous said...

As an aside, I don't really know how bad the 'Brezhnev stagnation' was.

It was pretty bad. By the end of the 1980s, even in the most privileged of all cities, Moscow, you could not be sure that you would find milk in the grocery store. It wasn't so much a lack of economic growth as it was a breakdown of the system. Economic incentives were never much and all others stopped working - fear was not a factor anymore but enthusiasm was even less of a factor.

Steiner said...

The assertion that the Soviet missile and space programs did without essential assistance from German scientists is another piece of successful disinformation promulgated during the Cold War. The Communists didn’t get the best scientists, but they ones they got were good enough to provide the core technologies, particularly with respect to engine design. Read up on Hermann Groettrup and Werner Baum here.

The Soviets got all their best stuff either through espionage (nuclear weapons technology) the press gang (their space program; see above) or flat-out imitation (pretty much all of their military aviation designs). That the Russian people in general are capable is not to be denied, but it always surprises me that Americans are surprised when they discover that people don’t do their best work with a gun to their heads.

Paul Mendez said...

When you think about contemporary engineering fiascos like high-speed rail in California, it's hard not to be stunned by how fast America got to the moon.

What makes NASA's accomplishments even more amazing is that a bunch of pale, stale males were able to put a man on the moon using slide rulers, and without the many proven benefits of DIVERSITY!

Imagine: If NASA had iPads and employed a bunch of black mathematicians, latino scientists and women engineers in the 1960s, we'd certainly have colonized Mars by now!

josh said...

Wow he spent years doing slave labor in a Siberian mine,then gets sent off to work on rockets probably 16 hours a day,ever feraful that if he failed he'd wind up back smashing rocks for the duration. I wonder if he ever had time to stop and smell the roses? Or practice Pick Up?

Simon in London said...

Underestimating Russia is as dumb as underestimating America - something those of us in the rest of the world have frequently done.

Anonymous said...

I am sure there will be the usual chorus saying that Russia STOLE EVERYTHING. But the truth is, Russia was not as backward as the Cold War propaganda claimed. Russia had a very solid scientific base, which was virtually unaffected by the Bolshevik takeover. And the Russians were particularly obsessed with rocket propulsion ever Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the godfather of the whole field.

Paul Mendez said...

One of the things to remember is that the Russians were able to move faster because they didn't mind getting their people killed at a faster rate.

IIRC, when the US announced the Apollo program, the Russians took the oxygen tanks out of a 2-man capsule, and squeezed in a chair for a third cosmonaut. Then they shot the three cosmonauts up into space before the first Apollo launch with just enough air to get them back down.

Anybody else hear that story?

beowulf said...

"It took Boeing and Airbus’s constituent firms 60 years to develop the skills to do these things very well for big jets."

Cleaning out the German patent office didn't hurt.

German War Secrets By The Thousands
The not so widely known revelations about the wholesale theft by the US of German patents after World War II.

http://www.read-all-about-it.org/archive_english/german_losses/german_war_secrets.html

Anonymous said...

The California high speed rail fiasco has occurred for the same reason many high speed rail projects have failed. No one wants to spend the money on them South Korea went from being one of the world's poorest nations to having one of the best high speed rail systems in the world. Japan has done the same. France has the TGV. While all of those places were building high speed rail, we, the USA, were still stuck on building highways.

First, everyone always compares the development of rail in the USA to smaller European and Asian nations who have denser populations and smaller areas. Why don't they compare us to Canada and Australia? I don't know anything about those two nations' rail systems, but I've never heard anyone bring them up in a high speed rail discussion. Those nations would be more similar in layout and densities to the US.

Second, mr evergreen might keep in mind that rail, and even high speed rail, carry the perception of "public transportation" to a great many Americans. And America just doesn't have the demographics of Korea or Japan to make riding public transportation agreeable.

DaveinHackensack said...

One thing the Russians have been good at making are sturdy weapons. Their Hind attack helicopters were probably better than our attack helicopters during the Cold War, and their AK 47s were more reliable than our M-16s. In his novel Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson had a line about Russians engineers' specific talents for making weapons:

"Ask a Russian engineer to design you a shoe, and he'll give you something that looks like the box the shoe came in. Ask him to design something that will slaughter Germans, and he turns into Thomas fucking Edison."

JW Ogden said...

I think that rather than being so high tech getting to space is rather a brute force operation.

JW Ogden said...

Addendum:
I think a new Toyota is/was more high tech than any USSR rocket from the same time period. We underrate the common.

Anonymous said...

Ask him to design something that will slaughter Germans, and he turns into Thomas fucking Edison."

I don't get it. Edison was considered to be a terrible designer.

jody said...

Henry Canaday, i was talking about military jets. russia doesn't make good commercial aircraft. that's actually quite hard and only a few nations can do that.

even a small nation like sweden makes a good military jet, the saab gripen. whereas it takes a firm like embraer in a nation the size of brazil to make decent commercial planes.

jody said...

there will never be high speed passenger rail in the US. it doesn't work. more specifically the money doesn't work. it's not a failure to not build it. instead it's smart and good and right to not build it. population density is the issue. as with the solar debacle and energy density. the US interstate highway system, copied from germany, is the best in the world, and highly appropriate for the continental US.

freight rail in the US is better than ever, but freight doesn't have a need to move at 200 miles per hour, so the existing rail infrastructure works fine. and, like most engineering, it's invisible, by design. you don't argue on the internet about freight rail, and unless you live near a line or cross a line when driving somewhere, you never even think about it. but the tonnage is vast. not only all the imports and exports, but just the amount of coal moved every day, sent from those mines to those power plants, to keep america working, to keep all that precious electricity flowing, it's a massive undertaking.

not very visible though, and not very jewish either, so, without at least one of those things, it's not something people wanna fight about on the web. people rarely even discuss the great majority of gentile created engineering and infrastructure because the stuff is so seamless and essential to daily life and it just works, it's background noise to most.

Anonymous said...

Jody - a relative of mine works maintaining Embraer aircraft. Nothing wrong with them per se, but he says they are cheaply made. In his words "They aren't built to last."

Anonymous said...

it turned out that a lot of economic statistics in the East bloc had been faked. For example East Germany was not as well off as people had thought.

One way and another West Germany had been propping up East Germany. Thus giving a false impression of the DDR's performance.

Whiskey said...

Spy photos will only tell you some things. Not others. Spy photos missed entirely (as did signals analysis) Saddam's nuke program in the 1980's. The US was shocked at how much progress he had made (in both refining uranium/plutonium and Ballistic Missile technology) -- all of it completely unobserved by satellites which were tasked heavily over Iraq.

What screwed over the Soviet Union was the treatment of guys like Korolev, and all the guys under him. Imagine what they could have done had Stalin consistently promoted and rewarded technical achievement and not sent guys out of favor to harsh prison camps but rather provincial teaching jobs.

That belies Pinker's argument on violence. Korolev, and lots of guys who could have been able lieutenants, but died in prison camps, was treated pretty violently.

mr_evergreen said...

Paul Mendez: What makes NASA's accomplishments even more amazing is that a bunch of pale, stale males were able to put a man on the moon using slide rulers, and without the many proven benefits of DIVERSITY!

Imagine: If NASA had iPads and employed a bunch of black mathematicians, latino scientists and women engineers in the 1960s, we'd certainly have colonized Mars by now!

Thank you for trying to be funny, but I don't find it funny. How about this, and this is for real. How about make sure everyone gets the same equal opportunity of access to decent education and raise the expectations for EVERYONE. Get everyone interested in mathematics, science, technology, and engineering. Doing it for everyone of every race in this nation. How about set the bar high for everyone and let merit be the deciding factor. Anyone ever hear of Guion Bluford?

Dr. Φ said...

An instructor I once had blamed the N1, not on Korolev, but on Kruschev's obsession with the Saturn V. I don't have any citations, but supposedly Korolev wanted to put the Soviet moon shot on a couple of smaller rockets that would rendezvous in orbit. It was a novel idea at the time.

Anonymous said...

"how much science and engineering could the US have done for the money totally wasted in iraq. the mind boggles."

We could have failed to close the gap ten times as hard.

Anonymous said...

"Lest we forget the Tsar Bomba remains the most powerful atomic device ever built - and this was detonated in 1961."

Because it was absurd to build an H Bomb that big. They didn't even gimped the one that they did detonate to prevent covering their farmland with radioactive fallout and severely shooting themselves in the foot.

"Underestimating Russia is as dumb as underestimating America - something those of us in the rest of the world have frequently done."

We spent the cold war overestimating them though.

"Their Hind attack helicopters were probably better than our attack helicopters during the Cold War, and their AK 47s were more reliable than our M-16s"

Different mission profiles, the Hind was meant to go after peasants, our attack helicopters are meant to operate in an environment where there is a lot of high tech stuff pointed at them(incidently our recent foreign adventures suggest that we should really buy some Hinds). Likewise the AK47 is reliable, but not too accurate.

"Thank you for trying to be funny, but I don't find it funny. How about this, and this is for real. How about make sure everyone gets the same equal opportunity of access to decent education and raise the expectations for EVERYONE."

If providing that same opportunity means horrifically disproportionate spending on what are essentially our worst students, that is not a win for us. More spending does help students, but we really need that to go to our world beaters who can provide the greatest return on investment(and hence more money/opportunity/etc for all). The moon shot was very expensive though, it is for that reason(or rather for our other spending programs) that it was shut down.

mr_evergreen said...

"First, everyone always compares the development of rail in the USA to smaller European and Asian nations who have denser populations and smaller areas. Why don't they compare us to Canada and Australia? I don't know anything about those two nations' rail systems, but I've never heard anyone bring them up in a high speed rail discussion. Those nations would be more similar in layout and densities to the US.

Second, mr evergreen might keep in mind that rail, and even high speed rail, carry the perception of "public transportation" to a great many Americans. And America just doesn't have the demographics of Korea or Japan to make riding public transportation agreeable"

I don't care how small those countries are and how big WE are. I say we need to get rid of Amtrak and replace it with something better.

And what demographics are you talking about?

mr_evergreen said...

"
If providing that same opportunity means horrifically disproportionate spending on what are essentially our worst students, that is not a win for us. More spending does help students, but we really need that to go to our world beaters who can provide the greatest return on investment(and hence more money/opportunity/etc for all). The moon shot was very expensive though, it is for that reason(or rather for our other spending programs) that it was shut down"

I am talking about making sure everyone has the same access to opportunity. So what you're are saying is that some people shouldn't have a decent education that would help them get higher up in life? Part of the plan I was proposing is to get to the kids when they're 4 or 5 and make it the same for every child in America. I am saying making the spending the same for EVERY child.

Anonymous said...

Actually, in the 1950s and 60s the USSR had very impressive rates of economic growth (far more impressive than anything that the USA could achieve), ...

In the 1970s, after Eastern Bloc economies (mostly) began to stagnate, academics distinguished between "extensive" and "intensive" economic development. In extensive development, you move a bunch of peasant from unmechanized farms into primitive factories. That's pretty easy to do, even under a command economy. In intensive development, you improve skills levels and technology, from, say, the level of West Germany in 1950 to West Germany in 1980.

The Commies inherited poor peasant economies, so they could take the first step, but they could never manage the second.

Cennbeorc

Paul Mendez said...

How about make sure everyone gets the same equal opportunity of access to decent education and raise the expectations for EVERYONE. Get everyone interested in mathematics, science, technology, and engineering. Doing it for everyone of every race in this nation. How about set the bar high for everyone and let merit be the deciding factor.

What?!?!

And reverse 60 years of civil rights progress?

Are you some kind of racist?

Anonymous said...

I am saying making the spending the same for EVERY child.

Why? What if I want to spend more on my kid, and I save my money for that purpose? Are you saying that I cannot do this because my kid would now have more money being spent on his education than others?

If you believe that I do have the right to spend more on my kid, then you should agree that local communities have this right as well. This is why some school districts choose to pay higher taxes to provide better schools for their children.

Anonymous said...

"I am talking about making sure everyone has the same access to opportunity. So what you're are saying is that some people shouldn't have a decent education that would help them get higher up in life? Part of the plan I was proposing is to get to the kids when they're 4 or 5 and make it the same for every child in America. I am saying making the spending the same for EVERY child."

More spending does not translate into a linear benefit as far as academic performance goes. Likewise getting a decent education does not require massive amounts of spending. We spend more than the rest of the world, and while our schools are the best, they seem to get along somehow.

If America is to maintain her world beating lead, we have to put the grossly disproportionate spending where we can derive benefit from it, and not in a place where it will allow the Chinese et al to catch up to us.

Anonymous said...

The assembly of a moon ship in orbit was the original and OLDEST idea...

Von Braun had pushed it extensively from 1945 onwards.

---

The N-1 was an astounding boner.

Check out the youtube videos of disaster.

You'll note that engines entirely ring the base -- with additional engines in the center.

The inevitable result is a high pressure zone of exhaust gases trapped inside the ring of fire.

EVERY launch must result in burn-through and massive detonation/deflagration.

That they gave it three 'goes' says that rocket IQs really dropped after the big K left his mortal coil.

Anonymous said...

"I am sure there will be the usual chorus saying that Russia STOLE EVERYTHING. But the truth is, Russia was not as backward as the Cold War propaganda claimed."

Of course. If you have a country of 200 million white people and you put all your 'best and brightest" into making weapons and Space Vehicles you'll do quite well for a while. But eventually it catches up with you.

beowulf said...

"This is why some school districts choose to pay higher taxes to provide better schools for their children."

Property taxes are too high pretty much everywhere. A land value tax is sensible, but to also tax improvements-- as every state does-- simply subsidizes land speculators at the expense of homeowners.

Once again, Nixon was ahead of his time. One of his good ideas that fell by the wayside was replacing school district property taxes with a federal VAT.
http://oldnews.aadl.org/node/85812

mr_evergreen said...

"More spending does not translate into a linear benefit as far as academic performance goes. Likewise getting a decent education does not require massive amounts of spending. We spend more than the rest of the world, and while our schools are the best, they seem to get along somehow.

If America is to maintain her world beating lead, we have to put the grossly disproportionate spending where we can derive benefit from it, and not in a place where it will allow the Chinese et al to catch up to us"

I was saying make sure everyone has the same access to the same standard of education and to expect the best from everyone. In the schools in China, everyone is expected to perform and to do well. It is drilled into you from day one. It should be the same for every child here. I am not talking about "spending". I am talking about standards and making sure every child has the same access to good education. Make the same standard from everyone. My plan is to expect the best from every child and make sure they get to that level. I am talking about building minds.

And I have a question for you. I get the feeling that what you might be saying is "forget the poor Black kids in the bad schools, let them flunk". Is that what you really mean? I have to ask because I am saying "those kids need to be drilled from the start just like everyone else and the bar needs to be raised. And the drilling knowledge into the brain needs to start early and often. That is when the brain is developing the fastest."

If you expect very little out of a person, that person might not perform. You want to beat out the competition, up the standard for every child. Make sure every child gets the same access to education and expect each child to perform, period, no excuses.

Anonymous said...

"And I have a question for you. I get the feeling that what you might be saying is "forget the poor Black kids in the bad schools, let them flunk". Is that what you really mean?"

Spending a lot of money hasn't changed the bad schools, poor students, or poor academic performance has it? I don't have a solution for the black community. All I know is that economic growth that happens here benefits all of us(not necessarily equally, but a benefit is still a benefit), economic growth that happens over there, not so much.

"If you expect very little out of a person, that person might not perform. You want to beat out the competition, up the standard for every child. Make sure every child gets the same access to education and expect each child to perform, period, no excuses."

On the other hand, if you push someone too hard they fall over. Not everyone is ready for Algebra 2 in 8th grade to use one example from this site(by contrast the kids that are will benefit the most from spending on them).

Anonymous said...

Russia had a very solid scientific base, which was virtually unaffected by the Bolshevik takeover.

Very solid definitely, but I wouldn't go so far as virtually unaffected. Matvei Bronstein and Lev Shubnikov were shot. They nearly got Landau and Fock, and would have if Kapitza had not stood his ground. Kolmogorov punched holes in Lysenko's data, so his student Gnedenko was arrested to get evidence against him (but Gnedenko held out).

Do good work, know who your friends are, and stay away from the ambitious cadres.

mr_evergreen said...

"Spending a lot of money hasn't changed the bad schools, poor students, or poor academic performance has it? I don't have a solution for the black community. All I know is that economic growth that happens here benefits all of us(not necessarily equally, but a benefit is still a benefit), economic growth that happens over there, not so much"

I was not talking about spending more money. I was talking about starting early for everyone and expecting more. I say the solution for the Black community is to start young and early and demand more. Make sure access to an adequate and rigorous education starts early. I'm not talking about spend MORE money. I'm talking about making the same standard that applies in one school apply to everyone. Teach children while they're young about the important stuff. Start young and early as possible.

I don't believe a benefit is a benefit unless everyone gets the same opportunity of ACCESS. I'm not talking about outcome. I'm talking about access. If I'm an living in a place where economic opportunities are next to nothing(I don't live in those conditions thankfully), what good is economic growth if I don't benefit from it the way that I should?

mr_evergreen said...

"On the other hand, if you push someone too hard they fall over. Not everyone is ready for Algebra 2in 8th grade to use one example from this site(by contrast the kids that are will benefit the most from spending on them)"

Well, this method is applied in alot of places around the world. I have met kids from other countries who told me that the math they were given in American high schools was stuff they covered in grade 5. My point being, when little is expected from you(and from what I gather, Black kids in poor areas are often not expected to perform), you often won't perform.

And the kids that are ready for the hard stuff, I look at it this way. If there is a kid who is ready for the hard stuff at an early age , does it really make sense for that kid to be around a bunch of kids who are not perform up to his level? He as an individual would benefit the most from spending. However, based on the logic you are pushing for, he is not likely to get that benefit because he is surrounded by kids who are not performing. I watched a television program about a girl going to a high school in Cleveland,OH, an inner city school. She was getting bored because she wasn't challenged enough.

I say, look to the smart kid in the class, and then make his standard the standard for everyone. I'm am for high standards and for making sure that all chidren have the same access to that high standard. I would say model the education system after Germany or Japan.

Anonymous said...

"She was getting bored because she wasn't challenged enough."

I had a similar issue when I was young, though mix in plenty of laziness(or rather motivational issues that went undiagnosed). The school system did not, and could not set me straight. That ultimately took my father to accomplish.

"I would say model the education system after Germany or Japan."
Germany shunts underperforming kids into trade schools to get them out of the averages, which is certainly working for them, but they aren't getting high academic performance out of said kids.

mr_evergreen said...

"I had a similar issue when I was young, though mix in plenty of laziness(or rather motivational issues that went undiagnosed). The school system did not, and could not set me straight. That ultimately took my father to accomplish.

Germany shunts underperforming kids into trade schools to get them out of the averages, which is certainly working for them, but they aren't getting high academic performance out of said kids."


Ok, Germany isn't that good of an example. My point is that there has to be a better way to get children to perform better. If the schools in the innner cities aren't doing their jobs, there has to be some better way to educate the children who go to those schools.