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NASA Government

'Space Vikings' Spark (Unfounded) NASA Waste Inquiry 147

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the erik-the-red-in-spaaaaaace dept.
sciencehabit writes "For Ved Chirayath, a graduate student and amateur fashion photographer, a photo project that involved NASA researchers dressed as Vikings was just a creative way to promote space science. 'I started this project hoping maybe one day some kid will look at it and say, 'I want to work for NASA,' ' says Chirayath, a student at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who also works nearby at NASA's Ames Research Center. He never suspected that his fanciful image would put him in the crosshairs of a government waste investigation triggered by a senior U.S. senator." The project was funded by an outside art grant. The best part: the investigation into the non-existent waste probably cost more than the "waste" would have were it funded by NASA in the first place.
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'Space Vikings' Spark (Unfounded) NASA Waste Inquiry

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  • heck might as well get alex baldwin too...

  • Reavers (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ben C. (2950903) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:14PM (#44393063)
    Space Vikings? Reavers are no joking matter.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Who else thought of Viking Space Program? I can't be the only one.

  • by PrimeNumber (136578) <PrimeNumber@@@excite...com> on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:16PM (#44393081) Homepage

    This money could be better used for banker bonuses like our bailout money was.

  • Predictable (Score:2, Troll)

    by coastwalker (307620)

    Remember folks its all about Bread and Circuses. Seriously I wonder why we bother to pretend that society still exists.

    • Remember folks its all about Bread and Circuses.

      I suppose that in the context of science geeks, that would be "breadboards and cyclotrons".

  • by spasm (79260) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:20PM (#44393141) Homepage

    "This year [2008], the government-watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste named Grassley the fourth biggest GOP earmarker. The senator has proven himself a champion spender of other people’s money." http://spectator.org/archives/2008/06/10/chuck-grassley-king-of-pork [spectator.org]

    • Senators and House of representatives are the ultimate Government waste. I suggest we tackle waste at the root: by removing the entire Congress from the US political system. I mean, it's not like they're doing anything right now anyway.

      What's that? They perform important, and things like government salaries, pensions, cadillac health care, corporate-sponsored outings to the Bahamas are just things that make government possible? I'm shocked at that news. Maybe we can come to a similar understanding for think

      • Congress doesn't do anything important. If we got rid of them, we'd have 50 stable countries (plus or minus--I'm sure Rhode Island would be annexed) instead of the United Soviet States of America. We have stymied government competition by building giant republics like the EU and USA (Megacorporation monopolies, standard oil, carnegie steel) and cartel-like trusts like the UN (RIAA, MPAA, etc.). That's why we have goofy shit like human rights that amount to "hey! He gets a toy firetruck?! I want a toy f
    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      In the past, Grassley and other lawmakers have taken issue with ARCâ(TM)s use of money, including whether it improperly housed aircraft owned by Google at NASA facilities

      We have a witch hunt from someone who hates spending money on communist, tree-hugging garbage like space exploration, when it could be spent in his home district helping him stay elected.

      Given the facts, it's actually much worse than it seems. And, if there genuinely was misuse of funds, an investigation that costs more than the origi

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I got no beef with the financial side of this because I have no reason to doubt the claim that no taxpayer money was used.

    But is the stereotypical image of a viking really the one we want to present to the rest of the universe? Do we really want to frighten them by basically saying that we are going to invade their planets, kill whatever mostly resembles males, rape whatever mostly resembles females, and burn whatever mostly resembels crops?

    I for one propose that we take a more humble and peaceful tone with

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      When the vikings came to North America they didn't commit genocide... just sayin'...

    • by tekrat (242117)

      " we are going to invade their planets, kill whatever mostly resembles males, rape whatever mostly resembles females, and burn whatever mostly resembels crops? "
      ------
      And don't you think that's EXACTLY what we're going to do when we find another planet with life? The USA invaded Iraq on false pretenses, and basically shot at everyone who wasn't an American. And that's with oversight and real-time news reporting. Can you imagine the havoc we'll create when politicians and the media are 220 million light yea

      • by HappyHead (11389)

        And that's with oversight and real-time news reporting. Can you imagine the havoc we'll create when politicians and the media are 220 million light years away?

        Are you kidding? Half of that havoc was because of the media coverage making soldiers want to show off and look tough, and politicians sending screwed up orders based on their personal (and highly uninformed) biases. (The other half was just because that's what "organized" militaries do. The unorganized ones are even worse.) That's okay though, any exploratory/colonial/invasion force sent out by earth will likely carry politicans and media with it to turn things into a messed up circus as well.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      I for one propose that we take a more humble and peaceful tone with alien brethen.

      There [youtube.com] you have it.

  • Seems perfectly valid to inquire as to why NASA employees are participating in a non-work activity during working hours. Since the photographs are identified as having been taken on Friday Dec 14, 2012 and the photos appear to have been taken during the day, it's completely valid to determine whether the NASA employees took a vacation day or whether they just slipped away from the office.

    • by joe_frisch (1366229) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:36PM (#44393291)

      A little fun can boost moral and increase efficiency far more than the loss of time. You will notice that most companies with knowledge workers take time for parties, outings etc.

      The real waste in large organizations isn't from spending on photos, silly movies, or conferences in nice locations. The big waste is from spending on unneeded projects, or in starting large projects that are then canceled.

    • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:40PM (#44393331)
      I think they are just checking that NASA isn't wasnting money like the IRS did. The IRS used govemerment funds to create Star Trek videos with upper managment in them.
      • by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Friday July 26, 2013 @03:38PM (#44393913)
        That video was made while training in the use of their new video facilities and cost them next to nothing. Try watching something besides Fox News.
    • by sjames (1099) on Friday July 26, 2013 @03:38PM (#44393907) Homepage

      It is like a general from the pentagon making a special flight to Okinawa to see if PFC Perkins pilfered a stapler.

      The inquiry will easily cost more than the photos would have if NASA had paid for them.

      Of course the senator has been called the king of pork on more than one occasion. He probably would have been fione with it as long as they had the photos developed in Iowa.

  • I heard a PR talk of NASA-funded 100 Starship Project [100yss.org] earlier this year. before I heard the talk I thought it might be a good idea to plan for the next century, but now I am not sure. It seemed very emphemeral. They commission annual conferences and give talks to school kids. The technologies seemed way too hypotheticlal.
  • by amoeba1911 (978485) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:37PM (#44393299) Homepage
    Wow NASA probably spent hundreds of dollars funding this extravagant photo-op. Yes, considering how small NASA's budget is, you can confidently say NASA spent the majority of its funding on this photo shoot.
  • Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jiro (131519) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:37PM (#44393303)

    Claiming that the waste investigation costs more than the loss from the waste is meaningless. In order to see if the cost is worth it, you can't compare the waste that was caught to the cost of the investigation. You have to compare the waste that there would be without any investigation, to the cost of the investigation. As investigation discourages waste, the latter number is larger than the former number.

    • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sootman (158191) on Friday July 26, 2013 @03:09PM (#44393611) Homepage Journal

      > Claiming that the waste investigation costs more
      > than the loss from the waste is meaningless.

      Sometimes, but not in this case. The first question should have been "What?!? Space vikings?!? Who paid for this crap? ... Oh, not us? OK then." The "investigation" should have been 1 or 2 phone calls.

      Rule #1: Verify that your premise and assumptions are correct before proceeding. If you go into something thinking "This seems like a waste of tax dollars!", your first questions MUST be "Was it paid for with tax dollars?" To not do so is... wasteful.

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        Being SEEN to do something about "waste" is far more important to your bottom line at the pollbooth than is actual waste, if any. Same as nearly all legislation today -- it's all about being *perceived* by the voters as having "accomplished" something, anything, no matter what the consequences or actual costs, because THAT is what gets you RE-elected.

    • by Ogive17 (691899)
      But the person requesting the investigation had better be damn sure he is not doing the same.

      Just like I can't sit here and complain about my coworker on facebook as I type this response in /.
    • by sjames (1099)

      This is not the first time the senator has called for a wasteful waste investigation. We need to investigate his wasteful spending immediately before he wastes on waste again.

      When the potential cost of the waste is small, launching an investigation over a single incident is always a waste.

    • The issue is, Having people dressing up like Vikings is probably a few hundred buck. You look at it and you see that well it can't cost that much. Sure it may have cost tax payers money. But so does having you coffee pot filled daily. Or the refrigerator to keep their lunches cool.

      Now you have NASA design a replacement shuttle, give them near impossible specs, have them create a bunch of working prototypes then cancel the project because they decide space is no longer politically interesting, is much di

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Claiming that the waste investigation costs more than the loss from the waste is meaningless. In order to see if the cost is worth it, you can't compare the waste that was caught to the cost of the investigation. You have to compare the waste that there would be without any investigation, to the cost of the investigation. As investigation discourages waste, the latter number is larger than the former number.

      it was just a hunt after the pictures had already been taken.. ..and you know what, the investigation would never have needed to be official if they had just asked where the money came from.

    • by ultranova (717540)

      You have to compare the waste that there would be without any investigation, to the cost of the investigation.

      Which is impossible, since you don't have access to alternative timelines where you didn't do the investigation.

      As investigation discourages waste, the latter number is larger than the former number.

      This is a non-sequiter. Even if investigation discourages waste, it does not follow that waste is reduced by more than the investigation costs.

      Also, in my experience, stick-based waste discouragement l

  • In light of IRS... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alta (1263) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:38PM (#44393317) Homepage Journal

    In light of the IRS making Star Trek training videos I really don't see any problem with digging into all Government entities searching for waste. Glad they didn't find it here, but I'm also glad the checked.

    • by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Friday July 26, 2013 @03:37PM (#44393899)
      You're a fool swept up in Republican lies and propaganda. That video was made while training in the use of their new video facilities and cost them next to nothing.
      • You're a fool swept up in Republican lies and propaganda. That video was made while training in the use of their new video facilities and cost them next to nothing.

        60,000 != Next to Nothing

        • by dwpro (520418)

          The _video_ cost them next to nothing, the video facilities weren't built explicitly for this damned video. How we end up here arguing over a kitschy video made for peanuts while so many other places in government (defense, social security, health care) or the private sector (how about goldman sachs and metals price manipulation) are costing the public substantially I'll never know.

    • by Guru80 (1579277) on Friday July 26, 2013 @03:58PM (#44394207)
      Except for the issue of costs. Those hours spent contacting everyone, filling out paperwork and digging around for ways to fire someone cost far more than a few photos in costumes paid for by an art grant earmarked specifically for this kind of thing. It really could have been as simple as 3 phone calls.

      Call 1: Head of the department the participants work in - "Nope, wasn't during scheduled meeting times, cost us none of our money and I'm a freakin space viking! One guy made us sound cooler than anything you guys have done since the moon missions".

      Call 2: Photographer - "No, I didn't interfere with their work and it cost you nothing. I have a grant to make NASA look awesome and sound freakin badass! Space Vikings! Just in case here is the number to verify freakin vikings in freakin space money"

      Call 3: Grant people - "Yes we gave photographer a grant to take pictures of space vikings, glad to see you aren't living up to your reputation as one of the biggest wasters in congress with your sensible approach to verifying the facts and not ordering a full blown investigation into the space viking thing".

    • There is a problem though if any investigation is going to cost more than any waste that could have possibly happened. Especially if said senator could have just sent a polite letter to the administrator to ask about where the funding for the photo-op came from.

      • Not true. Audits of all kinds are normally expensive. Doing the audit is supposed to prevent waste by creating a risk that curroption will be punished.
      • by cusco (717999)
        That's pretty much impossible. The only polite letters that Grassley is capable of sending are to contributors.
  • by AndyKron (937105)
    Senators should be spending their time creating work-around laws to the Constitution, rather than waste it with this nonsense.
  • If you want to go fishing for corruption, why not go look in more obvious place like where 24% of the budget gets spent? That would be a much better payoff if you want to clean up corrupt funding. Otherwise, I would file this under "because, space geeks" and stop spending money on the witch hunt.

    [*] http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/federal_budget_actual [usgovernmentspending.com]

    • Republicans only know how to do witch hunts or they ignore it when they have the power of the white house behind them. Some of the biggest spenders/wasters are Republicans, if you check the facts.
    • Or why not the 12%? Or the 23%? Waste happens in all areas, not just the area of defense. The entire budget needs to face the harsh light of public scrutiny. And while a world where a defense budget isn't needed would be awesome, it also isn't reality. Reality is, as things stand, we need a fairly hefty defense budget.

      Now, that said, I think the US needs to stop being the police force of the world. It's stupid, it's wasteful, and it's not our job.
  • The GOP hates science, so going after NASA fits right in: "Let's go after them uppity intehlectuals, they're a bunch of godless atheist scum who believe in evolution. NASA sez the earth ain't flat like the Bible tells me, so why are they getting my tax money?"

    Grassley has to pander to his base. Verifiable facts, science, and technical achievement make them feed inadequate. He knows exactly what he is doing. Generally the places where the GOP is in control are the places where stupidity is considered a virt

  • FTA:

    Last year, Chirayath began working at ARC, where he helps develop small, compact research satellites known as “CubeSats.” The technology, developed in part at Stanford, reminded him of Viking explorers who, from the eighth through 11th centuries, “travelled farther and saw more in much smaller ships than had been used before their time.”

  • mission is to try to send a rocket to heaven and find Jesus.

  • Sure, the government (and its employees) sometimes blow money on amazingly stupid stuff. Sometimes the amounts of money involved seem mind-boggling to thee and me. But take a step back and look at things in perspective; compared to the real gross abuses going on (corruption from post-facto bribes and regulatory capture, the implementation of secret programs of all stripes, idiotic policies, and poor implemention) 'waste' isn't anywhere near being one of the U.S. Federal Government's more serious problems.
  • by Plazmid (1132467) on Friday July 26, 2013 @05:05PM (#44394879)

    Clearly they have violated Standard NASA Ames Procedures [archive.org] for dealing with this sort of thing.

    They failed to fill out a both the DARC-820AD -- 'Identifying a Barbarian Attack' and FF-1066AD -- 'Report of Viking Raid' forms.

  • by Ultracrepidarian (576183) on Friday July 26, 2013 @05:05PM (#44394885)

    I'm going to print myself a bumper sticker that says "Fund NASA, not NSA".

  • A "senior US Senator" can sense waste like Yoda sensed the death of billions. The odor of PORK draws those strong in the dark side and no one is stronger in the dark side than the dysfunctional losers who run for political office in this country

  • Did Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, think they were real Vikings?

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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