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Annoyed and Amused at Red Robin - Elf M. Sternberg
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Annoyed and Amused at Red Robin
Recently, when we took the kids out to their restaurant of choice, Red Robin, their placemats had a "space science" theme to them. Which I thought was kinda cool, but as I read them I came across this "factoid": "The Mars Rovers travelled 64 million miles and cost an out-of-this-world 820 million dollars."

I suppose that depends on one's definition of "out of this world." Consider that both Pathfinder and the failed Beagle 2 missions cost $200 million. For $600 million, NASA built Spirit, which is four times larger than its predecessors, and given that they were manfacturing one, for an additional $200 million they bought Opportunity. So for a four-fold increase in cost, NASA bought an estimated eight-fold increase in functionality and delivery weight, as well as doubling their chances of a successful landing. Beagle 2 died on impact. Pathfinder lasted three weeks. Spirit and Opportunity are still delivering photos and science two years after their landings.

Sounds like they were a bargain to me. For another "out of this world" price, remember that The Lord of the Rings (the movie) cost $400 million, and wasn't half as interesting.

On the other hand, I was highly entertained by a pyramid-shaped cardboard advertisement on the table. Being a curious monkey, I picked it up and looked underneath. On the bottom it read, "This is for everyone who didn't get a pony as a child. It's okay. Ponies are really hard to care for and they don't appreciate it very much."

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Comments
gromm From: gromm Date: June 23rd, 2006 01:57 am (UTC) (Link)
My favourite game to play is "how much did that cost *me*?"

If you divide the $800M by the number of taxpayers in the US (I know, not quite a fair assessment since everyone doesn't pay the same amount of tax, but it's close enough), say 110 million, and each taxpayer pays on average $7.27. Which is roughly the amount of money you would spend on something as fleeting and insubstantial as a movie or a tub of ice cream. And what do you get for $7.27 (over the course of two years, no less)? Well, a fuckload of a lot of pretty pictures, the entertainment value of watching a couple of robots creep across an alien landscape on NASA's website, the patriotic pride of saying "we did that!", and oh, that sciency thing.

Contrast that with the war in Iraq, which costs about $197M per day. The benefits? Ummm... a couple of days of watching shit get blown up on CNN followed by the patriotic pride of... err, winning, we think. Technically, the war is over, yet it's not and dead people keep getting shipped back. The world is a safer place though! Oh, except for that bombing in Spain. And that other bombing in London. And it seems that every once in a while they keep finding new Al Quaeda agents here and there. And the price of gas is higher than ever. And the muslims hate us more than ever. Bah! It's worth it! It is!
genericjoe From: genericjoe Date: June 23rd, 2006 08:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I sometimes think my lovers and I make a monthly or bi-monthly trek to Red Robin just to see what the new thing under the cube (it's normally cube-shaped) is. I think last summer they had one that was shaped like an outdoor grill (with advertisements for barbeque sandwiches) and the bottom read something like "Good thing this wasn't a real grill, you'd have dumped ashes on your lap!"

From: (Anonymous) Date: June 24th, 2006 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)

RR cube things

Best one I've seen: "Okay, you passed. Now turn it back over."
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