Thursday, February 28, 2002

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe has had a chance to go over NASA's financial books. It is worse than anyone ever dreamed. It seems that the books are in such horrible shape that an audit cannot be completed and no one knows the true cost of such programs as the International Space Station.

And people thought Enron was bad.
The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, who should know better, repeats a theory raised in a Washington Monthly article, while cleverly not letting us know whether he agrees with it or not.The theory is that there is no liberal bias in the media, that the New York Times, Washington Post, the major networks, et al, actually try to be balanced and present both sides. the theory goes on to suggest that its the evil "conservative media" (Washington Times, New York Post, Fox News, talk radio, et al) that's biased and continues to beat the poor "mainstream media" over their collective heads because they won't be balanced.

This kind of reminds me of the recent Gallup Poll taken in Moslem countries which suggests that people over there do not believe that Arabs are responsible for 9/11 and that the United States is the Great Satan. The theory which Kurtz repeats is on that level of denial. After Bernard Goldberg published his book on media bias, whether there is or is nor media bias should no longer be a subject of discussion. We should move on and try to decide what should be done about it. But we can't so long as reporters are still living by that river in Egypt.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

A baby has been born who has been geneticly selected to be free of a particularly horrible form of alzheimers. This technique could be used to prevent a whole variety of deseases.

Naturally, bio-ethticists are apalled and horrified.
Professor Glenn Reynolds provides an eloquent answer to Fred Reed's questions about why we should have a space program.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

For a look at what things are like under the ultimate camapaign finance reform, one may look no further than Zimbabwae. It seems that President Robert Mugabe has charged his political opponent with treason, for the crime of-well-campaigning against him. Eliminating campaigns is certainly a way to get money out of politics.

Monday, February 25, 2002

Fred Reed makes an even bigger mistake than does Eli Lehrer (see below) in a piece in the Washington Times. He suggests that because the current way we're doing space exploration is flawed, then all space exploration is flawed and should be cancelled. He also makes the mistake of assuming that just because he can't justify a space effort, there are no justifications.
The National Review online has published a piece by a gentleman named Eli Lehrer about what's wrong with the civil space program. Like most such articles it's rather good in pointing out what the problems are, but vague about solutions. What doesn, for instance, "But cutting back obligations for the space station and other human space flight as quickly as possible and redirecting the money towards science." mean? I think I know what it does mean, which is funding more robotic space probes. The proposal illustrates two misconceptions about space exploration.

The first misconception is that "science" can be best done with robots. While robots are very useful for remote sensing, humans beat them hands down in most field science. That's why when we do field science on Earth we tend to send live scientists. The problem is that people are more expensive. But the solution, it seems to me, is not to switch entirely over to robots, but to find ways to make sending people cheaper.

The second misconception is that space exploration consists solely of doing "science." Science is just one part of a properly balanced civil space program. Other goals should include encouraging commercial development, developing technology, and enhancing national security.

President Bush's new NASA Administrator, Sean O'Keefe, has had a gone start at healing what ails the US civil space program. But there's more that can be done. About a year ago, when the Bush 43 Presidency was young, I wrote a piece with a few helpful suggestions for NASA.

There are other things which could be done outside NASA. One idea would be to revisit the Outer Space Treaty. Currently national soverignty in space (i.e. claiming the Moon as national territory) is forbidden. Unfortunately that means that there is no mechanism for protecting property rights in space. An international regime for space property rights is long over due.

Then, under that regime, lunar land grants can be sold to private individuals and other entities with-say-a fifty year homesteading clause requiring the owner (or the owner's heirs) to develop his or her property within fifty years to retain ownership. The cost for each garnt would be nominal and the income might be used to finance space technology development. In one stroke, thousands or even tens of thousands of people would become direct stakeholders in the settlement of space. It's an idea worth pursuing, in my humble opinion.

Sunday, February 24, 2002

It looks like Oliver Stone's Alexander the Great is a go. It will star Heath Ledger of The Patriot and A Knight's Tale.

In my opinion, Ledger is a bit tall for the role. But more important, what will be the role of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy which killed JFK and brought Richard Nixon to power be in the movie? Was Alexander assasinated? Or was his career just a plot by a shadowy group of rich white guys to take over the world?
On This Week Without David Brinkley, Cokie Roberts expressed horror at the thought that people in Washington D.C. would watch a man, Mike Tyson, box, whom they would not want to be alone with their daughters.

Well and good. But how many people voted for a man, Bill Clinton, about whom they have or should have the same fear? And isn't the choice of President of the United States far more important than a boxing match?

Thursday, February 21, 2002

So they slit Danny Pearl's throat and then left a snuff video of it as a kind of macabre gag gift. What in the name of heaven could these animals be thinking? Have they not learned the lesson of 9/11 that when they do these things, we will visit them with the entire might and majesty of our power and render justice so complete and so eternal that there can be no doubt of the folly of such atrocities?

Don't worry, you murdering bastards. We are coming. And Hell is coming with us.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

The Supreme Court has heard a school voucher case brought against a program in Cleveland which gives vouchers to poor and disadvantaged students to attend private schools. The arguement by the liberal and union groups bringing the suit is that since most of the students are choosing religious schools, the program violates the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

In my opinion, that arguement is a crock. First of all, the government is not supporting religion because the choice is up to students and parents. Second, that bridge was crossed decades ago when the GI Bill was passed and veterans were able to attend religious colleges and universities such as Notra Dame and Brigham Young.

The real agenda is that the success of voucher programs have embaressed liberals and teachers' unions by demonstrating how public schools have failed poor and disadvantaged students. Rather than work to improve public schools, these groups prefer to drag these students back into failure and misery. They should slink away in shame.
Today, February 20th, is the 40th anniversary of John Glenn's first flight in orbit around the Earth. Glenn also is the third politician to use political manuevering to get himself a seat on the space shuttle.

These anniversaries of past space glories are very depressing as it reminds us what has not been accomplished since the sixties. The most depressing of all the anniversaries is coming up; it is the 30th anniversary of the last man to walk on the Moon during the mission of Apollo 17. The Curmudgeon believes that one of the great stains on American civilization is the fact that we went to the Moon and then stopped. It is a stain which can only be wiped out when we get the vision and the courage to send people back, this time to stay.

The Curmudgeon, by the way, will soon publish a novel, The Children of Apollo, set in an alternate history in which the United States did not stop going to the Moon. He turned in the corrected galleys to the publisher yesterday. Much more on that anon.

Meanwhile, all is not doom and gloom. It looks like Lance Bass of the boy band N Synch will become the third space tourist to visit the International Space Station. The Curmudgeon's heart is bursting with-er-joy.

Just when one thought one couldn't get any more cynical about campaign finance reform, here comes this story about how Democrats are plotting to circumnavigate the bill they just passed. In other words, having piously "taken money out of politics", they want to put it back in by other means.

This just proves that not only is campaign finance reform unconstitutional. It is a fraud.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

It looks like Iran is trying to earn its place on the Axis of Evil by trying to undermine all the work we've done to save Afghanistan. The Curmudgeon's view is that we should return the favor by working to undermine the mad mullahs.

Sunday, February 17, 2002

Senator Mitch McConnell, that champion of the Constitution, thinks he has the votes to fillibuster Campaign Finance Reform in the Senate and, if not outright kill it, amend it, which its supporters claim is the same thing.

Friday, February 15, 2002

The world is fortunate that Al Queda did not dare to attack the French. We were spared much horror.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Here is the roll call of the people who voted to trash the Constitution and those who voted to defend it under the guise of Campaign Finance "Reform."

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Yassir Arafat may finally be losing it. It seems that during an argument he pulled heat on his chief of security, Jibril Rajoub. That's the sort of behavior that can get a terrorist chieftien slightly dead, in my humble opinion.

Rajoub, by the way, is one of the young, up and coming Palestinian leaders whom the Israelis think is pragmatic enough to deal with.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

The inability of the Democrats to use Enron as a stick to beat up on GW Bush has them looking for other targets. Looks like they may have settled on something called "corporate America."
Dick Morris believes he has found the political scandal in l'affaire d'Enron. It's not in the Bush White House.

Sunday, February 10, 2002

A New York Times reporter (naturally!) has concluded that President GW Bush is culturally challenged. Why? He doesn't know who Leonardo Dicaprio and has never heard of Sex and the City.

Well, I say, good for him. I wish I were that lucky. In the case of Leo, while Titanic was a fine movie, by the end of it I was so sick of Leo's pretty good looks that I was glad when he finally froze to death in the icy, Atlantic waters. An as for Sex and the City, well, for what I understand it concerns the adventures of four New York bimbos who are forever whining about how disfunctional their sex lives are and how silly men behave. I had been praying that all four of them had been having breckfast at the World Trade Center on 9/11 for their latest gripe-fest about how there aren't any good men left anymore. But no such luck.

Oddly, the New York Times ink stauned wretch didn't count the fact the the POTUS loves Austin Powers in his favor. That demonstrates a bit of cultural elitism, in my humble opinion. As far as I'm concerned any man who does a good Dr. Evil and is also the most powerful man in the world is culturally in tune enough for me, thank you very much

Thursday, February 07, 2002

George Will suggests that the war on terrorism will have one benifical side effect. Increased spending on bioterrorism will eventually improvethe health of all Americans.
Looks like the first film project directly inspired by 9/11 has been bought by MGM. The premise of the film is that after trying to get everyone to understand the dangers of Osama bin Laden, John O'Neill, former FBI head of counter terrorism, becomes a victim of the terrorist after starting his job as head of security for the World Trade Center on September 10th. This is apparently based on a true story.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

In a very real sense we are all Reagan's Children. The world which existed at the time he assumed the Presidency was a scary place. Economic meltdown at home. The unrelenting march of tyranny aborad. The threat of nuclear war hanging over all.

By the time he rode into the sunset, all of that had changed. The Soviet Empire, which had frightened the world with it's ambition to rule it, was no more. The stagflation of the past was history. If there was any man who had summoned the future, who had in fact made the future possible, it was Ronald Reagan.

Happy birthday, Mr.President.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

The Smithsonian has decided that individual achievement is not a factor in determining history. So much for the efforts of George Washington, Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King, and thousands of other people.
Proof that Sean O'Keefe has a lot of work to do to change NASA's corporate culture.

Well, NASA's space tourist requirements are out and Mrs. Whittington said it best, as usual. They seem to have been written by Queen Victoria.

My favorite clause, as it is of everyone else, is this one:

"(f) membership or sponsorship in organizations which adversely affect the confidence of the public in the integrity of, or reflecting unfavorably in a public forum on, any ISS Partner, Partner State or Cooperating Agency."

This would seem to forbid everybody, including:

A member of any space activist organization.

The United States Congress

The Media

The Democrat Party

The Republican Party

The Libertarian Party

The Clinton White House

The Bush White House (both of them)

Anyone who has ever used the words, "Yankee Imperialist, Eurotrash Socialist, Godless Communist, Japanese Industrialist" or any other national slur.

There are more, but you get the point I think.

Saturday, February 02, 2002

Madeleine Halfbright proves to the world how much of a dufus she is by suggesting that President Bush is not enough of an appeaser.