Wednesday, July 31, 2002

The following is courtesy of reader Steve Johnson:
Never let it be said that ground crews and engineers
lack a sense of humor.

Here are some actual logged maintenance complaints by
QUANTAS pilots and the corrective action recorded by
mechanics. (By the way Quantas is the only major
airline that has never had an fatal accident.) P stands for
the problem the pilots entered in the log. S stands
for the corrective action taken by the mechanics.

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except autoland very rough.
S: Autoland not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back order!!

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200-fpm
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what they're there for!

P: IFF inoperative.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windscreen.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.(note: this was for a
piston-engineered airplane;the pilot meant the engine
was not running smoothly).
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be

P: Radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed radar with words.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

More evidence that campaign finance reform is a farce and a fraud.
The first, tentative steps beyond Earth orbit may be taking place in some unexpected places.
The Bush Administration has corrected an injustice which resulted from the Tailhook witchhunt which ruined the careers of many heroic naval aviators.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Lawrence Henry makes the case for fudging history in the movies.
The Senate Ethics Commitee decided to give Senator Torricelli a slap on the wrist, albeit one that may be hard enough to bounce him out of office in November.
Boeing is working on anti gravity. Seriously.

Of course, if the technology works, the history of the world changes forever.
The next mission to the Moon will launch in April of next year.

Monday, July 29, 2002

With the vigor of George Armstrong Custer attacking the Indians, several Democrats who want to be President, accused George W. Bush of tanking the economy. With exquisite timing, they did so on a day when the DOW went up 447 points.
The BBC has detected a renewed interest in exploring the Moon.
NASA is looking to the private sector to help resupply the space station. The remarkable thing about this deal is that, unlike on previous occasions, NASA is not trying to micromanage the design of the resupply vehicle.
Even more progress in helping the blind to see.

Saturday, July 27, 2002

Bill Clinton is still trying to do what Bill Clinton has always done best. Escape blame for a disaster of his own making.
Michael Crichton is publishing a new novel in November, entitled Prey. Naturally it has already been picked up to be a major motion picture. It is about, I am told, nanotechnology.
David Franzoni, who penned the script for Gladiator, has been hired to do the same for Hannibal, about the conquerer from Carthage to be directed by Ridley Scott (who also directed Gladiator) and will star Vin Diesel. That means that while Hannibal will be an entertaining, spectacular flick. It will likely, if Gladiator is any clue, have very little resemblence to what happened historically. That's too bad. While a little fudging on history for dramatic purposes is acceptable, Hollywood seems to be a bit lazy in telling stories from history which are compelling and riviting enough. A little research and a little creativity are needed to get things right and to tell a good story, in my humble opinion.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

More progress in the quest to help the blind to see.
Senate Democrats will not call Robert Rubin, Clinton's former Treasury Secretary and top official at Citigroup, over that company's role in helping Enron cover up accounting deceptions. Well, of course not. The Democrats would not like what Rubin would have to say.
When they gave Trafficant, who often finished his speaches with "beem me up,Mr. Speaker", the royal order of the boot, did Hasteret murmur, "Energize?"

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

If the Senate Appropriators have their way, Pluto-Kuniper is on again.
Tom Daschle is a loyal friend to the environmental extremist lobby. That is , except where the interests of his home state are concerned.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

The kidnapping of Erica Pratt has had a far happier ending than most recent ones. The spunky little girl managed to escape from her captors.
The Democrat controlled Senate inadvertently did a good thing when it rejected both prescription drug bills. Both bills would have led to price controls and to a dwindling of private drug research and development.
Ridley Scott, who single handedly revived the classical history epic with Gladiator, wants to do it again with a movie about Hannibal. That's the conquerer from Carthage, not the shrink with perculiar gourmet tastes.
Could the real poster children of creative accounting crimes in the boardroom be Clinton's Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Senator Joe Leiberman? If so, what delicious irony.
Speaking of moon rocks, four enterprising young people thought they had hit upon a way to get rich by taking advantage of the fact that (a) we have not explored the moon as much as we should and so (b) moon rocks on Earth are rare and thus valuable.
Scientists have struck upon a reason to go back to the Moon. Not so much to look for moon rocks, but for ancient earth rocks.

Monday, July 22, 2002

Gray Davis, not content with annoying and enraging the people of California, has found away to do the same to everybody in the other fourty nine states.
Amazon.Com Canada is now up and running. Of course Children of Apollo is available there for discerning Canadian readers.
All of the sudden, Liberal Democrats, who hated special prosecuters and endless investigations back in the 1990s, love them again.

Sunday, July 21, 2002

I just finished Slander: Liberal Lies about the American Right by Ann Coulter and I have to say that its rather impressive for the breadth of its venom, ire, and well documented descriptions of crimes and sins commited by the Left. I can attest that many of her complaints are based in reality. Liberals really do employ the technique of a six year old having a tantrum when arguing.

I suggest that when the time comes to force liberals to undego sensitivity training, they should be forced to read this book and then to pass essay tests on the text. Their constant demands for appeasement during the Cold War alone demand no less punishment.

Saturday, July 20, 2002

We saw K-19: The Widow Maker last night. It's an attempt to be a Soviet Cold War version of Das Boot and succeeds on certain levels. The movie is best when it shows how the Soviet Union valued Communist orthedoxy over the lives of the service men which defended Mother Russia and indeed common sense. Harrison Ford's sub skipper, at the beginning of the movie, mouths this sentiment when he sneers about another Captain, "He valued his boat and his crew over the needs of the Party."

By the end of the movie, Ford's charecter learns the implications of the system he operated under. A nuclear accident, exacerbated by incomptence of epic scale (the dock yard, for instance, had run out of radiation suits, so they substituted chemical suits instead; "They might as well be wearing rain coats!), threatens the boat and causes members of the crew to have to catch radiation poisoning and then die horribly in order to fix the problem.

The movie ends in 1989, the Wall having fallen, when the survivors of the K-19 gather to drink a toast to their fallen comrades, something they were never permitted to do while communism held sway.
Former JSC Director George Abbey and astronaut John Young thinks we should go back to the Moon and then to Mars. I've heard John Young speak these sentiments before and, even at his advanced age, I tend to get the impression that he would be willing to command such missions.

Abbey, though, rings kind of hollow. When he was at NASA, he spent little time actually trying to advance the high frontier of space, but lots of time behaving like Captain Queeg. There was universal jubilation at NASA when he was shown the door last year.
It was the dream of ages made reality. Now it is history, the experience of which is unimaginable to anyone who came of age after 20 July, 1969. But in a way the event of the Moon landing has receded into legend, even for the people who witnessed it on television with their own eyes. And there were a billion of us that night.

“It’s just like a science fiction movie,” someone said to me as we watched the event. The thing that made the Moon landing unique was that it had been imagined countless times in literature, on film, and even on television. The reality was all the more fantastic than the fiction because it was reality. The fact that two men had landed on the lunar surface and were preparing to walk on it made me feel giddy and awestruck all at the same time.

What happened during the two hours the first men spent on the Moon is well known. They collected rock and soil samples, they deployed scientific instruments, they took a call from the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, they uncovered a plaque which bore their names and their deed, and they raised the flag. It sounds mundane, just having written it. But because of where it happened, and all that had to be done to make it happen, it was an epic worthy of song and story.

But the first moon landing was worthy of such, especially, because of when it happened. Most people today, in the early years of the 21st Century, have no idea what a sordid, horrid time the late 1960s were. A grinding, endless, senseless war abroad, grinding, endless, senseless rebellion at home combined to make one wonder if the country could even survive. The moon landing was the one shining event which illuminated the gloom, and reassured that even in the worst of times, human beings were capable of magnificence that will be remembered long after the rest recedes into dim memory.

Friday, July 19, 2002

I just finished the latest book in Harry Turtledove's superb alternate history series in which the Confederacy wins the Civil War and subsequently squares off against the United States on opposite sides of the First World War.

The book is entitled American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold. The story takes us through the other time line's equivilent of the roaring twenties, the great depression, and the rise of fascism in the Confederacy.

Turtledove has a wry sense of humor. Without giving away anything from the book, the reader should note who is President when the stock market crashes and who is elected to fix the subsequent economic collapse.
Hillary Clinton seems to now regret having voted for Campaign Finance Reform.
Looks like we shall not have to endure a national ID card or an army of voluntier snoops as the price for homeland security. Indeed there shall be a government official whose sole task will be to guard our civil liberties.

Whom do we have to thank for this? Is it Tom Daschele, Dick Gephardt, or some other liberal guardian of our rights. No, indeed. It is that right winger Dick Armey. Which just goes to show how stereotypes are often wrong.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

For those of you who missed my LA Times Op-Ed on the US space program, the Houston Chronicle has been kind enough to reprint it.
Reader Harley W. Daugehtry tells the story behind the tune Taps:
We in the United States have all heard the haunting song, "Taps." It's the song that gives us that lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes.

But, do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about it's humble beginnings.

Reportedly, it all began in 1862, during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.

During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention.

Crawling on this stomach, through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.

The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of a soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral.

The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician

The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform. This wish was granted. The haunting melody, we now know as "Taps" used at military funerals was born.

Day is done
Gone the sun
From the lakes
From the hills
From the sky.
All is well
Safety rest
God is nigh.

Fading light
Dims the sight
And a star
Gems the sky
Gleaming bright.
From afar
Drawing nigh
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise
For our days
'Neath the sun
'Neath the stars
'Neath the sky.
As we go
This we know
God is nigh.

I too, have felt the chills while listening to "Taps" but I have never seen all the words to the song until now. I didn't even know there was more than one verse. I also never knew the story behind the song and I didn't know if you had either, so I thought I'd pass it along. I now have an even deeper respect for the song than I did before.



Tuesday, July 16, 2002

ABCNews.Com has an interesting article about the woes afflicting the current civil space program:
That leaves some wondering what to do with an expensive program that isn't meeting its intended goals. Some propose it's time private companies step in while others argue lawmakers should bite the bullet and provide the program with the funds it needs.

"The program has been unpredictable because NASA hasn't been able to manage itself," argues Mark Whittington, a space policy analyst. "I think if they turn over lower orbit missions to the private sector, it would free up a lot of money."

Currently NASA spends $400 million to $500 million per shuttle launch. Under a privatized plan, companies would compete for contracts to manage the shuttle and space station programs. The competition, says Whittington, would drive down costs and free up money for NASA to seek bigger missions like a manned journey to Mars.

It's a process that's already somewhat underway.

Since 1996, the United Space Alliance has taken over as a prime contractor in charge of 29 missions inside the shuttle program. Hundreds of government shuttle jobs were eliminated and the company estimates it has saved the government $1.2 billion since the contract began.

Still, Whittington argues NASA can go much farther to the point where private companies are managing the entire shuttle and space station programs. NASA administrator O'Keefe has suggested the agency is willing to eventually reach this kind of arrangement.

O'Keefe told a congressional committee last month that NASA hopes to avoid "potential continued cost growth for Shuttle operations by moving to a private organization that has greater flexibility to make business decisions that increase efficiency."

That Whittington fellow sounds like a pretty sharp space policy analyst, in my humble opinion.

Thirty three years ago on this date, the greatest voyage of exploration ever undertaken by humans began. It began with a roar like a billion people shouting in triumph, and the great Apollo-Saturn rocket ascended, slowly at first, and then with gathering speed, on a tail of fire. As Prometheus took fire from heaven and brought it to Earth as a gift to Man, man was now taking fire back to heaven.

Monday, July 15, 2002

Gray Davis doesn't seem to care howmany people in California hate him, so long as his fiend of a campaign manager can get them to hate Bill Simon more.
Yahoo has chosen to collaborate with the Chinese communist regime in censoriing internet content that Beijing deems to be subversive or other wise "inappropriate" for the viewing of the Chinese people. This is pernicious and the management of Yahoo should be ashamed.
Speilberg is ready to tackle the subject of King Arthur for HBO. That, with the Alexander series, makes two historical epics HBO is now producing.
Michael Ledeen congratulates President Bush for joining the fighting for freedom in Iran.
Marion C. Brodigan wants to hear from you.

You are receiving this message as a part of the ECHO: Exploring and Collecting History Online Moonwalk community. At some point over the past year you stumbled upon our site, and submitted your personal memory of the Moonwalk, which has been published online. Next Saturday marks the 33rd anniversary of the moonwalk and we are still gathering memories to commemorate this important historical moment.

As a part of our research efforts, we were hoping that you could share with us, how you discovered our website and offer any feedback that you may have about collecting history online.

Please take a few minutes to reply.

We watched the Robin Williams comedy special on HBO last night. For the most part, he was as funny as hell, even though he was obviously not on cocaine. Two exceptions. He had a tendency to tell rather lame "dumb Dubya" jokes, violating the cardinal rule of comedy that humor should have some resemblence to reality. He also stole the "72 Virginians" story which has been on the net for months and was related here by yours truly.

Robin, the weblog community will be expecting the royalty check at any time.

Saturday, July 13, 2002

It's looking more and more likely that Lance Bass is going to get to fly into space.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Peggy Noonan says that the War on Terror is not a "rich man's war, but a poor man's fight."
Looks like somebody loves Martha Stewert after all.
Sesame Street is going to introduce an HIV positive charecter. Now tell me. How does a muppet catch AIDS?

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Reader Randolph Addison disagrees with me about what animal Bill Clinton is:
I don't think either animal describes him properly. A skunk is
somewhat cute but so foul of odor that none can stand to be around it.
Clinton, if anything, was charming and only repellant by his moral standing
(or lack thereof). He never offended in an egregious fashion, only with
slight of tongue and innuendo. A jackal? I don't think that fits too well,
either. Jackals clean up after others and never take the initiative to do
anything on their own--because they are usually physically unable to do so.
Clinton, while not owning up to his indulgences and sins, did take the
initiative to do those things in the first place.

I'd put him somewhere between a chameleon and an angler fish. The
chameleon: self-explanatory, really. The man changes his political leaning
at a drop of a hat just to get what he wants. When running for President,
he's a "New" Democrat, a centrist. When he is in office and no one is
really paying attention, he's backing his wife's socialist agenda. The
angler fish is all about the facade--dangling a morsel for the unsuspecting
passer-by. It presents a reality that is not. Clinton is the very
countenance of nothing because he stands for just that, nothing. His only
goal is power by any and all means.

Come to think of it, Ms. Whittington suggested the weasal.

A science task force, appointed by NASA Administrator O'Keefe, recommends expanding the International Space Station beyond "core complete." That has been in the cards, in my opinion, from the beginning of the Bush Administration, and this report is paving the way for it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

The new hit ad by a group which includes Clintonistas like James Carville compares President George W. Bush to a fox. Machiavelli tells us that isn't a bad thing for a statesman to be. This is especially true when the statesman in question must fight terrorists abroad and liberals at home.

Besides, which animal was Clinton most like? A skunk or a jackal?
One of the last men to walk on the Moon says that the Moon will be the source of power for the 21st Century. I can do naught but agree.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Reader Harley W. Daugherty offers the following:
God summons George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin and Ariel Sharon to heaven. “I’m sick of all of you,” he tells them, “so I’ve decided to destroy the world.” Bush returns to America and addresses his people. “I’ve got good news and bad news,” he says. “The good news is there is a God. The bad news is he’s going to destroy the world.” Putin tells the Russians, “I’ve got bad news and worse news—there is a God, and he’s going to destroy the world.” Sharon tells the Israelis, “I’ve got good news and better news. There is a God—and there’s never going to be a Palestinian state.”

President Bush did everything but display a guillotine in his speach on corporate crime. Naturally the Democrats are outraged that Dubya didn't propose drawing and quartering.
Louis Farrakhan slanders American Muslims by telling Saddam Hussein that they are all willing to betray their country by supporting Iraq.

By the way, does Calypso Louis know that Iraq, strickly speaking, is not an Islamic government. The ruling Baathist Party has an idealogy which can be best described as a curious mixture of socialism and Pan-Arab nationalism.

Monday, July 08, 2002

Are the Chinese going to the Moon or are they not? Two views on the question.
Here's some more information on Russia's Mars proposal. Niotice that it uses nuclear-electric propulsion such as NASA is working on.
Carrie Meek is retiring from Congress. Surely the only reason she did so was the realization that the Democrat Party is racist and has no room in it for women of color.
And maybe so is Bill Clinton.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

Saturday, July 06, 2002

The FBI is dithering over what to call the LAX gunman. Is he a terrorist, a hate criminal, a lone nut, or all three?

In the meantime, the Egyptians are wondering what the fuss is all about. After all, they suggest, Americans gun each other down all the time. This from a country which recently spent about ten years suppressing the Islamic Brotherhood's campaign of terror against tourists which consisted of masked Jihadis spraying tour busses with machinegun fire.
So Russia says it wants to go to Mars.

There are two ways to look at this.

One way is to dismiss it as another scheme by the Russians to create a joint space cash cow with the United States. When one combines "bureaucratic ineffeciencies", "buget problems", and outright graft and corruption, Russian participation in ISS has been a real bonanza for Ivan.

The other way to look at this is to wonder if something behind the scenes might not be going on between the United States and the Russian Republic. Certainly NASA is looking at Mars as a possibility with its new nuclear propulsion/nuclear power initiative. One could imagine a scenario in which, after O'Keefe fixes NASA's fiscal and management problems, Dubya and his good friend Putin have a joint announcement at a summit taking place in-say-the reelection year of 2004.

Friday, July 05, 2002

Iran may be on the verge of revolution. The mullahs are scared enough to hire an army of Iraqi and Palestinian mercenaries to shoot their own people when they take to the streets.

Naturally the appeasers and bootlickers in the US State Department are dithering.
Disinformation? Or the real thing posing as disinformation? In any case, our President is another man not to be messed with.

Prepare to meet thy God, Saddem.
Some gentle readers, while appreciating the general thrust of my LA Times piece on the future of space exploration, have expressed surprise that the return to the Moon proposal I made could be accomplished so cheaply. Well, here's some references, courtesy of the Romance to Reality site which summerizes various schemes to go to the Moon and Mars dating back fifty years. The JSC return to the Moon study was done in the mid 1990s. The first Lunar and Planetary Institute proposal occured soon after.

All it will take to go, in my judgement, is the will to go.
Governor Gray Davis would like people to think no one should mess with him.
Indeed, serious, Israelis are not to be messed with.
Israelis are not to be messed with.
Looks like NASA will be able to fix the space shuttles within weeks, rather than years.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

The founding father I should like to celebrate is unknown to history books. Indeed, not much is known about him at all. He moved to South Carolina with his family from Virginia just in time for 1776. His kissed his wife and children goodbye and, taking his rifle down from the mantle, marched forth to join a war which was fought not for land, or booty, or racial or sectarian hatred, but for freedom. He spent the entire war, fighting in South Carolina, then Georgia, then South Carolina again.

The Revolutionary War in the south was a bitter, bloody struggle fought often as not by neighbor and friend against neighbor and friend. Much of the fighting was that of the ambush, the raid, and the massacre in which no quarter was given, nor any recieved. For the man I am writing about, death by shot, shell, or bayonet, suddenly or in screaming, drawn out agony, was the least of his lot. Hunger, cold, weariness must have stalked him for all the years he served.

He fought in some famous battles, of that we are sure, including the Cowpens, when he stood against Tarlington's Legion and helped to break it.

And in the end, with thousands of his bretheran, he won all of our tomorrows of freedom with his sacrifice.

I salute you, Cornelius Whittington, soldier of the revolution, my ancestor.
Stanley R. Fencel liked my LA Times piece:
Saw your article, "Lets aim for the Moon, or Mars in the LA Times today and I heartily concurr. My subject quote is from an article by Space Cycle corp in which the author said the first astronauts steps on Mars would be on their "hands and knees". I have a quote from Daniel Goldin on the terrible health problems in space travel. Your thesis would also alleviate the NIH SYNDROME, (not invented here) which stonewalls Astronaut health and performance solutions on prolonged space missions outside Nasa. I have an extensive background in design of exercise apparatuses, and I am the first and only person to jog underwater, totally submerged, without weights, to simulate mobile Earth activities in a space ship
Here's an appreciation of Children of Apollo by M. Ramon.
Just finished Children of Apollo, and it was great. As someone who was a real space buff, before his interest in politics and history, it was right up my alley. Imagine, Bill Clinton, driven out of politics, a generation early. Bush, the Houston Congressman as VP for the Space Council, A just Korea type solution for Vietnam, and of course an expansion of the Apollo project. Complaints; how you apparently had a joint space race taking the heart of the peace movement; which would logically prevent the Weather terror that inspired the Huston plan and the Plumbers, which triggered WaterGATE, which led almost inexorably to the Arab boycott, and the demolition of our intelligence services. Only a few commentators among them Mr. Riebling have even really examined the connections involved, and he doesn't write fiction

Many thanks for the kind words.
My LA Times commentary is now up. It is, naturally, on the future of space exploration.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Ann Coulter was on Hardball for the second week in a row and this time, I must say, she did a much better job than last. Her answers were erudite and sometimes even amusing. And that's what we like to see.
Peggy Noonan celebrates all that is right about America. She also imagines Sam Adams as a blogger.
Rand Simberg reminds us that there are two signifigent anniversaries coming this month. The other one falls on July 20th.

More on that from your gentle Curmudgeon anon.

Monday, July 01, 2002

The next flight of Shenzhou, the prototype of the Chinese manned spacecraft, may launch this September.
Bill Simon is up nine points over Gray Davis in the race for Governor of California. This must not be, suggest the journalistic establishment of California. Because Simon openly consorts with people who oppose abortion.
Russ Lewis finds the issue ad ban in McCain-Feingold as pernicious as attempts by white segregationists to shut up their critics by suing them for libeling in newspaper ads in the early 60s.
Tom Cruise, an actor and a member of the Scientology cult, has decided to thank all of those Americans who made possible a brillient film career.
President Bush is starting a full throated campaign in support of school vouchers now that the courts have proven them constitutional. A lot of people criticized him for dropping vouchers like a live hand grenade in last year's education bill. Now it seems that Dubya just was using shrewd judgement over when and how to pick fights. Last year, vouchers would certainly have failed no matter what. Now there is momentum.