Thursday, October 30, 2003

Bruce Willis as J. R. Ewing in the big screen version of Dallas? Interesting idea, but I'd choose an actor who can do smarmy better. Say, John Travolta.

In any case, J. R. was Hollywood's version of what a Texas oil billionaire is like. The problem, of course, is that anyone so obviously crooked and ruthless as J. R. would not last a week in the oil industry. No one in their right mind would do business with him.
The best GDP growth since Reagan would seem to be cause for celebration.And it is, except at the Democratic National Committee.
The burning of Southern California seems to be the direct result of madcap environmental policies.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Rand Simberg seems to be as pleased at some at the testimony before McCain's committee as was your humble servant. I'm not sure what is meant by a "socialist" space program as opposed to a "free enterprise" space program and the difference between them. Perhaps we'll hear about that anon.
All right, you little brats, put that book away and get back to your TV and video games. You want to make yourself sick?
The British Tories have once again done what only they can do best, which is to knife their leader in the back and depose him. I would say it's time to bring Maggie back, except I think that the situation calls for a Francis Urguhart.
Senator Zell Miller (D) Georgia, no metrosexual he, has endorsed George W. Bush for President.
Howard Dean expresses confusion about his own sexual and cultural identity.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Leonard David has some more thoughts about the implications of going beyond LEO.

Oh, and he reminds us all, Robert Park will not be happy either.
If all of this develops, then this December, President Bush will say, "We will return to the Moon..."

Despite the fact that the effort will be primarily for technology development, I predict that there will be opposition from two camps. First, the far left because (a) the money should be spent on social programs and (b) George Bush will have proposed it and Bush is the Devil. Second, the libertarian "No!" crowd because, despite the fact they pay lip service to NASA doing technology development, they will oppose any kind of field testing of that technology for reasons I cannot begin to comprehend.

Bob Zubrin will also be unhappy because there won't be a sudden lunge to Mars.
Dr. Michael Baden, the famous forensic pathologist, suggests that Terri Schiavo did not suffer a heart attack, but was rather rendered brain damaged by some kind of head trauma. Schiavo os the center of a "right to die" controversy in Florida.
Shenzhou 6 may carry three men for an entire week.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Looks like Congress is starting to get antsy about the Orbital Space Plane. As well it should.
Ed Morrow wishes someone would make a movie about President Reagan that actually adhered to historical accuracy.
Looks like Ben Affleck is still going to be Jack Ryan in the movie version of Red Rabbit. Now let's see how the producers and writers comspire to ruin this one, just as they did Sum of All Fears.
HBO and the BBC have greenlit a 12 part series set during the civil war between Caesar and Pompey and its aftermath.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

The way in which biomedical experiments are chosen for the space station is a mess. Fortunately, someone has actually stood up and said as such.

Now the question is, will NASA listen and take corrective action? Or will NASA, as in the past, shoot the messenger and try to sweep things under the rug?NASA officials inform us that the answer is the former. We'll be watching.
This revelation (no pun intended) from Drudge shows just how over the top (or stark raving insane with hate) the producers of The Reagans really are.

I have to say that while many Clinton haters may think that Clinton is the Anti-Christ, I know of no one who imagined for one moment Clinton admitting it.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Friday, October 24, 2003

Matt Drudge has been having a lot of fun on Rush Limbaugh today playing scenes from the upcoming scurilous miniseries, The Reagans. No doubt every copy of the tape should be burned and everyone involved dipped in gravy train and fed to the dogs. But, there should also be some payback. So I've written a few scenes, for you edification, from a proposed miniseries The Clintons. For all of you Clintonistas out there who have the desire to complain, remember that the following are just as "true" as much of what is in The Reagans.


Hillary enters wearing a fedora and trench coat She is also carrying a glock. Vince Foster is seated at the desk. His eyes widen with surprise when he sees the gun.

Well, lover, it was fun while it lasted,
but you’ve become a liability.

Hillery, please, I can explain about—

Bye, Vince.

She fires. The bullet hits Vince foster in the head, killing him instantly. Hillary puts the weapon in her purse and takes out a cell phone. She calls.

Ok, I need a clean up crew in Foster’s office.
Take his body and dump it in Fort Marcy Park.


Clinton is laying on the carpet with the great seal of the President on it, cradling Monica while she kisses him. His pants are around his ankles.

So come on, you big creep, when are you
gonna leave Hillary?

Did I say anything about that?

But you promised!

Now, darlin’. You just behave yourself.
Little girls like you can disappear just
like that.


Hillary picks up a lamp and tosses it at Clinton. He ducks and it crashes against the wall.

You stupid bastard! Barbara Streisand was my

Aw, Hillary, it didn’t mean nothing—

I’ll kill you!

She picks up a small statuette and lunges at Clinton. Two Secret Service agents grab her and take the weapon out of her hand. They begin to drag her out of the room.

Maybe we should take about this when
you’re calmer?

You just remember. One word from
me about that Chinese deal and you’re
done! No matter what Bob Bennett does!

I can still get you that Senate seat.

The Secret Service agents drag her through the door and out of the room.


Thursday, October 23, 2003

Sean O'Keefe addresses the whole space station safety issue and rather quickly if I do say so.
Michael Gallagher, of Chonan City, South Korea, is the latest to call for us to rise to the challenge of the Dragon.
Speaking of liars and the lies they tell, Rich Lowry writes about Hillary Clinton.
President Reagan's AIDS policy was far more compassionate than will be depicted in a lying, biased miniseries on CBS.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Edward Hudgins has a sound strategy to beat the Chinese in the new space race. Unleash the private market.
The impression ones gets is that once again NASA is ignoring risks and putting the lives of astronauts at hazard.

Maybe. But on the other hand, the only way to ensure that no one dies in space ever again is to never fly anyone in space ever again.
Looks like Japan is all of the sudden interested in manned space fight. I wonder why that is?
Wouldn't you have loved to have been a fly on the wall at this meeting? And the one that happened after it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

"The Reagans", a very biased hit piece about the former President and his wife, apparently contains a lie about Reagan's feelings about Gays and AIDS. Far from being a homophobe, President Reagan was very tolerant and actually campaigned against an anti-Gay initiative in California in the late 70s. CBS should be ashamed of its collective self.
Looks like Lewis and Clark are getting the "Christopher Columbus" treatment from the usual suspects.
This and this are smashing victories for the pro life movement. What for the Left to go completely nuts.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Can China actually show up the more well funded, more technologically advanced US space program? The answer, surprisingly, may be yes.
Looks like some in the Hollywood Left have taken time out from hating President Bush to vent their hatred for President Reagan.
However one feels about the Schiavo case, this seems to be an outrage.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Robert Bartley finds much fault with FDR.
Newt Gingrich, the protean former Speaker of the House, novelist, and most consequential statesman of the 1990s, gives Wesley Clark the back of his hand.
The era of laser weapons is drawing nigh.
The idea that Bush hating is simply the mirror image of Clinton hating is a bit tiresome. Clinton was and is a curious collection of human weaknesses and voracious appetites protected by battlions of sychophants who, had the former President raped and murdered an eight year old in the Rose Garden in full view of the White House press corps, would accuse people who objected of partisanship and moralizing. He is a man, as was said of Byron, who is "mad, bad, and dangerous to know." He was master politician, but an incomptent President whose messes will be decades in the cleansing.

Bush, on the other hand, is a canny lad whose enemies think him some kind of moron. So naturally, when he beats them for the zillionenth time, those folks get confused, and then enraged. It's really quite funny to watch.

Friday, October 17, 2003

John Rhys-Davies is one of the best unsung, underpaid actors alive today.
In the meantime, the House Science Committee is told that the American space program needs a new direction.
The debate on the implications of the flight of Shenzhou 5 continues.
Deborah Orin suggests that Wesley Clark, the Democrats' man on the white horse designated to stop Howard Dean, has blown it.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Rand Simberg takes the opportunity to kick Rush Limbaugh while he's down, which gives me the opportunity to comment on the whole issue of drugs.

First, I won't go further for now than I already have on Rush's specific situation because Rush has indicated that some parts of the National Enquirer story is filled with factual errors. So I'm not prepared just yet to go into the whole issue of hypocrisy or rather Rush ought to go to jail. (It is my impression, by the way, that the vast majority of people who become addicted to pain meds are--at most--made to do community service. That is what happened to Senator McCain's wife when she went through a similer situation. That is because, I suspect, unlike with certain recreational drugs, people who become addicted to pain meds in general do not do so out of choice. Either the addiction comes about through doctor error or malfeasence or else the addict in question finds a way to aquire the pain meds on the black market.)

For the record, I had a very close relative, now deceased, who suffered intense agony during the last few months of her life. Keeping her from becoming addicted to pain meds was part of the nearly full time job of care giving. It is not the most pleasent thing in the world to have to tell a beloved relative that, no, she must bear unimaginable agony a few more hours until her next pill, since the consequences would be far worse than what she was then suffering. (The bitter irony is that had we known that she would be dead in a short time, all that might not have mattered and she might have been at least spared hours of pain.) So I approach Rush's situation, no matter what the details are which will eventually emerge, with a little more compassion.

Also I have to stipulate that I am not a drug law abolitionist. It's not that I want to lock up every college kid who takes a toke of pot. (Again, for the record, I was known to indulge once in a while in college.) Indeed I could see the possibilities of treating drug abuse (as opposed to drug trafficing) as a medical rather than legal matter. I might even be in favor of legalizing pot entirely (though I can just imagine the arguments over second hand smoke that would arise in that case.)

I wonder, however, if any of the drug law abolitionists have thought through the consequences of their position. The real world experience of most drug law abolitionists with recreational drugs, I suspect, has been with pot and has been benign. Many compare the current "war on drugs" to prohibition and suggest that if crack and heroin were available for purchase in the local drug store, crimes related to drug trafficing would diminish. Perhaps, but we need to keep in mind that recreational drugs like crack and heroin are far more addictive than a six pack of Coors, and the effects of the addiction far quicker to take effect and far more debilitating. One can drink alcohol in moderation with no problem. There is no moderation where crack and heroin (and many other drugs) are concerned. So it behooves us to be very careful when approaching the issue and not take blanket positions based on erroneous information or--worse--blind idealogy.

It also occurs to be that given the litigeous nature of American society, it may be flat impossible to legalize recreational drugs. Why? Imagine the law suits which would ensue if--say--Philip Morris came out with a line of reefers. It would make the tobacco law suits seem piddling in comparison. So even if drugs were technically legal, no legitiment business could sell them because of the legal liability. So we would be back to square one with only criminal organizations capable of providing recreational drugs.

That is my two cents, I guess.
Now that Colonel yang and the Shenzhou 5 have returned to Earth in triump, the argument of what to do will go into full throttle in America. Ideas abound. The Planetary Society wants to go to Mars and explore. The National Space Society wants to build a lunar base to field test commercial technologies. The Space Frontier Foundation, among other things, wants to get serious about cheap access to space.

Whatever we do, the stakes are quite high indeed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Reader Mike Shupp has some interesting thoughts about the flight of the Shenzhou 5:
I have to say, I'm now 50% more optimistic about the long-run fate of the human race.

Moving on, it strikes me that that the Chinese space flight says a lot even to people who aren't interested in spaceflight. Like, "When we mention having ICBMs, we mean real working rockets with real working thermonuclear warheads." Like, "Our digital watches and personal computers also work and are most inexpensive. Our metal fabricating techniques are equal to those of any other nation on earth. Our managers are pretty damned good too. And we build the largest dams in the world. Think of us for all your heavy engineering needs." Like, "See, it is possible to succeed without having to rely on pasty faced Europeans and Americans." Like, "Our scientists and engineers have accomplished something which British, French, German, Italian, Swedish, Japanese, and South Korean technologists dare only dream of. Did we mention that China will soon have the largest technically adept workforce in the world? Not to mention the largest population, total. Or that our GNP is on track to double -- conservatively -- every decade for most of the coming century?" Like, "Wouldn't you like to be OUR friend? And side with us on important geopolitical matters? Wouldn't you like to become our friend before your neighbors do, so we'll have special reason to think of you as a staunch and worthy friend?"

All of which is apt to be true if the Chinese play their hand correctly, and use space flight as a means of modernizing their industry and educating their workforce. (Amusingly, Jerry Pournelle was grumbling not long ago about the US moon landings being basically a stunt, since the real purpose of Apollo was to re-industrialize the American South. So we've got some evidence that such a strategy can indeed work.)

Of course what applies to the Chinese could apply just as well to the Indians -- which suggests that in a couple of years India is probably going to stop talking about putting people into space and actually doing so. Which would probably put pressure on the Japanese to equal the feat, lest it appear to the rest of the world -- and inside Japan as well -- that China had surpassed Japan not only in population strength but in technical and intellectual prowess. My bet is that Japan will run a couple of years behind the Indians, largely because the process of building consensus is so damned slow, but it will come -- probably not as a purely Japanese project, but an "East Asian" effort, with big chunks for South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and maybe even Australia (got to launch from somewhere, after all) but definitely not Taiwan (because who wants to piss off the PRC? Certainly not anyone sharing a border with it.)

So that's five "manned spaceflight powers" by the end of the decade, and maybe we'll see a sixth if the Europeans invite Russia to join ESA, something which seems reasonable to predict. Granted this wouldn't actually create any new capabilities -- I'm assuming the western Europeans would pick up much of the tab for modernizing Russia's existing laumch and training faciltities, rather than construct new ones -- and the westerners would be paying throught the nose for the sort of trips to Soyuz that the old USSR used to give away. But it would serve to give Europeans access to space which didn't depend on the United States, and let them edge away from the silly no-manned-spaceflight rhetoric most European governments have been maintaining for the past half century without need to admit that policy has changed, while acomplishing various political interests which seem important to Europeans.

My two cents ...

The House Science Committee is planning hearings on the future of human space flight. The Committee plans on asking some interesting questions.
Speaking of complacency, it behooves us to examine Rand Simberg's National Review Online piece poo pooing the signifigence of Shenzhou 5.
This week's manned space flight in China has revived a lot of misplaced nostalgia for the Cold War and the space race among some space enthusiasts.

They hope that watching the Chinese put a man into orbit in a capsule on an expendable rocket (something that the Americans and the Soviets first did over four decades ago) will somehow rouse the American people from their seeming lethargy on space and space policy. Once again, the president will make a stirring speech about our destiny in the cosmos, and Congress will cry "Huzzah" and open up the money spigots for NASA. The nation will once again be rapt with attention, and learn the names of the astronauts, and their favorite meals, and their pets, and we'll pick up that dropped ball from three decades ago, when man last walked on the moon.

Don't count on it.

Not only is it unlikely to occur, but if it did, it would almost certainly lead to another dead-end, as Apollo did, perhaps setting us back once again over the long term, because we would be doing it for the wrong reasons.

Here Simberg starts by setting up a strawman, easily knocked down. The only problem is that no one is proposing "redoing Apollo" as a reaction to the Chinese space challenge. This sneer is a little dishonest, as Simberg has read my Space Review piece where I specifically state that Apollo is not the appropriate model for a new space race.
I've written before about mistaken analogies with the Chinese Ming Dynasty, and comparisons of that era with America post-Apollo. Programs of exploration undertaken only for reasons of national prestige and competition will always eventually come to tears, because they're not sustainable.

Here Simberg commits a fallacy and a factual mistake. First, prestige is a valuable commodity for any nationa state seeking super power status. As someone said on Nightline Tuesday night, prestige in the heavens equals leverage on Earth.

Also the Chinese space effort is not being undertaken "solely for prestige." Various Chinese officials have said so and even Simberg admits it further in his article.
The two traditional motivating factors behind human endeavors have been fear and greed. Unfortunately, actions based only on fear aren't sustainable, because the national adrenalin eventually runs dry, and, whether in individuals or nations, the "fight or flight" response ultimately takes its costly toll.

A space race with another nation, simply for the sake of racing, is a program based on fear. Apollo was such a program — we sent people to our sister orb because Lyndon Johnson vowed not to go to bed "by the light of a communist moon." A new space race with China would seem to have no better rationale, and I suspect that most Americans (and their political leadership) will recognize this.

There are a number of factual errors here. Power, for instance, is also a motivation, especially for actions undertaken by a nation state. And the motivation of fear is not always irrational. We're at war to crush terrorism, for example, because we rightly fear the results of another terrorist attack if we do not. And just so, fear of Chinese dominance of the heavens is rational.
This is not to say, of course, that we should be totally complacent about Chinese space activities. While it doesn't justify a surge in NASA budgets, it should cause concern from a military standpoint.

We've seen recently how valuable, even critical our space assets are to our military capability. In the middle of a war on a new form of fascism in the Middle East, of uncertain length and a cloudy trajectory, we cannot risk the loss of the satellites that not only save many of our soldiers' lives, but those of innocent noncombatants as well.

The Chinese were also no doubt watching, with the rest of the world, the precision devastation that we wreaked on first the Taliban, and then, even more precisely, on Saddam's regime, often destroying individual tanks while leaving civilian vehicles parked right next to them unscathed. They know that our power to do that comes from orbit, and that if they can come up with systems that can negate that advantage by blinding our eyes in the sky, and silencing our guidance signals, our military ability will be crippled, and back on more of a parity with other powers, including themselves.

So it's not just about prestige, Simberg admits, but also about military dominance. Is he suggesting that China, which he says cannot match us in civilian space arena, can be a threat in the military space realm? Fortunately he catches himself and backtracks in the next few lines.
If they can do so, then there will indeed be a danger, but it's not at all obvious that their present manned space program puts them on a path to that goal, any more than it puts them on a path to the Moon, in any timely or affordable fashion.

I actually take comfort from the Chinese program.

During WW II, Wehrner von Braun had been criticized for aiding the Nazi war effort by developing the V-2 missile, but it could actually be argued that, in his secret zeal to conquer the cosmos, he aided the ally war effort (either deliberately or inadvertently) by diverting scarce German resources from much more useful development efforts (e.g., a long-range bomber that might have been able to hit the eastern seaboard of the U.S.) to a weapon that, while terrifying to the immediate victims, was relatively ineffective, militarily.

Of course had Hitler used the V2 effectively, say to hit the emarkation areas for Operation Overlord, instead of as a terror weapon, things might have been different. One wonders if one should count on the Chinese making the same mistakes as Herr Hitler.
Similarly, as during the Ming Dynasty, the Chinese government is wasting valuable state resources on a circus that may, in the short run, provide some small bit of national pride to a government that is stealing those same resources from a people to whom it's unaccountable, but will not significantly contribute to the wealth of their nation. Ultimately, the only way to do that is to harness free enterprise to the task.

Fortunately, I believe that the current Chinese government is incapable of doing that without releasing its stranglehold on power. When I see them harnessing the other traditional motivator — greed — and emulating entrepreneurial approaches, like this, or this, then I'll be concerned. But as long as they continue to take their cue from other failed government programs, we have little to fear from the red menace.

Simberg underestimates the capacity of states to undertake large scale projects. In any event, the Chinese have instituted free market reforms in some areas. Is it not concievable that they would do the same for their space operations, at an appropriate moment?

Correction: Reader Dick Eagleson informs me that the first V2s were not operational until September, 1944, and therefore would not have had an effect on Operation Overlord. We regret the error.

The voices of complacency are already reacting to the first Chinese in space.

I'm certain that the "Don't worry, be happy" reaction that some are expressing to Shenzhou 5 demonstrates more than a little complacency. The fact that the world is not going to go into a post Sputnik frenzy is no evidence that people are not concerned or that they shouldn't be. What drove the post Sputnik shock was the surprise of it. We've been awaiting the first Chinese in space for several years.

There are a several things driving the complacency among some people.

First is the fallacy that the Chinese, being poverty-stricken third world Asians, are not capable of challenging the West in space. I'm reminded of the pre World War II notions of the Japanese as near sighted, bucked tooth pygmies who couldn't fight. To people who hold this view, the Shenzhou 5 is "just a stunt" and "doesn't matter." And that any talk about space stations, space based weapons, or landings on the Moon is just--well--talk.

Second is the libertarian fallacy that somehow, by magic, the Chinese will fail because the state is involved in their effort. Coupled with this is the fear among the libertarians that should a response to the Chinese challenge be necessary, their dream of abolishing NASA would be put off forever. Indeed, the libertarian nightmare of an enhanced and invigorated NASA might come to pass. Some seem to be of the mind that they would rather cede the high frontier to the Chinese rather than see that happen.

Third there's the liberal fallacy that suggests that China is not a threat at all. The same people who denied the Soviet threat before it and the Nazi threat before that choose not to see the government of China's tyrannical and imperialist nature. If one chooses to be in denial of these facts, then naturally anything China does in space has to be benign.

Finally there is the “been there, done that” fallacy. Some people suggest that all the Chinese have accomplished is to replicate the flights of Gargarin and Glenn which took place forty odd years ago. Perhaps, but people who comfort themselves thus should be reminded of two facts. First only seven years after Glenn flew for the first time, a gentleman named Armstrong voyaged to the Moon. The Chinese, whether their immediate goal is a space station or a lunar landing, are capable of proceeding very rapidly. Second, the NASA is not capable of sending anyone into space because of the fallout of the Columbia accident and will not be for at least a year.

The sad fact is that the second space race began on October 14th. China’s great leap outward is a challenge in the political, military, and economic realms. That some deny it does not make that fact go away.

Fortunately there is time to consider options. We need not experience a post Sputnik frenzy to calmly consider what is facing us and what to do about it. I’ve already done that elsewhere. But a couple of suggestions bear mentioning here.

First, we need to get serious about cheap access to space. Along those lines I propose canceling the orbital space plane. Expensive to build and expensive to operate, it is not the answer to our space launch needs. Instead I propose a competition along the lines of the X Prize. The first group to deliver a crew of four and some cargo to the International Space Station and then do it again within a month gets a billion dollars. A kind of commercial space race will be sparked that will jump-start a private launch industry.

Second, NASA needs to be reoriented from being a high tech, space taxi service to a cutting edge research, development, and exploration agency. After the completion of the International Space Station, the space shuttle fleet should be retired. At the same time NASA should be tasked with carrying out manned missions of exploration back to the Moon, to Mars, and to earth approaching asteroids. The purpose of these missions should be to develop and test technologies that will enable both the government and the private sector to travel to and operate in the high frontier of space.

Thus we can rise to the challenge offered us this October 14th. We can decide who will own the future, either the United States and her allies, with her tradition of freedom and capitalism, or China and tyranny.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Shenzhou 5, with pilot Yang Liwei at the controls, is now in orbit.

The second space race has begun.
Rich Lowry quotes a host of Clintonistas about how their guy was a poor President and a weak man.
If you think Clinton is a weak person, who made excuses for himself, and defeated Al Gore, and couldn't make a decision, and brought out-of-their-depth rank amateurs to the making of foreign policy, and had a pointless second term, and fundamentally misunderstood how to respond to the terror threat — and so on: You get the idea — you might be surprised that former Clinton officials agree with you.
Time Magazine muses about China's Great Leap Skyward.
And that is just a start. With Russia's space program sputtering for lack of funds and the U.S.'s embroiled in an emotional debate over the future in the wake of Columbia's disintegration, China is looking to catch up to and even surpass its two rivals in the realm of space. Beijing hopes to send a satellite around the moon by 2006, land a robotic explorer there two years later and make a moon walk perhaps within a decade. After that, the Chinese want to build a space station and "establish a base on the moon," Ouyang Ziyuan, head of the lunar-expedition program, told state media. He doesn't rule out colonizing other planets, although he expects it will take "some 200 years to reconstruct Mars to make it suitable to sustain human life."

Glenn Reynolds has some entertaining thoughts on the launch of the Shenzhou 5 and the coming space race with China. He suggests that it might be China vrs Western private entrepeneurs rather than China vrs NASA, unless NASA wakes from it's institutional sleep.

Monday, October 13, 2003

James T. Hackett agrees that the Chinese space program is a crucial part of its drive to become a super power.
Then there is talk of a Chinese space station (Shenzhou has a docking port), a Chinese man on the moon, and eventually a moon base. This may all sound like a pipe dream, but don't bet on it. The leadership in Beijing has shown a steely determination to make their country into an economic and military powerhouse, and space power is an important part of the plan.

Jim Oberg thinks that the near term goal for the Shenzhou is to support a space station.
And so does Dr. David Yeagley, a professor at Oklahoma University, a conservative, and a Commache American Indian. (scroll down to where he gives the back of his hand to Columbus haters.)
David Horowitz ralies to the defense of the much maligned Christopher Columbus.
Joe Lieberman has hit upon the tried and true promise that if the people elect him, he will raise their taxes.
The Chinese prepare for this week's great leap outward.
Happy Columbus Day, one and all. Today is the official holiday, though the sailor from Genoa arrived at the island of San Salvador 511 years ago yesterday.

And, by the way, October 9th was Leif Erikson day, celebrating the 1003rd anniversary of the true discovery of America.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Redistricting has passed the Texas Senate. It ought to bring a close to a comedy that involved two sets of Democrat lawmakers fleeing Texas to prevent the matter from passing. However, the Dems vow to go to court.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Rush Limbaugh is wrong about one thing. He is a role model for owning up to his problem and taking responsibility for it. Everyone should take a lesson from this fact.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

This is one of the best ideas NASA has come up with since Pete Conrad fixed the Skylab with tools from Sears.
Why aren't more movies being made about the War on Terror? The obvious answer is only part of the explanation.
Other countries seem to be envious at the way science and scientists are treated in the United States.
If this is true, then the gates of Hell yawn wide for Yassir Arafat.
Fox is developing Asimov's Foundation Trilogy as at least two films.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

If this is any indication, the upcoming Chinese manned space flight is having an effect in the Muslim/Third World that bears watching.
Looks like in one aspect of manned space flight, the Chinese are far more advanced than NASA was in the John Glenn era.
The mission will also herald the debut of authentic Chinese food in space, another Web site reported.

"They'll be able to eat shredded pork with garlic sauce and kungpao chicken,", said. "It will be more tasty than Western food. After the meal, green tea will be available to increase the astronaut's spirits."

Rand Simberg heard a talk radio host make what appears to be racist jokes about the upcoming flight of the Shenzhou and concluded that nobody will care.
. Their attitude was basically, it's a Chinese version of John Glenn, forty-plus years too late. Big whoop (amidst lots of crude and dumb jokes in Japanese accents--you know, "velly solly,"--they apparently don't know the difference).

Of course, seven years after John Glenn, a fellow named Neil Armstrong achieved some notoriety. I suspect, you will not be surprised, that Rand is wrong.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

If all goes as planned, October 15th will mark the beginning of the new space race. The winner will own the future.
Taking a long overdue step in the right direction, it looks like NASA will be going to the private sector for at least some of the cargo carrying needs for ISS.
Conan the Barbarian is at the gates. To paraphrase the answer to the question of what is best in life: To crush Gray Davis, to scatter the Democrats before you, and to hear the lamentations of the liberals.

Update: The gates are broken and Conan has become--er--Governor by his own hand.

Monday, October 06, 2003

As the first flight of the manned Shenzhou draws nigh, more speculation about China's lunar ambitions is noted.

Update: More speculation.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

A lot of people are upset about stories of Arnold's groping women. Boorish behavior, to be sure, though it doesn't descend to the pure evil of--say--Bill Clinton's rape of Juanita Broadrick. Nor does it descend to this story about Gray Davis and his female employees, which most of the media seem to be ignoring.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Proposition 54, the other question that will be on the ballot in California this Tuesday, is getting some support in some surprising places.
A PETA protest at a Washington DC KFC restaraunt ran into some hostility from the locals. In any case, they will take my extra spicy boneless chicken breast when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

There are a number of ways to approach these drug allegations against Rush Limbaugh, depending upon whether they are true or not and how Rush reacts to them.

If they are true and Rush comes clean, then the man deserves our compassion. I would suspect, in this case, some kind of undisclosed medical condition involving chronic pain being the root cause. People in that situation, who have the means of getting drugs beyond what a doctor prescribes, can very easily fall into addiction without meaning to.

If the accusations are true and Rush denies them, then he's doomed. A man who has built his career on a persona of honesty and forthrightness cannot suddenly morph into Bill Clinton when he gets into trouble.

If the accusations are not true (And as of this writing I believe they are not.), then there is another scandal more insidious than just another celeb with a drug problem. We will need to find out why this former housekeeper, a disgruntaled former employee of Rush's I'm told, lied. Was it to avoid prosecution because she was scoring dope? Or do we go down the path of conspiracy theories, which I've already heard, of Rush's enemies trying to set him up? That would tell us how horribly down into the gutter politics in America have gone.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The usual attempt at the last minute to destroy a Republican who dares to try to run for statewide office in California has now happened to Arnold. I suppose that the LA Times believes that behavior, which apparently qualifies one to be President if one is a Democrat, ought to disqualify one to be Governor of California if one is a Republican.
Both Wesley Clark and Howard Dean decide to play the race card in an obvious attempt to take revenge on Rush Limbaugh for his lampooning them over the past few months. Of course Rush's remarks were not racist and in fact one reading of them could be a condemation of condescending racism by the sports media.

Update: Looks like the effort was successful.