Friday, April 30, 2004

Without direct Presidential intervention, not only may the Moon, Mars, and Beyond be headed for a train wreck, but most other NASA programs are at risk as well.
O'Keefe said he "didn't see a big substantive difference" between NASA and Congress, but late last month, in a rare bipartisan rebuke, the leaders of appropriations subcommittees in both chambers of Congress -- Walsh, Mollohan, Mikulski and Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.) -- sent a letter to O'Keefe denying him the authority to reprogram 2004 funds in order to launch the new initiatives.

"NASA has not provided sufficient information" to justify the changes, the lawmakers said. Further, the letter added, "any activities that have begun without prior approval by the Committees . . . will be suspended," and any cuts in programs or staff "shall be subject to review of the Committees prior to approval."

By preventing NASA from making changes, the letter has brought the new programs to a dead stop. And by denying NASA the ability even to lay the groundwork, the letter ensured that no changes will occur should Congress fail to pass a new NASA spending bill this year and simply continue 2004 levels. There is a strong possibility that this could occur in an election year.

This face-off has left many proven NASA programs in limbo, particularly those in Earth science and aeronautics, and could also disrupt the timing of the Vision initiative. O'Keefe told the House subcommittee last month that 85 percent of NASA's 2005 budget increase was related to space station activities -- including the space shuttle -- and that the plan would "compromised" if budget increases were denied.

I place the blame, in part, on Congressional irresponsibility. Imagine, telling NASA on the one hand that it needs a new vision and on the other hand, when it's provided, getting so skittish about paying for it that the entire space agency is thrown into chaos.

I've now concluded that the President needs to intervene, sooner rather than later.

Addendum: Jeff Foust thinks that the Washington Post in engaging in a little hyperbole in its reporting on the Moon,Mars, and Beyond Initiative.
More evidence that the Kerry Campaign is in disarray.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Filmmaker Roland Emmerich will shortly destroy New York City for the third time, in his environmental hysterical epic The Day After Tomorrow. Of course his method, an ice age brought about by global warming, is slightly more implausible than space aliens or monsters emerging from the ooze.
Looks like the Kerry Campaign is less racially diverse than--say--the Bush White House.
Dennis Wingo begs to disagree with Bob Zubrin on a variety of subjects.
Is the President's Moon, Mars, and Beyond initiative in trouble? This commentary and this story would seem to suggest that yes it is.

The reality is not as bleak as one might think, for two reasons.

First, there is a consensus that changing NASA to doing something like Moon, Mars, and Beyond is not an option, but rather a necessity. The sticking point, however, is on paying for it.

Second, since final decisions on spending won't take place until a special session after the election, this is plenty of time to calm objections to the plan and build support for it.

Here are a few suggestions on how to do that.

The President should have a meeting with key members of Congress to quietly explain to them why they need to get behind his initiative. This should include reasoned argument and threats. The latter would consist of a promise to veto any bill that does not adequetly fund the initiative.

Then the President should make a speech (or maybe a series of speeches) laying out the case for the initiative. The speech should take place in Florida. It should make two points. The first point is that the trillion dollar price tag is fiction and that the thing can be done at a reasonable price. The second point should lay out how doing the initiative will make the country and the world a better place by expanding both scientific and commercial opportunities and by spreading human civilization across the solar system, thus ensuring it's long term survival.

It also might be a good idea if surrogates (O'Keefe, some members of the Aldridge Commission, Cheney, etc) make similer speeches.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

On the list upcoming alternate history novels, we have the one below about how a fleet from the year 2021 winds up in the South Pacific in June, 1942.

According to the British newspaper, the Independent, the best crew for an expedition to Mars would be one of eunuchs. I like Tom James's suggestion a lot better.
A film poking fun at the mullahs is a big hit in Iran.
If sending people to fix the Hubble is "unsafe", does that mean that sending people to Mars is even more so? The answer, not provided in the linked article, lies in whether one thinks one can build a far more reliable vehicle than the shuttle has proven to be.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Chris Mathews developed a well deserved reputation as an honest liberal, willing to call President Clinton out for the scoundrel that he was. With his almost school girlish worship of John Kerry, Mathews has thrown away that reputation.
Jim Oberg has some interesting things to say about the Chinese space program, including it's possible designs on the Moon.
The key to more ambitious Chinese moon plans - to the rover mission, for example, or even a fly-by of the moon by a manned spacecraft - is the development of a new and more powerful booster called the CZ-5. Comparable to the European Ariane-5 booster or the Russian Proton-M, it will not be a simple upgrade of previous vehicles in this series, where more power was obtained by adding side-mounted boosters, stretching the fuel tanks, and installing high-energy upper stages. Those incremental advances have reached their limits, and an entirely new design of large rocket sections and bigger engines must be developed over the next five years.

China has stated that it intends to develop this mighty rocket for launching larger applications satellites into 24-hour orbits, and for launching its small space station. The components are too large to move by rail to the existing inland launching sites, so they will be shipped by sea to an entirely new launch facility on Hainan Island, on China's southern flank.

This new launch vehicle is a major quantum-jump in the Long March family and presents very formidable engineering challenges. It will take tremendous efforts, and significant funding, and some luck as well, to make it work on the schedule announced in Beijing. And until the booster is operational, ambitious moon plans cannot be attempted.

Once the CZ-5 is man-rated - and we re talking about at least five years, probably more - a beefed-up Shenzhou vehicle could be launched to the Moon. Two different possible flight plans are available: a simple swing-by (as with Soviet Zond probes in 1967-1970) and a lunar orbital flight (as with Apollo-8 in 1968). The simpler variant could be carried out with a single CZ-5 launching; the orbital profile could require two launches.

At the present time, however, there is no hard evidence that the Chinese government has officially sanctioned such missions - nor is there any need for them to do so at this point, since much of the technology to realize such options is already under development for more near-term goals. Nevertheless, Chinese capabilities for human lunar missions - at least to orbiting it - can quite reasonably expected to become available in a timeframe similar to NASA's "Return to the Moon" strategy, and the option to fly such missions as an equal participant may prove to be irresistable to the Chinese government.

Read it all.

The Village Voice jumps on the anybody but Kerry bandwagon.
If things proceed as they are, the dim-bulb Dem leaders are going to be very sorry they screwed Howard Dean.


Here's another story that examines the trillion dollar space program myth.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Bill Clinton announces the impending publication of an epic work of fiction.
John Kerry has a melt down on national TV about his various lies concerning the medal throwing incident. Is it too late to draft Hillary?
When death is all there is, how one faces it can be very important indeed.
The Lunar Recon Orbiter (must get a better name for it) is the first step for a return to the Moon.
Dwyane Day says that the United States should challenge China to a space race. (Where have I heard that suggestion?) His reasons are very interesting.

Addendum: Rand Simberg (among others) catches a big factual error in Dwayne's article.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The real moon landing hoax (not the one about America faking the Moon landing) was one perpetrated by the Soviets shortly after they lost the race to land a man on the Moon. Simply stated, the Soviets were not really in a race at all. The Western media picked up on this bit if disinformation, leading to the myth of how we "wasted" tens of billions on Apollo in a race that really didn't exist.

Of course, the Soviets were in the race. And only now are we finding out how close they came to winning it.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Are environmentalists engaged in eco imperialism at the expense of poor people in the Third World? Seems to me that, sadly, they are.
Pat Tillman made the choice of Heracles, turning his back on a life of wealth and fame for a life of duty and service. Unfortunately it was also a life that ended all too soon. As such he deserves to become inmortal.
Some myths about the War in Iraq.

Addendum: Victor Davis Hanson has some myths of his own.
The terraforming Mars debate has been joined.
While some members of Congress talk about the President's space initiative as if it were a live hand grenade, the White House is moving to enshrine it in a NASA authorization bill.
The White House has endorsed language in a proposed NASA reauthorization bill that essentially takes the goals embodied in the new space plan and defines them as the central purpose for NASA's existence. Should the reauthorization bill pass this year, it would formalize all of the advanced human spaceflight goals that Bush is seeking to pay for with his budget. That way, even if the full budget request fails to pass, having the supporting language written into law might create an easier starting point for the FY 2006 budget debate.

The move would create a political backstop in case Bush fails to win reelection and Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., is elected instead.

Kerry has been critical of the Bush space plan and might even attempt to cancel it, in whole or in part, if he assumes the presidency next year. However, if this year's authorization is approved and if it contains language supporting a moon-Mars goal, Kerry would have a tough time trying to adjust NASA's charter to accommodate lesser objectives.

Others have suggested that, ultimately, the distinction would not matter. They note that Kerry would not be obligated to continue Bush space policies, no matter what language is contained in NASA's reauthorization. Moreover, without funding, the point would be moot.

The problem is that Congress has rarely passed a NASA authorization in recent memory. The difficulties of doing so are only compounded this year by the proposed change in direction that, while enjoying widespread support in princible, may have trouble getting funded. My take again is that the President and his people may have to play a little hardball to get their proposal passed and adequetly funded, even if it means issuing a veto threat.

I also have concluded that the real reason for Boehlert, et al's additude is not the deficit, or a desire for fiscal "fairness", but rather a need on their part to protect their spending priorities (Boehlert mentioned Earth science in his speech) which might suffer under the President's plan. This might allow a sausage making style deal that allows both Presidential and Congressional priorities to grow.

Of course the question arises: Will the fiscal conservatives O'Keefe has already won over go for such a deal? Maybe, maybe not.

Boehlert seems to be interested in a compromise that will fund the shuttle/ISS portion of the proposed increase, plus some part of the rest directly related to the President's initiative. The shuttle/ISS portion is about 730 million dollars, leaving about 136 million dollars for Moon, Mars, and Beyond. Let us suppose Boehlert agrees to a third of that: 45 million dollars. The shortfall would be 91 million dollars, a rounding error in the overall VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill that funds NASA. If the White House and Congress can't find 91 million dollars somewhere to fully fund the President's intitiative, then something is very wrong.

In any case, the next few months will be entertaining.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The Obergs publish a rare joint oped discussing the cosmic meaning of Earth Day.
John Kerry's recent appearence on Meet the Press seems to have been a boon to comedians.
If environmentalist wackos are advocating ideas that are not only crazy, but downright unhygenic, then it must be Earth Day again.
Speaking of NASA budget follies, it continues in the House Appropriations Committee as reported here and here. NASA Administrator O'Keefe is playing a bit of hardball by suggesting that any shortfalls in the proposed budget increase will come out of the shuttle and the space station. Like Boehlert, several on the committee support the President's initiative in princible, but are expressing a less than fervent desire to pay for it.

As with Boehlert, my suggestion is that the members of the committee find a way to pay for the President's initiative or else give up on publicly funded manned space flight for the foreseeable future.

My suggestion to the President is that he should convey to Congress, discreetly, that a veto of any appropriations bill that doesn't adequetly fund his initiative is on the table.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Sherwood Boehlert, Chairman of the House Science Committee, is acting like the President's space initiative is in the form of a live hand grenade that he can't quite get rid of. He mused on the initiative for quite a while before the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

It's not, oddly, that he thinks the President's initiative is a bad idea:
"I mean that the U.S. should have an ongoing human space flight program. I mean that the long-term goal of our human space flight program ought to be going to Mars and beyond. I mean that our intermediate goal ought to be returning to the moon. I mean that to finance such a venture - among other reasons - we need to stop flying the Space Shuttle by a date certain - the sooner, the better. "

Unfortunately Boehlert has a problem with actually paying for the initiative.
"As part of the exploration initiative, the President has proposed increasing the NASA budget by 5.6 percent in the next fiscal year, to about $16.2 billion. I just can't imagine that that's going to happen, and I don't think it should.

"Total federal non-security, domestic discretionary spending in fiscal 2005 is likely to increase by less than half a percent. Congress may even freeze spending, as the House voted to do in its Budget Resolution. In such a budget, should NASA receive almost a 6 percent increase? Is it the highest domestic spending priority? I don't think so, and I doubt my colleagues will either."

And why is this? Boehlert goes on to explain.
"NASA is an appropriations bill in which it competes for funds against veterans programs, against housing programs, against environmental programs and against basic science and education programs - almost all of which are high priorities in my book.

"As Science Committee chairman, I'm especially concerned that we do right by the National Science Foundation, which Congress has said, in statute, ought to be increasing by 15 percent a year. I would note that a healthy NSF is the key to carrying out the education agenda you call for in your policy document.

"Moreover, Congress isn't likely to even take up the NASA spending bill until after Election Day. (I'm not proud of that, but its reality.) That means that for at least a month, and potentially for several months, NASA will be funded by a continuing resolution. That, in turn, means that for some portion of next year, NASA will be flat-funded and will not be allowed to start new initiatives. That alone could delay aspects of the exploration initiative.

"And my funding concerns are not limited to those raised by the funding competition between NASA and other agencies. The President's proposal also raises tough questions about the funding balance within NASA, as your document notes. The budget proposes to fund the exploration initiative, in part, by cutting Earth Science programs, eliminating some Space Science projects, and flat funding aeronautics, a major concern of yours, I know.

"We may indeed have to rethink some other programs to fund the exploration initiative, but I'm concerned that the proposed cuts may go too far.

The Earth Science cuts, for example, may hinder climate change research, itself an Administration research priority.

"Do I think that it's more important to know more about the Earth than it is to know more about Mars? I do, and I don't think it's a close question. And knowing more about the Earth will take plenty of aerospace know-how. "

The solution Boehlert suggests is part of an old Washington game. Slow down the pace of the program, even though he admits that there are perils inherent in that.
"Now my point in going through all this is not to suggest that we shouldn't move ahead with the President's exploration initiative. I hope that's clear from my earlier comments. My point is that the pace at which we move ahead probably will have to be slower than what the President proposed because funds are likely to be more limited than he assumed.

"How much slower? Slow enough to delay a return to the moon beyond 2020? It's too soon to know that. My staff is continuing to pore through the proposed budget to see how we might put together a NASA budget for fiscal 2005 that would be affordable, that would not cut valuable programs excessively, and that would allow work to get started on programs critical to the exploration initiative.

"And we will go through this process with a keen awareness that stretching out programs too much can make them more expensive and less effective in the end."

Of course Boehlert doesn't say that there's a precedence made in stretching out a program to make the yearly books look good. If one does it one year, then what's there to prevent it from happening in other years? There is always a crisis, another priority, or some excuse not to fund the program adequetly. And so we could have a lets pretend we have a space program that generates a lot of studies, but no hardware and no missions.

At this rate, Americans will return to the Moon about the year Captain James T. Kirk is born. But by then it will be too late. The Chinese will have beaten us to it.

Boehlert should rethink his reasoning and decide whether he really wants a manned space program or not. If he doesn't want such a program, he should advocate zeroing out the President's initiative, just as his father's was fifteen years ago. If does want it, then he should not only find ways to adequetly fund it , but work to advance the milestones. I don't know about you, but 2020 is an aweful long time away to wait for people to return to the Moon. 2010 or 2012 sounds a whole lot better to me. Certainly better than stretching out the program into eternity.

Reading between the lines of this report, it looks like Steve Spielberg wants to make a film about the hunt for the Munich Massacre terrorists by the Israeli Wrath of God hit teams. Spielberg needs to be congratulated for his courage. Using Arabs as heavies is considered politically incorrect in Hollywood, even in this post 9/11 world.
Importing cheap drugs from Canada, a bad idea, seems to be on a fast track to becoming law. Drugs are cheap in Canada because the Canadian Marxist style health care bureaucracy controls prices. Drug companies make up the loss by charging Americans more.

When drug importation becomes law, I think there will be a race between drug companies cutting back of research and development and drugs becoming scarce in Canada. These are unintended consequences to be sure, but uitterly predictable.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

John O'Neil, a Houston lawyer who first jousted with John Kerry on the Dick Cavett show thirty three years ago, still has some not nice things to say about his fellow Vietnam Vet.
Rush Limbaugh deconstructs Bob Woodward and his book, Plan of Attack.
I think I agree with this premise that when John Kerry is defeated this November, it will be in part at the hands of the "Band of Brothers" that he so arrogantly boasts of, having abandoned, smeared, and dishonored them up until this election year.
All things considered, it is a fair question to ask what John Kerry thinks he has to hide.

Update: Under pressure, the Kerry Campaign has released some of the military records.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Arnold the Governor is just as adroit at cutting through his political opposition as Conan the Barbarian was at cutting off heads. "What is best in life? To crush your enemies and to hear the lamentations of the Democrats."
Ever since first seeing George C. Scott's outstanding portrayal of General George S. Patton, I have wondered what would have happened if Old Blood and Guts had fullfilled his desire to go to war against the Soviets. Apparently, so has someone else:

Too bad Scott is no longer with us. This would make a splendid sequal that doesn't involve a miserable death as a quadaplegic.
Tim Russert, on Meet the Press, called John Kerry on his thirty three year old slander of American soldiers as war criminals, first by playing a clip from Meet the Press in which Kerry appeared in 1971:
There are all kinds of atrocities and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free-fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50-caliber machine guns which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search-and-destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare. All of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and all of this ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the United States from the top down. And I believe that the men who designed these, the men who designed the free-fire zone, the men who ordered us, the men who signed off the air raid strike areas, I think these men, by the letter of the law, the same letter of the law that tried Lieutenant Calley, are war criminals.

Then Russert questioned Kerry in the present day:
Russert: You committed atrocities.

Kerry: Where did all that dark hair go, Tim? That's a big question for me. You know, I thought a lot, for a long time, about that period of time, the things we said, and I think the word is a bad word. I think it's an inappropriate word. I mean, if you wanted to ask me have you ever made mistakes in your life, sure. I think some of the language that I used was a language that reflected an anger. It was honest, but it was in anger, it was a little bit excessive.

Russert: You used the word "war criminals."

Kerry: Well, let me just finish. Let me must finish. It was, I think, a reflection of the kind of times we found ourselves in and I don't like it when I hear it today. I don't like it, but I want you to notice that at the end, I wasn't talking about the soldiers and the soldiers' blame, and my great regret is, I hope no soldier--I mean, I think some soldiers were angry at me for that, and I understand that and I regret that, because I love them. But the words were honest but on the other hand, they were a little bit over the top. And I think that there were breaches of the Geneva Conventions. There were policies in place that were not acceptable according to the laws of warfare, and everybody knows that. I mean, books have chronicled that, so I'm not going to walk away from that. But I wish I had found a way to say it in a less abrasive way.

I would use harsher language than Kerry than "a little bit over the top" and "abrasive" to describe his lies and slanders. "Evil" is a word that comes to mind. I think that at the very least Kerry should apologize to all of the Vietnam Veterans whom he smeared. I'm not holding my breath, though.

Gregory Anderson has some interesting thoughts on asteroid resources, third world poverty, and the War on Terror.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

The last Confederate funeral took place when the crew of the Hunley, the first submarine to sink another war ship, was laid to rest with military honors.
Jeff Foust discusses the question of whether John Kerry supports or opposes space exploration. I think Jeff forgets that Kerry has led chants of "Send Bush to Mars!" at campaign rallies and has openly ridiculed the President's space initiative. I think that, since Kerry has not offered any alternative space policy, that we have to place him in the opposition camp.
Abduel Aziz Rantisi now burns in Hell

Friday, April 16, 2004

One wonders if NASA had followed this advice forty odd years ago, if Apollo would have continued. Could be. NASA's public relations operations has always been terrible and perhaps anything would be an improvement.
One wonders what would have happened if anyone else (besides American Indians) had demanded the removal of the passage in a Arab Studies text suggesting, falsely, that Muslim explorers had preceeded Columbus to America.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Some kind of robotic mission to extend the life of the Hubble Telescope seems to be taking shape. Oddly enough it will be a test of technologies that will enable the exploration of the Moon and Mars.
Why haven't more movies been made about the War on Terror? To be sure there was an excellent Showtime film, 9/11:DC that actually depicted the President in a good light, there is an Afghanistan film in development, and of course the seedy MOW about Jessica Lynch, but the point is well taken.
Dwayne Day recently published an article that seems to me to confuse marketing with the policy being marketed. He has noticed that words like "leadership" and "conquest" (masculine words) are absent from the President's speech announcing his space initiative and that "exploration" (feminine in his view) was not. I'm pretty sure Day is making a bigger deal than is merited. Those people who are impressed by what Day calls "masculine language" already tend to support concepts like the President's space initiative anyway. The President was reaching out to other people who might find words like "conquest" upsetting, but might still support his initiative if described in language they find more comfortable. That's Political Rhetoric 101.

The results of what the President has proposed are pretty clear, no matter how they are justified. In my view, that would be a largely American populated solar system, dominated by American business, the American military, and American civilization.

Rand Simberg, by the way, is pretty sure that all this doesn't matter, but for different reasons. Just as Marx once suggested that the state must eventually wither away, he seems to suggest that the same thing will happen to state operated space programs (like NASA), albeit from a libertarian rather than Marxist view of "historical inevitability."
Of course, I think that this is all orthogonal to our actual future in space, since regardless of the presidential justifications for it, government space programs are doomed to mediocrity by their nature, and we'll have a sufficiently robust private sector in the next couple decades such that NASA will become superfluous.

Of course, were that to happen, the high frontier of space would become unique among every other frontier ever conquered (if one uses the "masculine") or explored (if one uses the "feminine".) I would suggest that it is more likely that the pattern established by history will assert itself and that a synergy will arise between the public and the private. State actors have always been huge factors in the opening of any frontier. It was true for Columbus five hundred years ago, Lewis and Clark two hundred years ago, and NASA today. This may not satisfy the desires of libertarian theorists, but it is the way things work and always have.

Having seen Proof, I am very interested to see the film version as well as this historical epic being penned by its playwright.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

History was amde in the Middle East. The fantasy of Israel ever returning to the pre1967 borders was just put to rest forever.
More and more folks are concluding that Jamie Gorelick is on the wrong side of the witness table at the 9/11 Hearings.
Some Vietnam Vets are wondering how John Kerry got one of his Purple Hearts.
Air America, the ultraleft alternative to Rush Limbaugh, et al, that premiered to great media acclaim just two weeks ago, is apparently already in a death spiral.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Dorothy Rabinowitz gives the back of her hand to a group of 9/11 widows who, upon close examination, are real pieces of work.
I wonder if calling for the summary execution of a government official is--well--a crime?

Monday, April 12, 2004

In it's zeal to bring down President Bush, the Hollywood Left is about the violate that old maxim of entertainment, "If you want to send a message, use Western Union." I predict that the effort will backfire.
Though he has some criticisms, some valid, some just snippy, Timothy Ferris seems to come dowm in favor of President Bush's space vision.
Things get slightly brighter, however, with Bush's third proposal: to re-open the moon to human exploration. Retrograde as it may seem—haven't we already been to the moon?—this actually may not be such a bad idea.

If we take a long view, the ultimate goal of manned space exploration is to establish permanent homes for humanity elsewhere in the solar system. Centuries from now we might expect to find exploratory and scientific outposts scattered all the way from here to Saturn, with substantial numbers of people living on Mars and perhaps even Venus—assuming that both planets can be transformed ("terraformed") to endow them with oceans, breathable atmospheres, and abundant indigenous life.

There are good reasons to want to do this. In addition to providing homo sapiens with an insurance policy—a pan-planetary human species could survive terrestrial disasters, such as global warming or an asteroid impact, that could otherwise doom us—it would open up vast frontiers for exploration, habitation, and exploitation. Some of the more intriguing strategies for establishing a foothold on Mars call for sending explorers who, from the start, go there to stay: the growing Mars colony always keeps enough spacecraft on hand to serve as lifeboats if all or some of the settlers have to bail out, but the idea is to manufacture rocket fuel, grow crops, put down roots, and make a go of it. The moon is an excellent place to develop the technologies and skills required for such an effort. It's a harsh, airless world, to be sure—tougher than Mars in many respects—but as big as Africa and a lot cheaper to get to than Mars is.

I'm not sure about terraforming Venus, but he gets the general idea. And in the New York Review of Books, no less.
Glenn Reynolds has linked to a study that suggests something I have always known in my heart. Guinness really is good for you.

Looks like Al Sadr is folding his hand. If we believe General Sanchez, it's too late.
Andy Rooney spits on soldiers fighting in Iraq.
The University of Arizona has created a computer program allowing one to calculate the effects of an impact of an Earth approaching object (asteroid, comet, etc). Just plug in the parameters and see what might happen.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Congressman David Crockett, frontier hero, martyre at the Alamo, and champion of limited government.
Rand Simberg pointed out this interesting space blog. I find the premise very charming. It is also an exercise in furility. Liberal Democrats, with some exceptions, are going to continue to oppose space exploration and development until they start losing votes for their opposition.

I get into a lot of trouble with liberal friends when I point out the left's total opposition to things space, starting with Proxmire and Mondale and proceeding with Mr. Kerry. "Yers, but I'm not opposed," I'm told with great indignation. "I'm a liberal and I'm pro space." Jolly good, I reply. So are you disposed to--say--vote against Mr. Kerry because he is not pro space? "Well, I'm not a single issue voter, after all."

I understand.
A few years ago, a story entitled Bill Mitchell's Overt Act was published. the premise was that Bill Mitchell was assigned to the Army Air Corps at Pearl Harbor and managed to catch the Japanese fleet and sink a great deal of it before it attacked. As a result, without the outrage of Pearl Harbor, the American people revolt against the huge casualties of the resulting Pacific War.

In the same vein, we offer two alternate history scenarios for 9/11. In this one the plot is uncovered and the hijackers are all arrested. As a result of this violation of civil rights, backed up by a ludicrous conspiracy theory about using planes to take down buildings, Bush and Cheney are impeached. Greg Easterbrook offers a similer scenario in which we invade Afghanistan in August, 2001 and inact the Patriot Act. The results are sadly about the same as the first scenario.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

The text of the famous memo to the President that was sent in August, 2001. Despite the hyperventilating of the liberal black helicopter crowd, there is nothing in it that predicts that terrorists were going to hijack airplanes and crash them into buildings.

Friday, April 09, 2004

People have kept cats as pets as long as ten thousand years ago, it seems.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Looks like Burt Rutan's rocket plane went to Mach 2 at 105,000 feet.
Canada is the sick man of North America, mainly because of its huge, intrusive government.
I always thought that the whole Trent Lott pseudocontroversy was overblown with a lot of fake outrage. Did anyone really believe that Senator Lott supported the return of segregation, just because of his foolish praise of Strom Thurmond? In a similer vein, while I always support the idea of legitiment payback, I don't think for a moment that Chris Dodd supports the Confederate cause because of his intemperate remarks about formerly Klansman Robert Byrd and the Civil War. Dodd should leave the Senate, not because of some alleged nostalgia for Dixie, but because he's a radical liberal.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

An atlas of the Earth's Moon, based upon the highly successful Clementine mission that flew ten years ago, will soon be available:

Burt Rutan has surmounted a major government paperwork hurdle in the race for the X Prize.
John Kerry proves once again why he is unqualified to be President when he calls Al Sadr a legitiment voice.
Catherine Seipp writes in defense of cowboys against sophisticates who sneer at them.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Prospects for full funding of the President's space initiative seem to be looking up in the Congress.
A few years back, Harrison Ford played a heroic President of the United States in the film Air Force One who vowed to overthrow tyrants and fight terrorism wherever in the world they were and whether or not the allies (France and Germany) liked it. I wonder if he now realizes he was playing the current President Bush (who does seem spry enough to beat the crap out of Gary Oldman and kick him off the plane)? I wonder how he feels about that?
Looks like left leaning Air America is so far pretty much a bust. And it seems to have annoyed black folks in New York.
The news has been out for quite a while that Nicole Kidman was going to play Samantha in the big screen remake of the 1960s sitcom Bewitched. Only, according to this she isn't. Instead she is going to play a completely different person who plays Samantha in a fictional remake of Bewitched.

Monday, April 05, 2004

I think I see the hand of Terhan in Al Sadr's little adventure. Deadly as this rising has been, I suspect that it will end quickly and in the only one way it can.
It's always sad to see a once great statesman turn to dotage and insanity when he retains public office for too long. He starts to say things that are--well--embaressing.

Fortunately, Teddy Kennedy is not an example of this phenomenom. He was never great and was always an embaressment. His raving about Iraq being"Bush's Vietnam" is just the latest example.
Taylor Dinerman has an interesting response to French concerns about American "unilaterialism" in space. The French are not only mistaking an policy in still in process of borning as a "grand design", but they ultimately don't know the half of where it will eventually lead.
In NASA’s February 2004 “Vision for Space Exploration” paper, the US government includes as one of the most important questions that the program needs to answer, “…how could we live on other worlds?” This phrase could end up being the Balfour Declaration for space colonization. An American strategic goal of populating the solar system with US citizens is far more ambitious than anything Alain Dupas has detected, yet it is inherent in the long-term implications of Bush’s space vision. It is also consistent with the US tradition of big ideas and its quest for new forms of national greatness.

A prospect, I imagine, that will drive Paris crazy.

Rome was not built in a day, especially if one is a set designer for the upcoming HBO series about a pair of Centurions in the Rome of Julius Caesar.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Welfare Reform was one of the most successful pieces of social legislation in a hundred years, freeing millions of people from poverty and welfare dependency. Naturally, the Democrats, led by Teddy Kennedy, want to kill it dead.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Paul Spudis once again makes the case for the Moon.
Looks like the terrorists are not satisfied with Spain's craven appeasement.
We've always known that Hollywood (with some exceptions) hates President Bush. But this insertion of Bush bashing into episodic TV scripts is a bit much. Drama is certainly not well served to have--say--a couple of TV detectives take some time off from solving the latest sex killing to discuss how and why Bush sucks. It violates the maxim that if one wants to send a message, use Western Union. It also unneccesarily offends a good part of the audience

Next thing you know, charecters on Star Trek will talk about how silly that space exploration initiative back in the early 21st Century was.
Cold Fusion is rearing its much maligned head fifteen years after it was born and then promptly laughed out of existence (or so we thought) by the scientific establishment. Understandably, some remain skeptical.
Dr. Donald Campell explained the economics of lunar ice to members of Congress.
One of the interesting aspects about the politics surrounding the President's space initiative is that some Senators think that it is too cheap and too slow. This actually sounds promising.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

As someone who has been advocating this kind of space competition for over ten years, I cannot be more pleased that it's coming to fruition.
Paramount is now adapting Tom Clancy's two John Clark novels, Without Remorse and Rainbow Six. My question: If Rainbow Six gets greenlit, will they keep the environmentalist wacko back guys or will they morph into Central European neonazis?
The prospect of a space race between the United States, Europe, China, and perhaps other countries may seem daunting to some. But as beguiling as the idea of cooperative ventures is, one should approach it with a great deal of skepticism.