Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Sir Arthur C. Clarke's Prelude to Space, a 1954 novel depicting the first Moon landing taking place in 1978 and conducted by a private group, has been optioned for the movies.
Dr. Sam Dinkin begs to disagree with Jeff Bell's assessment of Columbus and Isabella.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Bill Clinton as Gilderoy Lockhart? Perhaps, but where is Harry Potter when we need him?
Ramsey Clark wants to defend Saddam Hussein in the latter's war crimes trial. That's nice. I would be worried if the Butcher of Baghdad had Johnnie Cochran on his dream team.
Hillary Clinton is going to raise your taxes.
The title for the sixth Harry Potter book will be Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
It is entirely possible that most people who travel into space will take the elevator.

Monday, June 28, 2004

George W. Bush confounds his enemies again with the surprise grant of sovereignty to Iraq two days early, to the delight of all except for Kerry, Michael Moore, and the terrorists.

I wonder if Bush has a Florentine banker in his remote ancestory?
Jeff Bell has an entertaining deconstruction of Chris Columbus, whom he regards as a nut case who brought naught but disaster to both the Spaniards and American Indians and is therefore a poor role model (along with Queen Isabella) for space exploration advocates. Perhaps, though I think it can be argued that Jeff is exagurating the downside of the Spanish Empire and ignoring some of the benefits (TexMex cusine, for example.)

One thing that Columbus did by starting the Spanish Empire in the New World that was unarguable is that he galvenized England into changing from an insular, petty kingdom into a world wide empire.

While the Spanish raked in gold, the English got the real wealth of the New World in the form of furs, tobacco, and sugar.

England's former colony and heir to super power status, the United States, has surpassed her mother country in power and wealth, not only to its own benefit, but for that of the world. The US has become a source of wealth creation and innovation that has become the envy of the world. The US has saved the world by taking down Nazi German and Soviet Russia and is now dealing with the Islamofascist terrorists. Freedom rather than tyranny and capitalism rather than state economic control are considered the norm. All because of the United States.

And all because of Columbus.
Jeff Foust examines some double talk by John Kerry concerning NASA funding. However, Kerry seems to favor prizes this week.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Tim Worstall suggests that SpaceShipOne is just the beginning of a process, the implications of which are as profound as they are unclear.

Friday, June 25, 2004

The former Mr. Seven of Nine is out of the Illinois Senate race.
Around the time people start returning to the Moon, thousands of other people may be visiting space by riding an elevator.
There is no fury quite like that of a woman scorned.
Hmm, a conservative oriented film festival.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

James Burk has an interesting overview of the beginning of thenew space age. I don't agree with all of his points (for instance, I doubt that Europe as an entity will ever be a major player), but his take is interesting nevertheless.
Keith Cowing has some interesting thoughts on Sean O'Keefe's effirts to reorganize NASA.
One of the books I read on my vacation was the latest in the New Gingrich Civil War trilogy, Grant Comes East. It's the sequel to Gettysburg, the premise of which was the Lee wins the battle by replicating the tactics he and Stonewall Jackson used at chancellor.

Grant Comes East starts to answer the question of what happens next. It is, if possible, even more enjoyable and awe inspiring than the first book. Once again one sees familiar people in unfamiliar situations. The one that brought the most tears to my eyes, was how the 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Robert Gould Shaw (immortalized in the film Glory) wins even more glory than it did in our time line.

Highly recommended.

Just in time for his latest screed disguised as a "documentary", a book telling the truth about Michael Moore.

From the book description on Amazon:
Watching Michael Moore in action -- passing off manipulating facts in Bowling for Columbine, spinning statistics in Stupid White Men and Dude, Where's My Country?, shamelessly grandstanding at the Academy Awards, and epitomizing the hypocrisy he's made a king's fortune railing against -- has spurred authors David T. Hardy and Jason Clarke to take action into their own hands. In Michael Moore Is a Big Fat Stupid White Man, Hardy and Clarke dish it back hard to the fervent prophet of the far left, turning a careful eye on Moore's use of camera tricks and publicity ploys to present his own version of the truth.

Postwar documentarians gave us the documentary, Rob Reiner gave us the mockumentary, and Moore initiated a third genre, the crockumentary.

How, they ask, does Moore pull off a proletarian, "man-of-the-people" image so at odds with his lifestyle as a fabulously wealthy Manhattanite? And how large of an impact do his incendiary, ill-founded polemics have on the growing community that follows him with near-religious devotion? Loaded with well-researched, solidly reasoned arguments, and laced with irreverent wit, Michael Moore Is a Big Fat Stupid White Man fires back at one of the left's biggest targets -- politically and literally.

Imagine this conversation between Burt Rutan and Paul Allen a year or so from now, in the first year of a Kerry Presidency.

Rutan: The design for SpaceShipTwo, which we hope will reach orbit, has been completed. I need two hundred million to build the prototype.

Allen: Burt, there’s a problem. Because of the Kerry tax increase, I’m not sure where we’re going to find the money. Also the Kerry Justice Department investigation of Microsoft has forced me to spend a lot of money on legal fees. I’m sorry.

Rutan: Well, maybe I could work a deal with NASA or DOD.

Allen: I doubt it. The Kerry budget cuts mean that neither organization will have money to spend on outfits like yours. I notice that the Kerry FAA has refused to renew your launch liscense "pending resolution of environmental and safety concerns." If you want my advice, go off shore. I hear both the Chinese and the Indians are interested in space travel.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Kerry's war crimes accusations from thirty plus years ago are now being used to attack the War in Iraq.
Dennis Haysbert, who played President David Palmer in 24, will now guest as a fictional Roman General in the ABC miniseries Empire. As the actor is an African American, the charecter's back story should be interesting since Generals of the era in question were Roman patricians.
At first, I swore that I wasn't going to comment on My Lies by Bill Clinton. The entire subject of the 42nd President makes me want to take a bath.

However, an insight has occured and I should like to share it. This is the second ex President this month that we have been caught up in the reexamination of.

The first was President Reagan during his death and week long funeral. What did we remember about the Gipper? The fall of communism, the economic boom of the 1980s, and the renewal of the American spirit.

Now we are looking back on President Clinton. What are we remembering about him? Monica, lies, and impeachment. It must be bitter gall and wormwood for he and his followers to swallow, if they think about it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

This makes the third Thermopylae project that I am aware of.
"It has major themes of freedom, democracy and brotherhood that are very much in keeping with the world today."

The problem is that Athens, not Sparta, was a democracy. Sparta was a regimented police state.
Will Kerry oppose space commercialization because it will tick off the trial lawyers? Read and judge for yourself.

Monday, June 21, 2004

NASA now seems rather enthusiastic about prizes.
Looks like Reagan dead is far more admired than Clinton alive.
June 21st, 2004. Mark down this date, because today space travel passed from the exclusive reserve of governments and government employees to the private sector and the common man. Mike Melville's successful flight is as epochal as the first moon landing. Perhaps more so, considering the implications of the opening of the high frontier of space for everyone.

To Melville, Burt Rutan, Paul Allen, and all the folks at Scaled Composites, glory!

Addendum: More on this historic flight.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

More on the upcoming SpaceShipOne flight, including this cheeky observation by Arthur C. Clarke.
Arthur Clarke, noted science fiction author and prognosticator of the future, had this tongue-in-cheek view of SpaceShipOne's role in history: "I told Orville, and I told Wilbur — it'll never get off the ground!"
Yuri Gargarin, Alan Shephard, John Glenn, and now Michael Melvill. Barring the unexpected, SpaceShipOne will make history on the morrow as the first privately built vehicle to reach space.

Bon voyage!
Jeff Jacoby muses on the new vision of space exploration.
Aaron Sorkin has been chosen to write the screen adapation of Charlie Wilson's War and it is an odd choice indeed. Charlie Wilson was a larger than life character, a mighty womanizer and partier, who happened to care deeply about the cause of the Afghan people in their struggle against Soviet Occupation in the 1980s. He was also one of those vanishing breed of people known as the Conservative Democrat and therein lies the problem. Sorkin, for all of his gifts as a writer, cannot write conservative characters to save his immortal soul. He does not understand the conservative point of view nor has he ever demonstrated a desire to do so.

Have a look at the two examples from his work.

First there was the heavy, Senator Bob Rumson, in the turgid, romantic movie The American President, played with mustache twirling panache by Richard Dreyfus. The character had no ideological motivation, except to be affronted that the unmarried hero, President Michael Douglas, has a girl friend. (The story, written pre Lewinsky, had obvious parallels to Clinton, though it cheated by not descending into the sordidness with which Bill conducted most of his dangerous liaisons, thus giving Rumson something more to chew over than an innocent romance.)

Second and much worse was the dumb as a stump Governor Robert Ritchie, played by James Brolin, who served as a sacrificial offering to President Martin Sheen. Brolin would go on to play a really awful version of President Reagan in an infamous and embarrassing miniseries that was so bad that it go knocked off the network venue it was designed for and consigned to cable exile. Brolin's West Wing character was so one dimensional and so awful in the ideological (rather than story driven) election year season of The West Wing that it almost sunk the series and did lead to Sorkin's removal from it.

So, one may excused for having doubts about Sorkin's ability to draw an interesting portrait of Charlie Wilson. Fortunately, considering the collaborative nature of Hollywood, whatever results come from Sorkin's word processor can certainly be fixed, so we'll see.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The Aldridge Commision report on how to implement the Moon, Mars, and Beyond Initiative came out while I was away. I find myself enthusiastic after a quick scan of the document. It's focus on commercial ventures and resource utilization is particularly exciting.

John Kerry, on the other hand, seems less than impressed. His "vision", if one could call it that, seems to be a return of the Clinton era policy of view graph X rockets, playing with the space station, and being stuck in Low Earth Orbit. Yet another reason, in my opinion, that Kerry should not be President, or indeed in public office at all.
I'm back, Tanned, Rested, and Ready. Here is my USA Today piece relating NASA's work force problems to the Moon, Mars, and Beyond Initiative, for those who have not read it yet.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Meanwhile, Rand Simberg points out President Reagan's great legacy in the area of space travel. And it's not the space station.
For the next week, I'm going to be gone, lolling by the banks of a lake in the Texas Hill Country, taking a well earned vacation.

For those of you all who can't bear to be without my wisdom, look to the pages of USA Today, this Wendsday. Baring any last editorial changes, there will be a special treat from me to everyone on the day the Aldridge Commission Report comes out.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Looks like the Aldridge Commission is going to recommend sweeping changes for NASA.
Specifically, the commission will recommend that:

* NASA centers be spun off as Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC). The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., commonly misidentified as a NASA field center, is actually an FFRDC managed by the California Institute of Technology.
* NASA allow the private industry "to assume the primary role of providing services to NASA, and most immediately in accessing low-Earth orbit."
* NASA and Congress work together to create three new organizations within the space agency: a technical advisory board, a independent cost estimating organization, and a research and technology organization that sponsors high risk technology development efforts.
Ann Coulter reminds us that the near universal adulation President Reagan is enjoying after the hour of his death, is one more defeat for his enemies.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The heck with putting President Reagan on Mount Rushmore, where he must needs share with others. He needs his own mountain.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Aldridge Report will be released on Wendseday, June 16th:
WHAT: Rescheduled Press Conference Announcing Commission Report
WHERE: George Washington University
Jack Morton Auditorium
805 21st Street N.W.
Washington D.C. 20052
WHEN: Wednesday, June 16, 2004
12:00 Noon Press Conference

10:30 AM embargoed Report available for accredited media review on site
INTERVIEWS: We will be happy to arrange interviews.
Please contact Susan Flowers at

Report will be posted to the Commission Web site, at 12:00 Noon on Wednesday, 16 Jun 04.
Looks like John Kerry jumped the line in order for his quick photo op at Presdent Reagan's casket.
Of course President Reagan was one of the most written about Presidents in history:

Has the President's drop in the polls bottomed out? Zogby would seem to suggest that the answer is, yes.
There they go again.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Unfortunately there are still a small group of people who live for their hatred of President Reagan. I am particularly disappointed in Chris Hitchens, who just blew away for me all the good will he had accumulated over the years for his forthright disdain of Clinton and support of the War on Terror.
There once was a man, who saved the world.

Many people living today cannot, I think, imagine what things were like in 1980. At home, inflation in double digits, interest rates in double digits, line stretching around the block just to buy gasoline. Abroad, humiliation and worse at the hands of the mad mullahs of Iran, the Soviet Empire on the march everywhere, two super powers confronting one another with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons across a cowering world.

Then, he was elected. His enemies viewed him with an alarm bordering on hysteria. Would he despoil all the poor first, or would he incinerate the world in nuclear fire? (There was even a famous TV movie made about that last possibility.)

But a curious thing occurred. First, a nation, whose self confidence and sense of it's self had been shattered by the low, infamous decade of the 1970s, began to recover both. It was his sunny optimism that did that. It was that infectious. Then, the economy took off. It seemed that the principle was true, that the less government took and controlled, the more the people prospered.

But that was just the warm up.

The mighty Soviet Empire, that had seemed such a permanent edifice, a force of nature to be accommodated, if not out right surrendered to, went the way of Babylon and Rome. He knew that there are no Empires born that do not, eventually, fall. And that some Empires will fall when they are pushed. Three hundred million people, once enslaved, have become free, because of him. A world did not die in nuclear fire, because of him.

His death was the cruelest of all, as if the great good he did had to be paid for by a long, lingering illness.

And yet, I see him now, mind and memory restored by a merciful God, or perhaps just by some curious process of that quantum state we call the after life. Typically, he is astride a horse, looking upon the world he saved with that wry smile for one last time. Then he tips his hat, reins his horse about, and gallops away, toward that shining city on the hill, into the sunset.

Just like in the movies.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Peggy Noonan, President Reagan's celtic bard, sings his eulogy.
Sixty years ago, an army of young men hurtled themselves against the continent of Europe, then ruled by the most profoundly powerful and cruel tyrant in the history of the world. Through their blood and effort, they brought freedom's frontier all the way to the Elbe.

Twenty years ago, the greatest man of my lifetime celebrated their achievement. That man would, eventually through force of will and vision, push back freedom's frontier all the way to the Pacific.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but 40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers--the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your "lives fought for life . . . and left the vivid air signed with your honor.''

I think I know what you may be thinking right now--thinking, "We were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day.'' Well, everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren't. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him.

Lord Lovat was with him--Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, "Sorry I'm a few minutes late,'' as if he'd been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he'd just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.

There was the impossible valor of the Poles who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold, and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.

All of these men were part of a rollcall of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore: the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland's 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England's armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet'' and you, the American Rangers.

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge--and pray God we have not lost it--that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They thought--or felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4 a.m., in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying, and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.

Something else helped the men of D-Day: their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer he told them: Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we're about to do. Also that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.''

These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.

When the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and governments to be returned to the people. There were nations to be reborn. Above all, there was a new peace to be assured. These were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty, and love of those who fell here. They rebuilt a new Europe together.

There was first a great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. The United States did its part, creating the Marshall Plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall Plan led to the Atlantic alliance--a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, for prosperity, and for peace.

In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They're still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost 40 years after the war. Because of this, Allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as 40 years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose--to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two World Wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.

But we try always to be prepared for peace; prepared to deter aggression; prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms; and, yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.

It's fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II: 20 million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the Earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.

We will pray forever that some day that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.

We are bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We're bound by reality. The strength of America's allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe's democracies. We were with you then; we are with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.''

Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value [valor], and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

George Will has one of the better tributes to Reagan the Great. I will have one anon.
It looks like that President Ronald Reagan, breaker of empires, liberator of nations, will shortly be going home.

Addendum: And now he belongs to the ages. Good night, sweet Prince. Flights of angels speed thee to thy rest.

Friday, June 04, 2004

According to Done Deal, a biop of Young Teddy Roosevelt's adventures in the wild west of the 1880s is in the works. It has the rather unPC title of Manifest Destiny.
Jonah Goldberg mourns the absence of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her undead lover Angel. So do I.
Lawmakers hold a special order on the future of space exploration.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

On the subject of space exploration, House Majority Leader Tom Delay is a lion, a lion I tell you. It looks like Texas House members have gone to war to make certain that the Moon, Mars, and Beyond Initiative becomes reality.
James Burk has some recommendations for the Aldridge Commission.
Congress appears to have pegged a return to the Moon as costing 64 billion dollars, exlcusive of robotic precurssor missions. I wonder if Professor Hill of Rice University (see below) is aware of this study. Remember what he said.
One trillion dollars is a reasonable ballpark figure for only the moon part. Forget Mars and beyond.

If you're reading this, Professor, you might want to consider a retraction.
Julian Bond of the NAACP is a hate filled bigot.
"Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side by side," Bond told a cheering audience. "They've written a new constitution for Iraq and ignore the Constitution here at home. They draw their most rabid supporters from the Taliban wing of American politics. Now they want to write bigotry back into the Constitution."

Bond may want to reflex which President took down the real Taliban and then offer an apology.
The option to use astronuats to fix the Hubble Telescope has not been quite entirely closed.
The second unmanned nuclear power probe may be headed for Neptune.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Ray Bradbury is mad as hell at Michael Moore.
If SpaceShipOne succeeds in her next test flight, June 21st will be a date that will live on in history, as it will be the date of the first private manned space flight.
John Kerry flipped off a heckler at the Vietnam War Memorial the other day. I wonder if that is an example of his nuanced style of diplomacy that will get France and Germany to cooperate better in the War on Terror?