Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Here are some before and after pictures of some parts of New Orleans, including the Super Dome area. Words fail.
What if the Marvel Comics super heroes lived in Elizabethan England? Sir Nicholas Fury as the Queen's special operative. The X Men on the run from the Spanish Inquisition. The mind simply boggles:
Of course Katrina is all Bush's fault. Just ask the Germans.
China's secretiveness concerning it's manned space program seems to be inhibiting its public relations benefits.
We've had lunar golf, but lunar tennis anyone?
Glenn Reynolds examines the legal wrangling that is in store for the builders of the first space elevator

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A lunar penguin? Sounds more like a lunar bunny rabbit to me.
Glenn Reynolds has been kind enough to post a list of places where one can go to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Addendum: Here are some more.
Intellifit: Making the Clothes Shopping Experience Easier.
Another in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Cork.
Looks like Michael Griffin will have a couple of interesting things to say tomorrow. First, on commercial space:
But the Station is expensive to sustain, if we continue to rely upon a government-only approach to that effort. As I stated earlier this year, one strategy NASA will employ to meet our future needs is to utilize, to the fullest extent possible, commercially-developed cargo resupply and, ultimately, crew rotation capabilities for the International Space Station. Indeed, we will issue this fall a request for proposal for such capabilities, with the development to be done on a commercial basis, much like that in the commercial communications satellite market. This is a priority for NASA. Utilizing the market offered by the International Space station's requirements for cargo and crew will spur true competition in the private sector, will result in savings that can be applied elsewhere in the program, and will promote further commercial opportunities in the aerospace sector.

Next, on the reason for exploration:
In our future planning, we should recognize that history is full of such crossroads, of opportunities for bold steps either taken or not taken, with consequences that can last not for decades, but for hundreds of years. The decision to explore and extend the frontiers of one's own time, or not, is just such a crossroad.

Today, we live in a world with only one superpower, the United States. It was the same in the 15th Century, except that the superpower was China. The Ming Dynasty had a fleet of 1,500 ships, the largest of which rivaled the size of an aircraft carrier today. Because of the fleet, the influence of China reached to the Philippines, Malaysia, India, and as far as the east coast of Africa to the Cape of Good Hope. Indeed, some believe that the Chinese reached the west coast of the Americas.

Eventually, the leadership of the Dynasty fell to a young emperor, at which point certain elements of the Chinese ruling class advised the new emperor that the fleet was a wasteful indulgence. The emperor was told there was nothing in the world to match Chinese culture, and was advised that the highest priority was to protect what China had from the influence of foreigners. The Emperor followed this advice, ultimately burning the fleet. And Chinese influence in the larger world waned for centuries.

Now consider Portugal. Looking at a map, it is hard to imagine that a country the size of Portugal could ever have a significant influence on world culture. But precisely because Portugal made a commitment to sail the high seas in search of trade, treasure, discovery, and glory, the Portuguese influence can be seen in such diverse places as Macau, West Africa, India, and of course Brazil.

Perhaps all of us would be speaking Portuguese today, but eventually Portugal tired, and England made an even greater commitment to the exploration, discovery, and settlement of new territories. The decisions that nations make to explore, or not, matter.

The human imperative to explore and settle new lands will be satisfied, by others if not by us. Humans will explore the Moon, Mars, and beyond. It's simply a matter of which humans, when, what values they will hold, and what languages they will speak, what cultures they will spread. What the United States gains from a robust program of human space exploration is the opportunity to carry the principles and values of western philosophy and culture along on the absolutely inevitable outward migration of humanity into the solar system and, eventually, beyond. These benefits are tangible and consequential. It matters what the United States chooses to do, or not to do, in space.

Tom James has a pretty good round up of what is known so far of the aftermath of Katrina. So does Michelle Malkin.
The plucky Malaysians have entered the race to the Moon.
Last Saturday, several thousand people showed up in Crawford to support the President and oppose Mother Sheehan, an event almost ignored by the mainstream media. Reader Mark Reiff has provided some accounts of the event here and here thanks to our friends at Free Republic. There are some photos here, here, here, and here.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Looks like Katrina did not put an end to the space shuttle program.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Delhi.
What a marvelous age we live in, with the prospect of being able to regrow limbs and organs on the horizon.
Spielberg to produce and maybe direct the remake of When Worlds Collide? Spielberg is a great film maker, but I hope he has better material to work with than he did for the remake of War of the Worlds. Still, if he's going to go down the path first trod by George Pal, can remakes of Destination Moon and Conquest of Space be far behind?
Monte Davis continues his call for realism in solving the problems of space flight.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Tom James discusses the implications of Katrina, particularly on the space program. I suspect that a trashing of the ET facility is not going to affect the shuttle program, considering the delays already extant. I suspect that rebuilding New Orleans is going to take quite a bit of federal funds (though I also suspect the economic stimulus effect will be considerable as well.) And maybe the likely trashing of gulf coast refinery capacity will be a wake up call for the necessity of building new refineries to increase capacity.

Addendum: Looks like Katrina weakened a tad and veered to the east a tad. It's going to still be bad, but it looks like New Orleans may escape total obliteration.
George Will (of all people) has some unique arguments against Intelligent Design.

Friday, August 26, 2005

For all those hungry for a soldiers' eye view reporting from Iraq, check out Michael Yon, the Ernie Pyle of our age.
The increasingly deranged Cindy Sheehan imagines meeting her boy in the next life.
"When I get up [to heaven], he's gonna say, 'Good job, mom,'" the California woman said in a speech last night upon her return to Crawford, Texas. "He's not going to say, 'Why'd you make me spin in my grave?' you know. And I can just hear him saying, 'George Bush, you are really an idiot. You didn't know what you were doing when you killed me. You didn't know what you were getting into.'"

Well, somehow I imagine something different. Say, Casey visiting his mom in her tent like the ghost of Caesar tormenting Brutus before Phillipi.

"Ma, will you just cut it out? You're embarressing me. I'm up here in Valhalla, where all fallen warriors go, and even the valkeries are making fun of me. Do you know what that's like? Just before the daily battle games, recently, Odin yelled out, 'What would your mother say?' Do you know what it's like to be laughed at by every fallen warrior in history? It's not pleasent, let me tell you. But you're not listening to me. You never listened to me. Even when I joined up, you put your hands over your ears and chanted, 'La! La! La! I'm not listening to my war mongering son!' But you see, ma, I believed in what I was doing, bringing freedom to people in a far off land and fighting terrorists. So, please ma, if you ever had any love for me, stop this BS, go back home, try to patch things up with dad and the family, and GET A FRICKING LIFE!"
I guess Star Trek couldn't stay dead for very long.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Crete..

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Daniel Henninger describes how the world is very different from that imagined by people having Anti Vietnam War Protestor flashbacks.
Any politician aspiring to the presidency who gets the call wrong on the Iraq war may find himself in the ditch George McGovern dug for his party in 1972--with 37.5% of the vote. Perhaps the reason Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden aren't jumping in front of Cindy's parade is that as a matter of species survival they're required to keep an ear to the ground. And you know what, the times really have changed since Vietnam.

Richard Nixon, amid a similar low ebb of popularity with Vietnam, gave a famous speech in 1969. This was the year after the Tet offensive, which caused Walter Cronkite's famous Hagel-like throwing in of the towel. In that speech Nixon described a "great silent majority" in America. The idea, of course, was that the daily media attention commanded by the antiwar movement was missing a class of Americans who sat home seething at the behavior of the protesters.

Today, because of the Internet, no one has to seethe in silence, as wired activists in both parties proved in 2004's high-tech election, and now. But it may be that the current infatuation with anti-Bush, anti-Iraq sentiment is again missing a political current flowing beneath the surface of the news, just as the media missed the silent majority 40 years ago and the values voters in the 2004 election.

I would call this faction the Quiet Majority. These people are organized and they are pro-active. But they pass beneath our politics unnoticed because they're about something deeper than TV face-time. There is a large number of groups that have organized in the past three years solely to support the American troops in Iraq.

Read it all.

Meanwhile Brandon Crocker discusses Anti Vietnam War Protestor flashbacks occuring in the mainstream media.
Spaceships made out of plastic, the better to shield astronauts from radiation? Could be.
This is all well and good and is no doubt packed with cool features. But if you call Scotty to beam you up, what will happen?
Fighter jets armed with lasers are a step closer.
Five Films about Alien Invasion.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Sorrento.
One problem astronauts who return to the Moon will face is Moon dust.
Hugh Hewitt says you should see The Great Raid, a movie about courage and honor. I agree.
Looks like some motherless sc--er--anti war protestors have taken to harassing wounded soldiers at Walter Reed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

When my wife heard about this technological innovation she reacted as if cancer had been cured, a space elevator had been built, and flying cars had been put on sale at the Saturn dealership all at once. Something to do about finding clothes that fit.

More info here.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Valencia.
Monte Davis returns to his analysis of the reasons for slow progress in opening the space frontier. I have just one quibble with his otherwise good analysis:
Zoom in from evolutionary time to the United States, 1965-2005. There’s a consistent pattern in polls throughout those years. If people are asked "Should the nation do X in space?" a majority often says yes. But when asked to rank government activities by spending priority, a larger majority puts space way down the list. They did so at the height of Apollo (roughly 4% of federal spending), and they do so today (at the less than 1% typical of the decades since).

I think that poll questions that try to rank space spending by priority are less useful than meets the eye. To a certain number of people, it seems to set up a question of, say, lunar settlements or education, Mars expeditions or health care. The fact of the matter is, all of those things can be done by a great nation if they are done intelligently.

I think that recent polling data suggests a political consenus around the following: (a) The United States will have a space program. (b) It will involve human beings doing exploration. (c) It will cost roughly equal to or less than 1 percent of the federal budget. This is not a bad thing. I percent of the budget is about 21-22 billion a year. It's not at Apollo levals but if NASA is disposed to be creative (and I agree with Glenn Reynolds that it is) then remarkable things are about to happen.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Five Films by Alfred Hitchcock.
Looks like the NCAA has decided to agree with the Seminole Nation that the Florida State Seminoles is not an offensive name for a sports team. They need to climb down from the silly position they have placed themselves and revoke the ban for everyone.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Moscow.
My old Deaniac friend laments Where are all the Howard Deans? It's a sad post in many ways.
What I mean is, where are the people like Howard Dean was in the 2004 race? Not the cartoon of Dean painted by his Democratic opposition, much of the media and even his friends - a radical leftist out of touch with mainstream America, but the real Howard Dean - a pragmatic progressive reformer of his party, of politics and of the nation. That's the man who attracted me to his campaign, led me to travel to Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont, contribute more than I really could afford and spend all my spare time working for his election.

The problem, as most people know, is that it wasn't a cartoon. Howard Dean has actually said all of those alarming things he's been quoted as saying. You remember: How he hates Republicans. How women in Iraq were better off under Saddem. And so on.
Instead, I see people trapped in the false dichotomy of left and right, thinking that being "more progressive" means moving further to the left and doing anything else is moving to the right. I see people trapped into the idea that the only options in Iraq are to leave now, or to stay indefinitely, and if you call for anything but the first you are not "progressive".

Of course Dean opposed the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the institution of Democracy in Iraq.
I believe there is another axis which runs throughout American history, back to the first settlers, through the revolution, the 20th Century and to today. On the "up" end are the forces of progressivism: change, reform and improvement, and on the "down", the forces of regressivism: stasis, retrenchment and standing pat. Through our political history, each party has had its time as progressives, and its time as regressives. The Republicans were founded as a progressive party, and the great progressive, Theodore Roosevelt, was a proud Republican. Democrats as well have had their regressive times (from the mid to late 19th Century was a bad time) but moved forward to bring us Social Security and the rest of the New Deal, and support the rights of African Americans and Women in the late 20th Century.

Of course, Rich's history is a bit rusty. More Republicans than Democrats supported civil rights legislation in the 60s. Ever heard of Robert Byrd?
Look at these dictionary definitions of "progressive". The don't mention left or right, pro or anti war, for or against specific issues:


* a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties
* a person who actively favors or strives for progress toward better conditions, as in society or government
* promoting or favoring progress toward better conditions or new policies, ideas, or methods

Of couurse, the problem lies in the definition of such terms as "progress" and "reform." One might suggest that the modern Democrat Party is not "progressive" for opposing school choice or private accounts in social security or tax cuts to stimulate economic growth.
Governor Dean was a progressive, and was also practical. He knew he couldn't get funding approved for universal health care in Vermont, so he started with the kids. He understood the deeply held feelings the word "marriage" entailed, but felt nobody should be denied equal protection, so he signed the civil unions act.

In other words, he sought to fool people about what he really thought.
he whole Dean for America campaign was a call for political reform, to "take back our country" from the control of consultants and political hacks, but also from the apathy of the people. It wasn't, as some now try to redefine it, solely an anti-war campaign. Governor Dean took care to note during the campaign he had supported going into Afghanistan, and Gulf War I, and that now that we were in Iraq, we needed it to reach some conclusion that served the Iraqi and the American people, not just leave.

That last is certainly incorrect. Dean has always opposed the liberation of Iraq. And speaking of political hacks and consultants, whom did he hire when he tossed Joe Trippi over the side when his campaign had started into a death spiral?
When he said "I represent the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party" he meant the party of Roosevelt and Truman and Kennedy that thought of the people first and the campaign contributors last. A party of pragmatic idealists who understood support of the unions meant supporting the members on the line, not the leaders at Washington cocktail parties.

Ah, no, sorry. Neither gentleman would have recognized Dean. Now, Henry Wallace, George McGovern, and such like people would have been very comfortable with him.
Pragmatic progressive reform is what the people are looking for. Problem solving that moves the nation forward by moving its people forward, not tied to the stale definitions of left and right. This is what Howard Dean represented when he began his campaign for President.

Of course Dean's definition of all that is to raise taxes and turn the country into a European welfare state.
Where are the Howard Deans?

Hiding in the tall grass.
A Russian-Chinese space alliance? Indications here and here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Kyoto.
Here is one protest movement that Mother Sheehan has started that perhaps she might not have wanted to.
Naturally part of the planning of returning to the Moon consists of what and how to do things once we get there. NASA is talking to some of the people who have experience along those lines.
Looks like mass production of carbon nano tubes has just about been achieved. Railroads to the heavens will just be one thing this will make possible.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Now, here's an interesting, off beat story about space travel.
Billy Bob Thornton is set to star in The Astronaut Farmer, a drama by Mark and Michael Polish for Warner Independent Pictures, says The Hollywood Reporter.

The story follows an eccentric farmer who dreams of space travel and sets out to build a rocket inside his barn. His neighbors consider him an oddity, the government thinks he is a threat, and the media sees him as a story.

I guess, having served as NASA Administrator in that Bruce Willis nonsense, Bill Bob now wants to pursue space in the private sector.
Well, look who's having a Vietnam Anti War Protest Flashback now? Of course, since no one has heard about Joan Baez for--oh--the last twenty five years, this might be a good career move for her. Just think, an album of anti war on terror protest songs. The mind boggles.

Addendum: It looks like Joan proved one of the less reported facts of life, that some of the biggest racists come from the far left.
Bradley Carl Edwards touts space elevators, or as I like to call them, railroads to the heavens.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A friend of mine has found a new book that he would like to recommend:
I recently picked up a wonderful little book which I would like to share with everybody. I will start with the story behind the story.

The author is an Englishman named George Courtauld. He lives outside of
London and commutes back and forth every day by train. One day around Christmas time a couple of years ago he was headed home and there were some young people on the train singing carols and having a good time. One young boy was unable to sit with his friends. He happened to have his arm in a sling. A lady offered to swap seats with him. Noticing his arm, she commented that she thought, "Little Lord Nelson," would like to sit with his friends. That comment drew a confused look from the boy. She prompted him, "You know, Lord Nelson. As in "England expects"? Admiral Nelson?" Finally a look of recognition came over the boy's face, "Oh!" he said, "You mean that guy from Star Trek!" Evidently we aren't the only country to have poor standards for history education.

Anyway, when Mr. Courtauld got home he told his family about the incident and that provoked a discussion which made him realize that there were some basic facts of British history which he didn't know but felt he ought to. So, he sat down to make a basic timeline of English history, nothing fancy, just a list of reigns and the most important events during each. When he had finished it he showed it to some friends and they immediately asked for copies. Word spread and more people began asking for copies. Since it seemed so popular he decided to try to get it published as a book. He titled it The Pocket Book of Patriotism, The History of Great Britain and the World. Its short, only 62 pages.

He was able to secure meetings with representatives of seven different publishers. They all turned him down flat in what I can only call a most arrogant and condescending manner. They told him that patriotism was an obsolete concept that many people would find offensive! Obviously poor history teaching is not the only problem we share with the mother country. Not one to take things lying down, Mr. Courtauld scraped up the money to do a private printing of 10,000 copies. They sold 2,500 in the first week and 140,000 in the first year!

The book has now been published here in the states as The Handbook of British Patriotism. It is the same timeline he created for his family, divided into two columns, one for events within Britain and one for events "abroad". He also included some important quotes. In particular I noted, for the year 1776, he quotes the critical line from the Declaration of Independence, about unalienable rights. I don't know why, but it always surprises me to see people from other countries quote our founding fathers and documents as being important to their freedom. I realize that the ideas are universal and important but I always expect other people to state them in ways that reflect their particular cultural experience.

For publication, he added a section consisting of short excerpts from important books, documents and speeches, starting with the Ten Commandments. I can just imagine the uproar over here if somebody tried to suggest that the Bible provided important foundations to our history and culture.

There are a couple of odd errors. For instance, he lists the invention of the telegraph and the development of Morse code as happening in England. Perhaps that is a mere typo.

Just, I suppose, to stick it to those who question the very idea of patriotism, he included a list of every single possession of the British Empire at its height and the year each came under British rule and a table of Imperial weights and measures.

I found myself very moved by the stately procession of kings and queens and the simple recitation of the great moments in history. I'm not sure if it just made me realize how much of an anglophile I am or if it stirred within me new depths of respect and affection for England. Given how I was moved by it, I can only imagine how it must affect an Englishman, except, perhaps, one who finds patriotism offensive. Thus it is with real anticipation that I await the publication, this September according to the book, of an American version.

Courtauld is apparently assisting someone named Jonathan Foreman in putting together a similar timeline for the United States.

It seems to me that the teaching of history has two purposes. One is to provide the true account of events so that people in self governing societies can use the information in making decisions about their countries. The second is to instill in every breast the flame of patriotism so that they will care, viscerally, about their country and see political awareness and civic participation as a matter of importance and prideful duty. I think it is possible that one reason history education is so poor is that it has been, to a large extent, divorced from instilling patriotism and thus becomes boring, if not emotionally objectionable, and thus students and teachers alike take no joy in it and just want to get it over with a quickly as possible.

The American version:
We saw The Great Raid last night and found it one of those wonderful war movies that rarely get made any more, mores the pity. It's based on a true story of a mission to rescue survivors of the Battan Death March from a Japanese POW camp by a force of US Army Rangers and Phillpine guerillas. The Japanese atrocities are not sugar coated in any way--to multicultural political correctness here. Nor are the Amercian and Phillipine soldiers any less than heroic. It was an inspiring, often suspenseful story of men winning eternal glory by putting their lives on the line for their fellow men. Even the love story that was tacked on was, in my opinion, well understated and had an appropriate, nonshaltzy ending. I highly recomend this film.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Galway.
Sean Hannity, Oliver North, and G. Gordon Liddy as super heroes, fighting for truth, justice and the American way in a future liberal dystopia ruled over by Chelsea Clinton and Michael Moore? The mind boggles.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Looks like microgravity technology developed for the space station can produce stem cells from umbilical cord blood. That should put an interesting spin on the debate on the uitility of ISS and of space in general.

Addendum: Two evaulations of this development, a positive one from Glenn Reynolds and a snarky one from Rand Simberg.
The Israeli eviction of settlers from Gaza, leaving aside the strategic reasons for it, will not lead to peace. Palestinian terrorists will become emboldened. However, there will be more Palestinian on Palestinian violence as the struggle to control Gaza commences. That may be what Sharon is counting on.
Jon Goff creates two "conflicting" memes that I have to say, do not exist. They consist of the evil, big government meme:
1. Space is inherently very hard

2. Private companies are inherently unreliable

3. Lunar travel requires building vehicles so big that no commercial company would ever do it

4. Doing lunar hardware is so tough, that no private company can possibly do it without a lot of NASA money and expertise.

And then the enlightened, free market meme:
1. Space can be done succesfully by private companies

2. Private companies are competent and innovative

3. Lunar travel can be done using commercially developed vehicles that have other markets they can serve

4. It's possible to build enough of a commercial market that government can get a large amount of leverage off of a small amount of initial money

5. Lunar development is within the capabilities of private companies.

There is, in fact, one meme:

(1) Space is hard. That was true of ocean travel and aviation in its day. Given time and technological development, it will become easier.

(2) Private companies come in all flavors, competent and innovative and unreliable and everything in between. Sometimes which is which is not initially clear.

(3) In the near future, lunar travel requires the infusion of a lot of government cash and expertise. In the fullness of time, once markets develop, private companies will be able to participate.

(4) Ditto for lunar hardware.

At least, that is what history and logic teach us.
Star Trek leads to Pedophillia???!!! So I wonder what Bab 5 or Battlestar leads to?
Looks like the Russians are looking to the Moon as a source of new energy.
Five Films About Nuclear War.
Lstest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Granada.
So, what about Casey Sheehan? One wonders what he might feel about his mom's antics in his name.
t/Space's effort to build an orbital space craft is getting the attention of NASA. If the politics and economics come together, the world may change.
Monte Davis muses on the frustration many feel about the slow pace of space development these past four decades and then calls for a bit of realism on what to do about it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

These guys are trying to put together a film from an Arthur C.Clarke short stort, Maelstrom II, and are looking for sponsers.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Cardiff.
The cast of Lost discuss various theories of what the show is really about.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Paul Beston praises 24, one of the best series ever to air on network TV.
Five Films About Space Exploration.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Tunisia.
The good people of Crawford are fed up with the chaos being caused by Mother Sheehan and her followers on their community.
Leslie Mullen reviews a new book about the Apollo astronauts, about their lives after they walked on the Moon.
Now Hollywood is coming out with a film about Flight 93. That's the one where the passengers rose against the hijackers on 9/11 and forced the plane into the Pennsylvania ground rather than its intended target. In the right hands it could be an epic for the ages. But is the film in the right hands?

Monday, August 15, 2005

David Duke has become Mother Sheehan's new friend.

Addendum: Chris Hitchens, on the other hand, has not.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Chris Shank had some interesting things to say at a meeting of the Mars Society.
The New York Times Editorial Board has come out for canceling the space shuttle and space station. No surprise there. But what is surprising is this:
The better, but more drastic option would be to retire the shuttles immediately and back out of the station. That would save some $40 billion over a decade or so, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The money could be used to accelerate a landing on the Moon by four years or bolster research programs that would otherwise be cut.

If I read this right, the Times seems to favor going back to the Moon. It's likely an excuse and, if the nation were to follow their advice, the Times would in short order start urging the cancellation of space exploration programs as well. Still, it is interesting.

Rand Simberg has some interesting observations as well, including this:
That argument may have had some resonance prior to January 14th, 2004, when the only human-in-space policy was Shuttle and ISS, but it doesn't any longer. Yes, some new president could come in an cancel the exploration initiative in 2008, and if that happens, it would be impossible to resurrect the Shuttle and station if they're ended now. But barring some major political earthquake, I find that scenario unlikely. For better or worse, the public does seem to have some intrinsic desire to see human spaceflight at NASA continue, and I don't think that it's in the cards politically to end it. In fact, with the new program having been bought into by both the administration and Congress, I'd think that NASA manned space program proponents would be eager to shed these deadweight programs so they can get on to the more exciting activities of returning to the Moon and going on to Mars. Unless, of course, they're getting their paychecks from the status quo...

Of course, Rand goes on to say:
And of course, this all ignores the vast potential for much more interesting private human spaceflight activities, which I'm quite confident will make almost everything that NASA is doing in this area irrelevant by the end of the decade.

Well, maybe. I have to observe that there have been quite as many false promises coming out of the sector as have been from NASA. Nevertheless, I think that with the success of SpaceShipOne and the promise of the space tourism market, we will see a kind of suborbital barnstorming era starting quite soon, to be followed by private orbital operations. And if NASA is concentrating on the Moon, Mars, and Beyond, so much the better.

Rand then makes a supposition that seems to me to be just plain wrong.
I don't really think that it makes much difference to our future in space whether we end these dinosaurs now or later. Either way, humanity's expansion into the cosmos will have little to do with anything happening at JSC, Marshall and the Cape now. They did some noble and needed pioneering things there forty years ago, but I'm afraid that when it comes to the future, they continue to represent the past.

I find that one a little hard to swallow. To be sure, NASA is big, bureaucratic, and inefficient and has been in the past quite hostile to the private sector. But the fact of the matter is that the first people to return to the Moon and then go to Mars will be employees of some government (hopefully including the American one). The private sector will have a very big role, especially once people start living off the planet in significant numbers. But big bad government will also have a role in opening up the high frontier, just as it has with every other frontier. That's the truth, supported by history and common sense, whether one wants to believe it or not.

Addendum: Jeff Foust, on the other hand, is somewhat dubious about the arguments put forward by the Times.

Addendum 2: Rand Simberg continues some thoughts sparked by the Times' editorial. And has this to say:
I of course never said that "big bad government" wouldn't have a role in opening up the high frontier. I was speaking specifically of certain NASA centers, and what their role would be, and I don't think that it will be anywhere near as large as most conventional thinking about the space program would have it.

I must admit to a little confusion. What other government agency besides NASA would take the lead government role in space exploration? DOD perhaps? I think not. If ones complaint is that NASA is too big and too bureaucratic, the last thing one would want to do is to hand its functions over to the DOD, which is bigger and more bureacratic. Or maybe Rand thinks some other government agency will be given NASA's functions? Department of Transportation? Department of Commerce? Maybe something brand new. I think that it's very unlikely that NASA will be abolished or be made illrelevent by new developments or anything else. Thinking otherwise is, in my opinion, a flight of fancy that distracts from considering realistic policy.

Addendum 3: Under prodding, Rand continues to clarify his point.
But of course, until now, I said nothing about space exploration. I thought we were talking about humanity moving out into space, which is much less about space exploration than space development.

Well, I might be disposed to agree with that point, if we are speaking in the long run (by which, I mean, at least decades) and if we're talking about economic development. But NASA, for all of it's faults, will have as much to do about the opening of the space frontier as Lewis and Clark did about the opening of the American West. If that means that one foresees that by--say--2060 the greater part of human activity on the Moon and Mars will be private, then, sure, that is a rational view to take. Of course, one suspects that by that time NASA will be sending expeditions to the Outer Planets.
It looks like "Mother Sheehan" has, as my late Irish grandmother would have suggested, gone to see the wee folk.
Anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan, whose soldier son Casey was killed in Iraq, is calling for Bush's "impeachment," and for Israel to get out of Palestine!

"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism," Sheehan declares.

Sheehan, who is asking for a second meeting with President Bush, says defiantly: "My son was killed in 2004. I am not paying my taxes for 2004. You killed my son, George Bush, and I don't owe you a give my son back and I'll pay my taxes. Come after me (for back taxes) and we'll put this war on trial."

"And now I'm going to use another 'I' word - impeachment - because we cannot have these people pardoned. They need to be tried on war crimes and go to jail."

The 48-year-old California mom remains tented up in a ditch along the one-lane road that leads to Bush's Texas ranch.

As her protest entered its second week, hundreds of people with conflicting opinions about the war in Iraq descended on the area.

Hmm. What do the Israelis have to do with the death of Casey Sheehan?

Addendum: Meanwhile, according to Michelle Malkin, Mr. Sheehan may be filing for divorce. I'm sure that "Mother Sheehan" will blame Bush or maybe the Israelis for that too.

Addendum 2: Byron York has a good run down of some of the dubious people behind "Mother Sheehan." And Angry in the Great White North has some more about the Cult of Mother Sheehan, including talk of a "holy war" against the war on terror.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005

Looks like Cindy Sheehan's encampment near Crawford has become the Mecca for every nut case peacnik in the country. Good, I say. As a Texan, I know what the horrdendous heat and humidity is like there at this time of year. That's why the President takes his vacations there, in order to make the White House press corps suffer. And so the anti war left will suffer far more than is in the capacity of human beings to inflict.

Addendum: It just occured to me that the President could really stick it to these people by invitinf Casey Sheehan's other relations to the ranch. Feed them some barbeque. Then get them in a joint press conference to tell their point of view, which seems to be different that Cindy's.
Yang Liwei, the first Chinese to orbit the Earth, reveals the goals of some upcoming Shenzhou missions.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Beijing.
National Review's Rich Lowry is the latest to call for the shuttle's retirement, not in 2010, but now, the better to get on with real space exploration.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Stonehenge.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Michael Fumento gives the back of his hand to that travesty of a TV series, Over There, which is apparently set in some part of Vietnam that has sand and Arabs.
Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier named Casey Sheehan, has apparently become deranged from grief and manipulation by anti war radicals to make a show of herself in front of President Bush's ranch in Crawford. Casey's grandparents, uncles, aunts, and numerous cousins are begging her to stop defiling the memory of her son for partisan, political purposes.
Michael Schiavo continues to outrage. He is apparently planning to file suit against some of the caregivers of his wife for medical malpractice. Not for failing to care for her, but for caring for her.
Five Cavalry Films by John Ford.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Palermo.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The National Collegiate Athletic Association's executive committee, with not one Indian member, has decided that Indian names and mascots for College sports teams is offensive to Indians. Indians, on the other hand, find the NCAA's politically correct racism offensive.
The voice talent connected to Magnificent Desolation, Tom Hanks' new 3D Imax film about the Apollo Moon landings, include Paul Newman, Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey, Morgan Freeman, John Travolta, Gary Sinise, Bill Paxton, Barry Pepper, Peter Scolari, Brian Cranston, John Corbett, Scott Glenn, Rita Wilson and Kevin Pollack.
Michael Schiavo, who moved heaven and Earth to do his wife in, has been named "Distinquished Guardian of the Year" by the Florida Guardianship Association. This is in the same grotesque spirit of naming Hannibal Lecter as "Gourmond of the Year."
Jason Apuzzo has discovered that Hollywood has finally discovered the War on Terror. The bad news is that they seem to be making films supporting the terrorists. But he has a solution:
The proper 'response' for this sort of thing is simple, if complex in execution. At some point conservatives need to raise capital, pick up cameras and start making movies of their own - much like Mel Gibson did with "The Passion." And conservatives should do this not simply to 'rebut' the other side, but to add depth and imagination to what has become a wasteland of popular entertainment. Most Hollywood insiders - even liberals - agree that Hollywood is in a creative depression. More conservative voices can only help what has become a bleak situation for the town, both artistically and financially.

Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to St. Petersburg. That's the one in Russia.
Aint it Cool has a "Review" of the upcoming film, The Great Raid, which is a demonstration of how political correctness really has no place in movie reviews.
But if you have any sympathy for the Japanese side of the struggle whatsoever, you might want to prep yourself, because this film might just piss you right the hell off. There’s no attempt at all to show the Japanese as remotely human, and while it’s not nearly as offensive as John Woo’s Windtalkers (which denigrated the Japanese to a mob of screaming savages), it certainly won’t score any points with the Japanese – this week of all times. There’s not one moment of hesitation in the Japanese brutality, not one solemn look of ‘I can’t believe these are our orders’. These guys they’re killing wholesale surrendered, the worst of all crimes in their culture at the time, which makes them deserving of a painful, agonizing death. And the lead antagonist, the head of the Japanese secret police, gives nothing but looks so menacing you expect a prominent German to walk up at any moment and pin the Iron Cross on him (or the Paul Walker “I have only one expression award for excellence”.)

Well, I hate to tell this bozo of a film reviewer, but the Japanese Imperial Army of the time were savages. Ever heard of the Rape of Nanking? The Bataan Death March? I guess this guy hasn't.
Day by Day's Chris Muir has a favor to ask.
If a mere trip to the International Space Station seems a bit dull and mundane to you, this cruise around the Moon may just be your thing. Cheap at one hundred million dollars.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Five Films by Steven Spielberg.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Warsaw.
It seems that a third of the folks in Western Canada look upon seccession with favor. My advice. Look upon this idea of a new country as a temporary solution. Western Canadians need to consider joining the United States. After all, it worked for Texas.
Much to the consternation of the main stream media, which seemed to me to be on the edge of its collection seat in anticipation of a disaster, the space shuttle Discovery landed safely.

Monday, August 08, 2005

A "civil rights march" is Atlanta apparently became a hate President Bush rally. It looks like Godwin's Law was violated with cheerful abandon.
So how has it come to pass that people will return to the Moon on rockets made from parts of the space shuttle? Keith Cowing and Frank Sietzen explains in part one and part two of an excerpt from their upcoming book.
The Space Review has a couple of profiles of people not usually associated with space travel, computer game pioneer Richard Garriott and Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci.
Guess what is the favorite reading for Islamic terrorists at Gitmo--after, of course, the Koran?

It's like--well--magic.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Alex Roland and John Pike both have silly things to say about shuttle safety.
"NASA surely is in a trap of their own making," said Alex Roland, a former space-agency historian now with Duke University. "The more closely they examine the orbiter, the more problems they find. We probably have passed the point of diminishing return, but they have no choice but to ride the tiger."

So the guy who wrote history on aeronautics and not space and did so decades ago is suggesting what? That we should not look for problems on the shuttle and all will be well?

Self styled "space expert" John Pike seems to agree.
Longtime space-program commentator John Pike agreed increased monitoring will generate more concerns over safety. "That's simply because ignorance is bliss," he said. "If you don't know about a problem, you're not going to worry a lot."

Yep. Igorance is bliss--until your space ship incenerates because of something you missed.

Allan Turner really needs to be swatted with a rolled up newspaper for even talking to these two bozos.
This is the way submarine disasters are suppose to turn out. Congratulations to the Royal Navy for a job well done.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

It's the 60th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and with it has come the usual spasms of guilt ridden displays. However, in my humble opinion, the destruction of Hiroshima, and three days later, Nagasaki constituted one of the greatest acts of mercy in modern times. The annihilation of those two cities persuaded that Japanese leadership, particularly the Emperor, that further resistance to the allies was futile.

Has that persuasion not happened and had the allies been obliged to invade the Japanese home islands, the carnage that would have ensured would have been unimaginable. Planning for Operation Olympic and Operation Cornet assumed, based on the experience of Okinawa, a million allied casualties and many times that Japanese casualties. The use of poison gas as a weapon of mass destruction was seriously contemplated. The alternative to nuclear bombing, the invasion, would have been the the most horrific blood bath in human history.

So, my suggestion is not to participate in the usual ceremonies that take place this time of year. Instead, drink a solemn toast for the lives of all of those people--allied and Japanese--that were preserved because of the bombing that finally brought the Japanese leadership to sanity.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Malta.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Stratford-upon-Avon.
Aintitcool reveals the cauldron of hate and rage that is actor Tim Robbins.
THIS building—yeah, the right address. Tim’s place. God, I hope they have coffee. I ride the elevator up to the top floor and come out into Revolution’s offices, in a brightly lit and white walls and blonde oak floors space, very New York, very cool and lofty, with maybe twenty people running around, doing…stuff. What do people do in a movie star’s office? Hmm. Why don’t I NOT ask that question. The decorations are great. Movie posters everywhere, some great pictures of Tim and Susan up on the walls. In the bathrooms there are gas masks with delicate floral motifs and George W. Bush toilet paper with his face printed on it.

Imagine the mind of a man whose bathroom makes a political statement.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Dan Peterson offers a long and exhaustive examination of Intelligent Design theory. I'd like to see a similer response by an opponent refuting it with argument and evidence.
Bob Novak stomped off the set on one of those tiresome CNN yell fests, after using a perfectly descriptive word of what being in the same room with James Carville is like. The wonder if not that Novak did it, but rather that he hadn't done it years ago.
Oddly enough, hordes of people did not flee America for Canada after President Bush got reelected.
Toby Condliffe, who heads the Canadian chapter of Democrats Abroad, did have an explanation of sorts.

"I can only assume the Americans who checked out the Web site subsequently checked out our winter temperatures and further took note that the National Hockey League was being locked out and had second thoughts," he told Reuters.

Or maybe it was the Stalinist health care system.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Pisa.
Just when I think that it is not possible for the Left to behave more despicably, something like this proves me wrong.
Was Paul Hackett's defeat in the special election in Ohio really a victory as Democrats are supposing? Eric Pfeiffer begs to disagree. I'm with Pfeiffer on this. No matter his radical left views, Hackett ran as a Republican, with a commercial that implied that President Bush (whom Hackett once called a "son of a bitch") has endorsed him, against a weak candidate. Nevertheless, he lost.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Verona.
Rand Simberg starts another argument about Intelligent Design. For those who don't know, Intelligent Design suggests that the processes of evolution have been in some fashion "guided" by a superior intelligent. Call it "God" if you like. This has caused a great deal of controversy, as one might imagine. Some people think that Intelligent Design is just a sneaky way of pushing creationism. I'm not sure that is correct. I also think that Rand's assertion that Intelligent Design is not science because it can't be disproven, because a scientific theory cannot be proven, only disproven, is a bit lame. As one of the folks leaving comments state, lots of phenomenon have been proven. It's my impression that a lot of people are just automatically dismissing Intelligent Design without actually examining it closely.

Now, do I think that Intelligent Design is science? I'm not sure. I believe in God and therefore am willing to accept Him as a first cause or even as a tinkerer in the ongoing development of the universe. But is there scientific evidence to support that? I'll watch the debate and perhaps, some day, come to my own conclusions.
I wonder how this became a criminal case. Now, in my humble opinion, the girl in question needs a good dose of a belt, but to be charged with a felony? I think not.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Another Goldwater has arisen in Arizona, the nephew of the man who lost the 1964 election, but wound up winning the future. Will there be a President Goldwater elected in 2016 or so? It's something that the grand old man would have found delicious.
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Helsinki.
Now, I'm in favor of naming celestial bodies after characters from Greek and Roman myths. I have, after all, proposed Persephone for the newly discovered 10th Planet. But I might draw the line at naming the planet after a fictional character from TV who is supposed to be a character from Greek myth.
Although the discoverers don't intend to reveal the name until the IAU renders its decision, they do admit that they're informally calling the object "Xena," as in "The Warrior Princess" of syndicated TV fame.

Sort of like calling a space ship the James T. Kirk.
Is Paul Hackett, candidate for Congress, John Kerry Jr.? Polipundit reallys seems to think so.
Well, it's not a Rice University speech, but the President did talk about space here and here.
Apparently the Dems think that it's George Bush's fault that kids are too fat.
So, it looks like people can be starved and dehyrdated to death in Britain even if they state that they don't want to be. Is this the inevitable consquence of the culture of death that helped to do in Terri Schiavo, a function of socialized medicine, or both?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Steven Squyres, the principal investigator for the Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, has a new book out:
Latest in a series of travel pieces, A History Lovers Guide to Chartres.
The reaction of Kennedy, Dodd, et al to the Bolton appointment can be summed up as, "He can't do that!"

Well, he just did.
Jeff Foust reviews Magnificent Desolation, Tom Hanks' IMAX film about the Apollo Moon landings.