Friday, June 30, 2006

Previously we've heard that Superman was either Jesus Christ (i.e. savior of humanity) or George W, Bush (i.e. fighting evil without asking for consensus.) Now he may have to pass John Kerry's international test. It's a little bit pernicious that the Man of Steel, the iconic American hero now has to suck up to the French and other foriegners and not be for the "American way."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

What if Santa Ana died at the Alamo and Davy Crockett survived?
Rand Simberg has some interesting thoughts on the even of the flight of the space shuttle Discovery. My one beef is the last paragraph:
Those who fear to risk the lives of willing, volunteer astronauts are really saying that there is nothing to be done in space that is worth the risk. This is, of course, a symptom of the fact that even with the announcement of the president’s new policy two and a half years ago, we still have never really had a national debate, or decided what we’re trying to accomplish on the high frontier. Until we do, decisions will continue to be driven by pork, politics, and emotion that have little to do with actually becoming a spacefaring nation, the “mission” will continue to not be as important as those who are asked to carry it out, and we will continue to make little progress, at great cost, with our federal space program.

The problem is that "what we're trying to accomplish" depends on who one asks. For some it is pork, politics, and emotion. For others it's commercial development. For others it is science and exploration. These (except for the first three) are valid things to accomplish. But I take my guidance from Dr. Hawking in that ultimately the thing to be accomplished is the spreading of humankind across the Solar System and ultimately the stars, to ensure our survival at least until the death of the universe.
Jim Baen: RIP.
A second attempt to gut NASA exploration funding,offered Reps. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., to take $476 million from Mars exploration and shift it to local law enforcement grants failed Wednesday by a 236-185 vote. The breakdown of the roll call, like the one for the Frank amendment, shows bipartisan support and opposition to space exploration.

One of the interesting things that jumped out at me was that Rep Pence voted against both amendments. Pence is one of the leaders of the conservative House Study Committee that proposed a budget that would have eliminated NASA's plans for exploring the Moon and planets. An inconsistency? Or maybe Pence has gotten his mind right?

Addendum: Jeff Foust reminds me (see comments) that neither amendment would have actually reduced spending, merely shifted money around. Perhaps not an incentive for Pence to vote for either amendment.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Tau Zero Foundation has been announced for "supporting the advances in science, technology and education that may one day enable us to reach the stars." I.e. interstellar flight.

The name comes from the famous Poul Anderson novel by the same name. It's one of my favorites, so much so that when I was in Stockholm a couple of decades ago I made a point to visit the sculpture garden that is mentioned in the first chapter.
Captain Ed points out, rather drolly, that the Democrats want American forces out of Iraq even faster than the insurgents.
Looks like the idea of cooperation with the Chinese in space hit a snag.
THE TREASURY DEPT. SAID the Chinese space companies sanctioned have provided missile guidance technology to Iranian programs such as 800-1,000-mi.-range upgraded Shahab-3 ballistic missiles. That weapon is capable of striking southeastern Europe and most areas of the Middle East. The Shahab-3 is believed to be nuclear-capable.

The companies cited by the U.S. government in the asset freeze are specifically accused of aiding the Iranian contractors that develop the Shahab-3 and other shorter range missiles capable of carrying chemical or nuclear weapons.

The tone of the article seems to lay the blame on the Bush Administration for bringing this up. Of course, looking at it another way, if the Chinese were serious about space cooperation, they could stop proving weapons technology to the Iranians,.
Looks like a group of liberal Democrats want to cancel the Vision for Space Exploration. Depressingly, it's for the same excuses that the far left have used for decades to attack space exploration.
Opponents of the Mars mission says it's too expensive and that unmanned space travel produces better science per dollar spent. Others say there are more pressing needs here on Earth.

"It's a complete and total waste of money," said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. "The manned shot to Mars is a pure boondoggle."

As for "unmanned space travel produces better science per dollar spent", The Royal Astronatical Society dealt with that canard months ago. As for "pressing needs here on Earth", traditionally that means social programs of dubious usefullness.

Addendum: I just listened to the debate, which ended about 3:50 PM Eastern. The crux of the argument appears to be that the Frank Amendment was so vaguely written that it would not only cancel any sort of "expedition to Mars", but much of NASA. Frank denied this, of course, but his protestations do not seem to have convinced many people.

Addendum 2: The amendment went down to defeat, 272 to 146.

Addendum 3: Here's a break down of the vote. Even though the amendment came from Frank (and was supported on the floor only by Obey) both the nay and aye votes were bipartisan. Considering the confusion during the floor debate over what the amendment really meant, one wonders how many folks actually knew what they were voting for or against.
Superman as George W. Bush (who doesn't ask the UN's permission to save the world)? Superman as Christ? Well, how interesting.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The US Senate Committee on the Emvironment and Public Works comments on the inconvenient lies in Algore's film An Inconvenient Truth.
Rush Limbaugh just wondered, "I'm still trying to figure out how Bob Dole's luggage got on my airplane."
Jim Pinkerton invokes both Steven Hawking and Edmund Burke to call for the spread of humanity beyond the Earth.

Monday, June 26, 2006

If this represents Russian attitudes of relationships between the sexes (i.e. bad behavior on the man's part is the woman's fault), then I certainly would not want to be on any long term Russian space missions.
Looks like Ward Churchill is finally getting the Royal Order of the Boot.
J. K. Rowling has announced that in book seven of her Harry Potter series, at least two charecters will die.
It could well be that once brain computer interface technology is perfected that the idea that we all once worked our computers with a mouse and keyboard will be considered just a little bit quaint.
Detecting a cancer early is often the fine line that seperates surviving the disease and a lingering, horrible death. Breast thermography is an old/new way of doing this.
A person calling him/herself "Bulgron at Abork", truly does not like me.
Apparently, Valley of the Wolves, a Turkish made anti American, anti Semitic film starring Gary Busey as a Jewish doctor who excises organs from live Iraqi prisoners is being shown at an Islamic film festival in San Francisco. Here is what I said about this screed some months ago.
So it's been two years since the first flight of SpaceShipOne and there is still no commercial space flight industry. Have patience, says Jeff Foust.
Recently some of the folks from the hit TV show 24 attended a conference with some real counter terrorism folks to discuss how terrorism is dealt with in fiction and in reality.

Addendum: More from Tim Carney.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

2006 was suppose to be the year the Democrats take the House and Senate and make way for taking back the White House in 2008. In fact this off year election may be a disaster for the Democrats. If so, I predict Howard Dean takes the fall. And this will drive his cult-like followers nuts.
Michelle Malkin remembers the Khobar Towers, ten years ago today.
John Murtha provides more proof that the anti war far left is not only wrong and evil, but completely insane.
While the Left was braying about the supposed lack of WMDs in Iraq, the Bush Administration knew all along that they were there. But the White House chose the remain silent. Why was that?
If the United States were to have announced WMD finds right away, it could have told terrorists (including those from al-Qaeda) where to look to locate chemical weapons. This would have placed troops at risk – for a marginal gain in public relations. A successful al-Qaeda chemical attack would have been a huge boost for their propaganda efforts as well, enabling them to get recruits and support (many people want to back a winner), and it would have caused a decline in American morale in Iraq and on the home front.

Of course let us not hold our breaths waiting for those same people on the Left to say, "Gee, how embaressing for us. I guess we were wrong."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

It appears that the main stream media have actually become aware of the air mail model that helped nurture aviation and how it's being applied, through the COTS program, to enable commercial space travel.
It took help from the U.S. Postal Service to jump-start the nation's commercial aviation industry in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin thinks a little push from government could do the same for the commercial space industry in the next several years.

The U.S. space agency is sponsoring a competition in which winning companies will get $500 million in seed money to develop space vehicles that NASA will never design, build or own. Like a U-Haul truck rental, NASA instead will merely lease them on a per-trip basis for sending cargo and eventually crew to the international space station.

The arrangement is unprecedented in the nearly 50-year history of the space agency, which traditionally oversees the development and construction of its own space vehicles instead of purchasing trips from private companies. NASA will pay out the money incrementally for each milestone achieved in the vehicles' development. After that, the company or companies who win the competition will have to finance the vehicles on their own.

Seven years ago, I copublished a piece in the Weekly Standard's July 26th, 1999 issue (which the reader can summon up if he or she is a subscriber to that esteemed magazine) that hit the space program as it existed then pretty hard. It read, it part:
Imagine now a federal space policy that actually encouraged free enterprise. Imagine a space platform launched into orbit by privately operated vehicles and Americans transported to and from the platform on those same vehicles. Technically this is not very radical stuff 40 years after humans first flew in space.

Economically, it would be revolutionary. Just as contracts to carry the mail anchored the fledgling airlines of the early part of this century, government contracts could anchor the launch industry of the next. Free enterprise with modest government support could mean the difference between the failed space program we have now and the great space explorations of tomorrow.

The lesson, gentle readers, is not that Mike Griffin read the piece and said, "Ah ha!" I have no knowledge of that ever happening. The lesson is that if one has a sensible idea and pushes it long and hard enough, it might become reality some day.

Friday, June 23, 2006

President Bush has issued an executive order that the federal government shall not steal private property in order to enrich other private entities as the infamous Kelo Decision permits. It's a sad commentary that such an order is even necessary and that no Democrat would ever issue it.
In the world as depicted by Hollywood, businessmen are a greater threat and are more evil than terrorists.
More about SpaceDev's Dreamchaser.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Alan Boyle reports on Spaceship Dreams get real.
Cindy Sheehan plays to go on a hunger strike to force a withdraw from Iraq. At the risk of being all Ann Coulterish, I'd like to point out that these things work only if enough people care whether the hunger striker starves or not.
Star Trek, staring Matt Damon as Captain James T. Kirk? Fascinating, but can Damon over act?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Senator Santorum and Rep. Hoekstra just announced at a press conference that there's a declassified report that states that WMDs were found in Iraq after all in the form of five hundred artillery shells with gas loaded in them. And this happened just on the day that the Cut and Run Club in the Senate were pushing for various plans to--well--cut and run.

Addendum: More from Captain Ed. And more from Professor Reynolds.
Somehow I am not surprised that Karl Marx was a racist, but Charles Dickens?
Before Anne Boleyn, there was her big sister Mary, whose relationship with King Henry VIII ended on a far happier note. Natalie Portman will play Anne and Eric Bana will play the King in The Other Boleyn Girl.
Looks like Pfc. Thomas Lowell Tucker and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca were multilated beyond all recognition. Time to redouble efforts to eradicate the terrorists and bring justice to those who did this thing? Not according to the Cut and Run Club in the Democratic Party.
Democrats said yesterday that the United States must start "redeploying" troops from Iraq, calling the recovery of the mutilated bodies of two U.S. soldiers a "grim reminder" of why withdrawal should begin soon.

Not only is the sentiment despicable, dishonorable, and more than a little bit depraved, but it teaches the enemy the lesson they learned in Vietnam, Beruit, and Somalia. Hurt the Americans enough and they'll fold. Folding only invites more hurt.

Addendum: John Podhoretz has some more thoughts.
Until now, it has been possible for Murtha and others to say their consuming interest in the alleged misconduct of U.S. forces is a fearless effort to get at the truth of what is going on in Iraq. They claim to speak on behalf of the servicemen and women who are, they believe, fighting in a pointless and useless war.

And even as they do so, they often can't help but draw a complete moral equivalence between the actions of U.S. forces in Iraq and the conduct of the insurgent terrorists. Consider these sentences, published yesterday by the liberal blogger Jeralyn Merritt: "It's hard to express the sinking feeling this news brings. What can you say to the families of these young men to help reduce their grief? When does it end? Torture is disgraceful. But the United States does not have clean hands."

Before word came that the two Americans of blessed memory were possibly beheaded, the ur-blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote that he prayed for the safety of our soldiers but wondered how America could say it would be wrong for the insurgents to torture our guys when we supposedly torture their guys.

What will such people say about the actions of the military men and women who must do their jobs now in the wake of the unspeakable murders of Tucker and Menchaca?

Will this increasingly passionate refusal to draw distinctions between the actions of Americans at arms and the behavior of Islamofascist monsters continue?

Will they show support for our troops at the moment they most need it - real support, as opposed to crocodile tears and the displays of profound disrespect for their mission? Or will they continue to use any means possible - including harsh judgments of the horrifying split-second choices made by young men in a dangerous situation who have put their lives on the line for the rest of us - to get at the president whom Sullivan, with his typical tone of reserved understatement, yesterday called "shallow, monstrous, weak and petty"?

Will the news media treat our men and women at arms well at such a time by giving them the benefit of the doubt, or will they make another choice?

We shall see whether "I support the troops" is a phrase that means something.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A reader, Steve Johnson, passes along the following sent by a lady named Louise Blum that every member of the Cut and Run Club needs to read:

The other day, my nine year old son wanted to know why we were atwar... My husband looked at our son and then looked at me. My husband and I were in the Army during the Gulf War and we would be honored to serve and defend our country again today. I knew that my husband would give him a good explanation.

My husband thought for a few minutes and then told my son to go stand in our front living room window.

He said, "Son, stand there and tell me what you see?"

"I see trees and cars and our neighbors' houses," he replied.

"OK, now I want you to pretend that our house and our yard is the United States of America and you are President Bush."

Our son giggled and said, "OK."

"Now, son, I want you to look out the window and pretend that every house and yard on this block is a different country," my husband said.

"OK Dad, I'm pretending."

"Now I want you to stand there and look out the window and pretend you see Saddam come out of his house with his wife, he has her by the hair and is hitting her. You see her bleeding and crying. He hits her in the face, he throws her on the ground, then he starts to kick her to death. Their children run out and are afraid to stop him, they are screaming and crying, they are watching this but do nothing because they are kids and they are afraid of their father. You see all of this, son.... what do you do?"


"What do you do, son?"

"I'd call the police, Dad."

"OK. Pretend that the police are the United Nations. They take your call. They listen to what you know and saw but they refuse to help. What do you do then, son?"

"Dad....... but the police are supposed to help!" My son starts to whine.

"They don't want to, son, because they say that it is not their place or your place to get involved and that you should stay out of it," my husband says.

"But, Dad... he killed her!!" My son exclaims.

"I know he did... but the police tell you to stay out of it. Now I want you to look out that window and pretend you see our neighbor who you're pretending is Saddam turn around and do the same thing to his children."

"Daddy... he kills them?"

"Yes, son, he does. What do you do?"

"Well, if the police don't want to help, I will go and ask my next door neighbor to help me stop him," our son says.

"Son, our next door neighbor sees what is happening and refuses to get involved as well. He refuses to open the door and help you stop him," my husband says.

"But Dad, I NEED help!!! I can't stop him by myself!!"

"WHAT DO YOU DO, SON?" Our sons starts to cry. "OK, no one wants to help you, the man across the street saw you ask for help and saw that no one would help you stop him. He stands taller and puffs out his chest. Guess what he does next, son?"

"What, Daddy?"

"He walks across the street to the old lady's house and breaks down her door and drags her out, steals all her stuff and sets her house on fire and then... he kills her. He turns around and sees you standing in the window and laughs at you. WHAT DO YOU DO?"


"WHAT DO YOU DO?" Our son is crying and he looks down and he whispers, "I'd close the blinds, Daddy."

My husband looks at our son with tears in his eyes and asks him. "Why?"

"Because, Daddy... the police are supposed to help people who need them... and they won't help... You always said neighbors are supposed to HELP neighbors, but they won't help either... they won't help me stop him...I'm afraid.... I can't do it by myself, Daddy ...... I can't look out my window and just watch him do all these terrible things and and do nothing.. so ..... I'm just going to close the blinds ... so I can't see what he's doing . And I'm going to pretend that it is not happening."

I start to cry. My husband looks at our nine year old son standing in the window, looking pitiful and ashamed at his answers to my husband's questions.

He says...."Son....."

"Yes, Daddy?"

"Open the blinds, because that man...... he's at your front door..."WHAT DO YOU DO?"

My son looks at his father, anger and defiance in his eyes. He balls up his tiny fists and looks his father square in the eyes, and without hesitation he says, "I DEFEND MY FAMILY DAD!!! I'M NOT GONNA LET HIM HURT MOMMY OR MY SISTER, DAD!!! I'M GONNA FIGHT HIM, DAD, I'M GONNA FIGHT HIIM!!!!!"

I see a tear roll down my husband's cheek and he grabs our son to his chest and hugs him tight, and says.... "It's too late to fight him, he's too strong, and he's already at YOUR front door, son... you should have stopped him BEFORE he killed his wife, and his children, and the old lady across the way. You have to do what's right, even if you have to do it alone, before it's too late," my husband whispers. "THAT scenario I just gave you is WHY we are at war with Iraq When good men stand by and let evil happen, son, THAT is the greatest mistake, believing that the atrocities in the world won't affect them. "YOU MUST NEVER BE AFRAID TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT! EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO DO IT ALONE! BE PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN! BE PROUD OF OUR TROOPS!! SUPPORT
Jim Pinkerton enters the mind of Newt Gingrich, always a fascinating place.
Alan Dowd describes the current state of missile defense. Missile defense may well get a real world test, thanks to the mad man in North Korea.

Aren't we now happy that we did not listen to the appeasers on the left and actually started to deployed missile defense? Especially you folks in California, now in the direct bullseye.

Monday, June 19, 2006

An in depth analysis of the risk evaluation that went into the decision to fly Discovery on July 1st.

Addendum: Rand Simberg has some further thoughts about risk analysis and the decision to fly Discovery.
Canadian opinion seems to be split on Dr. Hawkings call for space colonies.
There's another report of a Chinese manned lunar effort, this time with a 2024 landing date.
It seems that the new Superman movie will feature Virgin Galactic's upcoming space ship, with Sir Richard Branson and Lois Lane on board. (Warning: Some spoilers in the story.)
Is Islam compatible with capitalism? Certainly the Islamofascists violently disagree. But they would be contradicted by a person they might find difficult to refute.
Indeed, when Prophet Muhammad was asked to fix the prices in the market because some merchants were selling goods too dearly, he refused and said, "only Allah governs the market." It wouldn't be far-fetched to see a parallel here with Adam Smith's "invisible hand." The Prophet also has many sayings cherishing trade, profit-making, and beauties of life. "Muhammad," as Maxime Rodinson put it simply, "was not a socialist."

In medieval times, Muslims were the most successful merchants on the planet.
The conceptual openness of Islam towards business was one of the important reasons for the splendor of medieval Muslim civilization. The Islamic world was at the heart of global trade routes and Muslim traders took advantage of this quite successfully. They even laid the foundations of some aspects of modern banking: Instead of carrying heavy and easily-stolen gold, medieval Muslim traders used paper checks. This innovation in credit transfer would be emulated and transferred to Europe by the Crusaders, particularly the Knights Templar.

So central was trade to Muslim civilization that its very decline may be attributed to changes in the pattern of global trade. When Vasco de Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope in November 1497 -- thanks in part to the astrolabe, invented by Muslims -- he opened a new chapter in world history, one in which global trade would shift from the Middle East and the Mediterranean to the oceans. Consequently the Arabic Middle East, which had been scorched by the Mongols two centuries before and could have never recovered anyway, entered deadly stagnation. The Ottoman Empire would excel for a few more centuries, but decline was inevitable. The loss of trade also meant the end of cosmopolitanism; this was followed by the rise of religious bigotry. While the early commentators of the Koran cherished trade and wealth as God's bounties, late Medieval Islamic literature began to emphasize extreme asceticism.

Indeed. I always like to paraphrase an old sixties slogan, updated to modern realities. "Make money, not war."
Apparently Amazon is now selling groceries. Soon there will be no reason to leave the house:
Apparently another far left documentary is about to come out that suggests that Club Gitmo is a Nazi concentration camp, except of course for the beatings, starvation, tatoos, and ultimate exterminations.
Upon reaching Guantanamo they’re numbered like dogs and kept in outdoor metal fence cages. Guards holler at them if they talk or try covering from the sun. United States soldiers apply witch-hunt interrogation tactics. The nonsense logic of the questions would be hysterical under other circumstances. Aside from not being starved to death, tattooed with a prisoner number, worked to death, and thrown into gas showers, it sure feels like a Nazi concentration camp.

I was filled sadness, eyes brimming with tears at one point. To say I’m ashamed by my country is a vast understatement. I wish I could fall to my knees before the former prisoners, apologize, and beg forgiveness.

Between the superb United 93 and this film, a wretched portrait of our times is painted using colors of blind hate. The Road to Guantanamo is the Schindler’s List of our decade and I implore every American to see it.

The mind boggles.
Story Musgrave: Philosopher, poet, and astronaut.
Can space exploration be sold like a commercial product? Maybe. Maybe not.
What is it about space that makes it unique, worthwhile, and valuable? One suspects that, at the end of the day, it’s more than just communications and navigation. There is something innate about space that captures the imaginations of so many people: figuring out what that is and how to capitalize on it—be it the exploration of new worlds or enabling more people to go into space themselves, to offer two examples—seems a higher priority in the near term than crafting advertising campaigns.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Here's proof from the Wall Street Journal Editorial Report that despite widespread support for returning to the Moon and so on and the nascent success of the commercial space sector, the giggle factor concerning colonizing space is not quite dead:
Gigot: Winners and losers, picks and pans, "Hits & Misses." It's our way of calling attention to the best and the worst of the week. Item one: Famed scientist Stephen Hawking says the end is near. But don't worry, he has a plan. Dan?

Henninger: He does have a plan. Stephen Hawking, the author of "A Brief History of Time," showed up in Hong Kong earlier this week, and said the end is near from perhaps a nuclear war, what he called sudden global warming.

Gigot: The end of the world.

Henninger: Right. And it's coming. And his suggestion is that we immediately plan to colonize the moon and Mars--which he admitted, he said, we won't find anywhere as nice as Earth unless we go to another star system. Now that's his opinion. I have seen pictures of the surface of the moon. And personally I think I'm going to stay right here on Earth and try to tough it out.

Gigot: I don't know, Dan. Where do I go to buy a ticket?

Of course, no one is suggesting that Dan Henninger or anyone else would be forced to move to the Moon.
Mike Griffin's decision to certify the shuttle Discovery ready for launch is either the gutsiest ever taken or the most foolish, depending on the outcome. My suspicion is that, given the policy that the shuttle will be flown to complete the International Space Station (one which I disagree with), the decision is the correct one. One can spend years and billions trying to make the shuttle safe, but ultimately the only way it can be completely safe is if it never flies again. And that is, apparently, not an option.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Day of Decision: The Battle of San Jacinto.
Jon Goff displays more than a little confusion between what is pork and what is spending that he just doesn't like.
I find it deeply amusing seeing how some people who support the ESAS approach to returning to the Moon tend to get so hopping mad over congressional earmarks. The logic goes that all of these earmarks set aside for pet projects of various congresscritters takes money away from real space exploration and real space science.

I suppose the implication here is that Jon finds the idea silly. He does, however, agrees that it is valid.
I guess I actually agree with that logic. Earmarks for the most part are a bunch of wasteful pork projects that do nothing to aid in the actual exploration and development of space.

Next, Jon wanders into the fever swamps.
The problem is that most of the ESAS implementation so far has been little better than overglorified earmarks.

Sorry, but no. Earmarks are pet projects tucked into spending bills by members of Congress, usually in secret, that benefits their specific districts, was not requested by the department or agency involved, and does not get examined in the regular appropriations process. ESAS, whatever one thinks about it, was requested by the President, authorized by the Congress, and has undergone the regular appropriations process out in the open.

Jon wanders even further into error.
What else can you call it when NASA refuses to get out of the Earth-to-Orbit transportation business, and instead gives billions of dollars to ATK and the likes to build a launch vehicle based on an oversized bottle rocket?

The primary purpose of the "oversized bottle rocket" is to take men to the Moon. It can also resupply the International Space Station, but will do so only if the Commercial Orbital Transportation System program fails or is delayed. Not once does Jon mention COTS, an effort to outsource Earth to orbit transportation to the private sector. I'm suprised Jon has forgotten that it exists in his zeal to lash out.
Even hardcore supporters of the current ESAS approach have had to fall back to arguments about the "political realities" of why we need to blow several billion developing Shuttle Derived vehicles. That my friend is an earmark. A political giveaway to congresscritters whose votes are important to getting NASA funding that really have nothing to do with creating a sustainable off-world economy that helps foster the exploration and settlement of space.

Jon doesn't enlighten us as to who is making that argument. The reason the NASA return to the Moon program is being done in house, as it were, is that the commercial sector cannot manage it in any rational time frame. Burt Rutan, no fan of ESAS, has stated that even he, the most successful space entrepeneur in history (for having actually launched men into space) has no idea how he or anyone else in the commercial sector could get to the Moon.

Jon is wrong that the Ares 1 and Ares 5 are "shuttle derived." Having taken a look at the economics, NASA engineers are using a modern version of the J2, the rocket engine that helped take men to the Moon the last time, rather that the SSME.
Then there's this whole garbage about pulling most of the RLEP program over to MSFC. It's so obvious that this was entirely politically motivated, and had nothing to do with the actual succesful implementation of the program. It's little more than yet another earmark for Alabama.

As opposed to an "earmark" to California? Pete Wordan, director of NASA Ames, is taking the decision in stride, vowing to concentrate on ultra cheap space probes (i.e. 50 million or less.) I await with great interests how that effort will go.
In both cases, NASA had much more cost effective alternatives, that would have actually been much more effective at accomplishing their actual goals, but they chose the route of political least resistance.

What alternatives? No one has made a convincing case that there were "more cost effective" alternatives, without disadvantages and trade offs that make them less appealing than the current one. What Jon and others like to do, when they actually offer an alternative, is to articulate a vague idea and then hand wave away any drawbacks to the idea. Of course many who hate ESAS don't even do that. They just take shots at the idea and when asked for the alternative, get angry.
So, when I hear people moaning about earmarks on one hand, but on the other loudly championing big, wasteful, NASA-run projects whose sole purpose is to spread pork in various congressional districts (ie to meet "political realities"), I have a hard time taking them very seriously.

What can't be taken seriously is a rant that doesn't seem to come from the same physical universe that the rest of us live in.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Speaking of a liberal who has not drunk the pacifist, appeasement koolaid, Joe Lieberman may have to leave the Democratic Party. That's a pity, because such a thing would not have been in the realm of imagination when people like JFK and Harry Truman were alive. But back then, Democrats believed in fighting the enemies of this country.

Now, interestingly enough, Lieberman might well win his seat back as an independent. If he did, would he really be inclined to vote with the party that essentially ran him out? There would be lots of advantage for Lieberman to vote with the GOP, not the least of which would be a committee chairmanship. It would be funny as hell if the fanatics made Joe Lieberman for all intents and purposes a Republican.
My old Deaniac friend, Rich, who is going more and more around the bend, has a post which illustrates the problem the far left has in viewing the world and the current War on Terror.
I am puzzled.

I am puzzled that people I know, who seem otherwise well informed and reasonable don't see what I see when I look at Iraq, when I look at George W. Bush, when I look at the state of the United States, its government, and its role in the world.

It's not education, because many of them are as well educated as I. It's not age, or region, or religion (although all those are contributing factors.)

I am circling in on the idea that where we part company, ultimately, is in our view of the United States. They see it as a place, and I see it as an idea.

Sorry, but that's false. Rich has fallen into the arrogance of the Left by assuming that his view of the world comes from a morally superior place. America as an idea instead of America as a country like any other. The problem is that it's the complete opposite. Left wingers regard America as simply another country, not better than--say--France or India, and often worse. The rest of us believe in something called American exceptionalism, the idea that America is not only a country, but a light of civilization and freedom that other nations should (and often do) emmulate.
If you think of the United States as a place, 50 states and a few odd territories mostly on the continent of North America, with about 250 million residents, limited but bountiful resources, then an attack on that place becomes of primary importance, worth almost anything to defend against or fight back to prevent recurrence. The Bush administration and neo-con wing of the Republican Party plays to "America as Place" to justify its actions: war in Afghanistan, Patriot Act, war in Iraq, holding people without either status as a criminal or a prisoner of war. All are justified as part of protecting "America as a place."

This does not make any sense. The attack of 9/11 was not just an attack on a place, but on the idea of civilization and freedom that makes that place called America special. The war being waged to prevent a reoccurance of that attack, and indeed to rid the world of terrorism, is being fought by the traditional rules of warfare. These are justified because the enemy has to be defeated, something a liberal doesn't understand.
On the other hand, if you, as I do, see the United States as an idea, then these actions become not only unjustified but counter to protecting our country. United States as idea believes that wherever Americans live by the principles and laws of our nation, beginning with those ideas embodied in our Constitution and reflected in the Declaration of Independence, that place is America, whether those people are in Kansas or on the Moon. To the extent that anyone acts contrary to those ideas, or works to prevent Americans from living by those principles, those are the enemies of our nation, no matter whether they live in a cave in Afghanistan or a condo in New York City or government owned housing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

I wonder what principles and laws are those that prevent America from waging war to defend itself. Rich doesn't say. Lincoln jailed people who opposed his efforts to reunite the Union by force. FDR threw an entire population of Americans into camps, based on the supposition that their ethnic background made them security risks. Mass air bombing of populations and summary execution of enemy combatants caught without uniforms were considered the norm in wars of the past, tolerated by Presidents considered great by history. The rules of the War on Terror are much kinder and gentler than those by which World War Two and the Civil War were fought. Yet even this seems to rich (no pun intended) for Mr. Kolker's blood.

Three thousand innocents were murdered that morning of 9/11. It was not the first terrorist attack. We were at war throughout the Clinton years, from the first attack on the World Trade Center to the attack on the USS Cole. The Left just refused to acknowledge it. There exist a group of barbarians who labor tirelessly to do it (and worse) again. But Rich, along with the rest of the Far Left, wants to ignore these real inconvenient facts. They want to make us naked onto our enemies, out of some idea that "America as an idea" is a pacifist nation, cowering in fear before an enemy that wants every person who calls himself American dead.

And that is why the Far Left must never be allowed to be in the position to put it's ideas into practice. The price in American blood and freedom would be too high.
Would it not be wonderful if John Murtha's political career were to end in failure this November? It could happen.
Spaceward Foundation Releases Rules for 2007 Telerobotic Challenge
30 day public comment period begins June 16, 2006

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA, June 16, 2006 - The Spaceward Foundation today announced public availability of the first draft of the 2007 Telerobotic Construction Challenge rules.

The draft of the rules can be found at This announcement begins the 30 day public comment period in which suggestions will be taken from potential contestants as well as the general public. Feedback on the rules should be sent to "We are following the same process with these rules that we did for the Space Elevator Games in 2005 (see" Said Ben Shelef, Founder of The Spaceward Foundation. "This public comment window allows us to tap the combined knowledge of a wide range of experts in order to make sure we put together the best possible program for the challenge."

To promote the event and begin discussions with the robotic community, the Spaceward Foundation will be attending the IROC Robogames being held June 16, 17, and 18 in San Francisco at Fort Mason. ( "In order to get feedback from the experts, we are going to one of the premier robotics event in the world" said Shelef. Copies of the rules and general information on the challenge will be available there for attendees.

The Telerobotic Construction Challenge is a new competition with $250,000 in prize purses provided by NASA?s Centennial Challenges program. It has the potential to significantly impact the nation?s space exploration program by developing technologies enabling semi-autonomous robots to perform complex construction tasks with minimal human intervention. The competition will be conducted over two years starting in August 2007

About NASA's Centennial Challenges:

NASA’s Centennial Challenges promotes technical innovation through a novel program of prize competitions. It is designed to tap the nation’s ingenuity to make revolutionary advances to support the Vision for Space Exploration and NASA goals. NASA?s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate manages the program.

About Spaceward:

The Spaceward Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization dedicated to furthering the cause of space access in educational curriculums and the public. For more information on the Spaceward Foundation, visit


Spaceward Foundation, Mountain View, Calif.
For an HTML version of this release see:

Media contacts:

Marc Schwager,
Ben Shelef,
Looks like Iraq is not Vietnam after all, nor is Watergate going to happen again any time soon. But much as I respect Michael Barone as a political analyist, I think he may be a little optimistic about he assertion that the Left will wise up about those facts.
Dick Whittington: The Man Behind the Legend.

Here's a cool retelling of the story, suitable for young people:
A Sports Bra that also monitors ones heart rate. I believe that a man's shirt that does the same thing is also in development.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Looks like the North Dakota Board of Higher Education is going to sue the NCAA over the dispute over the University of North Dakota's use of the "Fighting Souix" nickname for its sports team.
The NCAA has concluded that the Fighting Sioux nickname and Indian head logo are hostile and abusive to American Indians. UND may not use them during NCAA postseason tournaments, and it may not host a tournament if it continues using them, the NCAA has said.

To my knowledge, the NCAA executive committee that decided this has no American Indian members or even members who know American Indians. Most American Indians I've heard find the idea of sports teams, with the tradition of team spirit, agressiveness, and honor, being named after their various nations to be rather flattering. Sort of like how the Irish view Norte Dame.
Bernie Sanders, the mad cap Congressman from Vermont who actually admits to being a socialist (unlike most representatives from the Democratic party who are socialist but do not admit it), is mad as hell about the "nuts on right wing radio." And he has a solution.
"If you have a right-wing station in your community, you've got to go up to those people and say, 'You've got to give us alternative points of view,'" he stated. "If you have a newspaper in your community that does not allow columnists from a progressive perspective, you've got to go challenge those people."

Sanders added that liberals in the audience should tell people in the media "that you're prepared to speak out against those advertisers who are supporting right-wing stations unless other points of view can be heard."

Well, goodness. I guess the fact that no one listens to Air America is the result of some right wing plot and not that their programming is as tedious as one of Bernie's speeches. And if there is a newspaper in America that doesn't allow "columnists from a progressive perspective" then I have not found one. There are plenty where there's a dearth of opinion from any other perspective, however.
Another space film by Steven Spielberg. If done well, I might forgive him for Munich.

Of course, Indy 4 might suffice as well.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tim Hildebrandt, one of the famous brothers Hldebrandt whose art work was inspired by Tolkien, as well as other fantasy and science fiction icons, has died. Here's a sample of their work, which includes some magnificent looking 9/11 art.
Michael Ledeen says that it's been a bad week for the mad mullahs of Iran, not the least of it being in the World Cup.
Algore has baldly called people who disagree with him on the subject of climate change as being the moral equivilent of Holocaust deniers. They are actually scientists, some of whom are not intimidated from speaking out.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

So if Iraq is Vietnam, does that mean that Hillary is Muskie and Kerry is McGovern?
Stephen Hawkins says we must spread out into space to ensure our survival. Who am I to dispute a man of such proven intellect.
Remmber this, all those who think we are losing in Iraq. President Bust can visit Baghdad as he wills, publicly. None of the terrorist leaders can.

Addendum: Rand Simberg finds a reaction by one of the Kos Kids that must be read to be believed.
The sound you are hearing is that of Bush haters everywhere screaming with rage. Karl Rove will not be indicted.

Byron York has more.
THis bit of news about a Russian lunar effort is creating a little bit of hub bub. However, like a lot of other Russian schemes, it seems to me to depend on getting a hold of a lot of other peoples' money. We'll see.

Still, a three way lunar race would be entertaining.

Addendum: Rand Simberg seems to be a little confused, comparing NASA to Vlad Putin's Russia. There is a difference, of course, as sensible people realize.

Monday, June 12, 2006

This is the sort of news I have been waiting for all of my life. Now, if I can convince my doctor that Guinness cuts down on hypertension, I shall be a happy man indeed.
Another member of Congress who hates pork in theory but loves it in practice.
More evidence that Hillary Clinton's inevitable rise to become Goddess-Empress of America is not so inevitable. And being beaten out by John Edwards must be particularly humiliating.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

John Kelly writes about a big problem with NASA's budget. Earmarks (i.e. pork) that may mean defunding things like--well--space exploration.
An outfit is Australia has developed a device called solarscan, which it claims will detect melanoma cancers with much more accuracy than curreent diagnostic methods.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

George Will gives Algore a good chiding.
The Space Frontier Foundation folks have given Joss Whedon an award for Firefly and Serenity.
The Foundation is pleased to honor Joss Whedon for his work as writer and director of the film, Serenity (2005), based on his television series, Firefly. Whedon is the writer, director, executive producer and creator of several television series, most famously Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly. He was nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplay of Toy Story. The Foundation award, which has also been presented to the Producers of Star Trek – Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5, is given to a fictional program or movie which portrays a human future in space that has elements which are inspiring, possible, and at least attempts to work within the realm of physics.

"Serenity and Firefly are the first new hard science fiction film and TV show in years to acknowledge an economic system, and even give a nod to the reality of space, said Foundation Founder Rick Tumlinson. "From its portrayal of a civilization based on terraforming and free trade, to its multi-cultural aspects, it shows a possible future within which its characters go about the usual drama, comedy and skullduggery of any civilization anytime. Add to it the fact the space scenes take place in silence (the scientifically correct way things happen in space) and you have a winner in our books. We want the show back on the air!"

We second that.

Friday, June 09, 2006

NASA seems to have developed a strategy of spinning off development of high risk/high rewards technology to the Centennial Challenge Prize system. One such is the idea of orbiting fuel depots, which many see as a necessary part of a commercial beyond LEO transportation system. Jon Goff also has some thoughts.
What if Marylin Monroe had lived?
Let me get this straight. Hollywood is developing an Iraq War drama about a deserter?

Now, I have a very bold, cutting edge, even controversial idea for an Iraq War film. It would be about a solider or group of soldiers who perform as heroes. It might get everyone concerned blackballed at Hollywood cocktail parties, but I bet you a lot of people would pay to see it.

Addendum: A reader suggests a Zarqawi flick: The Hunt for the Dark Prince. Suits me.

Addendum 2: I'm told that a film called Thieves of Baghdad is in developnment, about a Marine Colonel who, with the help of NCIS and Iraqi civilians, recovers a bunch of priceless artifacts looted from the Iraqi National Museum during the liberation. Now that sounds more like it.
Apparently Norway got hit by a meteorite with the explosive force of an atomic bomb, fortunately in a rural area and not downtown Oslo.
It seems that Zarqawi was alive and awake after the bombing, just before he assumed room temperature and entered Hell. I wonder what his lost thoughts were, knowing that he had lost all and was being carried out of the rubble under the guns of American and Iraqi soldiers?
In the wake of the breaking of the Islamofascist terrorist cells in Toronto, Jonah Goldberg gives Canada a good finger waggling.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Epic of Madoc ap Owain Gwynedd. Did a Welsh Prince discover America in 1170? I personally doubt it, but it's a cool story.
Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi at this moment and for all time burns in Hell.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

There's a lot of yelling and screaming going on the radio, TV, and--of course--the internet. I suppose that means Ann Coulter has a new book out. Now, I like Coulter, even when she's over the top, which is just about all the time. Even so, I would not have been quite so--well--vicious as she was about the Jersey Girls, as irritating as those four ladies are. For one thing, it was just plain rude. For another, it put them in the public eye again.

In any case, Michelle Malkin has a somewhat more sober than most reaction to the controversy.
Looks like Bilbray won Duke Cunningham's seat in California's 50th. Big Lizards has an analysis. I predict that the Dems will claim a "moral" victory. Fine with me.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I suspect that someone more knowledgable than I will eventually make a study on the fixation Islamofascist terrorists have for lopping off heads. Is it cultural? Or is it something deeper, more pyschological?
Today is the 62nd Anniversary of D Day, the invasion of Nazi occupied Europe. It was the last day for 2500 allied soldiers (nearly the amount of Killed in Action for the entire War on Terror!) Because of their sacrifice, there was no last day for liberty. And as long as there are men like them, there never shall be.
Barry McCaffrey has some incredibly great news from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has in the short space of five years moved from a situation of mindless violence, cruelty, poverty, massive production of drugs, the absence of government, and isolation - to a nation with a struggling democratic government; an exploding economy; a rapidly growing, disciplined Army; a vibrant free press, and active diplomatic and economic ties with its neighbors and the world.
Aeroscraft: A Luxury Liner of the Skies.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Jeff Foust offers the story of the Segway as a warning to space entrepeneurs. It's not enough to have some cool technology. It has to serve a need.
Taylor Dinerman has some interesting things to say about space war, particularly on the Moon and beyond.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

It appears that Russia has no wish to be left behind in the new race to the Moon.
Algore's An Inconvenient Truth, a thriller about global warming, is likely to make Michael Moore levels of money. That's a pity, since like any documentary by the fat fraud, it is stuffed full of whoppers to support a political agenda that most people will not like.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

One of the burning issues of our time is the question of how to stem the flow of illegal immigrants across the southern border of the United States. Some have suggested the construction of a fence or wall across that border in order to control the passage of people and goods across that border. Oddly enough, almost twenty centuries ago, a Roman Emperor faced that very same problem on the northern border of the Roman province of Britain. His solution, similar to what is being discussed in the present day, was to build a barrier known to history as Hadrians Wall.
I'm pretty sure that the Feds have no business telling restaurants how much food they can serve. After all, people have the option of taking some of their dinner home in a doggie bag for lunch later.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Dave Price thinks that the news stories assuming the guilt of the Marines at Haditha may turn out to be like the Duke Lacross Team fiasco. I certainly hope so. Neither example would be the first nor alas the last time the mainstream media made a mountain out of a molehill.
Are carbon nanotubes out as building material for a space elevator? Nicola Pugno of the Polytechnic of Turin, Italy seems to think so.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Whatever happened last November in Haditha doesn't matter. It will be used by the Left to break the public's will to fight the War on Terror by sliming the reputation of all of our servicemen and women.

All it needs now is for some young, punk future Senator to compare our army in Iraq to the army of Geingas Khan.
In his quest to recover his "lost honor", John Kerry is descending further into dishonor.
Will Radio Frequency IDS replace the bar code? There's a proposal to use them to keep track of immigrants.
Grass that Doesn't Need Mowing. It's not what you might think.
A couple of weeks ago we saw The Da Vinci Code and liked it pretty well. Was Jesus married to Mary Magdalane and had a kid? Certainly that would be consistant with the behavior of any healthy Jewish man in the first century AD. In any case, I don't think it impacts on the question of his divinity or message whatsoever, no matter what the Pope or Jerry Fawell thinks.
Michael Moore has always been a little bit careless about things like facts and the truth. Through careful editing, his films have rejected the reality that most of us percieve and tries to persuade the audience to accept his reality.

Sgt Peter Damon, an Iraq War vet who lost both arms, is not buying it, insisting that the reality in which he supports our efforts in Iraq and the President is the correct one and not the one Moore presented on the screen in Fahrenheit 9/11 in which it seemed he did not. So he is asking Moore, NBC (which sold Moore the video of Sgt Damon) and Miramax (the studio that financed and distributed the film) for 85 million dollars as a reminder that lying is not a nice thing, even as part of cinematic art.

I hope Sgt Damon gets every penny and more. For one thing, while Hollywood is politically liberal, when it comes to the bottom line it tends to be just as hard nosed as any right wing capitalist. In Michael Moore becomes a liability, he may well be dropped like a live hand grenade. And that fall from grace would be entertaining to watch.