All posts by Rand Simberg

A Suborbital Flight To Space

Everyone’s been paying attention to the “race” between Virgin Galactic and XCOR (a story that got more complicated yesterday), but Blue Origin apparently had the first successful private flight to a hundred kilometers since the X-Prize was won, over eleven years ago. It will be interesting to see when their next one is, to see what kind of turnaround capability they have. It’s now clearly possible that they’ll be offering passenger flights sooner than either of the horizontal approaches.

[Update a few minutes later]

As someone over at Arocket points out, this wasn’t just the first trip to space since 2004, but the first-ever vertical landing of a ship that had been to space (even if SpaceX lands a Falcon 9 first stage, I’m not sure what its apogee is). It was a big milestone.

[Update a couple minutes later]

OK, on rereading, it’s not clear that the booster went all the way to space, just the capsule, so maybe that hasn’t happened yet.

[Update a while later]

Jeff Bezos issues his first tweet ever.

[Late-morning update]

Jeff Foust has the story now, including the Q&A with Bezos.

[Update a few minutes later]

And here’s Chris Bergin’s story.

[Early-afternoon update]

[Update a while later]

Ashlee Vance has an amusing take on the pissing contest between Musk and Bezos.

BTW, it seems to be confirmed that there was only a 120-meter difference in apogee between booster and capsule, so it definitely made it into space.

[Update a few more minutes later]

For those new to the topic, I wrote an explainer about orbits and suborbits a little over a year ago.

Top Nutritionists Attempt To Reach A Consensus

…and end up in a food fight. This would be funnier if it didn’t have such profound implications for health. I don’t know why anyone pays attention to that quack Dean Ornish. It was low-fat recommendations like his that almost surely killed my father thirty-five years ago. I enjoyed this, too:

In the spirit of the conference, he did make a concession: Red meat, a staple of a Paleolithic diet, “is a real problem” due to its carbon footprint, said Eaton, and he proposed a more sustainable Paleo diet that instead derives its protein from plant sources, poultry, and seafood.

Because nothing is more important when it comes to nutrition than carbon footprint. And this:

Those who follow a low-glycemic diet might eat, for instance, pasta but not bagels, parsnips but not potatoes, grapes but not raisins.

Bagels are worse than pasta? Who knew?

Obama And Syria

No, calling people names from overseas won’t distract from what a huge mess (with Hillary’s help) you’ve created.

Ron Fournier (a slow learner) has thrown in the towel on him:

Klain didn’t say this but I will: On IS­IS, Obama breaks every rule. He min­im­izes the threat and dis­misses our fears, which raises doubts about his candor and cap­ab­il­ity. An over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans dis­ap­prove of his hand­ling of IS­IS, a new poll shows, and 81 per­cent think IS­IS will strike the United States.

In Ju­ly 2013, six months in­to his second term, I wrote a column that ques­tioned wheth­er Obama would ful­fill his enorm­ous po­ten­tial, wheth­er he even cared any­more about his prom­ises to change Wash­ing­ton, wheth­er he could write the mod­ern rules of the pres­id­ency and build a new bully pul­pit. I asked, “What if Obama can’t lead?”

I now have my an­swer.

The answer was pretty visible eight years ago, really, to those less blinded by the supposed charisma, and the fantasy “potential.”

And it’s obvious from his demeanor whom Obama considers the enemy. It’s not in the Middle East.

[Update a while later]

First link was wrong but fixed now. Sorry!

From Hunting/Gathering To Farming

Yes, humans evolved in the age of agriculture.

Per the end of the piece, this doesn’t really invalidate the paleo diet theory. It makes sense that we would have adapted to milk; it’s a useful high-protein food source. There would have been less evolutionary pressure to be able to handle grain, because the ill effects don’t occur until later in life, past child-bearing age.


The present of “the city of white sepulchres” present is the future of the West, if we continue to allow it:

Brussels’ failures are emblematic of Europe’s failings. The city that hopes to govern a post-national Europe has been made impotent by the petty jealousies and nasty rivalries of two ethnic groups barely large enough to qualify as tribes in much of the world. Brussels is in some ways a satire of the European project: committed to transnational goals, hobbled by unresolved ethnic spats. A city dedicated to universal secular human values is now threatened by fanatical death cults that have grown up in its miserable, insecure slums.

The West as a whole these days is cursed by moral grandiosity and failing performance. Our self-esteem has seldom been more robust, or our performance more pitiable. We busy ourselves with what we think is the last unfinished work of implementing universal egalitarianism, by for example tending to high school students who identify with a gender other than that into which they were born, ensuring that they can use the restrooms toward which their aspirations lead them. We see ourselves as courageous warriors even as the foundations of our world are beginning to crack. We claim that tolerance and diversity are the touchstones of our civilization, and have raised a generation of weaklings who cannot bear to be exposed to unorthodox ideas or to the bustle and collisions that life in a diverse society inevitably brings. To cite another of Jesus’ condemnations of hypocrisy, we ‘tithe mint and dill and cumin, and neglect the weightier matters of the law.’ That is, we busy ourselves obsessively over small bore issues, and ignore the graver challenges that face us on every side.

Because reality is too harsh.

[Afternoon update]

Related: When will our “leaders” own up to the fact that the EU is a giant scam?

I think that ISIS has fatally exposed it.