Category Archives: Economics

Space Settlement

Rick Tumlinson says the concept is taking hold within the space community.

Meanwhile, the Center For American Progress is having a symposium on the past and future of human spaceflight. Interestingly, as Jeff Foust notes on Twitter, NASA isn’t involved. Interesting also that it’s sponsored by a lefty institution. I suspect that this topic may set off a civil war on that side of the spectrum.

Climate Jihadists

California is currently at their mercy:

Meeting the new target of an 80 percent cut by 2050 would require the use of even more speculative technologies, including those that the CCST reserachers considered to be “in development, not yet available” or merely “research concepts.”

Yet such problems do not seem to impinge much on Sacramento’s political class. Any group willing, as is most egregiously the case with the Latino caucus, to wage war on their own people, are not going to worry too much about such subtleties.

So then, who wins? It’s certainly not the environment, but some of the oligarchs in Silicon Valley may benefit as they have been feeding at the renewable-energy trough at the expense of less-well-off ratepayers. Then there’s the whole bureaucracy, and their academic allies, who can enjoy profitable employment by dreaming up new ways to make life in California more expensive and difficult for average citizens – envisioning schemes that the taxpayers have to finance. And, certainly, the climate change agenda could benefit multifamily housing builders, who will seek to force often-unwilling Californians into residences in which most would rather not spend their lives.

At some point, people are going to get fed up, but we don’t seem to be close yet.

Clearing The Road To Mars

I think that will be the theme of my proposed Kickstarter project.

Roadblock To Mars

BTW, if someone wants to volunteer to make a prettier version of this, I won’t complain.

[Update Saturday morning]

Per suggestions in comments, I’ve come up with a new version.

[Sunday-afternoon update]

Thanks to Ed Minchau, this probably conveys it better:

Roadblock to Mars


“Leaving Orbit”

An interview with Margaret Lazarus Dean, whose new book seems to rest on false premises, almost an alternate fantasy history.

Part-memoir, part-historical document, part-manifesto, Margaret Lazarus Dean’s perceptive new book Leaving Orbit: Notes From the Last Days of American Spaceflight (which will be released May 19) asks the question, ”What does it mean that we have been going to space for 50 years and have decided to stop?”

Ummmm…we haven’t “decided to stop.” We’ve been going into space continually since the Shuttle was retired. Within two years, we’ll be doing it on American vehicles from American soil.

I do think there is a popular attitude right now, popular among young and old alike, that government always mucks everything up by its very nature, that private enterprise can always do everything better, and that attitude is particularly dangerous to funding big unprofitable projects like spaceflight. I meet a lot of people who are under the impression that SpaceX is going to take over, and improve upon, everything NASA did, but that’s a misunderstanding of the scope of SpaceX’s plans. A project like going to Mars, which is the next logical step, is so massively expensive it can only be paid for by a federal government. So if we want to go there, we are going to have to learn to trust.


The House Appropriations Bill

Once again, cuts Commercial Crew and space technology, and pours more money down the SLS/Orion rat hole. I hope this can get fixed in conference.

Note that, as usual, the comments by Gary Church are insane. But “Windbourne”‘s comment raises an interesting question. If you did a secret survey of NASA employees, how many of them would support SLS?

Gender Feminists

…are science deniers:

Ms. Benenson explains that there’s an “inherent conflict in unrelated females’ relations with one another.” They very much want one another’s support—as coalition partners and for help with childcare—but “they must invest first and foremost in their families.” In fact, because we are driven to pass on our own genes or at least those of people closely related to us, it really doesn’t make evolutionary sense for a woman to invest in an unrelated woman, except as a form of self-protection.

How this plays out among women leads to some “very confusing” (and often ugly) relationships, with women as covert competitors, using tools including gossip and social exclusion to push down other women, especially any who dare to stand out.

Men, on the other hand, are direct and domineering with one another from boyhood on in a way that women are not. Men come together in groups, while women form dyads—groups of two. Men love competition and contests to see who’s best, whereas women get insulted if one woman seems to be asserting herself as better than the others.

In fact, research finds that women bond through sharing their failures and vulnerabilities—an essential bit of information that helps explain what Sandberg merely laments: women’s not proclaiming their greatness in the workplace and not finding it natural to just march right up and “sit at the table.”

Although Ms. Sandberg, like other business advice writers, repeats the stereotype of women as “communal,” it is actually men who evolved to be cooperators in a way that women, ever-vigilant that another woman might get one over on them, did not. When men aren’t fighting each another, they are quick to band together against a common enemy. Or, after kicking each other’s asses, they’ll go and have a beer.

Sure, it’s 2015, and we’re marching through the workplace with iPhones instead of pawing in the underbrush for berries, but this evolved psychology is still driving us, and it’s to the detriment of the women who read Ms. Sandberg’s book that it is ignored instead of taken into account.

People should be treated as individuals, not members of groups, but it’s foolish to deny the intrinsic differences between men and women. In a sense, they’re almost different symbiotic species.

A Better Way To Open The Solar System

I see that Culberson just essentially wrote into law that SLS must be used for the Europa mission. Which means that he probably just doomed it.

Because of micromanagement by Congress, NASA’s plans for exploring (forget about developing) the solar system are FUBAR, at least in terms of human spaceflight. The NRC report last summer, and even the more recent JPL/Aerospace study are economically and programmatically insane, because they are compelled to use a vehicle that will probably never get built, and if it does, will be a drag of billions per year on the NASA budget.

I’ve got some free time right now, and a need for some income. I’m thinking about doing a new Kickstarter to show what could be done with that same budget over decades, if relieved of the shackles that Congress places on it. I think that the output would put any current plans to shame, in terms of what could be accomplished. It would be a handy document to have when the subject comes up for debate again, in the next administration.

Who would support it?