Category Archives: Business

Space Tourism

Is it being overhyped?

I fearlessly predict that, as with any other experience, some will be underwhelmed, and others will have their expectations exceeded.

In related news, tired of waiting, and fearing that they won’t get to the (arbitrary) von Karman line, some Virgin Galactic customers are demanding refunds.

[Update a few minutes later]

Richard Branson’s credibility is collapsing in the media.

“Marching Against Climate Change”

The most futile march ever:

It was the usual post-communist leftie march. That is, it was a petit-bourgeois re-enactment of meaningless ritual that passes for serious politics among those too inexperienced, too emotionally excited or too poorly read and too unpracticed at self-reflection or political analysis to know or perhaps care how futile and tired the conventional march has become. Crazed grouplets of anti-capitalist movements trying to fan the embers of Marxism back to life, gender and transgender groups with their own spin on climate, earnest eco-warriors, publicity-seeking hucksters, adrenalin junkies, college kids wanting a taste of the venerable tradition of public protest, and, as always, a great many people who don’t think that burning marijuana adds to the world’s CO2 load, marched down Manhattan’s streets. The chants echoed through the skyscraper canyons, the drums rolled, participants were caught up in a sense of unity and togetherness that some of them had never known. It was almost like politics, almost like the epochal marches that have toppled governments and changed history ever since the Paris mob stormed the Bastille.

Almost. Except street marches today are to real politics what street mime is to Shakespeare. This was an ersatz event: no laws will change, no political balance will tip, no UN delegate will have a change of heart. The world will roll on as if this march had never happened. And the marchers would have emitted less carbon and done more good for the world if they had all stayed home and studied books on economics, politics, science, religion and law. Marches like this create an illusion of politics and an illusion of meaningful activity to fill the void of postmodern life; the tribal ritual matters more than the political result.

The Climate Science

…is not settled:

…the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, “How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?” Answers to that question at the global and regional levels, as well as to equally complex questions of how ecosystems and human activities will be affected, should inform our choices about energy and infrastructure.

But—here’s the catch—those questions are the hardest ones to answer. They challenge, in a fundamental way, what science can tell us about future climates.

Yup. The 97% “nonsensus” is multiple strawmen, because all it ever meant, to the degree that it wasn’t just BS, was that scientists agree that there is a greenhouse effect and that therefore human-generated carbon emissions can affect climate. Beyond that, there is no consensus.

Taylor Dinerman’s Take On Commercial Crew

Over at National Review. I obviously take issue with this:

Boeing has walked away with the biggest share ($4.2 billion) of the money, as its design was further along than that of the SpaceX proposal and, in the opinion of NASA’s leadership, has the best chance of meeting the schedule.

I’ve sent them a response. If they don’t run it, I’ll do it myself at Ricochet.

[Update a while later]

OK, my response is up at The Corner.

The Inspector General’s Report On ISS

I’m reading it now. It starts out with a nice brief history of space stations in general and of the ISS itself. Apparently it says that commercial crew will cost more than Soyuz. I want to see the basis of that statement.

[Update a while later]

“Although the risks involved in space exploration are apparent and subject to mitigation,
NASA cannot fully eliminate them.”

Someone should write a book about that. Oh, wait.

Computer Programming Are Hard

An email I just got from Amazon:

I hope this e-mail finds you well. Thank you very much for patiently waiting for my answer.

I’ve been checking regularly with our technical team on their progress with resolving the age range issue. It appears the issue is more complex than expected and we’re still working hard to get a solution for you.

I wanted to send you a quick e-mail to let you know the findings so far:

Since Amazon uses certain characters to classify books according to their content, it tends to be quite limited when it comes to character recognition. In the case of “Safe Is Not An Option,” although our platform gave you the chance to set the age ranges as 8 (min) and 18+ (max), the website is not displaying the (+) symbol because this character is generally used to determine when a book is of mature content or not. Since the book is targeted to people that are 8 and up, the system is finding a contradiction due the title being categorized as children’s, while being also set as an adult book because of the ’18+’.

We are aware indeed that what you wished to communicate is that the book was written for all people starting at age 8; even so, due to legal and international marketplace matters, the store has determined that the ‘+’ sign next to the ’18’ number makes reference exclusively to adult or erotica content, which results in a classification restriction. Due to this, the website removes the ‘+’ sign automatically and replaces it with the single ’18’ number to make your book fall within the appropriate ranges for children and adults.

We are still working to find a way to have the ‘8 – 18+’ displayed on your book’s page. Still, if by any chance the platform was unable to digest that entry, what I’d recommend to do is leave the age ranges as they are, and within the book’s description, you may clarify that the book is indeed intended for people aged 8 and up. I’ll let you know how everything goes!

I hope this information helps explain clearly the situation; I’m very sorry for how long this is taking, but I greatly appreciate your understanding!

I’ll be in touch again with an update as soon as possible.

Thanks again for your patience.

I’m kind of amazed that I’m the first person in Kindle history who wanted to show that a book could be enjoyed by children of all ages.

[Afternoon update]

I’ve at least updated the book description to say that it’s suitable for all ages.

Musk Versus Bezos

Here’s the story on today’s announcement that ULA is teaming with Blue Origin to develop an RD-180 replacement. Thoughts anon.

[Update a while later, after the presser]

Clearly Jeff Bezos has declared war on Elon Musk. And ULA is showing how desperate it’s become. That’s what disruption looks like. More later, but I have to review our reply to Mann’s latest court filing. Speaking of which, I suspect that he regrets starting this hash tag.

[Update a while later]

Here’s Joel Achenbach’s take.

Over on Twitter, Trampoline Rocket is speculating that this is vaporware, like Amazon’s drones. He makes a pretty good case.

[Update a while later]

Here’s Alan Boyle’s take.

[Another update]

Aaaaaand, Aaron Mehta’s take.

Commercial Crew

There’s going to be an announcement at 4PM on NASA TV. Jay Barbree says it’s going to be Boeing and SpaceX. Which if true means two capsules, no wings.

[Update a while later]

Here‘s another similar report from the WaPo.

[Update a few minutes later]

Joel Achenbach has more, including the (bizarre, to me) part of the story about ULA getting a new engine for the Atlas from Blue Origin.

[Late-morning update]

OK, now James Dean is reporting that there will be two full awards, not “leader-follower.” I wonder if they have the money for that with a CR?

[Update just before noon]

Alex Brown has a story at National Journal. Annoyingly, everyone is calling them space “taxis” when, at least for NASA, it’s more of a rental-car model (if you insisted on a new car every time you rented). Also, everyone’s regurgitating NASA’s 2017 date. I’d at least note that SpaceX could possibly fly as early as next year, unless there is something else on the critical path than abort tests. Final point:

Boeing’s program is reported to be further along in its development goals.

I think that Pasztor story is BS. How can Boeing be in the lead when they haven’t even flown anything? I love this:

But people familiar with the process said Boeing, with its greater experience as a NASA contractor, appears to have become the favorite partly because it has met earlier development goals in the same program on time and on budget.

Everyone hits their budget. It’s a fixed-price contract. And who cares if they’re hitting program goals, if those are trivial goals (like design reviews)? How anyone can think that a paper vehicle is ahead of one that’s going to have its abort tests in the next few months?

[Update a few minutes before the announcement]

Here’s the link

[Update after the announcement]

Well, no surprises, except amounts. Here’s Eric Berger’s take.

[Update a while later]

Here is Jeff Foust’s story.

Giant Solid Rockets

Yes, let’s keep using them:

In this case, the DM series motors passed all of ATK’s and NASA’s inspections and test firings. It wasn’t until ATK was proceeding toward QM series motor segments that NASA requested more thorough inspections of the QM series motors to determine whether the switch to non-asbestos containing insulation liners was having a previously unseen effect.

“The beauty of the solid rocket motor inspection system is that defects will be found and solutions reached to ensure the motors delivered will perform with the highest reliability,” said Reed. “This is a requirement to ensure SLS is a safe and reliable system for human exploration of deep space.”

Yeah. Right.

[Update a few minutes later]

Republicans And The Economy

This is a pretty strong correlation.

[Update a few minutes later]

Yes, I know that Republicans didn’t take control of Congress in 2010. The point is that the removed control of it from the Dems. That was all that was necessary. But it will also help to oust Harry Reid in November.

The SLS Frenzy

So apparently, the SLF fanbois (and fangirls) going crazy over a giant welder on Twitter.

Anyway, I was rereading this essay I wrote half a decade ago. It was depressing. Here’s how little of some of it I’d have to change to keep it relevant to today.

Continue reading

Public School As Child Abuse

Example #43,675,219:

Stuarts Draft fifth-grader Grace Karaffa appeared before the school board Thursday night, saying she had requested the substance while on the playground after suffering chapped lips.

“I was told I couldn’t use it. Then later that day they (lips) started to bleed so I asked for Chapstick again and I was told that it was against the school policy for elementary kids to have Chapstick,” Grace said.

Grace asked the school board to change its policy. “Chapstick allows the human body to heal the lips themselves and protects them in any weather from drying out,” she said. She concluded her speech by saying, “Please school board, allow us to have Chapstick.”

I don’t know if you have to be a moron to be a school-board member, but it certainly seems to help.