Category Archives: Political Commentary

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.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson

…and the science of smug condescension:

Here we see, in action, the signature scientific style of the Neil deGrasse Tyson era. Present a scientific theory in crudely oversimplified form, omitting any uncertainties or counter-arguments. Pass off complex claims as if they are obvious “basic physics.” Then dismiss any skepticism as the resentment of the primitive, ignorant, unscienced masses against their enlightened betters.

Or, you know, file law suits against critics.

It’s not a very good way to get valid scientific results—nor, for that matter, to promote the scientific method. But it’s what we get when we substitute, in place of respect for the actual methodology of science, an attitude of superior posing and smug condescension.

I’d like to say that I was disappointed with the Cosmos reboot, but honestly, I wasn’t that big a fan of the original. But I’d love to buy Tyson for what I think he’s worth, and sell him for what he does.

[Afternoon update]

Some more thoughts:

It seems to me that Neal deGrasse Tyson is a scientist. Heck, I don’t actually know, because I don’t read technical astronomy papers, but I assume he’s published something somewhere, actually done some science in his life. But that doesn’t appear to be his current day job. His current job, near as I can tell, is carnival barker. He’s a salesman, or an advertiser. That’s not science. Inspiring others to want to learn more may be laudable, but it’s not science. Making crap up isn’t science, either, but I’ll let the serial stalkers at the Federalist worry about that.

But here’s a misconception that I’ve discussed before:

Thing is, I’m no scientist. So while I would like to call myself a Science-ist – that is, one who believes in the nature of science and the good results it can produce – I certainly can’t pretend I am a scientist, which is one who does science. Stuff like collecting data, analyzing it, proposing hypotheses, testing hypotheses. You know, stuff that scientists do. Not just looking at cool pictures of galaxies and pretending that makes me smart. (Um, NSFW language at that link)

No. Science isn’t a profession, it’s a way of thinking about the world, and learning about it. Everyone does it, to some degree or another, every day. Check a door knob to see if it’s unlocked? You just did an experiment.

People who believe in “science” as some kind of special realm that “scientists” live in, and that “science” reveals “truth” (as many global warm mongers do, even though they don’t understand the science or, often, even basic math) are members of a religion, that is in fact properly called scienceism. I believe in science as the best means to learn about the natural world, and as the basis for engineering and creating technology, but I don’t worship scientists, and I don’t delude myself that scientific results are “truth.”

Anyway, finally, note this comment:

you make an ass out of neal tyson when it’s pointed out that he has not, in fact, published A SINGLE PIECE of academic work since having talked some committee into accepting the dissertation it took him 11 years (and an expulsion!) to co-author.

no, seriously. if you don’t believe me, you can put his name into the search bar at arxiv.org, where practicing physicists post our preprints:

“Search gave no matches

No matches were found for your search: all:(neal AND tyson)

Please try again.”

In the next comment, he notes that there is in fact one post-doc paper, but it appears that he’s just participating because the actual authors wanted a bigger name on it.

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.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Just making s**t up?

The point is that it’s not hard at all to prove that politicians, as a class, are some of the dimmest, dullest, and least inspiring group of people you could possibly imagine. It takes a special brand of lazy hack to feel compelled to manufacture evidence to that effect.

Not unusual for him. Also, while many people confuse median and average, Tyson has no excuse.

[Wednesday-afternoon update]

Tyson repeats the “space pen” myth.

Has anyone actually read his PhD thesis? I’m starting to wonder about the quality of it now.

[Bumped]

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.

Don’t Go To Mars

David Attenborough takes a novel and courageous stand. Let’s “sort out life on earth, first.” [Paywall]

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone make that argument before, except a lot of people, for decades.

“America? Let’s sort out life in Europe first.”

“Europe and Asia? Let’s sort out life in Africa, first.”

It’s obviously a mindless prescription for never settling new territory.

Multi-Culturalism And Rape

Rotherham is a part of England that will be forever Pakistan:

Pakistanis first came in significant numbers to Rotherham in the late 1950s and early ’60s, in the wave of immigration that brought men from the Indian subcontinent to Britain, largely to do work that the indigenous white working class no longer wanted. My father was part of this first wave. He worked on the production line of the Vauxhall car factory in Luton, an unlovely town north of London. In Rotherham, many Pakistani men ended up doing dirty, dusty work in the steel foundry.

The new immigrants were from rural villages, typically in Kashmir, the northern province bordering India; they were socially conservative and hard-working. When I was growing up in the ’80s, the stereotype of Pakistanis was that we were industrious and docile.

The Pakistani community in Rotherham, and elsewhere in Britain, has not followed the usual immigrant narrative arc of intermarriage and integration. The custom of first-cousin marriages to spouses from back home in Pakistan meant that the patriarchal village mentality was continually refreshed.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

Britain’s Pakistani community often seems frozen in time; it has progressed little and remains strikingly impoverished. The unemployment rate for the least educated young Muslims is close to 40 percent, and more than two-thirds of Pakistani households are below the poverty line.

If you allow unrestricted immigration with no assimilation, you are basically welcoming your future conquerors.

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.

Our Brilliant President

The tragedy of being off teleprompter.

[Update a few minutes later]

[Update a while later]

Five lies that shaped the Obama presidency.

[Afternoon update]

Barack Obama’s biggest lie (and not, it’s not about keeping your plan and doctor). No, Mr. President, the Islamic State is actually as Islamic as can be.

The Headchopper Next Door

Some uncomfortable truths about Islam:

Mohammed was quite clear about what he wanted. For all the abrogations, the Koran is reasonably clear on what it expects its followers to do. Mohammed’s history was that of a man who tried to convince the Arabs that he had seen an angel by telling them and failed, and who succeeded only when he killed enough of them, not to mention the Jews and any other infidels hanging around the place.

That is the history of Islam.

Germany was not a nation of monsters. It was a nation that behaved monstrously. The average German would not stick his neighbor in an oven in his basement or chain him up as a slave. He would however do these things in Poland because he was contextually contaminated by a monstrous ideology.

As an individual he was a nice man who loved his children, petted his dog and enjoyed street fairs. As a loyal member of a system run by the Nazi Party, he would do monstrous things. And then when the Nazi machine was switched off, he would go home to his wife and children without ever killing anyone else.

He was not a good man. Good men don’t do the things he did. But he wasn’t a budding serial killer. He was just doing what a death cult told him to do.

As I noted over the weekend…

Also, Barack Obama and John Kerry lecturing Muslims on what is and is not the nature of Islam is a theater of the absurd.

It’s Not Just An IRS Cover Up

It’s all of a web with the Department of Justice, and the Democrats.

[Update a while later]

From the declaration by the FBI months ago that no one would be charged, to the president’s statement that there wasn’t a “smidgeon of corruption,” to this, it’s pretty clear now that rather than investigating this for the past year and a half, the Justice Department has been colluding with congressional Democrats to obstruct the congressional investigation.