Category Archives: Popular Culture

Trump And The Media

deserve each other:

And this has the effect of inoculating Trump against real scandals — and those are inevitable — down the line. So much so that I almost wonder if this wasn’t actually a Trump Organization “false flag” designed to discredit press attacks.

All I know is that I’ve done nothing to deserve either of them.

[Mid-afternoon update]

Geoengineering, Space Tech, And Societal Risk

Some interesting thoughts from Oliver Morton (who I unfortunately missed having lunch with in London last week, maybe next time):

AI worries people more, but geoengineering seems pretty well placed in second place. (Incidentally, what’s up with space as the top societal risk enhancer? If AI takes the laurels in terms of economy, geopolitics and tech, how come space outdoes it in the exacerbation of societal risks? A mystery for another time…)

Indeed. I have some ideas, and that some it arises from ignorance and too much bad SF in television and movies, but I’ll let the commenters have at it.

Moon Or Mars?

The latest on the issue.

It’s a pointless discussion, because it presumes it’s going to be a government program: Apollo back tot the moon again, or Apollo to Mars. We need to be developing capabilities to go wherever we want, affordably. Then let the people paying for it decide.

Related: Howard Bloom says that NASA needs to get out of the rocket business, and start working on an actual superhighway in space. I’m not sure I want Marshall in charge of that, though. To put it mildly.

A Useful Experiment

I’ve been watching this Kickstarter project. I was talking to Jon Morse a couple weeks ago, and he didn’t expect it to succeed. He was right; it only raised a third of the million dollars it sought. But it’s a useful market test for private space exploration. Maybe if they shoot for half that. I do think we’re entering a new era of what I call “normal science,” before the Manhattan Project, the Cold War, and Apollo screwed everything up, and things like the big telescopes (the first high-tech astronomy programs) were funded philanthropically.

Lava Tubes On The Moon

…could be up to five kilometers wide.

Mycroft Holmes, call your office.

[Update a few minutes later]

Speaking of the moon, Paul Spudis has some ideas about how to make space great again. I actually agree with most of it, except for this:

The Orion spacecraft and its SLS launch vehicle are currently in final stages of development, with initial test flights planned for 2018. We can use these existing systems to return to the Moon; indeed, as the remnants of the cancelled Constellation program, they are already optimized for cislunar missions. The only missing piece is a lander to put people on to the lunar surface. NASA’s Altair lander program was cancelled in 2011, but fortunately, a lander may be ready very soon. The United Launch Alliance has outlined a plan for a human-rated lander based around the venerable Centaur stage, using modified RL-10 engines. This vehicle is almost perfectly configured to return people to the Moon, as it is intended to be reusable and utilizes the LOX-hydrogen propellant that we will produce on the lunar surface.

The surest way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is to plan it around SLS/Orion, which will fly so rarely that we will make very little progress. He’s postulating the existence of a ULA lander, while ignoring the firmer plans for Vulcan ACES, which would be the natural way to carry out these mission (Orion might be usable in that scenario, but not SLS, and Dragon would probably be more cost effective). And as usual over there, the comments, particularly from “Bilgamesh,” are idiotic. And even more particularly the fantasy about flying SLS a dozen times a year.

Rogue One

…makes white guys the enemy of the future. Of course, it’s coming from people who think they’re the enemy of the past and present. But Christian Toto liked it.

I haven’t seen it yet.

[Sunday-morning update]

The problem with Star Wars.

I’ve never been a huge Star Wars fan. It’s not really SF, or at least not hard SF. The effects were great for their time, but for my generation, 2001 is the touchstone.

Where Is Trump Getting His Cabinet Picks?

Surprisingly (at least to me), he’s poaching Galt’s Gulch.

[Wednesday-morning update]

Robert Tracinski (who actually is an Objectivist) isn’t impressed:

The problem is that Hohmann is trying to fit the Rand angle into a narrative about the supreme awfulness of the supremely awful Trump administration. “The fact that all of these men, so late in life, are such fans of works that celebrate individuals who consistently put themselves before others is therefore deeply revealing. They will now run our government.” Are you frightened now? Because I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to be frightened.

Hohmann would have been better served by asking what these business leaders took from Rand as the message that inspired them. Again, there are a few hints. Puzder says that it’s about encouraging his kids to live “the kind of lives of achievement, integrity, and independence that Rand celebrated in her novels.” Congressman Mike Pompeo (referred to in the article) explained that Rand’s impact was because, “I spent my whole life working hard,” a virtue her novels promoted, and because, “I eat and breathe small government and freedom.”

Oh, no! Important figures in the new administration have been influenced by an author who advocated freedom. And integrity. Does that perhaps sound a little less frightening?

It does to people who hate those things.