The History And Future Of Space Exploration

I missed my connection to LA, and am stuck in Chicago until I can find a flight some time tomorrow. It’s kind of late, and I don’t have much time for blogging, and many of you may have already seen it, but Glenn Reynolds has a piece on space exploration in the Journal tomorrow. And of course, Tuesday will be the 41st anniversary of the first steps on the moon. It’s not too late to plan a party to celebrate. I and the co-author, Bill Simon, will be on The Space Show that evening. We may even do a live version of the ceremony, though that’s still TBD.

Continued Light Blogging

We’re back in a (presumably) termite-free house, but it needs to be recombobulated, and we’re leaving first thing in the morning for a family reunion in Michigan, and won’t be back until Monday. So expect less bloggage than usual.

[Update late Saturday night]

Just checking in. Had a party at my brother’s house on a lake in Linden, with long-lost relatives, burgers and Koegels hot dogs, cole slaw from cabbage fresh from the garden, and abundant beer. Blogging will continue to be light.

As Dave Weigel Was To Conservatives

So is Steve Pearlstein to businessmen.

I heard that interview in the car, and was just shaking my head. How is it that someone this clueless about business and businessmen covers them as his beat? Just another reason that the legacy media is going down the tubes. As one commenter noted, that interview could have come right from Atlas Shrugged.

Via Instapundit, and yes, Amity Shlaes’ history of the Depression makes a hell of a lot more sense to me than any others I’ve read of it.

No Hicks Need Apply

Apparently in the interest of “diversity,” being a member of the 4H Club (and don’t even think about it if you’re a leader of such an organization, reduces your chances of getting into many private colleges:

what Espenshade and Radford found in regard to what they call “career-oriented activities” was truly shocking even to this hardened veteran of the campus ideological and cultural wars. Participation in such Red State activities as high school ROTC, 4-H clubs, or the Future Farmers of America was found to reduce very substantially a student’s chances of gaining admission to the competitive private colleges in the NSCE database on an all-other-things-considered basis. The admissions disadvantage was greatest for those in leadership positions in these activities or those winning honors and awards. “Being an officer or winning awards” for such career-oriented activities as junior ROTC, 4-H, or Future Farmers of America, say Espenshade and Radford, “has a significantly negative association with admission outcomes at highly selective institutions.” Excelling in these activities “is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission.”

Espenshade and Radford don’t have much of an explanation for this find, which seems to place the private colleges even more at variance with their stated commitment to broadly based campus diversity. In his Bakke ruling Lewis Powell was impressed by the argument Harvard College offered defending the educational value of a demographically diverse student body: “A farm boy from Idaho can bring something to Harvard College that a Bostonian cannot offer. Similarly, a black student can usually bring something that a white person cannot offer.” The Espenshade/Radford study suggests that those farm boys from Idaho would do well to stay out of their local 4-H clubs or FFA organizations — or if they do join, they had better not list their membership on their college application forms. This is especially true if they were officers in any of these organizations. Future farmers of America don’t seem to count in the diversity-enhancement game played out at some of our more competitive private colleges, and are not only not recruited, but seem to be actually shunned. It is hard to explain this development other than as a case of ideological and cultural bias.

I’d love to hear their explanation for this.

Flying On Its Own?

I’m getting well-sourced indications that the first SpaceShipTwo drop test will occur today, and that they’re taxiing in Mojave.

[Update a few minutes later]

They may be having problems. The vehicle is reportedly out on the apron, but all the engines have been shut down.

[Thursday morning update]

Well, whatever the problem was yesterday, they seem to have fixed it.


The Land Of Obama

Leads the way to fiscal meltdown:

The state of Illinois — broke, overleveraged, and still refusing to get its accounts in order — is up to something interesting: selling bonds to meet its pension obligations. As one of the many states that refuse to set aside adequate money to fund its public-employee pensions, Illinois is headed to the debt markets to raise $3.7 billion for pension liabilities to get it through the year. This is a double dip: In January, Illinois sold $2.4 billion in bonds for pension obligations. Actually, make that a triple dip: It sold $10 billion in bonds to fund its pension liabilities in 2003. “States don’t traditionally fund their pensions with debt,” says CNN in a nice bit of understatement, “but the practice frees up other money that can be used for operations.” The double whammy here is that Illinois’s pensions are in trouble because it already spent the money it needed for its pension contributions in past years on other spending: Which is to say, Illinois is borrowing money it will have to repay eventually to repay the pension money it already spent to pay for other spending it couldn’t afford then and can’t afford now. If you’re wondering where Barack Obama developed his fiscal finesse, you don’t have far to look.

And wasn’t it nice of them to send him to Washington where he can do the same thing to the rest of us?

An Urgent Call To Action

Thoughts on tomorrow’s Senate vote on NASA authorization, from Henry Vanderbilt of the Space Access Society:

…let them both know that you support full funding for NASA Commercial Crew, and full funding for NASA space exploration technology, and that you are very much against any new NASA heavy lift booster development as very likely being a massive waste of taxpayer dollars.

Read the whole thing.

[Post Instalanche update]

More background and related links here.

[Thursday morning update]

Clark Lindsey has some links to the latest on the bill, here, here and here.

He also has some thoughts on how it could have been a lot worse:

while I don’t want to sugar-coat this awful bill, I’m just saying that it is no cause for despair. My philosophy from the start of this website and blog has been based on a belief that progress usually comes in step-by-step increments. It will be disappointing if the 2011 NASA budget doesn’t make the huge step initially promised. Nevertheless, even this bill is a step forward.

I never have high hopes for space policy. The bill could be a lot better, but just getting rid of Constellation, and particularly Ares, is a huge improvement. I’m willing to take if for now, and start to educate the Republicans so we can get better policy when they take over next year, and hope that they don’t try to undo everything that Obama did, and restore the disastrous Bush policy, simply on partisan grounds. It’s important to have a serious discussion on what we’re trying to accomplish, and how best to do it, regardless of the genesis of various policies. It hasn’t happened yet, but hope springs eternal.

[Update a while later]

No word about the press conference yet, but here is Hutchison’s official statement.

A Magnificent Achievement

Thoughts from Victor Davis Hanson, on just how big Barack Obama has blown it:

What is strange about all this is how the clueless behavior only intensifies. We expect each day another crazy outburst from another fringe appointee, another “battle” to push through something the public does not want — all overseen by the “healer” of “no more red state/blue state” fame.

In short, in just 18 months, Obama has ended talk of permanent Democratic majorities and may well do to the Democratic party what Carter did in 1980 and Clinton in 1994, all while taking a once-obsequious press down with him. With idols like Obama, Mort Zuckerman, Chris Matthews, and Evan Thomas hardly need enemies.

I never had much hope for him, but I do have to admit that it’s quite impressive, and he’s done the Republic a great favor by putting a blast furnace under the kettle so that the frog noticed in time.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!