Born Gay?

Here’s an interesting discussion on forecasting sexual orientation:

We all know the stereotypes: an unusually light, delicate, effeminate air in a little boy’s step, often coupled with solitary bookishness, or a limp wrist, an interest in dolls, makeup, princesses, dresses and a staunch distaste for rough play with other boys; in little girls, there is the outwardly boyish stance, perhaps a penchant for tools, a lumbering gait, a square-jawed readiness for physical tussles with boys, an aversion to all the perfumed, delicate, laced trappings of femininity.

I’m sure that my parents thought, or at least worried, that I was going to be homosexual. I was a bookworm, and didn’t enjoy roughhousing or sports. On the other hand, I never had an interest in girlish things, and was more into pirates and cowboys. In any event, I’ve never had the slightest interest in the same sex, sexually speaking — I’m as heterosexual as they come (so to speak). But I think you have to be in abject denial to think that sexual orientation is a “choice.” The only people for whom that’s the case are bisexuals.

Et Tu, Jim?

In a roundup of some House races, Jim Geraghty at National Review comments on Suzanne Kosmas’ district:

Kosmas defied her district by voting for health-care reform, and many figured she had traded her vote to the Obama administration for some sort of deal to save Space Coast jobs. Instead, President Obama’s space-policy changes are effectively ending manned spaceflight, disastrous news for workers in her district.

I don’t know who figured that she had made such a trade, or how that was supposed to work, but the new policy is not “effectively ending manned spaceflight.” As I’ve explained myself at National Review, in fact, it was the Bush/Griffin policy that was doing that, in wasting money on an unaffordable and unnecessary new rocket that was extending the post-Shuttle gap into the indefinite future. The new policy could have a (commercial) crew delivery system in as little as four years, given proper (and comparatively modest) funding, while allowing the agency to focus instead on human exploration beyond earth orbit.

None of which is to say, of course, that Kosmas should necessarily be reelected.

[Update a while later]

Jim has updated his post to note that this assessment is that of the Republican candidate, and not necessarily his own.

A “Repeal” Amendment

Now this is what I call federalism:

“Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed.”

This would be the solution for legislative atrocities like ObamaCare.

1963 And Now

Some perspective for David Brooks, from Charles Murray:

You don’t increase spending by those amounts without changing the role of government in ways that go to the heart of the American project. That truth is reflected in the qualitative record. In 1963, 30 years after the New Deal started, the federal government still played little role in vast swathes of American life, from K-12 education to the way people went about providing goods and services to their fellow citizens. We can argue about which of the subsequent interventions were warranted and which were not, but not about this: The way that presidents and Congresses see their power to intervene in American life in 2010 is profoundly different from the way they saw it in 1963. In 1963, among mainstream Democrats as well as Republicans, it was accepted that an overarching purpose of the American Constitution was to limit the arenas in which government could act. Now, the recognition of that purpose has all but disappeared—in the executive branch, in the Supreme Court, and in Congresses controlled by Republicans as well as by Democrats. There has been big change, reflected in big government.

And that, not racism, is what the Tea Party is about.

A Space Bubble?

One of the biggest concerns about the commercial spaceflight industry is whether there will be sufficient demand to support multiple players. Technology Review has an article on the subject.

I would note that the limit on crew rotation to the ISS is somewhat arbitrary, and that the crew capacity is artificially limited by lifeboat capacity. I don’t think it would be that hard to increase the life support to handle a larger crew if they could solve this problem. I personally don’t think it’s really a problem — we don’t have “lifeboats” for McMurdo in winter, and I don’t understand why we really need one at ISS, but if we do, the solution is not to evacuate the entire station and bring everyone back to earth, which is really kind of stupid if you think much about it, but it’s been the default requirement since the eighties. As I’ve noted before, the Titanic’s lifeboats weren’t designed to get people back to Southampton — they were designed to provide a safe haven until their passengers could be rescued by another ship. A much better solution is to have a coorbiting habitat (e.g., a Bigelow facility) with a true lifeboat in the form of a crew tug (I’d make the tug large and inflatable as well, to maximize utilization of the docking port, and it could serve as a temporary safe haven itself). If NASA really wanted to goose the market, they’d buy at least one of each.


Jon Goff has a vision for space development. As noted in comments, it won’t happen until the government (or at least NASA) gets out of the transportation business, though.

Like some commenters, I wonder if it would really be practical to remediate the Van Allen belts, and if so, if there might be unintended environmental consequences.

Save The Planet

Shop Walmart:

you, and everyone else trying to sell to Walmart, have to spend all your time figuring out how to produce the same product with less. Walmart’s ruthless focus on reducing prices is driving producers everywhere to cut the costs of production: to switch to cheaper materials, use less packaging, cut down on waste of all kinds and to consolidate and rationalize both production and distribution. The result is a steady and inexorable decline in humanity’s impact on the environment for every unit of GDP.

The Green Police couldn’t do it any better. In fact, given the political cluelessness, uncertain signals (is nuclear energy a good thing or a bad thing?), and anti-scientific knuckle dragging from environmentalists on subjects like the use of GMOs in agriculture, it’s likely that a world run by Walmart would be both richer and cleaner than a world run by Greenpeace. Not that I want Walmart (or Greenpeace) to run the world, bu at the end of the day, being ruthlessly cheap is the most important way of being green. To cut out waste, to use methods of production that cut the energy consumed at every stage in the process, to strip packaging to the barest minimum, to reduce the amount of raw materials in every product: this is the mother lode of green. This is how a growing human population limits its impact on the earth. This is where Walmart and green are as one.

I still say that Sam Walton was a greater humanitarian, and did more to improve the lives of the poor, than any politician ever born.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!