Paula Deen’s Recipes

Maybe these are the reasons why she has diabetes, but there’s no explanation as to why. While a lot of the dishes are refined-carb intensive, there’s also an implication that fat is involved, but I’m not aware of any link between fat consumption and diabetes. I would think that the jalapeno poppers wouldn’t be that bad for you. I will say, though, that most of them look godawful. I wouldn’t want to eat them even if they didn’t wreck my body.

Emily Lakdawalla

An interview. I strongly agree with this advice:

…cultivate your ability to write, to express yourself with brevity and clarity. Writing is important not only for explaining your research, but also for applying for grants and jobs. People who write well, with an engaging voice and correct spelling and grammar, make a positive first impression, giving them a leg up over their competition. My advisor at Brown made all his students submit abstracts to the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. The struggle to write those abstracts helped us identify holes in our knowledge or in the completeness of our work; presenting our work in posters or talks gave us poise and confidence in intimidating situations. So keep a journal, or start a blog. Just write.

I also find that writing forces you to think about what you’re saying much more than just talking about it.

NASA As Prime Contractor

I had a real-time revelation on The Space Show yesterday. What if, in violation of the Congress’s pork-driven demands, NASA decided to actually competitively bid a heavy-lift program? Who would put in a bid for the current monstrosity?

ULA could bid a growth version of Delta or Atlas (though how much development experience they have is a little questionable, given that the vehicles were originally designed by their parent companies), and obviously SpaceX would bid some sort of BFR. But who would bid a Shuttle derived? ATK? They’ve never built a launch system. Perhaps Boeing, which is currently the contractor for the second stage? They and Lockheed are the only companies (other than SpaceX and Orbital) with any recent vehicle development experience. One of the reasons that Ares was such a mess was that, unlike Shuttle, it had no prime contractor. It was managed by Marshall itself, which hasn’t developed a launch system since von Braun died. As will be the SLS, which is one of the reasons for pessimism as to program success.

[Update a while later]

Aerojet to the rescue of the taxpayer?

If NASA opts to pursue the heavy-lift launcher by modifying existing space shuttle and Ares contracts, and a bid protest is filed with GAO, Cooke said work on those contracts would cease until the protest is resolved.

And fortunately, if it takes months to resolve, it might be sufficient time for both changes in Congress, and for further demonstration of the lack of need for such a vehicle, for other than those who will get paid to build it. Time is not on the porkers’ side.

[Update a while later]

I guess that USA could put in a bid for it, but like ULA, they are operators, with no intrinsic vehicle development experience as a company.

Economic Insanity

From the guy who runs Medicare:

In other words, Berwick’s column accidentally teaches us an important lesson. When consumers are in charge and responsible for paying their own bills, markets are very efficient and costs come down. But when government policies cause third-party payer, consumers have little if any incentive to spend money wisely – leading to high costs and inefficiency.

Defenders of the status quo argue that the market for healthcare somehow is different than the market for things such as computers. But here’s a chart (click to enlarge) showing that relative prices are falling in one of the few areas of the healthcare system where consumers spend their own money. And I’ve previously noted that the same thing applies with abortion, where prices have been remarkably stable for decades. Regardless of one’s views on the procedure, it does show that costs don’t rise when people spend their own money.

That’s common sense and basic economics. But it’s not a good description of Obama’s healthcare plan, which is explicitly designed to increase the share of medical care financed by third-party payer.

It’s almost as though they have a hidden agenda to increase the scope of government power.

Take Down Of A Flim-Flam Man

I have to confess that before I read this devastating piece by Bruce Bawer, I had never heard of Greg Mortensen. So I guess his self promotion wasn’t universally effective.

In recent days many commentators have lamented that it is dismaying to know that Mortenson’s a phony. No, what’s dismaying is that so many people were taken in in the first place. What’s dismaying is that so many people don’t seem to recognize a huckster, a con artist, a flimflam man when they see one — and, by the same token, don’t seem to recognize authentic virtue, selflessness, and humility either. Have we become so coarsened by celebrity culture, so accustomed to slick showbiz packaging and self-promotion, so habituated to feeding the ravenous narcissism of the famous, that we’re no longer capable of detecting what Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof called “a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity”? Hemingway said that the one thing a writer needed most of all was a foolproof “bullshit detector”; are twenty-first-century Americans’ bullshit detectors hopelessly out of whack? Have the glossy, streamlined, highly polished and tidily ordered versions of human reality served up on all too many “reality” programs and Oprah-type talk shows destroyed our very ability to separate the genuine from the bogus, the real article from the counterfeit, and even caused us to turn our noses at the imperfect, unprocessed, clunky, smudged, and pockmarked real thing? Do we want to be fooled?

Like Bawer, I think it explains why Barack Obama is president as well.

[Update a few minutes later]

More thoughts from Mark Steyn.

[Another update]

This seems related. Despite appearances, the administration isn’t deliberately trying to destroy the nation, it is simply ignorant and stupid:

With academia, mass media, most of the publishing industry, and Hollywood on their side, how would these policymakers know any better? Their professors told them they were brilliant; the books they read all tell them they’re right. Nobody corrects or criticizes them except those who they can rationalize are opponents — and evil people, too! — and thus these are partisan carpings to be disregarded.

If the critics can be described as conservatives, their views are discounted. If you are proven to be correct, that seems to have no effect on the powerful institutions and elite opinions.

In fact, the very fact of being a critic is used to disqualify criticism. When I wrote a detailed critique of Obama’s policies in a prestigious policy journal, the prestigious authors responded that what I said should be discounted — and my specific arguments need not be persuasively countered — because…I was critical of Obama’s policies!

I cannot imagine any other time in modern Western intellectual history when this kind of thing has happened.

So the usual corrective institutions aren’t functioning. If no one tells the emperor and his courtiers that they are under-dressed, such people are going to keep peeling off clothes confident of the fact that nobody (or at least anyone who counts) will tell them that they are naked. With so much insulation, they don’t feel the chill.

Those certain that Obama and his government — and I only speak of foreign policy here — must be acting deliberately out of malice generally have one thing in common: they have never actually dealt with high-level politicians and decisionmakers.

As someone who has, I have to agree. For instance, I know it looks like there’s been a massive government conspiracy to keep us from conquering space for the past half century, but there really isn’t. Ignorance and stupidity, in combination with public choice in the face of a topic of so little national importance, is a sufficient explanation. On the other hand, as J. Porter Clark noted (in reference to spammers), any sufficiently high level of cluelessness is indistinguishable from malevolence. It’s the other Clarke’s Law.
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/04/truth-or-tea/238065/
[Update a couple minutes later]

I will note, and agree with, commenters at Rubin’s piece, with which he ends up agreeing himself, that the ideology at work is objectively anti-American. But in their warped view, it is good for America to weaken its power in the world.

[Update a while later]

Truth, or tea? That’s why they call it the “reality-based community.”

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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