A Read-The-Bill Rule

…for the people who, you know, actually vote on these legislative atrocities. From Hanah Volokh (who I assume is related somehow to Eugene and Sasha — sister?). I wonder if the new Congress were to pass such a thing, if the president would veto it? Or perhaps it’s not legislation, just a change to House or Senate rules, in which case, he wouldn’t be involved. Hard to know from just the abstract.

The End Of The Space Race

…happened forty-three years ago today. In an excerpt from the book I’m working on:

…sadly for the enthusiasts, as already noted, it wasn’t really about space. As even the supposedly visionary Kennedy told his NASA administrator, James Webb, a few months before his assassination in 1963, “I don’t care that much about space.” It was about national prestige, not space per se – space was just the venue in which the competition was to be fought. Had Kennedy not been assassinated, it’s not clear that the Apollo program would have continued, or at least no more than it was under Lyndon Johnson who, under pressure from the Congress with the rising costs in blood and treasure from Vietnam, and the Great Society (and riots in Newark, Watts and Detroit, and other inner cities), actually ordered the end of production of new hardware in 1967, two years before the first landing. In fact, it was likely only the perceived martyrdom of the president who started the program that allowed it to go on as long as it did.

Beyond that, the space race was viewed as so expensive that many in the government (particularly those of a socialistic bent in the State Department) wanted to end it permanently, and in a sense they did, by signing and ratifying the Outer Space Treaty in 1967, which banned claims of national sovereignty off planet. Absent claims of national sovereignty, private off-planet property claims became, if not impossible, problematic. This had the intended effect of significantly reducing the incentive for nations to race to other worlds, including the moon. It also dramatically reduced the incentive for private enterprise to invest its own resources in doing so, even if there were some way of getting a return on the investment, by creating uncertainty in the legality of extraterrestrial property and real estate.

Alan Wasser is trying to do something about that. This is the sort of thing a Congress truly interested in conservative space policy would do, instead of keeping the pork flowing.

Pedagogy

An amusing XKCD.

That was the question I always had when people explained how wings worked and the Bernoulli Effect. The answer, of course, is that there are lots of ways to get lift, but that this is the most efficient one with the least drag. You can get lift from a barn door. Stick your hand out the window in a fast car, and you can get lift by just increasing the angle of attack, but the L/D is terrible. So when aerobatic planes are upside down, they have to keep nose up (down, from the pilot’s perspective) and up the thrust quite a bit to maintain altitude.

The Power Of Self Delusion

by the left:

Guevara was a vicious, megalomaniacal sociopath who wanted to be the next Stalin or Mao. (Indeed, Stalin in his younger days was a figure very much like Guevara.) He overtly and clearly stated his desire to destroy America and to exterminate millions of Americans in the process.

Yet today he is considered to be a figure worthy of admiration by the far (20% most) left in America. Go to any college campus and you will see admiring posters and t-shirts. Even Robert Redford, one of the few leftists who actually spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money on charitable causes, made a hagiographic movie about Guevera.

The vast majority of leftists, however, know nothing about the real Guevera. All they know is the hagiography that came straight out the Cold War-era Soviet propaganda mill. Worse, they don’t even bother to question the hagiography at all. If you try to confront them about their mindless adoration, they will reflexively change the subject to some real or imagined evil of non-leftists somewhere in the world’s history. They are emotionally incapable of thinking about Guevera in anything but positive terms.

Gee, I think we’ve seen some of that recently, on this very blog.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!