In Search Of A Conservative Space Policy

With the quarter-century anniversary of the Challenger loss coming up next week, my thoughts on where we’ve been, and where we go from here. Even though I’m not really a conservative, I hope that the essay will make sense to them. Because unlike many, I at least speak the language, particularly when properly edited.

[Tuesday morning update]

I would note that there are two companion pieces to this, by Jeff Foust and Bob Zubrin.

Real Health Care

Some thoughts from Jim Pinkerton:

…every billionaire eventually discovers that vast wealth is little better than health insurance when it comes to securing good health. Wealth and health insurance are both forms of finance, and whether the plan is deluxe or bare-bones, finance is retrospective — after you get sick, people get paid to treat you. And yet what plutocrats — and all of us — really need is prospective, even preemptive, medical science, the kind that produces not just wellness plans, but actual vaccines and cures. The rich can afford the best doctors, and the plushest hospital suites, but if that scientific spadework isn’t done in advance, if the right cure doesn’t exist when it’s needed, it can’t be bought on short notice at any price. The polio vaccine, for example, took 17 years; genuinely effective treatments for AIDS took 15 years. Cures cannot be impulse purchases. They can’t be bid for on eBay, or even at Sotheby’s.

And the Democrats’ preferred policies will only make things worse. It’s mass murder, really. Or at least manslaughter. If I can be so uncivil.

NASA Flails

A good description of the current mess, from Bobby Block and Mark Matthews:

With the space shuttle set to retire this year, and no successor imminent, today’s NASA is being pulled apart by burdensome congressional demands, shrinking federal budgets, greedy contractors, a hidebound bureaucracy and an ambitious new commercial space industry that wants to shake up the status quo.

“Our civil space agency has decayed from Kennedy’s and Reagan’s visions of opening a new frontier to the point where it’s just a jobs program in a death spiral of addiction and denial, with thousands of honest innovators trapped inside like flies in bureaucratic amber,” said space-policy consultant James Muncy.

It occurred to me yesterday that NASA is a lot like Cuba, with its perfectly preserved 1950s vintage cars. It’s frozen in time in the sixties and seventies.

[Update a while later]

An excellent analogy at The Space Review today: NASA must take a small-ball approach.

[Update a few minutes later]

Can NASA develop a heavy-lift rocket? On the evidence, the answer would seem to be “no.” Of course, the real question is whether or not we need one, but Congress does, to keep the jobs going.

Thoughts On The Vaccine-Autism Fraud

Pointing out the war on science by the politically correct:

It was this F-word—feels—that left Mr. Mnookin justifiably gobsmacked, and it serves as the departure point for The Panic Virus, an attempt to explain how thousands of otherwise sophisticated Americans could make a fatuous decision to opt out of what is arguably modernity’s greatest medical achievement. Most children “exempted” from vaccines (a fittingly ridiculous term, as if the kids place out via AP exam) are not low-information progeny. They are being raised in college towns, in wealthy suburbs and in tony urban enclaves like Park Slope, by the sorts of parents who are otherwise given to grave tut-tutting about the anti-science stances of others—the climate-change know-nothings, say, or the ovine devotees of the garish Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky.

This part really grates, though:

How do we handle Mr. Mnookin’s fatuous friend? The Panic Virus aims to engage him or, failing that, to explain him; and yet a better choice still is to spurn him. Surely this same man, at this same party, could not have denied the existence of climate change without provoking spit-takes of wheat beer or dropped forkfuls of braised ramps. And the two claims are analogous, for both deny science in the service of what is, at base, an ideology: the magical faith that sacrifice is never required—at least not by you!

As a firm believer that evolution is the best, if not only theory to explain the diversity of life and the fossil record, and that there is no credible evidence that vaccines cause autism, I get outraged at such comparisons. It is neither “anti-science” or “denying science” to be skeptical about the claims of those who have been fudging data and don’t know how to do basic programming, let alone model complex and chaotic phenomena, while demanding that we pauperize millions in the future in the name of their claims. Skepticism lies at the heart of science. And this is an oversimplistic characterization. No one I know of “denies climate change.” Anyone with a lick of sense knows that the climate has never been static. The issues are whether or not it is changing as a result of our actions in a predictable way, if such changes (if they’re occurring) will be net good or bad, and if bad, what the best means of dealing with the problem are. And we are a long way from knowing the answers to any of those questions. That many of the people who claim certainty on the matter have been shown to be hacks and frauds doesn’t increase confidence in anyone making such claims. If anyone is “anti-science,” it is those who betray it with such unscientific behavior.

[Update Monday morning]

Left-wing creationism.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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