Grazing Dinosaurs

Wow. Am I unimpressed with ESA’s plans for a new rocket:

Multiple designs for a two- or three-stage rocket with cryogenic, solid-fueled and methane/oxygen main stages will be studied not only for their performance, but also for their long-term operating costs.

While no decision has been made, the early design work will focus on a vehicle that would add or subtract strap-on boosters to lift satellites weighing as little as 3,000 kilograms and as much as 7,500 kilograms into geostationary transfer orbit, the destination of most telecommunications satellites.

Unlike the current Ariane 5, the next-generation launcher would, under the preliminary designs being investigated, launch one satellite at a time into geostationary orbit, not two as typically is the case with the current Ariane 5.

And this huge breakthrough in launch technology will be available in only fifteen years.

Between 1945 and 1960, we went from the DC-3 to the 7407. Between 1955 and 1970, we went from Aerobees to moon landings. And between now and 2025, the Europeans want to develop yet another expendable rocket. I guess they learned the lesson of the Shuttle. It was the wrong lesson, but at least they learned a lesson, right?

Now I’ll Have To Rethink My Position

Are the elite starting to turn against Obama?

“If you’re asking if the United States is about to become a socialist state, I’d say it’s actually about to become a European state, with the expansiveness of the welfare system and the progressive tax system like what we’ve already experienced in Western Europe,” Harvard business and history professor Niall Ferguson declared during Monday’s kickoff session, offering a withering critique of Obama’s economic policies, which he claimed were encouraging laziness.

“The curse of longterm unemployment is that if you pay people to do nothing, they’ll find themselves doing nothing for very long periods of time,” Ferguson said. “Long-term unemployment is at an all-time high in the United States, and it is a direct consequence of a misconceived public policy.”

But…but…Nancy said that paying people unemployment was the fastest and best way to create jobs!

Ferguson was joined in his harsh attack by billionaire real estate mogul and New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman. Both lambasted Obama’s trillion-dollar deficit spending program—in the name of economic stimulus to cushion the impact of the 2008 financial meltdown—as fiscally ruinous, potentially turning America into a second-rate power.

“We are, without question, in a period of decline, particularly in the business world,” Zuckerman said. “The real problem we have…are some of the worst economic policies in place today that, in my judgment, go directly against the long-term interests of this country.”

Gee, Mort, I could have told you that two frickin’ years ago. Why did it take you so long to catch on that you were one of the rubes?

And I loved this:

Ferguson warned: “Do you want to be a kind of implicit part of the European Union? I’d advise you against it.”

This was greeted by hearty applause from a crowd that included Barbra Streisand and her husband James Brolin. “Depressing, but fantastic,” Streisand told me afterward, rendering her verdict on the session. “So exciting. Wonderful!”

Brolin’s assessment: “Mind-blowing.”

To be fair, though, I suspect that you could blow Brolin’s mind with a butterfly wing.

This can’t be good for his renomination prospects. The long knives will be out on November 3rd, I suspect.

Thinking Out Of The Box

The toy box:

It is clear…in the course of the two hours I spend with Greene that he has some pretty wacky ideas that, were he to win in November, would put him among the more unpredictable members of the senate. At one point, he lurches off on his big idea for how to create jobs in South Carolina.

“Another thing we can do for jobs is make toys of me, especially for the holidays. Little dolls. Me. Like maybe little action dolls. Me in an army uniform, air force uniform, and me in my suit. They can make toys of me and my vehicle, especially for the holidays and Christmas for the kids. That’s something that would create jobs. So you see I think out of the box like that. It’s not something a typical person would bring up. That’s something that could happen, that makes sense. It’s not a joke.”

No, what’s a joke is the stupidity of Democrat voters. Al Greene is just the gift that keeps on giving. We could see this coming back in Florida 2000.

I’m With Them

Most Americans don’t want to pay higher taxes to bail out public employees and entitlements:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Adults shows that only 19% would be willing to pay higher taxes to avoid layoffs of state employees. Sixty-nine percent (69%) say they would not be willing to pay more in taxes for this reason. Another 11% are undecided.

Adults feel similarly when it comes to funding entitlement programs. Twenty-two percent (22%) would pay higher taxes to prevent cuts in entitlement programs for low-income Americans. Sixty-three percent (63%) say they would not pay more to keep these programs afloat. Another 15% are undecided.

Americans are slightly less opposed to paying higher taxes for education. Thirty-four percent (34%) say they are willing to pay higher taxes to provide funding for public education, but 54% say they are not. Another 12% aren’t sure.

Of course, it’s already too late, since a large part of Porkulus went to exactly this, and at some point, we’ll have to pay for it (not to mention the interest on it). What I find the most interesting about this poll is that (unlike most Rasmussen polls) it’s of adults. I wonder what likely voters think?

This will be a potent campaign issue (among many) against Democrats this fall.

This Isn’t Going Away

Michelle Malkin has a collection of new NASA logos.

[Update a while later]

More thoughts from Jay Nordlinger:

say that, back in the 2008 campaign, you had remarked, “If Obama becomes president, he will demand that NASA devote itself to making Muslims feel good about their contributions to science.” You would have been called the worst and wildest kind of right-winger.

This administration is simply beyond parody. Apologizing to Communist China for Arizona’s immigration laws; directing NASA to address itself to Muslim self-esteem . . . Unbelievable.

I wish it were.

[Update a few minutes later]

One giant leap backward:

According to contemporary liberalism, the government is the control room of society, where problems get solved, where institutions get their marching orders, where the oceans are commanded to stop rising. Each institution must subscribe to the progressive vision: All oars must pull as one. We are all in it together. We can do it all, if we all work together. Yes, we can.

In my book, Liberal Fascism, I called this phenomenon the “liberal Gleichschaltung.” Gleichschaltung is a German word (in case you couldn’t have guessed) borrowed from electrical engineering. It means “coordination.” The German National Socialists (Nazis) used the concept to get every institution to sing from the same hymnal. If a fraternity or business embraced Nazism, it could stay “independent.” If it rejected Nazism, it was crushed or bent to the state’s ideology. Meanwhile, every branch of government was charged with not merely doing its job but advancing the official state ideology.

Now, contemporary liberalism is not an evil ideology. Its intentions aren’t evil or even fruitfully comparable to Hitlerism. But there is a liberal Gleichschaltung all the same. Every institution must be on the same page. Every agency must advance the liberal agenda.

And unfortunately, it’s true in both Republican and Democrat administrations. The federal bureaucracy is eternal, and intrinsically incented to promote itself, growing like a cancer on the body civitas. It’s one of the reasons that NASA’s problems are so intractable. In the sixties, it had an essential mission, with an essentially unlimited budget, and it was a young agency that hadn’t had time to accrue the barnacles. It’s not really fixable four decades later. We need a fresh start.

[Update a while later]

More thoughts on the flawed thought processes of “liberals” (which occurred to me yesterday as well):

Of course, it’s entirely possible (pace Bernard Lewis) that the Muslim world does not lack for self-esteem on the matter of science or anything else. Certainly scientific know-how has not been lacking in nuclear-armed Pakistan, or (would-be) nuclear Iran. Besides, hasn’t Mr. Obama heard? The whole self-esteem myth has been exploded. Though millions of tax dollars and God only knows how many wasted instructional hours have gone toward making American kids think they are really, really special, it turns out that there is zero correlation between such drilled self-esteem and academic performance.

I never noticed that bullies had low self esteem. It seemed pretty clear to me that their self esteem was far too high.

To treat the Muslim world as a vast ocean of African Americans in need of respect and encouragement from us is both arrogant and incredibly solipsistic. In fact, large swaths of the Muslim world feel inexpressibly superior to us — particularly morally and spiritually. Until cold terror forced them to accept American servicemen on their soil, the Saudis kept “infidel” pollution to the barest minimum in the home of the prophet. That wasn’t an expression of inferiority. Osama bin Laden boasted in 2000 that he had defeated the Soviet Empire and that it would be a small matter to defeat the American one. Again, he may have been deluded, but he was not a candidate for assertiveness training. Nearly every Muslim child is instructed that his is the true faith, superior in every way to the errors that came before — Judaism and Christianity — and infinitely above paganism or atheism. Jihadis are taught that their shining pure religion requires no less than the mass murder of infidels and unbelievers.

It might just be that Muslim self-confidence is more dangerous to us than imagined Muslim feelings of inadequacy.

Yup. Even if NASA were capable of making Muslims feel better about themselves, it might be worse than useless to do so — it could be quite counterproductive, particularly if it causes them to hold us all the more in contempt. As I said in comments at PJM yesterday:

If even one young hot-head thinks America isn’t so bad after hearing this interview, and then chooses not to enlist in al-Qaeda, then American lives will have been saved.

Not if for each one hot-head who thinks that, ten think that we’re displaying weakness and cultural flaccidity. Recall what bin Laden said about the weak horse and the strong horse. The administration may think that it’s pursuing smart diplomacy, but all it’s really doing is sowing contempt for us among many in that culture. They don’t lack self esteem. They lack esteem for non-Muslims. And with this kind of nonsense, we give them good reason to.

This is of a piece with other myths about terrorism — that it is caused by poverty, or hopelessness. But many are poor in many countries, and don’t murder others in the name of their god. And what drives the terrorism of the “Palestinians” isn’t hopelessness, but hopefullness — the hope that with terror, they can force the Israelis to a settlement (and eventually out of the Middle East altogether).

This is what happens when you let academics run foreign policy.

[Update a while later]

Greg Gutfeld weighs in:

According to a piece by Byron York, Obama ordered NASA administrator Charles Bolden to focus on three goals – inspire brats to study science and math, expand international relations (which only works when hookers are involved), and help Muslims “feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering”. These goals, as Hot Air notes – have nothing to do with space.

But they are spacey.

And so our President has put feelings before frontiers. Which is a mistake, because you can’t inspire anyone – kids or Muslims – without actually doing something. And if space exploration is no longer about space exploration, what exactly is it?

Crap.

But you know what it should be about?

Blowing up crap. Fact is, we love movies like Star Wars, Star Trek and Star Jones – not for their emotion, but for their annihilation. In short: we need to weaponize space. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to excite a kid than giving him the chance to obliterate Pandora.

I hate those people.

And if you disagree with him, you’re a homophobic giant smurf.

[Afternoon update]

You know what isn’t a Muslim problem? A lack of space technology. Or self esteem.

This is stupid on multiple levels.

The Argument Never Ends

Keynes versus Hayek. Of course, it’s never an argument about how best to revive an economy — it’s an argument about how to either maximize government power, or to liberate the people from an overspending, overtaxing tyrant.

[Update a few minutes later]

Lynne Kiesling has more thoughts:

This theme of “economic control becomes political control” is crucial to making sense of the corporatist nature of political activity, and why regulation is so pernicious for individual well-being and liberty.

Hayek is, if not one of the first to make this connection, certainly the most prominent early proponent.

An Interesting Google Ad

This looks like an interesting course:

Have you ever wondered: How do various scholarly discourses—cosmology, geology, anthropology, biology, history—fit together?

Big History answers that question by weaving a single story from a variety of scholarly disciplines. Like traditional creation stories told by the world’s great religions and mythologies, Big History provides a map of our place in space and time. But it does so using the insights and knowledge of modern science, as synthesized by a renowned historian.

This is a story scholars have been able to tell only since the middle of the last century, thanks to the development of new dating techniques in the mid-1900s. As Professor Christian explains, this story will continue to grow and change as scientists and historians accumulate new knowledge about our shared past.

I and others actually tried to condense this story down to something that can be told in forty-five minutes or so at the dinner table, which we tell on Moon Day (coming up two weeks from today, on the forty-first anniversary of the lunar landing).

What was really interesting, though (and what mindless stereotypers on the left will find boggling) was that it was a Google ad at National Review…

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!