My Life With Jessica

Described here. Though she’s not quite as creative. Generally, she sleeps on the desk by the monitor, and when she wants food, she walks over the keyboard, sits on the edge, and reaches out to tap me on the face with a paw. Also, I’ve noticed that she doesn’t want food so much as attention and service. She’ll complain, even when there’s still food in the bowl, and demand that I add more. I don’t have to add a lot more, but I have to go through the motions.

The Race Heats Up

…and Sir Richard moves on:

Dulles, Va.-based Orbital is teaming with Virgin Galactic of New Mexico on the Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev 2) project. Virgin Galactic will market commercial rides on the spacecraft, conduct drop tests of the orbital space vehicle using its WhiteKnightTwo aircraft and offer transport services for the space vehicle, industry sources said. Although Orbital expects to launch and land the spacecraft at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., in the event of an abort, WhiteKnightTwo would be used to ferry the spaceship between its landing location and the Cape.

Virgin is also expected to announce this week a separate CCDev 2 bid led by Sierra Nevada Corp., the big winner in NASA’s first round of Commercial Crew Development awards earlier this year. The Sparks, Nev.-based firm garnered $20 million in CCDev 1 funds to mature its Dream Chaser orbital spacecraft, a six-passenger lifting-body vehicle based on NASA’s HL-20 concept from the early 1990s that the company has been working on for several years.

I can’t reveal the source, but I am reliably informed that at Burt Rutan’s retirement dinner last week, Sir Richard phoned it in from Necker Island, with a video lamenting Burt’s abandoning the field (though Burt had always been on record as not knowing how to do orbit — at heart he was always an airplane guy, and one of the best ever). With the hybrid engine problems, I take this as a sign that, while he still hopes to make his mark in the suborbital world, his focus has shifted to a higher velocity game. It can’t be a result of SpaceX’s success last week, because both deals have to have been in work for months, but I suspect that the week of the Dragon had some influence as to when to make announcements.

The Congress will do what it does when it reassembles in January, but with Bigelow’s habitats beckoning, I doubt that anything they do will have much influence over our future in space, at this point. At worst, they will only be able to continue to waste the taxpayers’ money.

Proposed Division Names For The Big Tweleven

…are not getting a lot of love from the commentariat at Free Republic. The comments at the original Tribune article are pretty cutting, too.

They seem kind of stupid to me. Can’t one be both a “Leader” and a “Legend”? Or, neither, for that matter? Jeez, just go with East and West.

[Update a few minutes later]

Here’s a suggestion for a new, disambiguated name: “The Big Ten Plus Penn State And Nebraska.” You can call the other one “The Big Twelve Minus Colorado and Nebraska.”

ObamaCare Is On The Ropes

Richard Epstein explains:

The government finds itself here in a real pickle. Virginia has drawn a clear line that accounts for all the existing cases, so that no precedent has to be overruled to strike down this legislation. On the other hand, to uphold it invites the government to force me to buy everything from exercise machines to bicycles, because there is always some good that the coercive use of state authority can advance. The ironic point is that this is not a commerce-clause argument as such, for in my view any state statute would be subject to the same objection even though the state has plenary police powers.

Read the whole thing.

I think that this also demonstrates the constitutional ignorance of the Democratic leadership and its counsel, and legal incompetence of the Holder Justice Department (not that it was really a winnable case).

I would also add that, as he points out, that this is a demonstration of why state requirements for the purchase of auto insurance don’t lie with the fact that the are states, but with the fact that driving on public highways is a privilege, not a right, and that auto insurance mandates are to protect others from the externalities of your driving, not to protect you from yourself (as health insurance is).

Health Care And Overreach

Twice now, while there were other factors in both cases, the Democrats have been severely punished in elections over their attempt to socialize medicine.

First, in 1994, they lost both houses of Congress because of HillaryCare, which fortunately didn’t pass.

They learned the wrong lesson from 1994, deluding themselves that they lost not because they attempted to take over a sixth of the nation’s economy, and one on which people depend for their very health and lives, but because they had failed to do so. So in 2010, they applied this false lesson to double down, deluding themselves this time that if they passed the latest unconstitutional monstrosity, it would be the key to electoral victory. Even Bill Clinton fantasized (or at least pretended to, perhaps as a way of sabotaging the Obama administration?) that it would magically become more popular once it was passed, and Queen Nancy assured us, holding her giant gavel, that we would find out what was in it then, and like it.

This time, they lost the House even more dramatically, and kept the Senate only because of a combination of safe Dem seats up that year and some flawed Republican candidates. The fact that the law remains on the books, with a president in the White House prepared to veto any repeal of it, his signature “victory” (ignoring the fact that it was rammed through the Congress in a partisan manner via undemocratic procedural gimmicks with very little White House guidance or input), will just make things that much worse in two years in the Senate, with many more vulnerable Democrats up for election, perhaps even providing the Republicans with a filibuster-proof majority.

So what false lesson will they take from this latest setback on their “progressive” road to serfdom? My prediction: the polls are all wrong — the bill was unpopular not because it passed, but because it wasn’t socialistic enough, lacking a “public option” (read “government option” or inevitable slide down the steep greased slope to single-payer). Because in their ideology, the “reality-based community” ise impervious to empirical data, or reason, or reality. It’s the thing that saves us from them, ultimately, in a country where the voice of the people is ultimately heard.

[Update a while later]

And here is Chris Gerrib in comments, right on cue, to validate my prediction.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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