Defending the planet is too important a job to give to NASA:

Owing to a 2008 law passed by Congress, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has until 15 October to decide which agency will be responsible for protecting the planet from an asteroid strike. Members of the task force say NASA expects to be given part or all of that responsibility. To meet it, the panel discussed the creation of a Planetary Protection Coordination Office (PPCO) within NASA, with an annual budget of $250 million–$300 million. It would detect and track asteroids — and develop a capability to deflect them.

It’s not just an issue of competence — it comes down to the appropriate role of the agency, particularly in light of the Space Act. We really need to set up a Space Guard to take care of things like this. In fact, this could be an opportunity to do so, and then expand its charter to do a lot of other things that NASA isn’t doing well, such as space rescue and infrastructure maintenance.

[Update a while later]

Via Justin Kugler in comments, here’s a link to a paper written about ten years ago discussing the Space Guard concept. This is going to be elaborated upon in the coming months, because I’ve read a currently unpublished piece that will be released soon, and I think that there will be an article in The New Atlantis about it this winter.

The Real Islamaphobes

Why won’t the press stand up for Molly Norris?

Freedom of speech and press are in deep trouble when the American government thinks the best it can do to protect a journalist from death threats is to counsel her to go into hiding, and when the elite voices of American journalism can’t be bothered to say anything in her defense. But it’s actually worse than that. The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof thinks Muslims are owed an apology. “I hereby apologize to Muslims for the wave of bigotry and simple nuttiness that has lately been directed at you,” he wrote Sunday. “The venom on the airwaves, equating Muslims with terrorists, should embarrass us more than you.”

Instead of telling the rest of us that we’re all bigots, shouldn’t Kristof and the rest of the journalism profession be outraged by what has happened to Molly Norris? And shouldn’t they be angered that her government believes it cannot protect her? Imagine what they would be saying if white-hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan were threatening to kill Norris in Selma, Ala., instead of radical Muslims in Seattle. Would the FBI tell Norris she had to stop being a journalist and go into hiding? And would ASNE and SPJ look the other way as the First Amendment and freedom of the press were symbolically turned to ashes by flaming white crosses?


Frank Sietzen

I don’t always agree with Frank, but he’s a good guy, and I was very saddened to hear that he’s had a stroke, but is recovering. This is very tough for him, because I think he’s still waiting for a kidney as well. I want to wish him the best and a rapid recovery.

No Space Pork!

The Institute for Liberty, which seems to have gone on the warpath against the House NASA authorization bill, held a press conference on the Hill yesterday. Apparently, they’ve been stirring things up in Gabbie Giffords’ and Alan Grayson’s districts, with a lot of constituent letters.

“The bill is worse than a sham,” said Andrew Langer, President of IFL. “It is a travesty of incredible proportions. Despite the advice of Nobel Prize winners and Buzz Aldrin, Congressman Giffords is continuing to support worthless programs at NASA, programs that have not gotten us any closer to our goals in space, while continuing to outsource our manned space flights to Russia!”

I wonder if they’ve been coordinating with Citizens Against Government Waste?

TOTUS Screws Up Again

The president is teaching an alternate history, in which “Mexicans” were here before the country was founded.

Sorry, prez, but there were no “Mexicans” here at the time. There were Spanish colonies in California and the Southwest, but they were Spanish, not Mexican. There was little to no migration from what is present-day Mexico into what is now US territory, because there was little to draw migrants (the greatest economy on earth not yet being in existence). This is just nonsensical, and feeds into La Raza mythology. He might as well have waved a Mexican flag.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!