The Politicization Of The EPA

Thoughts from an actual scientist at the agency. You know, one who actually believes in science, and that agency actions should be based on it?

[Update a few minutes later]

An open letter to the UN Secretary General, from a long list of scientists and engineers:

Climate change science is in a period of ‘negative discovery’ – the more we learn about this exceptionally complex and rapidly evolving field the more we realize how little we know. Truly, the science is NOT settled.

If the science is “settled” (what an absurd phrase — science is never “settled,” by definition), how can there be so many scientists who disagree that it is settled?

Your Stimulus Dollars At Work

Some supposedly egregious examples. But I wanted to focus on this one:

$4.7 million for Lockheed Martin to study supersonic corporate jet travel

Now, I don’t know much about this money, or what its actual purpose is. Is it to just study the market? It’s not enough money to do anything serious in terms of advancing the tech, unless perhaps it’s for CFD.

But I don’t think that it’s necessarily intrinsically a bad thing for the federal government to be spending money on, though I think that it’s quite likely that the money will be wasted. More efficient supersonic jets are, after all, a green technology, and they could lead the way to cost-effective supersonic transports, so it could in theory be a good federal investment. The question is: is it appropriate for the government to be making such investments, or should we rely on the industry?

Well, the problem is that most of the industry, at least the big airframers like LM, don’t believe in R&D. At least not as a cost of doing business. They view it as a profit center — that is, they see it as simply another source of revenue, whether provided by the government, or some other customer. But they rarely put their own money into it. Neither does Boeing. Because for decades, they have become conditioned and inured to avoid it, instead going hat in hand to Uncle Sugar for R&D funds, which is happy to hand them out, even on boondoggles. I think that this is one of the reasons that we haven’t seen much aviation innovation — because the people who actually build airplanes aren’t willing to spend their own money on it. Of course, the regulatory and liability environment are also significant factors.

[Afternoon update]

I assume that this is what is being referred to:

The work will focus on “systems-level experimental validation activities” and is part of the NASA aeronautics research mission directorate fundamental aeronautics programme’s supersonics project. Managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center, the supersonics project is to provide proven capabilities that address the efficiency, environmental and performance challenges of supersonic aircraft. The studies also seek to identify potential requirements for future supersonic aircraft, assess the effectiveness of technology today and identify new research opportunities.

As I said, don’t expect much useful to come from the money. I could do a lot more with it.

The Real Fat-Cat Party

Thoughts from Jonah Goldberg:

My biggest objection is not to what isn’t true about the claim that the Right is the handmaiden to big business, it’s to what is true. Too many Republicans think being pro-business is the same as being pro-market. They defend the status quo against bad reforms and think they’ve defended economic freedom. The status quo stinks. And the sooner Republicans learn that, the sooner they’ll deserve to win again.

Of course, there are a lot of things they’ll have to learn to deserve to win again.

The Virgin PR Fiasco

I’ve been thinking about it, and this can’t be good for VG. They invite a lot of high-falutin’ people, including a lot of wealthy customers, subject them first to chilling winds and cold to see the vehicle, then have them party in a cold tent with iced vodka, after checking their coats and valuables. Then they quickly herd them outside in subfreezing temperatures and hurricane-force winds without their coats and other things, waiting in the chill blast for buses, shortly after which the tent collapses. Many of them are only now starting to get their belongings back, which were scattered across the desert and probably stopped only by the east fence of the airport. And Burt is saying “I told you so”:

…we drive past Schwarzenegger’s private jet as it taxis along the runway. It has been held on the ground for two hours because the wind was too strong to take off. Moments later we pass the party tent, which has now been reduced to a pile of tarpaulin and twisted metal. “I told them it was a bad idea to hold the event in this weather,” says Rutan.

Throwing a party isn’t rocket science, and it’s supposed to be something in Sir Richard’s wheel house. I wonder how many “future astronauts” had their faith shaken in the company’s ability to fly them safely?

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!