At The Edge Of Space

U-2 pilot Cholene Espinoza remembers her trips almost to space, on the fiftieth anniversary of the shoot-down of Francis Gary Powers:

Were the risks worth it? Absolutely. The advantage of having a human being in the pilot’s seat of a reconnaissance plane is overwhelming. A person can troubleshoot problems in mid-flight, with creativity that a computer lacks and a proximity to the problem that a remote-control pilot can never achieve. A pilot also has unique situational awareness: I’ve been on more than one mission in which I was able to distinguish promising details that a drone would have missed.

It was worth it personally, too. I’ll never forget the adrenaline surge of landing what was basically a multimillion-dollar jet-powered glider on its 12-inch tail wheel from a full stall while wearing a space suit. And I’ll always remember the peace of sitting alone on the quiet edge of space, out of radio contact for hours.

People would pay for that. Sounds like they would need better suits, though.

The LA Times Non-Endorsement

I found this line of their editorial decision to vote “present” in the primaries interesting:

On the Democratic side, we find that we’re no fans of incumbent Barbara Boxer. She displays less intellectual firepower or leadership than she could.

Why do they say this? What possesses them to imagine that she’s capable of any better? She is haughty and arrogant, with much to be modest about. And the following sentences were interesting as well:

We appreciate the challenge brought by Robert “Mickey” Kaus, even though he’s not a realistic contender, because he asks pertinent questions about Boxer’s “lockstep liberalism” on labor, immigration and other matters. But we can’t endorse him, because he gives no indication that he would step up to the job and away from his Democratic-gadfly persona.

So they’re saying that if he’d taken his campaign more seriously, acted like he was actually trying to win, and wanted to go to Washington, they would have endorsed him? After everything he’s said about them? I wonder if that’s really true.

Any regrets, Mickey?

Policy Purgatory

As I wrote the other day, what a mess:

Even Nelson, who described Obama’s speech at KSC as “visionary,” has advocated continued Ares rocket testing because it could mean a few hundred jobs at the center, which is set to lose as many as 9,000 workers once the shuttle completes its final three missions.

Much of the gridlock over Obama’s plan can be traced back to one sentence inserted by Shelby into a spending bill last year that bars NASA from canceling Constellation programs this year without congressional approval. Not only has that sentence prevented NASA from quickly switching to Obama’s new plan, but it also has given Congress time to kill his proposal and save Constellation.

Indeed, the tactic has proven so effective that lawmakers loyal to Constellation are considering a similar move in upcoming spending bills. That possibility has bureaucrats on both sides of the issue combing through thick pages of appropriations measures to ensure that the other doesn’t gain ground.

With such scrutiny, the issue may not be decided until Congress ultimately approves its 2011 budget — which may not happen until the winter holiday season.

OK, someone explain to me why, if the government is operating on a continuing resolution into the winter, and the Republicans have taken over one or both houses, and will be in power in January, why they wouldn’t simply filibuster any “Mad Duck” attempt to ram through an appropriations bill in December, and then do a new one in February?

Desecration

Do you know what I find most outrageous about this? That a public “servant” tried to force a student to turn an American flag inside out.

[Update a few minutes later]

Thoughts from First-Amendment specialist Eugene Volokh. As a commenter notes there, if a school is at risk from disruption by students wearing an American flag, it has very deep-seated problems. This is multi-culturalism run amok. Also, as another commenter points out, if this was really about Cinco de Mayo, they should have been concerned about French flags. But this was more about Mexican nationalism in American schools than the celebration of a minor Mexican holiday.

[Update a few minutes later]

Zombie has further thoughts:

So here we have the Principal and the Vice-Principal of an American high school treating the Stars and Stripes as if it was a gang bandanna; even worse, the school administrators took sides in this imaginary US-vs.-Mexico gang fight by allowing the widespread display of Mexican flags on campus but banning (under threat of punishment) any display of the American flag.

NBC quotes a fellow student:

“I think they should apologize cause it is a Mexican Heritage Day,” Annicia Nunez, a Live Oak High student, said. “We don’t deserve to be get disrespected like that. We wouldn’t do that on Fourth of July.”

Disrespected? I’m confused. Aren’t all the students Americans? Who is being disrespected by the display of our shared national flag?

I thought that one of the purposes of the public school system, agree with it or not, was to instill a sense of common culture and national (not nationalistic) pride. It seems to be failing at that as well as everything else.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!