Too Late For Me

Arizona is going to end its speeding camera program. I didn’t even know they had one, until I got a notice in the mail a few days ago with a picture of me at the wheel, on my way back from Space Access in Phoenix last month. Seventy one in a sixty zone.

I wonder how hard these are to challenge? With conventional tickets, you can demand a trial, and to see the calibration records on the radar, and such, and often win. Of course, being out of state, that would be a PITA.

Some Sanity From Jay Barbree

He has a surprisingly (for him — considering what an Ares koolaid drinker he’s been over the past few years) calm and objective assessment of the state of the new plan. I don’t know whether he’s right or not, but it’s politically plausible, for the near term. If we have to waste a few billion continuing to pretend to develop an Ares-based heavy lifter for a few years to keep the Florida rice bowls full, I can live with that, as long as the orbital technology funding doesn’t get starved for it. I’m still hoping that eventually, and before we sink too much money in that money pit, we’ll realize that we don’t need it. As for lunar landings and bases, there’s also plenty of time to change peoples’ minds on that. Everything planned for the deep-space missions will support it, and all we’ll need is a lander (which Masten and Armadillo, not to mention Blue Origin, are developing prototypes of now). If a fueling depot is established at L-1, that’s a natural time to decide whether to use it as a staging point for lunar surface activities.

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?

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!