Unconventional Space Access

I’m doing a piece for Popular Mechanics on alternatives to rockets, and I was going to cover rail guns, gas guns, space elevators, sky hooks, and perhaps the launch loop. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

[Update a while later]

Folks, when I say alternatives to rockets, I am including all vehicles that employ chemical rocket engines, including airbreathers. As I said, unconventional.

[Update a few minutes later]

OK, I’m thinking of three categories: cannons (whether EM, chemical, whatever), external energy (laser, Orion), and momentum exchange (tethers, space elevators, compression towers). I know the latter isn’t really momentum exchange, but it fits sort of. The former don’t work well for passengers, but are well suited to bulk delivery of low-cost stuff (e.g., propellants), and the latter require very high up-front capital costs, in general. With a lot of tech risk.

The Pied Piper

of America:

Obama may be an ephebe, an utter novice at the post of command, but it must be admitted that he is a consummate sorcerer who was able to seduce and enchant multitudes, especially the horde of grown-up children so ready and eager to be piped to. Unlike the Pied Piper, however, he did not work alone but arrived on the scene surrounded by a retinue of plutocrats, political mandarins, and clever enablers, and of course by the usual train of cavillers, pettifoggers, sybarites, and janissaries, that is, journalists, feminists, intellectuals and academics. This only facilitated his task which he would not have been capable of accomplishing on his own.

Nonetheless, he had the magic, the gift of bewitchment, and no hesitation in using it. It wasn’t long before he was able to spellbind a vast swarm of believers with the promise of auroral benefictions (if I may coin a term). The tune was irresistible but very few heard the infrasonic lyrics, which actually belied the melody. These poor dupes followed him willingly into the new dawn of mellifluous beginnings, only to find the bright morning of the future suddenly changed into the grim presentiment of the coming debacle. This is what inevitably happens when one invests uncritically in fairy tales and surrenders one’s intelligence and autonomy to the blandishments of a false messiah.

Read all.

What Took So Long?

CNN has finally fired Jon Klein. I hope that his successor is an improvement (hard to see how it could be worse). Who in their right mind would want to watch a show with Elliot Spitzer (or as Jim Garaghty calls it, Client Number Nine At Eight)? It sure would be nice to have two cable news channels that don’t suck.

[Update a while later]

Wow, coincidence? Jeff Zucker is out at NBC, too. I wonder if he’s been protecting Olbermann and Ed Schultz?

The Tax Issue

isn’t about fiscal policy:

Broadly speaking, the Right believes that your stuff is yours. The Left believes your stuff doesn’t really become your stuff until the government says it is. So the Right sees taxes as a way to pay for necessary government services. The Left sees taxes as an instrument of social control and redistributive justice.

Because it’s what Marxists do. And Barack Obama is a perfect example, when in the debates he said that he’d raise capital gains tax rates, even if it resulted in reduced revenue, out of “fairness.”

Slamming Shut The Open Door

…of “diplomacy“:

Ahmadinejad understands perfectly well that confronting Iran is out of sync with the “new era of engagement” that is the trademark of Obama’s foreign policy. “Engagement” looks like this: The president of the United States keeps talking about “extended hands” and “open doors,” and the president of Iran keeps building nuclear weapons. As recently as September 19, even Secretary Hillary Clinton told Christiane Amanpour, “We’ve said to the Iranians all along…we still remain open to diplomacy. But it’s been very clear that the Iranians don’t want to engage with us.”

Ahmadinejad, therefore, took the opportunity provided by the U.N. to slam the door once more in President Obama’s face. While he lectured about the “lust for capital and domination” and “the egotist and the greedy,” the American U.N. delegation sat stoically in their seats. They had instructions to tough it out until Ahmadinejad really got offensive — though what would count as sufficiently offensive was never publicly announced.

The tripwire turned out to be Ahamdinejad’s suggestion that 9/11 was an inside job. “The U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grip on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime.” With that, the Obama representatives finally hauled themselves out of their seats and put engagement temporarily on hold.

Not for long, though. These fools will soon be knocking at the door again.

[Update a while later]

Is Israel already starting to attack Iran?

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!