The Missing Piece

John Strickland has some suggestions for in-LEO transportation:

One of the features of the original space station and shuttle concept was a space tug. The concept was called the S.T.S: (Space Transportation System), which would have allowed access to other locations in LEO (in the same or similar orbital plane) from the station. Such a tug would be able to capture large payloads, either modules or large cargo containers, and deliver them safely back to the station. The tug was originally in the post-Apollo plans, but by the mid-1970’s, like many critical components of the current Station, such as the Large Centrifuge Facility, it got chopped by budget cuts and budget overruns of other parts of the shuttle program, leaving just the Shuttle. Thus this component was lost long before the 1984 Reagan Space Station proposal. We still only have two components of what was intended to be a three-component system.

There were a few half-hearted attempts over the years to restore it (e.g., the Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle, which Marshall screwed the pooch on with, among other things, stupid requirements), but this hasn’t really been a serious discussion at NASA in decades. Yet it’s a key piece of the architecture for both LEO and BEO ops (a BEO version could be similar to the LEO one, except with larger tank or propulsion kits). And it’s all enabled by gas stations, of course. And these are all issues that Constellation, with its “let’s do Apollo again” mindset, completely ignored.

The Faculty Lounge

…is running (and in the process, ruining) the country:

If you wonder how our present administration’s attitudes toward business, commerce, taxes, finance, race, national security and foreign policy now play out, just drop by a local faculty lounge for a few minutes and listen up — America in 2010 will suddenly make sense, and perhaps scare the hell out of you all at once. It all reminds me of the proverbial first-semester college student who returns home at Thanksgiving to his near-broke parents to inform them of all the “new” things he’s learned at university.

Maybe we can start to mitigate some of the damage this November.

Unwarranted Assumptions

This writer has some tips on finding the best seats on a plane, but there’s an apparent bias:

Middle seats tend to be filled starting from the front of the aircraft and moving toward the rear—which means that if your flight isn’t full, you’re likely to get an empty seat next to you if you request an aisle seat in the center section in the back.

…I love 767s because there’s only one middle seat per row. This means that your chances of getting one are less than on any other two-aisle aircraft: A 767 can be 86 percent full before anyone gets stuck in the middle. Two-aisle planes tend to give you bigger seats, more legroom, and larger overhead bins than one-aisle aircraft.

…Unless I’ve achieved my personal nirvana of an aisle seat in an exit row, I always ask the gate agent if a better seat is available. Preferred seats (e.g., aisle seats up front) often open up at the gate because the elite-level or full-fare passengers who were occupying them get upgraded at the last minute.

Emphasis mine. Note that there’s an apparent assumption on her part that a) middle seats bad and b) aisle seats nirvana, for everyone. But why would I ask for an aisle seat when I don’t like aisle seats? I prefer windows, a word that doesn’t appear in the article. I actually almost prefer a middle seat to an aisle, because there is one less person to have to let out during the flight, and I’m not constantly getting jostled by passengers or flight attendants walking up and down the aisle. The only reason, to me, to prefer aisle is for safety (get out a little faster, unless you’re in an exit row), or a desire to get up occasionally and walk around (either for leg stretching or nature calls). My preference is to just cocoon at the window, where I can look out, and not be bothered by anyone else’s needs.

Yes, obviously, if you like aisles, then a two-aisle airplane is preferable. But if you prefer windows, wide-bodies suck, because they provide the lowest window-seat/seat ratio in the sky. My favorite plane, actually, is any variation on the old DC-9 (nowadays B-717 or S-80), because with only five seats per row, forty percent of them are windows.

A Little Blind

The liberal Democrat Obama-supporting rabbi who’s been getting death threats for accidentally outing Helen Thomas as the nasty piece of work she’s always been has been mugged by reality:

KURTZ: Well, let me interrupt you. What do you mean when you say “hate media”? I mean, obviously, you find yourself in the middle of this firestorm. Do you feel that journalists, programs, commentators have been personally unfair to you? And can you explain how?

NESENOFF: You know, I find that people that don’t cover the story or people that cover the story are so upset that they don’t know what to do, so they have to attack me, maybe we’ll say he did something on purpose or he filmed it a certain way, or we’ll find out what he did in his past. I mean, they don’t know what to do with it, but why don’t they actually ask me and find out maybe I liked Helen Thomas and I was actually for the fact that she went ahead and spoke to President Bush and said watch it with the Iraq War, although now I understand – and we have to reevaluate – that maybe when she was protesting the Iraq War, I was saying that because I didn’t want our soldiers to be in harm’s way. It turns out she didn’t want the Iraqis to be in harm’s way. So we have to, kind of, I have to really reevaluate liberal and conservative and really find out where I stand because I think I’ve been a little blind.

I think he’s discovering that they’re not for peace — they’re just on the other side.

The Ignorant Bigotry

…of Tavis Smiley. I was amazed when I hear that the only actual example he had of Christian violence was Columbine. In fact, the killers offered to spare the life of one of the students if she would renounce her faith in God (though I doubt if they’d have kept the promise if she’d done so). She refused, and they shot her.

Of course, this moron probably believes that Tim McVeigh was a Christian, too. I know that if I were a Christian I would be ashamed to hear Tavis Smiley declare himself one.

Oh, and slightly related: memo to Helen Thomas — the Jews in Israel are already home.

If You Like Your Plan

You can keep it. Unless we don’t like your plan:

Internal White House documents reveal that 51% of employers may have to relinquish their current health care coverage by 2013 due to ObamaCare. That numbers soars to 66% for small-business employers.

Were people really stupid enough to believe his lies during the campaign?

On the plus side, “repeal the bill” will have a lot more resonance this fall.

[Sunday morning update]

The good news just keeps on coming:

This year Ms. Watts estimates that changes made in response to the health law will add an extra 2 to 3 percent in cost increases, pressuring employers to engage in even more cost-sharing with employees — whether through higher premiums, co-payments or other out-of-pocket costs.

Mr. Weaver also reports increased interest by employers in high-deductible insurance plans. “They’ve been effective in managing costs,” he said.

You know, someone just a little smarter than Nancy Pelosi (i.e., almost everyone) would have been able to figure out what was in the bill without having to pass it.

Negligent Parents?

I don’t have a problem with the sailing attempt — I think that today’s children are far too coddled and infantilized (all the way to age 26, thanks to ObamaCare). I don’t see anything particularly magic about eighteen, either. Different people mature at different rates. There are many people who would never be able to do this at any age (most people, I’d say). What I’m looking forward to is the youngest (or even first) person to sail around the moon.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!