Legal Games

There’s been a lot of whining from the Ares huggers about how NASA is “violating the law,” by shutting down Constellation in the face of the appropriations language. Now, I think that continuing Constellation is horrible policy, both from the standpoint of taxpayers and space enthusiasts, but I haven’t had any strong sense of or opinions on the legality of continuing it or not, and was sort of resigned to it continuing to zombie into next year until we finally get some sort of actual appropriations bill (as opposed to a continuing resolution. But now, it turns out that actually, Mike Griffin was violating the Anti-Deficiency Act, a much older (over a century, I think) law that requires that funds be available for contract termination. Jim Muncy explains in comments over at NASA Watch. I’m pulling it up to the front page here.

[Update a few minutes later[

Jeff Foust has more at Space Politics (including another Muncy comment). But follow over the fold for Jim’s thoughts:

Continue reading Legal Games


Remembering when “liberals” used to be opposed to anti-semitism. Also, Helen Thomas’ Weimar moment is a reflection on “progressive” America.

And you’ll be as shocked as I am to learn that the rabbi who outed the woman who expressed her vile views at a Jewish-History event has received hate mail and death threats. I’m sure they’re peaceful hate mails and death threats, though. Because these people are all about peace. Or so they tell us.

[Update a few minutes later]

A blast from the past. Tony Snow: “Thanks for the Hezbollah view, Helen.”

I miss Tony Snow. I disagree with the title, though. Helen Thomas has never required anyone’s assistance to look like a fool.

You First, Pete

Lileks, on Peter Singer and other misanthropes.

I don’t believe that there’s any inherent good in having people on earth. We’re fond of ourselves, but that’s about it.

Uh huh. Well, here’s a question I find more interesting than Singer’s threnodies: if there was no sentient life on Earth, would Nature still be beautiful? Everyone loves the beauty of Nature, after all. Everyone agrees it’s a Good and Wonderful Thing, although some think some spiritual experience can be distilled from its contemplation. I don’t – I sense the inconceivable depths of time, the wonders of natural systems, and find aesthetic pleasures if they mesh with my own preferences, i.e., I like the colors of a sunset, but do not like the face of a spider. There is no moral component to beauty, no ethics in a great forest. I like them, but they are not my Brother or Mother anymore than the bear considers me a distant relative. I prefer a certain amount of distance from Nature, as in the form of walls and roofs and clothing and medicine and so on, and if this makes our lives “disconnected” from Nature, then talk to the beaver, who gnaws down trees and dams streams. But we cannot disconnect with Nature; we’re part of it. We’re just the clever part that figured out how to arm ourselves against its indifference.

We pay Nature the compliment of being Beautiful, but that’s a hard-fought luxury. Nature requires the application of judgment to be beautiful. It requires people.

That’s just as true off planet as on.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!