Myths Of George Bush

Elizabeth Bumiller shocks her interviewer:

DU: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about President George W. Bush, and which stereotypes are actually true?

EB: Bush is actually not stupid at all. But he was rigid in a lot of things. He was not as intellectually curious as other presidents; not especially reflective — I think that’s obvious in his recent book. He was different in Washington than he was in Texas as governor. In Texas he was known for reaching across the aisle, and working with adversaries, and that just never happened in Washington. He also got socked with 9/11, and that changed everything. I don’t think you could ever write enough on how much that completely stunned and shell-shocked him and his administration. That accounts for some of the rigidness. One on one, he was extremely personable, very easy to approach, very casual. He demanded utter loyalty from his staff, and his staff by and large was exceptionally loyal, and that was something that always stunned people.

Emphasis mine. Who knew?

The thing that I find weird is the logic in her other criticism, though: “He was different in Washington than he was in Texas as governor. In Texas he was known for reaching across the aisle, and working with adversaries, and that just never happened in Washington.”

Hmmmmmm…Bush in Austin, one thing happened. Bush in Washington, a different thing happened.

Which is it that’s more likely, that Bush magically changed when he went from Austin to Washington, or that there was something different about Austin than Washington? Like maybe the Democrats in the latter weren’t willing to be reached to across the aisle?

Besides, the charge itself is nonsense. What do you call the deal to vastly increase government involvement in education by working with Teddy Kennedy, or dramatically expanding Medicare with Democrats, if not “working across the aisle”? So she’s wrong on both the history and the logic.

Bobby Braun

He’s NASA’s chief technologist. Very excited about the topic of this conference, and NASA wants to be a part of it and facilitate its success. His job is to reinvigorate a technology program at the agency. He wants to enable our future in space, and believes that technological leadership is the “space race” of the 21st century. Wants to support disruptive technologies that industry can’t. One of the reasons to have a federal government is to take those kinds of risks, and keep the nation at the cutting edge.

Space Technology is a budget line in the budget request (both 2011 and 20112). Includes partnership programs, cross-cutting technologies and exploration technologies. 2012 request is about a billion dollars. Formed three divisions: early-stage innovation, game-changing technology and cross-cutting capability demos. Includes CRuSR program for suborbital. Program acts as a “funnel,” taking broad range of ideas from industry/academia/government, filtering them to see if they will work, then filtering further to see if they’re ready to fly as demos. SBIR/STTR, space technology grants, Centennial Challenges and NIAC in early-stage division. Game changers focus on dramatic new high-risk approaches that can improve performance, decrease cost or create whole new capabilities. Part of it is a home for smallsat technologies. Cross-cutting demos is a processing of maturing technologies to flight readiness (TRL 7) includes flight opportunities on FAST programs and CRuSR, which were merged for management reasons.

Have already made awards to Masten and Armadillo for “engineering payloads” to characterize the environment for operational payloads. Goal is to continue to competitively procure development suborbital flights, with focus on payloads that reduce risk for technology infusion in future missions. Will expand to other platforms and test environments in 2013. There is an open call for payload opportunities that was released in December, though there are no funds yet for 2011. A number of Space Act agreements have been signed.

Union Versus Business Contributions

It’s not quite the way Jon Chait imagines:

…the list reads:

Democratic/Union Goon proxy: $51 million

Death Star, Inc.: $46 million

Union Goons (public sector): $43 million

The Committee to Re-Inflate the Bubble by Electing Democrats: $38 million

The Bankers Who Elected Barack Obama: $33 million

Democratic trial lawyers: $33 million

Union Goons: $33 million

Union Goons (public sector): $32 million

Union Goons: $30 million

Union Goons: $30 million


Detecting Extra-Solar Planets With Suborbital Flight

Brad Cheetham of U of CO is giving a talk on seeing extra-solar planets using suborbital vehicles and star shades. Kepler and Hubble find planets by inference from star wobbles, but they’re proposing to actually shield the star with a shade to allow planets to be actually be seen. Showing a simulation of what earth would look like from deep space with the sun shielded. Allows planets to be viewed even if we’re not in their orbital plane. Also allow spectroscopy to detect habitability (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen in the atmosphere). Flagship mission would use a telescope with a star shade at ES-L2. Critical technologies — precise orbit/attitude control, precision edges/deployment, opaque membranes, etc. Need preliminary observations prior to selection of flagship mission targets. Need to work with them suborbitally over next three years, including some astronomy good enough to publish. Suborbital can prove out technology very cost effectively, allowing design iteration and refinement. Need a couple hundred million for the ultimate mission but this can provide an affordable way of technology advancement until funding is found. Have a proposal in using Masten Xaero with a starshade that flies over a ground-based telescope. Trajectory has to be accurate to ten centimeters. Can start as low as one kilometer and go higher as techniques improve. Ultimately hope to image an earth-sized planet in the habitable zone at Alpha Centauri (binary system) using suborbital. Holding alignment major technical challenge, using GBORN receiver (cigarette-sized, one or two watts) for augmented GPS solution using cell towers, etc. for high precision. Think it has potential to map Alpha Centauri and Tau Ceti systems within three years, with ability to map more distant stars in next decade as technology goes into orbit.

Another Reason To Outlaw Public-Employee Unions

As if there weren’t enough:

If union protesters turn violent — as they increasingly have — can you trust pro-union police to intervene?

As he says, always bring a camera. Actually, you should follow many of the Marine rules for a gun fight at events like this when it comes to cameras:

1. Bring a camera. Preferably, bring at least two cameras. Bring all of your friends who have cameras.

2. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Memory is cheap. Your reputation is expensive.

3. If your shooting stance is good, you’re probably not moving fast enough nor using cover correctly.

4. Move away from your subject. Distance is your friend. (Lateral and diagonal movement are preferred.)

5. If you can choose what to bring to a demonstration, bring a long lens and a friend with a long lens.

6. In ten years nobody will remember the details of megapixels, stance, or tactics. They will only remember whose picture was taken.

7. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating, reloading, and running.

8. Accuracy is relative: most demonstration shooting standards will be more dependent on “pucker factor” than the inherent accuracy of the camera.

9. Use a camera that works EVERY TIME.

10. Have a plan.

11. Have a back-up plan, because the first one won’t work.

12. Use cover or concealment as much as possible.

13. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.

14. Don’t drop your guard.

15. Watch their hands. Hands hit cameras. (In God we trust. Everyone else, keep your hands where I can see them).

16. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to take a picture of everyone you meet.

Be careful out there.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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