The Most Transparent Administration In History

That phrase is going to seem as ironic as the Clinton pledge to be “the most ethical one.”

The administration repeatedly has stiff-armed Congress, the media, outside organizations and even a prestigious independent government commission. It has raised “none of your business” from an adolescent rejoinder to a public policy – to keep the public in the dark.

What is most disgusting is the hypocrisy, after all the sanctimonious criticism of Bush and the Republicans. It’s akin to Nancy Pelosi’s pledge to “drain the swamp” of the Republican “culture of corruption.” Yeah, tell it to Chris Dodd and Charlie Rangel.

The Million-Dollar Race

Alan Boyle has a report on the current status of the NGLLC. I’d like to go back up to Mojave this morning, but I’ve got too much to do here today, with a deadline looming tomorrow. It’s going to be colder, too (it looks like it was close to freezing last night in the Antelope Valley), but the wind should be settling down, which will be better for Masten than yesterday, if they’ve sorted out their comm problems.

Anyway, good luck to all.

Success Of The Corndog

Clark Lindsey has some useful thoughts. As he notes, it would have been pretty amazing if this test had failed, considering what a trivial thing they were doing, and how much they spent on it. If it had failed, it would (or at least should) have been the end of NASA, or at least Marshall, as a credible developer of rockets (not that they should have such a reputation now, given the history of the past three decades). Another SpaceX could have been founded and another Falcon 9 developed for the cost of that test. Which tells you all you need to know about the cost effectiveness of the NASA jobs program.

[Update a few minutes later]

Jeff Manber says that it was the wrong test, at the wrong time.

[Thursday morning update]

Chair Force Engineer has some thoughts on the Potemkin Rocket:

While Ares I-X was a low-fidelity test of a bad rocket design, the test’s fundamental flaws should not detract in any way from the Ares I-X program personnel who devoted the last three years of their life to making this test a success. While I strongly believe that Ares I-X should have waited until the 5-segment SRB was available, Ares I-X still taught NASA personnel much about ground handling operations and ocean recovery for the Ares rockets.

It would be churlish to imply that people who work on a bad project are bad people, and I’ve never intended to do that. I know from personal experience in the industry that sometimes you have to do what you have to do, and the real tragedy is that so much talent, and not just taxpayers’ money, has been wasted on this program. It was a huge opportunity cost, in time, dollars and people. The people who work on it both happily, and otherwise, deserve plaudits for doing as good a job as they could under the circumstances. Let’s just hope that their talents can soon be turned to more useful ends.

The Nozette Story

The Washington Post has an extensive follow up.

I should note that when I earlier said that I’d known him for thirty years, I didn’t say that I’d been his friend for thirty years. I mention this because I got an email a few days ago from an editor of a Jewish publication in DC, based on that post, who wanted more info from me on the assumption that I was. I didn’t really know him that well — we met in Tucson when I was volunteering for L-5, and he had come back to the U of A to visit from MIT. I ran into him at conferences over the years, but that was pretty much it.

And yes, I haven’t left for Mojave yet. I’m hanging for another few minutes to see if the giant bottle rocket goes off in Florida. It’s currently scheduled for 6AM Pacific. I’ll still have time to beat the traffic over Sepulveda Pass if it’s on time.

[Update a couple minutes later]

OK, just as I was typing that, they slipped to 9:15 EDT, with low confidence of a launch before 10:30. I can’t wait that long, so I guess I’ll miss it.

The Hits Keep Coming

…from Jay Barbree:

Heard on MSNBC at 9:48 am EDT: Jay Barbree says that Orion will carry a crew of “as many as 6 astronauts” and that the Ares 1 is the “best designed” and “safest rocket ever designed” .

Heard on MSNBC at 9:57 am EDT: Jay Barbree says “We have new people who do not have experience in this office who are trying to go through a commercial launch [for crew] and if they do it will be a delay for at least a decade before we have [something for] astronauts from this country to fly upon.”

This is (or should be) a continuing embarrassment for NBC. As I’ve noted before, they need to get an actual reporter, like Bobby Block, and not just a NASA cheerleader and faithful stenographer for PAO.

Thoughts On Improving Baseball

This one is a good idea, but the technology is wrong:

Balls and strikes should be determined by lasers (only those we can spare from volcano-lancing, of course). There’s no excuse for allowing the imprecision of a home-plate umpire in the 21st century.

It’s not just imprecision — it’s subjectivity. But I’m not sure how lasers would work. The strike zone varies from batter to batter (e.g., different knee and shoulder heights, and stance). I think it would be better to put in miniaturized GPS-type transponders in the balls, shoulders and knees of the uniform, and have a computer determine whether it was a ball or strike. The one in the ball would obviously have to be capable of enduring high impact… You could get adequate precision if you put a lot of transmitters in the stadium. It would also be used for ruling fouls, homers, whether the throw beat the slide, etc. It would be nice to get fallible humans out of the loop as much as possible.

The same would apply to football. Put one in each end of the ball, and an array on the players’ uniforms. There would no longer be much dispute as to where to spot, whether or not it is a first down, whether it broke the plane of the end zone, etc.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!