They Only Kind Of Suck

Frank J. explains why the Dems are going to lose at least one house of Congress:

…the Democrats will counter that the Republicans also suck. And while this is true, it’s not really going to help them. As I pointed out before, both a dog incessantly barking and a zombie apocalypse are things that everyone would agree suck. Yet no one during a zombie apocalypse, while hiding out in a boarded up mall, would turn to the other survivors and say, “We don’t want to kill all the zombies; then we’d have to go back to being woken up at night by that annoying dog next door.” But this is the best argument the Democrats can come up with. “Remember how awful the Republicans and Bush were? You hated them. You don’t want to go back to that.” Yes, why would people want to go back to when 6% unemployment was considered high?

People do remember how much the Republicans suck, and they know where it tops out … and that is nowhere near as bad as the Democrats are today. Like with the barking dog, it’s annoying, but you know it’s not going to cause the collapse of civilization as we know it. Not so with the zombie apocalypse; who knows how bad that could get if left to continue? Same with the Democrats and Obama; people have never dealt with anything this horrible their entire lives, and they aren’t that curious to see how much worse it can be.

They really have nothing on which to campaign at this point.


This is pretty funny. And I agree that this comment is bizarre:

I admit it’s humorous but it’s not really a good nickname for Obama since Ahmadinejad is a far right conservative.

It’s a good demonstration of how useless the phrase “right wing” is for political discourse. What in the world does this mean? That Ahmadinejad wants lower taxes? Smaller government? Choice in public schools? No gun control?


“Witches’ Brew”

Paul Spudis discusses the recent LCROSS findings:

The LCROSS team’s published data from the mission reveals a cold witches’ brew deep inside Cabeus crater. The finding of significant lunar water has confirmed data from earlier missions, while the ejecta plume from the LCROSS impact reveals more modest amounts of a variety of other substances. The Near-IR spectrometers on the LCROSS shepherding satellite detected abundant water (H2O) but also hydrogen sulfide (H2S), ammonia (NH3), methanol (CH3OH), methane (CH4), ethylene (C2H4) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). The uv-vis spectrometer found carbon dioxide (CO2), sodium, silver, and cyanide (CN). Aboard the distant LRO spacecraft, the ultraviolet LAMP imager detected hydrogen (H2), nitrogen, carbon monoxide (CO), sodium, mercury, zinc, gold (!), and calcium. But water, present in quantities between 5 and 10 weight percent, is the most abundant volatile substance present.

One of the many travesties of Constellation is that, in attempting to redo Apollo, it ate up all the funding for serious preparatory exploration of the moon that would have provided a lot better guidance to requirements for human lunar activities. Compared to what we previously thought, the moon seems to be a veritable rain forest in terms of water quantities and densities, with other useful volatiles as well.

In A Free Society

…the government would not fund a major media outlet, taking taxpayer dollars to disseminate viewpoints that are anathema to many taxpayers. As Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.” NPR/PBS have been an abomination for American values since their inception.

Just in case you were wondering what I thought about the Juan Williams situation. And I actually like a lot of NPR programming. But I suspect that the programming that I like would survive just fine absent federal dollars. And if not, I’d survive just fine without it.

And Juan Williams apparently agrees. You know the old saying that a conservative is a liberal who just got mugged? Well, Juan just got mugged.

[Update in the afternoon]

A proposal for a “Juan Williams Law.”

This legislation would outlaw all government funding for any news organization, whether private or non-governmental in nature. This restriction would include not only National Public Radio but all domestic news outlets, whatever their ideology or bias, or even if they claim to have none. (I am not talking here, of course, of international operations such as Voice of America, which have the legitimate task of representing American interests abroad.)

The legislation would further outlaw any future stimulus funding or bailouts for news organizations, again irrespective of ideology.

It’s easy to understand that government financing of the news is at best unseemly and at worst totalitarian. The possibilities for corruption are myriad. I am not one to dwell on what the Founders intended, but I am reasonably certain they didn’t want a Fourth Estate that was bought and paid for by the government, even in part.

I would go further and argue that it’s a violation of the establishment clause, given the degree (and it’s a large one) to which “progressivism” is a religion. Juan was duly punished for his heresy.

Back To LA

I didn’t go to the runway dedication today — I just couldn’t see sitting on a bus for six hours or so (two or three each way from Las Cruces to Spaceport America) for a photo op. There will be plenty of other people thee with pictures that will shortly be on the web. It didn’t get back until five or so, and I have a 4 PM flight out of El Paso. I’ll check in tonight.

[Late evening update in CA]

Sorry, arrived safely several hours ago. More anon.

Space Guard

The most recent disquisition on the idea is now available on line, as a PDF.

[Update a little later]

Yes, it’s long and wonky (it’s an appendix of a Space Policy Institute study), but once past the first couple pages it gets more interesting.

[Late evening update]

For those not aware, “SSA” is a TLA for “Space Situational Awareness.”

[Update a few minutes later]

I read this several months ago, and only passed it on in a hurry this morning on my way out the door, but by way of encouraging interest in the article, here is a representative sample of it:

Throughout the early days of aviation, there was a network of mutually supporting connections between the predecessors of the Air Force and the aviation industry, including both aircraft manufacturers and the airline operators. All parts of the aviation world generally supported each other. Due to NASA’s peculiar status as the sole civil government space organization for the majority of its life, NASA on the one hand has tightly controlled its contractors and discouraged robust discussion of means and ends when such collided with perceived NASA organizational goals. Meanwhile it viewed the emergence of private entities providing service directly to customers with hostility, or at a minimum an awkward uncertainty as to how such efforts should interact with the agencies. A USSG would be able to start with a clean slate and strive for a more balanced relationship with an industry whose existence and prosperity is part of its charter and rationale. A USSG might better be able to have comfortable and useful interactions with the Air Force, NASA, and the commercial space sector.

Really, read the whole thing, if you’re into space policy.

The Burden Of Things

A post from Lileks with which I can strongly identify:

…what of the objects? You know, the things to which you apply Meaning simply by owning them for a while? That’s another issue. You have to realize that the meaning changes when you no long own them, which is a kind way of saying “it’s wiped clean when you die, mate.” There are some things whose previous meaning I can infer; my Grandma had a little metal container for pins, with 1893 Columbian Exposition engraved on the cover. It was regarded as junk, I guess, but my mom kept it, and then it passed to me. It’s possible my great-grandfather went. He got out of town from time to time. The fact that it sat on her dresser for seven decades was enough to infuse it with meaning, but that’ll be lost after me; daughter didn’t know her, never saw the farm, never saw the sleek 30s Sears bedroom-set dresser on which it sat. Daughter may see a corner of that dresser in an old photo, because I inherited it. But that’s the end of the chain – after that, it’s a series of facts, not a sequence of memories and emotions.

I’m a pack rat. I keep (and don’t organize) too much stuff. Every time we move, the books are a problem. We’ve been back in California over a year, and they’re still not quite unpacked and shelved. And movers charge by weight. I’m not sure what we would have done if the company hadn’t paid for the move. And I know that there’s not enough time in my allotment, sans dramatic life extension, for me to reread them. But I can’t bring myself (so far) to get rid of them. They contain too many remembrances. Accumulated stuff is the external memory of life, and I feel as though they’re a part of me and my sense of self. When I lose old email in a disk crash I feel partly lobotomized and amnesiac. At some point, though, I have to rationalize my possessions.

I had dinner with Leonard David Wednesday night, and we often talk about his collection of tchochkes and media bags that he has collected over the many dozens of space conferences he’s attended over the past few decades. They’re historically significant, and I doubt there are many people with as extensive a collection as his, but where to keep them all? I have the same problem, on a smaller scale. Someone needs to set up an archive to which such things can be contributed, assessed and put into context, but it takes money.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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