The Faux Issue About Ted Cruz And NASA

A good analysis from Hank Campbell, with a little history for those ignorant in the space-science community.

I love cute robots on Mars and pretty pictures from Hubble but keep in mind that politicians and their staffers see beyond that. They know we could have cute robots and pretty pictures while spending a whole lot less money – and we wouldn’t lose a single NASA employee. Though advocates claim we will “lose leadership” in some area or another if we don’t spend more money than some other country, that argument does not work with politicians, who see how badly money can be misused – when it is the pet projects of their political opponents, anyway.

I don’t care what Ted Cruz thinks about global warming, pollution is bad whether he thinks so or not, and Senator and now President Obama said he thought vaccines might be causing autism, but did anyone in science not vote for him in 2008 because of that? If you about care climate science, don’t worry about NASA, worry about the new chair of the environment committee, Senator Jim Inhofe, who denies climate science outright.

If you do care about space science, Cruz is a good choice. Just like Cruz’s opinion on climate change, that science media happens not to like Republicans is irrelevant to how well someone will do at NASA. He’s likely to be better for space science than the people we have had under Democrats, including the space advocate (and space-farer) Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who insisted that extending the life of the glorified space-going UPS trucks known as the Shuttle Program was somehow necessary for science – a porkbarrel agenda that would have starved out actual space science programs – and did nothing at all about President Obama canceling Constellation in his home state. Nelson has to be careful criticizing the President ‘or the Republicans win’ but Cruz is not handcuffed by common party registration. If he has presidential ambitions, helping NASA will help him in Florida and some common sense about funding will be welcome to the public and a lot of NASA employees and scientists who can’t criticize the President. As I have discussed about the James Webb Space Telescope and its eternal cost overruns, every time a high-profile NASA project hemorrhages money, it’s the less-publicized but more scientifically valuable projects that bleed.

NASA needs someone who is not going to sign off on projects hoping they will become too big to fail. It’s better for the public and it’s better for science, because all those experiments that only need a few million dollars can then get it, rather than being told to wait for next year because an old program no one is excited about is delayed and over budget once again.

Unfortunately, he’s bought (or at least seems to have bought) into the SLS BS. But he’s a smart guy, so he may be educable.

The “Hard Landing” On The Ship

Elon has been tweeting some video grabs.

[Update a while later]

Here’s the video.

Martin Rees

…has some thoughts on risk, and who will be exploring Mars:

…space travel will be done by adventurers, doing it for the sake of it, and they will thus become more like today’s mountaineers, who are actually doing things which others have already done, but making life harder for themselves – for example by climbing without ropes.

“I hope that some people now living will walk on Mars, but they will go in my view not in the spirit of Nasa astronauts – who are exposed to fairly low risks – but as part of a cut-price venture accepting great danger and perhaps even a one way ticket. If the Chinese wanted to have a prestige programme, as the Americans did with Apollo, they could get there in 20 years. But unless they do so, the first people to land on Mars will be mad, brave adventurers, and we will cheer them on.


Fifty-Dollar Oil

Is it a floor, or a ceiling?

Competitive market conditions would therefore dictate that Saudi Arabia and other low-cost producers always operate at full capacity, while US frackers would experience the boom-bust cycles typical of commodity markets, shutting down when global demand is weak or new low-cost supplies come onstream from Iraq, Libya, Iran, or Russia, and ramping up production only during global booms when oil demand is at a peak.

Under this competitive logic, the marginal cost of US shale oil would become a ceiling for global oil prices, whereas the costs of relatively remote and marginal conventional oilfields in OPEC and Russia would set a floor. As it happens, estimates of shale-oil production costs are mostly around $50, while marginal conventional oilfields generally break even at around $20. Thus, the trading range in the brave new world of competitive oil should be roughly $20 to $50.

Makes sense to me.

[Update a few minutes later]

I’ve long said that oil over a (inflation adjusted) hundred dollars a barrel was unsustainable. This would seem to validate that.

High-Fat Rodent Diets

Why they are not to be trusted:

So are the results telling us that the increasingly popular low carb high fat approach is wrong? That after all there’s no need for official bodies to perform a major U-turn? Not as far as I can tell. In fact it seems the rodent work is highly misleading. Not only are the so called ‘high fat diets’ they are fed nothing like the low carbohydrate diets any informed human would follow, but the animals have been selectively bred to ensure they become fat and diabetic on a high fat diet. This is not research, it is a rigged game.

I’m sure you’re as shocked as I am.

The White House

…is it a sleeper cell?

Just yesterday I theorized the real reason Obama didn’t go is he just couldn’t put the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” together in one sentence even if, forgive the tired image, it hit him in the face. (The exception of course being when insisting that something is NOT Islam.) He just can’t handle it after nearly fifty years of virtually non-stop anti-imperialist programming. His mind would fly apart if he had to utter the words “radical Islamic terrorism,” which French PM Valls, and any honest person, was quite willing to do.

Now I admit that was just a supposition. Just because I’ve never heard him link Islam and terror doesn’t mean in his heart of hearts he doesn’t. Though not a genius, he does have an IQ in triple digits and sees what’s right in front of his nose, I assume. He just interprets it differently. But why?

Is someone whispering in his ear?

My money would be on (born in Iran) Valerie Jarrett.

Charlie Hebdo

How do we stop another one? Thoughts from Richard Epstein on religious tolerance:

The hard question then is what should be done with those who refuse to accept the universal truce not to use violence against those who dare to utter statements that they regard as blasphemous.

Here again the libertarian theory offers the first step towards a response. By their refusal, they become outlaws. Those who are prepared to use force should be subject to the full range of criminal and civil sanctions. Individuals and the state may use force to resist force, they may work hard to ferret out threats of the use of force before they materialize, and they may root out conspiracies of individuals for particular acts of violence. Similar hostility is the order of the day against the nations and groups that practice the use of unlawful force or harbor those that do. Once again, it is critical to note that the libertarian vision seeks to preserve a large domain for protest and dispute, but it is relentless against those do not play the game in accordance with those rules. Its basic principle is: you disarm, we disarm, but if you fight, we fight harder.

At this point, the practical program should be clear. It is no longer defensible to try to soft-pedal the enormity of the difficulty by announcing some supposed parity between murderers and the people they murder. Supposed social grievances against those who ridicule and deal in satire must fall on deaf ears. Moral equivocation worsens our ability to maintain an ordered liberty. Force must be met with force. France, the United States, and other nations must conduct massive manhunts against those who commit terrorist actions, properly labeled as such. They must go further and deprive these individuals of the sanctuaries from which these attacks can be brought, which means troops on the ground, as well as planes in the air.

No one has a right to not be offended. And yet, with perfect timing, the largest Islamic organization in the world calls for more anti-speech laws.

[Update a few minutes later]

Popehat has some questions for the New York Times regarding its policy on depicting Mohammed.

Whole Foods

America’s angriest store?

I have to say, this hasn’t been my experience, but I don’t go that often — I think most of the food is way overpriced. It might be partly a function of geography.

Via Dr. Eades:

[Update a few minutes later]

Wrong link, fixed now, sorry.

Wearable Tech

Forget it, what people want is more battery life.

This obsession with “thin” phones makes me crazy. Have the gay men who run the fashion industry, but hate normal female bodies, taken over tech as well?

I just “upgraded” from my dying Droid Global 2, a phone whose batteries were easily changed, for a Droid 4, which has a better OS, and is 4G instead of 3G, and slightly thinner, but has a non-replaceable battery. I consider it a downgrade.

“Charlie,” Free Speech, And Climate Change

Thoughts from Judith Curry:

Anyone defending the satirists at Charlie should have a tough time defending Michael Mann in his legal war against the satirical writings of Mark Steyn and Rand Simberg. It will be interesting to see if Charlie and the defense of satirists changes the dynamics of the Mann vs NRO/CEI/Steyn lawsuits.

For the record, I have never sued, or threatened, let alone committed any acts of violence against people who call me a “denier,” a term I find quite offensive (particularly when they can’t describe exactly what it is I “deny”). I have this crazy idea that the proper response to speech I don’t like is more speech.

[Afternoon update]

“Free speech is so last century. Today’s students want the right to be comfortable.” I like the phrase “Stepford students.”

Successful Flyback

…and failed landing. That’s what flight test is about. They’ll learn from it, as they always do from a failed attempt.

I would note, though, that this does complicate their operations, if they plan to land down range every time, and can’t return to launch site. I suspect they’ll determine that the problem was crappy weather conditions, and their FLIR or whatever they were using for guidance wasn’t doing very well. That means that there’s a new condition imposed on a decision to fly — weather at recovery site. Shuttle often scrubbed with good weather at the Cape, due to unacceptable conditions at abort sites, and that was just for contingency. If SpaceX wants to recover down range, they may occasionally have to make a decision as to whether to risk the loss of a stage, or delay and arouse customer ire. It will depend on whether or not there’s a tight window (e.g., a planetary mission), and who the customer is.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Oh, I hadn’t read to the end. It sounds like it wasn’t a weather problem — they “ran out of hydraulic fluid” (not sure what that means — it’s not a closed system?). But that seems like good news, both for their chances of recovering next time, and for being able to operate in less-than-perfect conditions. Sounds like they only thing that might prevent a launch, in terms of barge conditions, would be sea state (or high winds), not weather per se.

[Update a few minutes later]

Here‘s what looks like a reasonable explanation from Jon Goff. I haven’t read the post itself yet, but I’m sure it’s worthwhile to do so.

[Update a few minutes later]

OK, Elon just tweeted that it was hydraulics for the control fins, and they came within 10%. So that means an excellent chance of success the next time, with the addition of a little bit more juice.

[Update a few minutes later]


What can they do now?

The means by which France could defeat the terrorists are obvious: To compel the majority of French Muslims to turn against the terrorists, the French authorities would have to make them fear the French state more than they fear the terrorists. That is a nasty business involving large numbers of deportations, revocation of French citizenship, and other threats that inevitably would affect many individuals with no direct connection to terrorism. In the short term it would lead to more radicalization. The whole project of integration as an antidote to radicalism would go down the drain. The effort would be costly, but ultimately it would succeed: most French Muslims simply want to stay in France and earn a living.

As I said yesterday, this won’t have a pretty ending. For the first time since the Nazi occupation, French Jews were unable to observe Shabbat in their synagogues today. Because France has imported an ideology as bad as, if not worse than, the Nazis. In the banlieues, it is a new occupation.

[Update a few minutes later]

France rounds up 900 terror suspects.

Well, it’s a start.

[Saturday-morning update]

The (latest) exodus has begun:

Hang on to the West Bank, Israel, you’re going to need the room…They will also be subject to terrorist attacks in Israel, but there they can have a gun and shoot back. I hope they all leave. They can’t do any good there, the French can’t protect them and won’t let them protect themselves, but in their new countries they can be a hard-core element to stiffen resistance. It’s time for triage and France is in the walking-dead category, although they might have a miracle revival. However that France wouldn’t be a nice place for Jews either, if somebody like Le Pen is in charge.

They’ve been leaving for years, but I think this may be (or should have been) the last straw for French Jewry.

[Update in the afternoon]

Claire Berlinski: “I am a Jew, and I am not leaving“:

…if you want to talk about odds, I’ll tell you about odds: In my grandfather’s regiment of 1,250 men, only 250 survived. So don’t tell me about the odds: It just makes you sound like a hysteric with no sense of history or proportion.

And while we’re at it: Let’s remember who won that war.

I am Jewish. I am in France. And I am not leaving–not because of a handful of terrorist swine, and not even if there’s an army of them. This family of Jews will not be driven out of Europe twice. And as far as I’m concerned, the response a Jew should have to this outrage is the one we should have had before–when up against a far more fearsome enemy. We may die, but we’ll die fighting, and you’ll be amazed how many of you we take down with us.

So let me speak personally now to anyone who thinks he’ll get me out of here: We will always have Paris. I will always have Paris. As will all the people who belong here. You, however, will die.

I have much more to say. But there is one more thing that strikes me as more important than all the other things on my mind. There are also many terrified Muslims in France right now. And yes, some of them are my friends–and close ones.

They too are the victims of these savages. They are victims in a double sense: Terrorists are as eager to kill them as they are eager to kill anyone in France. One of the cops they killed happened to be as Muslim, as has widely been reported. And they are victims in the second sense in that they this is only country they have. They will be associated forever with those animals–but they are French citizens. They have no Israel to go to. They have nowhere else to go to. So they will stay here too.


Charlie Hebdo

The publication faced the Islamists alone:

They offered high-handed but paper-thin excuses about not causing needless offense. Their cowardice ensured that publications like Charlie Hebdo and Jyllands-Posten stood alone and exposed, lightning rods for Islamist violence. But many others were targeted anyway — some 200 people were killed around the world in protests after Jyllands-Posten published its cartoons in 2005.

Yesterday, much of the traditional media doubled down on its shameful behavior by again refusing to show the cartoons. Many web outlets, including The Daily Beast, Buzzfeed, and PJ Media, did publish them. One of the first newspapers spotted keeping its head below the parapet was the UK’s Telegraph — its website pixellated out a drawing of Mohammed in a photograph of a Charlie Hebdo cover. The New York Daily News followed suit. CNN ordered its staff not to show the cartoons. The major networks refrained from doing so. The Associated Press claimed its policy was to “refrain from moving deliberately provocative images,” a policy which, it was quickly pointed out, hasn’t prevented it from selling photos of Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ.

Those organizations that bothered to offer an excuse fell back on the “offense” line, but it hardly needs saying that they’ve never felt compelled to extend the same courtesy to Christians or Jews.

The double standard can in part be explained by the fact that the liberals who dominate the U.S. media, and Britain’s globally influential BBC, believe that Islam is to be respected because it’s broadly the religion of brown people and victims of Western oppression, while Christianity can fairly be ridiculed because it’s the religion of white people and Western oppressors. And don’t, of course, get them started about the Jews.

But mostly, it comes down to the fact that journalists of every political hue have long been wary of provoking Muslims because they fear they’ll be murdered, while they know they have nothing to fear from Christians or Jews beyond strongly worded statements and perhaps a boycott.

They are cowards who will not defend western civilization against barbarians.

[Update a few minutes later]

Reminder: If there is such a thing as a moderate Muslim, we shouldn’t undermine them by treating the monsters who did this as Muslim.

[Update a while later]

Europe under siege: This was an attack on perhaps the greatest idea of the West.