All posts by Rand Simberg

More Cave-Clearing Commentary

In response to George Herbert’s comment [Re: Geneva convention] that:

>HC smoke (military smoke grenades smoke) isn’t covered, nor is White

>Phosphorous smoke (has a secondary incindiary effect, but that isn’t

>banned by any treaties). Nor nonlethal teargases. But all of these

>ideas of CO, CO2, etc. down caves are covered.

Andrew Case replies:

Isn’t there a loophole for gassing people incidental to trying to kill them some other way? IOW, If I’m trying to flambe somebody and he insists on dying from the fumes rather than the burns, I’m not a war criminal, am I?

A rocket engine running oxidizer rich might be a way around this–you’re trying to start (civilized) fires rather than trying to gas people (barbaric)

The irony of trying to civilize war is endless.

Indeed.

Must Be A Good Idea

From Reuters:

China said on Tuesday it remained staunchly opposed to plans by Washington to develop a national missile defence system after the United States tested its controversial missile defence shield. “Our position on missile defence is very clear and consistent: we are opposed to the United States building a missile defence system,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue told a news conference.

Oh, ESA, You’re Such A Card

Gosh, we’re really on a space policy binge here tonight. The space station partners in Japan and Europe are whinging about proposed cutbacks in capabilities due to NASA overruns.

Far from becoming a first-class platform for research and a symbol of world unity, the station could become an orbiting white elephant, manned by a reduced crew and visited only by millionaire space tourists, they fear.

“…a first-class platform for research and a symbol of world unity…”?

Excuse me.

(Laughing uproariously, falling out of computer chair, holding sides, tears streaming out of eyes, urine streaming out of…never mind).

Ahhhh…oh, my……OK….sorry.

Ahem.

“We are all reminding the United States that they have to fulfil their obligations with the partnership,” Joerg Feustel-Buechel, ESA’s director of manned space flight, told AFP Tuesday. The outcome of the worst planned spending cut would be “completely unacceptable” to ESA, he said.

Oh. Really? And what just what does that mean? What are you going to do about it, Herr Feustel-Buechel? What does “not accepting it” mean? The same thing you did the last time we screwed you over on a space program, namely, Spacelab? Or the Halley mission? Enter into yet another dumbass agreement with an unreliable space partner (namely, the US and NASA)?

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, I must be the idiot European Space Agency and NASDA and Canadian Space Agency.

Screw me again, I love it, as long as the money gets distributed proportionately amongst the ESA members as welfare for our aerospace engineers. Please, just use the vaseline this time…

At least the Russians are no fools–they know how to come out ahead in the deal–be a partner in name only, cut a deal with Gore to become a de facto subcontractor, and then siphon off the money to dachas and yachts and BMWs and Cayman bank accounts while extorting even more money to actually deliver the promised hardware. Unfortunately for them, now that Clinton/Gore are out and Bush is in, that little game won’t work any more…

Are we really supposed to take any of this seriously? Are we really supposed to think that the “International Space Station” has anything to do with science, or even space, or ever did?

Oh, ESA, You’re Such A Card

Gosh, we’re really on a space policy binge here tonight. The space station partners in Japan and Europe are whinging about proposed cutbacks in capabilities due to NASA overruns.

Far from becoming a first-class platform for research and a symbol of world unity, the station could become an orbiting white elephant, manned by a reduced crew and visited only by millionaire space tourists, they fear.

“…a first-class platform for research and a symbol of world unity…”?

Excuse me.

(Laughing uproariously, falling out of computer chair, holding sides, tears streaming out of eyes, urine streaming out of…never mind).

Ahhhh…oh, my……OK….sorry.

Ahem.

“We are all reminding the United States that they have to fulfil their obligations with the partnership,” Joerg Feustel-Buechel, ESA’s director of manned space flight, told AFP Tuesday. The outcome of the worst planned spending cut would be “completely unacceptable” to ESA, he said.

Oh. Really? And what just what does that mean? What are you going to do about it, Herr Feustel-Buechel? What does “not accepting it” mean? The same thing you did the last time we screwed you over on a space program, namely, Spacelab? Or the Halley mission? Enter into yet another dumbass agreement with an unreliable space partner (namely, the US and NASA)?

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, I must be the idiot European Space Agency and NASDA and Canadian Space Agency.

Screw me again, I love it, as long as the money gets distributed proportionately amongst the ESA members as welfare for our aerospace engineers. Please, just use the vaseline this time…

At least the Russians are no fools–they know how to come out ahead in the deal–be a partner in name only, cut a deal with Gore to become a de facto subcontractor, and then siphon off the money to dachas and yachts and BMWs and Cayman bank accounts while extorting even more money to actually deliver the promised hardware. Unfortunately for them, now that Clinton/Gore are out and Bush is in, that little game won’t work any more…

Are we really supposed to take any of this seriously? Are we really supposed to think that the “International Space Station” has anything to do with science, or even space, or ever did?

Oh, ESA, You’re Such A Card

Gosh, we’re really on a space policy binge here tonight. The space station partners in Japan and Europe are whinging about proposed cutbacks in capabilities due to NASA overruns.

Far from becoming a first-class platform for research and a symbol of world unity, the station could become an orbiting white elephant, manned by a reduced crew and visited only by millionaire space tourists, they fear.

“…a first-class platform for research and a symbol of world unity…”?

Excuse me.

(Laughing uproariously, falling out of computer chair, holding sides, tears streaming out of eyes, urine streaming out of…never mind).

Ahhhh…oh, my……OK….sorry.

Ahem.

“We are all reminding the United States that they have to fulfil their obligations with the partnership,” Joerg Feustel-Buechel, ESA’s director of manned space flight, told AFP Tuesday. The outcome of the worst planned spending cut would be “completely unacceptable” to ESA, he said.

Oh. Really? And what just what does that mean? What are you going to do about it, Herr Feustel-Buechel? What does “not accepting it” mean? The same thing you did the last time we screwed you over on a space program, namely, Spacelab? Or the Halley mission? Enter into yet another dumbass agreement with an unreliable space partner (namely, the US and NASA)?

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, I must be the idiot European Space Agency and NASDA and Canadian Space Agency.

Screw me again, I love it, as long as the money gets distributed proportionately amongst the ESA members as welfare for our aerospace engineers. Please, just use the vaseline this time…

At least the Russians are no fools–they know how to come out ahead in the deal–be a partner in name only, cut a deal with Gore to become a de facto subcontractor, and then siphon off the money to dachas and yachts and BMWs and Cayman bank accounts while extorting even more money to actually deliver the promised hardware. Unfortunately for them, now that Clinton/Gore are out and Bush is in, that little game won’t work any more…

Are we really supposed to take any of this seriously? Are we really supposed to think that the “International Space Station” has anything to do with science, or even space, or ever did?

Cave Clearing Suggestions

From a little exchange on sci.space.policy (with minor editing)…

Ed Wright suggests:

If one were to set up a large rocket engine at the mouth of the cave complex–or several mouths –and run them, what would the resulting decibel level be inside the caves? To maximize the effect, I suppose you could direct the exhaust into the cave.

I know that sound tends to reflect (echo) inside of caves. How deeply would it travel, and what would the effect be? Would decibel levels be above the threshold of pain? Could they cause internal damage to cave dwellers or structural damage to the caves themselves?

Or would it simply be annoying, like the existing psyops tactic of playing loud rock music throughout the night?

To which Doug Jones responds:

A rocket isn’t necessary- just use a jet engine on afterburner, this would be logistically simpler and much more readily available. If the exhaust is ducted into the cave (and there are other uncovered exits), the breathable air inside would be very quickly displaced. This would be a bit like cave clearance with flame throwers as used in WWII, but much more effective for large tunnel complexes. I dunno if the carbon-monoxide-laden gases could be construed as a Geneva Convention violation, though.

More conventionally, some combination of laser-guided bombs to seal the entrances together with fuel-air explosives forced down ventilation shafts would be more than sufficient. Heck, if water is available nearby, take a page from the prison riot resolution, bring in a bunch of fire pumpers, and flood them out. Undramatic but effective, and perhaps a better psyops tactic by not martyring a lot of enemy troops.

And they said Usenet waren’t good for nuthin’…

Capitalism 101, For Jerry Rivers

Since War Correspondent Geraldo is having trouble finding his way to the front, he’s decided to (at least temporarily) revert to his leftist roots and whine about the free market in Afghanistan.

He did a little segment on FNC tonite, in which he wandered around a bazaar in Kabul with his cameraman, showing off American aid goods for sale. Can of cooking oil, five bucks, sack of wheat, ten bucks, etc. Then he complained that it wasn’t reaching the people, but the benefits were accruing to some evil “middle men.”

Now there are circumstances in which middle men are indeed superfluous (usually only with government connivance via various trade rules and laws), but the reality is that commerce and distribution of goods would not occur without them.

I had an artichoke for dinner tonight. I’m damned glad that I didn’t have to drive all the way from LA to Castroville (a 350-mile trip one way) to buy it from the farmer. It was more convenient to go to the local grocery and buy it, and I thought it a bargain, even at $1.69. Unfortunately, in order for me to be able to do this, it had to go through not one, not two, but probably at least three of those evil “middle men.”

They had to expend energy and resources in order to find the artichoke, negotiate its purchase from the farmer, transport it (while keeping it cool and refrigerated), negotiate its sale to the grocery, get it into the store, have a place in the produce section for it (with continued cooling and occasional watering), enter it into a computer system so that I could purchase it without a lot of inconvenience to either myself or the sales clerk, etc. They (or any sane person) wouldn’t do all of this without being compensated.

That this is occurring in Afghanistan, considering the ghastly times that they’ve gone through, is not something to be lamented, but rather to be positively rejoiced. The market is still (or newly) functional there, and if we can get enough food and other supplies in there quickly, the same market that is delivering these goods to the wealthy will ensure that the price will drop (law of supply and demand, doncha know) and the goods will become available to all.

But of course, rather than using it as a lesson for how markets work in the real world, Jerry Rivers chose to make some mindless point about “exploitation.”

More Clueless Space Reporting From The Mainstream

And speaking of our socialist space program, USNWR has a bit more conventional “wisdom” about NASA and manned spaceflight. I guess, considering what year it is, and how little even technically-savvy reporters really understand about space costs and policy, we should expect to see a plethora of stories like this. It just costs too much folks, forget about any of that science fictiony stuff like lunar bases and space colonies. NASA can’t do it cheaply, so clearly it can’t be done cheaply. It might be 2001, but we aren’t even going to get flying cars and robosexuals, so don’t count on any spinning orbital hotels.

In the meantime, XCOR continues flight testing…

[Update]

On the same subject, Fredrik Norman has found a nice interview in Wired with Ed Hudgins of Cato. Ed put together the conference that I referenced in the previous post. He provides much better insight into what’s going on, and our prospects for national progress in space, than the USNWR article.

Red Star In Orbit, Version Two

Jim Pinkerton is concerned about the Chinese space program. I’ve actually exchanged some emails with Pinkerton, and talked to him about space for a few minutes a few months ago at the Cato conference on free enterprise in space. He remains (unjustifiably) skeptical that we can open up the frontier in something other than a major government-program mode.

It’s a potential problem, but not an imminent one. They clearly are taking a longer view than we are, but that’s not unusual. As we saw during Apollo, sometimes the hare beats the tortoise. Unless we are really asleep at the switch, I don’t expect to suddenly wake up early one Sunday morning and discover that the Chinese are way ahead of us. I certainly don’t expect that to happen with the current administration.

I will become truly concerned about China only if they show some signs of trying to open up space with free enterprise. If they do so, the US will be the only remaining space power on the planet using the failed socialist model…

Maybe He Can Try Throwing Some Chairs

Geraldo is having trouble getting to the front. It seems that the cooperation that he’s been getting from the US military (many of whom still recall his disgustingly-sycophantic defense of the former Draft-Dodger-and-Military-Despiser-in-Chief) has been…ummm…less than a hundred percent. And even working for Fox News doesn’t seem to help.

An amused Pentagon spokesman said he’d “received no reports of [Rivera] experiencing any trouble,” but that he was welcome to file a complaint.