They Should Be Worried

The paper formerly known as the Paper of Record informs us that our “allies” are concerned that we won’t consult them when it comes to continuing the war.

Some choice bits:

The three countries pinpointed by President Bush as an “axis of evil” ? Iran, Iraq and North Korea ? reacted angrily today…

Guess the truth hurts, huh, guys?

…while commentators in many other nations, including European allies, bristled at what they saw as the combative, go-it- alone tone of the State of the Union address.

Bristle away. We took the hit alone. We can deal with it on our own.

If you expect us to take your advice, step one is to offer some that’s sensible. Such a commodity has been in short supply from the Continent in the last few months (not to mention the last few decades).

Over in Russia,

Mr. Rogozin said it appeared that America had forgotten that North Korea had imposed a moratorium on the production of long-range missiles…

No, we haven’t forgotten. We just know that they’re congenital liars, so such an “imposition” is meaningless.

…that Iran had offered assistance to the Bonn conference on the formation of an interim government in Afghanistan…

Would that be the same Iran which, as I type, has special forces in Afghanistan training insurgents to undermine that interim government?

…and that an earlier Washington statement had called for “smart sanctions” against Iraq.

Yes, we’ve finally corralled the idiots at Foggy Bottom who think that sanctions have any useful effect other than giving Saddam an excuse to starve his own people while he builds weapons and palaces.

The problem is, you European elites set entirely too much store by what people say, while ignoring what they actually do. Probably the same reason you thought Bill Clinton was so wonderful (in addition to the fact that he, unlike many of us, loved to smooch your arrogant keisters).

Josef Joffe, a German foreign policy analyst, said: “What was particularly striking is the way Mr. Bush countenances the projection of American power from anywhere to anywhere. He described America in a truly global war able to fight anywhere. There is no allusion to allies at all. But in practical terms, the U.S. cannot fight wars without allies.”

Oh, we have allies. It’s just that they apparently don’t run the governments of Europe. And in fact, if need be, we can do quite well without allies, at least without Euroweenie ones. It will take longer, and cost more, but if you don’t understand that it’s a price that we’re willing to pay, then you don’t understand anything about America.

“We tend to see Sept. 11 in parenthesis, an aberration that is now behind us,” said Fran

What A Difference A Year Makes

Not to mention a new NASA Administrator.

Last year, when Dennis Tito showed up in Houston to train for his flight, the door was almost literally slammed in his face. Mark Shuttleworth (could they have come up with a better name? The irony is that he’ll be going up on a Soyuz) has been welcomed to Johsnson Space Center with open arms.

It sounds like he’s setting a good precedent for public space travel.

All For One And One For All

Fresh from the X-33 debacle, the iron triangle of the aerospace industry is coming up with a plan for a new round of corporate welfare, under the pretense of lowering launch costs.

Now don’t get me wrong–no one wants to lower launch costs more than I do. It’s been a personal crusade for more years than I like to think. My business plans and personal plans rely on it. But if a definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over, expecting different results, then NASA and the Air Force have to be, at this point, certifiable.

The activity to bring NASA and the Air Force together is being led by a group, called the One Team, that is undertaking a four- month RLV assessment. The goal is to devise a program that would build on funding from both government departments and could see first flight of a prototype system around 2007.

“One Team,” eh? 2007, eh? Well, five-year plans are in the best tradition of Lenin, Mao, etc. To heck with this competition nonsense. We don’t need no stinkin’ markets…

But finding a way to combine the civil space and military requirements won’t be easy. Already, analysts assessing the two constituencies’ needs are finding that they don’t coalesce in several areas.

No kidding?

Once upon a time, there was a launch vehicle program. It was supposed to meet NASA’s needs in space, to provide cheap transportation to the space station that they were going to launch once upon another time, and it was to be called the Space Shuttle. And it came to pass that the evil King wouldn’t allot the funding for it unless it received the blessing of the knights of the realm (aka the Air Force). The knights wanted it to not only go into space, but to be able to carry 65,000 lbs. into space, and to have a landing cross range of a thousand miles. And so it grew. Then the various lords of the manor said, “but it must provide jobs for us in the fiefdom of Houston. And Huntsville. And Cape Canaveral.” And the Duke of Rockwell North American said, “but we accepted the blame for the loss of Sir Apollo 1, in the deadly conflagration, the fault for which was rightfully NASA’s, and so it must also provide us jobs in southern California.”

And thus was born a vehicle designed by a committee, and it was good. Except it only flew a half dozen times a year, and cost over half a billion dollars a flight.

Well, there is one hopeful thing about the article. At least they are no longer deluding themselves that a single vehicle can satisfy both NASA and DoD requirements. However, they continue to delude themselves that one vehicle can satisfy DoD, and another one NASA. This is about 90% as foolish as the Shuttle “one-size-fits-all” assumption.

The problem is that we lock ourselves into failure with our assumptions.

The thinking goes something like this. Space vehicle development is very expensive. Therefore, we can only develop one vehicle. Therefore we have to make damn sure that we develop the right vehicle, so we have to do lots of studies, and have lots of government reviews, and make sure that the risk is minimized, and that we don’t lose any vehicles. All this, of course, makes the vehicle very expensive to develop (and operate), and thus is the prophecy fulfilled.

And of course, since both agencies want to do such trivially few activities in space, there is no way to get the costs down, because there are no economies of scale.

But NASA will continue to develop technologies, because when you’re a technology hammer, all problems look like nails–never mind the fact that the problem of launch costs is not a technological one.

If they could take just one percent of the money that they plan to waste^H^H^H^H^Hspend on technology development on market research and analyses to figure out how to generate much larger traffic models, they’d be way ahead of the game.

But that won’t provide jobs in Houston, Huntsville, Cocoa Beach, Canoga Park and Orange County.

Bloviation From Pyongyang

If you’re interested in a view from an alternate universe, you may be interested in news from the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK). When a country has to include both “democratic” and “republic” in its name, it’s a safe bet that it’s neither…

Anyway, there are several amusing articles there, with titles like, U.S. use of biological and chemical weapons assailed, KCNA on U.S. futile attempts, Bush’s projected trip to S. Korea opposed, and Full play to advantages of Korean socialist economic management called for.

Some of the articles are en espanol. Don’t ask why.

They also have an enlightening article about the Dear Leader, called Anecdotes about President Kim Il Sung. It’s a real hoot:

…when the president gave field guidance to Kaesong area on September 14, Juche 61 (1972). He asked officials there what was the special food of the area.

None of them could give a correct answer to the questions repeatedly put by him in the course of the on-the-spot guidance.

While visiting factories in the city he met old men who had lived there for years and found out that loach soup was a special food of the city.

And he made sure that a new restaurant was built there to serve only loach soup to the customers.

Markets? We don’t need no stinkin’ markets! We’ve got a leader.

Another Monopoly Breakup

You’ll never find things like this reported anywhere except at The Onion.

“The evidence introduced in this trial has convinced me that the deity known as God has willfully and actively thwarted competition from other deities and demigods, promoting His worship with such unfair scare tactics as threatening non-believers with eternal damnation,” wrote District Judge Charles Elliot Schofield in his decision. “In the process, He has carved out for Himself an illegal monotheopoly.”

Also, there’s a great discussion over at Free Republic on this topic, e.g.:

Q: So re-incarnation is like those long return lines at Fry’s Electronics?

Actually, reincarnation is nothing more than instantiating a new instance of a Soul Object. It’s transparent. Most afterlives automatically handle Soul collection and recreation if that feature is enabled. You shouldn’t have to programmatically call a delete(Soul mySoul) through incantation or sorcery in afterlives employing modern architectures.

and

I believe one of the main criticisms was God’s strategy of “bundling” Salvation with the Dogma package. This definitely stifles competition. For instance, suppose I want an open-source Salvation solution — I can’t get that if I also want Dogma because most all vendors (Catholic and Protestant) have very strict licensing agreements that require them to only ship the standard Salvation product.

This makes it very difficult on third-party Paradise vendors. I applaud the ruling.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!