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.

More Airline Insecurity

Reading my post about the NPR piece this morning, Jim Bennett also writes:

I’ll note that at Heathrow, they have had special security lines for elite and first class flyers for as long as I’ve been going there; it’s one of the best perks of my Premier card. I have often wished they’d do it in the States.

Yes. One of the many things that really infuriates me about the airline security debate is that liberals and Democrats are usually trying to foist stuff on us because, “we’re the only major industrialized country that still does X (e.g., death penalty, health care, etc.) in this neanderthal way. Why can’t we get with the program and do it like our socialist friends the Europeans do?”

Yet when it comes to one of the few things that the Europeans actually do get sort of right, they no longer think that they’re a worthy model to emulate. Go figure.

I Still Don’t Get “IT”

Like Glenn Reynolds, I read my Reason Express this morning, and I have to agree with Jeff Taylor; the Segway scooter is overhyped, particularly when much of the hype reeks of self-righteous social engineering and the evils of automobiles. Another indicator of being overhyped is that their web site is, literally, too flashy (it doesn’t load properly in Opera)–they need to do a version for those of us who are both anti-Microsoft and anti-AOL. (I have the same problem with Andrew Sullivan’s website as well, which is a serious problem, as I really like to read his stuff).

My instantaneous prediction is that the technology itself will be applied in ways that we can’t foresee (that’s always a safe one), but that this particular machine is not going to eliminate cars from the inner city any time soon.

In my current circumstances, I can’t envision a use for it–I work at home, and the only times I go out, I’m generally getting too much stuff (groceries, Home Depot) to carry on it. I might use it to drive to the beach a mile and a half away, but my main purpose in going to the beach is usually for a walk, so if I just rode it on the Strand, that would defeat much of the purpose of the excursion (in addition to looking goofy), and if I just took it to the beach, and then walked, I’d have to worry about leaving it (I wonder what kind of anti-theft devices they have in mind). I’ll stick to a bike for now.

Also, I’m sorry, but it just looks…silly. Like riding a push lawnmower.

[Update]

I’ve just learned via Satire Wire that this technology may have already revolutionized warfare. Kamen may have managed to keep the press from getting it, but not Al Qaeda. According to the story, they have found “proof that the terrorist leader may have been planning to intensify his revolution by producing personal transportation devices of mass distribution.”

“‘Picture Al Qaeda terrorists able to zip around cities on their dastardly errands at 12 miles an hour for only 5 cents a day. What a tremendous costs savings and convenience that would be for them,’ said Army Gen. Tommy Franks.”

All right, maybe I’m wrong–we’ve misunderestimated the power of this technology.

Damn you, bin Laden. DAMN YOOOUUUUU!!!!

[Further Update]

Also, it has been duly noted that this thing doesn’t have a bumper. Is that an add-on accessory that you get with the deluxe package (along with a cup holder)?

Without a bumper, you can’t have bumper stickers.

My Other Car Is A Car

Feel free to add any other suggestions for Segway bumper stickers by clicking on the “comment” button below or emailing me.

[Reader Input]

Reader Bill Haynes has several good questions/issues, relative to the web site:

Sure will pose traffic safety problems, at least until adequate alternate routing away from vehicular traffic is built, and that will take years, even if they become very popular.

Personal injuries will be common, as the user is even less protected than on a bicycle or motorcycle. The video shows people using them totally sans protection, which will not be acceptable. If they are claimed to be equivalent to walking, and thus require no protection, that belies that they are an improvement upon walking. If they are faster, as demonstrated in their video, they require protection such as helmets, elbow and wrist pads, etc.

As damage goes up as the square of velocity; thrice the speed =nine times the impact force.

What will be the minimum age allowed? Young kids will be injured and die in accidents at an unacceptable rate if not limited. And how will that be achieved?

Will licensing be required?

What will liability insurance rates be? Surely higher than for autos, except for repairs and replacement costs.

None of these concerns appear to have been acknowledged.

And UPI columnist Jim Bennett weighs in:

What I’d really like is to have it as a smart cargo platform that I can lead on a leash, so I can walk without having to carry heavy and awkward loads. Then I’d walk more often for practical errands.

That would actually, in some ways, be a better, and safer application. Sort of like a mechanical pack mule, for shopping or hiking (if all terrain). Still not sure it would be worth three grand, though.

I Still Don’t Get “IT”

Like Glenn Reynolds, I read my Reason Express this morning, and I have to agree with Jeff Taylor; the Segway scooter is overhyped, particularly when much of the hype reeks of self-righteous social engineering and the evils of automobiles. Another indicator of being overhyped is that their web site is, literally, too flashy (it doesn’t load properly in Opera)–they need to do a version for those of us who are both anti-Microsoft and anti-AOL. (I have the same problem with Andrew Sullivan’s website as well, which is a serious problem, as I really like to read his stuff).

My instantaneous prediction is that the technology itself will be applied in ways that we can’t foresee (that’s always a safe one), but that this particular machine is not going to eliminate cars from the inner city any time soon.

In my current circumstances, I can’t envision a use for it–I work at home, and the only times I go out, I’m generally getting too much stuff (groceries, Home Depot) to carry on it. I might use it to drive to the beach a mile and a half away, but my main purpose in going to the beach is usually for a walk, so if I just rode it on the Strand, that would defeat much of the purpose of the excursion (in addition to looking goofy), and if I just took it to the beach, and then walked, I’d have to worry about leaving it (I wonder what kind of anti-theft devices they have in mind). I’ll stick to a bike for now.

Also, I’m sorry, but it just looks…silly. Like riding a push lawnmower.

[Update]

I’ve just learned via Satire Wire that this technology may have already revolutionized warfare. Kamen may have managed to keep the press from getting it, but not Al Qaeda. According to the story, they have found “proof that the terrorist leader may have been planning to intensify his revolution by producing personal transportation devices of mass distribution.”

“‘Picture Al Qaeda terrorists able to zip around cities on their dastardly errands at 12 miles an hour for only 5 cents a day. What a tremendous costs savings and convenience that would be for them,’ said Army Gen. Tommy Franks.”

All right, maybe I’m wrong–we’ve misunderestimated the power of this technology.

Damn you, bin Laden. DAMN YOOOUUUUU!!!!

[Further Update]

Also, it has been duly noted that this thing doesn’t have a bumper. Is that an add-on accessory that you get with the deluxe package (along with a cup holder)?

Without a bumper, you can’t have bumper stickers.

My Other Car Is A Car

Feel free to add any other suggestions for Segway bumper stickers by clicking on the “comment” button below or emailing me.

[Reader Input]

Reader Bill Haynes has several good questions/issues, relative to the web site:

Sure will pose traffic safety problems, at least until adequate alternate routing away from vehicular traffic is built, and that will take years, even if they become very popular.

Personal injuries will be common, as the user is even less protected than on a bicycle or motorcycle. The video shows people using them totally sans protection, which will not be acceptable. If they are claimed to be equivalent to walking, and thus require no protection, that belies that they are an improvement upon walking. If they are faster, as demonstrated in their video, they require protection such as helmets, elbow and wrist pads, etc.

As damage goes up as the square of velocity; thrice the speed =nine times the impact force.

What will be the minimum age allowed? Young kids will be injured and die in accidents at an unacceptable rate if not limited. And how will that be achieved?

Will licensing be required?

What will liability insurance rates be? Surely higher than for autos, except for repairs and replacement costs.

None of these concerns appear to have been acknowledged.

And UPI columnist Jim Bennett weighs in:

What I’d really like is to have it as a smart cargo platform that I can lead on a leash, so I can walk without having to carry heavy and awkward loads. Then I’d walk more often for practical errands.

That would actually, in some ways, be a better, and safer application. Sort of like a mechanical pack mule, for shopping or hiking (if all terrain). Still not sure it would be worth three grand, though.

I Still Don’t Get “IT”

Like Glenn Reynolds, I read my Reason Express this morning, and I have to agree with Jeff Taylor; the Segway scooter is overhyped, particularly when much of the hype reeks of self-righteous social engineering and the evils of automobiles. Another indicator of being overhyped is that their web site is, literally, too flashy (it doesn’t load properly in Opera)–they need to do a version for those of us who are both anti-Microsoft and anti-AOL. (I have the same problem with Andrew Sullivan’s website as well, which is a serious problem, as I really like to read his stuff).

My instantaneous prediction is that the technology itself will be applied in ways that we can’t foresee (that’s always a safe one), but that this particular machine is not going to eliminate cars from the inner city any time soon.

In my current circumstances, I can’t envision a use for it–I work at home, and the only times I go out, I’m generally getting too much stuff (groceries, Home Depot) to carry on it. I might use it to drive to the beach a mile and a half away, but my main purpose in going to the beach is usually for a walk, so if I just rode it on the Strand, that would defeat much of the purpose of the excursion (in addition to looking goofy), and if I just took it to the beach, and then walked, I’d have to worry about leaving it (I wonder what kind of anti-theft devices they have in mind). I’ll stick to a bike for now.

Also, I’m sorry, but it just looks…silly. Like riding a push lawnmower.

[Update]

I’ve just learned via Satire Wire that this technology may have already revolutionized warfare. Kamen may have managed to keep the press from getting it, but not Al Qaeda. According to the story, they have found “proof that the terrorist leader may have been planning to intensify his revolution by producing personal transportation devices of mass distribution.”

“‘Picture Al Qaeda terrorists able to zip around cities on their dastardly errands at 12 miles an hour for only 5 cents a day. What a tremendous costs savings and convenience that would be for them,’ said Army Gen. Tommy Franks.”

All right, maybe I’m wrong–we’ve misunderestimated the power of this technology.

Damn you, bin Laden. DAMN YOOOUUUUU!!!!

[Further Update]

Also, it has been duly noted that this thing doesn’t have a bumper. Is that an add-on accessory that you get with the deluxe package (along with a cup holder)?

Without a bumper, you can’t have bumper stickers.

My Other Car Is A Car

Feel free to add any other suggestions for Segway bumper stickers by clicking on the “comment” button below or emailing me.

[Reader Input]

Reader Bill Haynes has several good questions/issues, relative to the web site:

Sure will pose traffic safety problems, at least until adequate alternate routing away from vehicular traffic is built, and that will take years, even if they become very popular.

Personal injuries will be common, as the user is even less protected than on a bicycle or motorcycle. The video shows people using them totally sans protection, which will not be acceptable. If they are claimed to be equivalent to walking, and thus require no protection, that belies that they are an improvement upon walking. If they are faster, as demonstrated in their video, they require protection such as helmets, elbow and wrist pads, etc.

As damage goes up as the square of velocity; thrice the speed =nine times the impact force.

What will be the minimum age allowed? Young kids will be injured and die in accidents at an unacceptable rate if not limited. And how will that be achieved?

Will licensing be required?

What will liability insurance rates be? Surely higher than for autos, except for repairs and replacement costs.

None of these concerns appear to have been acknowledged.

And UPI columnist Jim Bennett weighs in:

What I’d really like is to have it as a smart cargo platform that I can lead on a leash, so I can walk without having to carry heavy and awkward loads. Then I’d walk more often for practical errands.

That would actually, in some ways, be a better, and safer application. Sort of like a mechanical pack mule, for shopping or hiking (if all terrain). Still not sure it would be worth three grand, though.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!