Thiel Versus Sessions

They’re battling over the future of NASA.

Thiel is pushing for a 21st-century space policy. Sessions represents the past, Apolloism, space socialism, and pork. He should stick to being AG.

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Not sure what “commercial space trade association” Tim Fernholz thinks that Alan Stern leads.

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Tim pointed out to me that he’s chairman of the board of CSF, which I hadn’t known, or had forgotten. But I pointed out to him that Eric Stallmer is really the person who “leads” it, which he agreed was fair.

More on this topic from Eric Berger.

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Not exactly space related, but sort of, in the sense that indefinite lifespan will help with opening the universe, an interesting description of what else Thiel is up to.

Lava Tubes On The Moon

…could be up to five kilometers wide.

Mycroft Holmes, call your office.

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Speaking of the moon, Paul Spudis has some ideas about how to make space great again. I actually agree with most of it, except for this:

The Orion spacecraft and its SLS launch vehicle are currently in final stages of development, with initial test flights planned for 2018. We can use these existing systems to return to the Moon; indeed, as the remnants of the cancelled Constellation program, they are already optimized for cislunar missions. The only missing piece is a lander to put people on to the lunar surface. NASA’s Altair lander program was cancelled in 2011, but fortunately, a lander may be ready very soon. The United Launch Alliance has outlined a plan for a human-rated lander based around the venerable Centaur stage, using modified RL-10 engines. This vehicle is almost perfectly configured to return people to the Moon, as it is intended to be reusable and utilizes the LOX-hydrogen propellant that we will produce on the lunar surface.

The surest way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is to plan it around SLS/Orion, which will fly so rarely that we will make very little progress. He’s postulating the existence of a ULA lander, while ignoring the firmer plans for Vulcan ACES, which would be the natural way to carry out these mission (Orion might be usable in that scenario, but not SLS, and Dragon would probably be more cost effective). And as usual over there, the comments, particularly from “Bilgamesh,” are idiotic. And even more particularly the fantasy about flying SLS a dozen times a year.

Obsolete Climate Science

An important essay from Richard Epstein:

The worst way to get a full exchange of views on the complex matter of global warming is to pack the IWG entirely with members from the Obama administration, all surely preselected in part because they share the president’s exaggerated concerns with the problem of global warming. The only way to get a full and accurate picture of the situation is to listen to dissenters on global warming as well as advocates, which was never done. After all, who should listen to a “denier”?

This dismissive attitude is fatal to independent inquiry. No matter how many times the president claims the science is rock-solid, the wealth of recent evidence gives rise to a very different picture that undercuts the inordinate pessimism about climate change that was in vogue about 10 years ago. The group convened in the Obama administration never examined, let alone refuted, the accumulation of evidence on the other side. Indeed, virtually all of its reports are remarkable for the refusal to address any of the data at all. Instead, the common theme is to refer to models developed by others as the solid foundation for the group’s own work, without questioning a word of what those models say.

The second major mistake in the government studies is the way in which they frame the social costs of carbon. As all champions of cost/benefit analysis understand, it is a mistake to look at costs in isolation from benefits, or benefits apart from costs. Yet that appears to be the approach taken in these reports. In dealing with various objections to its reports, the IWG noted in its July 2015 response that “some commenters felt that the SCC estimates should include the value to society of the goods and services whose production is associated with CO2 emissions.” Their evasive response has to be quoted in full to be believed: “Rigorous evaluation of benefits and costs is a core tenet of the rulemaking process. The IWG agrees that these are important issues that may be relevant to assessing the impacts of policies that reduce CO2 emissions. However, these issues are not relevant to the SCC itself. The SCC is an estimate of the net economic damages resulting from CO2 emissions, and therefore is used to estimate the benefit of reducing those emissions.”

In essence, the benefits from present or future CO2 emissions are not part of the story. Yet a truly neutral account of the problem must be prepared to come to the conclusion that increased levels of CO2 emissions could be, as the Carbon Dioxide Coalition has argued, a net benefit to society when a more comprehensive investigation is made. The entire process of expanding EPA regulations and other Obama administration actions feeds off this incorrect base assumption. The most striking admission of the folly of the entire EPA project comes from EPA Chief Gina McCarthy, who has stated that she would regard a decrease of one one-hundredth of a degree as enormously beneficial, notwithstanding its major cost, because its symbolism would “trigger global action.” No cost/benefit analysis would justify wasted expenditures solely on symbolic grounds. After all, human progress on global warming will only suffer if other nations follow our false siren on CO2 emissions, while ignoring the huge pollution that envelops major population centers like Delhi and Beijing.

It’s both junk science, and junk economics.

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A podcast with Judith Curry.

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Bob Zimmerman has thoughts on the upcoming squealing of the climate pigs.

Unfriending Over Politics

Democrats are much more likely than Republicans (and conservatives) to do it.

I’m completely unsurprised. For the Left, the personal is political; they have a great deal of difficulty separating the two. If you have a different opinion from them, you’re not merely wrong, but evil. In addition, they are much more pained by intrusions into the epistemic closure of their ideological cocoon, and simply can’t tolerate them.

This is why I have two Twitter accounts (not counting the book): one for my general opinions (to which I believe that everyone is entitled, just as at this blog) and one just for space stuff. I see a lot of political craziness in my space TL that I simply ignore, because I follow those issuing it for space stuff, and don’t want to get into arguments with friends over non-space stuff. When a space person follows my non-space account, I always DM them a warning that if they’re following for space stuff, they’re better off with @Simberg_Space.

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Related: A New York state employee calls for the death of Trump supporters, and his management is perfectly copacetic with that.

These people are many things, but “liberal” is not one of them.

The IRS

No, this isn’t about their war on conservatives. I got a shocking notice in the mail for my Subchapter S that said I owed three thousand dollars, even though there were no taxes due. It was a late-filing penalty. I had requested an extension in March, and filed in October, as I’d done for the past couple years, since I started the new company, and passed all the profit through to myself as sole owner. But they claimed that I hadn’t filed for the extension, so it was six months late (they counted the four days from when I mailed on October 15th as another month) and they charged me $195 per month times two, claiming that there were two shareholders, even though it was addressed to me as sole owner. I looked into my options, and while there are ways out for individuals, they’re a lot harder on S corps.

Fortunately, the woman I talked to on the phone was reasonable, and I managed to get her to accept that I had filed for the extension (she recognized that my actions would have made no sense if I hadn’t, and my past history was to do so), and convinced her that I was the only shareholder (which they should have known by looking at my K-1), so she knocked it down to two months from when I was supposed to file in September (yes, I did screw that up) for one shareholder, to get the bill down to $390. But it’s still annoying to be fined for a late filing in which no taxes were owed. Clearly, they want to be harsh on late filers regardless.

Obama’s Versus Trump’s Economy

I distinctly recall in the fall of 2008, as an Obama win seemed likely, if not inevitable, that there was a lot of talk about small-business people planning to end investment, pull in their horns, and wait for the coming economic storm to blow over, which greatly contributed to the contraction, and the worst recovery since the end of the war. But I’m having trouble finding anything on line about it. Do others remember that, and have any links to anything?

I ask, because I suspect that the promise of an end to many of the punishing regulations is going to pull a lot of that money back into the economy (particularly if it can be repatriated without being confiscated).

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!