All posts by Rand Simberg

Perversely Diverse

The Media Minder has a nice little report from the front lines of affirmative action today:

The pursuit of superficial diversity in newsrooms has paradoxically stifled the pursuit of intellectual diversity. It’s a big problem, it’s largely unacknowledged, and it’s not going to go away anytime soon.

Space Tourism Picking Up Steam

Someone of whom I’ve never heard named Lance Bass from some band named Nsync (boy, am I totally unhip or what? And proud of it, too…) is negotiating for a trip to space.

This is great news. It will start to make space tourism something that more and more people in the entertainment world start to think about seriously. And they have money. We want to make this the next Hollywood fad.

Also, as a result we’re starting to approach the tipping point at which demand for seats will exceed Russian supply. This will help provide needed funding for companies like Mircorp, and get investors to start taking this market seriously.

As more investment is made in the system by entities with a true interest in reducing costs, launch costs will finally start coming down from their current stratospheric levels. That will also enable the development of dedicated orbital hotels, so no one will have to any longer kowtow to NASA in order to take a space vacation.

Were They All Catholic?

Elaine Lafferty has a nice piece in the Irish Times about American attitudes toward terror vis a vis Europe’s. But there’s one statement that I find odd:

Thousands, not hundreds, of civilians were killed; the estimate in New York is that 30,000 to 40,000 children lost a parent in the attack on the World Trade Centre.

Am I missing something? Last I heard, the death estimates were about three thousand, give or take.

First of all, surely not all of the dead were parents. But even if they all were, and ignoring the cases where both parents were killed (hopefully rare), that would average out to over ten kids apiece. So who came up with this number and how was it derived?

No Virgins For Him

Some Jewish settlers wrapped the body of a dead terrorist in pigskin. The terrorists expressed disapproval, but no word on whether or not it will discourage them.

I still think that we should outfit all aircraft with an overhead sprinkler system that disseminates hogs’ blood in an emergency. That might have made them think twice…

Missed It By That Much

I screwed up yesterday (not an unusual occurrence), when I noted that it was the fortieth anniversary of Glenn’s flight. Today is. But I’m sticking to the rest of the story, though some have suggested that it was a little churlish to criticize the Senator on the anniversary of his achievement.

However, it was an achievement, and one of great bravery. Today, Andrew Chaikin has another commemorative article as a follow up to yesterday’s from Leonard David. In it, he describes the hazards of that particular flight, on which all did not go well, and contrasts it with more modern spaceflight in the Shuttle.

In some sense, Glenn’s flight was a mini-version of Apollo XIII, in which we almost lost three astronauts on their way to the Moon. The heat shield of his Mercury capsule came loose, and there was great concern that the capsule (along with him) would not survive the fire of entry after his three orbits. Quick thinking on the ground came up with a potential solution, and it apparently worked, though he might have made it even without the change in procedure–we’ll never know.

Of course, the danger should be put into perspective. As a former Korean combat fighter jockey and Marine test pilot, for whom funerals of comrades were a frequent occurrence, strapping himself into that capsule and riding the column of fire to orbit was probably one of the safest things that he’d done in his career up to that point…