Friday, September 30, 2005

Little Dee and the next Ice Age

Because little girls who can't talk and smarty-pants vultures are funny. And the topic is near to my heart. Doesn't hurt that Baldwin is an insightful smart artist.

Little Dee - because it's smart, funny and girls dig guys who dig talking vultures and smart bears, yo.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Common Sense Way To Get A Manned Space Station

Someone tell me why this won't work?

"Whereas Congress has determined that a US owned manned space station is in the national interest, be it resolved that the Treasurer of the United States is directed to pay, and payment is hereby authorized, to the first American owned firm to place 14 Americans in orbit about the Earth and maintain them there continuously for a period of not less than 18 months, the sum of Seven Billion dollars, this payment to be free of taxes."

Which is foolish - I know why it won't work. Same reason we had troops in Somalia, same reason people starve in the middle of the richest farming counntry in Asia. Politics.

Hat tip to J.E. Pournelle.


Dropped Bruce Gagnon from the blog roll. He killed his comments, which were the only reason to actually read his blog. I can get his opinionage anywhere - I don't have to read badly written posts to know (ahem) which way the wind is blowing.

And yes, there is a bit of glass house rock throwing here. Note I don't make my living by my words and Bruce is a published author. "Come Together Right Now: Organizing Stories from a Fading Empire" is a catchy title but if he wrote THAT with the same fact checking care and icky prose he blogs with . . . yuck.

Added Protected Static. Nice fella, writes well and he's from Seattle. Plus, you know, he likes the idea of a space elevator so he must be a good guy.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Slashdot and Huffington Post diff

The diff between Slashdot and Huffington Post?

/. trolls are funnier.

UPDATE: I confess some amazement at the moderators at Huffington Post. These are posted

This will work only after they repeal the law of gravity.

Posted by: wndrwrthg on September 25, 2005 at 05:34am

and this
Nano-ware strikes again! Nano tubes are as plausible as the flea circus hoax used to bilk thousands in Jurrasic Park. Nano-ware is no more than pathetic wishful thinking and fantasy. It is hilarioius to think that people buy this unfounded hokum.

Posted by: Jeff Wierbloom on September 25, 2005 at 09:18am

So, are they all on shrooms or acid? I say acid.

Posted by: BB on September 25, 2005 at 12:42pm

and this
You mother fucking lowlife libs need to give it a rest. W won and he has 3 more years to consolidate the Bush revolution. We'll get these 2 and maybe 1 or 2 more supremes and they'll all be conservative. No more Souters, we're talking CONSERVATIVE!

It's like the weather---if it's going to rain anyway, you might as well sit back and enjoy it.

Posted by: BJ Clinton on September 25, 2005 at 06:08pm

But not this

I confess I thought I'd never see the Huffington Post link to an article on space elevators. Glad to see I was wrong.

We have a copy of Dr. Edward's NIAC study on our website at (PDF format). It's a good summary of how, what, when and where. The lay public can easily understand the concept.

We also have a Forum where you can discuss the concept at and a FAQ at

Read the material, think and decide for yourselves. Knee jerk reactions (science fiction! can't happen! nano-ware, pah) are all very well but a careful reader will be surprised.

Submitted by bdunbar @ mm:dd:yyyy

Friday, September 23, 2005

I work with funny people

Tom writes in A Hidden Sense of Humor
I’ve been editing the video from the 1,000-foot robot test. Since I’ve been busy lately with grant writing etc., I wasn’t involved in activities like making the ribbon. So it wasn’t until I was watching the video that I noticed the sentence written in block letters on the 2-inch wide ribbon (which alternates color in 50-foot strips of bright yellow and fluorescent orange) near the top:
Our sense of humor (or at least Nyein’s) may not (or it may) be visible from far away, but it’s there.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

NASA PR - Remixed for your viewing pleasure

From The Shape of Days - Jeff edited this NASA PR and made it so much better.
Always with free time on my hands — freelancing is a harsh mistress, yo — I decided to help NASA out. I took the movie they released, mixed a soundtrack for it, and edited it into something just slightly more snappy, just slightly more fun to watch. I hope.

Either that, or it sucks. Damned if I know which it is.

Anyway, here you go.
I think it's good - go watch.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Slashdot Rule of Thumb

When someone says something like
Maybe i am a bit out of touch (although i doubt it, being physicist and seeing people who actively work in the nanoparticle research and astrophysics department everyday), but i think this is all such a bullshit.
You can generally bet the rest of what he will say is wrong, foolish, incorrect or just plain dumb.

Space Access Society is not thrilled

Space Access Society is not thrilled with NASA's new Exploration Systems Architecture.
To be blunt, we have big problems with this plan. It's the same basic
approach as Apollo, disposable (mostly) spacecraft, on big NASA-proprietary boosters, flown a few times a year, by a standing army of NASA and contractor employees. This is Apollo 2.0, with somewhat more delivered exploration, at moderately higher cost, on a significantly slower schedule.
There is more. It's all fair criticism. I'm for the idea in principle. We can afford it, and there is no reason not to spend 1% of the national budget on exploration and the far frontier - that is what the State is for.

Stuck on stupid

Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...

Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.

Transcript and .mp3 at radioblogger.

A new catch phrase is born. Thank you General "Stuck on stupid" Honore.

3 Space Quickies

Jeff is mainstream, and he understands
And yeah, frankly I think humanity needs to colonize the solar system. We need to have not just an outpost on the moon, but full-fledged cities. Why? Because we can! Because as unlikely as it may be, one good asteroid could wipe out life on this planet, and the human race is too precious to entrust to just one world.
Phi knows how to make it happen.
If we competed against China by announcing (hefty) prizes for private orbiters and moon shots and so on, I think that'd give us an added PR victory as a defeat of centrally planned economic activity, as well. And it seems to me both cheaper and more likely to succeed.
Glenn Reynolds questions the current NASA Plan
I'm all for Moon colonies, and I realize that the better can be the enemy of the good. But I'm not at all sure that this plan puts the money in the right place.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Blogroll Addition

I don't typically announce that I've added to my Blogroll - it seems presumtious; who the heck am I? I could not resist posting that I added Human Iterations, becuase of this line in his FAQ . . .
I admit I have a soft spot for America, Russia and Brazil. Tormented histories spattered with heroics are the best. Something about Ireland calls to me in my bones. Otherwise

Fuck Nationalism.

I’m an American. We’re better than that.

Surly Bonds

William Gillis at Human Iterations writes up a storm. I can give no higher praise than to say I don't agree with all of his opinions but I find him very entertaining, smart and an easy read.

Of course the mark of an intelligent man is when he agrees with you;
We've had our photo op; now comes the infrastructure. Now comes the backbreaking work that won't finish until space elevators stretch from Malaysia to Guyana. Till we lift the construction material to build wetdocks at L5. Till the gleaming bulkheads of lighthuggers are sealed far above this jewel of a planet.

Testing proto space elevator tech won't get anyone's flag-waving picture on the cover of Time.

But it'll get humanity that much closer to the stars and the untapped liberty and self-sufficiency they represent. That, my friends, is a path of which the merest step down may outweigh all the pretty pictures in the world.

More geek funny

Most of you will not know why this is funny. The few that do ... yes hysterical.
Hat tip to Dean Esmay

HURRICANES - by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

Count on it - long after the politics are forgotten, the art remains.

by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

you keep blowin' me down
you keep bloooowin' me down
you keep blowin' me
blowin' me
blowin' me
blowin' me

what do you say
to houses
flooded to the rafters
with water

what do you say
to the levee
that didn't
have to break

what do you say
to 10,000 bodies
huddled in a cracking

what do you say
to someone
who has lost everything

what do you say
to people on the
brink on the edge

what do you say
to your four
days of negligence

what do you say
to hands breaking glass
to shake the last
from the stores

what do you say
to missing mothers,
missing grandfathers,
missing fiances, missing
kids locked up

what do you say
to the operators
who saw the cracks
in the wall
or the meteorologists
who tracked the hurricane
on her path

what do you say
to this
the richest country
in the world

and the bowl
of new orleans
which is now
a distant memory
of the past

what do you say
to soldiers with
shoot to kill

or how was
your vacation

and no, Bush
we didn't see
you fumble
your fingers
over that phone

what would you say
if this were
or Martha's Vineyard
Camp David
or Palm Springs

what if it were
these people
who learned
what it is
to taste a flood

what if this were
the gates of Parliament
a G8 meeting or another
summit for the WTO

there's always enough

to prepare the
soldiers in riot

to bash protestors
and lace them in plastic
handcuffs, keep them
overnight, so many
stuffed to a cell

to make them lick blood
welling on their tongues

there's always enough

for the cops in
South Central
North Lawndale
or Dorchester

oh yes, that's right
Mr. Goverment

i forget

it is always
we the people
who continue
to kill ourselves

i wanna see how you
will try to blame this
on us

what dirt you will dig
what information you will smother
what resisters you will drive into the

we, the country
the most rich
the most free

a natural disaster
in our miseries

what will you do
for the bodies
over their heads
in water

gasping for breath

as you count our dollars
planning to sacrifice
our sons and daughters
for oil

you keep blowin' me down

you keep bloooowin' me down

you keep blowin' me
blowin' me
blowin' me
blowin' me

Update: Ms. Tsai's website is

Sunday, September 18, 2005

For Tom

Tom, read this and thought of you. The rest of you enjoy the geek humor of it all. Visit The PC Weenies for your geek humor needs.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Placeopedia - Space Elevator

Space Elevator.

No, when built, the first one won't be in Bremerton. But I could not resist. Shame on me, I know.

Oh, what is Placeopeda? Placeopedia is "a simple site where you can connect Wikipedia articles with places, and then make use of our database either to browse, or syndicate the whole lot."

Andy Taylor - One Mean Drunk

Andy Griffith hasn't always, it seems, been Matlock or the Sherrif Andy Taylor, good old boy and swell guy. He played, in 1957's "“A Face in the Crowd" a fella found in a drunk tank and catapulted to fame and cynical fortune. As the estimable James Lileks said;
What we have here is a guy who took all the good will and familiarity he’d built up thus far and dynamites it for the sake of making a damn good movie, and that’s rather brave: picture Bob Newhart playing a psycho sex killer in a ’66 crime drama – then picture Bob Newhart returning to his previous button-down persona without missing a beat, and going on to decades of success. That’s what Griffith did.

I need to rent that. Heck, based on Lilek's review that's one I will buy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What kind of Christian is George Bush?

Grant McCracken at This Blog Sits at the: posts that question.
I discovered today that George W. Bush is a better leader or a better Christian than I knew.

Here he is facing a barrage of Katrina criticism, some of it almost surely coming from the people who helped create the Katrina crisis, and what does he do?

He reaches out and thanks these people for their criticism. After his meeting with Bush, the mayor of New Orleans, Mr. C. Ray Nagin, said, "If anything, he told me he kind of appreciated my frankness and my bluntness."

This might be the triumph of a Christian generosity, a turning of the cheek. It's hard not to notice that no one takes Bush's Christianity seriously, unless, in my opinion, they take it too seriously. No one seems ever to read Bush's behavior as if he were being animated by Christian beliefs or practices. Instead, people treat his Christianity as if it were somehow "part of the act," an opportunistic play for sun belt, heart land, anti-coastal voters. No one seems to believe that George W. Bush is ever actually listening when in church. He's there as part of the theatre of his presidency, to show that he stands with certain conservative verities and against the godless Dems.

I know it's not fashionable to talk this way about George W. Bush, but that should give us pause. Actually, the problem goes deeper than that. It is indeed barely intelligible to talk about George Bush this way. To refer to the kind or effect of his religious feeling, do we ever do this? To refer to the selflessness of his presidency, this too trembles on the verge of incoherence. In sum, we have read certain interpretive possibilities out of analysis before analysis has begun. And we all did it. Intellectuals all did it. Intellectuals all did it. (It always astonishes me to see that the intellectual is first and foremost a pack animal.)

George W. Bush, maybe for all of his take-charge, Texan, just-folk transparency, there are complexities we have not discovered. Discovering complexities, I thought this was what the chattering classes were for.

Which is something that some of us - who have known men of good Christian charity up close and personel - have long known. He's a stand up guy, he believes what he says, and his artiface is at a minimum. Grant says a fair bit, and writes far better than I - it's worth a few minutes.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Jerry Pournelle article on Katrina

Jerry Pournelle on Katrina . The most reasoned thing I've seen about this mess.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


But move forward, too. Light a candle, yes. But also drive a rivet.

James Lileks

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Elevator Going Up!

I like the idea of space elevators - and not just because I (sorta kinda) work for a - or the - company that is going to build one. When other people notice it's keen.
An Earth-to-orbit elevator (sometimes called a "Beanstalk," a "space bridge," or an "orbital tether") is one of those ideas that, at first blush, sounds almost too ludicrous to be real. After all, we're accustomed to thinking of rockets as our only way into space, mixing danger and adventure; taking an elevator into space sounds almost boring. It turns out, however, that a space elevator is not only plausible, it's potentially revolutionary. Perhaps more importantly, given all that has happened in recent days and weeks, the notion of a space elevator can provide a bit of almost giggly optimism about the future.

The present might look grim, but within 20-30 years, we'll be taking an elevator to orbit!
Very good images are linked in that WorldChanging article.

Disasters big and small

Alert reader Mike Juergens writes in Jerry Pournelle's Current Chaos Manor Mail
It was clear to everyone who looked at the situation that if no provision were made, the poor of New Orleans would suffer grievously in a major hurricane. This was said repeatedly, for years. Nothing was done. I think this inaction is symptomatic of a larger pattern.

America is a nation that has largely stopped really believing its myths. The "Great Society" to be created by winning a "War on Poverty," the vision of another generation of leaders, now seems an incomprehensible failure. One can argue methods, by my point is that now we can hardly imagine anyone even thinking they could actually realize such a ‘big idea.’ The now-pervasive cynicism and complacency mean that problems that could and should be solved are ignored. The result is obvious with Katrina, but there are thousands of individual-scale disasters in the U.S. every day, disasters of crime, poverty, domestic violence, economic decline, dysfunctional schools, and breakdowns of medical and other systems. These disasters are hidden and ignored, the same way the vulnerability of New Orleans' poor to flooding was ignored.

America cannot be sustained, as America, by the achievements of a relatively small stratum of technical/managerial elites, while ever-larger swaths of the population become ever-more marginalized and underserved. We need a vision of rebuilding the nation for all our citizens. Perhaps we can find it in the way we rebuild the region destroyed by a hurricane.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Nationalize the Petroleum Industry

“There are going to be questions about what major oil companies are doing with all the resources they’re accumulating…they can’t escape that.”—U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, WSJ

Nationalization of the Oil Industry


Economic arguments aside. If what you _want_ is to perpetuate the petroleum industry and never-ever-never move to alternate fuels, then yes enshrine a beaucracy in the Federal government.

When was the last time a government organization worked itself out of a job?

Monday, September 05, 2005


Submitted without comment.

Visit Goats for a daily does of comic merriment.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Posts via email

Added an email feed for posts from FeedBlitz. Form is on right, near the bottom.

Friday, September 02, 2005

There is no purer emotion than the anger of a Boomer who doesn’t know what he’s talking about

Doonesbury rewritten the to show Trudeau’s inner monologue, with out the obfuscation he applies for a wider market:

“There is no purer emotion than the anger of a Boomer who doesn’t know what he’s talking about!!!!”.

To which I can only add a .. heh.

Liftport Bleg

Posted the Third Art Newsletter to the Liftport announcement list. It contains the following request, which I will pass on here.
Finally, one new thing we are starting with this issue is to ask for your help.

This is a large project and we think we've made a lot of progress over the past three years. To continue moving forward, each week we are going to ask one "Little Thing" from our newsletter subscribers. This "Little Thing" will not involve money. This newsletter is not, and never will be, a "marketing and sales" tool for the company.

The first reason we send these letters out is to inform and educate the growing community interested in our project. The second reason is to expand our global network. Our thinking on this is simple - the more people involved with the Space Elevator, the easier and more likely it is to succeed

We'd like you to get actively involved.

Each "Little Thing" that we ask will have a cumulative effect. The end result will be an elevator into the sky.

The first thing we are asking you to do is tell two people about what we are doing, and ask them to sign up for our newsletter (, or to send an email to

Today, we have 1,183 people on our list. Our goal is to have 10,000 by the end of the year. With your help, we can build that list. With that list, we can build the Space Elevator.

Full text is available at the Liftport Forum.
If you're interested in space access, or space elevators, consider signing up.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Space Elevator: Stuck Between Floors

Liftport firmly believes that the most serious challenge to building a space elevator system is not the technical but legal and political problems. It's good to see articles like Glenn Reynold's Space Elevator: Stuck Between Floors.

TCS isn't a mainstream site but Professor Reynolds has a huge readership for the medium.