Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Space Elevator - scale image

Joe Julian drew my attention to this scale drawing of the Edwards-style bare-bones space elevator Liftport proposes to build.



The length is to scale - fortunately the ribbon is much smaller in width than the real deal. Kinda puts things in perspective.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Extinction

A picture by Donald Davis


Extinction

Opus wished for wings that work - I wish for the gift of poetry

If I were I'd be delighted if I could pen something this good to my wife.
Me and You and Don Mclean

Don't know why I sing
after I come with you

Starry
Starry Night

Nor do I know what Vincent was trying to say
perhaps it’s what’s behind the paint
the moving strokes inside us

All I know
is everything comes alive
throbs and swirls and threatens
to break out of its frame
every blue every yellow
everything I knew of love

when I’m with you
via Sandhill Trek. Thanks for the pointer to the site, Frank. Ray Sweatman is pretty good.

Space Elevator Art

Monte had a valid complaint in the last post
Pretty, but still in that mega-maglev, pre-Edwards style.

Maybe I generalize too much from my own "conversion" experience, but I'd rather see more renderings of the small, bare-bones SE that might (given the requisite CNT material) happen quickly and affordably, and fewer of the $500B fourth-generation Clarke/Sheffield/Robinson Deluxe...
Nyein Aung is doing this, results posted to the Liftport Gallery. I'll zip over to the Liftport Blog and post on this there as well. Here is a taste to make Monte a happy guy.


Expectations of 'what' launching to space looks like will need some adjustment. Not nearly as dramatic as Apollo 13 is it?

Space Elevator from Mondolithic



This image from Mondolithic is making the blogosphere rounds again. Interesting how that happens; there was a scat load of posts when they first published the image to their gallery .... now months later it is back.

But it is pretty.

Artistic Impression - Wealth Generation Machine

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Progressive thinking ... not

Wretchard's latest. Political correctness carried to it's logical end is not progressive but repressive where it matters most - the intellect.
The West is menaced not only by its declining fertility but by an assault on its intellectual core. We have become as the Ancients whose ideas of freedom went on to illuminate distant generations, but not their own descendants, who hastened to embrace the following dark.
Worth reading.
via TJIC.

Challenger

The blogs I troll daily are all posting Challenger posts - where were you, reprints of Reagan's speech and so on.

I was at Camp Pendelton, Infantry Training School (Kickback Charlie Company) learning how to be an 03 bullet - stopper. That morning we were on the LAW range learning how to shoot those cute little disposable anti-tank rockets. One of the training NCOs made a bad joke and the training continued. Life goes on.

Whatever - retrospective means nothing without action. James Lileks said this about another horrible day and it applies to this as well.
Remember.
But move forward, too. Light a candle, yes. But also drive a rivet.
It's been twenty years and we're still going nowhere fast with manned space. Time to drive that rivet and get with the program. VSE offers a plausible route forward. It's not everything, it's not perfect but it's something and it's better than what has come before.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Private civilian response to the 'meh' CEV video from NASA

Jim Hillhouse sent this to the AmericaSpace mail list a few minutes ago ...
After downloading NASA's CEV movie last Fall, I was disappointed that NASA had not done a better job in trying to sell its vision. Frankly, I've seen better out of a high school film group. I whined and moaned about this for a week or so and then decided to put my money where my mouth was. So, I bought "Final Cut Express HD" (only for Mac, sorry), installed it on my PowerBook G4 15", downloaded allot of NASA media, and made my own version of what I thought NASA should have done. I've tried to put NASA's new program into context with what has gone on in the past.

You can download the film, "Return to the Moon", at: http://www.orbitcode.com

You can't miss it. Enjoy it! It's free. And it's big--the film is over 41 Meg. Just unzip and play. It's a QuickTime/iTunes movie and is formatted for the iPod. I hope all of you like it.

Please send any criticisms and comments to me. But I'm not a film student or in the bidness, so you get what I caveat.
It's pretty good. Worth a few minutes to download and watch. Amazing what an inspired private citizenry can do.

Egregious twaddle by Henry M. Bowles III

Henry M. Bowles III has come out again' the military recruiting on campus. I would argue that if the military ceased recruiting amongst our intellectual betters then our society would suffer but .. hey what do I know?

You would think that a senior would know better than this however
A real tragedy occurs when a young man, susceptible to the military’s appeal and nonetheless intelligent and creative, signs up to become cannon fodder. He’ll probably leave the military alive, but he’ll have been irreversibly molded, less inclined to dissent. Less intelligent people are better equipped for most military positions, and have far less to lose.
Tommy Atkins to the front - you 'ave less to loose than our Mr. Bowles, Private. For 'e is clearly a scholar and a gentleman and we can't afford to lose the likes o' him. 'Es ever so much smarter than you lot - just ask 'im!

Remember that is Henry M. Bowles III of Northwestern.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sarbanes-Oxley considered harmful

From Reason. You Can Be Too Careful: How the government’s new corporate accounting rules impede efficiency and stifle innovation.
Critics in academia and business journalism—and many from the corporate world itself, most of whom are reluctant to talk on the record and thereby show “bad faith” regarding the law—have many complaints about SarbOx, from its picayune requirements to its overall cost. While all such guesstimates should be taken with a grain of salt, one financial consulting firm, the Johnsson Group, has put the 2004 costs of SarbOx compliance at $15 billion. The critics also argue that the law’s benefits are apt to be small.

SarbOx probably won’t cripple the American economy, any more than the Clean Air Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act did. But it’s bound to create bad incentives and unintended consequences. Far from increasing the efficiency of capital markets, it will discourage some businesses from going public, since most of its provisions do not apply to privately held companies; will encourage some now-public companies to go private; and will keep some foreign companies out of the U.S. stock market.
Think edge effects here. It is not the modest amount of productivity damanged or that the legislation doesn't do what it is intended to do. It is the affect it has on the rest of our culture.

The costs of SarbOx compliance, while not driving anyone out of business, will siphon revenues toward legal and accounting work. That drain may, in the words of Forbes’ Rich Karlgaard, “succeed in stopping the next Enron, but…crib-kill the next Cisco, Microsoft and Starbucks” by leaving them less capital with which to expand.

Bob Merritt: I got so frustrated, it wasn’t worth coming to work. I’d
rather be the guy that holds the pole that the surveyor looks down than be CFO
of a public company.

Stephen Stanton: We actively encourage clients: Don’t change your
system; don’t upgrade anything; don’t change anything for the last three months
of the year.

Karen De Coster: The average accountant or corporate finance individual has
seen the light in regard to the sheer folly of it all, from having endured
microscopic attention to even the most insignificant tasks. The more ridiculous
the compliance procedures get, the more the average worker tends to
blow it off as frivolous.

Charles Wilson: SarbOx is definitely discouraging smaller
companies from going public, and it discourages good opportunities for
investing in little companies. I have friends running private companies who say
going public now would be just impossible.


Like that.

It's about the oil. It always is.

ATB quotes Spangler, who posits that it's all about the oil.
Why did French President Jacques Chirac last week threaten to use non-conventional - that is, nuclear - weapons against terrorist states? And why did Iran announce that it would shift foreign-exchange reserves out of European banks (although it has since retracted this warning)? The answer lies in the nature of Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Iran needs nuclear weapons, I believe, not to attack Israel, but to support imperial expansion by conventional military means.
There is more at the link. Certainly a more rational use than attempting to exterminate heavily armed Israelis. Israel would bite back. What will Azerbaijan do?

Chilling in a vague 'that will be next year's problem' way. It is not that I care that Iran has territorial ambition - like a dog eating it's own feces that is what some states simply do - but the ways and means they'll use to accomplish their desired end.

Thanks to Frank for pointing ATB out. I'm sure it was he - or a link from a poster on his site. He gets the blame at any rate. Those graphics alone are worth it.

Optimisim or Despair is a sin

Optimisim
But if you ask me what is a human being, I'd say that we are the species that seeks to go beyond our limitations and beyond our boundaries. We didn't stay on the ground. We didn't stay on the planet. We didn't stay within the limits of our biology. And I would point out that, if it were up to the Luddites, human life expectancy would still be 37, and we'd still be dying from bacterial infections. Ray Kurzweil

via Music of the Spheres

Monday, January 23, 2006

London Underground

Haw. Ever suffered a mass-transit strike? You will enjoy the song at the link. Not for the easily offended or those lacking a sense of humor.

via Boots and Sabers

Arnold Kling - Folk Beliefs Have Consequences

Folk Locke-ism and Folk Marxism.

The rationale for tax cuts -- "It's your money" -- makes sense to folk-Locke-ism. It drives folk Marxists crazy. Folk Marxists ask What's the Matter with Kansas?. They cannot understand why the oppressed do not see the advantages of higher taxes on their "rich" oppressors.

Folk Marxism can explain why some environmentalists do not like using taxes to control pollution. If you think of polluters as the oppressors and everyone else as the oppressed, then merely taxing pollution is not morally satisfying.

Interesing essay. I like the idea of driving folk Marxists batty.

Update: Now with correctly formatted block quotes and a link.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Galactic Gold Mine

Interesting article at Forbes
Theoretically, mining and collecting solar energy in space for use on Earth hold tremendous potential. Solar energy can, of course, be gathered on Earth, but only about half of the sun's radiation ever makes it to the Earth's surface--the rest is either absorbed by the atmosphere or reflected back by clouds. As for mining, a 1999 study published in Science magazine calculated that the asteroid Eros contains precious metals--aluminum, gold, silver and zinc, among others--worth at least $20 trillion at current market prices.
Calling Gerard O'Neill ..
But given our present technologies, it would take vast changes in our ability to reach for the heavens before either endeavor could possibility yield a profit.
Damned niggly details.

"Where am I supposed to find coelacanths at this time of day" as a catch phrase deserves wider play, I think. See Goats for more comic goodness.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Space Elevator Fiction - a short short story

Implausible but entertaining story of the guy who built the space elevator and destroyed the world.

Building a space elevator, or how I extinguished all life on Earth larger than a shrew.

The linked file is in .doc format. I say implausible because the narrator commits at least two glaring errors building a space elevator. One hopes the real deal would have had such errors excised by sanity check.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Nuclear Powered Posting

Nuclear Power, Climate Change and the Next 10,000 Years

Peter Schwartz and Ralph Cavanagh held a discussion at the Seminar About Long-Term Thinking. What about? Schwartz is a turncoat Green who sees nuclear power as a way to ease the climate change crunch. Cavanagh opposes expansion of nuclear power. No audio, but Brand has written a summary and posted at the Long Now discussion boards. Very informed comments at the link.

Via World Changing.


Sending Plutonium to Pluto
There’s controversy surrounding the launch, because some folks think that putting plutonium on a rocket is too dangerous — a launch accident could spread radioactive material. Well… okay, it IS dangerous. But I’m with the scientists who think that ultimately it’s MORE dangerous to not learn as much as we can about our Solar system. It is, after all, only a matter of time before some wandering rock decides to play “Extinction Event Roulette” with us, and that’s only the beginning of the threats we know about.
Howard Gets It, allrighty.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Best Description Ever of a lawyer's job

From Travis
His job is to wait for me to point to a vendor who has threatened me, then go over, hit the vendor in the head with a brick, and then anally rape the vendor until a scream of “no lo contendre” is heard to echo out.
There are worse ways to earn your daily crust.

The profanity might seem out of place - it seemed so to me, at first. I almost removed it from the quote. Yet .. this seems an apt place to go on for a bit about George Patton. From 'The American Tradition' by John Greenway
He (Patton) rammed a submachine gun into the belly of a soldier collapsed from exhaustion on a North African beach, waking him suddenly to his explanation.
I know you're tired. We're all tired. That makes no difference. The next beach you land on will be defended by Germans. I don't want one of them coming up behind you and hitting you over the head with a sockful of shit.
That "sockful of shit" brought reality home more certainly than any other weapon he could have mentioned.
So too the mention of anally raping people who fail to know their business and sick the laws on people busily creating more wealth and making the world a better place.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What have you done lately?

Good question from the Washington Post


Via NASA Watch

State of the Nation: Dumb as a box of hammers

Dick and Jane can't read and I don't feel so good myself;

We’re returning to subhuman status in a pincers movement. While the Indians and Chinese and all are getting smarter, we’re getting enstupidated at a hell of a pace. It shows that international cooperation is possible.

There’s this thing called the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, which just came out and said that Americans not only can’t read but are vigorously getting worse. Here it is, from the Washington ever-loving Post, December 25 in the Year of Our Decline 2005:

“Only 41 percent of graduate students tested in 2003 could be classified as ‘proficient’ in prose—reading and understanding information in short texts—down 10 percentage points since 1992. Of college graduates, only 31 percent were classified as proficient—compared with 40 percent in 1992.”


That’s college graduates, brethren and sistern! They can’t read simple stuff. “See Spot run. Run, Spot….” What you think them other scoundrels can’t do that ain’t graduates? Halleluja, dearly beloved, idiots are us. Am us, I mean.

Now, sure, you can make excuses, and say, well, this dismal revelation counts all the Permanently Disadvantaged Minorities and affirmative-action nonstudents and all the other people who shouldn’t be anyway in what ought to be colleges but mostly aren’t. But you’re supposed to be able to read when you get out of freaking high school, aren’t you? If they can’t read, how did they into college, much less out the other end?

The Post goes on, thump, thump, thump. “Literacy experts and educators say they are stunned by the results of [the] recent adult-literacy assessment, which shows that the reading proficiency of college graduates has declined in the past decade, with no obvious explanation.”

No obvious explanation? Oh no, not at all obvious—no more obvious than, say, advanced leprosy on a nekkid prom queen. How about: They can’t read because our schools are in the hands of low-IQ social engineeresses with the academic inclinations of cocker spaniels? If this darkness is the result produced by “literacy experts and educators,” what might we expect from them as ain’t? I taught my three-year-old daughter to read phonetically in about a month of a few minutes a day. It’s easy to teach kids to read (phonetically). It takes genius to waste twelve years of their lives, sixteen in the case of college graduates, and keep them from learning to read.
Some thoughts. Fred is kidding about the weasels who run the schools, but if my association with them was any indication, not very much. Thought the second - Tom wants to home school Dorothy, we home school our youngest .. the well educated child of the 21st century is going to be a home schooler, bet on it.

Yet Dorothy's parents are products of public schools, my wife and I are as well. We have no small sentimental attachment to 'public school' as an institution. What this means for public schools when the well educated of the next generation have no connection at all with them ... it can't be good. Probably a self-reinforcing circle of mediocrity.

Thought the third - we really need a new frontier. Someplace straight up for preference, and as expensive to get to as Australia was at the turn of last century. Working on that ...

2/2/06 Update: Tom is a product of the tender arms of private schooling. Elizabeth, however, hails from California so that (to my stolid Okie mind) counts double ...

Yes, Jerry Pournelle, I hate you

He said it
Meanwhile, if you go to this page, do not say I did not warn you. I expect you will hate me. http://chir.ag/stuff/sand/
And he was right.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My sole response to the Al Gore MLK speech

Former Vice President of the United Sates, Albert Gore
A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government.
Perhaps. Perhaps not . .
After five years of banishment from the legal profession, President Clinton will be eligible this week to reclaim the law license he gave up as a consequence of the inaccurate responses he gave under oath to questions about his relationship with a White House intern.

It's about nuance of course. Clearly lying under oath is okay but whatever it is that Bush is doing (and Gore makes it clear that we don't quite know yet but it e-vil) is not.

Not to start a political row - that's not my point. Gentle snark, s'all I'm into.

The Examined Life - Jeff Harrell

Jeff Harrell's first essay at Wizbang is pretty good. He winds up with . . .
I’m a swarming, teeming mass of political contradictions, and as such I fit in perfectly with no political party.

But I think that’s how American politics is supposed to work. I think American political parties are supposed to be made up of smart, dedicated people who disagree about practically everything but who find enough common ground to work together. I think that American politics is the politics of persuasion, and that people with strong convictions have a responsibility to get out there and start persuading others to see things their way.

And I believe that strong-willed people who disagree with each other can change the world for the better. Because I think that those are the only people who ever have.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Exploding Whale

Everyone has seen this. It's still funny.
There's been a story floating around the net for years about a beached whale that was blown up (exploded, not inflated) for lack of a better way to be rid of it. Many people thought it was an urban legend.
It wasn't.

Whale explodey goodness at the link.

Desktop


Joseph at Monotonous dot net wants to know what my desktop looks like ....
Anyway, I was inspired to think about this a little because of a post on Madlife, where he put up a screenshot of his desktop. I’m doing the same here. I love seeing how other people have their own desktops set up, so consider this a voluntary meme, and (if you want) leave a comment linking to your own desktop shot. You’ve all been tagged.

Why not? Technically the background picture is showing what was a partial failure at our last test - this is what was happening just before everything started to work. I like to think it's a visual representation of an upward trend i.e. the path I'd like to see Liftport on.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Remember the Pioneer anomaly?

Remember the Pioneer anomaly? The anomaly was that spacecraft cruising the outer reaches of the solar system were observed to deviate from their trajectory. I was hoping that the wake from an alien space drive was causing that affect and that possibly we needed to post 'no wake' signs but the universe is more (and less) exciting than that ...
In this work we study the gravitational influence of the material extending from Uranus orbit to the Kuiper belt and beyond on objects moving within these regions. We conclude that a density distribution given by $\rho(r)=\frac{1}{r}$ (for $r\geq 20 UA$) generates a constant acceleration towards the Sun on those objects, which, with the proper amount of mass, accounts for the blue shift detected on the Pioneers space crafts.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Touch The Sky

Good poetry is hard to find. I'm linking the following not just because it's good and deserves wider notice (and it does that) but it's about a subject near and dear my heart.

The following is inspired by the thought of the space elevator that the Liftport Group is trying to build. (Big dreams!).

Touch the Sky

Did you ever think that you would touch the sky?
A vision: Heaven's gate flung open wide.

Ever feel the universe was watching you?
As you soar into a vault of midnight blue.

At twelve hundred K's an hour, where there's no wind in your hair.
Driving straight up to the zenith, on a road that goes nowhere.

We're on a road to nowhere/ d'you want to make something of it?
On a road to nowhere/ that's just what we could do!

On a strand of silk that's stronger far than steel.
Coriolis plucking gently at your wheel.

Ride that strand from mother earth into the void,
to where the pulls of spin and mass are in accord

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, had a dream to make it so!
and Yuri Artsutanov, saw the way that it should go!

It's the road to nowhere! It's Tsiolkovsky's dreaming.
The road to nowhere, and what a dream to make come true!


- Tony Fisk

An unkind thought about the so-called children of the 60s.

Via TJIC. An unkind thought about the so-called children of the 60s.
WHEN I BECAME president of Lesley University 20 years ago, I was attracted to the college because of its mission and beliefs that individuals can and should make a difference. After all, I am a product of the 1960s, and we believed that we had an opportunity, in fact a responsibility, to make the world a better place.

And since 9/11, dissent of almost any kind has been labeled as unpatriotic, and even reasoned debate on hot button social issues is viewed as dangerously controversial. Thus, while many of my colleagues will state positions on issues clearly affecting their campuses, like financial aid, they are loath to venture an opinion outside of academe. Who can blame them? The system demands more but wants to hear from us less. But I wonder what it would take for more of us to speak out?

All it takes - it would seem - to suppress dissent among Ms. McKenna's crowd is to look sternly in their direction and mutter darkly about patriotism. Blood flows like skim milk in their veins perhaps. Patriots who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor snigger in derision from beyond the grave.

"Oh they're being _mean_" laughs the shade of Nathan Hale "poor babies. Let me tell you how it felt as the noose tightened around my neck ..."

I continue to amaze myself - an attempt to turn this into a Live Journal entry

Delivered the Liftport January Art newsletter - complete with a marked absence of late delivery, typos or anything else wrong - to subscribers. Go me.

One issue with the Gallery software. Seems when our site was moved from that ooky TAK server-thingee to Schnooky server the directory path changed and Gallery works just as spiffy as ever but has major freakout issues trying to change permissions or uplaod files. The horror.

Mood: bouncy
Current US President: Andrew Jackson

Update: I don't think I'll pastiche Live Journal users again. I'm scaring myself.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Founders' Constitution

An invaluable aid to all those seeking a deeper understanding of one our nation's most important legal documents.

In this unique anthology, Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner draw on the writings of a wide array of people engaged in the problem of making popular government safe, steady, and accountable. The documents included range from the early seventeenth century to the 1830s, from the reflections of philosophers to popular pamphlets, from public debates in ratifying conventions to the private correspondence of the leading political actors of the day.
I linked to this not just beause it has a ton of nifty documetns but because my daughter was issued a new Civics book today. Brand new! And it contained (I paraphrase) not only really cool stuff like 'The Bill of Rights' and 'The Mayflower Compact' but also they lyrics to 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'.

Sweet bleeding thorny-headed Jesus. They're shoving gospel lyrics into textbooks now. I am not astounded because of church - state seperation issues but ... song lyrics. In a civics text. The mind reels.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Greenpeace - menace to navigation or hapless victims

Travis mocks Greenpeace for letting their nimble ship get rammed by a lumbering whaler here.
One question: who started this?

Did the whalers pilot their ship up onto dry land, and approach the greenpeace headquarter’s building in order to do this?

Or did, you know, the greenpeacers track down the whaling boat, and then vandalize it, and only *THEN* get harpoons pointed at them?

Oh, those poor poor greenpeacers.
I viewed the video that Lisa suggested in the comments section. I concluded from the video that the 'Nisshin Maru' was in the wrong but it's probable that the master of the 'Arctic Sunrise' intentionally placed his vessel in harm's way.

And right after that I read this which points you to a site with startling different video footage. Same event, different POV.

Who is right? Durned if I know. But the beauty of the internet is that you can find the source material and decide for yourself without having to rely on clumsy propaganda.

Senator Kennedy embarrasses himself

Hey Massachusetts - isn't it time to elect someone who won't make a fool out of himself in public?

KENNEDY: And I want to do that at an appropriate time. I’d move that the committee go into executive session for the purpose of voting on the issuancing of -- the sole purpose for issuing the subpoena of those records.
SPECTER: Well, we’ll consider that, Senator Kennedy. There are many, many requests which are coming to me and many quarters. And, quite candidly, I view the request -- if it’s really a matter of importance, you and I see each other all the time and you have never mentioned it to me.
And I do not ascribe a great deal of weight -- we actually didn’t get a letter, but...
KENNEDY: You did get a letter. Are you saying...
SPECTER: Well, now wait a minute; you don’t know what I got. I’m about to...
KENNEDY: Yes I do, Senator, since I sent it.
SPECTER: Well, the sender does not necessarily know what the recipient gets, Senator Kennedy. You are not in a position to say what I receive.
If you’ll bear with me for one minute.
KENNEDY: But I am in a position to say what I sent to you on December 22.
SPECTER: You’re in a position to tell me what you sent.
KENNEDY: I renew my request, Senator. And if I’m going to be denied, then I’d appeal the decision of the chair.
I think we are entitled to this information. It deals with the fundamental issues of equality and discrimination.
This nominee has indicated he has no objection to seeing us these issues. We’ve gone over the questions and we are entitled to get that kind of information. And if you’re going to rule it out of order, I want to have a vote on that here on our committee.
SPECTER: Well, don’t be premature, Senator Kennedy. I’m not about to make a ruling on this state of the record.
I hope you won’t mind if I consider it, and I hope you won’t mind if I give you the specifics that there was no letter which I received.
I take umbrage at your telling me what I received. I don’t mind your telling me what you mailed. But there’s a big difference between what’s mailed and what’s received. And you know that.
We’re going to move on now.
Senator Grassley...
KENNEDY: Mr. Chairman, I’d appeal the ruling of the chair on this.
SPECTER: There has been no ruling of the chair, Senator Kennedy.
KENNEDY: Well what is the -- my request is that we go into the executive session for the sole purpose of voting on a subpoena for these records that are held over at the Library of Congress -- that purpose and that purpose only.
And if I’m going to be denied that, I’d want to give notice to the chair that you’re going to hear it again and again and again and we’re going to have votes of this committee again and again and again until we have a resolution.
I think it’s...
SPECTER: Well, Senator Kennedy, I’m not concerned about your threats to have votes again, again and again. And I’m the chairman of this committee and I have heard your request and I will consider it.
And I’m not going to have you run this committee and decide when we’re going to go into executive session.
We are in the middle of a round of hearings. This is the first time you have personally called it to my attention, and this is the first time that I have focused on it. And I will consider in due course.
Now we’ll move to Senator Grassley for 20 minutes.
Note that if a distinguished Republican had made an ass out of himself I'd be mocking him too. Space4Commerce is an equal opportunity mocker.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Since he asked so nicely

Paul Kedrosky made a gentle suggestion that makes sense:
A gentle request: I would like more people to put their names in their feed titles.
There done. Putting my name up there so .. blatantly feels wrong but I'll get used to it.

The post where Manuel devolves into a poet

Manuel Cuba - one of Liftport's people in South America - is turning into some kind of poet.
Suddenly, I noticed that everyone was looking up. For the sky was as clear as it can be, and the whole branch of the Milky Way extended itself across the horizon. As I walked around in a slowtime bubble I saw couples smiling, friends explaining the constellations and drunks simply staring at the infinity of space.

It only lasted 10 or 15 minuntes, but I can say from that experience that people do like space. The problem is that they don’t see it on their day by day.

We have to bring it down to Earth.
Yes we do.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

One of those nights

In which your humble blogger makes at least two goofs publishing a simple newsletter to over 1700 subscribers. No one is perfect, of course, but I seem determined to be an outlier case.

You can't see this - but I'm rolling my eyes

Comment from the space passenger NPRM
first of all, there should be NO commercial space
flights since the pollution from commercial space
flights negatively impacts every single u.s. citizen.
one flight alone can kill thousands of people. i
think this should be solely a govt. endeavor.

secondly, it is clear that the most rigorous standard
must be used for any person who is permitted to do
this by our govt. it is clear this should not just be
a jaunt in the sky for a celebrity or rich man, as
seems to be going on these days.

the pollution from these flights is substantial. it is
time to put a damper on the endless pollution being
allowed by those who profit from it, with no regard
for those negatively impacted by the pollution from it
(their health, their breathing dirty air, etc.

what does the rest of the american public gain from
these kinds of extravaganzas? nothing.
Ah, the democratic process. One thing to be said for open comments - you can see the good and nutty opinions. B. Sachau of Florham Park, New Jersey - I respect your right to voice your opinion but it is your duty to read up on the subject.

Want to comment? Click here and type in docket number 23449. Do yourself a favor and read the PDF on that page first. It's only 123 pages - you can scan that in an hour.

Via Transterrestrial Musings.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Macc answers the eternal question - Why don't you do something more useful?

Courtesy of TJIC I read Paul Graham's fine essay 'How to Make Wealth'. And it's a good 'un. Friend and coworker (whom I've never met in person, gobless the internet) Manuel Antonio Cuba answers a related question "Why don't you do something more useful?"
One of the most common question I have been asked about the SE is “Why don’t you make something good here on Earth, like the cure for cancer. Space is so distant and far away.”

I hated to be placed in that position, specially when asked by people who weren’t doing anything good for Earth. What kind of right did they had to question the project in which I worked, they are were slackers themselves? It pissed me off.

Time has passed and as I gained experience I found the answer which I know and feel is right. I say “Well, we are a private company. Our goal is to make a profit and our debt with society is to generate wealth. We are in it for the money.”

To me, it is the best way to increase humanity’s standard of living.
I think the two tie in together nicely.



Wealth Generation Machine (Beta)

Making gravy

Excellent Screed - hits the high notes, just the right amount of keruffle.
I know, I know: I am a hopeless reactionary. I believe in judging a culture on the liberties and prosperity it affords to its people. I believe that the West is an anomaly in human history, and that it is a rare thing to have what we have: information without boundaries, freedom unimagined by those who have gone before, women’s equality instead of the black Hefty-trash-bag dress, respect for gays instead of death-by-stone-walls, and all the other remarkable accomplishments like space probes and plumbing and overnight delivery of Omaha Steaks (track the UPS code in your browser, if you wish.) But it didn’t just happen. As Felix Under said to Oscar Madison: you have to make gravy. It doesn’t just come.
Gravy, yes. Must remember that. Gotta keep piling on those stones and someday you've built a set of stairs - or a career or a space elevator - 'so big'.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Best blonde joke ever

Best. Blonde. Joke. Ever.

My wife is going to be famous.

Or at least will achieve that wonderful state that every business wants called 'profitable'.
Opened in September, Rammro is a new venture for Dunbar, whose previous retail experience was selling antiques and collectables to pay her way through college. A teacher by training, she was ready for a new career when she moved here with her husband from Texas three years ago.
This article ran on the first page of the 'Local News' section of the Appleton Post-Crescent on January 4.


Rammro Asian Imports in Menasha is co-owned by Donna Dunbar (from left), Tina Gunseor and Dunbar's daughter Sarah Gordon. Post-Crescent photo by Peter Adams. Donna hates having her picture taken - can you tell?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Lost Dog in Neenah

Let the power of the blog-o-sphere work it's magic. We'll be putting these up tomorrow around the neighborhood.

LOST
PLEASE RETURN



NAME: PIXIE
BREED: TOY FOX TERRIER

COLOR: BLACK AND WHITE WITH A
SMALL BIT OF BROWN

CALL (920) 722-0620

Lost in Neenah evening of 1/2/06, Peckham Street


Should I add the dog belongs to a six year old boy? Or would that be just a bit too pathetic?

1/3/2005 8:30 Update: She's back. Stepped out the door this morning to go to work and there she was. Mind - she wasn't there at 05:30, 06:00, 07:00 or even fifteen minutes before I found her.

University of Michigan hates the working man

University of Michigan hates the working man.

Well, no. They just don't think about things like the local economy and 'thinking globally act locally'. But really - yes.

Michigan is throwing a collective tizzy over allegations that Coke treats some workers badly, in Columbia, and has environmental issues in India. Granted the allegations are serious (I am not a complete Neandertal) and it's far more nuanced than the NYT article admits - yet it's not nearly as end-of-the-worldian as the Dump Coke site alleges.

Yet none of the kids at UM seem at all concerned with things like the local economy or the jobs lost. The Michigan contracts rang up $1.4 million in fiscal 2005 for Coke, which is chump change for the guys in Atlanta. But I have no doubt the Coke contract was a major part of the local distributer's business in Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint.

Whatever - the local Coke distributor has a rocky quarter or two - the business will probably be okay. A few jobs lost, some lives thrown into turmoil .. but hey it's cool - you're Doing The Right Thing.

Via NYT.

1/6/05 Update: I'm wrong, it seems. This happens. UM Student and activist Ryan Bates responded thusly;
We certainly did consider the effect on the local economy closely. Many of us consider ourselves labor solidarity activists in general, and it would be rather problematic for us to harm the local workers movement while attempting to aid another struggle.

The conclusion many of us came to was that U of M switching to a different soda pop supplier would have no net impact on jobs. Rather, those contracts would switch to different local bottlers and suppliers and they would benefit from the 1.4 million dollars. most of the local jobs affected are actually held by distributors who are more than happy to sell the university Coke, Pepsi, Faygo (our local cola), Pabst Blue Ribbon, or anything else.

Thanks for the support,

Ryan Bates

Chris Baldwin is back from hiatus

Good to see his self-imposed hiatus has been good for him. Slew of new projects are up at his homepage.



Nice to see that for all the change some things remain. As it should be with mute little girls and vultures.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The New Space Race - 1/1/2006

'60 Minutes' - The New Space Race, Sunday, January 1, 2006.
The private sector’s race to space is being led by maverick aeronautical engineer Burt Rutan, who foresees thousands of people enjoying the view from space in the very near future. Ed Bradley reports. Harry Radliffe is the producer.
Excellent - I know what is on at my house tonight. Via Space Pragmatism.