Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Glenn Reynolds - 2005: A Space Odyssey

All I know is - it sure feels like the time is right to railroad.
Space enthusiasts, God knows, have seen plenty of disappointment in the past few decades, as the brief false dawn of Apollo led to years of failed promises and no visible momentum. But we're now seeing signs of new technologies -- and, just as important, new systems of organization -- that make a takeoff into sustained growth much more likely for the space sector. Prizes to develop technology, space tourism to develop markets and help us move up the learning curve, and people with the money and vision to provide the seed capital for both: The essentials now look to be in place. It's about time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Even a stopped clock

is right twice a day.
When you allow others to control your destiny, because you think nothing can be done to stop them, you are essentially signing the death warrant for democracy. You are basically voting by your own inaction for the worst case scenario to become a reality. Everyone wants someone else to come and rescue them from totalitarianism - but that is not how it works.
Wow. First he calls for exploring the solar system, now he's encouraging people to participate.

Be careful of what you wish for - you'll get it in spades.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Economic Bits

Secrets of Irish Success
. . . in 1985 Ireland made a u-turn. It drastically lowered the tax burden. All wasteful government spending was eliminated. In three years time public spending was reduced by no less then 20%. The result was that Ireland entered a period of explosive GNP growth, averaging 5.6% from 1985 to 2002. This is rough­ly three times the Belgian growth rate. The boom went hand in hand with the creation of new jobs, which was far in excess of that in Belgium.

Because of its awe-inspiring rise in prosperity Ireland has now more resources available for all sorts of social, cultural and environmental initiatives than Belgium does.
I am not ideological. If something works - if it's proven to work - then you use that tool and ideology be damned. Tax breaks, reducing government spending et. al seem to work, massive government programs and spending do not.

Even SF cartoonists get it ...
Petey: Restore your system to greatness. Nurure, Heal and Defend, per the Sacred Charter.
New Principal: How? The economy is a twisted mess!
Petey: Are you asking for advice?
NP: Yeah
Petey: Rebuild your orbital defenses. Offer tax breaks to private industry for orbital projects, and don't be afraid to let them profit by growing their space-based industries on the side. Re-tool your welfare programs around training for service industries. Those willl boom in short order. In ten years you'll be hailed as the greatest Principal your world has ever seen.
Mind - Petey is a hyper-intelligent AI so he can be expected to be smarter than your average psycho koala bear alien.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Time to move

Submitted without comment.

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga the man that runs the most successful political blog in America can't afford the Blue state of California:

So I'm getting a little frustrated with the Bay Area real estate market, and for the first time in years I'm casting about the rest of the nation to see if there's anywhere else where I could possibly live.

How ironic,a guy who supports a party that promotes Fannie Mae,Freddie Mac,land-use restrictions,zoning,open space laws,and unions is unable to buy a house in the very Blue area of Northern California.All this from a guy who's got a law degree.What is it about Blue America that hates people that aren't rich??? Attention Markos Moulitsas Zúniga :did it ever occur to many in Blue state America that Houston(that doesn't have zoning) is a lot more affordable than let's say Berkeley,California.Also,Houston residents don't have a state income tax that they are paying.It appears Kos can't afford the very values he promotes,which is regulation of markets which leads to artificially high real estate prices.

Friday, December 23, 2005


An Explosion on the Moon

NASA scientists have observed an explosion on the moon. The blast, equal in energy to about 70 kg of TNT, occurred near the edge of Mare Imbrium (the Sea of Rains) on Nov. 7, 2005, when a 12-centimeter-wide meteoroid slammed into the ground traveling 27 km/s.

NASA's Hubble Discovers New Rings and Moons Around Uranus

To the surprise of astronomers, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has photographed a pair of new rings around the distant planet Uranus. The largest is twice the diameter of the planet's previously known rings. The new rings are so far away that they are being called Uranus's "second ring system."

The universe continues to surprise. Wonder what we'll find when we actually get out there in a big way. Stay tuned ...

A Lileks Christmas

Lileks rarely makes me chuckle aloud. He's good, just not that kind of a writer. Today being the exception.
Let’s recap: I ran into the garage door; the toilet overflowed during Child™’s Christmas party; I screwed up the cards, my wife’s lovely job of light-stringing ended up with the plug at the top of the towering outdoor evergreen, the kid found one of her presents, the tree died, a mail-order gift didn’t show, the party didn’t come off, and something else. Can’t remember. The dog found a skeleton in the backyard dressed in Santa clothes, maybe. That’s just Santa’s Halloween Helper, hon! Hide your eyes. No, that wasn’t it. Well, something else went horribly wrong. And my mood?

Happy. I’d be a fool to feel otherwise.

TJIC: Getting ready for the belt

Travis is thinking ahead . .
We need a few things before we move out to the Belt:

The linked article is good - very infomration dense. I would add that things will really take off when fabricators are perfected enabling settlements to sever supply lines and live off the land.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

'Tis the season

I blogged Dr. Pournelle's learned take on the 'war on Christmas'. Foamy has his own opinion as well ...
Leave the Christmas folks alone. 'Tis the season to STFU and stop being a whiny bitch.

Foolish Consistency

Speaking of exploring space . . .
Please do what you can to help us build pressure against the launch of New Horizons. Cancel the mission. The planets have been out there a long time and aren't going anywhere. Explore space sure, but don't risk the lives of people here on Earth. Develop alternative technologies for space exploration. No nuclear launches!
Hunh. This is the same guy who last year wrote;
Generally I think our membership would first support building a real mass transit system here on planet Earth before we go rushing off intospace. It is our belief that until we get our shit together here on this planet we ought to slow down the rush to move our bad seed of war, greed, and environmental degredation into the heavens.....

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds as that foolish little man said. Glad to see Bruce - and by extention his network of fellow travellers at GNAW is on board with the program. Next year the moon.

Attention ET: We taste terrible

This is the first thing an ET will hear as he / she / it approaches Earth. Good if they get the joke. Better if they have no sense of humor and conclude that treating homo sap gently and with respect is the prudent course of action.

Via Transterrestrial Musings

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Just squint and mentally add a rusty red hue

Hey look .. the future . . .
Concordia Station is one of the most isolated -- and most important -- permanent scientific outposts on Antarctica. A joint project of French and Italian national research programs, with the involvement of the European Space Agency, Concordia has just completed its first "overwinter" mission and is now home to its second
crew. Antarctic research, while interesting, isn't inherently worldchanging, but Concordia is special: its location, Dome C, is rapidly becoming the best spot for a variety of scientific missions on Antarctica; and this year's overwinter crew at Concordia has the assignment of prepping for a mission to Mars.

Home Sweet Home

Haliburtonish Subway Empire and Marching Society


Pardon the profanity. But .. really .. do you guys expect the great big Haliburtonish Subway Empire and Marching Society (HSE&MS) to listen? Or ... really ... to care? You've elevated the discourse past 'loud' to 'crude'; if I wouldn't listen to you - indeed after being told to get the f*** out I'd do all in my power to get the f*** in just to annoy you and watch you turn purple in hapless fury - why should the HSE&MS?

*Motto: Coming soon to dominate your hometown and make you eat six-inch BLT on wheat.

From Interdependence to Independence: A Path Forward

From Event Horizon;
For instance how many people dare not speak their minds on important matters – not for fear that they will be arrested by some secret police – but merely from fear that they will lose their jobs? What I'm trying to say is that as society becomes increasingly interdependent the individual must necessarily lose independence and become subject to the will of the whole in order to just subsist. It was for this very reason that Theodore Kaczynski (AKA the unibomber) came to believe that all technology must be destroyed. So the question remains: How can ever increasing interdependence be squared with human freedom? The answer is that it cannot be.

So should we just throw in the towel and all become Luddites? Certainly not. The advance of technology could not be stopped even if it were desirable. The solution to this problem is technology it self.

I foresee a radical new state of affairs arising in which every individual is self-sustaining and independent and yet continues to enter into states of cooperation willingly and not because it is necessary. Let's take a look at what kind of technologies will make this possible and then I will flesh out the concept.
More at the link. These are important things to think about. It is certain that the advances of the past several hundred years - from muscle power to space flight in just a few generations - are down to rule of law and the rights of the individual. How do we keep that engine going?

Pournelle - The War on Christmas

Pournelle on the War on Christmas. Of course he dives into the heart of the matter;
Our system is designed to appeal from Peter drunk with emotional appeals to Peter sober and rational, and it has generally worked; but I urge all of you to think on what happens when the majority finds its will frustrated over what it perceives to be trivial matters: trivial to those who object, but not at all trivial to the majority itself.
So my concern in this War on Christmas is that those who seek to manipulate the system to remove from it all traces of support for the religious principles that generated the nation may find they have done a better job than they intended; and that if enough people begin seriously to ask why they should put up with people not like them, and whom they do not like, they may come to conclusions most of those here would abhor.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

In Which Jane Fonda Irks Me

Jane Fonda has never bothered me. Hanoi Jane was a long time ago - I found her actions there irksome but that was another war; I was five.

But this is really damned irritating.
One doctor, she insists, told her U.S. troops had been deliberately trained to be "killing machines."
True enough actually. See neo-neocon for a nuaned discussion of that point.
"This began," Fonda maintained, "because the military discovered that in World War II and Korea, [U.S.] soldiers weren't killing enough."
Again, true. See the above link.
"So they changed training procedures" to teach troops how to commit atrocities.
Hunh. Somehow at Infantry Training School (now called SOI) I missed the training blocks devoted to rape, abuse, mass murder and etc.

Damned foolish woman; what is irritating is that people will latch onto this as gospel. Not the least of them our enemies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Thinking long term

Why Democrats should support space exploration
The fact that it has fallen to a Republican president to issue the Vision for Space Exploration should not keep Democrats from supporting it. Divided as Americans are on so many other issues, the expansion of humanity throughout the solar system is a cause worthy of a Grand Alliance.

Well yah, good luck with that. My own (modest and, I admit, politically naive) judgment is that if a Democrat wins the Presidency VSE is dead in the water. Not for it's flaws, but because it was Chimpy McBushitler's plan, and for that reason alone it's got to go. You spend (not you, nor you but those other guys) spend eight years equating someone with a mad dictator and a primate ... obviously nothing much good can come from it, nu?

Sow the wind and weep; killing VSE might well spell the end of any manned exploration for yet another generation, all things considered.

In twenty or a hundred years our clever robot probes that we'll throw across the system in our stead (we're saving money! for more return on our investment!) can be picked apart for salvage by explorers and colonists from a more vigorous culture.


This is 'why' space4commerce, this is why I work gratis for Liftport. Because the species needs space and the options it will give us. More, we'll benefit by having a liberal Western culture growing ascross the system. It is not improbable that a more vigirous culture, with values anithetical to Western values, could take up the challenge and win the high ground.

Weep, should that happen.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Dear iTerm

Dear iTerm.

It's just not working out. You're flashy, you're hip and cool - you bring things to a terminal session that Terminal just doesn't have.

But sweatheart - you've got problems. The "won't save default settings" issue I can overlook. Heck it's fun editing preference files to save a default setting, when that option clearly does not work in your menu. Once.

But worse, you crash. With frequent abandon. This just is not cool in a terminal session, and it's your worst sin of all. I'm sorry, but it's .. over.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Going on a bear hunt

In New Jersey. They've bagged (as of today) 216 black bears including a six-hundred pounder. This might sound like a slaughter except they estimate the (pre hunt) population of black bears tops out at 3,000. New Jersey, for the love of sweet-thorny-headed Christ.

In which I display my lack of tolerence for bums

Freeganism. Everything you fear it is, and more. So much more.* I'm getting old and grumpy. In my day we'd call these guys 'bums'.

*phrase borrowed with glee from Dave at Garfield Ridge.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A modest proposal: American / Australian Union

He's kidding of course.
Modest Proposal Number 317: America becomes part of Australia.
Yet .. weather and the women aside the idea does have it's merits.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Columbus or Erikson?

Columbus or Erikson?
Human history has favored both the spatial and cultural expansion. Fresh prospects yield new perspectives. Life springing from the sea to land was similarly favored. We now stand on a beach, our world, timidly dipping a toe into the sea of space.

We stare into this ocean of light and imagine we are the Columbus generation. I fear we may be the Lief Eriksons.
Via Music of the Spheres.

The merry sound of children

screaming in terror. Inside a snow globe. Don't look at me like that .. it's funny.


We need a space frontier

This on Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor Mail 390;
I agree with you in today's view, but, I also believe that holding back automation is a cure whose results are worse than the disease. Keeping skilled jobs that could otherwise be replaced with machines is just another way of saying those workers are not smart enough for the real work.

What we need is a space frontier. Our society in this country has no place for the young to aspire to. The frontiers are gone. The current model of rock star and mega rich is simply too shallow and of course pointless. And it is only going to get worse. A space frontier would provide an environment where the left of the bell curve as well as the right would find great opportunity. Hard work and guts would be just as valuable as advanced skills and in many jobs more important.

Phil Tharp

The sign of a truly intelligent man is when he agrees with you ...

Hunh. The English middle class tired of the Laud's gaudy Episcopapacy and fled to the New World. Some of my ancestors sought the frontier, bypassing the settled Atlantic colonies for the West. When the solid American middle-class tires of seeing their world eaten into from beneath, and tires of seeing their close held values mocked by the rich and Progressive elements .. where will they go?

In a hundred years will we see a revitalized, Anglosphere presence in the heavens? And will they ... you know .. care as little for the new Old world as the Americans of Jackson's and Houston's era cared for Great Britan?

This is what I get for re-reading history books at night.


The Dunbar Number as a limit to group sizes. Because group dynamics are important for a small organization.

"In short, alternate energy eliminates many of the problems which turn natural disasters and economic problems into crises." See Alternate energy is civil defense.

Ramsey Clark is a tool. Sorry, he's a past AG and a good guy but there it is. Via TJIC.

Michael Mealing has some interesting things to say about infrastructure.

Space Station Sims.

Bruce Gagnon is going all Thoreau and babbling about snow.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Pandora's Box

Pandora. They're evil, no doubt, because they make you register, demanding a modest amount of information and they display ads. But they've got a neat trick in the area of music streaming. Pick a singer or song and they'll stream music similar to you choice. Similar to, granted, but it's not a clone of that service but a country cousin.

And they've gone better than in at least one respect; they know about Robert Earl Keen and Jerry Jeff Walker - artists that never could manage to find. Ya gotta love an online service that is either so cool or so dorky they've got Robert Earl Keen and Jerrry Jeff Walker in their database. It's like listening to Bruce Kidder and Brett Dillon at KHYI whenver I want.

Via Infectious Greed.

12/4/05 Update: Pandora is hiring - and oh-good-golly it sounds like a little slice o' geek heaven. You can always tell a lot about an organization by what they look for when they hire people.

Core Technologies: Linux, bash/sh, tcp/ip, nfs, x86 hardware, and dns/named, Linux, Java, Python/Jython, Apache, distributed systems, embedded systems

Secondary Technologies: Cisco/Foundry, ipchains/iptables, ipsec, Debian/GNU, apt, rpm, Postfix, VNC, evms, Raid, Postgres, python, C, PostgreSQL, XML-RPC, Jetty, Lisp, Oracle, PL/SQL, streaming media.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Comic Goodness

Dunno if they'll be in it for the long run (Hi Schlock Mercenary) but La Casa Comics is entertaining.

This one about Washington's weather is funny.

Via Dean's World.