Saturday, September 30, 2006

When Dreamers Dream

This was made as part of the course material Liftport is developing for middle and high school students.

When Dreamers Dream

Friday, September 29, 2006


It is not that I am such a good writer, but I simply can't come up with anything better than what I've already written.

One year ago today, Mike Melvill - an “ordinary guy who flies around the Mojave Airport for a living” flew SpaceShipOne to space, and back.

Twenty seven thousand people travelled to the Mojave to watch. Tens of millions saw the event live on television or broadcast on the internet. There is your interest in space - in the millions of people who voted with their feet and their time. Who demonstrated without recourse to punditry, experts or politicians where they want their future to lie


‘The Crowd’ by Richard Seaman

Tip to Anousheh Ansari's blog for reminding me of the date.

You are a special and unique snowflake

A contest? I love a contest. Especially one a no-talent hack like me can enter with ease.
Retroblast is having a contest: create a motivational poster based on a video game or pinball machine.
Here is mine

Via defective yeti and Tom.

Breaking the law

Presented without comment, from Oliver North.
Ordering the assassination of a foreign national is arguably more important than lying about a tryst with an intern in the Oval Office. So where is the "shock and awe" from human rights standard bearers who still complain about the so-called abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay? Do they not care that Clinton ordered an assassination?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Speak softly and carry a big stick

Hunh. The market is getting upset at Venezuela.
The big blow came Wednesday when 7-Eleven announced it would not renew a 20-year contract with Venezuelan-owned gas supplier Citgo. Instead, it would start selling its own brand, to be supplied by three U.S. oil firms.

7-Eleven admitted Chavez was a public relations disaster for the firm after his United Nations speech, denouncing President Bush as "the devil," and affected its decision.

"Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans' concern over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made by Venezuela's president," said a 7-Eleven spokeswoman, who'd obviously been hearing from the public. "Chavez's position and statements over the past year or so didn't tempt us to stay with Citgo."
How bad could it be?
That's about 2,100 gas stations off the books for Citgo, cutting total outlets to 11,000.
That does look pretty bad.  No wait - it gets worse
What Caracas is staring at, dumbfounded, is the realization that Americans can use their formidable buying power to tell Chavez something he cynically thought he'd never hear: that his oil was not all that necessary.

That's bound to send a strong message to Caracas because Venezuela needs the $4 billion in U.S. yearly oil revenue to stay afloat and continue to throw its weight around on the world stage.

$4 billion buys a lot of hamburger in a place where your national expenditure for 2005 (estimated) is $41.27 billion.

Beamed Power Team Needs Help

One of the teams in the Beamed Power Climber Competition needs help
I am the captain of a team entered into the Beamed Power Climber Competition to be held at the Las Cruces Airport in Oct. I need 15 people to help aim mirrors for the competition. This is during and the week before the X-Prize cup.

This will be an exciting activity and volunteers will get free passes and a lousy tee-shirt.

I am looking for people who are not already on one of the other teams but have an interest in helping out.

Let me know if you are interested.

Brian Turner

Fame fortune and a t-shirt are yours for the taking.

It's blue. Cosmic blue.

This is pretty nifty.  Think my neighbors would mind if I got a smaller one for my house?

M-INT Kobe, a commercial complex scheduled to open in Kobe on October 4, has been outfitted with an exterior lighting system that translates cosmic energy waves into pulsating blue light. The system is the first of its kind to be installed on a building in Japan.

Called “Super Nova,” the lighting system consists of 2,880 blue LEDs arranged in two columns spanning the height of the 18-story building’s west wall. The embedded lights are activated by sensors that detect cosmic rays. According to Takuro Osaka, the University of Tsukuba Graduate School professor who designed the system, the brightness of the blue lights fluctuates according to the intensity of the detected cosmic rays, giving the building an ever-changing magical glow.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I'm sure this has been said before about other pols . . .
They were talking about electronic voting machines and how they make it easy to steal elections (an assessment that I don’t disagree with).

But then someone called in to talk about how the Republicans have been stealing elections for the last two years.

And I’m really PISSED.

Not that he believed that nonsense.

But that I have to put up with Jim Doyle, Russ Feingold, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi.

After all, if the Republicans have gotten so good at stealing elections I want them to start stealing a couple here in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Just saying ...

Need I say that I'm talking about wealth in this sense of the word?

Mark's post here.

Graphic courtesy Parody Motivator Generator from the fine folks at Despair, Inc.

Things I Did Not Know

Utah War
The Utah War was a 19th century armed conflict between Mormon settlers in Utah Territory and the United States federal government. From 1857 to 1858, the settlers and the government battled for hegemony over the culture and government of the territory. One famous incident during the ordeal was the Mountain Meadows massacre.

SF warship design snark

The IKS Gr'oth, a D7 class starship as it appeared in Deep Space Nine

From Lileks
This was always a cool ship, but in retrospect that whole sticking-their-neck-out design had its flaws; how many Klingon captains tired of hearing his first officer shout “They’re targeting the narrow walkway back to the rest of the ship!” Aw sweet smokin' Kahliss, again? Fine. Target the thin vulnerable struts supporting their indispensible propulsion system, and let's get this $&#@ over with.

Sixteen Volts Epitaph

Sixteen Volts Epitaph
A reader asked me not to delete this blog so that some spammer wouldn't
grab it. So I will leave this post as the tombstone for this ugly
little blog that brought out the vilest in me and has now left me in
deep shame for the rest of my life. Always remember this, kids: you may
not really be as witty and edgy as you think you are, the Internet
amplifies everything, especially your most ridiculous stupidity, limits
usually exist for a good reason, and regardless of their labels, all
people are individuals with feelings, fears and hopes that you should

Monday, September 25, 2006

Susanna Hoffs - All I Want

Susanna Hoffs - All I Want
Susanna Hoffs - All I Want (live)

I am biased - I like the 'live' version.

Gloom Brigade

David Friedman observes
As the Chinese get richer they, naturally enough, want more stuff—consume more raw materials, oil, power. Voila—new worries for those who are afraid we are about to run out of everything, either just before or just after we roast or drown. I have not yet heard any of them wishing aloud that the Chinese and Indians would go back to poverty and starvation, but that seems at least a muted subtext to the complaints.

Some of the concern may be legitimate, although it requires a serious effort to see the problems of too much food as comparable to those of too little. More can be attributed to ideological hostility to capitalism—people unwilling to recognize its striking success in dealing with old problems and so eager to focus on new problems created by that success.

And some is just the human taste for gloom.

Intelligent Vandals

Intelligent vandalism.

Political Algebra


New Blogger

My wife is blogging. Yay Pasty!

Coal Mines

Submitted without comment.


Hugh's post here, context here.

Good News at Home

Part One

Good news, everyone! The American economy seems to be doing pretty darn good.

The American people do not appear to appreciate the fact that their economy is, quite literally, in a class by itself. In an earlier post entitled "Americans Hate their Fabulous Economy," I tried to make that clear by comparing the recent Bush years to the preceding Clinton years in terms of their economic performance. I did not seek out obscure and esoteric economic indicators that could be used to mislead people into thinking that their hopelessly anemic economy is actually in great shape. Instead, I analyzed the basic economic indicators that have been used to gauge the health of any economy for decades. Those indicators reveal that America's economy during the Clinton and Bush years can only be described as fabulous -- and almost equally so -- in both cases.

Engram links many many charts from Per captita GDP, productivity and so on, with data from places like OECD.  He concludes with a thought that Ben might have asked

Oh, and one last thought: if you are a determined pessimist, I know exactly what you are thinking. You are thinking this:

OK, fine. The American economy is booming. Big deal. Only the rich are benefiting. What about the average guy? And what about the poor? Everything is getting worse for them. They'd be way better off in Europe. Right?

He answered that here

Today, I'm only going to show you one simple chart. This differs from my usual tactic, which is to badger you into submission with one informative chart after another. But today's chart is an especially important one because I believe contains what you mainly need to know in order to understand how the benefits of our relentlessly expanding economy are distributed across the population (from rich to poor). Jump to the end of this post if you trust that I did my homework and you only want to see the take-home story. But read on if you'd like to know about my difficult quest to obtain the relevant information.

All of these measures are relative to the U.S. median DPI (which is set to 100). Memorize this chart. It's what you need to know. As Tom Worstall noted, those in the lowest 10% here have about the same disposable income as those in the lowest 10% in Europe. It's almost an exact tie. At the other end of the scale, the highest 10% here have much higher disposable incomes than the highest 10% over there. Are only the rich making off like bandits? Well, look at the middle guy (i.e., look at the median). The European in the middle makes only about 73% of what the American in the middle makes.

And there you have it. That's how America's fabulous economy distributes its benefits across the economic spectrum (relative to other nations). Those at the bottom of our economic ladder are similar to those at the bottom of other industrialized nations. One would imagine that, in all of these nations, the government tries to ensure that the basic needs of the poor are satisfied (e.g., adequate food, uncrowded living conditions, plumbing, electricity, etc.) without going much further than that. But as you start moving up the economic ladder, you are better off here in America. And that would appear to be true starting pretty far down on that ladder (somewhere below the median for sure).

There is more to say (and I will say it!), but for now, here is the take-home story: In America, you start at the same place on the economic ladder relative to the other industrialized nations of Europe, but you get further ahead of your European counterpart as you climb.

Of course that's just the comparing the West, specifically Europe and America.

Part Two

Good News in the World

Part Two

More good news. Too much good stuff to quote here, really, with graphs and numbers.

Last year the combined output of emerging economies reached an important milestone: it accounted for more than half of total world GDP (measured at purchasing-power parity). This means that the rich countries no longer dominate the global economy. The developing countries also have a far greater influence on the performance of the rich economies than is generally realised. Emerging economies are driving global growth and having a big impact on developed countries' inflation, interest rates, wages and profits. As these newcomers become more integrated into the global economy and their incomes catch up with the rich countries, they will provide the biggest boost to the world economy since the industrial revolution.

In a nutshell, the GDP of the developing world is catching up with the developed world. And it's gaining at a remarkable clip. How fast?

Faster growth spreading more widely across the globe makes a huge difference to global growth rates. Since 2000, world GDP per head has grown by an average of 3.2% a year, thanks to the acceleration in emerging economies. That would beat the 2.9% annual growth during the golden age of 1950-73, when Europe and Japan were rebuilding their economies after the war; and it would certainly exceed growth during the industrial revolution. That growth, too, was driven by technological change and by an explosion in trade and capital flows, but by today's standards it was a glacial affair. Between 1870 and 1913 world GDP per head increased by an average of only 1.3% a year. This means that the first decade of the 21st century could see the fastest growth in average world income in the whole of history.

Whoa. But wait - there is more.

An alarming number of economic variables are currently way out of line with what conventional economic models would predict. America's current-account deficit is at a record high, yet the dollar has remained relatively strong. Global interest rates are still historically low, despite strong growth and heavy government borrowing. Oil prices have tripled since 2002, yet global growth remains robust and inflation, though rising, is still relatively low. House prices, however, have been soaring in many countries.

This survey will argue that all of these puzzles can be explained by the growing impact of emerging economies. For instance, low bond yields and the dollar's refusal to plunge are partly due to the way these countries have been piling up foreign reserves. Likewise, higher oil prices have mostly been caused by strong demand from developing countries rather than by an interruption of supply, so they have done less harm to global growth than in the past. And their impact on inflation has been offset by falling prices of goods exported by emerging economies. This has also made it easier for central banks to achieve their inflation goals with much lower interest rates than in the past.

Yet it's this gives me pause

This means that the first decade of the 21st century could see the fastest growth in average world income in the whole of history.

Part Three

Economic Volatility

Part Three

Niall Ferguson argues that there are three root causes of warfare

1) Ethnic hatred
2) Empires in decline
3) Economic volatility

Ethnic hatred - look around. Empires in decline; The European colonial empries are dust, the Soviet Union on the ashheap, the Chinese have their own troubles.

Economic volatility ". . . the first decade of the 21st century could see the fastest growth in average world income in the whole of history."

Interesting times ahead.

.. the world stiffles a yawn

I have a new favorite academic crush - Niall Ferguson
Madmen in charge of two of the world's major oil producers. A military coup in Thailand. Rioting in Budapest. A reforming Russian banker gunned down. There was a time when just one of those stories would have sent a spasm through emerging markets. Oil prices would have jumped. The Thai baht would have collapsed. Hungarian bond yields would have soared. The Russian stock market would have tanked.

Not a bit of it. The price of crude oil for November delivery fell 5 per cent last week, even as Messrs Ahmadinejad and Chávez were holding their rant-fest. On news of the coup in Bangkok, the Thai currency declined by little more than 1 per cent against the dollar – nothing compared with its spectacular gyrations during the Asian crisis of 1997. Investors in the Hungarian stock market are not having a great year, it's true, but recent political events have barely registered. If you invested in Budapest two years ago, you have still nearly doubled your money.

There are two ways of explaining this mystifying disconnect. One is that everything is going according to the dastardly plan of the infinitely cunning capitalist imperialist running dogs. In perfect unison, wacko demagogues from the developing world have been wrecking the credibility of the United Nations and making George W Bush look like a model of sweet reason. What more could Republican Party strategists have asked for in the run-up to November's midterms? As for military coups, bring them on. Let's have one in Hungary too. It is probably the only way to get that budget deficit of theirs down.

Well, maybe. The other possibility is that investors are continuing to mistake liquidity for security. Despite the much-trumpeted tightening of interest rates by the world's principal central banks, the reality is that monetary expansion has barely slowed. In Britain, for example, the broad money measure M4 grew at an annual rate of 13 per cent in July, a remarkable figure. Money may be dearer, but it is still amazingly plentiful. That seems to be encouraging a rather cavalier approach to risk assessment.

A professor of history writing as a subject matter expert on economics? Well, yes, actually.

Check out the show he did on Open Source Radio; it's worth a listen. And he's written a book that appears to be worth reading as well - it's my next purchase.

Pseudo Blog

NASA Watch (Hi, Keith) reports

According to comments made in this post on her blog, Anousheh Ansari is not "blogging from space", as some of her pre-launch hype claimed she would be doing. Instead, she is simply sending emails that are eventually posted on a website/blog - one that is totally maintained by someone else. Yawn - astronauts have been doing this for years.

True but perhaps irrelevant. Is there such a thing as a pseudo blog? What matters is the impact and judging by the comments I've seen her blog it's having an impact of a very good kind in a part of the world that needs it most.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Desert Spaceport Nears Launch

Amazing world we live in.
Visitors to Spaceport America must first navigate the frontier before reaching the final frontier.

Across dirt roads, through deep puddles, and past a few cows — where a 4x4 is a way of life rather than an automotive trend — the outlines of a spaceport that will launch technology and people above Earth are just coming into view. For now, these 27 square miles of dirt one hour outside the town of Truth or Consequences mostly consist of two portable buildings, a corrugated steel shed, and two Port-A-Potties — one pink, one blue. Oh, and a launch pad, of course.

Meaningful Work or Death

Hugh MacLeod is a (gasp) Puritan

Now taking time of from the daily grind in order to recharge our batteries I don't have a problem with. Heck, that's what The Sabbath was invented for ["All a child needs to be happy are two things: a hard wooden chair and a Bible" etc].

Where the problem arises is when this "Leisure Time" starts taking over. Becoming no longer a means [recharging], but an end it itself, what we call a [shudder] “Lifestyle”. When your work stops being your "Real Life", and "Leisure" starts becoming your real life i.e. When your job just becomes this unpleasant "thing", something with no other meaningful function other than to finance your new "Real Life" i.e your “Lifestyle”... you know, the expensive part with all the shopping, beaches, cocktail parties, vacuous conversations etc.

Sure, I know this Work/Life schism started a long time ago, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the time clock, Marxist-worker alienation from the means of production etc etc [Some people prefer the term "balance" over "schism"; they are deluded], so it's very ingrained into our culture.

I renounce it, regardless.

Meaningful Work or Death. Any other form of existence doesn’t interest me. Thanks Be To God.

I've got a new tagline for my business cards. Thanks, Hugh!


When you can't pay your bills and your provider reduces - but does not halt - your internet access what is it called?
Mugabe accuses former colonial power Britain of leading a Western campaign of economic sabotage.
Right. How funny that Mugabe is doing everything in his power to help Britain with that campaign.
President Robert Mugabe's government is grappling with an eight-year recession, the world's highest inflation rate of 1,200 percent, shortages of foreign currency, food, fuel, and unemployment above 70 percent.
All self-inflicted problems
The forced removal of the white farmers caused sharp rises in prices of agricultural commodities such as corn and sugar, and the collapse of Zimbabwe's economy. Zimbabwe was formerly an important net food exporter to the region, but in recent years starvation has been widespread because of Mugabe's land reform policy, which redistributed land to political supporters of Mugabe who do not farm the land efficiently. This has left the large majority of landless blacks worse off, due to a catastrophic fall in productivity, a spectacular rise in inflation (1000% in May 2006) and widespread unemployment.[3]
Only inept politics can explain how a country can go from being a net exporter of food to a place that is an economic and political basket-case in a few years.

Stuff like this doesn't just happen - you've got to be work hard at it. \


The Really, Really FREE Market

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

From William Gillis.

I wasn't sure what to make of this so I googled and lo.
The Really, Really Free Market movement is a nonhierarchical collective of individuals who form a temporary market based on an alternative gift economy. Markets often vary in character, but they generally contain both material objects and skill shares. Participants bring unneeded items, food, skills and talents such as entertainment or haircuts. A RRFM may take place in an open community space such as a public park or community commons.

Works for me. Something like a garage sale but without the motivation to display the goods in an attractive way. Dump your krep on the ground on a tarp in a big heap? Why not - you won't get a better price for going to all that trouble.

I could see this in the local town square (which is actually a triangle but it used to be a square). Why, my wife could even trot out some of the stuff she's had for months that isn't selling in return for good-will and showing the flag. This might be contrary to the spirit of the thing ...

From the Mailbag

Submitted without comment.

Date: 9/23/2006 10:48 PM

  ET. is very interested I am sure, maybe its time to stop being the blast off amateurs.
 Did the STS 115 crew have a good view of the  "TINY ICE CRYSTALS, TIN FOIL & LINT" - LOL
 Maybe you could fetch some of that tin foil and WEAR IT as a dunce cap all of you NASA SECRET KEEPERS BROTHERHOOD OF SLACKERS AND KNOWLEDGE PIRATES only one problem, its not tin foil stupid WIZARD OF OZ MANIPULATORS BEHIND THE CURTAIN OF REALITY.
WHERES YOUR TIN MAN? sucking up more tax money for his corporate schmucks?
  Look & hear NASA-nano-bots - your outer space ancestors are monitoring your every move and they are not too fond of your secret atmospheric project either. Next time you may be held at bay longer for a SERIOUS REALTY CHECK.
Christopher *Gray Williams
  DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS EMAIL FOR I DON'T TAKE KINDLY TO SPACE REALITY MANIPULATORS. I do however like your new endeavor Mr. Dunbar and think you may be close to the new solution to the idiocy of blasting space ships into space like space children with out dated toy's.
 Our planet can no longer tolerate this idiocy with out an extinction of humans for the third time around.
Regarding the future of religion and science when one day planET-Earth humans scratch their heads after it is revealed creation and evolution both co-exist.  P.S. feel free to quote me on that when you religious fools grow up,  God is everything that exist and even that which does not. GOD IS MATTER & GOD IS ANTI MATTER but most of all GOD is not a religion. lol from the heavens as the mighty Zeus thunderous roar of laughter moves continents and seas one day soon.
 Christopher Gray Williams
p.s. I broke the ET coded transmission i will send you the word soon.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Breaking regulations

John Cena - The Marine

A heroic Marine who returns home after being discharged - against his will - from the Iraq War. Stateside he finds ..

You could probably guess the rest. Wife kidnapped, gang of black-hats have raped his dog, and someone broke into his storage unit and jacked his CD collection. Bastards.

Question - if he's a Marine why in the name of Chesty Puller is he wearing an army cover?

Clearly not a movie that works hard to sweat the details. I ain't even going to go into what's wrong with his haircut.

24 MEU - the float is getting to them

Or as Mike the Marine said "they're embracing the suck".

Stuck on Iwo Jima

I almost killed a sailor
just to get some chow
Finally made it up there
and the rolls are out.
Now some chow hall Nazi tells me
"Boys you need to leave."
Waited all this time
and I never got to eat.

Because when you watch NBC, America wins!

From Matthew Ingram
Rex Sorgatz of may just be right — this clip on YouTube may be the funniest NBC promo ever.

Because when you watch NBC, America wins!

That is pretty funny. Funniest ever? Well there isn't much competition is there?

So Jesus and Moses walk into a bar ...

From Samizdata
So Jesus and Moses walk into a bar. They take a moment to look around.
After a moment they look at each other and breathe a sigh of relief.
Moses looks at Jesus and says, ‘Thank God that Mohammad isn’t here.
This joke could have led to riots.’

The Two Things

From The Two Things

The Story of the Two Things

A few years ago, I was chatting with a stranger in a bar. When I told him I was an economist, he said, “Ah. So… what are the Two Things about economics?”

“Huh?” I cleverly replied.

“You know, the Two Things. For every subject, there are really only two things you really need to know. Everything else is the application of those two things, or just not important.”

“Oh,” I said. “Okay, here are the Two Things about economics. One: Incentives matter. Two: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Ever since that evening, I’ve been playing the Two Things game. Whenever I meet someone who belongs to a different profession (i.e., a profession I haven’t played this game with), or who knows something about a subject I'm unfamiliar with, I pose the Two Things question. I also posed the Two Things question on my blog, where it elicited many responses in the comments section and on otherblogs. This page is a collection of responses to the "Two Things" question, collected from various pages on the web, with credit given when possible.

The Two Things about the Two Things

1. People love to play the Two Things game, but they rarely agree about what the Two Things are.
2. That goes double for anyone who works with computers.

These caught my eye

The Two Things about Engineering:
1) It's all about tradeoffs.
2) The tradeoffs are all about money, time, and quality.

The Two Things about Project Management:
1. The schedule will slip.
2. It's about how you manage the schedule slippage.

What are your two things?

Cross posted to Liftport.


Robert Reich is pining for the fiords. Or at least the good old days when the government knew best. I wonder when, exactly, this was?

But I remember a day when government collected billions of dollars from tycoons like these, as well as from ordinary taxpayers, and when our democratic process (in its own halting way) decided what the billions would be devoted to. In 1960, the moguls of America paid a marginal tax of 90 percent on their incomes (an effective rate, after all deductions and credits, of over 50 percent). In 1960, over two-thirds of Americans trusted government to do the right thing all or most of the time, according to survey research.

Now, the moguls pay an effective rate of maybe 10 percent of their incomes – none at all if they have clever enough accountants and lawyers who park it in tax havens. And they're richer than ever before in history. Today's release of Forbes Magazine's annual list of the richest 400 Americans is made up solely of billionaires -- for the first time.

And what about government? Now, according to surveys, two-thirds of Americans don’t trust government to do anything right.

So nowadays, a few hundred of the moguls devote some of their billions to doing good things, and we applaud their generosity.

Maybe I’m overly sentimental, but I preferred it the old way.

You can't go home again, you can't go back.

He hit the nail on the head - a majority of Americans don't trust the government to do the right thing.

Why should we?  Watergate, ABSCAM, Desert One, corruption scandals too many to list, pols lining their pockets, consulting with astrologers, artfully saying just enough so the public can't say 'he's lying' when we all know 'he is', an absolute failure to prevent an attack that killed thousands, while private citizens wise up and rise up and keep the death toll from being much worse.

Maybe it's always been like this - I don't know. The constant political refrain I've heard growing up is that that power corrupts, people in power will use and abuse their power and it takes heaven on earth to vote those rascals out only to see more rascals voted in.

Trust the government to spend my tax money wisely? I can't trust them not to abuse their petty privleges of office, I damned sure can't trust them with billions of dollars in revenue.

Deep breath and repeat after me: Despair is a sin.

The puppy helps.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dr. Edwards, meet the Blogsphere. Blogsphere, meet Dr. Edwards.

Dr. Edwards, meet the Blogsphere. Blogsphere, meet Dr. Edwards. Blogsphere, be nice to Dr. Edwards.

The space elevator burst onto the scene a few short years ago and has gained a lot of attention. The media and our community have distributed vast amounts of information but not all of it is correct. This has created misconceptions of the concept and may damage the long-term viability of the program. Working with Marc and Bryan I hope that we can make the source of accurate, objective information on the space elevator as well as a resource for those who want to learn more or directly be involved in the effort. We hope to place valuble, vetted information on this site and commentary on articles and information that appears elsewhere as well as your feedback. If you as an interested reader have questions on the elevator we hope you will come here for the answer. We also hope that as a resource we will be able to post major technical papers, review papers and aid in forming collaborations. To make this work we will need your help. We welcome comments and leads on breaking information and want to work with the community to make this the primary source for all things related to the space elevator. - Brad Edwards

Welcome to the blogsphere, Dr. Edwards. You might get off to a better start by enabling comments on that post. And links .. links are good as well.

Cross posted at Liftport.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bring Them Freedom, Or They Destroy Us

Worth the read

Bring Them Freedom, Or They Destroy Us

By Bernard Lewis

By common consent among historians, the modern history of the Middle
East begins in the year 1798, when the French Revolution arrived in
Egypt in the form of a small expeditionary force led by a young general
called Napoleon Bonaparte--who conquered and then ruled it for a while
with appalling ease. General Bonaparte--he wasn't yet
Emperor--proclaimed to the Egyptians that he had come to them on behalf
of a French Republic built on the principles of liberty and equality.
We know something about the reactions to this proclamation from the
extensive literature of the Middle Eastern Arab world. The idea of
equality posed no great problem. Equality is very basic in Islamic
belief: All true believers are equal. Of course, that still leaves
three "inferior" categories of people--slaves, unbelievers and women.
But in general, the concept of equality was understood. Islam never
developed anything like the caste system of India to the east or the
privileged aristocracies of Christian Europe to the west. Equality was
something they knew, respected, and in large measure practiced. But
liberty was something else.

More at the link. Via.

"Tired" Pope Slams Uppitty Foreigners

Well, no. But my, it's funny.
"Tired" Pope Slams Uppitty Foreigners

An "emotional" Pope Benedict XVI has lashed out at protesting heathens in a shocking four-letter rant.

More at the link.  Via The Devill

Bruce doesn't like the Pope

Bruce doesn't like the Pope

I've not liked this new Pope from the start. From his first days he has shown strong allegiance to right-wing policies. I can’t help but wonder if this "conservative" Pope made his provocative statement knowing that there would be a massive reaction? Then his tepid "not quite" apologies have only made the Moslem world even angrier.

You'd think he was, like, the leader of a traditional religious faith or something. Darn it all if only he were a Unitarian or something.

Just Russians

If you're of a certain age you have no idea how weird it is to see Russians and not Soviets launching rockets from Asia, and the tricolor Russian Federation flag and not a red banner with a hammer and sickle.

This is a great time to be alive

These, brothers and sisters, are great days.

I'm watching, live, on satellite TV, a Russian space ship automatically dock with a space station. A passenger - an Iranian immigrant who didn't even speak English when she came to his country at the tender age of 16, paid her way to get there. Another space ship just left that station and is coming back home. Robot probes are flying hither and yon across the solar system, plans are afoot to return to the moon and establish a genuine presence, not a few years ago a private company launched their own sub-orbital craft, a British billionaire is building his own fleet to fly tourists to space ..

And yes, novel launch systems are in the offing.

I watch all of this and I at least can't help but feel that these are the best days of all to be alive. If we're lucky these are the beginnings of great things for our species.

At any rate, that's how I felt watching Anousheh Ansari and her shipmates dock with ISS.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Thomas f'ing Edison

Ask a Russian engineer to design you a shoe, and he'll give you something that looks like the box the shoe came in. Ask him to design something that will slaughter Germans, and he turns into Thomas fucking Edison.
~ Neal Stephenson - Cryptonomicon

A T-34 was submerged in a lake for 56 years. Some plucky Estonians pulled it out. Everything was in working order except the engine.

Give the Soviets their due - they make made really rugged killing machines.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Express lift to the stars - Express lift to the stars - Sep 18, 2006
Edwards views the future of space development as contingent on commercial application and private funding.

"NASA spends around $16bn a year on their space program, with the cost of sending up one space shuttle at about $500m. With such high costs, it is understandable that they need to use mature technology that they know works. They are naturally risk-adverse.

"Commercial development and private funding is crucial to the future of space exploration. The space elevator would make space accessible for so many more people, so we believe the funding will come once the benefits are realised. Once we've proved the technology works, we firmly believe that the project will open up space for generations to come."

To forgive . . .

From Joe Huffman

Jake was dying. His wife sat at the bedside.

He looked up and said weakly: "I have something I must confess."

"There's no need to, " his wife replied.

"No," he insisted, "I want to die in peace. I slept with your sister, your best friend, her best friend, and your mother!"

"I know," she replied, "now just rest and let the poison work."

Belgium Snark

From Matthew Wingram - Belgium snark.

Well done, Belgium. Now you can join that small group of morons currently dominated by Agence France-Presse, which successfully had itself (and all of its member papers) removed from one of the world’s most popular news search engines.

Someone call the Waambulance

There is so much that could be said about this and this ... but others have said it far far better than I.

Really Islam? Seriously?

What are you? A fucking retarded toddler?

A fine rant, should be read and appreciated.


"if there is one thing that the internets have to teach us, it is that
awfully smart people can be awfully dumb an awful lot of the time."

Courtesy of TBogg, via Mondolithic.


Keep chasing the monsters and the monsters will chase you.

From Kolchak - the Night Stalker

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Weekend Threefer

These have been kicking around in my browser for a few days now. I give up trying to write a hook around these - not that I'm great shakes as a writer to begin with. Call it a Weekend Threefer and we'll leave it at that.



Monday, when you sit down with your organization to plan the next decade, perhaps you could ask, "what would the top people at Ford do?" and then do precisely the opposite.



Act of Love

A well-executed blog campaign is not rocket science. It is, however, an act of love. That's what gets in the way for some people. Love is scary stuff.

I do not know if what we've been doing with the Liftport Blog counts as a campaign or not. 'Campaign' implies a well-defined set of goals, metrics. Our goal is just to get it done and while people have marketed wine before how many people have set out to build a space elevator? Darn few, I'd wager.


Start-up Inflection Point

There is one pattern in the tech sector that is so common, and so under-explored[1], that I’m compelled to talk about it here. I call it the start-up inflection point.

It might be too soon to talk about how to manage the zoo that is going to be (or is, depending on your viewpoint) our project. But I don't think so. We've had some pretty smart people working on this already, and I have no doubt we might have had some opportunity cost from not having a management framework beyond "get in there and get it done".

Cross posted to Liftport

Automated Stores

Behold . . . The Automated C-Store.

Founder Jeff Parsons is building the chain on a simple idea. He realized removing the employees would widen margins to the point that it was feasible, even without the traditional high-margin items that require employees to verify age. And he’s augmenting his efforts with kiosk technology: deploying DVD rental kiosks and ATMs in the mix.

Makes sense. This one is in Florida so it makes sense that the thing is a collection of vending machines, under an awning, with branding to tie it all in.

The further north you go the more 'indoors' you'll want. I can't picture anyone relishing standing outside in a Wisconsin January to buy stuff. But a building would raise costs, plus you've got a problem of it feeling like ... a laundromat, or an ATM building. Windbreaks? Heaters in strategic spots around the vending machines?


Tolerating Intolerance

Bruce Bawer moved to Western Europe in 1998.

For various reasons, Western European Muslims are more likely than their American counterparts to live in tightly knit religious communities, to adhere to a narrow fundamentalist faith, and to resist integration into mainstream society. The distance between mainstream society and the Muslim subculture can be especially striking in the Netherlands and in the countries of Scandinavia, whose relatively small, ethnically homogeneous native populations had, until recent decades, little or no experience with large-scale immigration from outside Europe.

The distance I speak of was certainly striking in Amsterdam, where I resided for a time in a neighborhood–the Oud West–where I grew accustomed to the sight of women in chadors pushing baby carriages past shops with signs in Arabic. A few doors from my flat, a huge Turkish flag flew over the entrance to the neighborhood center. (There was no Dutch flag.) One day I peered inside. A dozen or so men, middle-aged and older, scowled back at me. I did not go in.

Curious about my new neighbors, I did some reading. I learned that upwards of 7 percent of the Netherlands’ population–and nearly half of Amsterdam’s–was of non-Dutch origin. The Turkish and Moroccan communities dated back to the 1970s; immigration from Surinam and the Dutch Antilles had peaked in the 1980s. Most people of non-Dutch origin were fundamentalist Muslims, and most, even after years or decades in the Netherlands, remained largely unintegrated. The attitudes of Dutch officialdom, and of the Dutch generally, hadn’t helped: although in America the U.S.-born children of immigrants are American citizens, in the Netherlands the Dutch-born children of immigrants are called "second-generation immigrants." (The same is true in Germany, where even "third-generation immigrants"–and, yes, they do use that term–aren’t automatically entitled to citizenship.)

To an American, such a generation-by-generation perpetuation of outsider status can only make one think of the enduring social marginality of many American blacks. Yet at least we Americans have been taught by our bloody history that "separate but equal" is not a viable democratic option, but a cruel delusion. This lesson, I soon recognized, had not yet been learned in the Netherlands. Downtown Amsterdam and the Oud West felt almost like two different worlds. Moving among the native Dutch, whose public schools teach children to take for granted the full equality of men and women and to view sexual orientation as a matter of indifference, I felt safe and accepted. Yet many Muslim youngsters in the Netherlands attend private Islamic academies (many of which receive subsidies from the Dutch state as well as from the governments of one or more Islamic countries). These schools reinforce the Koran-based sexual morality learned at home–one that allows polygamy (for men), that prescribes severe penalties for female adulterers and rape victims (though not necessarily for rapists), and that (in the fundamentalist reading, anyway) demands that homosexuals be put to death. If fundamentalist Muslims in Europe do not carry out these punishments, it is not because they’ve advanced beyond such thinking, but because they don’t have the power. Like Christian Reconstructionists, a small U.S. sect that wishes to make harsh Old Testament punishments the law of the land, fundamentalist Muslims–whose numbers are, of course, many times larger–believe firmly in the implementation of scriptural penalties.

The article was published in Partisan Review, Autumn 2002. It goes on at length about the problems that Western Europe is having - and will have - because a large body of immigrants with foreign values was allowed to settle, and not allowed or forced to assimilate.

This is always a problem for the host country. Mexico allowed Austin to settle a colony and two decades later found they had a horde of Anglo-Celts firmly settled in the heart of Texas. Big mistake - they found out far too late that Austin's people were Mexican in name only and held foreign views on citizenship and rights.

I think that America - yes for all our problems - does a far better job of assimilating our immigrants than the folks in Europe. Hell, we seduce them with the very culture they breath. Hmongs picked the wrong side in the Vietnam mess and had to settle here to avoid extinction. Today there are more Hmong in the United States than there are in Indochina. And you can't tell their kids in the mall from the kids whose parents emmigrated from Germany and Poland in the 1880s.

There are reasons not to despair. I wonder about Europe; it may become far worse before it gets better.

Hipsters, Flipsters, and Finger-Poppin' Daddies, Knock me your lobes!

Groucho Marx and Lord Buckley on 'You Bet Your Life'. Nine minutes of Lord Buckley and Groucho, that's pretty sweet.

Groucho: You look like a very wealthy and successful confidence man.

Title and link from Mark Bernstein

And who is this lovely lady by Molly Ivins

I was wondering if Molly Ivins could write a tribute to Ann Richards without mentioning George W. Bush in a negative way.
One of the most moving memories I have of Ann is her sitting in a circle with a group of prisoners. Ann and Bullock had started a rehab program in prisons, the single most effective thing that can be done to cut recidivism. (George W. Bush later destroyed the program.) The governor of Texas looked at the cons and said, "My name is Ann, and I am an alcoholic."
She couldn't, but the parenthetical nature might indicate she tried.

Ann Richards was an able governer and deserves a better memorial than that.

Via Eric Coleman

Curing Cancer

Anousheh Ansari has a blog. First Iranian to orbit, first woman tourist .. first blogger? Hey Scoble are you watching?  Talk about potentially worldchanging ...

And hey look at that - Anousheh and Michael are sorrt of on the same wavelength

How do you decide how to spend your money or effort when it comes down to making a change?

Let’s say you want to cure cancer. Do you go buy medicine for the cancer patients? Do you create support centers for the patients? Do you give it to a university doing research? Do you create a prize for cancer research? Do you create scholarship funds for medical students who will do specific research on cancer? Do you go find the biggest cause of cancer and try to lobby to destroy the cause?

Personally, I almost always focus on long-term fundamental activities that address the root causes of a problem.

What is the price of a dream…? For me, it is putting my life and my money where my mouth is.

I support organizations like X Prize and Ashoka Foundation because they are not about making a difference in a small community. These organizations are about Changing the World and making it a better place to live for everyone.
I like the way she slips in a pitch for her own orgs. Of course I would wouldn't I?

Cross Posted at Liftport.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The age of horroism by Martin Amis

The age of horrorism
On the eve of the fifth anniversary of 9/11, one of Britain's most celebrated and original writers analyses - and abhors - the rise of extreme Islamism. In a penetrating and wide-ranging essay he offers a trenchant critique of the grotesque creed and questions the West's faltering response to this eruption of evil.

There is nothing I can add to The Observer's excellent intro.  It's worth a read.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three


Anti-Mopery for September 15, 2006

The 'Lebanese-horse-riding-gun-twirling women and those freaky cosplay chics' Edition

Now, the lady in question is not Lebanese, I don't know if she can ride, I doubt like hell she's into cosplay, and if she handles firearms I hope she refrains from twirling them. It's a secret between me and a so-far anonymous correspondant.

She's not just a pretty face, she's got a helluva good writer-thing going on at her blog

When we hired you, we weren’t interested in your experience. We were only interested in how fast you could learn,” I was once told. At 24, that’s flattering. It’s also a relief—thank God, it doesn’t matter that I know feck-all. I’m a little bundle of potential. But at 34, it’s disconcerting to have a dozen years of your life dismissed. I could have stayed in bed rather than bothering to get trained on Wall Street? I didn’t need to sweat through those startups to learn why entrepreneurs have more in common with artists than with MBAs, and what it really takes to turn an idea into a change? I needn’t have bothered with volunteering, with learning to write, with riding the public buses around Bolivia?

For all that this amoral economy suits me well, I’m making a promise to my future self that if I hear at 54 that my experience is uninteresting to capitalism—and I expect to—I’ll stand up, excuse myself with a big smile, and go back to the woods for good. We’re human beings. Our stories matter. Grown-ups have more to contribute than babies. And where we have been and who we take care of matters more to me than symbols, models, and theories.



From Nyein Aung. Maybe this will be called his 'Ugly Kid Phase' when he's famous and rich.

" ... and loving someone don't make them love you."

Or something. It's important to realize that the things we do and the projects we're involved with are just .. things. You can invest passion, fortune and energy in them and they don't love you back.

But the people you meet, the relationships you form ... ah that's where the gold is.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Be The Change

From Anousheh Ansari's Blog
Anousheh designed the mission patch for her space expedition — a beautiful expression of her goals for the voyage.

Yes it is.

Evil Redux

This is a hoax.
The photos of bound and gagged boys that were sent to an Iowa woman whose son disappeared 24 years ago were investigated in the late 1970s and are not her missing son, a retired Florida sheriff’s investigator said Wednesday.
A hoax, but evil.  The person who did that is dangerous and needs help.

Tip to Protected Static.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Knock and announce

I'm a law and order kinda guy. But John Law does need to know that we're citizens not subjects and there are boundries that shall not be crossed.

Knock and announce or risk being gunned down by an irate citizen sounds entirely appropriate to me. Nick Szabo frames that much better than I do, and has the background for Semayne's Case, where the phrase "a man's home is his castle" comes from.

Semayane's Case  online here.

Samizdata Quote of the day

I have no shame - jacking (with attribution) another blogs' content

"It had always bothered him to see waste; to see Gas Giant atmospheres not mined for their wealth in hydrogen; to see energy from stars spill into the void, without a Dyson Sphere to catch and use it; to see iron and copper and silicates scattered in a hundred million pebbles and asteroids, instead of a smelter or nanoassembly vat."

The Golden Age, by John C. Wright, page 261.

I did however, correctly blockquote it.

What can I say? It's good. If you want originality see Harrell.

Not everyone likes Burning Man

Or the people they find there
If there is anything worse than a pervert, it’s a self-righteous druggie pervert, dressed as a chipmunk, offering unsolicited fashion tips. If you want catty advice on how to dress from a crowd of Rocky Horror Picture Show rejects, Burning Man is for you.

via tjic

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pluto Rocks

From SubPlotA

Pluto Rocks

So smart and so smug, so proudly pedantic
Can't you be a scientist and still a romantic

Don't you still love him, don't you still need him
Don't you want your great great grandkids to meet him

I don't care what people say, you'll always be mine
I don't care what the experts say, you'll always be my number nine

Pluto rocks, in a vacuous void
Grandfather Pluto, he's no asteroid

Pluto rocks, stop the attack
Grandfather Pluto, you gotta bring him back


Thank you Sir, may I have another?

Some rules are disabled, and you receive an error message when you try to enable them after you upgrade to Outlook 2003
When you use rules in Outlook, you may receive the following error message:
There is not enough space on the Microsoft Exchange Server to store all of your rules. The rules that failed to upload have been deactivated.
Why am I getting this error message?
Each rule is made up of seven parts. The rule properties themselves represent from 400 to 500 bytes of data without the recipients. Each recipient averages about from 400 to 500 bytes of space as well, and this data is stored in the conditions and restrictions portion of the rule. Distribution lists are considered one recipient and only take up from 400 to 500 bytes of space. The total amount of space that is allowed for each folder is 32 kilobytes (KB). Out of office e-mail messages are stored as rules, so they take up space as well.
Aw come ON Microsoft. 32K? What is this, 1986 or something?

The workaround?
• Create distribution lists (DLs) to group recipients in rules, instead of using individual recipients.
• Keep the number of recipients small in rules.
• Keep the names of recipients as small as possible.

I'm supposed to reduce the complexity of the rules that are supposed to reduce the complexity of my mailbox.

Thank-you-very-much Microsoft, may I have another?

Kirk and Spock Slash - now in music video format

So wrong, it's right.  Closer.

The Long View

Anousheh Ansari is going to space. Alan Boyle interviewed her for MSNBC* You've said that you hope to play a role as a "space ambassador" during this flight. Could you explain that role?

Ansari: The most important part of my role as an ambassador is to educate everyone about space and the importance of space, and space exploration and space sciences. One way I imagine doing this through my trip is by recording every second of my experiences, either through video, pictures or audio — describing my emotions, my activities, my feelings, what I see, what I hear, encompassing all aspects of my experience — and then trying to share that upon my return with as many people as possible. Through this I want to bring awareness to existing activities in space, existing sciences ... and also to share the experience as an individual so people know how it would feel to actually fly to space.

Q: And the aim would be to encourage people to play a role in settling that space frontier?

A: Absolutely. I think it's essential for our species to pay more attention and focus more on advancing our technologies regarding using the resources in space to solve existing problems on Earth, and also to be able to advance our capabilities in space travel so in case our planet does not stay a suitable place to live on, that we will have alternatives. I'm not talking about my lifetime. I'm talking about the long future ahead of us, for our children's children, and their children. But it's something that we have to start right now. There are a lot of issues we need to overcome if we want to be able to travel beyond our solar system, and maybe travel through the galaxy in the long future.

I don't, as a rule, envy a journalist his job. But Boyle has a pretty keen beat as a science editor - what a job.


B. from XXXX just called.  They're pitching a Sarbannes-Oxley (sp) division of function solution.

B. sounds like a nice young lady, very personable but she's young and potentially far too trusting.

I wonder, now, if my telling her that "We've outsourced the Sarbannes-Oxley function" to Asia (with a phone number (real), email address (fake) and contact (fake))is going to really mess up her database.

I don't care but I do wonder.

A request from Russ Nelson

A request from Russ

Stop Claiming Stagnation!

I'd like every leftist who is claiming that the average American is no better off now than 30 years ago to please stop doing that. Or, at least, if they can't stop, I'd like them to stop saying it on the Internet. Because, if wages are really no better, then they can't (in principle at least) afford to use the Internet.

Of course, I believe no such thing .... but they do, and if they believe that they are telling the truth, then they should act on that basis and stop posting their drivel to my Internet.

Seriously - he doesn't ask for stuff like this very often.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Today is what it is

An excellent and pithy way to sum up 9/11.
I’ll tell you this: if I ran Time magazine, I wouldn’t have run a cover story titled “What We’ve Lost.”

What We’ve Done, perhaps. Who We Are. Why We Fight. What They Want. But “What We’ve Lost”?

I expected many things five years ago, but an epitaph in the face of survival wasn’t among them. Of course, when you recall the post 9 /11 cover "Why They Hate Us," you do have a nice set of bookends. Forgive me if I've little time to reread the tomes bracketed between those sentiments. Today is what it is. Tomorrow, however, requires our attention.

Light a Candle

It is presumptious and pretentious on my part to link Liftport's work to 9/11. Who the Hell do I think I am?

But that is what I've done. Gone is the Heinlein and the Baxter quote that graced the title above; in their place the James Lileks quote I've used for a long time in my email signature.

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

I'm me, that's who. I've got just as much right to define my corner of 9/11 as anyone else. Less, perhaps than some - I don't know a single soul that was murdered.

Yet I was touched - as were we all. A nice part of a good company was creamed by the economic ruckus later that year, resulting in layoffs and the attendent havoc that will cause. My step-son is in the Army and he is intent on making that his career. Because of 9/11? No, but that may well be the reason he's staying.

It's always been clear to me there were a small minority of people in this world intent to cause my country harm. It's become clear to me since 2001 that 'cause my country harm' means slaughtering as many of my fellow citizens as they can, when they can.

So my contribution to Liftport can be thought of as a memorial. My part to make this country not just better but better off - wealthier and with more choices for her citizens.

In the end, maybe that's enough. Not just to live but to live well. Have your 13th century - and may you enjoy the plague and the pestilence and the ignorance that were part of it - we're going to the stars.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Drive a rivet

Frau Budgie pens a review of  Liftport: Opening Space to Everyone;
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut -- but was told that I'd never be a pilot because back then, astronauts were Navy pilots first, and I'd never be a pilot because I had bad eyesight. Besides, as a girl, I'd have "other things" to worry about.

Later, in July, 1969, I camped with some friends on a mesa in New Mexico that overlooked a small site of Anasazi ruins. I remember one night in particular: I watched the seductive moon glowing against the night sky while a crackling voice over the radio talked about "a giant step for mankind ... " I remember thinking "Well, I'm earthbound, but maybe my kids can colonize Mars."

We never made it back to the moon. Back then, we had to fund a war in Vietnam, and then there were new social programs to pay for. And, of course, government bureaucracy began to grow like kudzu around NASA.

Our kids are now looking at a stark new war, sobering in its implications. Federal bureaucrats also remain the same, only more numerous, with even more new and innovative ways of entrenching themselves around formerly effective projects.

And yet -- there is still the dream and there are still people with their sleeves rolled up, folks who have an idea, and the skills to make it work. Who knows? Maybe my grandkids will work on the space platform at the end of a beanstalk.

With luck and pluck they will, Caren. Thanks for the review - by writing and blogging you're helping to enable that vision.

Gathering Storm

A really good reason why the government should not be blindly trusted.

We did a lot but didn't see the gathering storm.

No kidding. Comment is in the last few seconds of  the linked video.

Makes a catchy epitath don't you think?

Mark Twain wished he wrote like this

Tony Pierce is touring the country by automobile
damn mormons had cleaned the john for the night cuz they were about to close the inside to the public. but i bum rushed it, moved the trash can, accepted the pine scent of cleaner and destroyed that can.

mark twain fucking wished he wrote travel journals like this.

Well maybe. I wonder if Twain's works read like this to his contemporary audience. Maybe so.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Text Clipping on a Mac

I had no idea you could do this.

I love telling this to my friends, Windows users. Not that they’re my friends because they use windows, but because they are, well… friends. They use Windows because life is sometimes tough. I ask them how would they save a piece of text from the document they are viewving at the moment, for example a web page.

Their answer is usually something like: “Oh easy. You select the text, right click and copy. Then you go to desktop, right click and select New | Text file, give the file some name and click away. Now you double click the file to open it, paste the text in there and save it. Simple, innit?”

Then I show them how I do it on Mac. I select text, click it and drag to desktop and that’s it. Oh, there is one more thing, my friend’s jaw that drops.

If you want to include this text somewhere, say an email, you simply click the file on desktop and drag it into your composed email. Simple as that.


Lileks is in rare form today.  Well not rare but it is weird how often I find myself nodding mmm-hmm to his Bleats.

Look: there’s always a place for the bitchers, the carpers, the griefers, the snipers, the angry marginal sorts flinging poo from the cages of their own beliefs. But it’s not the pessimists who will save the West. It’ll be those who believe the West is worth saving, and not because it is the least horrible option whose defense must be prefaced with endless apologies, but because it really is the best hope we have. Would you rather be a libertarian in China? A Christian in Sudan? A Zoroastran in Iran? A lesbian in Saudi Arabia?

But - but we supported the Shah, and -

Yes. Interesting how supporters of the Shah didn't storm our embassies or wage a 30 year Death-to-America campaign after we cut the Shah loose. Reset the hands. We can argue about all manner of strategies now, but there's one division that counts more than any other, and it’s fundamental and pervasive. Pessimism or optimism.One’s very satisfying. The other’s hard. I’d say we don’t have any choice, but we do, and that choice may undo us yet.

May, I said. I’m naturally pessimistic, and I hate it, and fight it. Cautious optimism: methadone for cynics.


A Mouse Problem

Ew. A murdered mouse. And a second and third.   Laid out next to my desk. That's seven for the week. I tell my wife we have a mouse problem.

She asks how many. Then repllies that we do not have a problem, the mice do.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I've been zinged

I hereby present the canonical, ultimate posts for some of the various blogs in my micro-clime:
Brian at Liftport: As Heinlein once said, the only thing hotter than a female Lebanese software engineer is a female Lebanese software engineer carrying a pistol as she rides up the elevator on a space elevator.
It's true, every bit of it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The future reached back and posted a want ad

It's clear that the future has issues using spell checker.

Chief Engineer Orbital Teather System - Clasified, ZZZ Outside US
Pfilsner Corp.

Manage orbital deployment of Space elevator teather system, requires relocation to Island in the Pacific off of the coast of Equador. Must have knowledge of lightning protection systems of large civil works in the gigawatt range. Oversees all aspects of civil portions of job and reports directly to CEO of Pfilsner Corp.

Primary Skills: Out of the box
Salary: Between 185,000 - 560,000
Experience Required: Professional Registration Required, 15 years minimum
Clearance Level: Top Secret - SSBI
Travel: 0 %

Other Details: Internal communication through system only. No e-mail or other communications allowed. Must pass level 15 security clearance and loyality pledge.

Contact: Phillip Newell

welcoming by kelly zen-yie tsai

by kelly zen-yie tsai

let the rains
pour down
on brooklyn

let white
velvet curtains
squeeze skin
off of wrought
iron bars

standing tall
within open

let the police
siren wail while
racing down

let the bearded
man call out his
song from the
mosque painted
white and green

rugs rolled and
plastic tubs of
shea butter
stacked beneath
its doorway

let the baby boy
cry from his crib

as the lightning
and bangs itself

into fresh

save your lips
for no lover

save your fingers
for no lover

save your thighs
for no lover

enjoy yourself

in the pounding rain
that shakes
the concrete
of brownstones
turned condos

and empty lots
turned construction

let the page
stay blank

let the words
remain inside
your pen

let effort stay
inside your

love quietly

in small

palpable as

perfect as
string knots


release these
from your grip

save none
for yourself

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Kip's Law - a demonstration

TJIC found a reference to a new 'law'
Kip’s Law: Every advocate of central planning always - always - envisions himself as the central planner.
And I myself found an example of that. Ronald Wright was supposed to deliver a keynote speech. You can read the text here but I can summarize it as "civilization - especially as practiced in the late 20th century by those evil twins Blair and Bush - is bad. We need to return to the trees"
Our greatest experiment — civilization itself — will succeed only if it can live on nature's terms, not Man's. To do this we must adopt principles in which the short term is trumped by the long; in which caution prevails over ingenuity; in which the absurd myth of endless growth is replaced by respect for natural limits; in which progress is steered by precautionary wisdom. This ideological shift is the most urgent task for science and society, for professors, politicians, priests, and writers.
What does Mr. Wright do a for a living? He's a writer.  But you knew that already.

Snark aside, I agree with this paragraph but disagree with the conclusion that it's time to pull in our horns and become homebodies.
But the world has grown too small to forgive us any more big mistakes. The species that has lately brought the Earth atomic war and nuclear waste, DDT, thalidomide, mad cow disease, Chernobyl, and the Bhopal chemical spill must recognize itself for what it is: clever but seldom wise. Put baldly, we are not as smart as we think we are. If Homo sapiens is to survive the accumulating consequences of its half-evolved intelligence, it must become aware of its habitual shortcomings, like drivers who keep their speed within their skill.
If we are not as smart as we are then it might follow the wise course of action would be to spread the species as far and as fast as possible so as to avoid that one mistake killing us all.

Just a thought.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dogs in a Car

Our afternoon chore was to clean up the store. Nothing major, just swabbing the floor, cleaing the windows, vacuum the rugs, break apart some shipping crates. You want a retail store to attract people you've to clean it once in a while (Antique shop owners take note).

The dogs did something unusual - they all jumped in the car. The Sheltie in particular hates going for car rides - she's gotten old and set in her ways. Two adults, three kids, three dogs, one Ford Escort.

This is the one that will eat you if you show up unbidden at three a.m.

Old, fat and sedentary. Probably wondering why she wanted to come.

Does cute need a caption?

Being small does have it's advantages.

Dear Slashdot

I'm a little disapointed in you.
Jerry Smith writes
"The Guardian reports 'Each of the groups that will gather in New Mexico is competing to win a NASA prize set up to encourage entrepreneurs to start development work on the technology needed to create a space elevator.' It still might take a while though, progress is slow, so slow."
Emphasis mine.

The progress to date has not been slow but incremental.

This is an important distinction. Incremental advances allow for a stable and mature system to emerge.

Stable and mature are things you want in your transporation infrastructure.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


The evil that lurks around us, uneen.

The article
The mother of a boy abducted 24 years ago said she's bewildered by two photographs left at her front door, apparently showing her son and two other children bound and gagged.

The old photos appear to show 12-year-old Johnny Gosch with his mouth gagged and his hands and feet tied. The boy is wearing the same sweatpants Johnny was wearing when he disappeared while delivering newspapers on the morning of Sept. 5, 1982, his mother said.
The other kids? No one knows.

What a bleak, horrid thing.


What He Said

New Spaceship, Same Old Rocks

It’s nice to see the word “spaceship” on the front page again. Lockheed Martin just snagged the government billions to build Orion, a reusable capsule that’ll
replace the Space Shuttle. But does it run on fusion? Or an ion engine?
Can it bend space and duck through and into and out of wormholes? No?
Then I’m not impressed. The thing looks--and is--pretty much like an
old-school Apollo pod, launches atop a rocket and might start flinging
folks into orbit by 2014. First stop, that giant waste of time and
metal, the International Space Station, and then by 2020, a good 50
years after our last visit, it’ll take us back to the moon.

And while we’re dicking around with this atmosphere-free rock only a
few miles away, like it’s 1967 or something, the Chinese are making a run for Mars, billionaires and madmen are building their own space fleets in the Mojave and UFOs are haunting little towns in southern Orange County. Maybe these are interesting times after all.