August 30, 2013

"Setting national goals" is totalitarian malarky...

Space Experts: NASA Is Dangerously Adrift - Popular Mechanics:

In a call with reporters today, the founder and the current head of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., painted a bleak picture for the future of NASA's manned spaceflight program based on its current direction. Their comments came on the eve of Congressional authorization for the space agency's budget.

"The sense of drift or the sense of lack of consensus is still fairly serious" Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute, said of the political debate over NASA's course. Pace, who previously served as NASA's Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation, was joined in a press conference today by John Logsdon, professor emeritus of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University and founder of the Space Policy Institute.

"I think what you're seeing in the current debate over priorities really is the residual of 40 years of a failure to reach consensus on what the U.S. should be doing in space and particularly in human spaceflight," says Logsdon, who also served on the Columbia Accident Investigation Board in 2003.

NASA's manned spaceflight program arguably has been without a clear mission since Apollo 17 returned from the moon in 1972, carrying the last crew to leave low-Earth orbit. The space shuttle, conceived during the Nixon administration, "did not have a larger strategic purpose," Pace says. "It was merely a capability." He argues that this build-it-and-they-will-come philosophy still holds sway today. Now, as before, NASA's focus is on building capabilities such as a new spacecraft and launchers and then figuring out that to do with them afterwards. "I feel like I'm listening to an echo from the Nixon administration," he says...

I think the Space Policy Institute is basically making the same underlying mistake NASA is making. They share the assumption that he US should have a space policy, and a "space program." That "space" is something done by government is never questioned.

I think the whole concept of "setting national goals" is totalitarian malarky. Industrial Age thinking. A ponderous idea that does not work any more. Our country's only broad goal should be to bring down the cost of getting into orbit, so that lots of people will be able to afford to get out of Earth's gravity well, and live in space. Then they will figure out what space is, and what it's good for.

And bringing down the cost of getting to orbit itself requires that government get out of the way. Especially NASA, which is lost in a dream of "programs," to be done by experts while all us little people watch on television. Pfooey. We should kill NASA and use the savings to help jump-start private space flight.


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Posted by John Weidner at 8:24 PM

August 12, 2013

Just one more good piece on the climate scam...

Stop global warming sign covered with snow

From Anthony Watts, What the 'year of living dangerously' at nearly 400 ppm of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere looks like:

...Next: let's take each of the claims below and provide the context for proof:

Coldest summer on record at the North Pole
Highest August Arctic ice extent since 2006
Record high August Antarctic ice extent
No major hurricane strikes for eight years
Slowest tornado season on record
No global warming for 17 years
Second slowest fire season on record
Four of the five snowiest northern hemisphere winters have occurred since 2008...

CO2 keeps going up and up, yet nature is just not doing her part!

Posted by John Weidner at 7:08 AM

August 9, 2013

We all swim in a sea of "conventional wisdom"

[This is a re-posting of something from years ago.]

I recommend this excellent essay by Paul Belien, Europe Must Find its Roots in America

....In the 17th and 18th centuries North America was colonised by freedom loving people who brought the political institutions and traditions from Europe to a new continent across the sea. Many of them had left Europe because they wanted the freedom to live according to their own conscience instead of the conscience of the centralist absolutist rulers of the new age that was sweeping across Europe from the 16th century onwards. Their traditions were rooted in the decentralized traditions of the late Middle Ages and the Aristotelian philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Europe’s Middle Ages had been characterized by an absence of central power, while man was bound to multiple legal systems: the legal order of his city, that of the land, that of his guild, that of the church. There was not one monopolistic ruler, as in China or in the Muslim world, but many, which guaranteed greater freedom for the individual...

...The philosophy of Aquinas, moreover, was centered on the individual. God had called man to be free from sin, but in order to be free from sin he had to be virtuous, and in order for virtue to have any value it had to be voluntary, implying that the virtuous man had to be free in every aspect of his life including, as Aquinas’ followers later pointed out, his economic activities.

Hence the paradox came about that the civil society developing in the new continent was in a sense older than the new Modern Age of the absolutist monarchs governing Europe...

We all swim in a sea of "conventional wisdom," and a lot of it is not just wrong, but wrong in ways that make it hard to think clearly about things. One of the falsehood is the idea that the Middle Ages were a swamp of poverty and knuckle-dragging backwardness. And that the "Age of Enlightenment" came along and dragged us out of the muck.

Actually in some ways the opposite is true. Especially in the realm of freedom and democracy, which we built on the foundation of England's parliamentary government. We think of England as exceptional, but "parliaments" of all sorts were the norm in Medieval Europe. They were destroyed on the continent by the rise of the Absolute Monarchs, who also limited or co-opted various other institutions that had served to spread power widely.

The people who write the history books tend to be of the absolutist tradition (socialists, leftists) and have judged, say, the France of Louis XIV to be "successful," because it could raise large armies and crush opponents such as small independent states, or awkward medieval institutions, or religious groups such as Huguenots or Jansenists. It would be better to think of this as failure, failure to preserve things that have been very beneficial to us in the Anglosphere.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:08 AM

August 5, 2013

Hollow men...

Roger L. Simon , The Rise of Al-Qaeda and Why the Administration Lied about Benghazi:

...Lately, Obama has incurred the ire -- with some justification, I think -- of new Egyptian military strongman al-Sisi for going against the wishes of the Egyptian people in favor of a kind of desperate nostalgia for Morsi and the Brotherhood. (Forget the rapes and the rest of it.)

So what accounts for Obama's weird attraction for this "Muslim revivalism," despite all its Medieval tenets and near-psychotic behaviors?

No, he is not a Muslim. I repeat NOT (just to be absolutely clear). Nor is the president a Christian, unless you count Reverend Wright as such, which is ridiculous (and we all know he's under the bus anyway).

Obama is a postmodern agnostic par excellence. But like so many schooled in post-modernism and cultural relativism, he has an immediate and intense enmity for anything that smacks of imperialism -- and an equally intense desire to be seen as supportive of (although certainly not to live like) the downtrodden of the Earth....
[Part of my nihilism posts. More here.]

Sorry, but I don't think "enmity for imperialism" explains much. It's just an often-useful excuse to attack what really bugs them. Lefties don't really care much about those post-colonial countries. They only take notice of them when the US or Israel impinges on them somehow. Obama has never given Kenya the time of day, though his father and brother are from there.

And if they cared about colonialism you would see lots of focus on the UK, France, Russia, Spain and Portugal. Do you see much of that?

People like Obama, and there are a lot of them now, are hollowed out. They have lost belief in anything. In anything bigger than themselves. And they know deep down something is wrong. They lack belief, so anything that smacks of belief irritates and pains them. They hate America and Israel, because those two countries are the only ones that command belief. They are symbols of belief, and this stuff works at the level of symbols perceived by the unconscious.

Other things that symbolize belief include our military, firearms and self-defense, traditional marriage, and the sanctity of life. Plus of course orthodox Christian and Jewish faith. (so of corse they find Islam attractive. A fake religion that works as a shield against God's Truth.) ALL of these things irritate lefties like Obama, as I can tell you, living as I do in ├╝ber-liberal SF.

People like Obama do not in fact even believe in their leftism. They are never found dying in any revolution. They just wear leftism (or pacifism or some times libertarianism) as a disguise. And they are currently happily intertwined with Wall Street in a way that clearly shows they aren't of the Left. (The Wall-Streeters are hollow men too. None of them believes in capitalism or economic freedom. Only self.)

Posted by John Weidner at 4:47 PM