Friday, March 17, 2006

What do we want to do in space?

My pithy answer, live there, would seem to require a bit more elaboration.

Let's forget NASA and the how of it for now and focus on the question. Although who should pay for it is a relevant question, it's off topic (although people should pay for themselves seems to cover it.)

What do I mean when I say live there? I mean that people should have the same freedom to choose to live in space or other planets as they do about where in this world they would prefer to live (and all that implies. Do I need to elaborate?) This means like everything in life, it will be unfairly distributed; however, it should be an option as widely available to satify the public desire that exists to the greatest extent possible.

People do things because they want to. They work, they explore, they play, they learn; because that's what we are. First and foremost, we should do it because we can.

Second, because the eventual economic repercussions are enormous. Enormous simply isn't a big enough word. We measure a nations wealth, but what is money? Ink on paper? No. It's activity. When we widen our horizons we increase our wealth. Once we begin living by the millions and billions in space the positive impact on people that remain on Earth is impossible to imagine, but it will be huge and it will be positive. Wealth is created by activity. People that never leave Earth will be able to invest in companies that will make huge profits in more ways than simply mining minerals and providing energy resources. What those other things are will simply not be limited to the imagination of a few. People do different things pursuing their own pleasures much of which is economically profitable. Everybody will benefit (on average with the rising tide.)

Third, because it will make us better people. New situations create new issues. Resolving those issues is growth. Imagine two planets. One with people that never leave orbit. The other explores the stars. Which would be considered the mature civilization? Isn't it obvious?

I might add survival to this list. We'd look pretty stupid and short sighted if we never colonized outside this planet and some disaster came along and wiped out the Earth. Such disasters exist, but may not happen in our lifetime, so... let's just eat, drink and have fun and not worry about such things. Right?

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness... For some, living in space is the embodiment of all three. As humans, it then becomes an imperative.

Update: I did it again. It's the INTJ in me. I answered the why question and not the what question... silly me. I guess it's because the what answer seems just too obvious to me... yeah, it's just LIVE. THERE. The details of living there include mining asteroids and solar power (as I mentioned) but also include, developing real estate, opening a hot dog stand, etc. In other words, all the activities we do now, but there rather than here. It includes new political movements and religions. The glory days of scientific discovery and exploration. Philosophy and hamburgers. You know, life.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


"I've tried to be measured in this critique of Ginsburg's speech, but the truth is that it is more reprehensible than I have suggested."

We need to start treating the documents of the founding fathers more like contracts and start holding political animals in contempt when appropriate. Impeach indeed.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Glad she's gone.

Although she makes some good points, to say that without the judiciary we'd be a dictatorship is not the sound reasoning you'd expect from a former supreme court justice. Ok, she said it could be the path to, rather than the actuality, but still.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Poorly played by all.

According to a well written article by the Anchoress the Dubai port deal wasn't handled well by anyone. I wouldn't argue with that, politics being what it is.

However, I see a dangerous subtext of elitism (not pointing any fingers, but feel free to self examine. I'm a great believer in daily self examination.) The smart people know that the deal would have been a good one and not threatened our security. Those uneducated American citizen's should just shut up. Right? Wrong! The people of this country understand something that smart people are willing to diminish in value relative to other considerations (with a great deal of intellectual analysis)... Ports are among a relatively short list of central issues essential to security and putting any foreign nation (no matter how friendly) in a position of control, weakens our security. To argue that they are not doing security or responsible for security misses the point.

Security risks result from access. The inside job doesn't require total access, just enough to observe and exploit a weakness. We're an open society and have lot's of security weaknesses. That's not an excuse to just keep piling on more. Especially in an area that is among the central points of the security issue such as ports.

In my opinion, we are going to get nuked. I'm seeing two scenarios. One is a sea-launch off both coasts of emp nukes. The other are ships exploding at our ports. This deal may have nothing to do with either of these scenarios. OTOH, this deal might have made them more likely. I and many other Americans would rather err on the side of caution.

Another issue. How is our friendly ally responding to the news? It's understandable that they are upset. But should they respond with threats? What kind of friend responds with threats? We were attacked and are now in a gurilla war. The rest of the world, friends and foes alike, need to come to terms with the fact that we take responsibity for our own security. Anybody that doesn't like it can stuff it. American's are a generous (in many facets of the term) and friendly people with no ambitions of imperialism (when acting imperalistic for a short while might be in our best interest.) Moral relativist can get stuffed too.

Update: My post at the Captain's Quarters in full...

Dubai lost some financial interests in America. While hard feelings are understandable, true friends aren't going to let it shake them. The UAE may prove to be such a friend. Some may say they've already done so.

But I think everyone that's calling Americans phobic and racist are dead wrong. We're angry and perhaps hypersensitive to potential threats. We have reason to be. Those that know the heart of the American people don't need to be concerned with how we're perceived.

Good people in the world have a greater responsibility not to be insulted and just continue to act as good people. Anybody that believes they received such insult that they need to become one of the bad guys deserves the pending result.

Figuring out who your friends are isn't easy in this world. American's don't need to prove our friendship to the world. We act on our friendship constantly. Usually we're insulted for doing so. Yet we always act predictable in a time of need. You want to insult the American people for being stupid, go ahead. You'll be doing it without me.

There's anger, then there's righteous anger. The world made a mistake when they did not see the righteous anger that we hold after 9/11 and is continually fed by the continued acts of terrorism worldwide as well as the insensitivity of our friends. This anger will have result. Especially if any terrorist provides another trigger for it's release. Is the world afraid of America? They damn well better be.

Update: The silver lining.

The deals undone, but let's suppose foreign control of our ports was not a security threat. In any case, the American people were heard, loud and clear, "Congressman, you need to be very sensitive to anything that even smells like a security issue." Are congress critters going to make intelligent decisions? Are they going to take the time to inform the American people of the issues, truthfully and objectively?

We can hope, can't we?

Update: Other points of view.

Some strong persuasive arguments. While Michelle may have introduced this issue to me I got involved becomes I kept hearing other bloggers call American's stupid. I didn't like it. Ignorance is universal, we all have our share. I take offense when American's are called bigoted racists, even if a small minority are to some extent. This had very little if anything to do with racism, but perhaps a lot to do with ignorance. The president says, 'trust me.' The president has a duty to communicate with the American people. It's obvious to most, that he often fails at that duty. I believe he's a man of good character and I'm more likely to trust him than scores of others; however, nobody has the right to expect to be trusted when millions of lives hang in the balance. If those lives are not in jeapardy, you need to show why... trust me just doesn't do it.

This really doesn't seem to be that big a financial issue to Dubai. If they feel stabbed in the back, they can take comfort that it wasn't intentional. The American people were reacting to a perceived security threat. The fact is the only people that can get close enough to stab you in the back are your friends. America's taken it in the shoulders many times and will many times more. We just don't want to see it raised to the level of a holocaust.

Update: Somebody else saw the same silver lining I did (and as usual said it much better than I.)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Fear is not Hate

The landscape of hate and fear includes that which is healthy as well as the morbid. This well written article touches upon and clarifies the point.

Where are all the moderate muslims?

I think when people ask this question, they mean Islamics rather than muslims, and the answer is that by definition there are none. Islam is a terrorist religion from it's inception. Because of it's strangeness we call terrorist radical and extreme when the fact is they are establishing the norm. This is witnessed by the fact that any 'moderates' are subject to attack. This is the problem when you try to understand a group from such a radically different and tolerant perspective.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sweet Sixteen

Happy birthday, Son.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Zubrin in China

Often at odds with Rand, Mark has an interesting post regarding Dr. Zubrin visit and speech in China.

Zubrin makes an interesting comment in his speech, " we enter the 21st Century, two nations stand out as leaders, the USA and China."

Some people might say, "well, he's just being nice to his hosts." In which case they could dismiss the comment. That would be a mistake, IMHO. People that look at the GNP (or whatever they call it these days) between the two countries might feel comfortable in dismissing China. People that say they're only doing things we did over 30 years ago would also be missing the relevant issue. I believe that Zubrin correctly shares my intuition that China is going to be a major player in space in the next few decades. I suspect the American government will not be as is suggested by this comment of Zubrin's, "...the United States has set itself the objective of sending humans to the Moon and Mars, but is actually spending over 90% of its manned space budget on the Shuttle and Space Station programs in activity that contributes almost nothing towards the achievement of that goal, and furthermore, plans to continue doing so for the next five years."

The bright spot is the vision of people that plan to take matters in there own hands regardless of what governments do. While no company by itself may be up to the task, in combination I think they'll provide all the elements for the private move into space. With access to the resources of space, government involvement may not matter that much.

Of course, you can't get away from the politicians. People have been trying since the dawn of time. Even with nukes, China is a limited threat to us now. They still live in a world where MAD works. But it would be another mistake to think they may not take advantage of any opportunity to diminish the power of American in world affairs. For example, what would a big rock hitting Yellowstone do and could we determine if it was a natural event or mischief by a country learning to move rocks?

Why Yellowstone? No reason, it's just brainstorming about a super volcano that's right about ready to blow given a geological minute or so. Might make a good movie, eh? Flying jumbo jets into skyscrapers might have made a good movie before 2001. What do you think, Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis?

I used to be a Ford fan, but I've always liked Bruce. Even his stinkers.

How's that for serious analysis?

Update: "...[competition] is a fact of existence. If you choose not to compete, you may (and likely will) still find yourself on the loosing side."

Well said.