Archive for May, 2007

May 29, 2007

A PEARL HARBOR NOVEL FOR BOYS.

May 29, 2007

BIG — AND POTENTIALLY BAD — tax news for LLCs.

May 29, 2007

THOUGHTS ON GOOD WRITING, from John Leo.

May 29, 2007

SHOOTING STUDENTS in Venezuela. Video at the link.

May 29, 2007

JESSE JACKSON ALLY calls for “snuffing out” gun store owner. Eugene Volokh thinks he might have chosen better words. And some people see a double standard.

May 29, 2007

JAY MANIFOLD TAKES BLOOD-BLOGGING to a whole new level.

May 29, 2007

NEWS FROM KURDISTAN:

Massoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan region, will today sign a security agreement with the international coalition forces, said Kurdish security officials.

Under the agreement the Kurdistan civilian authority will assume the security operations in Arbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniya, said the officials.

More news at the link.

May 29, 2007

SPACE UPDATE: Here’s a roundup of ISDC coverage from media big and small.

May 29, 2007

THE FACTS ON FACTCHECKING.

May 29, 2007

I’VE WRITTEN BEFORE that the real immigration crime is how legal immigrants are treated. Here’s another example. “Leaders of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services rejected key changes because ending huge immigration backlogs nationwide would rob the agency of application and renewal fees that cover 20 percent of its $1.8 billion budget, according to the plan’s author, agency ombudsman Prakash Khatri.”

One reason that legal immigrants are treated badly is that they have no power. I think we should change the policy to adjust incentives by simply allowing each newly-minted citizen to fire one federal employee upon becoming a citizen. This would encourage politeness and efficiency . . .

May 29, 2007

SEMEN AS AN ANTIDEPRESSANT FOR WOMEN. There’s new research supporting the original finding, reportedly. (Via Sullivan).

UPDATE: Liz Phair fans are unsurprised.

May 29, 2007

WARD CHURCHILL UPDATE: More calls for his firing.

May 29, 2007

A TROUBLING LOOK at the implications of the Estonian cyber-attack. (Via Slashdot).

Plus, an amusing comparison of real cyberwar vs. that in cyberpunk novels. The problem is that if you portrayed network security in a novel as being as slipshod as it actually is in real life, no one would believe it — they’d think it was just the author making things easy for his characters. . . .

May 29, 2007

A LOOK AT THE REALITIES OF CUBAN HEALTH CARE, in The New York Times:

“Actually there are three systems,” Dr. Cordova said, because Cuba has two: one is for party officials and foreigners like those Mr. Moore brought to Havana. “It is as good as this one here, with all the resources, the best doctors, the best medicines, and nobody pays a cent,” he said.

But for the 11 million ordinary Cubans, hospitals are often ill equipped and patients “have to bring their own food, soap, sheets — they have to bring everything.” And up to 20,000 Cuban doctors may be working in Venezuela, creating a shortage in Cuba. . . .

Until he had to have emergency surgery last year, Fidel Castro — who turned 80 this year — was considered a model of vibrant long life in Cuba. But it was only last week that he acknowledged in an open letter that his initial surgery by Cuban doctors had been botched. He did not confirm, however, that a specialist had been flown in from Spain last December to help set things right.

Read the whole thing.

May 29, 2007

ANOTHER EMAIL FROM MICHAEL YON:

I was present today when an Iraqi General was arrested on suspicion of murder and other crimes. The American commander, LTC Doug Crissman, narrowly averted a possible bloodbath today when he intervened, without orders from above, and arrested the General. The General was with 14 heavily armed men. I was a few feet away and snapped a photo of Crissman and the Iraqi General only seconds before Crissman silently grabbed the General’s pistol out of his holster. Crissman’s men had silently disarmed the other 14 men who were all around the building. The General was clueless. Incredible, and brilliantly executed by LTC Crissman. More in a couple of days. (I got it all on video/photo.)

Instapundit readers are the first to know.

And I’d like to know more.

May 29, 2007

THE REALLY IMPORTANT TECH-NEWS OF THE DAY: A review of the first true draft beer mini-keg! This technology might be bad for my waistline — I considered buying a Kegerator but concluded that the plus — I’d drink more good beer — would also be about a 20-pound plus that I could do without. I’ve got a friend who owns a microbrewery and he quit keeping kegs at home for that very reason.

May 29, 2007

JEFF FOUST has more from the ISDC.

May 29, 2007

I’M ON BLOGGINGHEADS TV with National Journal’s Conn Carroll, talking about politics, the future of newspapers, and whether Hillary is like Margaret Thatcher.

May 29, 2007

A FLIP-FLOP TOO FAR, even for John Kerry: “Kerry, Clinton ventured, should consider defying Democratic interest groups by endorsing the Bush proposal for a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.”

May 29, 2007

HOW TO BUY a President’s friendship.

May 29, 2007

THAT’S NOT VERY NEIGHBORLY: Mexican audience boos Miss USA. If an American audience booed Miss Mexico, it would be racism.

May 29, 2007

SHUT UP ABOUT ISLAM, and be safe. I keep pointing this out, but if this technique works it will be adopted by others.

May 29, 2007

ANSWERING LIFE’S IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Like, are Jimmy Buffett and Warren Buffett related? (Via Bainbridge).

May 29, 2007

EARLIER, I MENTIONED THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS, and the Mad Scientists’ Club books, leading some people to wonder how to encourage boys (and girls) to get more interested in hands-on electronics stuff. I’m not sure, but when I was a kid I had a lot of fun with the Radio Shack version of this 200-in-1 electronic project kit, and I actually did learn a fair amount while building some cool stuff. And I would have loved something like this. And this looks kind of cool, too.

UPDATE: Reader Brent Sperling emails:

I too had a Radio Shack 200-in-1 kit, and I definitely agree with you that it would be a great way to get kids interested in electronics.

I’d add, however, that today’s kids (especially teens) would greatly benefit from a subscription to Make magazine (http://www.makezine.com/). It’s nerdy, cool, and inspirational. I only wish I had had something like that.

Good point, for somewhat older kids.

May 29, 2007

MORE ON THE SITUATION IN IRAQ, from J.D. Johannes, who’s been there for a while. The “Anbar Awakening” appears to be spreading. But read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Rand Simberg emails that it’s all explained by evolution.

May 29, 2007

THE FTC IS LOOKING AT THE GOOGLE/DOUBLECLICK DEAL: I think we’ll see Google getting a lot more regulatory scrutiny in the near future. (Via Slashdot).

May 29, 2007

THE CREATION MUSEUM: “Like most natural history museums, this one has exhibits showing dinosaurs roaming the earth. Except here, the giant reptiles share the forest with Adam and Eve. That, of course, is contradicted by science, but that’s the point of the $25 million Creation Museum rising fast in rural Kentucky.”

Hmm, I guess I’ve forgotten the part of Genesis where Adam kicks the ass of a bunch of velociraptors. It would have to be pre-apple, of course.

You can find the Creation Museum’s website (Slogan: “Prepare to Believe!”) here.

UPDATE: Mark Twain was ahead of the creationists. Funnier, too.

May 29, 2007

WATER INTO FUEL: There’s video at the link, too. I’d like for this to work out, but I wouldn’t sell my Exxon stock just yet . . .

May 29, 2007

BUSH MOVES ON DARFUR: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

May 29, 2007

CAPTAIN ED NOTES THAT A.P. CONTINUES TO GET ITS KYOTO HISTORY WRONG: By this point, it’s kind of hard to explain this away as simple incompetence. But as a commenter observes: “The MSM claim to superiority over bloggers was their professional fact checkers, was it not? No wonder the papers are sinking fast – it’s tough to beat ‘more accurate and free’ on the web.”

UPDATE: Not that the bloggers are perfect.

May 29, 2007

ADVICE TO FASHION DESIGNERS, from Rachel Lucas: “I don’t need every single shirt I own to look like maternity wear.”

UPDATE: Reader Madhu Dahiya emails:

So now Instapundit is breaking out into fashion-blogging? Well, yeah!

Totally trivial comment to Rachel Lucas’ observation, but, I prefer the new Empire waistline (translation: maternity wear) shirts to the old Britney-fied cropped t-shirts and low-rise jeans/track suit bottoms/shorts/skirts. Mostly, because, there are some body areas on some women (and men!) that look better with a little cover, and we, the public, are spared the sight of those whose good body image and self-esteem, while healthy, could be improved by a little dollop of ‘if it doesn’t suit you, don’t wear it.’ Oh, and that goes for the new dresses and tops which are all roomy up top. There are clever alternatives out there, in fact, most of the students I see walking around Boston look much, much better than they did a few years ago. Clothing-wise, I mean. I much prefer the new fashions…..

I suspect that Britney would look better in them nowadays, anyway.

May 29, 2007

THIS IS KIND OF COOL: The Swiss Army Rescue Tool. Lacks the corkscrew, though.

UPDATE: Reader Chris Fountain emails:

Glenn – a close friend of my daughter’s (and a young Marine home for Christmas) drowned when his car flipped over a low bridge and landed upside down. Friends of mine, cops, told me that the poor kid’s hands were bloodied from pounding on his (electric, hence disabled) window, trying to get out. Hearing that, I went on line and purchased key chain window breakers for all 3 of my kids.

He recommends this gadget. It’s cheap.

May 29, 2007

LIVING IN A “VULCAN UTOPIA.”

UPDATE: Read this, too.

May 29, 2007

GAY-BASHING in Moscow.

May 29, 2007

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Shockingly, more earmark issues with Rep. John Murtha:

Democrats controlling the House of Representatives demonstrated this month the hollowness of their claim that they have ended the corruption of 12 Republican years. Rep. John Murtha quietly slipped into the Intelligence authorization bill two earmarks costing taxpayers $5.5 million. The beneficiary was a contractor headquartered in Murtha’s hometown of Johnstown, Pa., whose executives have been generous political contributors to the powerful 17-term congressman.

This scandalous conduct would be unknown except for reforms by the new Democratic majority. But the remodeled system is not sufficiently transparent to expose in a timely manner machinations of Murtha and fellow earmarkers to his colleagues, much less to the public. It took Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, the leading House earmark-buster, to discover the truth.

Jack Murtha, the maestro of imposing personal preferences on the appropriations process, looks increasingly like an embarrassment to Congress and the Democratic Party. But there is no Democratic will to curb Murtha, one of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s closest associates. Nor are Republicans eager for a crackdown endangering their own earmarkers.

Meet the new boss, yada yada.

May 29, 2007

A FEW THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED, if you were off, you know, having a life or something this weekend.

My report on space capitalists, from the International Space Development Conference. Plus, attractive women.

This email from Michael Yon. And this one, too.

What I did on Memorial Day.

Me trash-talking the Kos Krowd.

Follow the links, or just scroll.

May 29, 2007

NOT THAT ODD, REALLY: “Why aren’t they angry about the people doing the killing? The odd thing about the conversation is I could tell it was the first time he’d heard this argument. ” But then, maybe he was talking to a BBC viewer.

May 29, 2007

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL IGNORANCE and “libertarian paternalism.” The root justification for the latter is the notion that “experts” are better decisionmakers than ordinary people, something for which the evidence is . . . weak.

Related thoughts here: “I’m picking up a bit of the old: if only people thought clearly, they’d agree with me.

And some thoughts on why voter irrationality isn’t all bad, here.

May 29, 2007

ANOTHER poll of Muslims.

May 29, 2007

THOUGHTS ON CARBON TAXES VS. CARBON CREDITS, from John Tierney.

May 29, 2007

MORE SPACE NEWS FROM THE ISDC, at Wired.

May 28, 2007

A MEMORIAL DAY EMAIL FROM MICHAEL YON, with photos:

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Iraqi Policeman at a meeting today

Glenn,

Another day has passed without my having seen a shred of combat. The area around the city of Hit, in Anbar Province, has mostly fallen silent. A dust storm swept in late yesterday, and as normal, the enemy used the storm for cover to seed a few small IEDs on roads. The bombs were small and were discovered without incident.

I am becoming very interested by the city of Hit and surrounds; the fighting turned-off abruptly in February after Task Force 2-7 Infantry arrived. Why did the fighting end so suddenly?

The commander of Task Force 2-7 Infantry, LTC Doug Crissman, circulates the towns in his area each day. Today, we spent about twelve hours driving to or conducting various meetings. The most interesting meeting revolved around tribal politics.

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Meeting today in Anbar Province with Police and sheiks

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Three of the five sheiks present

During this meeting, three Iraqi Police lieutenant colonels, and five tribal sheiks, talked for perhaps two hours with LTC Crissman about the shape of the emerging Iraqi Police in this area. The Iraqi Ministry of Interior allocated 576 slots for new police in this area of operations. LTC Crissman is trying to distribute slots reasonably equally among the tribes and towns, while each tribe makes a grab for as many slots as possible.

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Tribal intrigue and politics surface as a dominant factor in Anbar Province.

The sheiks want more police openings, and since many “police” have been working without pay for more than two months, one sheik proposed an idea to cut the already-meager pay in half, so that twice more police can be hired. A stream of such proposals come at LTC Crissman during every meeting, and each time I ask myself, “How will the commander field this one?”

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Iraqi interpreter talking to the sheik.

I would like to write more candidly about what Crissman faces, but Internet is available in the towns here, and I wish to avoid unnecessarily affecting local politics during this sensitive time. I will say that over a period of more than two years, I’ve attended countless such meetings in Baghdad, Baqubah, Mosul and other Iraqi cities, but never have I seen an area where fighting ending so abruptly.

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After the meeting: Kabobs, baked chicken and vegetables.

Iraqis have told me many times that the larger part of this war is not about religion. Fanatical groups such as al Qaeda surely have wreaked havoc, but a huge part of the war is about business, influence and resources. The American Commanding General, David Petraeus, has said repeatedly that money is ammunition in this war. The meetings I attend with local leaders around Iraq are never about religion. Religion is seldom if ever brought up. The meetings are about security, electricity, jobs, water projects. The meetings often are about influence, and politics fit for a novel.

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Everything I see at these meetings indicates that those Coalition officers who say that money is ammunition in this war, are right. Al Qaeda is proving itself to the Iraqis to be bankrupt morally, and financially. There is a chance to fill the vacuum.

A Memorial Day message.

May 28, 2007

MORE CLASHES IN VENEZUELA: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

May 28, 2007

MICHAEL MOORE gets no love from Andrew Sullivan. Well, if you care about the quality of health care, you won’t be listening to Michael Moore.

May 28, 2007

TERRORISTIC THREATS from winemakers. And I was just planning on ending my boycott of French wines.

May 28, 2007

J.D. JOHANNES’ producer David Chavarria posts some Memorial Day thoughts.

May 28, 2007

CINDY SHEEHAN SAYS GOODBYE:

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the “left” started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of “right or left”, but “right and wrong.”

Yes, when her utility as a Bush-bashing tool evaporated, the media weren’t interested. Not even most of the alt-media. More here.

And Don Surber is amused.

UPDATE: They’re trying to replace her, but Mickey Kaus observes: “I’m willing to believe U.S. soldiers in Iraq are disillusioned, but ‘more than a dozen’ does not seem like a large number.”

I don’t know why any troops would be disillusioned, when they’re getting so much support from American media and the Democrats in Congress.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More on Cindy Sheehan and the media here.

May 28, 2007

THE KOSSACKS HAVE GOT A LONG WAY TO GO if they’re going to beat InstaPundit readers in the One Billion Bulbs competition:


One Billion Bulbs Some Daily Kossaks Bulbs Change Statistics

One Billion Bulbs Instapundit Bulbs Change Statistics

Their banner may be bigger but their score’s much, much smaller. What, does nobody read the DailyKos anymore? Or do Kos readers just care less about the environment than InstaPundit readers?

Yeah, Kos readers: This fluorescent-bulb trash-talk is aimed at you!

UPDATE: Several readers wonder if there’s anything geekier than enviro-trash-talk about compact fluorescent bulbs.

Well, not much, probably. But what’s your point?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Anything geekier? Lissa Kay emails: “Umm … how about going on a date and quoting Firefly and Serenity to each other? Heh … guess ya had to be there, but not really … um, nevermind.”

May 28, 2007

A MEMORIAL DAY POST from Major John Tammes.

UPDATE: A photo from Rick Lee.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A slideshow of photos from the National Memorial Day Parade in DC, from Robert Bluey.

May 28, 2007

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SO MY MEMORIAL DAY ACTIVITY WAS GIVING BLOOD: I missed the blood drive at the law school this spring, and I try to give twice a year, given that under the new, stricter rules I’m one of the relatively few people who can give blood these days. They had the blood drive set up at the mall, so I donated while the Insta-Wife and Insta-Daughter shopped for swimsuits. (They scored big at Guess.) As I’ve noted before, the questionnaire gets longer and longer, but the Medic folks did a pretty good job of moving me through quickly. Unlike some of my experiences donating at the University, the crowd here was more than half male. Then again, the sex-ratio has evened out the last couple of times I’ve donated at school, too.

If you’re eligible, consider donating — I’m not really kidding about the shortage of donors these days.

UPDATE: Amusing caption: “Already I feel the power of the nanobots coursing through my veins! Soon I will be fit to sire a race of immortal robot lawyers.” But one that comes years after the fact. . . .

May 28, 2007

MUCH BETTER THAN MY EXPERIENCE WITH DELTA: I flew home yesterday, via American. Like Delta, they wound up with no airplane. Unlike Delta, instead of giving us a runaround, they sent the captain of the plane out to tell us what was going on, managed to find us another airplane, and got me to Knoxville only a little more than half an hour late. I don’t know if American is typically better, but in terms of making the effort, and showing sympathy and good cheer rather than sadistic glee, the American folks were way ahead.

May 28, 2007

MEMORIAL DAY THOUGHTS: “Personally, I owe my own life to the Army and the smell of coffee, but to be more like my mother, I shouldn’t tell it as a personal story: There was a war. People did what had to be done.”

And for further Memorial Day reading you could do a lot worse than this. Or this.

May 28, 2007

MORE ON SPACE TOURISM: Here’s an AP report from the ISDC:

Space tourism companies can survive the inevitable disaster if they warn passengers of the risks that a privately operated rocket ship could crash, an executive of one of the leading firms said Friday.

“God forbid it should happen on the first flight. Hopefully it’s many, many years out,” said Alex Tai, chief operating officer for British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space venture.

Tai said customers who are given an honest assessment of the risks won’t be able to successfully sue operators after a crash. And he said the public understands the danger of space travel after two disasters involving NASA-operated space shuttles.

Virgin Galactic plans to begin test flights next year and carry the first paying customers — $200,000 per seat — in late 2009 or early 2010.

That’s right. People engage in all sorts of risky “adventure tourism” — from scuba diving, to rock climbing, to whitewater kayaking, to mountain climbing to much riskier sports — and we accept accidents as part of the cost.

And here’s more reporting:

Virgin Galactic’s chief operating officer revealed Friday at the National Space Society’s 26th Annual International Space Development Conference that the suborbital spaceliner research and development company is in talks with space mogul Robert Bigelow to use his expanding modules to create Virgin Galactic orbiting hotels.

Alex Tai said his boss, Sir Richard Branson, and Bigelow have huddled recently to work out the details. Tai also said the suborbital spaceliner is coming together on various floors at Scaled Composites in Mojave, Calif.

Tai said test flights of SpaceShipTwo — the passenger carrying ship — will begin in 2008 and could last between 12 and 18 months.

They expect ticket prices to start out at $200K and drop to $100K or less over a few years.

Meanwhile, on a slightly different topic, NASA is looking favorably at using commercial space firms for mission support:

NASA is in the market for commercial relationships and private capital as it gears up for its next manned missions to the moon.

“That would make our life a lot easier,” said Neil Woodward, acting director of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. . . .

“If somebody says ‘I have this really great way to be able to extract water ice from lunar regolith (lunar rocks) that I’ve developed on my own dime’ we would be interested,” Woodward said.

“If we could be in a commercial relationship with somebody who has the capability that’s fine because in many cases they can do it for less money than we can,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of a space development conference in Dallas.

Venture capital in space exploration was a key theme at the conference.

Read the whole thing.

May 28, 2007

ACTUALLY, I HAD TO LOOK TWICE to realize that this was a photoshop.

May 28, 2007

SOME MEMORIAL DAY THOUGHTS, from Peter Collier. A must-read.

And here’s a Memorial Day roundup from Jules Crittenden.

UPDATE: Reader Gerald Dearing notes that, like last year, Google isn’t observing Memorial Day. But, also like last year, Ask.com is.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Heh.

May 28, 2007

A VENEZUELAN MEDIA CRACKDOWN: Xeni Jardin has video.

May 28, 2007

BIG MEDIA ARE CATCHING UP WITH THE BLOGOSPHERE on events in Anbar. Here’s a report from the Chicago Tribune:

By all accounts, the results in Anbar have been impressive: Where barely 200 police officers had served in Ramadi, the provincial capital, last summer, now there are more than 8,000. The number of attacks on U.S. forces dropped from 108 a week last year to seven during the first week of May.

“We started remembering what had happened [with Al Qaeda] and how things went, and we decided to fight,” said Tariq al-Duleimi, who heads security for Sattar Abu Risha, the young sheik who was the host of the meeting at his compound last October.

I wonder if, like Joe Klein, they’ll be savaged by lefty bloggers for daring to mention this.

May 28, 2007

COULD BRITISH MEDIA SWING THE U.S. ELECTIONS? They’d certainly like to.

May 28, 2007

AFTER EATING BABIES, THE WI-FI ROUTERS WILL grow to enormous size and destroy our cities.

May 27, 2007

IT’S THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE JARRELL, TEXAS TORNADO: Warnings are better, but tornadoes like this are hard to survive. Makes me glad I got the weather radio that I mentioned a while back, though happily tornadoes aren’t a big issue in Knoxville. We get ‘em, but they tend to be comparatively weak and short-lived.

And if tornado-related issues interest you, check out the NOAA Skywarn page.

May 27, 2007

BEWARE OF “BIG RECREATION.” They’re eeeviilll!

May 27, 2007

LOTS MORE on the continuing Nifong / Duke University false rape charge scandal fallout, over at K.C. Johnson’s place. Just keep scrolling, as things keep coming out.

May 27, 2007

RALLYING BIG FOR FREE SPEECH In Venezuela.

May 27, 2007

IOWAHAWK AND JIM TREACHER DEBATE the most important media topic of the day: What should happens on The View with Rosie gone?

May 27, 2007

JULES CRITTENDEN CRITICIZES the AP’s body-count mentality. “I thought body counts went out with the Vietnam War.”

May 27, 2007

TROOP CUTS IN IRAQ? Don Surber says we’ve heard this story before.

On the other hand, this story, not so much. More on that silence from James Taranto. And a roundup here.

But here’s some good news:

U.S. forces raided an al-Qaida hide-out northeast of Baghdad on Sunday and freed 42 Iraqis imprisoned inside, including some who had been tortured and suffered broken bones, a senior U.S. military official said Sunday.

Al Qaeda tortures people? Who knew? I wonder if they have a manual for that sort of thing?

MORE: A not-very-convincing claim that the torture manual is a fake. Could be, of course — but that’s not why the press isn’t covering it. If there were any actual evidence that it were a fake, they’d be slamming the Bush Administration with it, after all.

May 27, 2007

ROGER SIMON REVIEWS THE MANOLO’S The Consolation of the Shoes.

May 27, 2007

IF ALL THIS SPACE TALK INTERESTS YOU, I should note that I’m reading Michael Belfiore’s Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space, which I’ll be reviewing in a while.

And Belfiore has a blog, where he’s talking about these issues, too.

May 27, 2007

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SO MY PANEL was on — hold your breath — blogging, and featured Anthony Duignan-Cabrera of Space.Com, Alan Boyle of MSNBC’s Cosmic Log, Rob Pearlman of CollectSpace, and uber-spaceblogger Jeff Foust. (Another uber-spaceblogger, Clark Lindsey, wasn’t here, and was missed.)

It was interesting, though the dramatic light meant that I couldn’t actually see anyone in the audience. It makes for pretty cool photos, though — this is moderator Anthony Duignan-Cabrera, who looks as if there’s a Martian sunrise behind him.

As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t been to an International Space Development Conference in years. Things have changed a bit, and that was probably more apparent to me than to people who have been going every year. But lots of people were remarking on some changes.

Most notably, the character of the attendees has changed. There’s less of a science-fiction-convention feel, as more of the people attending are actually making their living in the space biz, and particularly the commercial space biz. One of the people I was talking to last night was noting that there were a lot more attractive women than in the past, a change she put down to the presence of a lot more “good-looking men with money.”

There’s something to that, and Alan Boyle has a post on the entrepreneurial activity at the conference. I have to say that it’s the first time I’ve seen Brioni suits at an ISDC — as happened a few years ago with the nanotech conferences I attend, suddenly there’s a sizable contingent of venture capitalists, investment bankers, big-firm lawyers, and the like. There’s not a space bubble yet, but a guy I spoke with who knows a lot said that “the bubble’s scheduled for two years from now,” and that seems about right.

What’s going on right now isn’t vaporware, but real stuff. And what’s really interesting is that we’re seeing an entire infrastructure of secondary suppliers — engines, avionics, spaceports, etc. — springing up, often having contracts with numerous ventures. There’s also an interesting mix of cooperation and competition among the players, who all want to succeed themselves, but who also really want to see others make it too. It’s really looking more and more like the early days of the computer industry.

Below: (L-R) Alan Boyle, Jeff Foust, Rob Pearlman. Not pictured: Me, taking the picture.

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It wasn’t all venture capitalists, though. There was a large contingent from Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. Those people go far — I found out that one woman I remember as a very active SEDS member from the early ’90s is now a professor of astronautics at MIT. Here’s the SEDS booth.

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Of course, it wasn’t all entrepreneurialism and career opportunities. Sex in space remains a perennial favorite topic:

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Surely this will give space tourism an, er, jumpstart. It’s clear, though, that the “NewSpace” entrepreneurialism is the source of the energy and excitement in the space community. There are some people who are excited by the Bush Administration / NASA Vision for Space Exploration initiative (more on that here and here) but while most people like the intent, it’s generally regarded as unlikely to get the longterm support from Congress that it needs to go anywhere. This view is apparently widespread within NASA, too, public statements to the contrary. The biggest fear is that we’ll wind up losing any ambitious programs, then trying to limp along with the Shuttle rather than bringing on a replacement vehicle as planned., But — and this is why people are excited — if the private space ventures succeed it won’t matter much as we’ll have access to orbit that way instead. Let’s hope that works out.

There was a lot of talk about the 2008 elections, as you might imagine. Bill Richardson is a clear favorite among a lot of people because of his excellent record on space entrepreneurialism in New Mexico. I heard someone talking about trying to sell Barack Obama on settling Mars (“Talk about an example of ‘the audacity of hope!’ This is it!”) but most doubt that either he or Hillary would be much good on space. Republicans are seen as representing something closer to the Bush Administration’s policies, which isn’t much of a compliment. Right now I don’t think that space is on any candidate’s radar screen very much. That may change: A good policy on space, particularly one that identified with the new entrepreneurial ventures, would get a candidate the support of some smart and energetic people, as well as imbuing his/her campaign with an overall sense of optimism and progress. Space still has a lot of mana, notwithstanding NASA’s problems.

One prominent space activist said that his strategy is to “save the baby” — that is, he’s not so much interested in getting Congress and the Administration to do what he wants, as just trying to ensure that they don’t manage to kill the space industries before they really get started (something that’s certainly not beyond Congress or, for that matter, the NASA bureaucracy if it feels sufficiently threatened).

And the best line on space policy is actually an old one from Rand Simberg, but it represents how the next Administration, of whatever party, ought to approach the subject: “It’s not NASA’s job to send a man to Mars. It’s NASA’s job to make it possible for the National Geographic Society to send a man to Mars.” Indeed.

UPDATE: Another report here.

And some earlier ISDC posts here (Mars rovers) and here (Buzz Aldrin). Or just scroll for multiple additional posts.

May 27, 2007

BRAIN-EATING ZOMBIES in San Francisco.

It’s always Zombies, isn’t it?

May 27, 2007

FROM ANBAR, MICHAEL YON POSTS A MEMORIAL DAY MESSAGE: It’s a must-read, but here’s an excerpt on the situation in Iraq as he sees it:

I am out here in Anbar Province with Task Force 2-7 Infantry. The area around Hit (pronounced “heat”) is so quiet previous units likely would not recognize the still. There was a small IED incident this morning, and the explosion was a direct hit, but the bomb was so small that mechanics had the vehicle back in shape by late afternoon. Calm truly has fallen on this city.

Dishes are appearing on rooftops and people are communicating more freely. During today’s prayers, one mosque announced that divorce is bad and that parents should take care of their children. One mosque cried about Christians and Jews, while yet another announced that Al-Jazeera is lying and people should not watch it.

Long-time readers know that I deliver bad news with the good. I was first to write that parts of Iraq were in civil war back in February 2005, well over a year before mainstream outlets started reporting the same. I was also the first to report, back in 2005, that Mosul was making a turn for the better. Mainstream outlets hardly picked up on that story, however, although the turn was easy to see for anyone who was there. When I returned from Afghanistan in the spring of 2006, after writing about the growing threat of a resurgent Taliban, bankrolled with profits from the heroin trade, I wrote that parts of our own military were censoring media in Iraq. The recent skirmishing over blogging from Iraq supports that contention. These reminders are for new readers who do not believe that a province that most media outlets had put at the top of the “hopelessly lost” column is actually turning a corner for the better.

Although there is sharp fighting in Diyala Province, and Baghdad remains a battleground, and the enemy is trying to undermine security in areas they’d lost interest in, the fact is that the security plan, or so-called “surge,” is showing clear signs of progress.

Read the whole thing. And remember that he is supported by his readers, so if you like his work, hit the tipjar.

UPDATE: Michael emails this photo, and reports: “I made this photo in a market in Hit, Anbar Province Saturday. LTC Doug Crissman walked through the market with only two soldiers and an unarmed interpreter. We took our time and walked about two miles. The people just wanted to talk, but as late as February this year, Hit was a gun battle. Yet on Saturday, the only battle I saw was that of a very rotund boy trying to slurp down an ice cream before it dripped away in the heat. Just down the road, hundreds of men were lining up to join the police.”

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May 27, 2007

THE KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL OFFERS FACTS VS. FICTION in the Channon Christian / Christopher Newsom murders. Excerpt:

# Fiction: Christian was held captive four days.
# Fact: Christian was dead within 24 hours of the kidnapping.

# Fiction: Christian’s breasts were cut off and Newsom’s penis severed.
# Fact: Neither Christian nor Newsom was mutilated, although both suffered tearing injuries from being repeatedly raped.

# Fiction: Christian was dismembered and placed in five separate trash bags.
# Fact: Christian’s intact body was wrapped in trash bags and dumped in a large garbage can.

# Fiction: Acid was poured down Christian’s throat.
# Fact: A cleaning solution was poured in Christian’s mouth in an apparent attempt to wash away DNA evidence.

# Fiction: The slaying suspects allegedly targeted white people.
# Fact: The slaying suspects have told authorities they targeted Christian’s Toyota 4Runner.

The truth seems bad enough. And here’s more on the story and how it’s been played.

UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

May 27, 2007

ANTIWAR BASE directs wrath at Democrats.

May 27, 2007

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THE NATIONAL SPACE SOCIETY gives its Wernher von Braun award once every two years. This year it went to Prof. Steven Squyres, father of the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, whose 90-day mission has now run over 1200 Mars days (or “sols” as they’re called). He’s also the author of Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the Exploration of the Red Planet.

He gave a very interesting talk, and showed some pictures and video from Mars that I hadn’t seen before. The $400 Million for this mission seems quite well spent, as we’ve learned all sorts of useful things about Mars. The pathfinding role of these probes, which have produced all sorts of data we’ll find useful in the event of manned missions or colonization, also illustrates the silliness of the manned vs. unmanned exploration debate.

I saw Ben Bova — another former NSS Chair whom I hadn’t seen in years — and he was doing quite well. It was his first International Space Development Conference in a while, too. “What made you come this year,?” I queried. “They asked me to,” he responded. “That’s pretty much what it was with me,” I replied.

I had a good time — I used to be stuck in Board meetings at these things, but this time I actually got to enjoy the conference. I had dinner with Bob Zubrin — author of The Case for Mars and a forthcoming book on energy policy and how to destroy Opec — who is shown below explaining the superiority of Methanol as an alternative fuel.

More on the conference later.

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UPDATE: Who’s Zubrin talking to? Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides, co-founder of Yuri’s Night.

May 26, 2007

SPACE DIVING: I was talking to Rick Tumlinson about this after lunch and was going to do a post, but here’s a report from Leonard David.

May 26, 2007

THE BULB CONTEST IS HEATING UP: The Kossacks are up to 1000 bulbs already.

They’ve still got a long way to go to catch up with InstaPundit readers, though.

May 26, 2007

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SAW BUZZ ALDRIN AT LUNCH — I hadn’t seen him in the flesh in years (he was NSS Board Chairman back when I was NSS Executive Chair), and he still looks great. We managed to catch up a bit. He’s writing for Popular Mechanics now, too and likes it as much as I do. He gave a speech about the importance of evolution in procurement and research, and how we’ve fallen away from the evolutionary approach in such things in favor of something bureaucratic and lame.

I certainly can’t argue. But what’s interesting is that while the government space programs don’t inspire a lot of excitement, there’s huge interest in the many startup space companies spawned by the X-Prize and related developments. This “NewSpace” sector, as people are calling it (It’s easier than “new entrepreneurial space enterprises”) is really vibrant, and these people are actually building things, not just peddling vaporware.

It was a good speech, and drew numerous rounds of applause and laughter. One thing for Buzz — he’s been working to promote space tourism, space development, and space settlement tirelessly for years. I couldn’t handle his travel schedule, and he’s thirty years older than me. (And when we ran in the Race For Space over a decade ago, he was faster than me.) He spoke eloquently about how unfair it was that he and only a few others had managed to experience space and the Moon, and how important it is that others get to share that experience.
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I certainly think he’s right. I believe that the space tourism efforts we see now will help jumpstart things, and generate a learning curve, and efficiencies, that the NASA programs have never achieved — and, in fact, have sometimes even undermined. And I think it’s a big benefit to have Buzz Aldrin in there pushing for this kind of thing. Ten years ago, space tourism had a high “giggle factor.” Now it’s taken seriously, and things are just starting.

May 26, 2007

WHAT THE WORD “UTERUS” DOES TO MEN, including the results of actual research.

May 26, 2007

NOT EVERYBODY AT THE CONFERENCE is from a hot space startup. Robotics is cool, too.

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May 26, 2007

IT’S NATIONAL SHOOTING WEEK in Britain. No, really.

May 26, 2007

WITH ALL THE DISCUSSION OF THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS, several readers have written to praise Bertrand Brinley’s Mad Scientists’ Club books, which — though fiction — certainly embody the “dangerous” approach. And there’s more than a glimpse of my own boyhood in them. As I wrote a while back: “Interesting review at Slashdot, with an observation that occurred to me, too — the kids in the Mad Scientists’ Club stories seem a lot more independent and free-ranging than kids today. And I think that, with allowances for their excessively-easy access to vital items of scientific equipment at crucial story points, these are pretty realistic portrayals of kids in the 1960s and 1970s. (Sounds like my gang o’ geeks, anyway.) Lots of interesting stuff in the comments, too, including a reference to the Henry Reed books, which I’ve mentioned here before.”

As I noted elsewhere, my daughter devoured the Henry Reed books, but saw The Mad Scientists’ Club as more of a boy thing, which I can understand.

May 26, 2007

“OBSCENE AMENITIES:” Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Last night while hanging out in the bar with Rand Simberg and Dale Amon (of Samizdata), I saw some British soldiers at the other end. I had the waitress send them a round of drinks. She wasn’t supposed to tell them who did it, but apparently those guys are good at extracting information and their CO came over to say thanks. He said that it meant a lot to his men: they don’t get a lot of support from the public in Britain and that they like it when they’re in the U.S. for training, etc., because the American public is more supportive. I thought that was kind of sad, actually, but I was glad to do something for them. When I’m out and see military folks I often try to pick up their tab anonymously; this is the first time someone’s blabbed. I encourage InstaPundit readers to do the same if the mood strikes you. I think it’s appreciated, and not just because of the free food or drink.

UPDATE: AMillionThanks.org organizes thank-you cards and letters to the troops.

May 26, 2007

BRING IT ON! Over at Daily Kos, they’ve decided to try to beat the InstaPundit readers in the One Billion Bulbs competition. InstaPundit readers have a commanding lead, but I expect the Kossacks to come on strong.

May 26, 2007

THE OTHER DAY, I mentioned behind the scenes efforts to kill the lobbyist bundling reporting bill. Those seem to have failed, and the bill has passed the House by a wide margin. It could be stronger, but it’s at least a step forward. And note this observation:

By the way, that lopsided final vote to pass it also reflects a Washington phenomenon. As Fred Wertheimer told me in my update to that original post, “Floor votes are our friend.” If this had been a secret ballot, most people I talk to think it would have lost. But once it became clear it was going to pass, no one wanted to be publicly on record as defending the discredited status quo. There was a bipartisan stampede to be on the side of open government.

I do think that all the attention on these matters has helped. As I said in my earlier post, there’s a lot they don’t want the public to know. But they don’t want the public to know that . . . . (Via Kevin Drum).

UPDATE: Something for PorkBusters to aspire to? This success is nice, but I don’t think it’s quite in that league.

May 26, 2007

WAITING FOR AN APOLOGY FROM THE GROUP OF 88, at Duke.

May 26, 2007

MARS as art. Beautiful stuff.

May 26, 2007

ROSIE O’DONNELL: Abstract expressionist!

May 25, 2007

ZING: “By the way, Senator Obama, it’s a ‘flak’ jacket, not a ‘flack’ jacket.”

Though something that protected against “flacks” would be useful in campaign season. Which is, apparently, every season now . . . .

Plus, a question: “Redeploy” where?

May 25, 2007

MORE WORLD WAR II BOOKS FOR KIDS: Here, and here.

May 25, 2007

MORE PICS: Phil Eaton of Armadillo Aerospace, which has something like a half dozen people here, and “The Pixel,” a lunar-lander testbed. Follow the link for video of its flight. More here.

And here’s a piece on Armadillo from Popular Mechanics.

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May 25, 2007

MORE ON DDT and malaria.

May 25, 2007

SO I’M AT THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE IN DALLAS, where there’s a lot of talk about space and space tourism. Here’s a picture from the presentation by Chuck Lauer of Rocketplane Kistler.

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May 25, 2007

MORE UNREST IN IRAN: May the crackdown fail. Then there’s this.

May 25, 2007

HOLIDAY TRAVELERS IGNORING FUEL COSTS: That’s certainly been my observation. Ron Coleman connects the dots.

May 25, 2007

DOING THE RIGHT THING for a stricken climber on Mt. Everest.

May 25, 2007

NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER “SKEPTICAL” ABOUT the “Greenhouse Effect.”

May 25, 2007

WAR IN LEBANON: A big roundup from Michael Totten.

May 25, 2007

HOWARD MORTMAN TRIES A RON PAUL EXPERIMENT: Looks like it worked!

May 25, 2007

ANDREW FERGUSON: Don’t leave scholarship to the professionals.

May 25, 2007

THE EU IS probing Google over privacy.