Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Just making s**t up?

The point is that it’s not hard at all to prove that politicians, as a class, are some of the dimmest, dullest, and least inspiring group of people you could possibly imagine. It takes a special brand of lazy hack to feel compelled to manufacture evidence to that effect.

Not unusual for him. Also, while many people confuse median and average, Tyson has no excuse.

Commercial Crew

There’s going to be an announcement at 4PM on NASA TV. Jay Barbree says it’s going to be Boeing and SpaceX. Which if true means two capsules, no wings.

[Update a while later]

Here‘s another similar report from the WaPo.

[Update a few minutes later]

Joel Achenbach has more, including the (bizarre, to me) part of the story about ULA getting a new engine for the Atlas from Blue Origin.

[Late-morning update]

OK, now James Dean is reporting that there will be two full awards, not “leader-follower.” I wonder if they have the money for that with a CR?

[Update just before noon]

Alex Brown has a story at National Journal. Annoyingly, everyone is calling them space “taxis” when, at least for NASA, it’s more of a rental-car model (if you insisted on a new car every time you rented). Also, everyone’s regurgitating NASA’s 2017 date. I’d at least note that SpaceX could possibly fly as early as next year, unless there is something else on the critical path than abort tests. Final point:

Boeing’s program is reported to be further along in its development goals.

I think that Pasztor story is BS. How can Boeing be in the lead when they haven’t even flown anything? I love this:

But people familiar with the process said Boeing, with its greater experience as a NASA contractor, appears to have become the favorite partly because it has met earlier development goals in the same program on time and on budget.

Everyone hits their budget. It’s a fixed-price contract. And who cares if they’re hitting program goals, if those are trivial goals (like design reviews)? How anyone can think that a paper vehicle is ahead of one that’s going to have its abort tests in the next few months?

[Update a few minutes before the announcement]

Here’s the link
.

[Update after the announcement]

Well, no surprises, except amounts. Here’s Eric Berger’s take.

[Update a while later]

Here is Jeff Foust’s story.

Don’t Go To Mars

David Attenborough takes a novel and courageous stand. Let’s “sort out life on earth, first.” [Paywall]

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone make that argument before, except a lot of people, for decades.

“America? Let’s sort out life in Europe first.”

“Europe and Asia? Let’s sort out life in Africa, first.”

It’s obviously a mindless prescription for never settling new territory.

Multi-Culturalism And Rape

Rotherham is a part of England that will be forever Pakistan:

Pakistanis first came in significant numbers to Rotherham in the late 1950s and early ’60s, in the wave of immigration that brought men from the Indian subcontinent to Britain, largely to do work that the indigenous white working class no longer wanted. My father was part of this first wave. He worked on the production line of the Vauxhall car factory in Luton, an unlovely town north of London. In Rotherham, many Pakistani men ended up doing dirty, dusty work in the steel foundry.

The new immigrants were from rural villages, typically in Kashmir, the northern province bordering India; they were socially conservative and hard-working. When I was growing up in the ’80s, the stereotype of Pakistanis was that we were industrious and docile.

The Pakistani community in Rotherham, and elsewhere in Britain, has not followed the usual immigrant narrative arc of intermarriage and integration. The custom of first-cousin marriages to spouses from back home in Pakistan meant that the patriarchal village mentality was continually refreshed.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

Britain’s Pakistani community often seems frozen in time; it has progressed little and remains strikingly impoverished. The unemployment rate for the least educated young Muslims is close to 40 percent, and more than two-thirds of Pakistani households are below the poverty line.

If you allow unrestricted immigration with no assimilation, you are basically welcoming your future conquerors.

Giant Solid Rockets

Yes, let’s keep using them:

In this case, the DM series motors passed all of ATK’s and NASA’s inspections and test firings. It wasn’t until ATK was proceeding toward QM series motor segments that NASA requested more thorough inspections of the QM series motors to determine whether the switch to non-asbestos containing insulation liners was having a previously unseen effect.

“The beauty of the solid rocket motor inspection system is that defects will be found and solutions reached to ensure the motors delivered will perform with the highest reliability,” said Reed. “This is a requirement to ensure SLS is a safe and reliable system for human exploration of deep space.”

Yeah. Right.

[Update a few minutes later]

Republicans And The Economy

This is a pretty strong correlation.

[Update a few minutes later]

Yes, I know that Republicans didn’t take control of Congress in 2010. The point is that the removed control of it from the Dems. That was all that was necessary. But it will also help to oust Harry Reid in November.

Our Brilliant President

The tragedy of being off teleprompter.

[Update a few minutes later]

[Update a while later]

Five lies that shaped the Obama presidency.

[Afternoon update]

Barack Obama’s biggest lie (and not, it’s not about keeping your plan and doctor). No, Mr. President, the Islamic State is actually as Islamic as can be.

Artificial Spleens And Genetic Surgery

This seems like a big breakthrough, not just for people without spleens, but for iatrogenic disease in hospitals:

To test the device, Ingber and his team infected rats with either E. coli or Staphylococcus aureus and filtered blood from some of the animals through the biospleen. Five hours after infection, 89% of the rats whose blood had been filtered were still alive, compared with only 14% of those that were infected but not treated. The researchers found that the device had removed more than 90% of the bacteria from the rats’ blood. The rats whose blood had been filtered also had less inflammation in their lungs and other organs, suggesting they would be less prone to sepsis.

The researchers then tested whether the biospleen could handle the volume of blood in an average adult human — about 5 litres. They ran human blood containing a mixture of bacteria and fungi through the biospleen at a rate of 1 litre per hour, and found that the device removed most of the pathogens within five hours.

That degree of efficacy is probably enough to control an infection, Ingber says. Once the biospleen has removed most pathogens from the blood, antibiotics and the immune system can fight off remaining traces of infection — such as pathogens lodged in the organs, he says.To test the device, Ingber and his team infected rats with either E. coli or Staphylococcus aureus and filtered blood from some of the animals through the biospleen. Five hours after infection, 89% of the rats whose blood had been filtered were still alive, compared with only 14% of those that were infected but not treated. The researchers found that the device had removed more than 90% of the bacteria from the rats’ blood. The rats whose blood had been filtered also had less inflammation in their lungs and other organs, suggesting they would be less prone to sepsis.

The researchers then tested whether the biospleen could handle the volume of blood in an average adult human — about 5 litres. They ran human blood containing a mixture of bacteria and fungi through the biospleen at a rate of 1 litre per hour, and found that the device removed most of the pathogens within five hours.

That degree of efficacy is probably enough to control an infection, Ingber says. Once the biospleen has removed most pathogens from the blood, antibiotics and the immune system can fight off remaining traces of infection — such as pathogens lodged in the organs, he says.

Note that it could also be effective against ebola.

On another front, eliminating bad proteins using RNA interference.

Faster, please.

The Headchopper Next Door

Some uncomfortable truths about Islam:

Mohammed was quite clear about what he wanted. For all the abrogations, the Koran is reasonably clear on what it expects its followers to do. Mohammed’s history was that of a man who tried to convince the Arabs that he had seen an angel by telling them and failed, and who succeeded only when he killed enough of them, not to mention the Jews and any other infidels hanging around the place.

That is the history of Islam.

Germany was not a nation of monsters. It was a nation that behaved monstrously. The average German would not stick his neighbor in an oven in his basement or chain him up as a slave. He would however do these things in Poland because he was contextually contaminated by a monstrous ideology.

As an individual he was a nice man who loved his children, petted his dog and enjoyed street fairs. As a loyal member of a system run by the Nazi Party, he would do monstrous things. And then when the Nazi machine was switched off, he would go home to his wife and children without ever killing anyone else.

He was not a good man. Good men don’t do the things he did. But he wasn’t a budding serial killer. He was just doing what a death cult told him to do.

As I noted over the weekend…

Also, Barack Obama and John Kerry lecturing Muslims on what is and is not the nature of Islam is a theater of the absurd.

It’s Not Just An IRS Cover Up

It’s all of a web with the Department of Justice, and the Democrats.

[Update a while later]

From the declaration by the FBI months ago that no one would be charged, to the president’s statement that there wasn’t a “smidgeon of corruption,” to this, it’s pretty clear now that rather than investigating this for the past year and a half, the Justice Department has been colluding with congressional Democrats to obstruct the congressional investigation.

The SLS Frenzy

So apparently, the SLF fanbois (and fangirls) going crazy over a giant welder on Twitter.

Anyway, I was rereading this essay I wrote half a decade ago. It was depressing. Here’s how little of some of it I’d have to change to keep it relevant to today.

Continue reading

KSC Versus MSFC

I had an interesting Twitter discussion this morning, that gave me an insight that had been floating around in the back of my mind, but that I’d never articulated, either to myself or others. It sort of crystallized when someone said that Bob Cabana, head of KSC, was an SLS supporter.

One of the tenets of the Apollo Cargo Cult is that we can’t go beyond earth orbit without a really big rocket. The conventional wisdom has been that the biggest constituency for SLS is Marshall, because that’s were it is being developed. But if you think about it, there are a lot of things Marshall could be applied to — it doesn’t have to be developing big rockets (something it hasn’t successfully done in almost four decades). For instance, it could be developing technology and demonstrators for orbital fuel storage and transfer. That would be at least as much in its wheelhouse as SLS.

KSC, on the other hand, has little justification for existence if NASA doesn’t have its own (big) rocket to launch. Without a big rocket, it doesn’t need the VAB, and the VAB and the crawler are really the only unique capability it has, in terms of physical infrastructure. If everything is going up on commercial rockers, even from Pads 39, KSC doesn’t have much to do, other than integrating NASA’s payloads onto them. That’s not a trivial task, but it’s not one that justifies the center’s budget or workforce. So, while Marshall could in theory be redirected to something useful, KSC can’t really. That’s why Nelson supports it so strongly.

It struck me in fact that the VAB is the high cathedral for the cargo cult. What would happen to the religion if it was taken out by a hurricane?

The American Dunkirk

Remembering the Manhattan boat lift.

I should note, though, that it’s not really fair to compare the time taken for the two events. You can make a lot more trips across the Hudson in a given time than across the Channel.

[Afternoon update]

As Paul notes in comments, it’s also a lot easier to evacuate when you don’t have the Luftwaffe attacking you.