Disbanding NASA...

Ed has called for NASA to be disbanded...
"It is long past time that NASA was disbanded. Far from ending US involvement in space, such an act would increase the American presence in space. All those engineers and technicians wouldn't simply disappear. They would receive severance packages, and team up with each other, forming hundreds if not thousands of new space companies, each competing on a level playing field with the hundred or so new space companies that have sprung up over the last ten years. The competent ones would succeed. NASA could divest itself of probably 90% of its workforce (a large proportion of whom are simply deadweight bureaucrats anyhow). The remaining 10% would operate sort of like the FAA does, as an Administration (note the second A in NASA's name - that's what they are supposed to be in the first place). This is the only way to successfully implement the Vision for Space Exploration - the existing plan to do everything the same as before but expecting different results will be a spectacular failure, wasting hundreds of billions of dollars, and most likely accomplishing nothing.

Disbanding NASA is one thing I'm sure Ed would agree is way long off from ever being realised. But his line of thinking is similar to what I've been thinking lately. A full disbanding of NASA isn't possible overnight, but could be done by implementing an ousourcing policy at NASA.

Other corporations do this quite successfully. Toyota for one. NASA could better realise most of its goals by outsourcing most of what it does to private companies. They could do the administration and no more.

It could start slowly at first. Try contracting out a few NASA launches to private companies. They could move to give contracts for range management, and a host of other management issues... Slowly but surely the scenario Ed describes could become a reality over time.

And who says those in the know aren't already trying to do what we've described?

The 100 billion dollar welfare for nerds scheme...

Loose Lipped Program Manager? Or is this as big of a bombshell as I think it is?
"NASA managers are considering suspending U.S. research aboard the International Space Station (ISS) next year in order to save money for the orbital laboratory’s construction, a top program manager said Thursday."

The 100 billion dollar white elephant's whole raison d'etre has just been thrown out the window with that comment. Then what, please tell, will be the purpose of the ISS for that year?

We're told all the time that the ISS is doing crucial space science that will aid the human exploration bit and return to the moon that NASA is supposed to be embarking on. Shouldn't shutting down the science lab then delay human kind's return to the moon?

No. Because the argument is nonsense. We know what we need to get back to the moon already. We don't need to know how old men sag in space, or how mold grows in zero-gee before we return. The ISS is a 100 billion dollar waste of time, and that comment just proves it.

Dead guy jokes...

Ever hear of the story of the truck driver that manages to smash a little sedan in stone dead traffic? I think this tops it:
"A bizarre accident in which a man was struck by his own parked car was one of four motor vehicle accidents on P.E.I. over the weekend."

It's like the twilight zone has descended down on PEI.
"On Friday night a Nova Scotia man was buying gas in Hampshire, west of Charlottetown, when a vehicle that was turning onto Route 9 lost control. It jumped a grass median and drove into the parking lot at the country store. The car hit the Nova Scotia vehicle, which lurched forward and hit the owner."

If I gotta go to the great beyond by reason of a car hitting me, it better be a full blown collision, none of this parked car nonsense... Not that I have a choice mind you, but can you imagine beind dead, surrounded by dead people, and one dead guy asks the other dead guy "I died in a explosion, how did you die?"

First dead guy says "Cancer."

Second dead guy says "Drunk driver ran me over."

Third dead guy says "Congenital Heart Failure."

Then it comes to you and you say "I was run over by a parked car..."

If spirits can laugh, that would be a knee slapper.

Gibson's human afterall...

Mel Gibson's DUI rampage has been making the rounds in the media/press/cornucopia of Christian bashers.

When the movie "The Passion" was first even rumoured to be released, there was widespread knee-jerk condemnation by most of the enlightened atheistic class of modern society - including the high society intellectuals and Ivory Tower journalists. That was at least my impression.

The reaction by most true Christians was one of elation. Rarely did they ever see a movie about Christianity come out of Hollywood that didn't involve something utterly perverse or completely backwards to traditional Christian beliefs. Christians for the most part, live their lives knowing that the majority of society see them as some sort of social anomally, perhaps the consequence of underfunded government programs, perhaps the cause of backwards base thinking still prevalent in less advanced cultures.

Overnight, Mel Gibson, had become a devout faithfull Christian to Protestants and non-Catholics, and a great Evangelical. Gibson wasn't Catholic we were told, he was a schimatic Catholic involved with other Lefrevre like Vatican II rejects that believe in the traditional latin mass and a host of other now non-Catholic things apparently. No, Gibson was one of "us" non-Catholics we were told.

Once more, traditional so called "neo" or JPII Catholics, went the other direction. They ignored Gibson's dabbling into schimatic Catholic groups, and made Gibson into a Saint. Well all saints were sinners - sometimes spectacularly so.

The truth is that Gibson's Catholicsm is only known by Gibson. Whether he believes the Church still has apostolic succession is something only he knows. Though I happen to believe he is Catholic. But he is as far on the line as he can be without in good conscience putting his mortal soul in danger - though that is just an impression as well. And it could be WRONG.

Now people have woken up to the fact that Gibson is not as perfectly Christian or Catholic as some would believe. He is a sinner in the end - who would have figured?

And now the intellectualite class of civilized Ivory Tower navel gazers are back on the Christian Bashing bandwagon. They are ready to claim that Gibson's remarks prove he is a holocaust denier, and that the film the Passion, and by extension Christianity itself is anti-semetic, racist, bigoted and base.

Of course I haven't seen anyone directly coorelate Christianity with anti-semitism over this affair, but it is no less insinuated in my opinion.

Now Gibson has apologized for those remarks. And now the sincerity of those words are doubted. Keep in mind, Gibson's belief in God, Heaven and hell are pretty well established. He could be like any other Holywood actor and believe that "truth is relative" and make a bunch of baloney to begin with. He didn't. That indicates that if Gibson is lying, and he doesn't rectify it, he believes he will spent the rest of eternity rotting in everlasting hell. I'm thinking that might be a pretty good indication that he's telling the truth.

Then what to make of his comment? Where would such hatred come from? Why Jews?

Well Gibson's past is a good indication of where those comments come from. Gibson's father is a known holocaust denier. Gibson has never denied that to my knowledge - and if I'm wrong someone please correct that statement. The intent here is not to falsely accuse people of anything, but only to point out the fact that Gibson's father has gone on record apparently before with sincerely distorted views surrounding the Jewish people.

Growing up in such an environment must have been difficult for Gibson. More difficult still is loving and respecting his father today. And speaking from personal experience, your entire life you will have the voices of your parents in your head guiding you. It's a natural part of life. They raised you - they are going to have an effect on you.

Gibson no doubt regrets what he said. He knows it's wrong. But in the back of his head I bet he has to deal with his own demons of instilled hate and fear.

Gibson's admitted to and apologized for those anti-semetic comments.

Griffin Gets a tip of the hat...

A tip of the hat is in order to Griffin I would think...
"The difficult decision made recently by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin to launch the Space Shuttle Discovery, despite objections from NASA’s safety chief and top engineer, demonstrated solid leadership and the very qualities America has always embodied - boldness and daring in the face of calculated risk."(link)

He took a risk no doubt. A VERY BIG risk. If the Shuttle had experienced another catastrophe the Shuttle program would be over.

What's interesting is the talk of "risk" in the article - a real fluff piece on how Griffin is all American because he took risks...

But it was risk taking that lead to the shuttle disaster that got NASA into all the heat it's under now...

For years NASA engineer knew and spoke of the problem of missing tiles on every Shuttle flight. Tiles are probably still missing off of the hull of the shuttle as we speak - although none obviously crucial.

They knew it was just a matter of time before a tile was knocked off in the wrong spot.

So again, risk got them in the problem, and now it got them out?

Dreams made true... Promises broken...

On this day 37 years ago a man made a footprint in the ground. It was a dream that came true. Humanity watched as another human being stepped onto another world...

...And then 37 years went by. After a few token missions back to long longed place, it was abadonned. No else came or went. The dream was no more. And the promise that was made by the Apollo missions, that humanity was going to the stars, was forgotten with the passage of time.

The legacy of Apollo is that sometimes dreams can become true... But it's also that promises can be broken.

What good leaders do...

There some things that people do... Well they just speak for themselves:
" 'Because of the seriousness of the situation and our relative proximity to Cyprus, we have decided to take the Canadian Forces aircraft we have been travelling on to help airlift evacuees back home,' Harper said in a statement. 'The aircraft will be stripped down to a skeleton staff.' "

How many world leaders would turn their private jet into a refugee transport?... Not many I would think.

Robot Guy and The Little Nautilus That Could...

Robot Guy offers a self admitted over simplication with hillarious consequences:
"...The Nautilus, with a volume of 330 cubic meters (11654 cubic feet), is by itself 3/4 of the volume of the International Space Station, so if the Genesis is 1/3 that volume then the Genesis is, all by itself, 1/4 of the volume of the ISS. However, the total cost of the Genesis, including development, production, and launch (aboard an old converted Russian ICBM) has been only 75 million dollars to date. That's about what NASA pisses away in 2 days."

Far from me to doubt Robot Guy's numbers... But I find it suprising that NASA wouldn't blow that money away in 30 seconds let alone 2 days!

It's A Dream

Another space tourist to the ISS:
"Enomoto’s ISS arrival will make him the fourth paying visitor to the orbital laboratory at a personal cost of about $20 million...."

" "'I really want to go to space,' Enomoto, 35, said. 'I’ve had this dream since I was five years old, and that’s my motivation.'"

"Enomoto, who goes by the nickname 'Dice-K,' is an independent investor residing in Hong Kong. Previously, he served as executive vice president and chief strategic officer for Livedoor, an information technology firm, and founded the website DICE-K.com."

In one sentence this guy managed to sum it all up... Why go to space you insane whackjob? Because I've dreamed about it since I was 5.

There is something, not quite seductive, not quite alluring, but wondrous about space. It's the conscious realisation of how awesome and large the universe is, and how small and insignificant you are. It's something that no photo can show you.

I mean a photo shows what it looks like. You can look at that photo, and you can tell yourself this is the wondrous expanse of space. This is how big God must be and far God must be from us.

But when you're there, hundreds of kilometers above the surface of the earth, floating, looking at the great dark beyond... That is a physical reality.

It's like standing at the top of a mountain looking down... You can rationalize all you want in life, but until you've experienced it with your senses, you will always have hidden sub-conscious doubts.

You get it when you're a kid. You know. You look at the stars and gaze in wonder...

The Clown Show Files XV - It's Volpe Vs Kennedy

Ok not quite. The article is mostly fluff.

But the idea is an interesting one. What happens, if when it comes down to the wire, the main contenders are Volpe and Kennedy?

It's like Darth Vader and Bill Clinton's long lost Canadian love child are sparring off in a Liberal leadership race.

Volpe, I'm not going to lie, scares the living daylights out of me. He's ill tempered and I know it. I can imagine him bombing Alberta to smithereens or something if he became "Le Chef."

Kennedy is a lot more of a serious leadership candidate. And certainly he's a lot more of a threat to Harper's Tories. Kennedy is cleaner than most in the liberal leadership Clown Show, but he's still got all that "McGuilty" provincial Liberal baggage to bring along with him.

My bet's on Ignatieff still. I think all of Volpe's signups will disappear misteriously from the country before the vote claiming refugee status in foreign countries out of fear of the "mad dictator Volpe." And as for Special K, he doesn't have the brand name power in this race that I think he needs to make it to the end.

The Clown Show Files XIV
The Clown Show Files XIII


On the question of how to deal with AdScam the Big Dion gives this response:
"...If Gilles Duceppe brings it up, I would ask him about the Parti Quebecois accepting illegal funds from Group Action. If he calls the Liberal Party crooks, I would sue the Bloc. If Harper brings it up, I would ask him to release the names of the donors to his first leadership campaign in the name of integrity..."
Let's deal with the ever famous "Harper never revealed the donors to his first leadership campaign" nonsense that the Liberals have been spewing since time immemorial. They should be ashamed of their slanderous lies.... Because let's be frank here IT IS A LIE.

Here a Liberal admits it:

"Harper did not reveal over 99 percent of the names of the donors to his 2002 campaign to become leader of the Canadian Alliance. He revealed only 0.56 percent of the names of the donors to his 2002 leadership campaign (and only 54 out of the 64 highest donors over $1075.00). The missing donors account for 28 percent of the monetary contributions to Harper's leadership campaign."
Harper released a list of his top donors. He just admitted it. Stephane Dion LIED.

Harper at the time released a list of top donors I think. That is standard for leadership campaigns I believe - If I'm wrong please correct me. The thing is only 0.56 percent of Harper's contributions came from that category. Which means that most of Harper's support and move comes from individual contributions - something we've all known for a while. Now maybe Harper could have revealed a more detailed list - but no one seemed to complain at the time - especially LIBERALS.

Meanwhile the Liberal's money has always mostly come from large corporations and buddies of big business and the elite of Canadian society.

Stephen Dion should apologize - But he never will.

And next to the first assertion, that if anyone ever calls a Liberal a crook they should get sued.

People that sue for slander in politics, frequently do so because they can't offer up an argument against an assertion. Not all the time... But frequently...

Suing someone, can be a bully tactick intented to shut someone else up.

As a public service let me say the following: the Liberal party is filled with crooks.














Stephane Dion you can sent your lawsuit notice to the man that has nothing to loose.

Don't say the "P-word"...

Robert Bigelow's inflatable space hotel dreams are coming closer to reality with yesterday's successfull launch:
"The Genesis I spacecraft lifted off from Russia's southern Ural Mountains at 6:53 p.m. Moscow time aboard a Dnepr rocket converted from a Cold War ballistic missile, according to the Russian Strategic Missile Forces. It reached its designated orbit about 320 miles above Earth minutes after liftoff and was expected to start the inflation process later Wednesday..."

"'We're ecstatic. We're just elated,' Bigelow said in a telephone interview from Las Vegas. 'We have a sense of being on a great adventure.'

Anyone feel like spending a week in an inflatable space hotel that could POP at any moment?

I wonder how they'll manage to wiggle around that slight concern that no doubt the first "visitors" would have... My thinking is it won't matter all that much.

If you're willing to take a rocket ride over Mach 20 to an environment that could make your blood boil if you didn't live inside a tin can, I think you're willing to chance living in a woven kevlar bubble for the experience...

Atleast I would be.

Holy Flying Spatulas Batman...

Anyone get hit by a spatula this morning?
"Sellers and Fossum have stowed most of their tools, except for an errant spatula that escaped from Sellers’ tether and drifted out of Discovery’s payload bay. Flight controllers watched the spatula’s departure and concluded it should not pose a debris hazard for Discovery or the International Space Station (ISS)."

"'That was my favorite spatch,' Sellers said as he confirmed the lost spatula. 'Don’t tell the other spatulas.'"

It's too late the secret's out.

Need Moon Ride, Will Pay 5 Billion USD, Only Need Rocket and Tin Can

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Who says the Shuttle's good for nothing?

When it produces videos like this one... Well it may not be worth the billion dollar mess it is, but it sure does look mighty fancy:

Gives ya a little knot in the heart seeing stuff like this. I wish I was there.

VEHMT Strikes Again!

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement has struck again:
"It is clear that human history will end; the only mystery is when. It is also clear that if the timing is left to nature (or, if you prefer, to God) and humans hang on until the bloody end, the race�s final exit will be ignoble..."

"Far future generations might prolong the process by posting colonies beyond the earth�s orbit, but these would be sad outposts at the end of the solar system�s long day, clutching memories of a lost planet and of billions of immolated souls..."

"The great violinist Jascha Heifetz was great not least because he quit the concert stage at his peak, before the show became stale or the audience drifted away. ... And only one species is capable of choosing a similarly graceful exit; all others march on like robots. To call time on the human race by choice, not necessity, would be the final victory of the human spirit over animal nature, an absolute emancipation from the diktat of DNA. Precisely because no other known life-form could do or even conceive such a thing, humanity must."

This comes from an Economist article.

I kid you not.

But just in case any of this Weehakee-Woo-hoo has convinced you at all let's inject a little rationality into all of this.

Alright - to start off Humans aint just a race.

That's right. I know that's a hard concept for many to understand. But we aren't just a "Village" or a "global community" or a "society." No doubt we are part of a community, but that's not the beans-all and ends all of what it means to be human.

Humans are also individuals. As such, I'm thinking that making sure not just that the "race" comes to a noble end is in order, but ensuring that the INDIVIDUAL comes to a noble end is a good one. And I'm thinking that would come by making the most of the time you have and not simply laying down and dying for the sake of some messed up sense of a honourable death.

Of course he doesn't use the word "honourable" which would indicate an "ethical" or "moral" death, but rather he used the word "ignoble".

Let's see what the definition of ignoble actually is: "Not noble in quality, character, or purpose; base or mean.... Not of the nobility; common."

So the author worries that our final exit will be "common" and "base" while not as enlightened as it could be.

So what is ignoble about dying a "common" or "natural" death? Well we don't leave at our "peak."

I've been told that before. You always want to leave a job at your "peak." You always want to leave on a "high note" so as to be remember well.

But what's the purpose of being "remembered well?" I can offer up two reasons here: because you want to live on knowing you did it right, or because you want to live on being known as having done things rightly giving you more opportunities in the first place. I'm sure that violinist he quotes would get an awfull better reputation by leaving on a high note then she ever did by leaving at a low one - - And she probably got more gigs by doing it.

But what does it matter what people remember, or what great opportunities we'll have if we're all dead like doornails?

The author then goes on to say that if we expanded beyond the green hills of earth the colonists would be a constant reminder of those old "immolated souls." To immolate, at least I think in the context he's using it, means to destroy.

But ironically, there is another meaning to immolate: to sacrifice. In fact, what a more perfect double-meaning? Hummanity's end on this rock could be offered up as a sacrifice for humanity's future in the great beyond... Wouldn't that be leaving at a "peak"? Wouldn't that be a "noble" death?

I'm just thinking here...

Where Volpe's 35,000 new members come from...

Liberal leadership hopefull and general boogeyman Joe Volpe has recruited 35,000 new members and looks to be a real contender for the-ahum!-Liberal leaderhip crown.

On the heals of this annoucement, Daifaillah has come out in support of Volpe's bid.

Might I suggest, that based on this circumstancial and completely biased evidence, that all or most of those 35,000 members are Conservative Party members or supporters intent on a Conservative majority in the next election?

Go Volpe! Go! Stephen Harper PM4EVER!

The Benefit of Succesive Iterations

The Shuttle backside looks good by all indications:
"'Overall, a really clean vehicle,' said NASA's John Shannon, deputy shuttle program manager, of Discovery during a mission briefing here at Johnson Space Center (JSC). 'We were looking for things to talk about at one point, it is so clean.' "
But that doesn't mean they were lacking in potential issues. They still have gap fillers jutting out of tiles and such. But at least they are paying attention to these things. The Shuttle, as I remind regular readers at naseum, had tile issues from the very first flight of the Shuttle. And, NASA determined in it's enlightement, that it was a reasonable risk.

What was once considered a reasonable risk is no longer one. But that's another story.

The real question is will NASA really benefit from all this newfound knowledge?

If NASA were to get a CEV built that uses tiles as the main re-entry protection for it's vehicle all of this knowledge would come in handy ahead of time to ensure a better designed vehicle, that is safer and more reliable.

I can imagine if NASA had to re-design the shuttle at this point, the first thing they would do is create an reliable shuttle tile detection system. They could easily monitor by magnetic sensors or other sensing methods every tile on the shuttle from lift-off to orbit. I can imagine that NASA, if it had to do it over again today would do something of that nature making all this imaging JPEG extravaganza all obsolete.

With such a detection system in place they could keep track of the presence of every single one of the shuttle's tiles. Instantaneously they would know if there was a critically missing tile or not.

It would be just another screen in front a mission controller's seat. A list of tiles, and a simple "detected"/"not detected" for each would do.

That's the benefit of successive re-iterations in the Engineering process I guess.

Of course, I'm sure that ideally NASA would have designed a great deal of other things on the Shuttle differently as well. Among them probably cutting the shuttle size in half, having the bird fly on top of the damned rocket eliminating any worry about debris strikes, and maybe getting rid 10,000 bolts or gizmos or whatever other useless nonsense they put on that flying brick.

The Clown Show Files XIV

Seems like no one wants to be a Liberal anymore:
" 'The number of memberships that are going to come in are certainly going to be much reduced from last time around,' she predicted."

"Swartman said that means Martin's successor will be chosen by 'longtime Liberal party members' rather than masses of new recruits or the so-called instant Liberals."

Why who would have figured that billion dollar scandals, money laundering, and arrogance would be the poison pill for any political party?...

Though there is something for Liberals to hold on to in all of this. The lack of fresh new insta-Liberals, means that this race will be decided by true red Liberals. You know, the guy that would have sold his soul for Pierre Elliot Trudeau...

On a serious note it is true that in Canadian politics, the ever infamous "membership drive" is usually much more of a membership "dilluter." Instead of actually trying to persuade regular everyday party members that they will represent the ideals of said party, candidates for leadership bring in members that are all about Paul Martin, or Belinda Stronach, or whoever else is running... Give those members 6 months and they will have deserted the party once their man either looses or wins.

At the end of the day, the party really is those "longtime" members that are there through thick and thin. They are the ones that volunteer come E-day. They are the ones that actually know something about politics.

And they are the ones that should be deciding who the leader of any political party is. Afterall, they are the ones that need to be united around him.

So, that is at least something that Liberals can take respite in... Though in the end, the whole Liberal movement in Canada is caputs so believe whatever you want Stephen Harper could be PM for a very long time.

The Clown Show Files XIII

Cracks in foam are the least of NASA's problems...

Cracks have been found on the foam of the ET. All indications are that NASA plans to push ahead with a launch in spite of it.

The foam on the ET was an obvious design flaw. The design intent for it's existence has now been proven to be totally useless and is bound to be non-existent in future shuttle flights.

I think most engineers marvel at how NASA could turn a general design concept of the Shuttle External Tank, which is essentially a giant soda pop can for Rocket Fuel, into the engineering mess it is today taking 20 months to make and host to a plethora of foam and ECO sensor issues.

What's worse is that none of these issues are really new. The shuttle has always had foam. The shuttle has always had foam falling off the ET sometimes striking the shuttle. The shuttle has always lost tiles after every flight. NASA figured it was a minor concern. The risk was reasonable.

More than a hundred flights later and a catatrosphic failure occurs. A reasonable risk for sure.

And that's the ultimate paradox for NASA. On one end it seems as if NASA takes too few risks. Safety Nazies dressed as bearaucrats everywhere strangle it in tangle of regulations from politicians interested in nonsense that negatively constrains designs. But also after every failure NASA seems to get injected with a little risk-adverseness that impedes it's ability to innovate. At the same time, NASA can seem to be downright destructive when it comes to ignoring simple issues like tiles misteriously dissapearing from the shuttle hull every launch. It is the ultimate paradox of safety vs risk. Managing it is the key.

Burt Rutan solidly comes down on NASA on the risk side of things. NASA doesn't take enough risk we are told. Though looking at some of these issues myself, I can't say it's easy to see NASA being safety conscious enough when it comes to things such as the ECO sensors. They just implement a solution and hope that it worked only to find out later on at launch or on another flight that it didn't. That's not what I would call "good engineering."

Regardless, they are launching that puppy. And we are all forced to watch and pray.