Friday, January 28, 2011


25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.

On the 25th anniversary of the disaster, where we lost six astronauts and a schoolteacher, we can reflect on what has been accomplished since. 

President Reagan and NASA officials elected to press on, and build a new shuttle to replace Challenger.  They elected to continue the human-crewed space program despite the risks.  Eventually, we got an International Space Station built, a Space Telescope launched and serviced three times since, and a host of other accomplishments.   It has been expensive, but worthwhile.

Now here we are in 2011.  Our space plans and hopes are focused on some commercial operators continuing with human-crewed flights to the ISS and beyond.  There is discussion of building some booster or other to keep NASA employees busy.  But this seems misguided. 

Here is my humble opinion of what we need to do, and it will not cost much.

NASA should go ahead and build the planned Orion Crew Transport and Ares boosters.  This should be viewed and deployed as a baseline project.  A project that will keep American astronauts flying.  And also one that will establish standards and methods that should freely be given to American space companies for use in their own projects, as well as those of friendly nations.   This way, we can keep our astronauts flying, assist the private companies, and establish long-term standards for equipment, booster and life support technologies and the like – thus granting humanity access to space for the foreseeable future.

Don’t we owe it to those astronauts who have given their lives to at least keep a government-run flight program running, however miniscule?  How hard can it be, especially since major components are in the pipeline, such as a J2-X engine upgrade that was recently tested  (posted on spacedaily website).    Let the commercial companies develop, but allow the government take the lead in establishing common standards, especially in the realm of safety and life support.   This will give the commercial operators someplace to occasionally turn to for help. 

Let it not be said that the Challenger Seven gave their lives in vain.  Let’s keep American Astronauts flying in American-built spacecraft.  Thanks for reading.


Monday, January 17, 2011

More lunacy.

So a friend and I were talking at lunch the other day, and he dropped a real zinger.  "I think that some of the northern US states should secede and merge with Canada."  We talked a bit, and I laughed it off.  But later, I was thinking:  another individual had also spoken about this very same idea, at a different venue, months apart.  So some people are at least entertaining this idea.  To me, this is just wrong on so many levels.

  To vent on a few:

To break up an integrated country such as the US would be a monumental undertaking.  We would have to create a whole new border, with stations at pretty much every north-south road.  This is assuming that people could decide on which states would stay and which would go - surely entailing repeated voting, discussion, argument and the like.  If we could actually decide on which states would go, many would be migrating north or south, unhappy with the turn of events.  Then, someone would have to convince Canada to accept the runaway states.   I doubt that many Canadians would be happy with the idea. 

Assuming all this could be done, then there would have to be integration with Canada, new reconfiguring of borders and voting districts, representation in their Parliament, and so forth.     More mammoth expenses.  And who pays?  Surely not Canadian taxpayers, are you kidding?  Meanwhile, goods and services that formerly flowed up and down highways would now have to be processed through ports.  Who is to say that some Southern state wouldn't slap 100 percent tariffs on cotton, or oil, or coal, or some other vital commodity?   Would the Canada-US state coalition then go to war over it? 

     The whole idea is ridiculous - it would weaken the remaining states, sow confusion and human suffering all around.  We fought a civil war over the secession idea 136 years ago.  That should have settled the whole issue.  We are one nation of fifty states.  Northern cities are just as messed up as southern, indeed they carry enormous debt loads.  Just look at Detroit, or Boston, or even Baltimore.  There are lots of messed up cities all over.    Breaking the US into pieces will not help anyone - it will merely add to the pain, and weaken us even more so our enemies can then come in and mop up the mess.

The North and the South have been slow-dancing for the last century plus - we gotta keep dancing, folks - "ain't no other way to do it."      Thanks for reading.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Economic Uncertainties.

The papers are saying that now 2011 could be the worst year for the housing market, generally speaking.  Previous articles in the business section had suggested that things are turning around, things are looking up.  But now I read about how some housing markets have not hit bottom yet in terms of number of foreclosures - there will be more this year than ever!  It's scary to contemplate.  I don't have any ideas to contribute, other than stricter regulation of the shadowy financial markets and transactions that contributed to this mess.  There was very good reason why the US government imposed restrictions on securities markets in the 1930's.  Repealing those in the '90's helped create the meltdown that came later.   To sum it up - we are human beings ruled by impulsive "wetware" and we need to protect ourselves - from each other.  It's ironic and strange - but the regulators in the 1930's had the right idea.  Time to get back to sanity and common sense.  Here is wishing everyone a happy new year - and hoping all can hang on until 2012!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Welcome to the Nightmare   - (a Pantoum)

What do you do when your holiday gets arrested?
Imprisoned and faced with repeating bland motifs;
Even after the TSA leaves you feeling molested,
You get assaulted with crappy advertising reliefs.

Imprisoned and faced with repeating bland motifs,
How many times until you want to just scream?
You get assaulted with crappy advertising reliefs,
You sit and nod off, wishing to awake from the dream.

How many times until you want to just scream,
Another flight gets cancelled, another mob circulates;
You sit and nod off, wishing to awake from the dream,
This snowstorm has closed airports in neighboring states.

Another flight gets cancelled, another mob circulates,
How many displaced people will it take to start a riot?
This snowstorm has closed airports in neighboring states,
Ruined holidays are propagating around the planet!

How many displaced people will it take to start a riot?
One more bagel and water is going to make me sick;
Ruined holidays are propagating around the planet,
How can one keep their sanity here, is there some trick?

One more bagel and water is going to make me sick,
Even after the TSA leaves you feeling molested;
How can one keep their sanity here, is there some trick?
What do you do when your holiday gets arrested?

(referring to the snowstorms that shut down airports in Europe and the US.)