2012 Prometheus Award Finalist


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A young girl sets out to prove herself by resolving a long-forgotten mystery. But when she gets close to the truth, what she thought was a harmless adventure becomes a threat to the future of the independent commercial settlements on Mars.

December 2014
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Test Stand to Nowhere

NASA’s $349 million monument to its drift

Ugh.

And naturally, because the article mentioned the Tea Party, it’s somehow the Tea Party’s fault. Sure, Republican officials appear to hold much of the blame in this, but WaPo appears to have guessed correctly that its loyal readership/cult would snap up the bait and blame it all on the Goldsteins-of-the-hour. (Silly me – I was so surprised at how even-handed the description of the Tea Party was that it was only when I got to the comments that I realized it was just a setup to show that the Tea Party is a bunch of hypocrites taking government money while demanding lower spending.)

Funny that any one of those Republican-bashing commenters would, in a different context, demand that we give more money to NASA, not realizing that given the realities of politics “more money” often means boondoggles of this sort rather than more Voyagers or more Hubbles or more Curiosities or more of the R&D-type projects that can potentially spawn useful new technology.

[facepalm]

In This Week’s Episode of #Science With @NeilTyson ….

And my non-STEM friends wonder that I consider this guy an overhyped midwit and second-rate Carl Sagan substitute.

Mars Society: Space Advocates, or Military-Industrial Complex Front Group?

You decide!

Which Seed Do We Carry?:

You can find many links between outfits like Lockheed Martin and corporate front-groups such as the Mars Society.  The Mars Society line is that the Earth is a rotting, dying, stinking planet and we need to terraform Mars and move our civilization there.  Likely ride on a nuclear powered rocket to a nuclear powered Martian mining colony.  I’m not interested in that trip.

I hope when the opportunity comes to settle Mars, Bruce’s lack of interest is typical of his kind. The rest of us will be more than accommodating to this desire to be left behind.

ETA: naturally, Bruce either misunderstands the point of the Mars Society or is dishonestly misrepresenting it. It’s not that “Earth is a rotting, dying, stinking planet and we need to terraform Mars and move our civilization there”, for the MS it’s that the Earth is a single eggbasket, that we would be wise to establish human civilization on another planet as insurance, and that both planets will benefit from the exercise in terms of social, cultural, technological, and economic innovation.

I suspect that his vitriolic misrepresentation of the Mars Society’s aims has more to do with his own negative, cynical, and self-loathing view of humanity. And it’s actually Bruce and his fellow travelers who see the Earth as a rotting, dying, stinking planet, as they make abundantly clear through their incessant guilt-wracked Chicken Littleing over the apocalyptic consequences of any human activity whatsoever – including, no matter how ‘environmentally conscious’, their own.

Now, I can’t speak for the Mars Society, but personally I like Earth. It’s a great planet. My thoughts on settling Mars coincide with how I’ve described the Mars Society’s above. But to those I would add my desire to get the hell away from people like Bruce and other Rand villains brought to cartoonish life, who are doing everything they can – despite whatever they claim or believe to be their intentions – to turn Earth into “a rotting, dying, stinking planet” mixing beehive commune, neolithic village, pharaonic hierarchy, and police state in proportions varying according to their individual ideological tastes.

ETA2: I missed this earlier – note here the use of the unsupported assertion, ubiquitous among leftists, that any organization with which one disagrees is necessarily a “front group” or astroturf or the like. By this tactic leftists attempt to dishonestly discredit and disqualify their opposition with the implication that the opposition is paid to lie, manipulate, etc. on behalf of this or that Goldsteined locus of wealth and/or power, thus anything the opposition says regarding its goals or philosophy or any facts or arguments it presents are to be dismissed out of hand.

Nice tactic, if you can make it stick. Demonizing the opposition as a seductive font of lies relieves one of the terrible burden of actually having to craft a reasoned argument in response to their words and deeds, a coherent explanation of one’s disagreement with their aims, or a persuasive presentation of one’s own position. Emotional manipulation and strident moralizing require less effort and intellectual capacity.

Social Injustice Ate My Homework

Now, why didn’t I think of this when I was in college?

Social Injustice Ate My Homework:

Those Harvard students have produced an open letter, in which they demand that their examinations be delayed. “Like many across the country,” its authors claim, students “are traumatized” and “visibly distressed” — to the extent that there is now a “palpable anguish looming over campus.” The “national crisis” that has been provoked by the cases of Garner and Brown, they argue, has left them with no choice but to “stand for justice rather than sit and prepare for exams.” And, like their brethren at Columbia, they contend that their “being asked to prepare for and take our exams in this moment” amounts to their “being asked to perform incredible acts of disassociation” — requests, which taken together, have led them “to question our place in this school community and the legal community at large.” The bottom line? That students must be given “the opportunity to reschedule their exams in good faith and at their own discretion.”

Ugly as the Brown and Garner cases were, one can’t help but feel that what constitutes a “National Emergency” or a “personal crisis” is being rather dramatically defined down here — possibly to the vanishing point. In the course of their missive, the vexed students claim that “because this national tragedy implicates the legal system to which we have chosen to dedicate our lives, it presents us with a fundamental crisis of conscience and demands our immediate attention.” This, I’d venture, is an effectively irrefutable claim — and not in the good sense. Rather, it is the Interstate Commerce Clause of dog-ate-my-homework pretexts: an unlimited, self-serving, and infinitely malleable rationale that can be used at any time and for any reason. If our law students are to insist upon special dispensation each and every time the justice system fails to live up to its promise, our exam halls will be empty in perpetuity.

Let’s see…my time in college included (among other things) Tiananmen Square, the Gulf War, the Soviet collapse, the Waco standoff, the Northridge and Loma Prieta earthquakes, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Olympic Park bombing, Black Hawk Down, and most of the Yugoslav secession conflicts. Just think of all the exams I could have postponed or gotten out of altogether if I’d thought of this cockamamie excuse for screwing off instead of doing my coursework.

And what SJW missive would be complete without a moronic misuse of the language?

Somewhat theatrically, the signatories contend that they have thus far “spent countless hours leveraging our legal educations, and utilizing our platform and privilege as students of this institution.”

I recoil from the word “utilize” in particular because it is almost universally misused by those wishing to sound important and weighty. But in this case maybe the sense of “using something for a purpose other than that for which it was intended” applies – the students are supposed to be studying law, but they’re using their position as law students to fluff their egos, attention whore, and feed their narcissism under the fig leaf of ‘doing social justice’.

EFT-1 Launches

EFT-1 is in orbit. Splashdown will be around 11:29ET.

Here’s the launch video up to booster sep.

ETA: walked into the office lobby just now, just in time for the splashdown. “Stable 1″. Nice.

Congratulations to everyone on the team who made this happen.

ETA: Looks like it might have lost an uprighting bag after splashdown. All five are there in one pic, and then one appears missing here.

EFT-1’s Big Day

Livestream of EFT-1 launch here.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

I hope my old teammates are wearing lucky ray-gun-girl bowling shirts for the occasion. (Haven’t asked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some sort of memo came down about that in the past two weeks.)

Looks like there will be Predator drone video of the splashdown off California.

ETA: looks like a scrub for today.

You Had Me at “Plug-Nozzle Aerospike”

WantFirefly Space Systems charges full-speed toward low Earth orbit.

There seem to be quite a few entrants in the ALASA-class lately. Which is interesting on the one hand given DARPA’s work in this area 12-13 years ago, and amusing given SpaceX’s exit in favor of EELV-class launchers.

All Within, Nothing Without

You can’t even escape the SJW/feminist bellyaching/gamergatery on an electronics website: Oh Barbie, You’ve Missed the Mark Again – News – SparkFun Electronics.

I don’t care whether the poster’s points are valid or not, whether their post spreads awareness, sends a message, raises consciousness, promotes inclusiveness, or any of the usual Progressive tropes that come into play with this kind of thing. I don’t go to Sparkfun for that stuff. I go to Sparkfun to look for electronic parts and to get ideas and advice on electronic projects.

I abandoned Raspberry Pi, returned the hardware I’d already bought, and now refuse to have anything to do with their products over their completely unnecessary and off-base assholery concerning #gamergate. Please don’t tell me I’m going to have to write off Sparkfun, too.

ETA: Hmm…

More on #Shirtstorm

  • Sarah Hoyt tackles #Shirtstorm feminism (and a commenter attempting to deploy the standard Progressive argument tactics of snark, strawmanning, and faux-victimhood): No Space for Sewing Circles.
  • John Hayward at Breitbart discusses the controversy as an example of thoughtcrime and compares it to #GamerGate: Comet Guy and the social-justice black hole
  • Rose Eveleth and her supporters likewise pull out the standard Progressive tactic of painting themselves as the victim when they get called out for doing something wrong: Shrinkage: More charges of ‘doxxing’ by Instapundit ‘downsized’ by accuser
    After following some of the #GamerGate foofooraw, I find it hard to take allegations of “doxxing” seriously – that’s the problem with crying wolf and/or faking such things. “Doxxing” as a term appears to be following much more rapidly the trajectory that the terms “rape” and “racism” have taken over the past few years as a result of leftist politicization: its scope and definition being carelessly and irresponsibly expanded by activists to the point that the term loses its impact, ironically undermining efforts to fight the underlying concept to which it formerly specifically referred. Also ironic is that the ambiguity that results from this misuse by Social Justice Warriors is in fact unjust, in that an imprecise definition of an offense makes it impossible to know how to avoid committing it, and makes determining whether an offense has occurred a matter of subjective judgment – or whim – on the part of interested parties. Sarah Hoyt touched on this in another recent (non-#Shirtstorm) post riffing on one of her commenters, who likened this ambiguity to psychological abuse.
  • Speaking of Rose Eveleth, imagine my surprise to learn her scientific credentialsNew York University, MA: Science, Health and Environmental Reporting; University of California, San Diego, BS: Ecology, Behavior and Evolution — Minor: Writing“BS”, indeed. One has to give her credit for having somewhat more knowledge of her journalistic beat than the corrupt journo-activists that #GamerGate has exposed, but I wonder to what degree her supposed outrage was really about the “sexism” of the shirt design offending her “feminist” sensibilities vs. a failed scientist’s Salieri-like envy over a man (who clearly doesn’t share those sensibilities) accomplishing something on a level of scientific importance she knows herself to be incapable of ever reaching.

By the way, you can still chip in to buy Matt Taylor something nice:

 

Buy Matt Taylor Something Nice

…To make up for Rose Eveleth, Chris Plante, and Arielle Duhaime-Ross tarnishing his big day with a petty and indecent snit over his shirt.

I chipped in $20.

ETA: Glenn Reynolds gives a short summary of the aforementioned petty and indecent snit, and makes this point:

It seems to me that if you care about women in STEM, maybe you shouldn’t want to communicate the notion that they’re so delicate that they can’t handle pictures of comic-book women. Will we stock our Mars spacecraft with fainting couches?

One can apply his observation to “feminism” outside of STEM, as well: it’s hard to accept a modern feminist’s assertions that she is strong and independent when she expects everyone to walk on eggshells so as not to offend her, cannot tolerate even the most trifling of (often imagined) offenses, and when she inevitably finds something over which she can come unglued in a dramatic show of moral outrage, demands others take action to punish the offender and change the rules to suit her. Those are the attributes not of a strong and independent woman, but of a borderline and narcissist. It’s no wonder that women who are actually competent and capable – and actually strong and independent – seem to eschew the label “feminist” for themselves.

ETA2: Amy Alkon:

Do you think there’s a man alive whose response would be to whimper that he is being chased out of science?

Clearly, feminism is no longer about demanding that women be treated as equals, but as eggshells…

On a side note, there’s a certain kind of nerd who wears that kind of shirt, and I’ve always had a soft spot for that guy and the way he sees the world. The sort of hope and love of space fantasy and dream of a bullet-bra’d fantasy woman of that guy is the stuff jobs landing spacecraft on comets are made of.

I read the imagery on his shirt in much the same way: as ‘space fantasy’ art echoing the pulp magazine covers of Golden Age SF. (But of course, as we know, even that’s not acceptable.)