Thursday, May 07, 2009

Potpourri XXXIV

Lots of stuff out there about the NASA budget and the upcoming review being led by Norm Augustine.

Speaking of the budget, the Obama administration has released its $3.4 TRILLION budget. Dang. I mean, really. Trillions. And I learned from Tracy that the theme of the 2010 budget is--wait for it, put your drink down first--fiscal responsibility. They're going to save(!) $17 billion by cutting a couple of token programs. I heard somewhere that the 2010 Obama budget racks more debt in one year than all of the other presidents built up combined, from George Washington to George W. So if the economy is recovering do we really need a high-debt budget that we can't afford? "Fiscal responsibility." Wow. Pardon me while I LOL.

The Orion crew exploration vehicle now has a presence on Facebook (must be a member to view). Ares is coming soon--promise!

Hat tip to Father Dan for this reminder: starting June 1, you will need a passport to enter Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean region.

Tip o' the fedora to Marianne for finding this editorial on why the Law of the Sea Treaty is bad for the energy industry.

Two thumbs up to Tracy for finding this useful statistic comparing Apollo exploration and the Mars rovers:

On Apollo 17, the total EVA distance covered by two astronauts was 22.2miles (19.3 nautical miles). This included 4 hours and 29 seconds of LRVtravel.

Compared to around 12 miles covered by 2 robotic rovers in 5 years.

I am impressed and proud as I can be of the Mars rovers and the folks who built them. But just imagine how much more can and will be done when we send humans there!

Speaking of humans in space, here's a YouTube video of the two shuttles on the pad--last time this will happen, folks! The one with the three big towers around it is Launch Complex 39B, where Ares I-X will be launched later this summer.

Some warm and fuzzy reading courtesy of Brother Allison to help rock you to sleep at night: bio-war in the 21st century.

Rick Steves has a new book out titled "Travel as a Political Act." That means, yes, he's going to talk about politics. And being a good liberal, Mr. Steves will have many admiring things to say about European socialism. I'm not a fan myself, maybe because every time socialism has been tried in the U.S., our politicians have overreached, and people have inevitably pushed back when the programs became too expensive or intrusive (witness the election of Nixon after Johnson, Reagan after Carter, and the 104th Congress after Clinton's attempt at "HillaryCare." But Steves is no fool, and he's traveled and spoken with enough people around Europe for decades to find things to like. He made a video on this topic, which I got as part of my European tour welcome stuff.

I'm guessing he's going to lecture his reader quite a bit. As if someone going to Europe needs someone reminding them "Now, don't forget to learn things from other cultures, and don't forget that they have different ideas from you, and don't be an ugly American..." (Rolling eyes, "Yeesssss, Mom.")

I'm very much looking forward to my Rick Steeves tour. I've been aware of his political opinions for awhile, but that's not influencing my approach to taking one of his tours. When I go somewhere new, I'm there to watch, listen, and learn. If someone asks me where I'm from or what I think, I'll tell them, but I'm not there to be the "ugly American" and shove my way of doing things down someone's throat. The locals will have their views on things, and I might agree, but then again I might respectfully disagree. Travel should be a learning experience (in both directions!) but it always makes me appreciate my home that much more when I get back. And if people from other countries wouldn't want to trade passports with me, well, the feeling's mutual. Fine. Next topic?

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