Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Potpourri XXXVI

This one is pretty good, and sadly, mostly true: the shenanigans in the space business are akin to a soap opera. This might become a regular link on this page. I like this writer!

Whups...a metal cargo container was sucked into a 747 engine.

The AP is saying that the pilot of the plane that crashed in Buffalo was less experienced/competent, and that this was the result of the airline cutting costs by getting rid of senior, higher-paid pilots. Scott, who has some experience with the aviation business, tells me that this is, more or less, drastically untrue. I'll post any follow-ups as warranted. From a sheerly capitalistic point of view, airlines want the best pilots they can get because crashes are really, really bad for business. Fatal, if you will. A veteran pilot is higher paid, but less likely to make a rookie mistake. But just wait--the Obama administration will use this as an excuse to increase government control over the airline industry. If I were an airline exec and a government official came to me offering financial assistance, I'd run like hell the other way.

Capitalism Magazine is reprinting one of my favorite extended speeches from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. As a work of fiction, it's almost impossible; as a work of philosophy, it has a lot to say. This is a speech by one of Rand's capitalist heroes who's working to undermine a socialist system building in America. It's a moral defense of money and it's sad that such a thing even needs explaining today. Worth reading.

Tip o' the fedora to Martin for finding this: It includes some production pics of work by Rick Sternbach, vehicle designer of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

This letter from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to Chris Scolese, the Acting NASA Administrator, explains the rationale for the new "blue ribbon" panel that is going to review NASA's human spaceflight program. What's interesting about this letter, and the reason I forwarded it to Darlene the Science Cheerleader, is that it specifically calls for the panel to accept inputs from the public on America's direction in space. There is supposed to be a web site for this, but I haven't seen anything yet. But still, BOLO (Disney acronym for "be on the lookout") for this great opportunity to let your government know what you think about our human spaceflight program. I hope, if you're a reader of this blog, that you support it, but if you're not, you should still make your opinion heard. I have no idea what will be done with public input, but the more they get, the more they'll have to respond to it or at least take it into account.

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