Sunday, November 29, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
More info here. All are welcome, including Lou Dobbs.
Should We Abolish NASA?
This Wed., Dec. 2 (at 8pm) join us for a Debate at Lolita Bar on whether to get rid of our government-run space program:
•Greg Rehmke, lecturer and program director with the Economic Thinking project, argues yes.
•Ken Silber, writer, blogger, and Research editor — and very bitter survivor of Lou Dobbs’ Space.com — argues no.
•Michel Evanchik moderates and Todd Seavey hosts.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Lou Dobbs is saying he might run for president in 2012. As one who worked for Dobbs a decade ago, when he was CEO of the Internet venture Space.com, I wish to point out that his management skills and style were unequal to running a web company with some 100 employees. As president of the United States, he wouldWhole thing here.
be a disaster.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Based on my own experience with certain outdoor-adventure, rock-climbing people, I think it's going to be hard to prevent future explorers from getting into the fields of giant jagged spikes or other such features that are meant to send a universal message of Stay Away.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
In Guangzhou last month, he visited a neighborhood center where physically handicapped students learn English. In the recreation room, he played table tennis with a female student. "I haven't done this for 10 years. I played ping pong as a young man but only began practicing again a few days ago. I'm rusty," he told his diminutive adversary. Then he added, "I will learn from you."I also think he's going to be president of the United States one day.
Anthony Duignan-Cabrera, colleague from my Space.com days, has started a blog with the evocative title Jackknifed Juggernaut.
And Ross Douthat, whose book I reviewed but whose columns I've been less than consistent in reading, now has a blog called Evaluations.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
At the Rubin museum there has been a great series of intellectuals, artists, and philosophers, chatting with Psychoanalysts. The release of C. G. Jungs Red Book after 100 years is a big deal in the Jungian Psychoanalyst world. Yesterday my wife and I saw Billy Corgan with Morgan Stebbins an analyst in NYC. The basis is these individuals look at a picture by Jung from this book and then free associate with the analyst, and take questions from the audience. Corgan, came across as slightly depressed, but at the same time honest, and insightful. He talked quite a bit about his "shadow" but also how sometimes people who get angry at him during concerts will throw bottles. Although it probably would have been more interesting to focus on the here and now, I definitely recommend checking it out. You could see who is coming up here.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
For more info or to respond, see ToddSeavey.com.
Meanwhile, in the real world (more or less): we’re planning a space-based Debate at Lolita Bar for Wed., Dec. 2, on a question that could have profound consequences for the long-term destiny of the human race: “Should We Abolish NASA?” Ken Silber (formerly of Space.com) will argue no — and you or someone competent you know should tell me if you’d like to argue yes. Think of it as a blow against a centralized Galactic Empire, if you like.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Rand elicits fervent admiration from some, intense loathing from others, and ambivalence from those who think some of her ideas interesting and valuable, others objectionable. Mark me down in the ambivalent category, and note that Rand herself had little use for those expressing partial agreement.
Her profile tends to rise at times of stepped-up government overreaching -- times such as the present and the Great Society florescence of the 1960s. Her ideas become a rallying cry of the opposition, as with recent talk about people putatively or potentially “going Galt” (i.e., withdrawing their talents from a government-dominated society, like her Atlas Shrugged hero John Galt).
Hers was a no-compromise philosophy and style. She championed “full laissez-faire capitalism”; the mixed economy was an abomination, regardless of the portions in the mix. Thus, her influence tends to give some backbone to the anti-big-government forces, but also tends to be self-limiting. Not many people want “full laissez-faire capitalism,” a fact Rand would regard as profound moral corruption but which is better explained as a healthy skepticism toward radicalism, utopianism and abstract ideology.
Rand thought her political stance followed inexorably from deeper principles. "I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason,” she wrote. “If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.”
Rand’s emphasis on rationality was and is a bracing tonic against the conservative tendency to fall back upon religious faith in formulating political arguments. But Rand’s view of reason was idiosyncratic, strongly emphasizing the a priori over the empirical. She disregarded the health risks of smoking, for instance, on the grounds that statistics were epistemologically unreliable. Similarly, she pronounced that physics had been corrupted by bad philosophy, without knowing much of anything about physics.
She had a healthy contempt for the “anarchocapitalists” who followed her thinking to what they saw as its logical conclusion in their advocacy of a stateless society. She thought, plausibly, that government is needed to defend against aggression and adjudicate disputes. But given her black-and-white dogmatism, it is unsurprising that some of her onetime adherents went out looking for further extremes to embrace.
The greatness of Ayn Rand is that she presented thought-provoking ideas in a powerful way. The tragedy is not that some of her ideas were wrong, but that her philosophy was designed to deny that possibility.
Last month two men and their teenage sons tackled one of the world’s most unforgiving summertime hikes: the Grand Canyon’s parched and searing Royal Arch Loop. Along with bedrolls and freeze-dried food, the inexperienced backpackers carried a personal locator beacon — just in case.
In the span of three days, the group pushed the panic button three times, mobilizing helicopters for dangerous, lifesaving rescues inside the steep canyon walls.
What was that emergency? The water they had found to quench their thirst “tasted salty.”
Monday, November 9, 2009
It may sound like a sci-fi vision, but Japan's space agency is dead serious: by 2030 it wants to collect solar power in space and zap it down to Earth, using laser beams or microwaves.
The government has just picked a group of companies and a team of researchers tasked with turning the ambitious, multi-billion-dollar dream of unlimited clean energy into reality in coming decades.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
*Did A.O. Scott actually watch the movie? It is not about "an I.R.S. agent."
Friday, November 6, 2009
UPDATE 11/9: Via Marginal Revolution, the NYT has a very interesting interactive graphic showing how the numbers break down by various demographic groups. For "people like me" (white males, college-educated, 25-44), the unemployment rate is 3.9 percent. Good times...
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
(Via Ryan Sager.)
1) A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
2) If it takes five machines 5 minutes to make five widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?
3) In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of it?
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.
UPDATE 11/3: Some critics have their say.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I've done four of these debates and have a 1-3 record; there's glory in defeat, sometimes.
UPDATE: Debater found.
4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.
jibes poorly with
5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.
But law is created by government, which we've already established is not the "ultimate authority." Oh and by the way--
2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.
I thought you and your spouse were the ultimate authority.
8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.
9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.
Fair enough, but these also don't go do well with point 5.
1. America Is Good.
Agreed as a generality and as an aspiration, but here it seems to be offered as invariable fact.
3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.
Glenn Beck, with his glycerine tears, definitely needs to embrace this one.
UPDATE 11/2: And an interesting take at Reason TV (albeit with somewhat less critical distance than the magazine's taken toward her in the past).