Wanted: A married couple to fly to Mars

A private space venture is seeking a married couple to take a 501-day space flight, a fly-by to Mars and back.  The couple should be past child-bearing age–since radiation levels could pose a problem to the reproductive system–and be able to function and get along in a living space half the size of an RV for more than 16 months.  The planners are looking for a married couple because of the need for strong compatibility and intimate emotional support during that 16 months flying through the void.

Any volunteers? [Read more...]

American factions are coming together over drones

It has been said that America is polarized politically, but now an issue has emerged that is uniting conservatives and liberals, rightists and leftists, tea party activists and occupy Wall Street types:  Concern about drones.

Virtually all of these factions are praising Rand Paul’s filibuster protesting the Attorney General’s ruling that American citizens on American soil are subject to being zapped from above by drone technology.  All are opposing establishment-types from both parties who hail the new military technology.

Might this herald a new political consensus around civil liberties?  How about a Bill of Rights agenda, which would uphold the conservative causes of religious freedom and gun rights AND the liberal causes of freedom of speech and expression?

Are there other issues that might serve as a similar rallying point? [Read more...]

The drone filibuster

Attorney General Eric Holder said that drones could be used against American citizens on American soil.  So libertarian Republican Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) staged a 13-hour filibuster–a real one, in which the Senator actually occupies for the floor rather than just threatening to–in protest.  Eventually, Holder said that drones would not be used against unarmed Americans, just terrorists in an emergency.

Some Republicans were annoyed with Paul’s “stunt,” as Sen. John McCain called it, and defend an aggressive use of drones.  Some of them were lunching with President Obama when Paul was filibustering, sparking some observers to see a changing of the Republican guard (to borrow an Iranian phrase), with a new generation of Republicans challenging the traditional GOP practice of giving a blank check to anything military and championing instead civil liberties.

What do you think? [Read more...]

How to dodge a drone

Al-Qaeda is circulating a list of 22 techniques to thwart drone attacks–ones experts say are effective–showing how terrorists keep adapting to efforts to counter them.  I give the list after the jump. [Read more...]

Unchecked righteousness

Charles Lane of the Washington Post comments on the electric car fiasco, discussing the multiple failures of government investments and the disappointing performance and sales of the vehicles. The occasion is the disastrous roadtrip in a Tesla described by John M. Broder in the New York Times.  What interests me is not electric cars but the category of error that Lane identifies:

I accept the president’s good intentions. He didn’t set out to rip off the public. Nor was the electric-car dream a Democrats-only delusion. Several Republican pols shared it, too.

Rather, the debacle is a case study in unchecked righteousness. The administration assumed the worthiness and urgency of its goals. Americans should want electric cars, and therefore they would, apparently. [Read more...]

The asteroid feint & the meteor punch

The universe did to the earth what a boxer does to his chump opponent, feinting with his right as a distraction, then punching hard with his left.  On the very day we were concentrating on the near miss from the asteroid, which passed within the orbit of some of our satellites, a 55-foot-long meteor, weighing 10,000 tons and traveling 44,000 miles per hour, slammed into Russia with the energy of 30 nuclear bombs.  Most of that was absorbed by our atmosphere, but the shock wave injured 1,200 people and damaged thousands of houses. [Read more...]


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