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Saturday, July 18, 2009


Ripped off from the site of the same name:

"There are three reasons why, quite apart from scientific considerations, mankind needs to travel in space. The first reason is garbage disposal; we need to transfer industrial processes into space so that the earth may remain a green and pleasant place for our grandchildren to live in. The second reason is to escape material impoverishment: the resources of this planet are finite, and we shall not forego forever the abundance of solar energy and minerals and living space that are spread out all around us. The third reason is our spiritual need for an open frontier."
Freeman Dyson, Disturbing the Universe, 1979

"As long as there is the safety valve of unexplored frontiers, the aggressive and exploitive urges of human beings can be channeled into long-term possibilities and benefits... I don't happen to think the frontier is closed. It's just opening up in space... The human race is going out and throughout, wherever space will permit us to go. It's only a question of when, and who, and what kind of leadership will take us there."
Governor Jerry Brown, remarks at a symposium, 1977

"The crossing of space ... may do much to turn men's minds outwards and away from their present tribal squabbles. In this sense, the rocket, far from being one of the destroyers of civilisation, may provide the safety-value that is needed to preserve it."
Arthur C. Clarke, The Exploration of Space, 1951

"Men go into space .. to see whether it is the kind of place where other men, and their families and their children, can eventually follow them. A disturbingly high proportion of the intelligent young are discontented because they find the life before them intolerably confining. The moon offers a new frontier. It is as simple and splendid as that."
Editorial on the moon landing, The Economist, 1969

"Perhaps it won't matter, in the end, which country is the sower of the seed of exploration. The importance will be in the growth of the new plant of progress and in the fruits it will bear. These fruits will be a new breed of the human species, a human with new views, new vigor, new resiliency, and a new view of the human purpose. The plant: the tree of human destiny."
Neil Armstrong, "Out of This World,"
Saturday Review, 1974

"Once the threshold is crossed when there is a self-sustaining level of life in space, then life's long-range future will be secure irrespective of any of the risks on Earth... Will this happen before our technological civilization disintegrates"
Martin Rees, Britain's Astronomer Royal,
Our Final Hour, 2003

"Until now in world's history, whenever we've had a dark age, it's been temporary and local. And other parts of the world have been doing fine. And eventually, they help you get out of the dark age. We are now facing a possible dark age which is going to be world-wide and permanent! That's not fun. That's a different thing. But once we have established many worlds, we can do whatever we want as long as we do it one world at a time."
Isaac Asimov, speech at Newark College of Engineering,

"When it is realized that man's future, his greatest fulfillment, may lie in the cosmos and not on the surface of the earth at all, then it is strongly suggested that mankind has not reached maturity but only completed gestation."
Hamilton B. Webb, "Speculations on Space and
Human Destiny," 1961

"The earth is the cradle of humankind, but one cannot live in the cradle forever."
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, 1895

"Given ships or sails adapted to the breezes of heaven, there will be those who will not shrink from even that vast expanse."
Johannes Kepler, letter to Galileo, 1610

"Don't tell me that man doesn't belong out there. Man belongs wherever he wants to go--and he'll do plenty well when he gets there."
Wernher von Braun, Time magazine, 1958

"Life, for ever dying to be born afresh, for ever young and eager, will presently stand upon this earth as upon a footstool, and stretch out its realm amidst the stars."
H. G. Wells, The Outline of History, 1920

"I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I'm an optimist. We will reach out to the stars."
Stephen Hawking, interview with Daily Telegraph, 2001

"Space travel leading to skylife is vital to human survival, because the question is not whether we will be hit by an asteroid, but when. A planetary culture that does not develop spacefaring is courting suicide. All our history, all our social progress and growing insight will be for nothing if we perish. No risk of this kind, however small it might be argued to be, is worth taking, and no cost to prevent it is too great. No level of risk is acceptable when it comes to all or nothing survival."
Gregory Benford and George Zebrowski, Skylife, 2000

"Remember this: once the human race is established on more than one planet and especially, in more than one solar system, there is no way now imaginable to kill off the human race."
Robert Heinlein, speech at World Science Fiction
Convention, 1961

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Friday, July 17, 2009


Brian Wang at Next Big Future recently did this article on how much the world is spending on space. It comes to $257 billion (£160 billion) which came as a surprise to me.

Most of the money is spent on
- satellite TV ($70 billion)
- maintaining ground stations ($74 billion)
- $17 billion fixed satellite services
- $26 billion Department of Defence (military satellites and the spending around it)
- $17 billion NASA
- $10 billion national reconnaissance office (spy satellites and spending around it)
- $8.9 billion missile defense agency

The foreign government spending looks undercounted. It does not look like the foreign military or spy spending has been taken into account.

$5.6 billion on commercial satellite building
$2 billion on commercial launch systems
That is 1 1/2 times Scotland's GNP. It also takes no account of secondary effects such as the fact that a 24 hour world financial market is only possible because of global telecommunications which means satellites. With world GNP about $70 trillion this comes to about 0.4% which, on the one hand isn't space shattering but on the other is significant. If space related industry were to expand by 20% a year (ambitious but not that ambitious since it is only twice what China is managing & China starts from thousands of years of development not 40) that would exceed the entire Earth's current GNP in 2050.

According to government programmes that is when we should have cut our CO2 release by 80% which gets us back to the level of CO2 production & probably comparable in industrial productivity to Victorian Britain.

I think that puts the options starkly.

Of course the real brake on space development is that we don't have a reliable & commercial way of getting there. We could develop one with a $1 bn X-Prize & with the amount already being earned that is not the sort of investment one puts into promoting new technologies. It isn't even the sort government puts into subsidising traditional business to locate here. Scottish Enterprise, the government department whose function is to encourage new business to locate in Scotland, has had a budget of £500 million so on that basis we should be putting about £800 million into X-Prizes to locate in space, ie £4 bn over 5 years. If that money had been put into such prizes we would have space industries far larger than this by now (& hence more money for investment in a virtuous circle). Meanwhile we spend billions on banks & windmills instead.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009


Jerry Pournelle had written of Sarah Palin:

I admire Sarah Palin, and I am astonished at her ability to persevere given the many tasks she has. She was at least as qualified by experience to be Vice President as Obama was to be President, with the exception of the Ivy League education and general membership in the intelligentsia. The most important qualification for President is judgment. The President is surrounded by experts: what is required is the judgment to choose the right people, and decide on the right course of action. No one can be an expert on all the matters on which a President must make decisions.

Palin made one truly great speech, and several very good ones. She doesn't do hostile interviews well. As to judgment, we have her record at Mayor and Governor.

I replied & he published my opinion of Sarah Palin:

"She doesn't do hostile interviews well"

But then the fact that we know that fairly unremarkable fact shows more about her enemies than her. We can't know if Barak does because the media has never given him anything but the slowest of balls. As a private citizen on July 26th she will be able to pick & choose who she speaks to though it is possible this will not absolutely prevent such interviews. A significant proportion of the things she is denigrated for saying were actually said in interviews with Ms Fey. This may be a breakthrough in modern news reporting.

Looking at a supportive interview she did (Limbaugh's) last October she said "I guess that message is they do want me to sit down and shut up. But that’s not going to happen. I care too much about this great country" & other things on the same line, which, if she is as genuine as I think, means she isn't leaving.

I think it is possible, indeed rather human, to honestly convince oneself that she (or almost anybody else one doesn't like) is stupid or too inexperienced for the job but not while saying that Obama is clever or sufficiently experienced.

It is not really proper to enlist the opinions of those who are no longer able to give them but in experience terms she is certainly far more experienced at government than the unnamed female VP Heinlein produced to give a happy ending to Expanded Universe & "Sarah Barracuda" seems capable of being similarly determined.

People often rise to the office. Palin will have an opportunity over the next few years to present herself -- assuming that she wants to.

In Expanded Universe, a collection published in the US, Heinlein's last story is about a black woman actress who had previously been a success on a committee & had been chosen for the Vice President ticket to add glamour to the ticket. When the President dies flying his private aircraft (written before JFK Jnr did this) she succeeds to office & cleans house solving America's problems because "there was nothing really wrong with America we just made some stupid mistakes & compounded them by being stubborn". The character is a closer parallel to Nichelle Nichols than to Sarah Palin but I think "Barracuda" Palin gains strongly by the comparison & while nobody can know I suspect Mr Heinlein would have thought so too.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


To balance my previous blog about an intelligent BBC blog I now mention spEak You’re bRanes where a bunch of Hooray Henrys who work at the BBC (they have access to all their computer records of comments censored by from other BBC blogs) prove how stupid the common people are by publishing the excerpts with learned comments as to why they are wrong & the BBC's layabouts right.

For example:
"Piss taking ponce", "If he refuses, we can put him in a giant hamster wheel", "Best vote BNP then, as they’ve pledged to build Britain a moat", "Obviously, many of them are also very, very thick", "the global warming thread. I’ve not dared to look in there myself, knowing that if I dipped a toe in, it’d come out marinated in stupid" (that is truly preserving one's ignorance), "the computer I’m typing on. The scales and numbers involved simply don’t fit into my comprehension ...In contrast, the Have Your Say halfwits seem to imagine that the internet is powered by a combination of paraffin, goblin magic and pure luck"

I ran across this lot through a comment on a BBC blog, which I commented on, where they were defending having done a panel on the possibility of spending cuts which contained a Labour party member, a Labour supporter, a former Labour minister & for balance another Labour supporter.

Gosh doesn't it give us bloggers something to aim at to hope that someday we may reach the standard of intellectual debate of these yahoos in which it is not necessary to say why you are right to "prove" your point. Despite the fact that they had attacked this on no discernible factual basis (possibly because I said the BBC were full of genocidal Nazi child rapists though none of them could say what was wrong with that), & people there had demanded I reply it seems I have not yet reached their rarefied heights of schoolboy humour & my replies have been overwhelmingly censored.

Makes you happy to know the licence fee is being devoted to keeping such people off street corners.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009


BBC newsreader Peter Sissons is retiring & thus now feels able to report honestly
In a wide-ranging attack, he also claims it is now 'effectively BBC policy' to stifle critics of the consensus view on global warming. He says: 'I believe I am one of a tiny number of BBC interviewers who have so much as raised the possibility that there is another side to the debate on climate change.

'The Corporation's most famous interrogators invariably begin by accepting that "the science is settled", when there are countless reputable scientists and climatologists producing work that says it isn't.

'But it is effectively BBC policy... that those views should not be heard.
The BBC have also demonstrated that they are willing to tell any lie & censor any fact to promote racial genocide when it is government policy. They are also willing to tell any lie & censor any fact to promote this false scare - one which is more destructive & more obviously a lie than Lysenkoism.

Just as we have seen that a disproportionate number of scientists willing to put their heads above the parapet on "global warming" are emeritus (retired) Professors because they can't be leant on, now we see that the same applies to journalists.

It should be pointed out that this position of the "top interrogators" is not of their own choosing as the their toppest (& most interrogatory) interviewer Jeremy Paxman is on record as saying that the BBC management have forced him to promte the warming scre & that "the BBC's coverage of the issue abandoned the pretence of impartiality long ago.”

On a different subject it appears that in what appeared, at least by their standards, a fair interview with Nick Griffin they censored his remarks about government control over the fascist organisation that attacked him outside Parliament.
“While what has happened in Iran is disgraceful, the reality is that the Hungarian government has used extreme force and violence against political dissidents in that country, particularly against the Jobbik party,” Mr Griffin said. “The Hungarian police regularly use violence against peaceful protestors and the EU never says a word. This is because the victims are not supporters of the EU con game,” he said.

In Britain, we have the state-endorsed UAF/Searchlight organisation of far leftist extremists, who are official endorsed by all the other political parties. They have a publicly reported track record of violent attacks again the BNP. These have included attacks on individuals with claw hammers, public violence and attacks on people trying to attend BNP meetings,” Mr Griffin said.

“The leader of the Conservative party, David Cameron, is a founding member of the UAF group, which also boasts the signatures of leaders of the Labour, Liberal-Democrat and other parties
. Yet for some reason, the EU is strangely silent on this state-endorsed violence against British political dissidents, organised by gangs who are supported with lottery and trade union money.”

Mr Griffin said the Euro-nationalists would be campaigning against the EU’s moves on Iran, which are “part of an increasing tide of war propaganda designed to drag us into yet another wicked, immoral and unjustifiable Middle Eastern war.”

Allegedly the censorship was because their review of what the papers said "accidentally" overran.

So on 3 completely separate subjects it simply cannot be argued that the BBC are not a wholly corrupt propaganda organisation willing to lie in any way to promote totalitarian fascism. Not a penny for the bastards.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009


Copy via Guido of a NOTW article flying a kite that the Tories will drop their promises to their minor inheritance tax cut & married couple tax allowance increase.

DAVID Cameron has SHELVED plans to cut taxes for struggling families, the News of the World can reveal.

The Tories pledged to slash Inheritance Tax — their flagship policy — and Stamp Duty as soon as they came to power.

But they have now mothballed the moves for as long as SIX YEARS.

And other plans to give tax breaks for married couples have also been put on the backburner, possibly even for A DECADE.

Conservatives will blame Labour’s handling of the economy for the delay. It is part of a drive to find multi- billion spending cuts to curb soaring national debt.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne set out plans to raise the threshold for INHERITANCE TAX from £300,000 to £1million in 2007.

The eye-catching pledge transformed Tory fortunes in the opinion polls, setting them on course for No10.

In a major speech to the Tory party conference, Mr Osborne also promised to scrap STAMP DUTY for first-time buyers on homes worth up to £250,000.

In a letter to Gordon Brown just days later, Tory leader Mr Cameron said the cuts would be introduced as soon as they took power. He asked the PM for permission to hold talks with civil servants so they could get working on the plans right away.

He wrote: “In particular we will want to give officials the opportunity to prepare for the implementation of our IMMEDIATE PLANS . . . to reform the tax system.”

Cameron was so keen to get cracking he asked the PM for a reply by the end of the day. But now, instead of introducing the plans right after the election, the Tories will put them off until the end of the first Parliament — as late as 2015.

A Tory spokesman confirmed: “The cut in Inheritance Tax will not be brought in straight away. It will be in the first Parliamentary term.”

This is very bad not just because they are popular but because they are good for the country. The country's problem is that we have such a massive parasitic state sector & the way to fix the economy is to drastically prune it not to keep high taxes & thus keep smothering the small productive sector we have. To quote Milton Friedman "I am favour of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible" because individuals usually spend their money more economically efficiently than government.

What the Conservatives should be doing is pruning government drastically, particularly on the regulatory front where the economic damage to those regulated is 20 times greater than the substantial cost to the taxpayer of employing them. Then putting the money into carefully crafted tax cuts which would include these & substantial corporation tax & possibly business rate cuts. That alone would get us out of recession & into strong growth. I will now quote from Gordon Brown "this is where the serious debate lies—that what can happen depends on growth." Brown says he thinks it more important to "invest" in growth than to balance the budget - and so it is - the only problem that what he calls "investment" isn't it is merely increased spending on the parasitic sector. A large amount of borrowing is survivable if the economy is growing because it gets ever easier to pay off with real wealth. The Conservatives tax cutting promises & the much more serious ones I have suggested would produce strong growth & growth, alone, can get us out of this mess. Reagan went for tax cutting even though it increased the deficit & it worked, despite opponents denouncing it as "voodoo economics" giving the USA a major growth spurt. I would much rather have the budget balanced than not but a growing economy should be the first & overriding priority.

Another quote from Nigel Lawson which David Cameron would do well to consider.
a sensible opposition party should be more concerned with re-election than with election to office. Election will occur as and when the people lose confidence in the incumbent government. Re-election depends on results.
On that basis, or almost any other, Cameron is going to become PM. e will inherit a horrendous mess, worse than it now appears because the borrowing is cosmetically enhancing our economy but that cannot continue. To get re-elected next time he cannot simply make cuts & hope to plow on in the old way hoping the electorate will keep blaming Labour for the mess. Perhaps they should but in another 5 years time they won't.

Cameron should use his first hundred days for massive cuts in the bureaucracy, for putting through the tax cuts he has promised & for cutting business taxes & going for growth. It is politically possible to do it on day 1 but becomes ever more difficult thereafter. A final quote from Machiavelli, who understood more on the subject of getting rid of the damaging part of government than any spin doctor.
Prince David Cameron ought to examine closely into all those injuries which it is necessary for him to inflict, and to do them all at one stroke so as not to have to repeat them daily; and thus by not unsettling men he will be able to reassure them, and win them to himself by benefits. He who does otherwise, either from timidity or evil advice, is always compelled to keep the knife in his hand; neither can he rely on his subjects, nor can they attach themselves to him, owing to their continued and repeated wrongs. For injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less, they offend less; benefits ought to be given little by little, so that the flavour of them may last longer.
100 days of cutting subsidies, regulations, fakecharities, civil servant numbers, civil service recruitment, planning committees, regulators, quangos, the Health & Executive, all the investigators who prevent us building nuclear power stations, the BBC, Ofcom, all the eco-fascist parasites & for good measure the EU would produce rioting in the streets of Chelsea but not elsewhere, national solvency, a fast growing economy & the Tories in power for 50 years.

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