Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is the Shuttle derived system a good deal?

Rand Simberg at Terresterial Musings doesn't think so.  As for me, I've been pleased with re-using this system for the now.  That could change though, since my education on this subject continues.  By the way, the link isn't about the Shuttle system per se, he just has a short blurb on the post which shows his opinion of the Shuttle derived system now being pursued as policy- to wit:

If NASA is smart, they’ll use both Falcon and EELVs for crew transport, so they have redundancy. What the Air Force really needs is a NASA to not develop a new Shuttle-derived vehicle, which it doesn’t need, and doesn’t have the budget for, but Congress is insisting that it build anyway, for no reason other than job preservation in Alabama, Utah, Mississippi and Florida.

Yes, the government is a big money waster, no doubt about it.  But I like the idea of using the big external tank for other things besides just ditching it into the ocean after it has finished thrusting a payload into space.  With the continuation of the shuttle based system, this may be at least a theoretical possibility.  Not that something similiar can't be done in another way, though.

Bombs away!

I'm going to read a book about skyhooks and such.  Here are a couple videos that I made that may amuse you.  I think this one you'll have to go to YouTube to see.  But this one, I'll embed here.

Update:  I'm disabling and the link above (YouTube) and relinking here.

Update:  About half finished with the book.  I've been blogging regularly for about 3 months now.  During that time, I have gotten quite an education about space.  This book I'm reading now is an eye opener.  Possibly the most significant book I've read yet.  More on that later.

The One

I made a quickie Xtranormal video on their website.  I run the risk here of alienating some people, but sorry.  This deserves being lampooned, and this will be merciless in its ridicule.  Perhaps it could have been done better and with more taste.  If only I had more of a fling for it, the humor of it may come through.  As it is, it may draw some fire.  Maybe.

Long live the King

This is a quick and dirty essay. I would like to expound upon these ideas,
but time does not allow it. I have got to get this out there quickly, so
here goes.

I came across a certain phenemonon making the rounds recently. It is
called "The Secret". I think Oprah Winfrey had a show about it. It is one
of those things that grabs the popular imagination. I looked into it,
and I thought a lot of it reminded me of that "positive attitude" mindset-
but upon further reflection, I think there is a dark side to this.

So, what is a "secret" anyway? This is not a textbook definition, let's
just say a secret is a truth that is hiddenly purposefully. The purpose
being its being hidden is a need for dominance and control. It is not the
same as success through a positive attitude because that philosophy champions
growth and this growth cannot succeed unless it is shared. Sharing is the
opposite of being secretive. Therefore, this "secret" must remain so;
because if it is discovered would make it a threat to those who want that
dominance and control.

This reminds me of a book that I read many years ago by Robert Ringer:
Winning through Intimidation. In that book, Ringer was quite critical
about the usual success stories and advocated his own philosophy of what
he called "intimidation". In the beginning of the book, he mentions Ayn
Rand, who he admires. Well, anyway, this introduced me to Ayn Rand and
her ideas. His introduction of Ayn Rand was used to downplay the negativism
associated with the word "intimidation". Ringer was using that word not
in the conventional way, but in a way that he hoped would get his ideas
across to his readers.

And what was that? I think it was something in what Rand wrote about on
several occasions that I observed. There is a tendency, perhaps a inherent
trait in some people that makes them want to deny you your hard won, hard
earned success.

So, how do you look for signs in the real world of this phenomenon? I
would look at some famous people and how they made their success. Let's
start with that television show called American Idol. It is the only
season in which I watched the last shows in which the winner is selected.
That year in which I watched was the year that Carrie Underwood won. What
struck me about it was that there was so many talented singers. Each of
them could have won. So why did Carrie Underwood win?

Not to say that she didn't deserve it. But any one of those contestants
could have been an American Idol. Yet, the thing I am going to mention
here is what happened afterward. It seems that she was being promoted
for some reason. Not every American Idol winner gets the attention and
promotion that she has gotten. Why is that? I think it is a phenomenon
that I'll refer to as the kingmaker phenomenon. There is this "something"
out there that is promoting those who are approved by the Kingmakers. I
think Carrie Underwood is favored by the Kingmakers.

If my theory is correct, then there are many out there in prominent position
because they found the favor of the Kingmakers. Like Barak Obama. Tell,
what is so great about Barak Obama? Wasn't he selected by those who wanted
to make him president?

But the Kingmakers are not always successful. An obvious example of that
is George W. Bush. Boy did the Kingmakers hate him! Ronald Reagan is
another. The Kingmakers are not always successful, but they eventually
tend to wear down the public with their negativism. Even Reagan, as
popular as he was, was on the verge of getting into a lot of trouble by
the end of his presidency. The Kingmakers were not pleased.

Of course I'm getting to Sarah Palin. If you bother to notice, the Kingmakers
are definitely not satisfied with Sarah. If there is any chance at all for
her, she will have to find a way around the Kingmakers as Reagan and Bush
did. Otherwise, she will share the fate of Dan Quayle and other victims
of the Kingmakers destructive force.

Of course, the Kingmaker is the liberal media, and their allies. They
are on the left politically. They are not champions of capitalism and
freedom, but the enemy of it. Anyone who wants to champion freedom,
personal success, and overall wealth creation is an enemy of these people.
They want to control and dominate. They want to be served, not to serve.
Look out for the Kingmakers. They pretend to be your friends, but they
are not. Do not be fooled.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Politics Schmolitics

Rush Limbaugh sends something called "Rush in a Hurry" to those of us who are on his email list.  Since I don't listen quite so much as I used to, I can go there and get a quick view of what El Rushbo has been talking about.

It turns out that the tax deal is breaking down.  It sounds like the Democrats are loading it up with spending.  Either the Republicans swallow this in order to get the tax cuts, or nobody gets anything.  I didn't check into what Rush said about it other than he hopes it goes down to defeat, so I'll put in with my own opinion here.

Here's what I see:  if the Republicans sign on to this, two things could happen with respect to deficits.  They get bigger (most likely), or they get smaller (not likely).  If they get bigger, the Democrats can always blame the tax cuts for it.  If the deficits actually get smaller (big surprise), the Democrats can claim that the spending doesn't hurt, so let's do more!  In other words, no matter how the deficit turns out in this scenario, the Democrats can't lose.

Now, let's look at the economic impact.  Again, two things can happen: the economy improves or the economy gets worse.  If the economy gets better, the Democrats can say the spending improved the economy, not the tax cuts.  But if the economy gets worse, the Democrats can blame the tax cuts, especially since the deficit is likely to get worse.  So, they can cover their butts that way too.

Now, if everything blows up, and there are no tax cuts and there is no spending either, the Democrats are covered there too.  They can claim that there hasn't been enough spending all along, and so they'll demand more.

The short and the long of this is that the Democrats are just positioning themselves for the next election.  Just as Krugman indicated here.  How about doing what the people want?  No, that would not be in their political interest.  They are counting on short memories and short attention spans.  And they just might get away with it.  Why not?  They've been getting away with this kind of thing for years.  No need to change now.

Krauthammer is calling the  tax deal the Swindle of the year.   Erik Erikson of Red State says Tax Compromise Must Now Die.  Pass or no pass, the issues are not being addressed.  It's political posturing.

Maybe it makes too much sense

By way of Al Fin and NextBigFuture, I came across this post at Centauri Dreams.  What caught my attention was the lunar rotovator concept that I mentioned in the previous post.  It's possible that I looked at this yesterday, and that is what was in my mind this morning. 

Paul Gilster, the author of the post, suggests reading this book, which fleshes out the proposition. 

As for the why this idea may never catch on, well, it wouldn't surprise me a bit.  With a government that spends as much as this one does, the opposite thought may be believed.  But conventional wisdom being what it is, it is most likely wrong.  To the contrary, this idea could save a lot of money, and even make a lot of money.  That is the reason it won't get done.  Nobody believes its any good because no one is doing it.  Yet, look at all the stupidity that is going on.  Even if this was bat do-do crazy, it wouldn't be worse than this other crap they are wasting money on.

Assorted thoughts this a.m.

I need to get better organized.  It is one of my faults.  Take this blog, for example.  There is nothing planned about this blog.  It has just come together, haphazard fashion since mid-September.  That second post followed the first, which was exactly a year before.  This blog has come a long way in terms of appearance, but not in terms of audience.  It is still in the backwaters, so to speak, of the internet.

I got an idea of a rotovator for the Moon.  But you see, I think that I had that idea before.  Now, even though it is my own blog, I don't remember where I wrote about it.  Now I have to go look up what I have already written on the subject so as to avoid repeating what I have already done.  All very inefficient.  The part in having to look up a previous post and the part about repeating myself.  Time is of the essence.  I hate to waste time.

You need to have plans, but I'm not so good about that.  I would rather do whatever comes to mind.  Each day is a new day, and my thoughts are different every morning.  No continuity.  Well, here's the plan for today, if I can stick with it.  I am going to research what I have already written on rotovators and the shuttle's external tank.  I think that this can be used on the Moon.  My idea is to have a rocketless propulsion system for the Moon that could also be used to go where you want to go in the solar system.  If it is large enough, it may be powerful enough to do some interesting things.  The question is, is it manageable?  I can't answer that.  It would take someone who is much better versed on the science of such things.  I am just an ideas kind of guy.


Well, I found it.  I just added a new label which will be helpful in find posts about the ET.  It is now on this post.  That wasn't so bad, it only took less than 30 minutes to write this post and to find it and to label it.  Not that bad.  I want to mention it before I forget it.  I made a tutorial on how to navigate this blog.  I am going to make this available here shortly.  Back to work.

Update 2:

In less than an hour, I have written this post and updated twice.  Good.  This should be the final update.  I have included a few more labels to aid the reader to navigate this blog.  That reader just might be myself.  So, this is for my benefit as well as anybody else's, if anybody's interested.

About the rocketless propulsion system on the Moon.  The idea is to put a mass driver on the Moon, use that mass driver to catapult a payload to rendezvous with a rotovator which captures it.  The rotovator could draw it inside itself, or it could fling it out into the solar system.  That is the basic idea.  It may be best to have a lunar polar orbit for the rotovator so that it can be in the best position to service a moon base.

Another idea popped up.  To power the moon base, use a solar power tower.  It would consist of aluminum panels which would focus the sun's light onto the tower.  At the top of the tower, there would be a heat exchanger that would transfer the energy so it can be transported to a Stirling engine(s) which could produce electric power to do useful work.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

About those rising interest rates

Chris Laird has a new article out.  I've been reading his stuff for the past 3 years.  He stuff is pretty well researched.  Quite useful in getting an heads up on the situation.

Markets may be at a turning point.  As I wrote before, I don't see higher bond prices going forward.  How can interest rates get any lower than what they've been?  Maybe it was time to go short at the time of that post back in November.

Cloud computing

This term keeps popping up, so I went over to the wiki and looked it up.  I've seen the concept before, but the use of the terminology threw me.  For anyone not familiar with it, it looks like computing would be treated as a utility- such as water and electricity. 

There are advantages to this, I see.  Not so much in hardware, but the software.  For example, every time you buy a new computer, you have to buy a new operating system.  This is what made Bill Gates so rich.  If you can just plug your computer in like your tv, it would be not only more user friendly, it could also be cheaper.  At least the software would.  You wouldn't have to go back and buy new software every time you buy a new computer.  You would just share the application with others and be charged for your usage of the system.

The downside is that your dependence upon the system to provide you with the service.  These days, there are people who are trying to go "off the grid".  This is going the opposite direction.  Instead of going off the grid, this gets even deeper into the grid.  Maybe that is not so good if the grid fails.  In such cases, you are helpless.

Santa, I want one of these for Christmas

A solar sail.  Now if you could just make this thing carry freight back and forth between locations in the solar system, you just might have something.


Sometimes, when I read what this guy writes, I wonder what is on his mind?  Republicans are hostage-takers?  Terrorists?  Are you kidding me?    He starts off reasonable enough.

On the straight economics, the tax deal is worth doing.

He's not worried about the economics, no, not at all.  He is worried about the politics.  In particular, he is worried about the political timing.

...presidential elections depend, not on the state of the economy, but on whether things are getting better or worse in the year or so before the election.
So, the tax cuts are to be opposed because they won't help Obama win the 2012 election.  The timing isn't right.

But here's the real mind blower:

So there are real reasons to worry here. Obama may be buying off the hostage-takers by … giving them more hostages.

Unbelievable.  Here's this guy wanting to blow up a tax cut that he says is good for the economy because it isn't good for Obama, and he's the one calling someone else a hostage taker.

Ol' Tingly leg

Ripoff!  Don't tell anybody.  Psst!  Don Surber's blog.

US Treasurys: Bond Prices Plunge for 2nd Day on Deficit Fears - CNBC

US Treasurys: Bond Prices Plunge for 2nd Day on Deficit Fears - CNBC

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gold may have hit a peak

But frankly, things haven't changed.  If anything, things may be worse.  That tax deal just made deficit spending even worse.  This may be a big guess that it did, it certainly appears as though the deal sidestepped the deficit issue.  This means more fiscal stimulus to go along with Bernanke's monetary stimulus.  Nothing different here.

As for the energy issue, it doesn't look good either.  Even though some production is coming online, there is still Obama's moratorium on drilling out in the Gulf.  Even if that is changed, he put the drilling ban back into effect off the coasts.  That was Bush's much delayed and much needed lifting of the ban when the price of oil was over 100 bucks.  Now it's back close to that again.  Nothing really new here as far as I can see.

Issues are not being addressed.  Therefore, the fundamentals haven't changed.  Now, as far as the dollar is concerned, that won't matter.  The dollar can get stronger or weaker, but it won't affect gold.  Doesn't have anything to do with the current situation with respect to gold.  Central banks will still protect their respective countries trade interests.  If the dollar gets too weak, they'll support it.  If their own currencies get too weak, they'll support their own currencies.  ( but that's not the problem now)

That silver bear video awhile ago may still play out, but this latest action seems to be contradicting it.  If I had to make a guess, this latest rally to 1400 may be topped out.  Same thing happened last year, as you may recall.

Spacex test of Dragon capsule

This must have occurred this morning.  Must have my head up my posterior.  I missed the live launch.  I do have this video now.  The comments are negative.  Unbelievable!  I think these negative people just prefer that everyone to be miserable as they are.

Update:  I hear that the splashdown and recovery was successful.  Good for them.  In other news around the net, I found this by way of NextBigFuture.  This stuff looks doable, but who knows if it will ever get done.  It hasn't been done before, which means in terms of conventional wisdom, that it is impossible.

Give me a title please.

Married men are nicer?  That's true according to this study.  However, a post by the Futurist may dispute that just a bit.  As usual, I thought I would add my own two cents.  I'll do it with this latest Xtranormal video.

Update: Oops!  Forgot to put a title on this post.  Fixed now.

Impressions and thoughts on "Moon Shot"

A few thoughts about the book, "Moon Shot".  In general, the book is about the Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States- after Sputnik and from the American point of view.  Two of the original seven astronauts- Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton- are the authors.  But it is clear that it wasn't written by these two guys.  It reads a little like a newspaper or a truncated biography.  Nevertheless, it is an interesting read.

It may be little known, but the Russians really were trying to win the Space Race.  Right up until the end, they were trying to get at least to the Moon with a fly by.  The race was real.  There was some real doubt as to who would win, but in the end, it was the United States that won going away- so to speak.

It was hard to tell from the narrative, so I'll speculate.  It looks like the Russian's big super rocket wasn't staged.  It looked like it was just too big and complex and that is why it failed.  Several launches were attempted, but they all failed.  The last one caused a lot of damage to the launch facility.  It may have broken the Russian's spirit.  They pretty much gave up.  Instead of making big rockets that would go to the Moon, they decided to do space stations instead.  This is where they have had their greatest success.

America went ahead with it's big rockets though.  But this book only covered the Space program up until Apollo Soyuz.

What surprised me was despite the successes of Apollo, that there was so much opposition to the program.  It is a shame, almost a tragedy, that more wasn't done.  This was an excellent program that was shot down in its prime, just as President Kennedy was.  We could have gotten to Mars with that Saturn V rocket.  We could have established bases on the Moon with it.  Yet it was all thrown away.  It was considered a waste.  But the real waste was in scrapping the program.  Killing the program wasn't about ending waste.  It wasn't shown in this book, but my opinion is that there is something or someone wanting to hold back the space program.  It is not an inspiring thought.

The Russians gave up because of a lack of technical expertise.  Our guys quit because of the politicians.  They just didn't see enough advantage in the program.  The space race itself looks silly now.  But that wasn't the real reason to go.  The real reason to go was not to create a spectacular show for the public, but to do real things that mattered.  The politicians see it as a show.  Maybe too many people think of it as a show.  But there is real opportunity in space.  It is a curious thing to observe and to note that so many people fail to see it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor Day, the day America woke up

Today is the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which plunged America into World War II.  Hard to believe that this was nearly a lifetime ago now.  Next year will be the 70th anniversary of the day which shall live in infamy.  Most people alive today weren't even born yet when that fateful day happened.  It was nearly a generation before I was even born.  Yet, now, I am a bit of an old-timer myself.  I've seen a few things during my time.  One of those was the landing on the Moon in 1969.

The book that I am now reading, called "Moon Shot" was about the early days of the American Manned Space Program.  This book is about the early sixties, which was when I was very young.  Being fairly recent to the times, World War II was very fresh in the minds of people back then.  It is amazing, in retrospect, how much the world changed in such as short amount of time.  Rockets, computers, and television sets were all being put into service for the first time.  All against the backdrop of the Cold War, which followed World War. 

Rocketry was new, but not brand new.  Although Hitler used rockets late in the war, the technology was still untested and undeveloped.  America should have had a head start, since most of Germany's scientists came here after the war.  However, as in the case of Japan attacking Pearl Harbor, America was caught napping when Yuri Gagarin was the first man to orbit the Earth.  All this happened just a little more than 15 years after Pearl Harbor.  A few months after Sputnik, Alan Shepherd became the first American in space.  But his was a suborbital flight.  America was again playing catch up in the Space Race.  After Pearl Harbor, America was playing catch up with the Japanese Imperial Fleet.  In order to play catch up with the Russians, America had to develop the technology which eventually would take humans to the Moon and back.

Looking back over history, you can see that history has a tendency to repeat itself.  A new power is rising in the East, China, and they are quite interested in space.  Will America fall asleep again and be caught napping when China pulls off a big first?  China is advancing so fast that it almost seems inevitable.  But this is in keeping with the fast paced, changing world of today.  There really isn't time to sleep these days.  You have to keep your eyes wide open all the time.  You don't get caught napping unless you first fall asleep.  Let's see if history repeats again.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I've been practicing with the Xtranormal software

This software may be addictive.  I spent most of the day fooling around with it.  Not that I produced anything worth watching, though.  I did a video with notes attached to each part of the movie in order to remind me what I did to get to that point.  This is easier said than done.  There are tutorials and templates, which I have been using.  But as your skills increase, you want to try different things.  I think I can say with a certain amount of confidence that I know what I'm doing and can make some basic stuff.

Update ( 4 am Tuesday morning) :
Light posting due to the above, plus I've been busy with other things.  But I haven't forgotten this page, and I will continue adding posts.  In future posts, I think I will have some more xtranormal videos.  As my skills with the software improve, the videos should get better.

Looks like gold made a new high yesterday.  So busy with this xtranormal software, I missed it.

In addition to this, I have been reading "Moon Shot".  It is about the Apollo program, of course.

Don Flournoy: Why Not Space Solar Power?

This one seems to have gotten lost on my computer.  I thought I'd link to it just in case anybody hasn't seen this before.

You again.

Another video with George and Suzy.  Suzy just makes a cameo in this one.  It is almost a serious movie this time.

A little too much Christmas cheer

Chris Laird, the editor of sent me this alert as part of the subscription service I have with his website. Usually, it is serious stuff, but this one is funny. I thought I would post it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Trying this Mingle software

Just went into this website called Mingle.  Looks like you can create an avatar of yourself and use it to chat in a chat room of your choice.  I chose the Simpson's living room.  Ha, ha.   The free version allows up to 5 members in your group of contacts.  I learned about it from here.  What the heck, it's free.

Anybody want to mingle?

Shameless plug

Had to give it a try anyway!

Space habitats

I don't remember how I ended up on this page, but that is the really cool thing that I like about the internet. Whatever thought pops up in my mind, I can put it into the Google search and up comes an entry on the Wikipedia.   I can spend hours or even a whole day doing this.  Someone might say, "Go get a life!" to which  I say: "Hey, I like doing it, so it ain't a bad life if you like what you are doing."

Anyway, this space habitat thing got my speculative thoughts going again.  You know, with all this talk about space elevators, and the use of carbon nanotubes to build it, I got this latest hair brained idea.  Why not build a space station out of carbon nanotubes?  It would be light weight, strong, and you could make the station really large.  But my brain storm didn't end there.

This next part is so crazy it almost makes sense.  You see, people believe so much in this carbon dioxide problem- it causes global warming, we are told- that perhaps it could be "sequestered" in outer space.  If it is in outer space, it would become a valuable resource.  It is like Rodney Dangerfield here on Earth: it gets no respect.  But in outer space, it could support life.  Kinda like what it does here too.  But we got more of it here than some people want.  Just send it off into space, I say.  It might even make Al Gore happy.

Where would you put it in space?  I'd say somewhere that it could be gathered up again in the future when it is time.  Perhaps space probes could be smashed into permanently shaded craters on the Moon.  The probes would be full of carbon dioxide.  The plumes would rise, and measurements could be taken of what is inside every such crater on the Moon. Hopefully, enough of the carbon dioxide would remain so that it can be reused later.

Eventually, when a base is built on the Moon near one of these craters, this carbon dioxide can be mined.  That is, it could be mined as well as anything else that is already in the crater.  If there is enough stuff there, you can start building one those space habitats.  A really large one that could be launched from the Moon.  It could be built out of carbon nanotubes.  It could be filled with enough lunar regolith that it would be adequately shielded from ionizing radiation in space.  These space habitats, if big enough, can be rotated at 1 revolution per minute. At such a speed, it would generate 1 g of artificial gravity.  Voila!  A true habitat in space that resembles Earth enough so that nobody will notice the difference.