Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kardashevian Aspirations: E-Cat Weekly -- January 26, 2012

Kardashevian Aspirations: E-Cat Weekly -- January 26, 2012: Defkalion offers testing of cold fusion reactors Rossi told Ny Teknik that "the work of the University of Bologna has already st...

Why Constellation failed and why Romney is not the answer

Another long title for a short post.  It is a thought, not fully fleshed out, but there are others who can do it better.

That would be Bill Whittle, here, describing what's wrong with how the government does space.  To put it succinctly, it is a matter of incentives.  The government's incentives are to get bigger, but not necessarily better.  With respect to the space program, the government does cost plus contracts as opposed to fixed price contracts.

The result of cost plus contracts is what we have today.  A government that spends 17 billion dollars a year and can't get anybody to a 100 billion dollar space station.

The result of fixed price contracts is real hardware that can do real things at a tiny fraction of the cost.  Spacex's Falcon 9 is but one example, as discussed in Whittle's video

So Romney just announced his space team and it looks like a rehash of the failed Constellation program.  Romney ridicules Gingrich's moonbase, but should that be so lightly dismissed?  It shouldn't be lightly dismissed because Gingrich has his finger on the pulse of the problem, while Romney doesn't.  For example, Gingrich wants to do prizes, although he may do better by just doing fixed price contracts.  Yet, Gingrich is on the right track because he is incentivizing it better than Romney.   The use of prizes may have its difficulties in getting implemented, but the commercial space initiatives have been implemented with successful results so far.   The key point here is to build upon success, not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Romney likes to fire people, but he ought to look at himself a little closer in the mirror.  Otherwise, he may be the one who gets fired.   Rightly so, in my opinion.  

Romney claimed in the most recent debate that a moon base would cost a trillion dollars.  If he used the Constellation paradigm, which he appears to be favoring, that is what it could cost.  So, it only demonstrates that he doesn't understand the nature of the problem, his finger is not on the pulse as Gingrich's is.  On the other hand, if he used a fixed price contract model, which is closer to what Gingrich proposes, the cost would be only a tiny fraction, just as it has been in the commercial space program.

To put it short and sweet, the private sector does it better and cheaper.

If both candidates don't improve their messaging, neither will be able to beat Obama on this issue.  Otherwise, Obama  may take over this issue himself.  Yet the original concept began during the Bush administration.  They had better remind voters of that.  Voters should also be reminded that cost plus contracts are why governments get too big and run up trillion dollar deficits.

As a high profile program, the space program can show the way to a better government as well as to new worlds.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tactics and Strategy as applied to Political Campaigns

Phew!  A rather long post for a rather short post.  The post will be short because it is a recent thought with the respect to the kind of candidates in this presidential election.

Romney is better tactically.  The most recent debate in Tampa Florida illustrated this.  He gets an advantage because he prepares very well.  Gingrich doesn't prepare at all, according to sources.  He likes to "improvise like a jazz musician".  This confers an advantage to anyone who prepares and evidently Romney prepares.  According to some sources, Gingrich couldn't get the expected advantage that a good preparation could have given to him.

Gingrich, on the other hand, is better strategically.  He sees the Big Picture very well.  The nuts and bolts of the campaign is the problem.  Romney can raise money, prepare better, and thus execute better.  Gingrich, on the other hand, can write books and give lectures.  He can debate better, but he loses opportunities because he doesn't prepare well enough against a lesser opponent.  He can be supreme on the main points, but he falls down when he has to deal with the minutia.

Dick Morris, the pollster, said that Gingrich should have used his good poll numbers in the month before Iowa's caucuses, in order to raise money.  When he failed to do this, Romney ran the attack ads that ruined his surge.  Now that Gingrich has won S. Carolina, he has failed to exploit that victory because of Romney's response.  He changed tactics and prepared better for his debates.  He also went on the attack and forced Gingrich to get off message.  Although this doesn't mean Romney has the better grasp of the main issues, it does mean that he has a better grasp of winning an election.

Morris also said that a Romney victory will pretty much wrap it up for him.  That's two times that Gingrich had an opportunity to put Romney away and he failed.  That failure may have cost him the nomination.  According to Morris, the month of February favors Romney.  If Morris is right, Gingrich may not recover this time.  The
failure to exploit his victory in S. Carolina will be his downfall.  Although he has a fine grasp of history, and a good understanding of where we are as a country, it won't result in a victory.  The victory will go to the general who can win his battles.  Those battles have to be fought on the battlefield, not in a lecture hall, or in a book.

This is not a pleasant thought, and it may be incorrect.  But the indications at this writing do not appear to be good for Gingrich.

Setting the record straight on Newt

Even one of Romney supporters says:
One thing is undeniable: Newt was in the vanguard of challenging the Democratic hegemony of Congress.

I think Romney is in trouble.  But the polls indicate he has a lead.  Ann Coulter is still defending him and attacking Newt.  But if he has to lie, or be less than truthful, he is in trouble.


Gingrich questions Romney's truthfulness in new TV ad | Florida politics blog: The Buzz | Tampa Bay Times

Gingrich didn't hit on this too hard in the debate.  Was that a mistake?

Lying about Reagan to get Romney elected

I have warned you about the way Romney was running his campaign, and now that one of his operatives has been caught lying about Reagan and the heroes of the Reagan revolution in order to elect someone who was anti-Reagan and anti-conservative when we needed support most, I’m not letting it go.


There does appear to be a pattern of inaccuracy, if you want to use that word, or a stronger word.  I don't think Romney is particularly comfortable with the truth.

Final Florida GOP debate

H/T 2012 Election Central

The full debate below. Note: I haven't had time to watch it.


After watching this debate, I've got a bad feeling about this. Too much disinformation is out there and this could lead to a less than optimal outcome.

The problem is that Newt's space ideas are assumed to be expensive. The current system is what is expensive on a value basis. Even if spending is kept constant, but gets poor results, it is still expensive. If you aren't getting your money's worth, you are paying too much. The assumption that it take hundreds of billions of dollars to go to the moon and set up a base is just plain ridiculous.

Both Romney and Santorum hit Newt on this and it may be a bad thing. It doesn't help to have this bit of disinformation keep on getting reinforced by these two guys. As far as I'm concerned, both of them are part of the problem if this is an example of the way they think.

Newt is on the right track. He may not get it 100% right in all of its elements, but he closer to being on the right track with regards to space than the others were.


Here's Romney saying something that is clearly an exaggeration, to put it mildly. It won't cost "trillions" to go back to the moon.  Project Apollo cost $170 billion in 2005 dollars, and had to start nearly from scratch.

Not trillions, but $15 billion according to Bill Stone of Shackleton Energy.
If a President Gingrich got Congress to offer a $15 billion prize for Stone, or anybody else, in order to lead an expedition to the moon, and set up a refueling depot, somebody might finance the attempt.

Newt and his GOP critics

A few observations with respect to the GOP elections prospects in 2012 and Newt's impact on these:
  1. Newt had nothing to do with what happened in 2006 and 2008.  If anything, he may have helped in 2008, or the loss would have been bigger.
  2. Newt was not invited to speak at the 2000 Republican convention.  It was as if he was persona non grata. Thus, he cannot be connected to the Bush administration.  That should be a plus.
  3. There are those who are blaming Newt for the sub par performance in 1998 elections while he was still Speaker.  Dole seems to be blaming him for his loss in 1996.  But the observations above show that those who were in charge afterwards were the ones responsible for the losses in 2006 and 2008.
  4. Inasmuch as he helped win in 1994 and did enough to mitigate 2008 losses, I think Gingrich at worst, is no worse than the rest of the GOP.  The rest seem to know how to lose elections without Gingrich's help.
  5. It was the Tea Party movement who won the 2010 elections.  Those who protest Newt aren't Tea Partiers.  They are the old line party apparatchiks, unless I am missing something.
  6. The ones slamming Newt may be the same ones slamming the Tea Party.  It also may be the same ones who lost in 2006 and 2008.

 Nothing that I've heard from Newt is as bad as what these guys are saying.  Angry Newt?  No.  It looks like a bunch of losers slamming Newt out of jealousy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A solution for RTLS?

Elon Musk has tweeted that the first stage reusability problem has been solved.  I don't have the details, but evidently the details are out there.  That is, judging from the comments to the post linked above.

There won't be wings.  Evidently, his design doesn't need them for a Return to Launch Site (RTLS).

State of the Union Averages 37.75 Million Viewers, Down 12% From 2011

The SOTU was a dull affair.  The applause was muted.  A review I read was not glowing in its praise.  If the president was expected a bounce from this, he may be disappointed, if this is any indication.

Former President John Tyler’s (1790-1862) grandchildren still alive

Looks like they are in their eighties.
John Tyler was born in 1790. He became the 10th president of the United States in 1841 after William Henry Harrison died in office. Tyler fathered Lyon Gardiner Tyler in 1853, at age 63. Then, at the age of 71, Lyon Gardiner Tyler fathered Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. in 1924 and four years later at age 75, Harrison Ruffin Tyler. Both men are still alive today.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Newt Gingrich on Space Policy

The bold speech he  promised.

  • Will make bureaucracy uncomfortable
  • 3 examples which show the way 1) Lincoln and Transcontinental Railroad 2) Wright Brothers 3) JFK and Apollo moon landing
  • Northwest Ordinance for Space, can petition to become a state-- want Americans to think boldly
  • Goals  1) By the end of second term, will have permanent base on moon 2) commercial near Earth industries 3) by end of 2020 will have a propulsion system to get to Mars to replace 50 year technology
  • Observations 1) practical about using equipment 2) share space on board a spacecraft 3) 5-8 launches a day --- want constant energetic activity --- makes it dynamic
  • Lean six sigma --- replace civil service laws 
  • 365 relentless pressure to better in every way
  • prizes as incentives
  • wanting people making things, taking some risks
I liked it.  Reading the comments on some threads, the reception is a bit critical.  Those who are critical ought to listen before criticizing.

Wlliam Jefferson Gingrich

The comparison with Clinton is way over the top.  It may be possible the Newt is flawed, but Clinton was on a entirely different level.  After all, he was accused of rape. It was apparent that Clinton was active in suppressing the evidence of his philandering.  So much so that he committed perjury.

If there's any evidence of wrongdoing, let it be aired out.  But not this Herman Cain type accusations.  There needs to be solid and definite proof, not just mere accusations and innuendos.

Goldberg: Newtzilla conquers all?

LA-LA land Times h/t Behind the Black

Reminds me of the song, Godzilla, by Blue Oyster Cult.  I did a parody of the lyrics- it was about Al Gore- which I did on my old blog and called it "Gorezilla".  Alas, I no longer have that song, but the original song will suffice.  You could plug in some lyrics with your imagination.

Kardashevian Aspirations: Everybody has won and all must have prizes

Kardashevian Aspirations: Everybody has won and all must have prizes: The Once and Future Moon quote: No American human spaceflight flight systems exist and their development is dependent on the advent of a...

Does unfairness cause economic depressions?

If you believe the current conventional wisdom, you probably would agree with that.
This is how Obama can win an election on the theme of "fairness".

Contrast the above video with the post here, which is about envy. If envy can prevent everybody from benefiting, then the reverse argument can be made.  The reverse argument is counter intuitive: an economic depression can be caused by the pursuit of equality.

An example?  How about the government forcing loans to be made which cannot be paid back?  If this is done in the name of equality, such an act can bring about an economic disaster, such as the one that occured in 2008.  The pursuit of equality led to that outcome and could be said to have caused the recession.

That is so counter paradigm that a lot of people will never accept it.

Eight Things Americans Claimed to Have Invented


Many times I have heard about "the great inventions" that America has produced. And although Americans are very intuitive and creative people and many things have came from this great country, not all they lay claim to is actually theirs. Here are some of them.


There are a number of items on this list which may be considered as common knowledge, but that common knowledge is incorrect.  What did I say about conventional wisdom?

I like this thought so much, I've made it into a new category called "Should you trust conventional wisdom?"

In Rejection Letter, State Department Concludes Purported Keystone XL Benefits Are Myths

In Rejection Letter, State Department Concludes Purported Keystone XL Benefits Are Myths: In a Congressionally mandated report on the reasons for rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the Department of State concludes that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has little to do with energy security or the economy. The pipeline, of great interest to the foreign tar sands company TransCanada and its investors, would have [...]


This must be one of those times when ideology can make you stupid.  Their ideology is the belief in AGW, the result is an ideological statement that discusses "tar sands", which is irrelevant.

AGW is a belief system.  It must be, it cannot be otherwise.  You can't fight climate change any better than King Canute could stop the tides.  Climate change has occurred in the geological past and will always occur in the future- regardless of mankind's actions.  The fallacy that exists is the fallacy that we can do anything about climate change.  Fighting climate change is like fighting the sun, the moon, and the stars.  It is as futile as a dog barking at the moon.

But that doesn't stop the lunacy here.  Do they really believe that importing oil from Canada makes no sense economically?  That importing it from further away makes more sense?  That importing it from Venezuela makes more sense?  From Saudi Arabia or the Persian Gulf makes more sense?

This is an insult to ordinary human intelligence, but perhaps not to liberals.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

JP Aerospace: 2011 A Year in Pictures

They have a model that just might work.  Even if the concept doesn't work, the model does work.  That is to say, it is self financing, which means it's a model that doesn't need a big government program to support it.  If they get to space this way, it is going to rock the world.

Impressions of the Tampa Debate

Yeah, I know. It's a day late and maybe a dollar short. But I'll write it up anyway.

Some bullet points
  • Romney kept hammering Gingrich on his supposed lobbyist and influence peddling.  He may have scored some points, but I am a bit suspicious of the charge and who is making it.
  • Romney couldn't redirect the Bain Capital discussions back to Big Government, but is still calling it an attack on capitalism.  Others may be impressed, I'm not.
  • Santorum let Paul get away with calling the embargo a "blockade".  A blockade is a military option.  No military action has been taken against Iran.
  • One of the moderators asserted that the Bush tax cuts failed, which wasn't exploited as the opportunity that it was.  A comparison between Bush's tax cuts and Obama's stimulus would be instructive.
  • The debate format, which forbade audience participation, made for a dull debate.  The questioning had a liberal slant, which would have been harder to achieve if participation had been allowed.
  • Paul seemed much too weak on foreign policy.  But he says good stuff about Big Government.  This conflict is hard to reconcile.
  • The moderators set up Santorum nicely for an attack against the others.  But then they try to control the audience participation.  They are trying to keep this on their preferences, not the party's preferences.  This is, after all, a Republican debate.
  • Romney still defending individual mandate.

Who won?  Maybe Romney did, but that depends upon how effective the attacks are.  He needs to score on that in order to turn the momentum back in his favor.  Gingrich was not effective enough to parry those attacks and counter attack, but he is back into positive mode.  He was successful in looking magnanimous, but that may not earn him any votes.  He may have missed an opportunity to give Romney the coup de grace.  On the whole, I'd say it was a draw, with a slight edge to Romney.

Kardashevian Aspirations: No Space Settlement Goal

Kardashevian Aspirations: No Space Settlement Goal: In the early sixties, President Kennedy made a definite goal with a deadline. That goal, in retrospect, was quite modest. At the time, it ...

Monday, January 23, 2012

An Example of the Zero Growth Church

You can watch this series of videos and you may find it persuasive.  The trouble with it is that there is no other side of the story presented.  Thus, an individual who doesn't know any better can be taken in by this.  To see what I mean, watch the videos if you have the time.  There are 8 of them, each lasting about 10 minutes apiece.

There are those who watch it that will be persuaded, but I am not concerned.  People are already hearing stuff like this on a continual basis anyway.  It has become the conventional wisdom.

Kardashevian Aspirations: Motherboard TV: The Thorium Dream

Kardashevian Aspirations: Motherboard TV: The Thorium Dream

Kardashevian Aspirations: interviews Andrea Rossi in Bologna

Kardashevian Aspirations: interviews Andrea Rossi in Bologna: h/t excerpts and comments not more than a couple years until electricity can be produced from e-cats, he says. [co...

Why Are Obama’s Supporters So Dumb? | A Voice of Sanity -

Why Are Obama’s Supporters So Dumb? | A Voice of Sanity -


Lest I give the impression that I endorse this 100%, let me mention my opinion that nobody is ever 100% right about everything all of the time.  We are all fallible.  Therefore, the question can be turned around.  The problem is not that I disagree with what Ringer is saying, but it may be the case that it isn't so cut and dried as he may be thinking.  That's the kind of thing that can happen when you drink the Kool Aid.

The Origins of Envy

The American Magazine  h/t

This is so good that I had to quote it:
Envy, after all, is a deadly sin to many. Aquinas said, "Envy according to the aspect of its object is contrary to charity, whence the soul derives its spiritual life... Charity rejoices in our neighbor's good, while envy grieves over it." [emphasis mine]

But this article goes further than morality and says that envy is built-in.  It makes us who we are, which is not exactly comforting at the moment.  We are egalitarian by design, but this is in conflict with modern civilization.  It was necessary because:
For Paleolithic Man, this was not just some errant feeling. It provided the basis for survival logic in a mostly zero-sum world. That logic worked for a time and place in which survival depended on sharing and close cooperation.
And for a world that is no longer zero-sum, isn't the emotion of envy a bit out of step?

Another fascinating story is this:
One classic experiment is the Ultimatum Game, variations of which Wilson runs on college kids using beer money. This simple experiment involves only two participants, the Proposer and the Responder, who are chosen at random. The “game” mechanics are simple. The Proposer gets a certain amount of money, say $10. He or she can offer the Responder as much of it as she likes. If the Responder accepts the offer, then the Proposer has benefitted by whatever’s left over. If the Responder rejects the offer, both get zero. 

It is fascinating because people will accept an outcome with both getting nothing, as opposed to both getting something, provided that there is a bit of unfairness in that latter outcome.  To me, fairness is irrelevant.  The fact that people would accept an outcome with both suffering, as opposed to both benefiting- seems insane.  But that appears to be how we are built.

Here's another quote that caught my attention:

I realize this may not sit well with those who have apotheosized the Stone Age Trinity. But as Steven Pinker points out in The Blank Slate, “the real alternative to romantic collectivism is not “right-wing libertarianism” but a recognition that social generosity comes from a complex suite of thoughts and emotions rooted in the logic of reciprocity.”
Reciprocity is one of those knee jerk type reactions that are built-in.  That according to another study that I read years ago.  It is "knee jerk" because it is involuntary, like the tap the knee reflex you might observe in the doctor's office.


  1. First, the rules, mores, and dispositions ideal for living in civilizations could be very different from the rules, mores, and dispositions for surviving in Paleolithic clans.
  2. our species has not had time to evolve all the dispositions that might have made us better suited to civilization.
  3. We can start to look at wealth disparities not so much through the lens of guilt, envy, or indignation, but through the lens of function, form, and fair play. When we do, ethical systems designed to redirect some of our baser instincts will emerge. 
  4. Envy can creep into both our politics and our personal lives. So also can envy’s sister emotions, guilt and indignation. All three are facets of a brain that was sculpted by millennia in a mostly zero-sum environment. But now we can live in a positive-sum world.

Predictions about the death of American hegemony may have been greatly exaggerated

Daniel W. Drezner h/t Via Media

  1. The United States is successfully deleveraging.
  2. Manufacturing is on the mend.
  3. A predicted decline in energy insecurity. 
  4. Am I missing anything? 

To the question posed with #4, I'd say the main thing is the politics.  If this country switches its paradigm to a social democrat European model like Obama wants, we may get into as deep a mess as they are in.

The deleveraging part is happening in spite of Obama, not because of him.  He is trying to quickly releverage back into greater debt.  The loss of the House in 2010 was a rebuke towards that effort.  If that rebuke isn't sustained in the election this year, the successful deleveraging will be in jeopardy.  Energy insecurity will also be in jeopardy- as so called green technologies like solar and wind - will never be able to sustain a civilization.  He cites a weak dollar, but it's best not get too weak, or the dollar will lose its reserve status.  If that happens, forget about it.

Davos elites to seek reforms of 'outdated' capitalism

"We are in an era of profound change that urgently requires new ways of thinking instead of more business-as-usual," the 73-year-old said, adding that "capitalism in its current form, has no place in the world around us." [emphasis mine]

Now that is an attack on capitalism.  To those critical of what Newt Gingrich said about Romney vis-a-vis Bain, is there anything that Newt said that remotely approaches this?

The better approach for Romney, or for anybody who is a champion of capitalism- is to criticize out of control governments that overpromise and underdeliver.  The people who have caused these problems are the very ones who are escaping their responsibility for them:
What is to blame for Americans' economic woes? Why, Americans' selfish desires, according to a school of thought that appears to be currently dominant in the White House.  

Capitalism didn't cause government's own mismanagement.  Capitalism is being made the scapegoat for the socialist's own failures.

Gingrich plans major speeches, including one on space

CNN's Gregory Wallace


“I’ll be at the space coast in Florida this week giving a speech — a visionary speech — on the United States going back into space in the John F. Kennedy tradition,” 


Some people on the right may cringe at this, but let's wait and see what he says.

Newt's looking good at the moment.  It may not last, but he looks good right now.


Despite Gingrich win, Democrats still fixated on Romney

"Mitt's no job creator, and he is no champion for Floridians," Wasserman Schultz said, adding that residents in her state "have no interest in a corporate raider who led companies to bankruptcy, outsourced jobs and destroyed communities."


This is the Gordon Gekko strawman.  Newt exposed Romney's inability to respond to this kind of attack.  There are those who mistakenly took that as an attack on capitalism.  Yet, even if it was, Romney can't defend it adequately.  That's why Romney can't beat Obama.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Sinking of the West

Mark Steyn, National Review

Today the wealthiest nations in human history build cruise ships rather than battleships, vast floating palaces dedicated to the good life — to the proposition that, in the plump and complacent West, life itself is a cruise, sailing (as the Concordia’s name suggests) on a placid lake of peace and harmony.

The West has gone soft.  Everybody knows this, but who is willing to do anything about it?  It is not enough to talk about it.

Kardashevian Aspirations: LOXLEO, Part VII

Kardashevian Aspirations: LOXLEO, Part VII: To be strictly accurate, there are 3 different systems ( I know of) that propose to harvest atmospheric gases at the edge of space, to wit: ...

The High Price Economy

By Iain Murray & David Bier on 1.20.12 @ 6:07AM  h/t

Well, how 'bout that?  That's an idea which I've been trying to push for a long time now.  Good to see that it has some folks who agree, but it is said in a different manner than what I have presented here.

The insignificance of our presence here

h/t Behind the Black


Some of the music sounds like the music in the movie Bladerunner.  You get that kind of surreal feeling that you get from that film.

On Newt's Win

Checking out a few stories about the S. Carolina primary yesterday:
  1. The results at one of my favorite stops on the web, Legal Insurrection.  Newt did better than Romney amongst women.  Poll: Should Santorum drop out?
  2. Red State on what his victory means.  I hope it means that Gingrich will go all the way and govern the same way that he is promising to.
  3. Wishful thinking?  South Carolina 2012 is to Newt as New Hampshire 2000 Was to McCain?  They're hoping Florida blunts Newt's momentum from the victory in S. Carolina.  Mitt doesn't have staying power.  He's going down.  Money won't matter.  It didn't help Phil Gramm in 1996.
  4. Gingrich Tells South Carolina Man He’d Talk to Al Sharpton  I get the impression that he isn't the least bit intimidated.  Could Romney match this?  Lol.
  5. Romney surrogate says Gingrich could cost GOP control of Congress - The Hill's Ballot Box  Comment:  Anybody who supports Romney has defective judgment.  Sorry, Romney just isn't a sincere and candid man.  And that's being charitable.
  6. Update:  Psst: Hear the Roar and Pay Attention
Too early to predict who will win the nomination.  But not to early to predict that Romney will not be the next president.  Update:  Unless he does this (watch all of it).