The candidates’ take on science

The journal Science today posted this somewhat useful review of the positions that the presidential candidates have taken on a variety of science issues.

One must read this article while recognizing that Science is not trustworthy on many of these subjects. For one, its position is always for more funding. If a politician even suggests that the rate of budget increases should be trimmed, Science will frame that suggestion as if the politician wants to slash all spending for science.

For another, Science is quite biased and agenda-driven when it comes to climate change, and illustrates that bias in this article in its reporting on Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his position on this subject. To quote:

Cruz has used his position as head of a Senate subcommittee that oversees climate research to question recent temperature trends. Last fall Cruz called climate change a “religion.” Voted no on a measure affirming that humans contribute to climate change. [emphasis mine]

The highlighted words above is a misstatement of what Cruz has said and serves to trivialize his position. He hasn’t questioned the “temperature trends”, which for almost two decades have been stalled. If anything, he has noted these trends as evidence that the theory of human-caused global warming has a problem. What he has questioned is the data that NOAA and NASA have been publishing. If anything, Cruz’s positions on the science of climate change have indicated that he has educated himself well on the subject, and has taken some thoughtful positions on it.

Nonetheless, this article is worth reviewing, as it reveals a great deal about the candidates. A close look for example at Rubio’s position on climate change reveals that he might not be consistent, and that his stated positions now might not match what he does should he become president.

NASA ships a capsule

In what appears to me to be a overwrought attempt to make the minor shipment of one Orion capsule appear to be a major achievement, NASA on Monday transported the next Orion capsule from Louisiana to Florida.

They used the NASA’s Super Guppy cargo plane to do it, even though I suspect that the capsule really isn’t that large and could have likely been shipped by road in a truck for a lot less. The agency also apparently made a big deal about this shipment with the press, which like sheep went along with it.

The pictures here illustrate what I mean. I grant that the Super Guppy is a cool plane, and it is certainly fun to see how it is loaded and flies, but from a cost perspective this seems to be a very expensive way to transport the capsule.

As a result, the impression this all leaves me with is that NASA is really not doing very much with Orion, working at a snail’s pace to stretch out the payments, and thus has to sell every little thing to convince the public that this project is accomplishing a lot.

Iowa results suggest strong Cruz future

Ted Cruz’s strong win in the Iowa caucuses tonight, combined with a record turnout of Republican voters (180K+) indicates that his support is far deeper than any poll or expert had predicted. Every prediction had insisted that if the turnout was big, Donald Trump would win. As noted at the second link, “By Team Cruz’s own admission, turnout of 175,000 tonight would strongly favor a Trump win.”.

Instead, the turnout was 180,000, and Trump lost to Cruz handily and was almost beaten by Marco Rubio.

On the other side of the aisle Clinton appears to have barely squeaked by Sanders. To me the more significant number is that the Democrats could only marshal about 10,000 voters, far less than in the past and suggesting that the enthusiasm for either of their candidates is weak.

A look at the emerging dark age in California

The coming dark age: Victor Davis Hanson took a journey through California recently and what he learned he found quite depressing.

The state bears little to no resemblance to what I was born into. In a word, it is now a medieval place of lords and peasants—and few in between. Or rather, as I gazed out on the California Aqueduct, the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Luis Reservoir, I realized we are like the hapless, squatter Greeks of the Dark Ages, who could not figure out who those mythical Mycenaean lords were that built huge projects still standing in their midst, long after Lord Ajax and King Odysseus disappeared into exaggeration and myth. Henry Huntington built the entire Big Creek Hydroelectric Project in the time it took our generation to go to three hearings on a proposed dam.

His analysis is cogent and worth a careful read. I think the most depressing point he makes is how the priorities of liberal elites of California have no connection with the real needs of the general population, and are thus causing the quality of life for those without gobs of money to decline precipitously.

Stranger still, the infusion of hundreds of billions of global tech capital created a new, politically active, multimillionaire elite, completely insulated from the consequences of their own therapeutic ideologies. The reason why California’s gas and electricity prices are among the highest in the nation, why its income, sales and gas taxes are likewise among the steepest, and why the price of housing per square foot soars over $1,000 while nearby tens of thousands of acres of open ground sit sacrosanct—essential open viewing space for those who can afford $1.5 million, 1,500 sq. feet 1970s houses—is this new rich elite.

California is No Place for the Middle Class

Easy money translated into a utopian view of living. Higher taxes were a small price to pay for the psychological reassurance that a millionaire was still liberal. Professions of abstract progressive piety make guilt-free grasping materialism possible. I suppose if you make $800,000, having your legislature outlaw dogs chasing bears and bobcats instead of building a reservoir makes you feel as if you make $80,000.

We are seeing this pattern repeat everywhere across the country. We are even seeing it repeat in Europe, with the ordinary citizens finding their lives destroyed by Islamic immigrants forced on them by pie-in-the-sky elite elected officials.

The last link is very illuminating. It shows a German townhall meeting where an elected mayor tells his citizens that rather than stop the physical abuse of women by Muslim immigrants the women should run and hide. The crowd understandably reacts in horror and indignation. Whether they will move to replace this mayor and his ilk remains an unknown. In the U.S. too many Americans remain willing to accept the rule of similar elitists, which is why we still have a viable Democratic Party.

Another 5 month slip of first Falcon Heavy launch

In the heat of competition: Amid a slew of SpaceX launch delays in the past month due to the introduction of an upgraded Falcon 9, Elon Musk noted at a student event in Texas on Sunday that the first demo launch of the Falcon Heavy is likely to happen in September, not April as previously announced.

The article is mostly focused on the launch delays of the Falcon 9, which for some of SpaceX’s customers are becoming a financial problem. The company is obviously trying to make sure that further Falcon 9 launches are a success, but the unreliability of its schedule is clearly a reason satellite companies like Eutelsat have signed new contracts with Russia’s ILS or Arianespace. Even with the problems Russia has had with its Proton they have managed a more reliable launch schedule.

Then again, the Proton and Ariane 5 have been around for decades. Their companies aren’t trying to improve them in any way. The delays in SpaceX’s schedule are somewhat understandable in this context. Better to launch slowly with new designs then to have a failure that entirely stops things for months.

Nonetheless, it might be wise for SpaceX to settle on the present Falcon 9 design for awhile, so that they can catch up and make their customers happy. Moreover, the further delay of the Falcon Heavy launch is definitely disappointing.

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