Category Archives: Points of Information

Violence erupts in Rome after Berlusconi wins vote

This is how tyrants respond to democracy: Violence erupts in Rome after the head of Italy’s center-right government survived a no-confidence vote. Though the article does not tell us much about the political views of the protesters, this quote gives a strong hint that they might be leftwing:

The protesters were mostly students but also included workers and immigrants.


Cassini Spots Potential Ice Volcano on Saturn Moon

Scientists have used data from Cassini to identify what they think are ice volcanoes on Titan. The two volcanoes, each about 3000 feet high, are located near the equator and appear to resemble the volcanoes on Earth, with a central crater on top of cone-like peak and finger-like flows coming down the sides from the crater. The lava here, however, is not molten rock, but water.


Boeing Submits Proposal for 2nd Round of NASA Commercial Crew Development Program

In competition with the Orbital/Virgin Galactic proposal I mentioned yesterday, Boeing has submitted its own proposal to provide crew and cargo ferrying service to ISS.

Considering the federal budget debt and the political winds for reducing that debt, I have great doubts the subsidies for these proposals will ever arrive. Nonetheless, with the end of the shuttle program and nothing to replace it, the United States has a serious need for a system to get crew and cargo into space. And in a free society, fulfilling that need means profits, which is why these proposals are beginning to appear, and will get built, regardless of whether Congress funds them up front or later buys the services.


Orbital Sciences and Virgin Galactic team up to propose orbital craft

Orbital Sciences and Virgin Galactic have teamed up to propose a four person reusable orbital spacecraft to ferry crews to ISS. Key quote:

The spacecraft, designed to launch atop an Atlas 5 rocket and dock with the international space station, could be ready for test flights as early as 2014. The remotely piloted spacecraft would be able to carry four passengers initially, including three astronauts and one paying ticketholder, though based on market demand the number of private rides aboard the vehicle could grow to two, with four astronaut seats available, sources said. In the works at Orbital for the past year, the reusable spacecraft would be built using existing materials and technologies, employ standard hypergolic propellants and rely on a pusher escape system in the event of a launch mishap, sources said. [emphasis mine]

Note their insistence that they be allowed to fly tourists. This is a major change from how NASA has operated in the past, as a Soviet-style government agency hostile to commercial profits.

Correction: Clark Lindsey notes that the Orbital press release makes no mention of Virgin Galactic, as reported above.


NASA Picks New Chief Scientist

Today’s announcement by the Obama administration of their choice for NASA’s new chief scientist, Waleed Abdalati, reveals once again how much climate research guides their thinking, not space exploration. Key quote:

His research has focused on the study of polar ice cover using satellite and airborne instruments. He has led or participated in nine field and airborne campaigns in the Arctic and the Antarctic.

This is not a criticism of Dr. Abdalati. His research interests, however, make very clear where the Obama administration really wants NASA to look: down at the Earth instead of up beyond Earth orbit.


EPA regulations to go into effect says court

Two stories on the recent attempts of the EPA under the Obama administrions to create new climate regulations. First, a federal appeals court decided Friday not to block the new EPA climate regulations. Second, the war between Texas and the EPA over the EPA’s effort to regulate Texas industry continues unabated.


8 Observations From The Cancun Climate Conference

Eight observations from the Cancun climate conference. I like this quote the best:

“The enterprise is pompously and risibly dedicated in equal parts to wealth redistribution and self-perpetuation, as a platform for, and along the way, engaging in visceral anti-Americanism.”

Read the whole thing. Very entertaining, in a depressing sort of way.


American flag banned from condo complex

American flag banned from condo complex. Key quote:

The 16 or so units are all alike. Beige with white trim and white mailboxes lined up ever so neatly along the main access road. And that, Coombs was told at a condo meeting, is how it shall stay.

With the obvious exceptions, of course.

A quick trip through the development this week showed that some of the condo owners like big wreaths. Some like small ones. Some like bows on their doors or garland on their banisters. Some like welcome signs on their porches and some don’t. Individuality is allowed for flowers in the summer, Coombs said. But there shall be no flags, and it says so right in the condo bylaws.

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