Tag Archives: freedom

The greed for power, or why it is always better to do without government help

In an article today on spaceref.com “NASA: It’s Our Space Station – Not Yours,” Keith Cowing has some harsh words for NASA and its management of the research on ISS. Based on what he witnessed at a NASA meeting, it appears that NASA wants to retain control over all research on the space station, while denying access to outside other researchers. Key quote:

In addition to prohibiting the ISS National Laboratory contractor from getting its hands on human-based research, Mark Uhran also stated that any proposal that proposed to do anything with spacecraft systems or engineering would be similarly deemed non-responsive. In other words two of the most interesting things you can do on the ISS – the sorts of thing you’d want a larger research base to focus on (assuming you are really interested in outside participation) are off limits due to executive fiat.

Where is NASA’s justification for limiting the ability of the private and educational sectors from making full utilization of the amazing capabilities that are offered by the ISS? Answer: NASA made it up. Truth be known, NASA was dragged kicking and screaming into supporting this National Laboratory concept. Congress had to enact a law to make them do it.

None of this surprises me. NASA is a government agency, and as a government agency it is going to protect its turf, come hell or high water. It is for this reason I think it a bad idea for the new space rocket companies to take any NASA money, up front. If they do, NASA will immediately use those funds as a club to force these new companies to do things as NASA wishes, rather than being free to compete and innovate on their own. In other words, NASA will use the funds to maintain control of all space exploration.

Better the new companies build their rockets and spaceships on their own, and then sell these new inventions to NASA or whoever else wants to use them. Let the profits pay for the work, not the needs and regulations of a government agency.

Not only will this free competiton produce a lot more creativity and innovation, it will almost certainly help to reduce the cost of space travel, as these companies fight to gain market share. And most importantly, it will frame the future exploration of space in the context of freedom rather that a state-run endeavor.

And isn’t freedom the principle that the United States of America stands for?

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Church Groups Harass Clyde’s Sport Shop – Plan Protest Demonstration

Battle of the protesters! Three Baltimore-based anti-gun church groups have begun a campaign to harass Maryland gun stores. In turn, the first store targeted has fought back. Key quote:

The religious leaders obtained a Baltimore County permit for an anti-gun demonstration from 2 PM until 7 PM in front of Clyde’s Sport Shop. They reportedly requested a permit for 1,000 demonstrators. The Baltimore County Police limited their permit to 75 demonstrators. In response to the planned demonstration, Clyde’s scheduled a Customer Appreciation Day featuring free hot dogs, hamburgers, soft drinks, side dishes, popcorn and a DJ to provide music.

The church groups were nowhere to be found but over 200 gunnies had a very good time and enjoyed good food. It seems that several local churches took the Heeding God’s Call group to task for harassing Clyde’s, whom they consider to be a good neighbor and law abiding business.

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ELISABETH SABADITSCH-WOLFF’s November 23 court hearing

As the court proceedings occurred during Thanksgiving week, I am late reporting this: On November 23 Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff had her court hearing in Austria, where she faces imprisonment for speaking out against Islam. You can see a very detailed report of the hearing here. The next hearing is now scheduled for January 18, 2011.

All in all, this whole trial is a travesty of justice. Sabaditsch-Wolff merely quoted the Koran in describing why she considers it a threat. More importantly, doesn’t freedom of speech mean freedom of speech? That some Muslims were offended by her comments is completely irrelevant.

You can send money to Sabaditsch-Wolff’s legal fund here.

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Driving vs flying

After a twelve hour drive from Chicago, I am finally home. It might seem silly to make this trip by car when the plane is faster, but since Sept 11 I have found it actually makes more sense to drive when the trip is 12 hours or less. First, a door to door plane flight will take about 6 hours, so you don’t save that much time. Second, by driving I have access to a car in Chicago, and don’t need to rent something. Three, the total cost is significantly less, especially since we save two airfares.

And finally, neither I nor my wife Diane have to submit ourselves to TSA abuse. I consider myself a free American, and don’t take kindly to government officials abusing their power unconstitutionally. If the airlines haven’t yet realized that this security madness is losing them business, it ain’t my problem.

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Pat Condell on the death of free speech in Europe

Pat Condell, whose never minces words in his commentary on youtube, has decided to speak out about Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff’s upcoming trial in Austria, where she is threatened with three years imprisonment because she expressed an opinion about Islam and the Koran. It is worth watching.

The purpose [of these trials] is to silence dissent, by example. To show everyone else that they too will be treated as a common criminal if they dare to express a negative opinion about the world’s most backward, intolerant and violent religion. This is where we are in Europe today. It’s like something out of the old Soviet Union.

By the way, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff’s legal defense fund can be found at http://english.savefreespeech.org/ .

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New airport security checks causing protests

And people wonder why I now drive from Maryland to Chicago: It appears that no one is happy with new TSA airport security checks, requiring either a full body scan or a full body pat down. Protests are coming from pilots, flight attendants, passengers, and the airlines. Key quote from the “passenger” link above:

The aggressively enhanced TSA pat down involves over-the-clothes searches of passengers’ breast and genital areas. You can opt not to go through the backscatter body scanners, and thereby keep your genitalia private from pictures, but then a TSA screener will use a front-of-the-hand, slide-down body screening that Ars Technica called “nut-busting pat-downs.”

And there’s National Opt-Out Day, November 24, 2010. (I wish I could participate, but as I said, I will be driving to Chicago for Thanksgiving, mostly to avoid the police-state of the TSA.)

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Leftist cartoonist calls for armed revolution against the right

Feel the hate: Leftist cartoonist Ted Rall calls for armed revolution against conservatives. The quote below from Rall’s writing nicely summarizes what he thinks of people who disagree with him:

The millions of partisans who follow Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and right-wing televangelists happen to be the best-armed people around, and they despise just about everyone who doesn’t think and pray like them. They will see collapse as affirmation of their beliefs that secular liberalism is destructive. They will also see it as an opportunity to create a new, ordered world atop the ashes. They will act to stop teenage sluts from getting abortions, teach niggers a lesson, and slaughter those spics, dots, and everyone else who doesn’t fit into their vision of what and who is right. [emphasis mine]

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The space program is dead, long live the space industry!

The news following the midterm election results have not sounded good for NASA. Two stories on Monday alone signaled the bad news:

Earlier stories last week were no more encouraging:

While Republicans have, since the 1970s, generally been more enthusiastic than Democrats about NASA and manned space exploration, the new Republican Congress has a tone that seems decidedly different from past years. Above all, it appears the public is finally becoming aware of the recent explosion in the federal debt, as illustrated by the graph below. (hat tip to Gateway Pundit and The Captain’s Comments.)

Federal deficit

The public’s growing concern about these numbers was clearly reflected in the election results. First, there was the success of many tea party candidates advocating fiscal responsibility and a radical shrinking of government. Even in cases where conservatives lost, the closeness of the election in districts or states where liberals have rarely in the past been challenged suggests the mood of the electorate is decidedly shifting in a direction against federal spending.

Second, the electorate seemed surprisingly hostile to pork, expressing little interest in being brought off with baubles for their home districts. Thus, candidates who ran against pork seemed to get far more enthusiastic attention and positive publicity than those elected officials famous for “bringing home the bacon.”

In such an atmosphere, the priorities of Congress will be forced to change. The outlook therefore does not look good for the type of pork funding represented by the NASA authorization bill passed on September 29, with its billions of subsidies for the aerospace industry.

We can see an indication of this new tone by some of the initial plans announced by the Republican leadership. As a first step, the Republicans have proposed cutting the federal budget back 2008 levels. This change alone would reduce NASA’s annual budget by about $2 billion, or 10%.

This solution, however, will not close the budget gap, only shrink it slightly. The Republicans will still be faced with massive amounts of red ink and a public demanding that they deal with it. To prove they mean what they say, the new House leadership will be forced to propose some additional draconian cuts.

Unfortunately, the circumstances at this moment has made NASA a prime budget-cutting target. » Read more

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Warrentless raids and arrests at Florida barbershops

This appears to be an abuse of power: Since August Florida police have conducted two warrentless sweeps, raiding nine barbershops and arresting 37 people (for “barbering without a license,” a misdemeanor), using the state’s business regulations as a cover. Key quotes:

The operations were conducted without warrants, under the authority of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation inspectors, who can enter salons at will.

With the exception of two misdemeanor marijuana charges and Vasquez’s arrest, deputies were unable to connect any of the illegal activity to anyone. Meanwhile, store owners reported property damage from the raids, including a large hole employees said deputies busted into a wall at 809 Barbershop in Ocoee. However, several owners said the damage to their businesses and reputations has been much worse.

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A high school production of To Kill a Mockingbird cancelled due to political correctness

Freedom of speech alert: A high school production of To Kill a Mockingbird was cancelled because of the play includes the word “nigger.” The absurdity of this is incredible. Not only was this how people spoke during the time period described in the book, Harper Lee’s book was central in bringing about the end to racial discrimination.

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Showing how the country is polarized . . . with a t-shirt

Want to find out how polarized our county is? Then wear this shirt (which can be purchased here) and watch the reaction.

Reagan is right t-shirt

How do I know this? Well, yesterday on my flight home from California after giving a lecture to the Orange County section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, I tried it. Nor was this the first time I’ve worn this shirt and seen the reactions. People always seem to notice it, often doing a doubletake because at first they think it is the Obama image with the word “Hope” underneath. Then they realize what it really is, and either laugh in amusement or frown in annoyance.

Yesterday was no different. As I stepped out of the elevator and into the lobby of my California hotel, I passed a woman whose eyes immediately widened when she saw the shirt, and then scowled as she walked past. Then, I went into a local Subway to pick up something to eat during the long flight home. The woman who made my sub as well as the clerk who took my cash both looked at my shirt and glowered. Though they did nothing outright rude, I really think they would have preferred to tell me to leave and not sell me my sub.

At the airport things were interestingly different. Two guys in front of me on line to check bags immediately wanted to know where they could buy the shirt. Then, on the airplane, a steward as well as the passenger sitting next to me asked me the same question. When I said I’d forward them the webpage if they’d give me their email addresses, they all complied eagerly. The steward then went out of his way for the rest of the flight to make sure I was happy, to which I remain grateful.

Though I do find these reactions both amusing and intriguing, I also find them disturbing. How can a free nation survive if people get so emotional over something so silly as a t-shirt?

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