14 May 2004

SpaceShip One Rock(et)s

[source, source]

Scaled Composites of Mojave, Calif., is the builder of SpaceShipOne, an effort led by aviation innovator Burt Rutan. The financial backer of the project is Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

In a post-flight statement from the company, the SpaceShipOne team reported that their space plane flew to 212,000 feet altitude, almost 41 miles.

The official report:

Launch conditions were 46,000 feet and 120 knots. Motor light off occurred 10 seconds after release and the vehicle boosted smoothly to 150,000 feet and Mach 2.5. Subsequent coast to apogee of 211,400 feet. During a portion of the boost, the flight director display was inoperative, however the pilot continued the planned trajectory referencing the external horizon. Reaction control authority was as predicted and the vehicle recovered in feather experiencing 1.9M and 3.5G?s. Feather oscillations were actively damped by the pilot and the wing was de-feathered starting at 55,000 feet. The onboard avionics was re-booted and a smooth and uneventful landing made to Mojave.

Mach 2.5! Yow.

Does anyone think NASA could form a comittee to study this for less than Rutan’s spent to build & fly it?

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Oh, Canada!


Canada is officially beyond parody. The latest development in Flagscam is that those Sheila Copps Maple Leafs – the flags needed to keep Quebec in Confederation, the flags only a $6 million Government program could organize, the flags whose $6 million Government program ballooned to $45 million, the flags whose free distribution wiped out the profits of Canadian flag retailers, the flags that no-one in Canada could make fast enough and so wound up being secretly imported from overseas, the flags for which millions of dollars were paid to well-connected Liberal Party middle-men for doing nothing, the flags for which the luckier Grit cronies got paid twice over for doing nothing – it turns out these flags don’t even fly.

On the CBC the other night, Doreen Braverman, who runs Canada’s biggest flag retailer, held up one of the Sheila Maple Leafs. No eyelets, no sleeve, no halyard line for your rope and toggle, no nothing. The Canadian taxpayers paid $45 per “flag” for a “flag” that can’t be flown.

Well, the military forces can’t fly either so what’s the problem?

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I didn't think you'd MRInd!

A Saskatchewan native band, the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, has recruited European investors to open a private, for-profit MRI clinic on their land. And the Toronto Star, not known for its opposition to aboriginal self-government, is demanding that Ottawa step in and put dem Injuns in their place:

The Saskatchewan government objects because it sees this scheme for what it is: An attempt to breach the Canada Health Act by introducing two-tier medicine in the province.

But the province fears it is powerless to stop it. First Nations, such as the Muskeg Lake Cree, are exempt from provincial rules. Aboriginal-run medical facilities do not have to live by the health act, which forbids queue-jumping for those who can afford to pay for medical service.

So, it’s over to Ottawa. Health Minister Pierre Pettigrew and the rest of the federal cabinet should put a stop to this immediately.

The Saskatchewan proposal is viewed as a test case for bands across the country. Already, in Alberta, the Siksika First Nation is prepared to start its own health-care clinic that may also offer for-profit services.

In recent years, Ottawa has moved toward granting native bands the right to self-government, including control of their health-care systems.

But surely the intent was to give bands the ability to tailor programs for their members, not to undermine the health system for others.

When the courts have exempted aboriginals from certain hunting and fishing regulations, as we’ve seen in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and British Columbia, I don’t remember the Toronto Star getting too upset about it. I must say, I’m shocked by how shallow their enthusiasm for aboriginal self-government has turned out to be.

I gotta admit, I kind of hope we see a major court battle over this, complete with native activists accusing the Star’s editorial board of “patriarchy” and “racism”. I wonder if Joseph Atkinson foresaw anything like this?

See, this is what’s wrong with letting people decide things for themselves. Soon enough they start deciding on issues that are too important to leave to the grubby demos.

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People on the NY Times street


Another reason I hate stories with ‘real people’ in them: An Editor’s Note reveals the dirty little secret about where the New York Times finds those ordinary citizens sprinkled throughout public policy pieces to complain in homespun fashion about the dire effect of this budget cut or that government initiative: they are handed to the Times on a platter by (liberal) advocacy groups. Gee, no wonder they act like trained seals! … And of course Times reporters would never feel they owe anything to the groups for doing their legwork for them. (But accept a theater ticket from a similar group and you get fired.)


Here’s a productivity-sapping measure: How about a newsroom rule that Times reporters have to actually go out and find their own men-on-the-street?

Mix with the hoi polloi? That’s asking a bit much of the Times staff.

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It looks good on us

[source, source]

The other day, while taking a break by the Al-Hamra Hotel pool, fringed with the usual cast of tattooed defence contractors, I was accosted by an American magazine journalist of serious accomplishment and impeccable liberal credentials.

She had been disturbed by my argument that Iraqis were better off than they had been under Saddam and I was now — there was no choice about this — going to have to justify my bizarre and dangerous views. I’ll spare you most of the details because you know the script — no WMD, no ‘imminent threat’ (though the point was to deal with Saddam before such a threat could emerge), a diversion from the hunt for bin Laden, enraging the Arab world. Etcetera.

But then she came to the point. Not only had she ‘known’ the Iraq war would fail but she considered it essential that it did so because this would ensure that the ‘evil’ George W. Bush would no longer be running her country. Her editors back on the East Coast were giggling, she said, over what a disaster Iraq had turned out to be. ‘Lots of us talk about how awful it would be if this worked out.’ Startled by her candour, I asked whether thousands more dead Iraqis would be a good thing.

She nodded and mumbled something about Bush needing to go. By this logic, I ventured, another September 11 on, say, September 11 would be perfect for pushing up John Kerry’s poll numbers. ‘Well, that’s different — that would be Americans,’ she said, haltingly. ‘I guess I’m a bit of an isolationist.’ That’s one way of putting it.

How are these giggling editors really different from the abusive prison guards at Abu Ghraib, laughing at the hurting Iraqis?

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