Saturday, February 01, 2003

Shuttle Patch



This shuttle patch was found along a road in Hemphill, Texas, near the Lousiana border. Although the astronauts do indeed wear these on their uniforms (and, as a crew, design the emblem themselves), it is a safe bet that this patch is not from the uniform of any member of the crew.

The shuttle carries up quite a few do-dads so the astronauts and NASA and contractors and scientists can give a few things away to family, friends and coworkers, things which actually came along for the ride. There were at least 600 of these crew patches on board... and a whole bunch of other stuff, too.

N.B.: These were stored away for the flight in a particular (and identifiable) section of the space shuttle itself. Just because it's not part of the shuttle doesn't mean evidence of any charring and such can't be useful to the guys at NASA figuring out what happened. Turn this stuff in, too.
RAH! RAH! R-A-H!

As always, Robert Heinlein said it best:

Space will be colonized - although possibly not by us If we lose our nerve, there are plenty of other people on this planet. The construction crews may speak Chinese or Russian - Swahili or Portuguese. It does not take "good old American know-how" to build a city in space. The Laws of Physics work just as well for others as they do for us.


First Smile All Day

A friend of mine, generally of the looney-left but nevertheless as serious space nut, accused me (tounge firmly in cheek) of always blaming the left wing for everything.
Guardian Finger Pointing, Already

Just read this article in the Guardian, where one fellow, a 36 year NASA veteran, is already trying to point the finger at the NASA Administration. I'm just a enthusiastic amateur, but some of these charges don't ring true. Maybe it's a dead-on indictment. The concerns about NASA safety are fair, but this one comment really jumped out at me and smacks, I think, of grandstanding:

'But when I tried to raise my concerns with NASA's new administrator, I received two reprimands for not going through the proper channels, which discouraged other people from coming forward with their concerns. When it came to an argument between a middle-ranking engineer and the astronauts and administration, guess who won.

Stop. Let's play that back. The fight between the middle-ranking engineer on the one hand, and the astronauts and the administration on the other? I don't have to spend a lot of time lecturing on game theory to convince the thoughtful reader that the astronauts have the most to lose when it comes to shuttle safety. Yes, NASA Administration has promises to keep, so their incentives (not their motives!) might, I suppose, line up with some whitewashing (I reject any suggestion that NASA Administration has done anything but work for crew safety). But astronauts have an entirely different set of values that line up neatly with the interests of middle-engineering management - i.e., crew survivability - and if this guy is willing to say that astronauts got in the way of astronaut safety, without concrete proof, I favor bastinado.

'One of my biggest complaints has been that we should have been looking for ways to develop crew escape modules, which NASA has constantly rejected.'

This is grandstanding. An ejectable crew cabin (presumably not unlike that aboard the F-111 Aardvark where the whole unit pops out, not individual seats (N.B.: Check out this whole page, and you'll be begin to see how complex something like this can be) was considered on many occasions for use on the space shuttle. It was constantly rejected because -- get this -- it was a bad idea.

First, such a cabin would be very heavy, forcing a dramatic decrease in shuttle performance. Second, you need to build in a lot of pyrotechnics into the cabin eject to make it work (adding more failure modes). Third, a separable (rather than integral) cabin eject adds more moving parts (railing, parachutes, flotation devices (adding even more failure modes)). Fourth, its not clear that this cabin eject would have help in this crash --- an ejectable crew cabin, which is pretty easy in an F-111 because the speeds are Mach 1.8ish at maximum doesn't need a hell of a lot of inflight performance. Making something work at Mach 18 - as opposed to the Mach 2 or so of Challenger -- when the shuttle was still in reentry mode (when the Columbia was lost today) would mean the cabin eject would itself have to be reentry worthy (adding yet still weight and more failure modes).

In future projects, should we consider a cabin eject? Absolutely! Design that up front and it might be quite workable. But to suggest it can be grafted right onto the existing shuttle fleet demonstrates a lack of understanding of his own subject matter. What bugs me even more about this statement is that, now that we've had a second failure mode for the space shuttle demonstrated all too graphically, this fellow wants to claim he'd forseen the fix that would have (perhaps) saved them for this accident while glossing over the dozens of failure modes that his fix wouldn't have helped (and probably would have made more likely).

Everyone wants to minimize the risk but, sadly, even human safety must fit within budgetary constraints. And, more importantly, there are lots of other places money gets spent on shuttle safety. Take, just as one for instance, Transatlantic Abort Landing (TAL) Sites. If the shuttle had had to abort during launch (an issue considered far more likely until today... and, in fact... still today), the space shuttle has the option of cutting short of orbit and landing near Madrid or in Senegal, using runways built and maintained at great expense. Without those runways (almost used on Eileen Collins' first flight as commander), a NASA crew would have, essentially, no options except a nice, controlled crash into the sea. Would an ejectable crew compartment help there? Possibly, but at the expense of other shuttle safety systems.

Sadly, there isn't a giant pile of cash to pay for everything and we don't have a Way Back Machine to solve the problems we now know will fail. And this blowhard suggesting that his fix was the one thing NASA needed is terribly premature.

We need to go over NASA management with a fine-tooth comb and make sure this was just an engineering problem, not a management one. There are some real issues brought up in this article (although they are nothing new to anyone who follows the space program with more than passing interest). But before our One Loan Desperate Engineer claims he had The Solution, he knows enough that safety decisions are part of engineering compromise and are determined after careful study by lots of smart people, not the One Loan Desperate Engineer trying to stop things at the last moment.

It's sad, but true, that as long as we're going to operate the space shuttle around Earth, and not the Ralph Nader-approved Planet Nerf, we are going to lose astronauts. Anyone who says there was The Solution, both perfect and smackingly obvious, just waiting to be enacted is deluding themselves.
Irrational... I dunno... just irrational

On Ebay, a cloth STS-107 mission patch is going for $150. You can buy this at any NASA gift shop for $7 and, my guess, is they'll make more. This is not debris or anything untoward. Doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense.
Getting Back

One thing that strikes me so far is that this seems to be an engineering failure, not a management failure. Although many folks in NASA were troubled by the engineering issues that lead to the Challenger disaster, what really scared people was the attitude of NASA management that minized, ignored and even denied the risks involved in the early days of the shuttle program.

NASA seems open and direct today about Columbia --- clearly worried about the engineering problem and clearly willing to point the finger at themselves (with only a few, larger contractors working on the Shuttle these days, compared to dozens in 1986, there aren't many other places to point. NASA blamed Morton-Thiokol (the Solid Rocket Motor contractor) and Thiokol shot right back at NASA. Assuming we avoid the recriminations, I think we're back in space in less than one year.

What will be interesting, however, is if our manned space program is still grounded when the Chinese launch their first taikonaut in October.
Small Comfort

CNN is reporting that remains of at least one astronaut have been found in Hemphill, TX. This is fifty miles from the bulk of the debris.
Ad Astra Per Aspera

I hadn't read Robert Heinlein's short story "Requiem" since shortly after his death in 1988. A story about a man who dies after finally reaching the Moon, the only thing he ever wanted to do. I read it again today.

Heinlein starts his story:

On a high hill in Samoa there is a grave. Inscribed on the marker are these words:

Under a wide and starry sky,
Dig my grave and let me lie
Gladly did I live and glady die
And I laid me down with a will!

Let this be the verse that you grave for me,
Here he lies where he longed to be
Home is the sailor, home from the sea
And the hunter home from the hill!

These lines appear in another place -- scrawled on a shipping tag torn from a compressed-air container, and pinned to the ground with a knife.

Instapundit notes someone beat me to quoting Heinlein. I like that one better.
The President's Remarks

You can find the President's remarks here
Debris

It is illegal to possess debris from the space shuttle -- so if you hear of anyone taking it as a souveneir, rat them out. All debris is critical for a proper investigation and, rest assured, the Feds prosecute this stuff.

UPDATE: Already, some dumb bastard claimed to sell some on Ebay. Probably a hoax and EBay yanked it.

UPDATE: The US Attorney in Eastern Texas is taken this stuff seriously
Two Countries Proud

Kalpana Chalwa, who flew once before in 1997, also aboard Columbia did two countries proud.

UPDATE: I said she flew with Glenn a moment before. My mistake.
A few links

Not surprisingly, Instapundit and Transterrestrial Musings (see sidebar of links) have good coverage. This link, however, is worth a look:

NOAA Radar Image

This is a radar image from this morning. The red streak is the shuttle disintegrating. (I don't know what the scattering around Sherveport is) -- now that's not that this was a big explosion, but rather the shuttle is full of metal and other radar-reflective stuff so when it broke up, the radar --- used to seeing water vapor -- read this debris as an enormous storm.

It's just a cloud of silica, titanium and aluminum, but the area it covers should give you a sense of how hard the recovery operations are going to be.
It was foggy here in California...

Although I'm a great fan of the space program, and saw Space Shuttle Endeavour take off from the VIP seats in 1993 (how I got those is a story for a different day and a different mood), but like all things, didn't much pay attention to any particular mission.

This morning, however, over Northern California, one was supposed to see Space Shuttle Columbia coming in for reentry around 5:52, sixty miles up. I woke up to check it out but, unfortunately, the breaks in the cloud were far too small and the clouds themselves too bright with streetlights and I gave up. I went back inside, but not before I heard what I thought was a vague, distant sonic boom. Maybe Columbia, maybe not.

Oddly, I wished them luck, not something I'll usually do. NASA has good, committed engineers doing a hard job without quite enough appreciation from the public (myself most certainly included). It was just another shuttle flight, the 113th and there was nothing to except go back to bed. I'll leave you to your own thoughts of how you heard about this --- mine are just as pointless and self-indulgent as anyone's. But I had a couple of thoughts came to mind when I watched the tape on CNN this morning:

God may give us the rules of thermodynamics. Engineers --- people --- put 'em to work. And people aren't perfect.

If we find what went wrong, (and with debris scattered over 400 square miles or more, we might not) someone will want to put the blame on someone for not doing something differently. This is a wrong-headed -- the folks at NASA and Boeing, astronauts and engineers and janitors and security guards work hard to make the shuttle fleet safe -- something went wrong and these good folks will work day and night to make it better.

Nothing can replace the lives of these astronauts, but they knew and accepted the risk, not only of an engineering problem or a mechanical problem but of human error, too. They put their lives in the hands of these people, they trusted them. And, now, those folks at NASA will feel that they let the astronauts down. Now, I don't know any of these astronauts. I've never even met an astronaut. But I don't doubt for a second that any of the seven astronauts we lost today wouldn't trust these same folks to find out what went wrong and make sure it doesn't happen again. And so should we.

****
N.B.: My friend Adam Bonin at Throwing Things called me this morning. He's not a big space guy -- but knew I'd be feeling down and called me from Philadelphia to get my thoughts. I appreciate that. And he said he might send some folks my way from his site. I'll be posting nothing but Space Shuttle news and speculation today and over the weekend and I'll try directing you to some good links.

Also, I'm happy to field any questions, no matter how speculative.

SHUTTLE WAY OVERDUE

Possible debris trail following reentry.

Check news and pray.

UPDATE: SHUTTLE 10 MINUTES OVERDUE. I'M AFRAID WE'VE LOST THEM.

UPDATE: SHUTTLE 14 MINUTES OVERDUE.

Real time information can be found here: http://spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/sts107/status.html


GOD BLESS THESE BRAVE 7.

Friday, January 31, 2003

Whiskey of the Week: the Macallan 12 year old

For the last few years, as my older siblings take the lead cooking at Christmas and Thanksgiving, I’ve taken to bringing a nice bottle of scotch over to my folks’ place. I tended to lecture my siblings, with an affected Scottish accent, that “the only thing you should put in scotch whiskey...is more scotch whiskey.” Good advice, to a point. Soda water is out and I’d strongly counsel against ice – as it numbs the palate and collapses the flavors. But while I am happy to fight with brothers about something both subjective and meaningless, I surely won’t do that with my wife, who found a few drops of water changed whiskey from a curiosity into something she quite enjoys, something we both discovered when we took our honeymoon in Scotland in 2001. The good folks at Glenmorangie in Tain disabused us both of the idea that whiskey ought never be served with water. This gave my wife a new perspective on whiskey and me a richly deserved kick in the arse.

Indeed, one of the great misconceptions about single malt whiskey is that it should always be taken neat. That is, without adding additional water. This is wrong.

A few drops of water can enhance the flavors of a glass served neat and opens up other flavors you may have missed before. Next time you pour yourself a whiskey, or order one in a bar, get a glass of quality water (you be the judge of your own tap water quality, but it should be room temperature) on the side. Take a taste of the whiskey at bottle strength then add a few drops at a time and see how the whiskey changes character. Don’t go overboard, at least not at first. I find whiskey which has been watered down too much can taste mushy.

The second thing to remember about not adding water, and this is perhaps the main thing, unless you have a bottle of cask-strength whiskey (which you’ll rarely encounter these outside of captivity), that glass of whiskey already has quite a bit of water added to it. Whiskey in the barrel is about 60 to 63% alcohol; most ordinary commercial whiskey (e.g., the Macallan, Glenmorangie, Glenlivet) is watered down and bottled at a strength of 40 to 43% alcohol. Since this is the alcohol content of most spirits, and probably has as much to do with taxation as much as consumer expectation, it is purely convention. Whiskey should be consumed at the strength you prefer it. I take mine at bottle strength or with a few drops of water and my guess is my wife likes it at about 30%.

Now, I find one the best things about whiskey is that the people with pretensions about whiskey are relatively few (in all events, fewer by one after I got over myself) and the focus is on the drink, not the relative knowledge of the drink. Whether you know a little, or a lot, about whiskey, most fellow whiskey drinkers are happy to hear your opinions. Offer Glenfiddich at a party and folks who declare themselves to be scotch drinkers will accept, ever graciously, the dram you offer them. It might (and should) lead to a discussion of whiskey, but I’ve never had someone spend the balance of the evening claiming that while this dram might be just dandy, but if you aren’t drinking the Ardbeg 1977 you shouldn’t bother with whiskey at all. Open up a bottle of Beaulieu at a party and claim that it’s your favorite wine. Pretty soon some loudmouth is yammering on about once seeing a bottle of Screaming Eagle once. Well, not seeing, exactly. There was this friend of mine who heard about a guy...

Speaking of fancy-pants bottles of whiskey, I’ll point you to the Macallan 12 year old. The Macallan, from the heart of Speyside (a subregion of the “Highland Malts”), is certainly among my top Highlands Malt and their 25-year old is probably my third favorite bottle of whiskey. Michael Jackson, the beer and whiskey critic and the one not $150M in arrears to Sony Music, calls it the “Chateau of Malt Whiskey” and it is just that. Macallan has a huge range of whiskeys, all them good, ranging from a 7-year old sold to the Italian market to recent bottlings of forty and fifty year old which can, stipulating that a bad week on crack can cost you fifteen hundred pounds sterling, cost you more than a bad week on crack.

One of the Macallan’s distinguishing features is they age all of their whiskeys in oak barrels which formerly held sherry (sherry “butts”). Since the wood in which whiskey is aged imparts an enormous influence on the final product (we shall talk of other influences later), this approach makes the Macallan almost unmistakeable. Other distilleries use sherry butts as well but Macallan uses sherry butts exclusively. This yields a rather sweet whiskey. It is certainly sweeter than, say, Glenmorangie which ages its whiskey in old American bourbon barrels (largely from Jack Daniels, bless them both!). Macallan itself says it is “rich in both dried fruit and sherry, with a subtle toffee sweetness and pleasant touch of spice flavor with a touch of sherry sweetness and wood.” Michael Jackson says it’s got a bit of honey and currants. I think there’s a little tartness to it, which I find particularly nice as an after dinner drink.

One nice thing about the Macallan is it’s not difficult to find and taste without buying a whole bottle ($40-$45ish and big liquor stores and grocery stores but $30 at a good discount shop). Apart from the Big ‘Gs’ - Glenlivet and Glenfiddich - this is probably the bottle of single malt you are most likely to encounter at even the most out of the way establishment, so you’ll be able to give it a try without looking too hard.

As for it neat, get a little water on the side and play with it. As my friend Holger, who likes both a decent whiskey and a decent rhetorical question, puts it: “scotch is just distilled beer, what can possibly be wrong with that?” And he’s quite right.

Nothing can be wrong with that, nothing at all.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Say Thank You

Eight leaders of New Europe have given the Europa Uber Alles crowd a well-deserved kick in the arse. You can read plenty about it here and, of course, here.

And, naturally, a heartfelt comment from Anna over at Belligerent Bunny.

But what you really should do is tell these courageous leaders is that we, the American people, appreciate their support.

Poland

A little background on Poland's Prime Minister can be found here
You can reach Prime Minister Miller at : leszek.miller@miller.pl
Thank you in Polish is: "Dziekuje"

Hungary

A little background on Hungary's Prime Minister can be found here.
You can reach Prime Minister Medgyessy here: Peter.Medgyessy@meh.hu
Thank you in Hungarian is: "Nagyon köszönöm"

Denmark

A little background on Denmark's Prime Minister can be found here
You can reach Prime Minister Rasmussen here: stm@stm.dk
Thank you in Danish is: "Mange tak"

The Czech Republic

A little background on President Havel can be found here
You can reach President Havel here: president@hrad.cz
Thank you in Czech is: "Dêkuji"

Italy

A little background on Prime Minister Berlusconi can be found here.
You can reach the Prime Minister here: BERLUSCONI_S@camera.it
Thank you in Italian is: "Grazie"

Spain

A little background on Prime Minister Aznar can be found here.
You can reach Prime Minister Aznar here: jmaznar@presidencia.gob.es
Thank you in Spanish is: "Muchas gracias"

N.B.: The Prime Minister himself was the target of an ETA car-bomb assassination attempt in 1995.

Portugal

A little background on Prime Minister Durão Barroso can be found here.
You can leave email for the Council of Ministers here (web form): http://www.portugal.gov.pt/utils/en/Contact+us/
Thank you in Portugese is: "Obrigado" (if you are male) and "Obrigada" (if you are female)

N.B.: A great collection of links to European governments may be found here.

UPDATE: A few more of our allies have since signed up, you can reach them here:

Australia
John Howard, Prime Minister. Webform email can be left here.

Estonia
Siim Kallas, Prime Minister. You can email him at: valitsus@rk.ee

Japan
Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister. Webform email can be left here.
A biography of the PM can be found here.





Wednesday, January 29, 2003

It won't be the Leonov

But the Bush Administration has apparently greenlighted a 2009-10 launch of the Jupiter Tour mission, a follow-on to Galileo, which will be able to make (and break) orbit around several Jovian satellites. This is the first official manifestation of Project: Prometheus, a new space initative to use nuclear power more aggressively for space exploration.
Tube Alloys

Joe Conason is a fellow I generally respect because he's smart, he writes well, and he's unapologetic about what he believes. But today's bit in Salon is at least as misleading as he would have us believe the President is. Today, Conason points to an article in the Washington Post and accuses the President of being a might dishonest in his empahsis of Iraqi weapons programs:

According to ElBaradei, who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency, the tubes "can not be used" for the purpose of enriching uranium[Emphasis mine, quote by Conason]. He also inspected the eight buildings formerly used in Saddam's nuclear program, that U.S. intelligence – and Bush – have suggested were being refurbished for the same purposes. There was "no evidence" to support the President's allegations, he said.

The Washington Post quotes ElBaradei as saying something quite different:

"We know that these tubes . . . could be used for conventional rockets," he said. They "cannot be used directly for [uranium] enrichment." ElBaradei said that his inspectors would continue to investigate whether the tubes had been reworked for nuclear weapons use.

This strikes me as a tad disingenuous. When, two sentences before, he says "emphasis on those tubes by Bush and Condoleezza Rice was misplaced if not misleading," I think Conason would be more careful about misplacing emphasis himself.

Aluminum tubes are used to make centrifuges capable of enriching uranium, as this Federation of American Scientists piece indicates. They are not used in the chemical reaction itself as, say, a catalyst for the enrichment process. Yes, other materials can be used to make high strength centrifuges (titanium, carbon fiber and whatnot), so aluminum tubes are not, indeed, necessary for a nuclear weapons program. Maybe these tubes are going to rocket programs, not nuclear enrichment programs and maybe the President knows this. But to suggest that these tubes aren't reasonable evidence of a nuclear weapons program -- they "can not be used"(!), when the article says something else -- is a little misleading, too.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

The Future Ain't What It Used to Be

Deep Cold has some great animations of some of the space projects which never got off the ground. The X-20 DynaSoar, for instance, and the Russian Lunar Module.

Surfaces Rendered, an Australian visual effects concern, is doing something even cooler.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Blue Helmets and Black Hearts

Over the weekend I read, Philip Gourevitch's "We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda" one of the most compelling, troubling books you should ever care to read. The book is tough, on everyone, the Hutus, the Tutsis, on France, on the United States but, mostly, on the United Nations. Two passages from this book struck me as being particularly telling of the UN's moral bankruptcy --- it's willingness to use every means at its disposal to stop crimes against humanity, save the ones that work:

"You can't shoot dogs," the Englishwoman told the soldiers. She was wrong. Even the blue-helmeted soldiers of UNAMIR were shooting dogs on site in the summer of 1994. After months, during which Rwandans had been left to wonder whether the UN troops knew how to shoot, because they never used their excellent weapons to stop the extermination of civilians, it turned out the peacekeepers were very good shots.

The genocide had been tolerated by the so-called international community, but I was told that the UN regarded the corpse-eating dogs as a health problem."

And this:

On April 14, 1994, one week after the murder of the ten Belgian blue-helmets, Belgium withdrew from UNAMIR [the UN peacekeeping force]--precisely as Hutu Power had intended it to do. Belgian soldiers, aggrieved by the cowardice and waste of their mission [Belgians had been prevented from doing anything by UN rules of engagement], shredded their UN berets on the tarmac at Kigali airport. A week later, on April 21, 1994, the UNAMIR commander, Major General Dallaire [the Belgian commander]declared that with just five thousand well-equipped soldiers and a free hand to fight Hutu Power, he could bring the genocide to a rapid halt. No military analyst whom I've heard of has ever question this judgement, and a great many have confirmed it....Yet, on the same day, the UN Security Council passed a resolution that slashed the UNAMIR force by ninety percent, ordering the retreat of all but two hundred seventy troops and leaving them with a mandate that allowed them to do little more than hunker down behind their sandbags and watch.

Think on that last one again: five thousand troops and a free hand. And remind yourself to ask the War-Cannot-Solve* crowd the question: do you think so little of Western Civilization that we couldn't have made it better?

For years, there was a reluctance among the War-Cannot-Solve crowd that I'd never quite placed. I'd always taken it as a noble, if likely misguided, belief that when the right war came along, the proverbial Good War, we would all know to head down the local armoury, grab a hundred year old .30-40 Krag and mount the barricades; other wars were wrong... but that that war, whenever it would come, would be right. And, what's more, we would know that it was right and that we would do our duty. But lately, from the excuses for Saddam this year, or the doomsayers of Afghanistan in 2001, I've come to a rather unpleasant conclusion:

What these folks want even more than for peace to succeed is for war to fail.

And almost any abuse of God or man is justified to support the hypothesis. The Union defeated the Confederacy, yes, but Jim Crow followed. Doughboys stopped the Kaiser, of course, but Versailles gave us Hitler. The United States beat the King George, but Cornwalis was sent off to run the East India Company and look what happened in India. War in the Middle East, you see, cannot be about liberating people or promoting democracy or fighting terrorism or anything else except for the most base economic interests. These are the folks who cry: "Saddam Hussein is bad, of course, but all the eye-gouging and bastinado in the world can't draw my attention away from those Halliburton contracts."

It's a view of causation that gives me fits: Rube Goldberg-esque causality blames America for the Iran-Iraq War, but the simplest, cleanest, most direct applications of violence which solved problems (in, say, Kosovo or Normandy or Gettysburg) are subject to Stanley Fish-style deconstruction. I think the fear among the War-Cannot-Solves (the UN among them) is that if we finally fix something (as I think we are about to with Saddam) rather than restore some status quo ante (as in the Gulf War) through the naked application of force, then, maybe those very same War-Cannot-Solves have to admit that the naked application of force might be useful in the future or, far worse, might have been useful in the past.

My Dad said something to me after I'd gotten my academic shit together: the problem with working hard and succeeding is that you'll shortly realize that you succeeded because you worked hard.

I think that's really what these guys fear. They know Saddam cannot be defended. They know Iraq will be better off after the war than before it. They know that, even now, Iraqis under the No-Fly-Zone are better off than those in sovereign Iraq. They know that Afghanistan is better off today than it was under the Taliban. And they know that all of this... all of this... was (and will be) courtesy of the Royal Marines, the Royal Australian Air Force and the United States Army. Violence will have solved the problem. Come, say, June, a quarter-of-a-million of men and women under arms will have done more for Iraq in a month than a quarter-of-a-million protestors could do in a lifetime.

And they haven't figured out how to explain it away.

* I'm not talking about you my decent, patriotic war protestor who believes that this war by this country at this time for these reasons is wrong. I am referring to these mindless folks who believe war can never solve anything, that it is a bad idea in the first and last instance and that it always creates more problems than it solves. If you can honestly differentiate yourself between these two kinds of folks, I have no quarrel with you.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Turn the Key, Sir!

Okay, this doesn't have quite the same aesthetic as Michael Madsen pointing a revolver at John Spencer in the opening sequence in Wargames. But a group of committed citizens has spent years restoring a Nike Missile Base in the Marin Headlands. A great piece of Cold War history.