"If America's not evil, then the Left is out of business."
They haven't gotten the memo, Bill.
"This is what Liberty looks like. It is not and it has never been the default condition of mankind."
As some of you may know, I grew up on Florida's Space Coast. My father was a Quality Control engineer for IBM, working on the Instrument Unit (guidance system) for the Saturn V rocket. I got to see all of the manned missions up through Skylab launch from just across the Indian River, except for Apollo XVII - the only night launch. I watched that one from my front yard in Titusville.
There were two dawns that day.
Consequently, I've been a space exploration enthusiast from a young age. I try to watch all the launches, or at least listen to them on the radio. I remember listening to the launch of the Challenger early in the morning here in Tucson, and thinking - as the station broke for a commercial - "At least this one didn't blow up on the pad."
Morbid, I know, but I'm also an engineer. I wasn't then - I had just graduated from college in December and didn't have a job yet - but that's been my orientation for most of my life. I knew that each manned launch was a roll of the dice, a spin of the cylinder in a big game of Russian Roulette, and that NASA had become just another government bureaucracy. (And I also knew just how close we had come to losing three men in Apollo 13 because a series of small, innocuous errors had cascaded into a catastrophic failure in a system that was almost neurotic in its quest for safety.)
It was just a matter of time.
Still, I was shocked when they came back from commercial to announce that Challenger had been destroyed in a launch accident just minutes after liftoff. I knew that all seven of the astronauts were dead. I knew that the "teacher in space" wasn't going to get there, and that a classroom of students had to be devastated by that realization. Many, many classrooms, but one in particular.
I watched the footage of the liftoff, now splayed in endless grisly loops on every network - all of which had previously declined to show the launch live and interrupt really important stuff like "Good Morning America." I watched as the flame bloomed out from a Solid Rocket Booster joint, impinging on the huge external fuel tank, and said, "That's what killed them. What the hell caused that failure?" I watched the Satan's horns of the SRB exhaust tracks as they trailed up and away from the epicenter of the blast. And then I watched it all again.
Over and over.
Later I discovered that the engineers at Morton Thiokol had tried to get the launch scrubbed, knowing the problems that cold weather caused in the O-ring joint seals of the SRBs, but they had been told to "take off their engineer hats and put on their manager hats" in order to make a launch decision. The launch had been delayed too many times, and President Reagan would be making his State of the Union address that night, with a call to Crista McAuliffe - Teacher in Space.
I decided right then that I didn't ever want to be a goddamned manager.
I also found out later that the crew, at least most of them, probably survived the destruction of the Challenger, and were alive and aware all the way to impact in the Atlantic. I like to hope not, but facts are sometimes ugly things.
And I wondered if NASA could regain the spirit, professionalism, and devotion to excellence it'd had during the race to the moon - and doubted it severely. As I said, NASA has become just another government bureacracy, more interested in expanding its budget and not making waves than in the visceral excitement and attention to minute detail that space exploration should inspire. (I'm speaking of the upper-level management, and many of the lower-level drones. I'm quite certain that there are still hundreds of people there still dedicated to the dream. They're just shackled and smothered by the career bureaucrats and the nine-to-fivers who punch the clock and wait for retirement.)
Anyway, all this is leading to a blog I found while perusing my sitemeter links tonight. GM's Corner, which linked to me last month, has a recurring "new blogs" post. This month's entry is Dr. Sanity, the blog of Dr. Pat Santy - who happened to be the flight surgeon for the Challenger mission. She has a post up about that day, and it's well worth the read: Challenger - A Flight Surgeon Remembers.
Robert A. Heinlein,I've said elsewhere, my personal and political philosophy is in large part due to Robert Heinlein's entire catalog, John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee novels, and Robert B. Parker's Spenser. I think if I had to pick one very finest Sci-Fi novel ever written, it would be Frank Herbert's DUNE, though I don't think much of the sequels or really anything else he wrote. I've read most of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, all of Jim Butcher's Dresden books to date, all of Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson books, most of Isaac Asimov's Sci-Fi and much of his non-fiction work (not a big fan of the Foundation trilogy). I've read (I think) the entire Berserker catalog from Fred Saberhagen, but liked his Empire of the East series much, much more. I've read all of Sue Grafton's "Alphabet mysteries" so far. I just finished all of Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder mysteries, and a couple of months ago I finished all of Lee Childs' Jack Reacher novels. (Good, but don't hold a candle to Travis McGee.) I've read W.E.B. Griffin's Brotherhood of War novels through The Generals, and his The Corps series. Liked those, but the repetition got a bit old. I've read the entire Stephen Hunter Bob Lee Swagger catalog, and a couple of his non-Swagger novels.
Lois McMaster Bujold
John D. MacDonald
Robert B. Parker
David Weber (most of the time)
How realistic is the average gun rights enthusiast about their ability to use their firearm for self-defense/ home protection without being a danger to themselves or bystanders?I responded to one of the comments.
I have a friend who is a gun enthusiast, and while he is otherwise intelligent (PhD), I simply don't trust his judgment or competence with a firearm. He is paranoid, can't read situations well, and is not particularly coordinated.
If I was present at bank robbery, I would feel *less* safe knowing he was armed.
Is this an unusual case?
The 480 Achilles is the product of 5 slightly warped minds, Lewis Ballard, Aaron Bittner, John Killebrew, Doug Mann and me, Jim Taylor. The project was a collaborative effort upon which we pooled our brains. The puddle which resulted from this pooling may have been shallow but at least it was slippery.
Q - Last month on NPR, I thought I heard you say negative advertising was a serious threat to democracy. Did I hear you right? Tony LibonateAs others have observed, "Democracy works for those who show up." Making sure as few as possible show up, as Mike says, is not a coincidence. It's a strategy.
A - I don’t recall saying that, but I don’t disagree. Negative ads are dangerous because, in spite of all the vitriol, they’re actually very passive. They don’t ask us to vote for Candidate X; they ask us NOT to vote for Candidate Y. It’s basically a call to inaction, and the unintended consequence is killing us. Consider:
If Coke spends a billion dollars trying to convince America that Pepsi has shit in it, fewer Americans will buy Pepsi. Likewise, if Pepsi spends a billion dollars saying the same thing about Coke, fewer Americans will buy Coke. When the dust settles, one brand will still outsell the other. But along the way, millions of Americans will conclude that Pepsi and Coke are BOTH tainted, and stop drinking soda altogether. And so it goes with the electorate. Over the years, Republicans and Democrats have convinced us that the other side is full of shit. Now, congressional approval is under 15%, and voter turnout is at an all-time low. That’s not a coincidence.
I'm not completely hanging it up here. I'll still post from time to time - mostly in the near future I suspect about the upcoming Rendezvous - but I doubt seriously that there will be any more überposts.I'm convinced I made the right decision. I have spent more time with my wife. I've read a BUNCH of books. I've fixed a couple of things around the house but have lots more that needs work. I've not made it to the range anywhere near as much as I'd like (see February). My mom's still with us, but not doing well at the moment and now Dad is having some issues with his heart. I helped Mr. Completely organize the 9th Annual Gun Blogger Rendezvous (which may have been the last one, no thanks to me.)