One of Obama’s Successes was Bringing Capitalism into Outer Space. Trump Should Follow his Lead

blue-origin-rocket

Space Age comeback?

Glenn Reynolds writes: Space entrepreneur Peter Bigelow, who’s working on hotels in space, wants the Trump Administration to sharply increase NASA spending. But although I’m all in favor of making America’s space program great again, I’m not so sure that pumping money into NASA is the way to do it. For that matter, I’m not even sure that the term “space program” makes much sense in the 21st century.

Image: vintagefuture.tumblr.com

Rather than a space program, what we really have is a package of space policies. Unlike the Apollo era, when the nation was fixed on a single major goal of landing men on the Moon before 1970, we now want a bunch of different things, all of them important, but no single one of them is our sole focus. And, honestly, much of what’s going on at NASA isn’t even close to overridingly important.

[Read the full story here, at USAToday]

The good news is that, as I’ve noted before, space — at least the burgeoning commercial space industry — has been one of the Obama Administration’s notable policy successes.  Where not long ago the United States was looking at an aging fleet of increasingly dangerous space shuttles, we now have a flourishing collection of private companies providing transportation into earth orbit, from SpaceX, to Blue Origin, to Virgin Galactic, to a number of smaller companies. (Full disclosure: I own a small amount of friends-and-family stock in one of those smaller companies, XCOR Aerospace). Moon Express even plans to land a robot on the Moon.

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As a recent piece in The Washington Post noted, whatever his policies on Earth, Obama has brought capitalism to outer space. Read the rest of this entry »


Who Cares if Jack Ma Buys a Tiny, Dwindling Newspaper in Hong Kong? 

With the South China Morning Post, Jack Ma’s personal politics will move into a global spotlight, for anyone to see and read in English.

Josh Horowitz writes: After lengthy negotiations, Alibaba founder Jack Ma may be close to an investmentin the publisher of the South China Morning Post, according to reports in Bloomberg, the New York Times, and Caixin.

Neither party has commented publicly about a deal, and it is unclear whether Ma would buy all or some of the SCMP Group. He already has a media empire that rivals Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and has invested in two US-based social media apps—Tango and Snapchat. But the maybe-pending SCMP bid has already attracted nearly as much attention as any of those done deals.

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That’s because with the SCMP, Ma’s personal politics will move into a global spotlight, for anyone to see and read in English.

The SCMP was once the English-language paper of record for reporting on China. Founded in 1903 as the “printing house for the Chinese revolution,” it covered far more than just Hong Kong. Throughout the fifties and sixties, it was often the first source for information about the famines and political clashes of the Mao era. After the country opened up, its multi-national staff would regularly break stories about political scandals and human rights abuses on the mainland, even after Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997.

[Read the full story here, at Quartz]

Its reporting was rewarded financially. In 1997 it earned HK$805 million (over $200 million) in net profits, about $420 in profit per-reader. Read the rest of this entry »


Global Warming’s Glorious Ship of Fools

The view from the trapped ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy

The view from the trapped ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy

The always entertaining, perpetually ill-tempered    writes:  Yes, yes, just to get the obligatory ‘of courses’ out of the way up front: of course ‘weather’ is not the same as ‘climate’; and of course the thickest iciest ice on record could well be evidence of ‘global warming’, just as 40-and-sunny and a 35-below blizzard and 12 degrees and partly cloudy with occasional showers are all apparently manifestations of ‘climate change’; and of course the global warm-mongers are entirely sincere in their belief that the massive carbon footprint of their rescue operation can be offset by the planting of wall-to-wall trees the length and breadth of Australia, Britain, America and continental Europe.

But still: you’d have to have a heart as cold and unmovable as Commonwealth Bay ice not to be howling with laughter at the exquisite symbolic perfection of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition ‘stuck in our own experiment’, as they put it. I confess I was hoping it might all drag on a bit longer and the cultists of the ecopalypse would find themselves drawing straws as to which of their number would be first on the roasting spit. On Douglas Mawson’s original voyage, he and his surviving comrade wound up having to eat their dogs. I’m not sure there were any on this expedition, so they’d probably have to make do with the Guardianreporters. Forced to wait a year to be rescued, Sir Douglas later recalled, ‘Several of my toes commenced to blacken and fester near the tips.’ Now there’s a man who’s serious about reducing his footprint.

But alas, eating one’s shipmates and watching one’s extremities drop off one by one is not a part of today’s high-end eco-doom tourism. Instead, the ice-locked warmists uploaded chipper selfies to YouTube, as well as a self-composed New Year singalong of such hearty un-self-awareness that it enraged even such party-line climate alarmists as Andrew Revkin, the plonkingly earnest enviro-blogger of the New York Times. A mere six weeks ago, pumping out the usual boosterism, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that, had Captain Scott picked his team as carefully as Professor Chris Turney, he would have survived. Sadly, we’ll never know — although I’ll bet Captain Oates would have been doing his ‘I am going out. I may be some time’ line about eight bars into that New Year number.

Read the rest of this entry »


Virgin Galactic aircraft cruises to supersonic speeds

Virgin Galactic‘s commercial spacecraft SpaceShipTwo cruising to 69,000 feet and a top speed of more than 1,000 mph, or Mach 1.43.

We’re one step closer to being able to cruise at 2,500 mph and experience five minutes of weightlessness 364,000 feet above the Earth — if you happen to have a quarter of a million dollars lying around, that is.

Read the rest of this entry »