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The Astroprison Chronicles
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Date:2011-08-17 06:15
Subject:Overlooked in the excitement of the moment...

A few days ago, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called for an invasion of earth by space aliens.

Well, OK, not exactly. But the entire exchange is noted in video excerpted here.

Krugman said at one point:

It's very hard to get inflation in a depressed economy. But if you had a program of government spending plus an expansionary policy by the Fed, you could get that. So, if you think about using all of these things together, you could accomplish, you know, a great deal.

If we discovered that, you know, space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months. And then if we discovered, oops, we made a mistake, there aren't any aliens, we'd be better –

And a few second later added:

No, there was a "Twilight Zone" episode like this in which scientists fake an alien threat in order to achieve world peace. Well, this time, we don't need it, we need it in order to get some fiscal stimulus.

There are many things wrong with Krugman's analogy, but here are two (one a quibble, the other pretty big) that Krugman overlooked:

The plot concept was used again in The Watchmen (with an acknowledgment to "The Outer Limits"), and interestingly enough, once again, it didn't quite work. (Read the graphic novel, in the last page something happens that implies the plot is about to unravel rather dramatically.)

It's not bad enough that a leading NYT columnist is drawing economic plans from science fiction, he's picking ideas that were failures.

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Date:2011-08-02 20:44
Subject:At least they agree on something...

What's the difference between a left-wing nut and a right-wing nut? A left-wing nut thinks Barack Obama is a genius. A right-wing nut thinks he's an evil genius. -- James Taranto

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Date:2011-07-31 22:24

 So it appears that some grand and brilliant compromise will be reached on the debt limit, reached at the very last minute, down to the wire, whew wasn't that close.

I have been (sadly, offline) predicting for weeks that this is exactly what would happen: a last-minute deal, and my guess is that when we see it most people will say "Wow, that's reasonable, I wonder why they couldn't have reached that deal weeks ago?"

The answer is this: both sides had to posture in order to look good to their respective political bases. Both sides knew that compromise was both inevitable and necessary. But both sides also knew that to reach an agreement at any point prior to today would have caused howls of protest back home. "Why did you cave in? Why did you agree to such a lousy deal. Why if you'd only held out you could have gotten a better deal. You're a lousy hypocrite and I'll be damned if I write any more checks for you."

That's what both liberals and conservatives both feared most.

So, in order to maintain (as Nixon would have said) plausible deniablility, they wait until the end. And now we'll hear the politicians say "I'm sorry I couldn't get a better deal, but those hard-liners on the other side...they're just too stubborn, they're unreasonable. For the sake of the nation, I had to settle for this imperfect deal." 

Lying bastards all of them. They knew weeks ago this is where they would end up. Liberals and conservatives alike, this behavior was disgusting.

Watch this space. We'll see exactly the same performance at the next debt limit "crisis."

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Date:2011-05-02 06:27
Subject:18 April 1943

 Osama bin Laden is dead. Congratulations go to everyone involved in the team that accomplished this mission. Early indications suggest (and I'm sure all the facts will bear out) that this was a well-coordinated, well-planned mission that was executed with precision due to the training, motivation, teamwork, and support of all involved. 

President Barack Obama deserves the credit he will get for issuing the orders necessary to carry out this mission, and historically he will be remembered as the man in the Oval Office when this happened. 

So now what?

We should give ourselves a little time for some euphoria and celebration. This was a man who deserved to die, who needed to look his killer in the face before having his brains blown out. Preliminary reports indicate that someone in the compound was using a woman as a human shield, I have a funny feeling it was the tall man himself. If so, in the end he showed a complete lack of understanding of Americans. He thought hiding behind a skirt might save his life. It probably only slowed him down.

But after the euphoria, watch the debates begin again about what this means for this conflict we used to call "The Global War on Terror."

I've long said that there is a wide spectrum of opinion on what the US needed (or still needs) to do in reaction to 9/11. On one extreme there are those who believe that Islamic militancy is a very large danger to the US and Western Civilization, and that danger will not be resolved until the extremist movement has been defeated and destroyed. Under this banner, the response to 9/11 demands not only the actions in Afghanistan, but also Iraq and perhaps now even Libya. These are all not separate wars, they are theaters in a global war just as Europe, Africa, the Pacific, and CBI were theaters in WW2. 

On another extreme are those who pinpoint it to a single event, and criminalize it. For them, our post-9/11 actions should have been guided by either justice or vengeance, and with the death of Osama bin Laden the matter can finally be closed, we can declare victory and move on soon pretending that none of this ever happened.

I've said this before but I'll say it again: I'm in the first group. What happened today was important, but it was more symbolic than strategic. 

For a WW2 comparison, it's 18 April 1943. That was an important day, but it was far from the end of the war. It was a great moral boost to Americans, but it was not victory.

And now, some predictions.

  • We will have those few days of euphoria and unity. But there won't be many, I'd guess the "Now what?" questions will be in full force a week from today. 
  • There will be calls for us to end military operations in Afghanistan, from those who regard bin Laden's death as our only goal in this conflict. For them, the war is over, there's no justification for any other military action. 
  • This will not end Islamic extremism, and that will surprise some people in America. It wasn't a movement that began with bin Laden, nor will it end with his death. Those most surprised will be the same people calling for an end to US military action in Afghanistan. However, continued Islamic terrorism will not stop the calls to get out of Kabul because we don't admit we're wrong any more.
  • President Obama's popularity will shoot up dramatically and quickly. Give him credit as due. 
  • This will have no significant impact on the 2012 election. We'll be reminded of it of course, and he's probably hoping it will have an impact, but that election is 18 months from now and Americans have notoriously short political memories. Obama's victory or defeat in 2012 will depend mostly on the economy and to a lesser extent on the strength of his GOP opponent. Had this happened in October 2012, it would be a different story. 
  • There will be a retaliation. Or several. And these may impact the 2012 election far more than what has happened in the past 24 hours.

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Date:2011-04-13 05:56
Subject:Museums and Politics

 We've learned that with the end of the program, space shuttles will be going to locations in Florida, Washington, and Los Angeles. The Enterprise in Washington will be relocated to New York City.

But not Houston, home of Mission Control.

Los Angeles provided the team that designed and built the shuttles. Washington DC provided the agency that oversaw the program. Florida provided the launch site.

And New York provided...what? 

A cynic would answer "New York provided votes that helped put this administration in office. Texas did not."

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Date:2011-03-25 18:38
Subject:Let's get that third bird in orbit!

Global Warming Fears Melting

In other words, the predictive accuracy of alarmist computer models can be assessed by feeding past atmospheric data into the models and observing how well the resulting predictions match up with the current climate. "If this predicted feature of global warming is not evident in the real world," stated Sherwood Idso of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, "there is little reason to believe anything else the models predict, including both the cause and (or) magnitude of the observed surface warming."

Importantly, according to the Climate Research study, "at no time, in any model realization, forced or unforced, did any model simulate the presently observed situation of a large and highly significant surface warming accompanied with no warming whatsoever aloft."

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Date:2011-03-18 12:34

So, last night I'm walking along a dark country road, and a flying saucer lands in front of me. A little green man steps out, and says "Where am I? Take me to your leader!"

I enthusiastically replied "Welcome to America! I'll take you to President Obama!"

The little green man replied "Oh...no..I'm sorry. I actually meant to land in France."

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Date:2011-03-11 11:10
Subject:Did you really think it would be easy?

President of China?

This is just one more in a series of statements that the President has made that imply he really truly thought the job would be easy...or at least easier than it actually is.

That maybe he really believed that he's smarter, wiser, calmer, and more insightful than his predecessors, that he had all the answers, and in the end all that was really necessary was for him to take office and issue a few commands. Then, we, the great unwashed and uneducated, would realize how right he was and do as he bid.

That attitude would smack of a person who grew up with privilege, and got as far as he did on charm and personality as opposed to skill and work…but unfortunately, never understood the true reason for his advancement.

Which...come to think of it...does sorta resemble the President's resume.

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Date:2011-03-08 21:38
Subject:I may be crazy, but I'm not alone.

Eerie Coincidences in Failure of NASA Climate Monitoring Satellites


The failure of two NASA satellites built to study climate change raises the unlikely — but still possible — specter of sabotage.
These two satellites were designed to take human judgement out of the monitoring and modeling loop, to provide direct and unbiased global sensor data on things such as carbon levels, clouds, irradiation, and other factors that are crucial to understanding the planet’s climate and its variability.

Billions of dollars in continuing research grants and vast amounts of political power lie in ensuring that concern over global warming be kept at a boil. So if there were a person or persons concerned that the satellites might come up with the “wrong” answer, they might be highly motivated to make sure that they never got an opportunity to perform their respective missions. Of course, if so, it would behoove them to do so in such a way as to make it look like an accident.

Tough to do? Much  tougher than the article suggests. But possible?

Twice is a coincidence, and life is full of coincidences. Third attempt is in two years. We shall see.

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Date:2011-03-05 08:07
Subject:Once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence.

 NASA science satellite lost in $424 million launch failure

Whoops, splash one more half-billion dollar piece of hardware.

NASA's Glory atmospheric research mission satellite crashed into the southern Pacific Ocean early today after a protective nose cone fairing failed to separate during launch aboard an Orbital Sciences Corp. Taurus XL rocket. The $424 million failure was the second in a row for the Orbital Sciences booster following the 2009 loss of another environmental satellite due to a similar nose cone malfunction.

Skipping down a bit to get info on the satellite's intended mission:
The 1,200-pound solar-powered Glory spacecraft, also built by Orbital Sciences, was designed to precisely measure how much solar energy enters and leaves Earth's atmosphere and how small particles called aerosols, both manmade and natural, affect the global environment.

And the previous loss, two years ago...
This was the second failure in a row for a Taurus XL rocket. NASA's $273 million Orbiting Carbon Observatory was lost during launch Feb. 24, 2009, when it suffered a similar nose cone fairing failure. Orbital Sciences redesigned the system in the wake of that failure, replacing a hot-gas pressurization system with more robust nitrogen system borrowed from the company's Minotaur rockets.

And the mission of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory?
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) was a NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder Project (ESSP) mission designed to make precise, time-dependent global measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) from an Earth orbiting satellite. Unfortunately, on February 24, 2009, OCO failed to reach orbit.

Either one of these satellites could have made a significant contribution to answering questions about the causes of global warming. The OCO would have given precise levels of CO2 that could be used to confirm predictions of man-made warming...or to further crack the theory if in fact the observations showed little correlation.

Taurus could have given us a better understanding of how much impact solar energy has on global warming...whether the amount of solar radiation is enough or too little to account for temperature changes.

OCO would have established a benchmark, Taurus would have helped confirm it. 

It would be terribly unfortunate for the cause of anthropogenic global warming (AGO) if the OCO and Taurus numbers had come back saying that no, it's not man-caused. All of the government bureaucracies, international agencies, research funding grants, carbon tax schemes, yearly UN juntas, environmental group fundraising, wealth redistribution, and so much more would come to a screeching halt. There's big big money in the religion of AGO, and for all we know these two satellites could have been like automated heretics beeping away from orbit.

And in an authoritative religion, heretics must die.

How far would some be willing to go to ensure that the religion survives? Intentionally insert a design flaw into a rocket? Would that really be so difficult? And although we can still call that thought unlikely, we can't call it impossible. Consider that if AGO were proved to be false, those with the most to lose would also be the ones currently with the resources and access necessary to sabotage a government-launched rocket.

OCO-2 is currently scheduled for launch in 2013. If it splashes also...well, three times is enemy action.

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Date:2011-03-02 18:39
Subject:Snyder v. Phelps

 "The trouble about fighting for human freedom is that you have to spend so much of your life defending sons of bitches; for oppressive laws are always aimed at them originally, and oppression must be stopped in the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." - H.L. Mencken

Today is a good day to remember those words.

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Date:2011-03-02 06:10
Subject:So if they run everything, how come they don't have the oil?

Of course, it's all a conspiracy. That explains it.

Assange Complains of Jewish Smear Campaign

LONDON — A report published by a British magazine on Tuesday said the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, suggested that British journalists, including the editor of The Guardian, were engaged in a Jewish-led conspiracy to smear his organization.

The more we learn about this guy, the less appealing he seems.

Some people wonder why we haven't tasked an organization like the CIA to bring him down. Articles like this show the answer: there's no need. Give this guy enough time, he'll self-destruct in a grand way.

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Date:2011-03-01 22:29
Subject:Maybe Strauss & Howe were Time Travelers?

 Over on The Daily Pundit, Bill Quick says something that I've been saying for years:


A few days ago I said I was working on a major post about some of the things I’m beginning to foresee concerning the future of the United States over the next ten to twenty years - from now until 2030, in other words.

As is often the case with my thinking, something I’ve read serves to crystallize a particular viewpoint. In this case, it was a book by two guys who had a previous best seller called Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069 (Wikipedia offers a good summary of the notions put forth in the book).

I still haven’t read this book, but I have recently read its sequel, The Fourth Turning, which uses the theories put forth in the first book to predict the course of American life over the period from 2005 to 2025, which, according to their calculations is the period of time they call “The Fourth Turning.”

He goes on to cite some passages from the book, including the scenarios that in 1997 Strauss & Howe speculated might lead to the next crisis.

All that has happened since the last time I reviewed the list...is that it seems even more of them have come true. 

It's been more than two years, so this line jumped out at me: In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party.

Yeah, I know what they meant, but the coincidence is running on the uncanny side.

As the subject line says: maybe Strauss & Howe were time travelers. It's almost starting to look as though they really really knew what was going to happen.

And as I always say: Buy ammo.

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Date:2011-02-25 05:51
Subject:Writer's Block: You're my best friend

If you could shrink any animal down to miniature size and carry it around in your pocket, which animal would you choose?

A mouse.

HEY! I got my wish!

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Date:2011-02-23 07:09
Subject:Why The Libyan Uprising Might Mean More Than The Protests In Egypt And Tunisia | The New Republic

Why The Libyan Uprising Might Mean More Than The Protests In Egypt And Tunisia | The New Republic

Ben Ali and Mubarak were low-hanging fruit, but, if a tyrant as vicious and murderous as Qaddafi can be taken out, it would seem just about anyone can be. If the people of Libya manage to overthrow him, it might even inspire Iran’s Green Movement to finish what it started in 2009 and push all the way to the end. 

Let us hope so. Especially because the next sentence reads:

But if Qaddafi survives by mass murder, which he just might, and if the world lets him get away with it, the Iranian regime and other despotic governments will take comfort in the knowledge that they, too, might do the same without consequence.

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Date:2011-02-05 13:46
Subject:Writer's Block: The start of something wonderful

What is your favorite opening line of a book, and why?

"It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him." -- Joseph Heller, Catch-22


Because it's Catch-22.

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Date:2011-02-03 20:59
Subject:Writer's Block: Everything's coming up rabbits

What sign were you born under in the Chinese lunar calendar? Do you think it accurately represents your animal spirit?

I don't know off the top of my head, I'd have to look it up.

But what troubles me about this question is that the Chinese lunar calendar isn't the only Asian lunar calendar. In fact, for everyone other than China, this is the Year of the Cat, not the Year of the Rabbit.

Cats and rabbits are very different animals.

So who is to say which calendar is right for determining an animal spirit?

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Date:2011-02-01 06:06
Subject:Cutting the budget

A YouTube video puts a $100 million budget cut into visual terms.


We gotta do something about those pennies on the left side.

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Date:2011-01-29 13:33
Subject:What will conspiracy theorists make of this?

Former Bush aide Wheeler died of blunt force trauma, medical examiner says - NYPOST.com

Former presidential adviser and Pentagon official John P. "Jack" Wheeler III died of blunt force trauma, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Wilmington, Del., announced Friday in a statement.

As you may recall, Wheeler's body was discovered on New Year's Eve.

And what else happened on New Year's Eve?

National Wildlife Health Center determines cause of blackbird death

The birds died from blunt force trauma.

Coincidence? I think not!

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Date:2011-01-28 06:50
Subject:Egypt is off the internet?

According to this story, last night the entire nation of Egypt dropped off the internet.



Confirming what a few have reported this evening: in an action unprecedented in Internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet. Critical European-Asian fiber-optic routes through Egypt appear to be unaffected for now. But every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air.

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