July 29, 2016

∴ Progress, Culture, Pride


Last night’s speech by Hillary Clinton has resonated with me all day. Her passion flared when she spoke of her dearest issue: social justice. But she spoke eloquently on other issues dear to Americans: economic justice, jobs, inclusiveness, America’s place in the world and how we’re seen by others, leadership.


I’ve come to believe that electing a woman president in November will be more consequential to our culture than electing a man of color.

I write this as a supporter of most, though not all of what president Obama has attempted and accomplished. Although electing (and re-electing) him was a milestone in American progress, he joined a long line of men stretching back to George Washington.

November is our first chance to bring the worldview and problem solving skills of a woman into the Oval Office. Whether she were from the right or left of American politics, the mere fact is a hockey stick on a hockey stick. My geek friends will understand that; we’re seeing an exponential change upon an exponential change.

Consider how American cultural change has accelerated since the election of Barack Obama. Marriage equality was upheld by the Supreme Court. Health care was extended to another twenty million Americans, and more will surely follow. LGBT issues are on the front burner as one of the last remaining prejudices not precluded by law. Awareness of systemic racism has skyrocketed. And to borrow a line from the Hillary Clinton of 1995, “women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.” Or, put bluntly, keep your hands and your laws off women's bodies.

In November we have the opportunity to take one giant further step toward the equality we inherited from our Declaration of Independence.

Perhaps I put the cart before the horse. There are three months of annoying campaign ads and speeches and grandstanding ahead of us. But I believe Americans will reject the politics of fear and once again vote for hope, progress, and inclusion this fall.

More-so than in 2008 and 2012, I’m looking forward to it. Despite my cynicism, I’m downright excited by it.


July 25, 2016

DNC Apologizes To Sanders For 'Inexcusable Remarks' In Hacked Emails


On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email,’ the statement read. ‘These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not — and will not — tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates.

Bluntly: party organizations exist as marketing vehicles for candidates. They pick and choose among candidates, favoring those most likely to win in order to extend their brand.

Bernie’s World is a place in which many would like to live, except for the inconvenient question of how to pay for it all. It would require nothing short of re-wiring the US economy WHILE IN MOTION.

In short, Bernie’s nomination was a non-starter from the word go. It exists to exert a leftward pull on Hillary Clinton, who had this nomination all but sewed-up when she declared. (Last year.) The only question was, who would she face? The answer is, an empty suit.

Translated, the DNC’s remarks: ‘we’re going to make ourselves look as neutral as possible given the revelatory emails that shine a light on our true purpose and method. And Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is our fall-guy. Kiss off.'

July 23, 2016

What Do You Stand For, and What Do You Want For Our Country and Our Culture?

Now that both party’s nominees (or presumptive nominee, in Hillary Clinton’s case) have selected running mates, and firmly established their platforms through months of campaigning (auditioning) for votes, we’re presented with a clear answer to that question.

From seventeen early candidates, the GOP has chosen to represent itself with Donald Trump. From six early candidates, the Democrats will all but certainly choose Hillary Clinton as their nominee next week.

Hillary Clinton will become our next president in November by a significant margin of the popular vote.

It’s not Clinton’s positions on the issues or her past experience, or Trump’s abject buffoonery or his voicing of “angry white” sentiment, or even my party affinity (I have none) that informs this opinion. It’s the vision each candidate has expressed for our future. One candidate tells us what she is for, the other tells us what he is against. One inspires, the other angers and provokes fear. In that sense the 2016 election will be a replay of the 2012 election.

A winning candidate tells us of their hopes, their aspirations for a better, more just and more inclusive America. Describes how they’re going to work to effect change. Lifts our spirit with positive ideas rather than feed distrust, anger, and resentment with self-serving fear mongering.

The GOP of 2012 put forward an otherwise likable, successful and well-intentioned Mitt Romney, who promptly told us what he and the small tent wing of the party feared: people who “take” from those who “make.” That’s a losing argument.

The candidate who raises voter’s hopes and bolsters national and cultural unity is the candidate who wins the presidency. Remember Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on the hill” v. Jimmy Carter’s “feeling of malaise?”

Romney veered off into the weeds, dividing us in order to appease the lunatic fringe and wealthy elites who wanted a boot kept on the neck of the poor, the needy, the brown, the undereducated. Barack Obama once and again told us what better he wanted for America. Voters responded as expected.

So will it be this November.

SpaceX, preparing for Falcon Heavy, asks for more landing pads

Ars Technica:

With a number of successful Falcon booster landings behind it, SpaceX is getting ready to try something likely to be a bit more challenging: three nearly simultaneous landings. This doesn’t mean SpaceX is upping its launch schedule; instead, the three boosters will all be part of the planned Falcon Heavy vehicle.

Essentially three standard Falcons strapped together, the big rocket will be capable of lifting 54 metric tons into orbit.

54 metric tons. Think of what a half-dozen launches per year atop these re-usable Falcon boosters could put into orbit. A shipyard for building and re-plenishing a Mars transfer vehicle, perhaps?

Consider that the simplest and most crew-friendly way to get to and from Mars is a large, well-provisioned craft that never need enter or leave an atmosphere or gravity well. Without the need of an aerodynamic shape or structural strength beyond what can hold together in a low-Earth and low-Mars orbit (think International Space Station), a craft could be arbitrarily large and capable of attaching multiple cargo and fuel modules. The only limiting factor is the point of diminishing returns, where you’re just hauling more fuel to transport the mass of more fuel.

Said vehicle would orbit Earth as it’s built, outfitted, tested and, eventually, fueled. A de-orbit burn puts into elliptical orbit from which it slingshots out to Mars, where an equivalent burn tucks it into orbit there. Cargo modules may be de-orbited to future human landing sites. Human-capable modules may be de-orbited to bring us to the surface for habitat construction and ascent back to the transfer vehicle. The transfer vehicle itself is never more than a large, modular and comfortable bus for the commute back and forth between planets.

Just spitballing here. An idea like this no doubt exists somewhere. Execution begins with heavy-lift rocketry, and that becomes affordable with re-usable launchers. We already have those.