Situational Space Awareness — Out There: Space Traffic Control System Needed

I agree there needs to be some sort of tracking system for civilian satellites and debris in addition to existing military systems. The problem that arises is:

  1. Coming up with a genuinely neutral group beholden to no nation, organization, or political affiliation. Space is highly competitive and geopolitics is too easily manipulated into benefiting one group over another.
  2. Military and Civilian operations. In some cases there is no separation between military and civilian operations which could cause conflicts over individual nation’s space activities adversely affected other space nations.
  3. Proprietary data between competing satellite trackers, vendors, and operators. Getting them to cooperate may prove difficult if they feel their business maybe adversely affected, undermined, or even stolen. Add on top of this any information that may be tied to assorted national security requirements, regulations, and laws.

Something to think about…

From comes what appears to be a rather innocuous plan until you carefully read the words:

“The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.”

By the way the site reworded this section to the following:

The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.

You’ll notice the first version had words like require when talking about service. Sure it sounds good, community service and all that. I did that myself in grade school and high school, but it was because I chose to do so. I don’t like the notion of requiring “volunteers”. The Soviet Union tried such programs and they failed miserably. That and this comment made by Obama that received little coverage:

“We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve
the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a
civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as
strong, just as well-funded,” he said.

That I don’t mind so much. Wary and skeptical? Yes. But it’s this part that concerns me most is this somewhat contradictory statement:

“I believe we can reconfigure our civilian national-security force. We
still have a national security apparatus on the civilian side, in the
way the State Department is structured and USAID, that harkens back to
the Cold War,” Obama said.
“We need to be able to deploy teams that combine agricultural
specialists and engineers and linguists and cultural specialists who
are prepared to go into some of the most dangerous areas alongside our
military,” he said.

What’s this crazy talk about Cold War and needing what’s supposed to be a civilian national security force outside of the military (or established police forces and emergency reaction teams) and meant for objectives inside the United States to go into “dangerous areas”. If it’s a civilian national security force as large as the military presumably to help protect America then what is with the comments about then working alongside the military in dangerous areas inside the United States? It certainly doesn’t sound like a group intended to help with natural disasters as the already standing Guard and Reserve do.

That’s why I get suspicious about all these “Corps” Obama and Co. want put into place. It all seems a little suspicious when taken in context with the so called “Obama Youth Brigade” and the rewrite of the page to apparently make it more palatable to those who objected to the forceful wording of the original. (No I don’t think Obama plans any nazi style Youth Brigades, but there are always some wackos on both sides coming up with such ideas in the name of patriotism and service.) All told, it’s too eerily like the nutters that made up the so called Christian Coalition and Moral Majority.

And the $4,000 tax credit for college education? Pft. That won’t help those choosing education paths that require long hours of study and projects and/or  have their own requirements for sort of community service like engineers, doctors, nurses, and so on. That’s not even mentioning the cost involved in those education paths.

While I agree volunteerism is a good thing, it can’t be mandated as it then becomes worthless and meaningless. For it to become government mandated as the original post implied is concerning, regardless of whether it was changed later or not as it raises serious question. What type of service? Where? When? And Who for? What if there is no program you feel is appropriate to volunteer for? Or worst of all, what if such programs become political as some programs have already become? Government mandated volunteerism has rarely ended well in recent history.

News Commentary 09 Nov 2008

New calls for Treasury to help carmakers | Reuters

There were fresh calls on Sunday for the Bush administration to help stalled U.S. automakers, but Democratic and Republican officials said taxpayers cannot repeatedly support business rescues.

At least some realizes the taxpayers can’t bailout these failures forever. And why should we? They made bad choices and should face the consequences of those bad choices. Screwing American workers over twice is not going to solve the problem. Let them go Chapter 11 bankrupt so they can reorganize and restructure into a business model that they should have been following all along. Don’t bail them out to continue to suck on the Federal Government’s teat.

Labor unions ask political backing for organizing law | Reuters

As expected the Labor Unions are now on the war path to destroy worker’s rights and undermine right to work states in the name of restoring their personal coffers. Anyone who thinks taking away secret voting for unionization is not a threat is deluded, let alone the other provisions that are anti-business and anti-worker choice. It will only encourage coercion of workers and overly burden businesses, which may simply decide to shut down rather than deal with this insanely biased, pro-union bill should it become law. It is my hope reasonable Democrats and Republicans will see this bill for the Union sponsored thuggery that it is and prevent it from ever becoming law. Otherwise, it’ll be a battle in every right to work state as to whether it could even be considered constitutional as it violates a number of state’s constitution’s guaranteeing right to work practices.

Obama win triggers run on guns in many stores | Politics | Reuters

I’m not surprised. Most people I know that are buying weapons started planning to do so even before Obama became President-elect simply on the grounds that the majority of the Democratic Party is anti-gun and anti-Second Amendment. The DP’s favorite phrase on gun control, “common sense measures”, is well known code word for laws and regulations that are often unreasonable and do nothing to address whatever reason the DP trots out to defend the action. In the end it is just an example of just how many people do not trust the government, let alone the Democratic Party on this issue.

Gay marriage supporters take to California streets –

Good for them. I saw part of the protest against passage of Arizona Proposition 102 (Az’s version of CA’s Prop 8). I hope both are overturned. Whether you agree with gay rights or not it’s ridiculous to allow certain religious groups to impose their opinion on everyone else. Just because something is religiously inspired doesn’t make it ethical, morally correct, or just. Remember, assorted scriptures have been used throughout history to justify war, slavery, and oppression. I think it’s time people stop using their religion to justify or excuse their hatred and bigotry of whoever their latest “immoral” target may be.

Something to think about…

Lioness shows U.S. women on frontline in Iraq | U.S. | Reuters

While relatively old (or new depending on your perspective), as a program, only now is Team Lioness coming into public awareness. Keeping the existence of the unit relatively quiet was probably a smart thing considering the strong negative reaction some people have towards women in combat as it allowed the military to operate unhindered from imposed morals and regulations by politicians, religious figures, and other assorted special interests.

Perhaps renewed attention on the issue of women in contact will finally allow for a genuine debate and stop people from burying their heads in the sand or clinging to the falsehood of women being safe in the rear echelon.

Just something to think about.

Mars, Kuiper Belts, and Pioneers

Another important but small step in achieving viable long term space missions.

New spaceship force field makes Mars trip possible | SpaceRef – Your Space Reference

Space craft visiting the Moon or Mars could maintain some of this protection by taking along their very own portable “mini”-magnetosphere. The idea has been around since the 1960’s but it was thought impractical because it was believed that only a very large (more than 100km wide) magnetic bubble could possibly work.

Researchers at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, the Universities of York, Strathclyde and IST Lisbon, have undertaken experiments, using know-how from 50 years of research into nuclear fusion, to show that it is possible for astronauts to shield their spacecrafts with a portable magnetosphere – scattering the highly charged, ionised particles of the solar wind and flares away from their space craft.

Astronomers Discover Odd Kuiper Belt Pair | Universe Today

An interesting puzzle to figure out considering some things don’t seem to add up. But then that’s what makes it something of a mystery. At least initially.

And an interesting piece on Buzz Aldrin’s opinion on the future first Mars explorers: Aldrin: Mars Pioneers Should Not Return to Earth | Universe Today I agree that such an approach would make things much simpler but we definitely need to practice colonization techniques on the Moon first. There certainly is a number of people willing to take part in such a venture but there is little political will and of course the inherent cost.