Obama budgets for moonshot

Paul Raven @ 27-02-2009

Space Shuttle Endeavour launchingWell, at least one sector of the web is in a cheery mood at the moment – the space buffs are pretty stoked that President Obama’s budget includes a nice boost for NASA:

The budget calls on NASA to complete International Space Station construction, as well as continue its Earth science missions and aviation research. Yet it also remains fixed to former President George W. Bush’s plan to retire the space shuttle fleet by 2010 and replace them with the new Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, which would fly astronauts to the space station and return them to the moon by 2020.

Good news for extropians and forward-thinkers, then – though it’s almost surprising to see a spending increase on something that, by definition, doesn’t garner immediate tangible results at home. Perhaps Obama”s  gang are thinking that this is the ideal time to sneak by a budget increase that might otherwise cause much angst and wailing; US$19billion may sound like a lot, but it’s a tiny fragment of that bailout package… [image by jurvetson]


Peter Watts: the Bush presidency was the most successful ever

Paul Raven @ 21-01-2009

Bush Street signSo, America, you’ve got a new President – and high time too. But here burst your bubble and put your hopes into perspective is science fiction author Peter Watts, who not only warns against expecting Obama to be anything other than a politician, but also points out that the Bush presidency was the most successful presidency ever:

This may strike some as an odd position to take. After all, the Cheney/Bush years saw the world’s most powerful nation descend from surplus into trillion-dollar deficit; saw the prosecution of two unnecessary and (so far) unsuccessful wars; saw the evisceration of civil rights at home and US reputation abroad, the gutting of environmental protection, the relentless remorseless grinding of science beneath the heel of political expediency, and— finally, inevitably— the meltdown of a global economy based, even at the best of times, on consensual hallucination. And yet, to criticize that administration for these things is like describing me as a shitty writer because my novels don’t appeal to fundamentalist Christians. You don’t impugn the archer for missing the bullseye when he was aiming for a deer; success must be judged against the intended goal.

Ouch; read the whole thing. [image by Jef Poskanzer]