Double signs of an end of the NASA era

Today marked the last day of American human space exploration.  Atlantis seems to have lifted off on the last journey of the space shuttle.  It means NASA will most likely be unable to send humans into space for a decade or two or three.

Reports from Congress seem to indicate that NASA’s fall from prominence will continue.
House appropriations committee announced the cutting of the James Webb  space telescope, the successor of the famed Hubble space telescope. see here .

While the human exploration mission of NASA as been languishing for some time now, its unmanned exploration and science missions have not.  The Hubble telescope has been
a vital instrument to our understanding of the universe.   WMAP has transformed
the cosmology; it has been now succeeded by the European Planck satellite.  Other successes include Cassini, Mars Rover, Spitzer, and Messenger missions, to name a few.  I
don’t think anyone would disagree that NASA unmanned exploration and science missions have been outstanding.

I hope the budget hawks in the House will see fit to reward them by not cutting ground-breaking missions like the James Webb telescope.   For more (and better)
reading see here.

UPDATE:
In the course of writing to my congress representatives, I noticed senator Hutchison has
space/science as one of the subject areas.  Senator Cornyn on the other hand has no
space or science or even a general technology.  He has an Arts and Humanities subject
area but no science?  Explain that one.

Update 2 (7/8/2011)
Got a lame reply from senator Hutchison.  Just another stump speech.  I talked about the James Webb telescope.  Her reply was on how stupid president Obama was in cutting the shuttle program.  Typical politician response.  Veer all discussion to your stump speech … robots.

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when idiots run universities

apparently Rick Perry‘s legions on the University of Texas‘ boards want to model the school after Arizona state. hmmm. Arizona state is ranked 81 worldwide ranking (or Shanghai ranking). University of Texas is ranked 38. Shouldn’t you want to move up, not down.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. And don’t be coy about it. If you don’t care for research-1 or tier 1 schools then say it Rick Perry. Pull the funding and see UT and Texas A&M rankings drop until there is only one tier-1 school in Texas, the private school Rice. If that’s your wish then say it instead of hiding behind ppl who want to turn these 2 top schools into university of phoenix-es

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Objectivism and Christian Right

I’m having a hard time figuring this out so I’m asking the blog-o-sphere to help me out.

I saw that there is a movie version of the popular Ayn Rand novel: Atlas Shrugged.  Ayn Rand’s work has become popular among conservatives and tea party folk.  And why not?  Her works and her philosophy are strongly laissez-faire in terms of economy, strongly anti-socialist and pro-individualism, and strongly promotes self-interest.  I don’t think I’ve said anything here that you can’t look up on your own.

Ayn Rand saw that the natural consequence of objectivism is anti-altruism.  This is the connection I can’t wrap my head around.  How can these social conservatives deal with this?  Senator Paul Ryan has stated is admiration of his book and is a Roman Catholic, a religion that puts a premium on altruism.  Justice Clarence Thomas, another Catholic, says its one of his favorite books.  Mormon commentator Glenn Beck apparently loves it.  How can this be?  How can social conservatism with its strong Christian ideology also strongly support the objectivism views as well?  Blog-o-sphere, help me out.

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The China Lie II: China will surpass US dominance because US will tax and spend its economy away

This post is a little on the late side.  However, the recent commercial of a Asian class learning of the fall of America is still being played here in Texas.  Again, the lack of logical arguments is amazing.

According to conservatives, China will dominate the world because the United States high taxes and high debt will crumble America.  Okay the federal debt and deficit are at all time highs.  I would venture, though I haven’t done it, that even including inflation, that the level of deficit and debt is unprecedented.    So its true that it is possible that the debt level will get so high such that a spiraling effect occurs:  credit rating goes down, interest rates go up, increasing budget portion giving to interest, federal bankruptcy and very high taxes.By many forecasts, China will be the largest economy of the world overtaking the US sometime this century.

Here’s where the logic is so stupid.  China’s tax rates are higher than the US.  China’s government is much larger than the US.  China’s gov’t spends so much more than the US.  How can China’s dominance over the US be caused by US’s high taxes and large government when China has higher tax rates and larger governments?  Can someone explain that to me.

Not only that, China’s capital gains tax is higher than the US’s.  Yet companies are flocking to do business there.

China’s economy has the potential to be larger than the US for one good reason:  people.  China has a larger population of people.  It’s the reason why China surpassed Japan recently to be the 2nd largest economy.  Yet, the 2nd largest economy in the world is not even a developed country.  Yes, China’s economy is still considered developing.  A quick look at China’s GDP clearly shows its #2.  However, you take GDP/capital and suddenly its slightly below average, about #93 according to IMF.  Developed economies like Japans , US, Germany are all above average.  OF course US isn’t #1 in GDP/capital so Americans don’t like this measure.

ASIDE:  While China does have higher tax rates than US, its personal income tax rates are roughly equal.  In fact, the current tax rates in China mirror the tax rates in the early Reagan years.   I guess socialist gov’t does not necessarily equal higher taxes.    Of course the majority of the revenue for the Chinese government is VAT (sales tax for us in the US) and business related taxes.   Only natural since its a socialist country.  (Yes it is still socialist).

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The China Lie I: Most of the US debt is owned by China

This is such a stupid  lie.  At best it is intentionally misleading.  If a politician says this they are INTENTIONALLY misleading the public OR completely IGNORANT.

It is a simple matter of numbers.    Let’s break it down.  First, the total United States federal debt held by foreign countries or organizations is about $4.45 trillion out of $9.5 trillion public debt or $14.1 trillion total debt .  This information is publicly available by the United States Treasury as of January 2011.  Second, China owns $1.1 trillion.  It is the top holder.  Japan comes in second with $0.89 trillion.

Its just math.  Grade school math.  China owns roughly 25 % of the foreign debt.  Of the total debt, China owns roughly 8% of the total debt.  Most?  I guess 8% means most these days.   Let’s not forget Japan come in at 6%.  I’d say thats effectively  equal ownership.   This is just the continuing of China demagogy in American politics.   Need a villian and can’t blame Muslims?  Blame the Chinese.  What’s sad is that this outright racist strategy works on the American people.

I’m sure politicians will say, “Well by most I meant largest owner of debt.”  How stupid do you think I am.   Let’s say a company is owned 50% by public stock.  Now let’s say I own 10% of this stock.  Even if no one else owned more stock with me, I do not own most of the company.  According the American politician logic, I own the most stock and have great influence in the company.  I own most of the company.  …. what?  No I don’t.  I own   5% of the company.  I may be the largest shareholder but most of the company is not owned by me.   Being the largest owner of debt DOES NOT MEAN that most of the debt is owned by me.

I implore every American:

  1. Call out politicians out on this.   Its straight numbers.  Stop trying to mislead us.
  2. Strike back against racist political demagogy.   Not just Muslim or Chinese but all backward  prejudice thinking.
  3. Stop demonizing China.  As far as I know, China has not attacked US.  China hasn’t been involved in a proxy war with US since the Korean War.
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The WMD Lie

The informant known as “Curveball” admitted today on the Gaurdian that he fabricated information that led to the US-led invasion of Iraq.  Specifically, the nomadic bio-weapons labs seem to be a hoax.  This information was part of Colin Powell presentation to the UN from a reliable source, a fact.  Well just because someone says its a fact doesn’t make it true (notice every politician say “the fact of the matter is”).   Interestingly enough, I only saw CBS and MSNBC cover this news.  CNN and FOX were both absent of this coverage.  I’m surprised by CNN lack of coverage; i guess they felt it was old news.

I hope this revelation will push people to get their government to investigate this.  We are almost a decade removed from this invasion.  Our soldiers died based on lies.  We owe it to them and the community as a whole to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  I implore you to ask your government representative to start a real investigation.  How much to blame is there to the state department, department of defense, CIA, etc.  Was it just bad intelligence?  We, as citizens of the US, should demand these answer.

To be clear, I’m not asking to bring charges up.  I’m not trying to get Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney in prison (which would be highly unlikely).  I want to know how our intelligence was so wrong.  I would hope everyone in this country would want us not to go to war based on lies and hearsay.  To this date, I don’t think any normal citizen knows what truly went so wrong.

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President Obama’s Budget : I

Today, we got a Valentine from our President: a budget.  YEAH!! (yes thats sarcastic).  I’ll be trying to spend my free time ( or pulling all nighters) going through the details.  However, I do have some first reactions.

I.1.  To the critics … SHUT UP! 
There is no way you could have read this ALL.  Even if you had all day, its 200 + pages.  Granted you can surely skim or skip to the summary, but, as they say, the devil is in the details.  On NPR, Paul Ryan harshly criticized the budget as pathetic.  Really?  Did you even read it?  Oh I forgot, congressmen don’t even read bills.  Are these knee-jerk reactions really necessary?  It’s like a 3rd grader criticizing Quantum Mechanics for not making sense.  Sorry but it takes a little more than that to understand even the basic principles. 

I.2  Here we go again. .. Entitlements
As expected, the budget does not do anything to entitlements.  And of course the critics are all over this.  It is true that in the long-term, entitlements seem to be a problem.  However, in the near future, entitlement programs are brining more money in then they spend.  That’s right, Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security and in the black.  They will also be in the black in the near future. 

I. 3.  The Wars
How did we get here in such a short time?  At the end of the day, our country waged a 2-front war and reduced taxes AT THE SAME TIME!  How ridiculous is that.  We have to address the other side of the equation.  Whether its letting the temporary taxes expire as they were intended too (not very likely) or get rid of the tax break and loop holes e.g.
1)  Mortgage interest tax deduction: either place ceilings or limit this.
2)  Reduce/eliminate business tax breaks. 
More importantly, earlier reports on the administration’s work on the war budget is flat.  THen a sudden drop off added to compensate an expected ramp down of the Afghan war.  however, this seems dubious.  Unlike the entitlements, the war budget must come from normal revenue.

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