Saturday, July 09, 2011

The End

For the first time since Alan Shepard flew the Mercury Freedom 7 capsule into orbit on May 5, 1961, the United States has no manned space launch capability. I watched the last shuttle launch yesterday live on NASA TV, and it just seemed surreal to think that I may be watching the last human to ever go into space from American soil. I realize there are plans for shuttle replacements, but none can fly people today and several still only exist on paper. Now Congress is aiming its budget ax directly at NASA. As much as I hated the shuttle (a motor home with a dump truck welded to the back end) and as little use as I have for NASA's wasteful bureaucratic approach to space, I fear that without those things our space ambitions will be reduced to sending out probes and running RC cars around on Mars and maybe the Moon. From there it's a short hop down to no NASA at all. The Peak Oil folks will shrug and say that it's inevitable, but I never expected to see it happen in my lifetime.

I'm still putting a lot of miles on my bicycle. I've stuck with my 10.4 mile route and trying to up the pace. In a week, I've managed to add one mile-per-hour to my average speed (hit 11.6mph average speed this morning), and two and a half to my max speed (17.9mph). The problem is that nearly all the gains were over the first three days, then I seem to have hit a wall. Part of the problem is the weather. Not only is it 80 degrees when I head out, the humidity has been a killer. Wednesday was the worst; I came in looking like Tony and Leo after six hours of non-stop polka dancing. The last couple days have been better, but it still feels like I'm riding at the bottom of a swimming pool.

As Debbie mentioned in her last post, we hadn't experienced nearly enough narcissism and sociopathology in our day-to-day lives, so we went to the Magic Kingdom on the Sunday before July 4th. The fireworks were good. Not much else was. We had planned to head to the waterfront in downtown Sanford for fireworks on Monday, but we just couldn't convince ourselves it was a good idea. We were able to see most of the fireworks from our parking lot with the added bonus of watching all the amateurs try to set the apartment buildings on fire. Good times!

I have intentionally avoided talking about the Casey Anthony trial because a) I wasn't all that interested in it and b) I figured most people reading this were not from Florida and would likely be even less interested. I'm only bringing up now after the verdict to say that, as I suspected from what little news of the trial that was forced into my eyeballs while trying to watch something else, this was OJ Lite with an incompetent defense team that won merely because the prosecution team was even more incompetent. As a result, a woman who at the minimum was criminally negligent in caring for her child and who likely killed her, walks away with time served plus one week. If this is the best that can be done in a high-profile, money-is-no-object show trial, imagine how piss-poor the routine level of courtroom activity is.

Richard Dawkins has stuck his foot into it big-time. I'm not surprised. Dawkins is a schoolyard bully who beats up on whoever he thinks his audience will enjoy watching him beat on (verbally, of course; physically, Dawkins couldn't fight his way out of a wet paper bag). This time he simply misjudged his audience. Maybe those who have supported him in the past will finally see him for what he is.

Since the 1970's, the middle class has been going backwards in terms of real wealth. That reality has been papered over with debt for the last thirty years, but now the party is over. There is no quick fix for where we are; most people will have to get used to having less for at least a couple generations.

The talking heads are all in a tizzy because the June jobs numbers sucked dead bunnies when all their spreadsheets told them otherwise. This is one of those cases where the only people surprised are the reality-challenged who live in the bubble that most economists reside in.

The Atlanta public schools have been cheating on student tests. If anyone believes that Atlanta is alone in this, let me know; I have a Rolex I'll sell to you for five bucks. If anyone bothered to look, I'm certain that nearly every school district in the country would have some measure of administration-organized test fraud going on.

It's pretty well accepted fact that the stimulus bill did no lasting good for the American economy. Now even Obama's own people are saying so.

Well, it's getting late so I'll just stop there.

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