Category Archives: Media Criticism

The Wall

If the Democrats want to lose the fight, all they have to do is keep talking. The utter irrationality of their “arguments” has been breathtaking.

[Update a while later]

Shutdown stalemate as Republicans go factual, and Democrats go illogical.

[Update a few minutes later]

The week in pictures, government-shutdown edition.

[Update a few more minutes later]

The stupidest argument of the week.

It’s stiff competition.

Aging

How old are we when we’re old?

I’m well into my sixties now, but I don’t feel old at all. Or at least, no more so than I did twenty years ago. In some ways, probably because of improved diet, I feel like I’m in better shape. I do need to work out, though. I’m planning a lot of business travel this year, and starting a new space venture, and I feel as up to it (perhaps more, given my experience) as I ever have.

Chinese-Restaurant Syndrome

Has MSG gotten a bad rap?

I’ve personally never had a problem with it. I used to keep it on hand, in fact, though I haven’t used it in decades.

[Update a few minutes later, after reading the whole thing]:

As Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth professor who has researched how to influence attitudes about vaccines, pointed out to me in an email, it’s hard for people to change their minds about personal health issues because it contradicts what they have perceived to experience in the past. “People who felt bad after eating Chinese food in the past may have blamed MSG … and thus resist information they encounter later about its actual effects,” he said. This may be the result of the availability heuristic, where people make judgments using the easiest information available, rather than looking for alternative explanations.

This could also explain peoples’ resistance to accepting new ideas about nutrition, when (e.g.) they’ve been told for decades to avoid fat.

[Update a while later]

Related: Half the people who think they have food allergies are wrong.

I’m pretty confident in my allergy to tree nuts. Even if no one tells me, I can tell when I’ve had them.

AOC

No, conservatives are not angry because she danced on a rooftop.

I had a stupid Twitter exchange with one of these idiots yesterday.

China And Space

This piece is monumental in its ignorance of human spaceflight in the U.S.:

China can put people in space, as can Russia, but the United States cannot. In fact, the landing on the moon should be seen as another step toward China’s goal of landing humans on the Moon. The Colombia disaster made NASA risk-averse, slowing the development of manned programs to a crawl. The previous administration’s decision to rely on commercial space programs for human flight has not yet born fruit, and these efforts so far have repeated what U.S. space programs did in the 1950s. The promised flight to Mars was always a fantasy. Right now, China has the most promising human spaceflight program.

The United States can put people in space any time it wants; it just doesn’t want to. Note that the words “Commercial Crew” don’t appear in the article, though DM-1 is scheduled in the next few weeks, maybe even this month. Barring a major problem, we should have two separate domestic vehicles capable of sending humans into space this year. And it completely ignores both SpaceX’s and Blue Origin’s plans for much larger reusable systems. The notion that China is ahead of us in any aspect of spaceflight is nonsensical.

[Update a few minutes later]

Speaking of China, Leonard David has the latest on its farside landing.

[Update a few more minutes later]

Meanwhile, Mark Whittington continues to fear the yellow menace:

The landing is a remarkable achievement. It illustrates Beijing’s burning ambition to become the supreme superpower on Earth, in part by conquering space. India and a private group in Israel are planning their own moon landings early in 2019. NASA is due to sponsor commercial lunar landings as part of President Trump’s return to the moon initiative in the next year or so.

The prize of the new space race is the moon’s natural resources and control of the high frontier for all practical purposes.

The moon is a big place. No one nation is going to dominate it. And it’s a long way from a robotic lander, regardless of which side it lands on, to a lunar base.

Mark continues to operate under the delusion that we can (or should) do Apollo again. Lunar resources will be developed privately, if at all. It certainly won’t happen by a government that has elections every two years.

[Update a while later]

No, James Andrew Lewis, America is about to take back human spaceflight. And in fact it is China that is “repeating what U.S. space programs did in the sixties.”

[Saturday-afternoon update]

Sigh. Here’s another one:

The development is especially shocking because China’s space program seems to have come out of nowhere. And in some sense it has. Whereas NASA was formed in 1958, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) was founded in 1993.

During the past quarter-century, however, CNSA has made up for lost time – illustrating in classic, tortoise-versus-hare fashion that slow and steady wins the race. Today, despite its belated start, CNSA boasts a robust astronaut (taikonaut) program, an operational space station (Tiangong-2), and a whopping thirty-eight rocket launches in 2018 – more than any other country.

Even though it’s generally quite secretive, CNSA is very open about its intention to land taikonauts on the moon by the late 2020s or early 2030s, with an eye to colonizing the moon shortly thereafter. The United States and Russia have made similar declarations. But all things considered – especially now, in the wake of Chang’e 4’s spectacular success – China must be considered the frontrunner.

As Jeff Foust noted on Twitter, it’s only “shocking” and “seems to have come out of nowhere,’ if you weren’t paying attention. And no, China should not be considered the “frontrunner.” Landing a rover on the moon, even on the farside, is neither a necessary or sufficient condition to land human there.