Rime of the Ancient Democrat
I think sentient Democrats are watching their party's chances in 2012 slip away, and had they not made such a big deal of claiming all opposition to Obama was racist in motivation and effect (see, e.g., this) , they would now be urging him to quit and seeking a new contender for his office. Like Coleridge's ancient Mariner, however, they can only stand on deck with that albatross around their neck watching both the White House and the Senate slip from their grasp just as did so many state governorships and the House of Representatives.
In the meantime the Ship of State runs aground on the shoals of incompetence, corruption and laughable idiocy.
Let's start with NASA. Once upon a time this organization flew men and women into space. They no longer do. While I suppose there still are capable scientists and managers in the agency as its mission becomes far less significant than once it was, the head of the operation, selected by Obama, turned the once proud agency into a laughing stock.
Charles Bolton, the agency's administrator early on claimed this his job as head of the agency was to improve relations with the Muslim world:
When I became the NASA administrator -- or before I became the NASA administrator -- he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering," Bolden said in the interview.
I'm still looking for the historic contributions of the Muslim world to science and math and especially space exploration. I came up with fictional accounts of flying carpets.
I figured the agency topped that when I read this Guardian report this week:
Rising greenhouse emissions may tip off aliens that we are a rapidly expanding threat, warns a report for Nasa
When they see what a mess we've made of our planet, aliens may be forced to take drastic action.
It may not rank as the most compelling reason to curb greenhouse gases, but reducing our emissions might just save humanity from a pre-emptive alien attack, scientists claim.
Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth's atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control - and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain.
This highly speculative scenario is one of several described by scientists at Nasa and Pennsylvania State University that, while considered unlikely, they say could play out were humans and alien life to make contact at some point in the future.
The story must have set alarm bells ringing at NASA because within hours the website contained a disclaimer from the author, Shawn D Goldman.
So here's the deal, folks. Yes, I work at NASA. It's also true that I work at NASA Headquarters. But I am not a civil servant... just a lowly postdoc. More importantly, this paper has nothing to do with my work there. I wasn't funded for it, nor did I spend any of my time at work or any resources provided to me by NASA to participate in this effort. There are at least a hundred more important and urgent things to be done on any given work day than speculate on the different scenarios for contact with alien civilizations... However, in my free time (what precious little I have), I didn't mind working on stuff like this every once in a while. Why? Well, because I'm a geek and stuff like this is fun to think about. Unfortunately, there is not enough time for fun. Indeed, I felt guilty at times because this has led to a lack of effort on my part in my interactions with Seth and Jacob. Beyond adding some comments here or there, I did very little for the paper.
But I do admit to making a horrible mistake. It was an honest one, and a naive one... but it was a mistake nonetheless. I should not have listed my affiliation as "NASA Headquarters." I did so because that is my current academic affiliation. But when I did so I did not realize the full implications that has. I'm deeply sorry for that, but it was a mistake born out of carelessness and inexperience and nothing more. I will do what I can to rectify this, including distributing this post to the Guardian, Drudge, and NASA Watch. Please help me spread this post to the other places you may see the article inaccurately attributed to NASA.
One last thing: I stand by the analysis in the paper. Is such a scenario likely? I don't think so. But it's one of a myriad of possible (albeit unlikely) scenarios, and the point of the paper was to review them. But remember - and this is key - it's me standing for the paper... not the full weight of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. For anything I have done to mis-convey that to those covering this story, to the public, or to the fine employees of NASA, I apologize.
With all due respect, the scenario is preposterous, probably the most hyperbolic and ridiculous of all the already hyperbolic and ridiculous climate change (formerly known as climate warming) scenarios which have been tossed about by the popular media.
But Shawn is a mere postdoc. Nobel prize winning economist, NYT columnist and Princeton professor Paul Krugman has no such excuse for his lunatic ruminations on aliens and outer space. Obama having followed the economic poppycock Krugman peddles to disastrous effect, the mad professor has come up with yet another possibility:
It's very hard to get inflation in a depressed economy. But if you had a program of government spending plus an expansionary policy by the Fed, you could get that. So, if you think about using all of these things together, you could accomplish, you know, a great deal.
If we discovered that, you know, space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months.
More dangerous than Krugman is these days (we have no more money to throw at his crackpot plans) and more preposterous than NASA is the corruption within the Department of Justice. Pajamas Media has, for the past two weeks, been reporting on the hiring practices of the Department's Civil Rights Division where Attorney General Holder is stuffing the Department slots with radicals.
On the international scene, Obama has finally done something his Secretary of state only days before said was impossible: he suggested Assad step down. He didn't say this in a speech, perhaps because he was too busy fund raising and traveling the hinterlands in what Rush Limbaugh dubbed the "White Like Me" tour. No, for this -- unlike, say our ally Mubarak -- he let his views be known in writing. I think that's rather too little and too late to halt the civilian slaughter in Syria. I mean he'd need a credible threat to stop Assad, something like parachuting in the EPA, his economic whiz kids, Interior Secretary Salazar and Attorney General Holder with instructions to do to Syria what they are doing to us: Drive that country into the ground.
Meanwhile the Democratic Party operatives, lacking any positive strategy for turning this around, have been flinging poo at Rick Perry, who just threw his hat in the ring. So far, it's the usual Democrat stuff -- you know, the Republican candidate is racist and sexist and stupid.
Bored with the triteness of it all, Rick Ballard has tried his hand at it, and I think his effort is more creative though I hope it is no more effective in stopping the coming juggernaut :
Did you know that 'Bull' Perry went AWOL from the Air Force after making hundreds of deliveries of napalm to be used in Nixon's secret war on Cambodia? He then returned to Texas where he took the overseer position on his father's cotton plantation as a cover for his Klan activities before infiltrating the Democrat Party on the orders of the Hunt brothers with the aim of covering up the silver market corner they ran in order to provide more money to the Reagan campaign against Nobel Peace Prize winner and internationally famed humanitarian Jimmy Carter.
Remember, you heard it here first.