The basic point of last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine cover story: Senator McCain had a different Vietnam experience from Senators Hagel (a Republican), Webb, Kerrey, Kerry and Cleland (Democrats), all of whom disagree with him on the war. ‘We’re gonna win this thing if it kills us,’ seems to be McCain’s view. ‘It’s unwinnable and is killing us,’ seems to be the view of the others.

‘I have seen this movie before, and I know how it ends,’ says Cleland, who lost three of his limbs to an errant grenade during the battle of Khe Sanh. ‘With thousands dead and tens of thousands more injured, and years later you ask yourself what you were doing there. To the extent my friend John McCain signs on to this, he is endangering America’s long-term interests, and probably his own election in the fall.’

☞ But the full article offers much more than my tiny synopsis and I commend it to you. (And it’s a long weekend, so who knows.) Likewise:


Here, in Newsweek.

I want to say that neither of these is a hatchet job. George Will is a thoughtful and brilliant conservative. And the Times profile, above, treats its subject with respect.

(I disagree with the premise of Will’s global warming question. I think McCain can have good answers to that question and the follow-up on ‘cap and trade.’)


John Seiffer: ‘With your new-found interest in death by asteroid, perhaps you want to read this new book, Global Catastrophic Risks.’

Andy Long: ‘This problem can be solved simply. Just use a small space ship to implant a WheelTug™ on the oncoming object.  It can then pull the asteroid out of the way (or at least to the end of the runway).  Not only that, it might – might – improve Borealis’s stock price.”

☞ This could be our best hope.

David D’Antonio:  “Somehow I doubt that other governments are going to be happy with space-based laser systems capable of deflecting asteroids; it would seem fairly trivial to point them in a slightly different direction and, say, vaporize satellites. Or cities.”

☞ As I read the Atlantic Monthly article, they – like the gravity tractors or jet engines—would be launched from earth.  Which is why we need to see impending threats from great distances.  But your apathy is noted (says Andy, grinning in a friendly way, as if he were using an emoticon) . . . and perhaps justified (emphasis on the perhaps):

Jim Kozma:  “I’ve been reading a bit on the NEOs (Near Earth Objects) since you mentioned them in your column, and I don’t think we have much cause to worry.  It is quite interesting, and I urge you to read more about it here.  In 1998 NASA started a project to discover and catalog 90% of the NEOs larger than one kilometer by the end of 2008.  They are a little bit behind schedule in that they have only found and cataloged 80% of the 900 that they estimate exist.  The new project is to extend that search to objects as small as 140 meters by 2020.  (The one kilometer or larger size corresponds to a strike that would ‘cause global consequences.’  The 140m size is about where something could ‘punch through the Earth’s atmosphere and cause regional damage if they strike land or create a harmful tsunami should they impact into an ocean.’)  NASA is funding the ‘Air Force Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) project…[and] this system alone could discover over 70 percent of the potentially hazardous objects larger than 140 meters by 2020.’  There is also some interesting material here on the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.  I assume the presenter is trying to get funding for the project, but it still looks quite promising.”

☞ So we seem to be working on the “looking for trouble” piece of this – excellent.  I’d like to think we’ll soon be developing the capability to do something if we find trouble.


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