This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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January 2004
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Might it Get Fun?

It looks like things are getting tighter in Iowa the last few days. (But Gephardt? PLEASE!) Since Iowa is first, that has been all over the news. But it has also been percolating that it is closing up in New Hampshire. Here is the latest….

Clark gaining on Dean in N.H.
(Thomas Fitzgerald and Dana Hull, Philadelphia Inquirer)

“There was a 13-percentage-point gap between Clark and Dean on Jan. 11, an 8-percentage-point gap on Jan. 12 and a 4-percentage-point gap on Jan. 13,” pollster American Research Group said on its Web site. The telephone survey of at least 600 likely primary voters had an error margin of 4 points.

“If the trend to Clark continues, Clark could be leading the race by the end of the weekend,” ARG president Dick Bennett said via e-mail. “Even if Dean holds his core support, Clark could tie and move in front of Dean in New Hampshire before the results from Iowa are known.”

Of course, what I really hope for is a situation where there are still several viable candidates going into the convention, and the candidate is chosen by the convention like it is SUPPOSED to happen… and so that states late on the schedule actually matter in the process.

I guess that is still unlikely, but I can hope. These things are generally wrapped up by early March though. But it is at least looking like it might not be a complete run away by Dean, which would be boring. (Not to mention he has no chance of winning against Bush unless Bush implodes.)

Only a few days left until the oddness that is Iowa. Can’t wait to watch!

To the Moon Alice! (And Mars!)

OK, lets try this again. The elder Bush did this, and it went absolutely nowhere. Time for another go. This Bush seems to have a tendency to try to finish his dad’s business….

Bush launches plan for moon-Mars quest
(Seth Borenstein & William Douglas, Philadelphia Inquirer)

President Bush set a soaring “new course for America’s space program” yesterday by proposing human exploration of the moon within a generation and of Mars sometime after that.

I actually think this is wonderful. I hope it does better than when the first Bush proposed something similar, and it just died. The fact that we have now gone about 30 years since the last time we were on the moon in inexcuseable. There has been an extreme slowing of our progress. It is time to get back on track.

There are a couple things that keep getting said that annoy me when I hear them.

The first is that any manned exploration is a waste of time, money and resources and it is much better to just use robots cause they can do more and better science for less money and less risk. I think this completely and totally misses the point. Even if it is true, which is somewhat debateable, this is not about the science. This is about manifest destiny and the human desire to explore and experience new things, and to achieve new things that have not been done before, and to meet new challenges. The science is a side effect. A great side effect, but a side effect none the less, not the primary goal.

Second is that we are better off spending the money at home. There is a need to be financially responsible, absolutely. The deficits are out of control and need to be balanced. I don’t believe in spending money that is not paid for. But, having said that, within the context of a properly balanced budget, things like this need to have their place, and even the large amounts needed for something like this are small compared to many other budget items, and this kind of thing needs to be included. And, even in addition to the straight “we should do this because it is good to do in and of itself” factor, this kind of effort often leads to many spin off technologies that end up helping society at large. And if it properly captivates the public imagination it can lead others who are not directly involved to become interested and educated in scientific and technological fields, which in turn leads to even more innovation. There is plenty of benefit.

Anyway, good job Mr. Bush. At least there are a couple things you can get right it seems. Of course, we’ll see if anything actually HAPPENS, or if it is just a bunch of words.