SpaceX has made orbit!

SpaceX has made history with the first privately developed liquid-fueled launch vehicle to achieve earth orbit! The Falcon 1 successfully reached orbit about half an hour past midnight (British Summer Time) tonight. This is a phenomenal achievement that bodes well for the future of the human race.

Published in: on September 29, 2008 at 12:47 am  Comments (9)  

Immorality

I had a weird experience when I arrived back at my local tube station this evening. As I walked through the station I heard shouting and saw a crowd of people. I got closer and heard someone shouting for the police, then saw two men fighting. As far as I could tell, one of them had smashed a bottle on the other one and was now grabbing at his face. The other one was calling for help and asking someone to call the police. No-one was doing anything. The London Underground staff were just watching. I walked over to see what I could do but the attacker backed off before I got there and ran away somewhere. The other guy didn’t seem badly hurt, although his head was bleeding where he’d been hit, but he was very angry that no-one had helped him. He couldn’t believe that the staff had just watched and done nothing to stop the attacker. I missed the start of the fight so I can’t be sure what happened; but it did look to me as if the attacker was drunk and the victim wasn’t really fighting back, so I’m inclined to believe his story. I’m amazed that no-one did anything. They just stood in a circle and didn’t lift a finger to help the guy, even though he was crying out for help. I don’t really understand – surely if someone is under attack you do what you can to help him? It makes me kind of depressed to think that I live in a society in which nobody came to his aid.

Published in: on September 27, 2008 at 12:33 am  Leave a Comment  

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Everyone is running around blaming everyone else. My friend Jason reports that Canary Wharf is full of bankers crying into their Wasabi bento boxes. Good stuff.

So, whose fault is it really? The government’s, obviously. There was a fantastic letter in one of the free London papers yesterday. Someone claimed that for years “the City has acted like a huge machine sucking money out of the ordinary people”. Apparently, anyone who dared to question this was accused of envy and ignorance of free-market economics. But now the bankers have had their comeuppance and we can all see that they are the ones who don’t understand economics, they’ve caused all this misery and now the taxpayer has to pick up the tab. Yep, sounds a lot like envy and complete ignorance of economics to me.

And on that note, who is that man with the bright white hair and the dark black eyebrows and why is he screwing with my money? The British budget deficit is worse than every other European country except Hungary and it is getting much worse. So what solution to this dire problem has our government proposed? Borrowing a few billion more. Genius.

I met a friend for drinks after work yesterday. (It was the first day I got out of the office before midnight for a week or so.) Our conversation is usually good fun but twice we veered towards politics and both times it rather killed the jollity. We started off by talking about how annoying the internal politics of large companies can be. We have both seen good projects rejected and bad projects promoted for political reasons, usually to the detriment of the company as a whole. So far, so good. But then I made the terrible mistake of likening office politics to the debate about global warming, throwing in as an aside the claim that the earth has actually cooled over the last decade (which might be true). I ended up trying to explain, without being overly antagonistic, that most environmentalist groups these days are less concerned about the environment than they are about using pseudo-science to promote socialist politics. Even a co-founder of Greenpeace thinks the environmentalist program has been hijacked. I think I probably failed at the not-being-antagonistic thing and just came across as a right-wing lunatic.

Anyway, this didn’t go down very well. At one point she asked me, “So don’t you believe in any NGOs?” Wow. NGOs really are the churches of the modern world.

For a while our conversation moved onto more entertaining matters but towards the end, I forget how, we drifted back to politics. She claimed that Adam Smith’s idea of the “invisible hand” was great in theory but didn’t work in practice, just like Marxism. I replied that it usually did work in practice and that Marxism doesn’t even work in theory.

She even decried an e-mail that a mutual friend sent from India for being too “white and Westernised”. What has happened to my friends? Whither has their capacity for critical thought disappeared? It seems like everyone around me is falling for one ideology or another. Perhaps when you reach a certain stage of intellectual development you just pick one thought-pattern and stick to it. I hope that never happens to me.

Published in: on September 24, 2008 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment