Tuesday, December 05, 2006
NASA is planning a permanent outpost on the moon.
The space agency announced plans to build a base on the moon and permanently staff it by 2024, with astronauts staying for up to six months at a time.This mission will inevitably fuel debates about national sovereignty in space and the leftist paranoia about the "weaponization of space," but these debates will be confronted as part of the next great chapter of human exploration, they will not stop it. Three hundred years from now this moon outpost may hold a place in the history books as the galactic equivalent of Jamestown, Virgina.
The habitat will most likely be built on the moon's south pole and will serve as a science outpost and test centre for technologies needed for future expeditions to Mars.
"This is not your father's Apollo," said John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. "I think it's the only way to sustain something like this over decades. This is not flag-and-footprints. This is the idea of starting an outward movement that includes long stays on the moon."
During the Liberal convention on Saturday there was a point when Rick Mercer was in the CBC booth with Peter Mansbridge and Mansbridge tried to get a few serious comments out of Mercer on the proceedings. Mercer mostly dodged and didn't come up with much.
However, Stephen Taylor was able to get a much better interview with Mercer on the floor of the convention - seen here. The interview lasts several minutes, some very good questions are put to Mercer and Mercer gives some interesting responses. I kept waiting for Mercer to crack a joke, but it didn't come until the very end, and even then it was small one. In fact, this is the most serious I've ever seen Mercer, of course I've only ever seen him on television (except for that one time when I ate lunch at the table next to his at a patio on The Danforth).
I suspect the differences in the interview had a lot to do with the setting. I think Mercer probably felt he could abandon his professional T.V persona somewhat for Taylor's guerrilla convention coverage. Much has been made in certain quarters about the potential shown by Taylor's convention coverage - particularly with regards to its ability to undermine the mainstream media.
I think that the more professional Taylor's and similar coverage becomes, and the wider audience it gains, the more its content will become like the established media. However, that still does not change the fact that Stephen Taylor did a much better interview with Rick Mercer than Peter Mansbridge did.
Monday, December 04, 2006
On Saturday I suggested the apparent Dion-Kennedy alliance harked back to the great Canadian political partnerships of Baldwin-Lafontaine, Macdonald-Cartier, Laurier-Sifton, and King-Lapointe.
Hours later Andrew Potter noticed the same theme.
Today, in the Toronto Star, Thomas Axworthy has picked up the meme.
Like the Robert Baldwin-Louis Lafontaine alliance of reformers in the 19th century, the Dion-Kennedy compact shifted the centre of gravity in the party and, if they continue to work together, may do so in the country. Now, Dion and Kennedy have a very long way to go and massive accomplishments ahead of them if they are to deserve comparison to Baldwin-Lafontaine and the other historic pairs. Baldwin-Lafontaine established responsible government along with the intellectual and administrative foundations of modern Canada; Macdonald and Cartier's vision and action united the colonies of British North America into one nation; Laurier and Sifton secured the West by orchestrating the largest migration in Canadian history; King and Lapointe lead Canada through the Depression and the Second World War.
The Dion and Kennedy alliance is only suggestive of those past partnerships. While I think their ascendancy does indicate a new era for the Liberal party, they have significant work ahead of them if they are to truly deserve comparison with the great leadership partnerships of Canada's past.
Update, several minutes later, after a quick Google search:
Counterweights has also made the historical comparison, and incidentally, back on November 17th suggested that a Kennedy-Dion alliance could defeat Iggy and Rae. This looks like a blog I may be reading more of.
They also remind us of the Mackenzie-Papineau partnership. Mackenzie and Papineau are probably best known for their mini-revolution and failed coup against the governments of the Canadas in 1837-38. It could be argued however that they got the responsible government ball rolling whence it was picked up by Baldwin-Lafontaine who carried it to its more moderate and thoughtful (typically Canadian) conclusion.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Whether the Liberals knew what they were doing or not, they chose the man I most wanted to see win out of the final eight candidates.
Did anyone else notice that one of Dion's very first comments after the announcement of his win was that he would "work with the government"?
Also, what is Paul Wells going to do now? He's been a Dion booster for so long, now that Dion is the leader, will Wells start picking on Dion the way he picks on everyone else?
I'm not a Liberal, and I haven't voted for any of their candidates since 2000, and I wont necessarily do it again, but between the two men remaining I'm firmly for Dion.
They're both intellectuals, but despite Ignatieff's better resume, Dion is smarter. When Canada faced its biggest unity crisis Dion left academia to take a leadership role. Dion has always fought for Canada - despite voting for the Prime Minister's "Quebec nation" resolution he assured the inclusion of the "within a united Canada" portion. Dion, as Rex Murphy has said today, has a "subtle charisma." Unlike Ignatieff, Dion wont pander or condescend to Canadians.
A minority House of Commons with Stephen Harper as PM and Stephane Dion as leader of the opposition is a promising prospect for the country.
Here's hoping for Dion.
The overriding feeling I'm getting is that no-one, not the journalists, not the candidates, not the people on the floor, not the delegates, really knows what's going on.
People are making up their minds on the way to ballot box. Its all chanting and clapping, and the voting is all going down relatively quickly. How much time or inclination do people have for rational consideration for who is best for the party?
Is this just the impression that is given from the television coverage?
I've been a fan of Dion-Kennedy combination for the past couple of months. I think it recalls a Canadian tradition of joint Anglo-Franco leadership teams, like Baldwin-Lafontaine, Macdonald-Cartier, King-Lapointe, Martin-Lapierre, (oops, scratch that last one).
I think a Dion-Kennedy ministry could be really good for the country. However, the significant strike against them, I think would be their foreign policy. Kennedy certainly has no experience there, while I think that Dion has better potential. But neither of them have talked about Canada's commitment to Afghanistan or Canada's role in the wider war very encouragingly.
I was also wary during Kennedy's speech when he started talking about the "small noises" across the country, the struggles that ordinary Canadians face and that the Liberal party has always been the party that makes the struggles of Canadians "their business." I'm definitely not a vehement small-government supporter, but I think I draw the line of government intrusiveness much earlier than many Liberals. Kennedy's rhetoric was sounding like a prescription for intrusion.
Third-ballot results coming soon. We'll see where the Liberals are at.
I didn't feel that anyone delivered a knock-out oration, nor did anyone fall on their face. I'm biased, but I'm increasingly convinced that very very few 21st century politicians can speak the way many 19th century politicians could. Of course the 19th century has the advantage of their words only being recorded in print.
Dion - I missed his, but apparently he ran out of time.
Kennedy - Really tried to pump-up the crowd with his video and his speech. I felt he was going for style over substance, but in this forum that might not have been a bad strategy. He walked a very fine line between recalling the party's past and outright comparing himself to Laurier, King, and Trudeau. The introduction from the Lesser Trudeau couldn't have hurt though.
Rae - Was much more measured, walked about, apparently spoke without a script which probably lead to his hurried finish and lack of French.
Iggnatief - Spoke like a front runner in a very comfortable position, which now (1:20 pm the next day) seems to have been a mistake. He emphasized winnability and attacked Stephen Harper to such a degree that it seemed like the whole convention had become a secret Iggy lair where he was hatching a nefarious plot. I likened it to The Brain scheming with, and talking down to, Pinky.
Saturday, The Vote:
It was a great move by Kennedy to go to Dion before the third ballot. His support had stalled and staying on, I think, would have benefited Iggy and Rae to a greater degree. Now it's down to three Iggy, Rae and Dion and no-one seems to know what is going to happen.
I always promise myself that I am not going to get sucked into these things, but political theater like this is better than a big sporting event. I can't manage to pull myself away from the CBC and online coverage.