Whittington Again Demonstrates His Reading Compreshension Skilz

I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged last, but here’s a gem from our favorite friend from Planet Strawman.

This morning he asked whether Obama’s statement that he wants to revitalize NASA represents a flip-flop from his previous position of postponing Constellation. I had emailed him (after clarifying that I had no intention of voting for Obama) saying that “it is quite possible to both believe in gutting Constellation and at the same time revitalizing NASA. The two are not mutually incompatible at all.”

Mark’s response:

Gracious, while this doesn’t come close to believing six impossible things before breakfast, as the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland suggests, it comes at least two impossible things close to it. The first is that one can revitalize the space agency by gutting its primary mission. The second is that Barack Obama cares a fig about revitalizing anything except the liberal welfare state.

Now dear reader, my first question is, where did I ever state that I believed that “Obama cares a fig about revitalizing anything but the liberal welfare state”?

Second, the term revitalize means to give new life or new vigor to something. If someone states that they don’t think NASA’s doing a very good job anymore of inspiring people, and thinks they’re headed down the wrong track, why is it a flip-flop or inconsistent or crazy to believe that making major changes to what NASA is doing and how it’s doing it could “revitalize” it. Quite frankly, if you’re not happy with what NASA is doing, you’re probably not happy with its primary program (VSE was a mission, Constellation is a program–there’s a difference). Giving more money to a program like Constellation and expecting a different result seems closer to the definition of insanity in my opinion.

Update: Now, demonstrating his Psychology skilz, Mark declares that I went “ballistic” in this post…and that it demonstrates “blind rage, and hatred”. All I can say is: heh.

I’m sorry for wasting all your time with this post. It’s just too much fun to tweak Mark and watch him make an idiot of himself. I’ll grow up.

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Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff

President/CEO at Altius Space Machines
Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
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22 Responses to Whittington Again Demonstrates His Reading Compreshension Skilz

  1. Anonymous says:

    Amen. If you were wanting to make NASA inspirational, why exactly would you want its primary goal to be a jobs protection system that’s projected to take years to develop and is itself only a step along the way towards a step towards a step towards anything that matters. Did JFK say ‘within 10 years, we will launch a rocket system?” or did he say we would go to the moon?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Jon Goff,

    you should put up a link to Masten-Space’s introductory suborbital special. It’s pretty sweet.

    -Adam Greenwood

  3. murphydyne says:

    I’m a little curious as to when Constellation became ‘NASA’s primary mission’. Mark’s capacity for miscomprehensionation is legendary. The only way his arguments work is if he takes what you say and completely reframes it to suit his ends. In this case:
    -“Gracious, while this doesn’t come close to believing six impossible things before breakfast, as the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland suggests, it comes at least two impossible things close to it.
    When all else fails, absurdism is a good way to dismiss the merits of your opponent’s position.
    -“The first is that one can revitalize the space agency by gutting its primary mission.
    This presumes that ESAS is NASA’s primary mission. I certainly don’t think it is, and the VSE backs me up on this one. (NASA wasn’t supposed to build the National Space Transportation Vehicles, it was supposed to build the Trans-LEO Exploration Vessel. THAT is NASA’s primary mission in this regard)
    -“The second is that Barack Obama cares a fig about revitalizing anything except the liberal welfare state.
    Top it off with a complete non sequitur that has no bearing on the argument but creates an association between Jon and Barack in the reader’s mind.

    Basic high school debate club stuff that we all thought we had left back in high school.

    I’m all for a public debate on U.S. space transportation, NASA and non-NASA. I hew to the VSE position that NASA needs to be focused on the trans-LEO stuff, not crewed Earth-to-orbit (E2O). American industry needs to be providing crew transport E2O. It doesn’t help that Griffin is constantly sticking tires in the spokes with comments like the most recent ones that said in essence that the Shaft could be re-certified for commercial use. One question: Where are you supposed to come up with the insurance for a private crew launching on one of those beasts?

  4. Anonymous says:

    And that response from a guy who apparently makes his living as a writer…

  5. Cahya says:

    It’s good.
    Nice to see your blog.

  6. Rob says:

    As someone who spent time as a contractor to NASA during the early shuttle fights, I’ve come to think that NASA may be holding us back more than it’s moving us forward.

    Where would we have been if we had entrusted aviation solely to the government for its first four decades?

    NASA seems to serve best when it’s goal is exploration. When it tries to serve as a bus company, not so well.

  7. Jon Goff says:

    Rob,

    NASA seems to serve best when it’s goal is exploration. When it tries to serve as a bus company, not so well.

    Unfortunately it has a tendency of trying to turn exploration into an excuse to build new buses….

    ~Jon

  8. Anonymous says:

    -“The second is that Barack Obama cares a fig about revitalizing anything except the liberal welfare state.”

    Having lived through the GOP welfare state since 1980, and not believing for a minute that Barack is looking for a Republican wet dream liberal welfare state, I could not fathom Mark’s comment going unchallenged until I remembered that you’re from the GOP Dreamland (Utah), and it came clear to me.

  9. Jon Goff says:

    Anonymous,
    Having lived through the GOP welfare state since 1980, and not believing for a minute that Barack is looking for a Republican wet dream liberal welfare state, I could not fathom Mark’s comment going unchallenged until I remembered that you’re from the GOP Dreamland (Utah), and it came clear to me.

    Well, I never said I actually agreed with Mark that only liberals are for the welfare state (because as you point out, the GOP uses it too). I was just merely pointing out that I hadn’t said what he inferred I said.

    As it is, while yes, I have spent about 1/3 of my life in Utah, I haven’t been living there for several years, now, am not a Utah conservative (though I did register republican so I could vote for Ron Paul in the primaries), and am in fact usually considered a bit of a political black sheep by most of my friends back there.

    But you can put whatever words into my mouth you would prefer.

    ~Jon

  10. Ferris Valyn says:

    Jon,

    Never forgot Mark’s first rule – always go after the Democrats, whether its legit or not.

    Is there an award for parroting skilz?

  11. Ferris Valyn says:

    BTW, Jon, if you don’t mind me asking – who are you going with when you vote? If you don’t feel like saying, thats fine – just curious

  12. Jon Goff says:

    Ferris,
    I’m planning on voting for Bob Barr at the moment. Unless he does something really stupid between now and November, he’s one of the best candidates we’ve had on the ballot for president since I’ve been old enough to vote. My only real beef with him is that I’m pro-immigration. Other than that, he’s like Ron Paul minus some of the conspiracy theory stuff.

    ~Jon

  13. Mark says:

    This is all very sad.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “This is all very sad.”

    Shut up, Shittington. Your cow-school bachelor’s degree in history doesn’t qualify you to comment on matters of space policy, science, or engineering. Moreover, your utter lack of basic reading comprehension skills and inability to frame even simple logical arguments brings even your claimed bachelor’s degree into question. You lack any training or experience in what you’re amateurishly “writing” about (and I use that word loosely), and are the laughingstock of every other commenter on every other space-related website. Grow a brain cell or two, work up some self-awareness and shame, and shut the hell up.

  15. Jon Goff says:

    Anonymous,
    While I may be a bit antagonistic to Mark at times, I’d appreciate it if we could keep it a bit more civil here. Poking fun is perfectly fair, but I’d prefer you didn’t use that kind of language around here.

    Thanks,
    ~Jon

  16. ザイツェヴ says:

    The stated positions (e.g. first gutting and then revitalizing) are entirely consistent in the fantasy world where the “science” lobby is living. And you need to assume that “science” is the mission in need of revitalizing.

    Here’s an example (numbers are pulled out of thin air). Suppose for a moment you have a space agency livng for a 15bil a year. It spends 2.5bil on “science”, 10.5bil on running a national prestige spaceline, and the rest is just government waste and bureaucratic overhead. The plan is to gut the agency by taking away 7.5bil, move a few bureaucrats to oversee education. The final layout is, revitalized “science” gets 6.5bil (more than 2 times than it had before), the proportional waste shrinks to 1.0bil. Kickass!

  17. john says:

    At least you have obtained a data point on Marks’ definition of ballistic.

  18. murphydyne says:

    A couple of things:

    1) I should have proofed better my last comment. Instead of reading:

    “It doesn’t help that Griffin is constantly sticking tires in the spokes with comments like”

    it should read:

    “It doesn’t help that Griffin is constantly putting sticks in the spokes with comments like”

    2) Mark’s update to his update pegged my irony meter when he notes:

    “The comments are pretty funny too. They illustrate, if nothing else, what an incoherence space activism has become in which ego and posturing has replaced reason and logic.”

    Given that Jon allows comments at this site, and I allow them over at Out of the Cradle, whereas Mr. Whittington does not allow them at all on his site, I have to ask myself whether the pot is calling the kettle black.

    “But what I see coming from too many people who call themselves space activists is incoherent, blind rage and hatred for anyone who does not share that rage. I find that very sad.”

    And who might that be, Mark? Just who are these ‘space activists’ exhibiting these characteristics of blind rage and hatred? Can you cite examples? (I’ll give you a free ride on anonymous comments, mainly because I just ignore them. If someone isn’t willing to back up their statements with their name, then the comments obviously have little, if any value)

    These broad swipes at ‘some people’ would be funny if they weren’t so very sad.

  19. Mark says:

    In response to Ken’s note about comments. I don’t allow comments because I don’t have time to police them. The Internet content provider I work for has a different policy, and as a result I’ve had to deal with a number of Internet stalkers who have put profanity laden, hate filled comments on some of my articles. In any case these thugs post anonymously, a sign of cowardice as well as lack of courtesy. Some of the comments on this post, as well as the post itself, sadly buttress my point about the state of space activism.

  20. Rand Simberg says:

    And who might that be, Mark? Just who are these ‘space activists’ exhibiting these characteristics of blind rage and hatred? Can you cite examples?

    He can never say. He just describes it as though it’s somehow obvious, and makes vague allusions to his fantasy “Internet Rocketeers Club” whose membership remains a secret known only unto him.

  21. Anonymous says:

    How much are the dues for the Internet Rocketeers Club? I’d like to join.

  22. Jon Goff says:

    Anonymous Anonymous said…
    How much are the dues for the Internet Rocketeers Club? I’d like to join.

    Heh. That was priceless.

    ~Jon

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