American automakers seem to be begging for financial assistance from the federal government. Given the large number of people involved in the automobile industry, it's understandable that many people want to bail them out from possible bankruptcies. I have a different opinion. Given their historical performance in recent decades and their reluctance to change anything, I think they should weather the economic downturn on their own.
Unless they can put forward a viable and concrete plan to change their fortunes without outsourcing everything, putting up dozens of billions of dollars worth of loans may be throwing good money after bad. Unfortunately, the leaders of these companies have mostly focused on threats about what would happen if they went bankrupt, rather than outline changes in long-term policies and priorities that would change their fortune. A lot of people are afraid that the companies might go under, but it looks like they've been consistently self-destructing, anyways. It might be a lot better to put the money into infrastructure investments that will pay off economically instead of wasting it on drowning companies that would go bankrupt whatever we do.
It's a good sign that Democrats are now starting to think the same way, although I think they're still giving the auto industry too much benefit of the doubt with the way they're so eager to help the companies. However, I'm not sure it's a good sign that I'm actually agreeing with the Bush administration on this issue ...
Joining the rank of previous lunar impactors, the Moon Impact Probe from India's Chandrayaan-1 has successfully crashed into the Moon. Now which country will be next to join the club of nations that have sent probes to the Moon? And how long will it take for India to send a successful lunar lander?
One thing I haven't heard much about is new scientific results from the impactor. I wonder how they would compare with those that we'll get from LCROSS next year?
There's a bit of cognitive dissonance hearing that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, one of the most religiously oppressive countries in the world, both officially and unofficially, made a speech about the need for religious tolerance. But condemning him as a hypocrite might be far too premature. If he really wants to spread religious tolerance within Saudi Arabia, he'll have enough trouble dealing with domestic elements that will strongly resist such efforts. He doesn't need the rest of the world to pile on him, too.
On the other hand, if it's just a thinly veiled attempt to decry criticisms of Islam, Saudi Arabia would deserve all the scorn it will get. I just hope that this is not the case. I hope the speech is part of his baby steps as he tries to make his country freer. Unfortunately, I do not know about the king well enough to have an opinion one way or the other.
Two exciting announcements for astronomy enthusiasts have been made nearly at the same time. Not only have the first direct observations of an extra-solar planet have been made in visible light, there has also been the first direct observations of a multi-planet system around a normal star.