Curmudgeons Corner

Random thoughts on politics, current events, popular culture, and whatever else interests me.

Mark R. Whittington is a writer residing in Houston, Texas. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel of suspense Nocturne which he coauthored with his wife, Chantal, The Children of Apollo trilogy, The Last Moonwalker and Other Stories, Gabriella’s War, The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper, and Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Is Ted Cruz the real front runner in the Republican presidential race?

With the New Hampshire Primary lost and won, the action turns to South Carolina. Tuesday, a piece in the Washington Examiner posited the theory that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas and not Donald Trump, the winner in New Hampshire, is the actual front runner in the Republican race for the presidency. That statement is rather bold, considering that Trump is ahead of Cruz by double digits in South Carolina. Everything, as it turns out, depends on Cruz coming from behind and winning the next primary down south.

A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Bill Clinton said he sometimes wishes he wasn't married to Hillary

On the eve of what many suspect will be an epic, humiliating defeat in the New Hampshire Primary for Hillary Clinton, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, made a remarkable admission. Tuesday, as he was at the last Hillary for President Rally, Clinton proclaimed, “Sometimes when I am on a stage like this, I wish that we weren't married, then I could say what I really think." Of course, he hastened to add, that he did not mean that in a negative way. If you say so, Mr. President.

Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary

The Clintons' War on Women

Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich

Monday, February 08, 2016
In defense of the Apollo program

For most people, even those who were not alive when Neil Armstrong made his famous giant leap and small step, the Apollo missions to the moon remain a golden age of space exploration, A young president issued the challenge to land a man on the moon and return him safely to the Earth, and eight years later the thing was accomplished. Indeed, NASA did it five more times before Apollo 17 proved to be the last time men landed on the moon in 1972. Since then, no one has been beyond low Earth orbit, despite a number of attempts to start deep space exploration programs, both by presidents named George Bush.

A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts

Children of Apollo: The Space Race Gambit (Volume 1)

Children of Apollo: The Hard Road to the Stars (Volume 2)

Children of Apollo: The First Woman on the Moon (Volume 3)

Ted Cruz stuns media with story of sister's death from a drug overdose

One of the more powerful moments that occurred during Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate occurred when the heroin epidemic, an especially grievous problem in New Hampshire, came up. According to the Washington Free Beacon, Sen. Ted Cruz. R-Texas gave a particularly powerful response, illustrated by his sister’s experience with drug addiction that eventually killed her. The Blaze reported that the media center fell silent during the story, possibly because it showed a hitherto (by the media) unexpected human side of the conservative firebrand from Texas.

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic

Sunday, February 07, 2016

North Korea accused of testing an ICBM with missile launch into space

Reuters reported on Sunday that North Korea launched a long-range missile that is said to have placed a satellite into space. The launch happened much to the consternation of North Korea’s neighbors, South Korea and Japan, as well as the United States. Pyongyang claimed that the missile launch was part of that country’s peaceful space program. But, other countries are pretty sure that the launch was a test of an ICBM capable of placing a nuclear weapon on any target in the world, particularly the United States.

No Exit: North Korea, Nuclear Weapons, and International Security (Adelphi series)

Saturday, February 06, 2016
Can Michael Bloomberg save the Democratic Party?

Reuters reported on Saturday that Democratic Party movers and shakers are starting to panic. The party insiders note that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are tied in the national polls. They are facing for what is for them the nightmare of having an avowed socialist being nominated on the Democratic ticket and going on to get a 45 to 50 state thumping in the general election. Why they think Hillary Clinton would not suffer the same fate is unknown. In any case, the question now being raised in the salons of the liberal elites is whether or not it is too late for Vice President Joe Biden to ride to the rescue.

Bloomberg by Bloomberg

Friday, February 05, 2016

Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, dies at 85

According to a Friday story in the Palm Beach Post, Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, has died at the age of 85. He flew as lunar module pilot on board Apollo 14, which flew to and from the moon between January 31, 1971 and February 9, 1971. His crewmates were Alan Shepard and Stuart Roosa. Apollo 14 was the return to flight for the moon landing program after the near disaster of Apollo 13 in April 1970 and explored the Fra Mauro highlands on the lunar surface.

The Way of the Explorer: An Apollo Astronaut's Journey Through the Material and Mystical Worlds, Revised Edition

The Last Moonwalker and Other Stories

Barack Obama proposes $10 a barrel tax increase on oil

As President Barack Obama’s administration starts to wind down, the grandiosity has certainly not died out. According to a Thursday story in Politico, the president is going to propose as part of his FY2017 budget a massive, $300 billion green transportation program. Obama intends to pour money into high-speed rail, mass transit, and self-driving car technology. To pay for all of this, the president would slap a $10 a barrel tax on oil, which would raise the cost of gasoline roughly 22 cents a gallon. Obama figures that with the price of petroleum at historically low levels, most people will not complain if some of the savings get siphoned off into big government.

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power

Thursday, February 04, 2016

How Audi is using the Apollo moon landing to sell cars

As the Verge noted on Wednesday, Audi’s Super Bowl commercial takes on an Apollo moon landing theme. The commercial depicts a retired astronaut, identified only as “the Commander,” who is quietly remembering the time he and two other men rode a Saturn V to the moon. Finally, his son or grandson takes him on a drive in the new Audi R8. The Commander smiles for the first time in what must be in a while, for the R8 is so sporty and high tech, it is the closest thing there is to flying to the moon in a vehicle that roars down the highway on four wheels.

The Last Moonwalker and Other Stories

Ted Cruz suggests that Donald Trump might nuke Denmark if he becomes president

In noting Donald Trump’s latest Twitter meltdown concerning the results of the Iowa Caucus, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas joked about his main political rival’s unpredictable nature to reporters in Goffstown, New Hampshire, according to Politico on Wednesday. Cruz opined that the mercurial businessman and media personality might do rash things as president, such as nuking Denmark. Hot Air suggests that the statement constitutes a change in strategy on the part of Cruz in his assaults on Trump. Instead of suggesting that Trump is a phony conservative, Cruz is suggesting that he is insane.

H38006 Ted Cruz Cardboard Cutout Standup

Donald Trump Toilet Paper - Dump with Trump!- Highly Collectible Novelty Toilet Paper - Funny for Democrats or Republicans - Give the Gift of Laughter- Funniest Political Gift of 2016

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Russia begins work on a lunar lander

Whether and when Russia will try to send cosmonauts to the moon is an open question. The Putin government has heavily slashed spending on the Russian space program, a measure brought on by declining oil and gas revenues. But, as Popular Mechanics reported Wednesday, Russian engineers have gone ahead and have started to design a lunar lander for the eventual Russian lunar surface effort. When money is going to be forthcoming for such a vehicle is unknown, though Russia could partner with another country with lunar ambitions, such as China or the European Union.

Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?

The Value of the Moon: How to Explore, Live, and Prosper in Space Using the Moon's Resources

Children of Apollo: The Space Race Gambit

Children of Apollo: The Hard Road to the Stars

Children of Apollo: The First Woman on the Moon

Donald Trump accuses Ted Cruz of stealing the Iowa Caucus, demands do over

Donald Trump’s grace in the face of defeat that he displayed on the night of the Iowa Caucus did not last very long. According to a Wednesday story on CBS News, Trump tweeted an accusation that Cruz stole the Iowa Caucus through fraud and demanded that the election be done over. The accusation stems from a news story on CNN that Ben Carson would depart for Florida after Iowa, which was taken to mean that he was withdrawing from the presidential race.

Trump: The Art of the Deal

Tuesday, February 02, 2016
More CubeSats that will fly on NASA's Space Launch System identified

CubeSats, small, science satellites, have been around for a few years. A number of CubeSats have been launched into low Earth orbit from the International Space Station. NASA announced on Tuesday that 13 CubeSats would be launched as secondary payloads on the first flight of an uncrewed Orion that will be lofted around the moon in the first test of the heavy lift Space Launch System in late 2018. The flight will be the first occasion that cubesats will venture into deep space. The extra capacity of the SLS has permitted a great deal of science to be accomplished by these innovative systems.

1U CubeSat Set

The Last Moonwalker and Other Stories

How Ted Cruz won the Iowa Caucuses

Fresh from his Iowa victory, Ted Cruz heads for New Hampshire

As Ted Cruz savors his victory in Iowa, he and the rest of the Republican field head for New Hampshire, which holds its primary on February 9. The senator from Texas faces a more daunting task in the Granite State, where Donald Trump commands a double-digit lead in the polls. In any case, New Hampshire has a tendency to humble the winner of Iowa. Still, the Texas Tribune suggested on Monday that Cruz may have an opening to do better than expected, which would be a kind of victory. Then, he and Trump would go on to fight the tie breaker in South Carolina.

Ted Cruz for President T-shirt - Male XL - Black

Monday, February 01, 2016
From last year The day the space shuttle Columbia died

India and France form partnership to land on Mars

The Economic Times noted on Sunday that France has entered into an agreement with India to facilitate space cooperation with a plan to land a probe on Mars in the near future. India has already demonstrated that it is a space power to be reckoned with. The South Asian country recently orbited the Mangalyaan around the Red Planet, studying its atmosphere. Before the Mars mission, India orbited the Chandrayaan-1 around the moon. India plans to land the Chandrayaan-2 on the lunar surface sometime in 2017.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

The Martian

The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper

Currently reading Caliban's War (The Expanse).