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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Sunday, December 17, 2017
 
NASA scrambles to make the Space Launch System more affordable

Recently SpaceX made history again by launching a reused Dragon spacecraft with a version of the Falcon 9 that had a reused first stage rocket, thus paving the way for space launches at a significantly reduced cost. At the same time, SpaceX is finally getting ready for the first test of the Falcon Heavy, which will also have a reusable first stage rocket and two reusable strap-on rockets. Whimsically, CEO Elon Musk intends to use the test launch to place his Tesla Roadster electric car in orbit around Mars.



Saturday, December 16, 2017
 
An appreciation of Sir. Arthur C. Clarke

When Arthur C. Clarke was born, #100 Years ago to the day of writing this, World War I still raged, which featured men doing combat in the skies over France in kite box-like airplanes. When he finally died on March 19, 2008, men had walked on the moon [VIDEO], and people were living and working on a space station in low Earth orbit. The reality was not quite the vision of “2001: A Space Odyssey” that had featured a vast, wheeled shaped space station, a base on the moon, and a nuclear-powered spacecraft headed to the outer planets. That real life had not entirely aligned with Clarke’s vision was not in any way an indictment of what he had foreseen.



Friday, December 15, 2017
 
Ronald Moore to develop alt-history space series for Apple

Deadline Hollywood is reporting that #Apple, which is developing its own live streaming video service to compete with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, has bought a new untitled space series from #Ronald Moore. The series is based on the premise that the #Space Race of the 1960s never ended. It appears to be similar to the scenario depicted in this writer’s “Children of Apollo” trilogy that is centered around an Apollo mission to the south pole of the moon in the mid-1970s.



 
Trump is the second coming of JFK (no, really)

American presidents, at some point, always find themselves being compared to previous chief executives, bad ones by people who hate them and great ones by those who love them. President Donald #trump is no exception in this regard. However, the question is, which previous president does he most resemble. A group of Hollywood types is pretty sure that Trump is Richard Nixon. Yet, a case can be made that he really is the second coming of John F. Kennedy.



Thursday, December 14, 2017
 
What would a Quentin Tarantino ‘Star Trek’ be like?

The news that #Quentin Tarantino has an idea for an R rated “Star Trek” movie has raised eyebrows. Considering the director’s body of work this has also intrigued a lot of people. As Screen Rant suggests, #Gene Roddenberry’s vision was of an optimistic future in which many societal problems that afflict the modern age have been solved, telling mortality tales onboard an exploration starship in the 23rd Century. The various spinoff shows and movies have kept to that formula, though “#Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” comes closest to a little subversion of the premise.



 
Blue Origin’s New Shepard flies in the skies over Texas

As Ars Technica notes, Blue Origin test flew a new version of its suborbital New Shepard rocket along with a new and improved crew capsule. The crew capsule had windows on it, 3.6 feet tall, for the future enjoyment of paying passengers who will fly just past the #Edge Of Space to experience microgravity and a view of the curvature of the Earth before descending, slowed by parachutes




Wednesday, December 13, 2017
 
Has a war against the return to the moon started on the left?

As Space.com notes, praise for President #Donald Trump’s return to the moon directive [VIDEO] has been nearly universal, from the scientific community, the commercial space sector, and Congress. The only caveat has been the question as to whether the president is serious enough about the plan [VIDEO]to commit resources and political capital to see it through. However, a piece in Salon by Keith Spencer is a lonely voice of dissent. The push to explore and economically develop the universe is all part of a conspiracy.



 
Why Roy Moore lost the senate race in Alabama

Despite perfectly reasonable predictions to the contrary, it turned out that the Republican Roy Moore [VIDEO]rather than the Democrat Doug Jones [VIDEO] who blew a perfectly winnable Senate seat in Alabama. Any other Republican would have won running away by double digits. Why was #Roy Moore defeated?



Tuesday, December 12, 2017
 
Why Donald Trump will not be blown out of office by ‘Pervnado’

With the scandal that some are calling "Pervnado" sweeping celebrity men off of their influential positions right and left, ranging from super producer Harvey Weinstein to celebrity chef Mario Batali, some have started to dream of the scandal destroying the biggest fish of all. Led by Sen Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, a good friend of the Clintons, a group of liberals and feminists are demanding that President #Donald Trump resign because of alleged past sexual abuses. A number of women who claimed that Trump abused and assaulted them during the campaign have resurfaced. At least one is suing the president. Trump, understandably, is having none of it.




 
How Trump can prove he is serious about going back to the moon

When President Donald #trump and Vice President Mike Pence announced the signing of a space policy directive [VIDEO] that sets America on a course back to the moon, response to the event was muted by a degree of skepticism. Two American presidents named George Bush had announced similar programs only to see them come to naught. Neither Trump nor Pence filled in any details, such as budgets, timetables, and especially when we might expect astronaut boots to be on the lunar surface.



Monday, December 11, 2017
 
President Trump signs Space Policy Directive 1 to return America to the moon

In a ceremony at the White House that was brief and to the point, President Donald Trump signed #Space Policy Directive 1 that ordered the United States government, including NASA, to send human beings back to the moon. The president and Vice President Mike Pence made a few remarks that contained the usual phrases about pioneering spirit that accompanies such initiatives. However, as Laura Seward Forczyk noted, another motivation will propel the third attempt to return Americans to the moon, after almost 30 years.



 
Let’s talk about that death of a major character on ‘The Walking Dead’

The midseason finale of “The Walking Dead” [VIDEO]was suitably apocalyptic, with the #Saviors apparently turning the tables on the coalition of Alexandria, the Hill Top, and the Kingdom. The second best scene was the fight between Rick and Negan in which Rick momentarily gets his hands on Lucille and asks, in an exasperated tone, “Don’t you ever shut up?” The response was, uncharacteristically piffy, “No!” The best scene was at the very end, and it was not only an unexpected diversion from the comics, but it was searing.



Sunday, December 10, 2017
 
Hillary Clinton is not a romance novel heroine

On the eve of Steven Spielberg’s paean to journalism in its days of glory, “The Post,” comes a piece in the contemporary Washington Post with the odd title, “Hillary, please don’t reject romance novels — you are a romance novel heroine.” The article was written by an author of romance novels named Lisa Kleypas, apparently in response to Ms. Clinton’s panning the genre by suggesting that it is all about women being grabbed, thrown onto a horse, and ridden off into the distance.



Saturday, December 09, 2017
 
Prediction: The 2020 Democratic Convention will be brokered

According to the Washington Free Beacon, journalist Nate Silver is suggesting that there exists a high probability that the 2020 Democratic Convention will become a “brokered convention” due to the likely large number of candidates expected to run for president that year. Also, reforms that are intended to decrease the power of superdelegates, party, and elected officials who vote for a nominee, will increase the probability of a drama happening that has not occurred in living memory, since 1952.



Friday, December 08, 2017
 
The Great Houston Blizzard of 2017

Snow in #Houston is considered as rare as an honest person in Congress or perhaps an intact marriage in Hollywood. However, an inch and a half dusting of the white stuff on lawns and sidewalks greeted commuters on the morning of December 8, 2017. The snow and icy streets have made going to work complicated for many people, but compared to the deluge of Harvey, the unusual snowfall is not a very bad thing and can be fun, while it lasts. As of this writing, the snow and ice are not expected to last beyond sunrise.



 
Boeing CEO challenges SpaceX to a race to Mars

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg offered an unusual throw down against SpaceX. He appeared on CNBC and declared that the first person to land on Mars would fly there thanks to the rocket that Boeing is the prime contractor of, the #space launch system. He also claimed that the first flight of the SLS would take place in 2019 and would consist of a slingshot flight around the moon. SpaceX’s #Elon Musk had a piffy response to his counterpart’s claim.