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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Friday, May 06, 2016

Elon Musk's SpaceX lands a Falcon 9 first stage for the second time in a row

Shortly after midnight on Friday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral carrying a Japanese communications satellite, the JCSAT-14 to a geostationary transfer orbit. A few minutes later, for the second time in a row, the first stage of the launch vehicle landed on a drone ship, dubbed the “Of Course I Still Love You,” waiting in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX employees at the company’s headquarters erupted into chants of “USA! USA! USA!” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted a celebratory, “WooHoo!!”

Thursday, May 05, 2016

How Hillary Clinton's legal problems may elect Donald Trump president

In the ordinary course of events, the nomination of a man with as many character flaws as Donald Trump as Republican nominee would mean certain doom for the GOP in the general election. However, Trump’s probable opponent is Hillary Clinton, a candidate with her own set of flaws. The Hill Newspaper reminded one and all on Wednesday that even if a criminal indictment over the affairs of the email server is not forthcoming, because the Justice Department sits on it, the problem is still going to fester. In the case of Judicial Watch v. the State Department. Judge Emmet Sullivan suggested that Ms. Clinton may need to be deposed. That means that the likely Democratic nominee for president will be required to answer questions, under oath, about her creation and use of an unsecured email server for official State Department business.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Will people start having sex in self-driving cars?

Decades ago, the automobile had become not only a way to get around but a place to get it on. One would park somewhere with a date in an out of the way place and have sex in the back seat or the passenger seat. Yahoo Tech reported Tuesday that Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence (CAVCOE) has concluded that when self-driving cars become common, people are going to while away those long auto trips or even a commute to work by having sex.

How will President Donald Trump handle NASA and space exploration

As Donald Trump, incredibly, became the presumptive Republican nominee, a great deal of angst is arising over how he might handle NASA as president. Space Policy Online noted on Tuesday that Trump has dodged the question of how much the space agency will be funded during his potential presidency. Noting previous statements on the Journey to Mars, Ars Technica speculates that NASA will be in for a downsizing under a Trump presidency.

Asteroid Mining 101: Wealth for the New Space Economy

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

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

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

China's space program to be used to develop technology and economic growth

Aviation Week reported Monday that China has suggested that its first crewed moon landing will take place in the 2031-36 timeframe. The schedule is somewhat later than the previous estimate, which placed a Chinese moon landing sometime in the 2020s. But, the announcement represents a long term strategy for the Chinese space program and its integration into larger political, military, and economic development. China has also announced goals to land more robotic probes on the lunar surface, a mission to Mars in 2020, and the building of a space station later this decade. The next crewed flight will take place later in 2016 and will involve tests of a prototype space station module called the Tiangong-2.

Monday, May 02, 2016
Paul Spudis offers some truth about the Space Launch System.

Donald Trump's legal problems may yet derail his presidential hopes

The dirty secret of the Donald Trump campaign is how the candidate is in almost as much legal jeopardy as is Hillary Clinton, in his own way. The American Thinker noted on Sunday that a suit has been brought against Trump concerning Trump University in which the real estate tycoon is accused of defrauding thousands of students out of tens of thousands of dollars in the false hope of benefiting from his business skills. Also, the tabloids are reporting that another lawsuit is alleging that Trump raped an underage girl at one of Jeffrey Epstein’s notorious sex parties.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Donald Trump touts support by Mike Tyson, boxing star and convicted rapist

One of the many boasts being made by Donald Trump as he continues his run for the presidency is that he has been endorsed by former boxing star Mike Tyson. The theory is that Tyson’s reputation as a “tough guy” should rub off on Trump. However, as Fox News noted on Saturday, Tyson is also infamous for having been convicted of rape in 1991. Team Cruz is not only pointing out this fact, but also reminding voters that Trump led the effort to keep Iron Mike out of prison, suggesting that Tyson’s victim, a teenage beauty queen, bore some responsibility for leading the boxing champion on by dancing with him and going to his hotel room.

Saturday, April 30, 2016
Film projects Hollywood could do instead of the Reagan Alzheimer's movie

Will Ferrell’s withdraw on Friday from the Reagan Alzheimer’s comedy project was as smart a move as signing on to the project was a dumb one. But questions remain as to why the movers and shakers in the Hollywood entertainment industry thought that poking fun at a beloved president struggling with dementia was box office gold. The only explanation is that Hollywood is so much in the grip of left-wing political correctness that the entertainment industry has lost touch with not only its audience but with objective reality.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Scientists rule out comets theory for dips in brightness of KIC 8462852

The mystery surrounding KIC 8462852, an F type main sequence star laying in the constellation Cygnus 1,480 light years from Earth, is just getting curiouser and curiouser. The hitherto obscure star burst into the news last year when astronomers noted strange and non-periodic dips in brightness. One theory that explained this phenomenon pointed to an alien megastructure such as a Dyson sphere. Then, scientists concluded that the dips in brightness was likely the result of comets. Now, according to a Wednesday story in Cosmos Up, the comet theory has been ruled out. Scientists are scratching their heads, looking for another natural explanation, not quite willing to suggest that it’s aliens.

Thursday, April 28, 2016
How NASA is aiding the SpaceX flight of the Red Dragon to Mars

The news yesterday that SpaceX is sending the Red Dragon to the Martian surface as early as 2018 has electrified the aerospace world. The mission would constitute the first private mission across interplanetary space. With the Google Lunar X Prize sponsoring private expeditions to the moon, it looks like a new era of commercial space exploration has begun. According on Thursday, the space agency in involved in the SpaceX mission to a certain extent.

The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper

Reaction to the Ted Cruz Carly Fiorina pick ranges from typical to bizarre

While most of the reaction to Wednesday pick of Carly Fiorina by Ted Cruz to be his presidential running mate was positive, certain exceptions cropped up in the media and in political circles. Donald Trump, understandably, mocked the decision. Sen Barbara Boxer, who beat Fiorina in a 2010 senate race, called the Cruz Fiorina ticket “mean and meaner.” Star Trek actor and gay rights activist George Takei compared Cruz and Fiorina to Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix LaStrange from the Harry Potter books. Fox News personality and Trump supporter Eric Bolling speculated that Cruz would drop Fiorina from the ticket in favor of a female Republican governor the moment he wins the nomination.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lori Garver's self-serving account of her role in the 2008 Obama NASA transition

Lori Garver, like an unquiet ghost, emerged from obscurity with a Tuesday op-ed in Space News on the subject of presidential transitions and NASA. Most of the piece is self-serving, and somewhat one-sided account of her role as the head of the 2008 transition team for President-Elect Obama for the space agency. Nevertheless, the article has some insights that will be useful for whoever handles the transition for the next president, whomever he or she might be.