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, and The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper.

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Monday, May 04, 2015

Carly Fiorina, Dr. Ben Carson announce for the presidency as outsiders

Monday, two people who have never held political officer before, have declared their candidacy for president. One, Carly Fiorina, is touting her executive experience. The other. Dr. Ben Carson, points to his life experience as well as a set of common sense ideas. Both of them drip with disdain for the “political class,” which is to say not just Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, but anyone who has held political office. The message is that the professional politicians of both parties have messed things up, so it is time to let some new people from outside politics have a go at managing the United States.

Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey

One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future

ISIS claims responsibility for terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, an act of war

Terrorism came to the small town of Garland, Texas, northeast of Dallas, when two gunmen drove up to a free speech event Sunday evening and open fired on police who were present as security according to Breitbart. In the exchange of gunfire, one police officer named Bruce Joiner was wounded in the ankle and the terrorists were shot dead. The terrorists have not been identified as of this writing, but the UK Daily Mail reports that ISIS, the terrorist army that has overrun northern Iraq and Syria, has claimed responsibility. If that is the case, then ISIS will have attempted to carry out its off repeated threat to attack the American homeland and has committed an act of war.

Marked for Death: Islam's War Against the West and Me

Sunday, May 03, 2015
Neil deGrasse Tyson says the first trillionaire will be an asteroid miner

Neil deGrasse Tyson, the celebrity astrophysicist and media personality, is no stranger to controversy. He raised considerable hackles a couple of years ago when he stated that commercial space companies would not lead civilization into space. Only governments, with the resources to fund expensive space missions, would be able to blaze the trail. However, Tyson is not a foe of commercial space by any means, despite what some of his critics have suggested. According to a Sunday article on the NBC News site, he stated that asteroid mining will create the first trillionaire. It is an insight he has made before, but bears repeating.

Mining The Sky: Untold Riches From The Asteroids, Comets, And Planets (Helix Book)

The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper

Sarah Palin's claim Obama is 'flirting with the Devil' in Iran causes outrage

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor, former vice presidential candidate, media personality, and more powerful female politician on the planet, took to her Facebook page on Saturday and gave President Obama the back of her hand concerning his desire to strike a nuclear deal with Iran. She concluded that the president is “flirting with the Devil.” The assessment brought forth rage and outrage from some in the mainstream media.

Israel Strikes

Saturday, May 02, 2015
Space settlements, the moon, and NASA reform subjects of proposed legislation

While partisan fights have started to rage in Congress over NASA funding, pitting Earth science against space exploration, a number of House members have introduced legislation seeking to reform how the space agency does business. The latest, as reported by Space News on Friday, is a bill offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher R-California to amend the original legislation that created NASA to mandate that one of its goals be to facilitate the development and settlement of space. This bill follows one by Rep. Bill Posey, R-Florida that seeks to mandate that NASA return astronauts to the moon by 2023. Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas would reform how the space agency selects its administrator and handles its budget.

Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space

Prosecutorial overreach alleged about charges against Baltimore police officers

When Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore City State’s Attorney, threw the book Friday at six police officers who were alleged to have been involved in the death of Freddie Grey, much rejoicing occurred in the streets of Baltimore which has convulsed with riot and anarchy for the past several days. But if a slew of legal and law enforcement officers are correct, those who want the blood of those officers, three white, three black, and one of them a woman, had better be prepared for disappointment. The consensus that is rising is that Mosby, a young, inexperienced, but ambitious public official levied the charges more to appease the mob than to seek justice.

'If I had a Son': Race, Guns, and the Railroading of George Zimmerman

Friday, May 01, 2015
In 'The Big Bang Theory' science and religion have the mother of all battles

Thursday night’s episode of “The Big Bang Theory” featured a classic clash of science vs. religious faith. In the science corner, we have Beverly Hofstadter, Leonard’s cold, emasculating mother. In the religious faith corner, we have Mary Cooper, Sheldon’s warm, wise, but long-suffering mom. Whatever the merits of which “bearded Jewish guy” deserves consideration, it looked as if religion won the argument based on personality points.

The Big Bang Theory Bazinga! Men's T-shirt Tee, Red, Large

Michael Moore embraces the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms

No crisis is too horrific that some of the usual suspects will be attempt to take advantage of them. Al Sharpton is a prime example of this sordid phenomenon. Add to the mix, film maker Michael Moore, whom Hot Air’s Mary Katherine Ham noted on Thursday, tweeted a number of demands. One of those demands seem to embrace the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms and the principle that it empowers people to provide their own protection.

Michael Moore Hates America

Inventor of the 'impossible' EM Drive Roger Shawyer is feeling vindicated

According to a Thursday story in the International Business Times, no one is more satisfied or feeling more vindicated about the recent test in a vacuum by NASA of the “impossible” EM Drive than the device’s inventor, British scientist Roger Shawyer. He is placing the world’s aerospace industry on notice that everything is about to change. Shawyer is also working on a new generation of the EM Drive, which he says will by orders of magnitude more powerful than the current one. He is hinting that he has backers, whom he refuses to name thus far.

You Call This the Future?: The Greatest Inventions Sci-Fi Imagined and Science Promised

Who are the political winners and losers coming out of the Baltimore riots?

The embers left behind by the Baltimore riots have barely started to cool, and pundits are already casting a glance at who the political winners and losers. Politico on Friday suggested an obvious candidate for a loser, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has talked about outreach to African Americans, is also mentioned as a loser though likely only marginally.

Lost Baltimore

Thursday, April 30, 2015
Bernie Sanders goes after Hillary Clinton from the far left

The good news, as the New York Times noted on Thursday, is that Hillary Clinton now has an opponent on the Democratic side. The entertaining news is that the opponent is Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. Sanders is the one socialist in the United States Senate who admits to being one. The rest call themselves Democrats.

The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin conducts flight test of its suborbital New Shepard

According to a Thursday story on CBS News, Blue Origin, the private space company owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, launched its New Shephard suborbital spacecraft. A dummy crew capsule separated from the propulsion stage at an altitude of 58 miles. While the crew capsule parachuted safely back to Earth, the propulsion stage was not so lucky. A hydraulic prevented the first stage from achieving a soft landing.

The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World's Most Disruptive Company

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
NASA test of 'impossible' EM Drive that uses no propellant in a vacuum a success

While some media reports that NASA has accidentally created a warp field during a test of the EM drive are, at best, premature, the progress being made on the space drive that does not use rocket fuel has been, nevertheless, impressive. The EM Drive uses a closed microwave cavity to produce thrust in a way that seems to defy what is currently known about the laws of physics. reported on Wednesday that engineers at NASA’s Eagleworks, located at the Johnson Spaceflight Center, have tested the EM drive in a vacuum for the first time.

The Science of Interstellar

1st quarter growth of .2 percent further proof of Obama's failure

If any further proof was needed that electing and then reelecting Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 and then 2012 was among the biggest mistakes that American people ever made, the news from Hot Air on Wednesday that 1st Quarter 2015 growth was an anemic .2 percent should confirm the supposition. Add to that the historically low employment participation rates, 62.7 percent according to the Board of Labor Statistics, and one can only conclude that the president is a failure where economic policy is concerned. In the seventh year of his presidency, Obama seems ill-disposed to change his failed policies.

The Amateur

Obama turns a blind eye to Iranian piracy in pursuit of a nuclear deal

Hot Air noted that the Iranians have started behaving as what can only be considered as pirates by seizing two cargo ships from the Marshall Islands, an American ally, in international waters while navigating through the Straits of Hormuz. Even though the United States is obligated by treaty to come of the defense of the former American territory, the Pentagon has concluded that the obligation does not extend to defending ships seized by a third party. The implications to freedom of commerce on the high seas, which is guaranteed by American naval power, are bone chilling.

Act of War: Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo

What would China get out of a joint lunar program with Russia?

Russia has made a number of pronouncements about its plans for space exploration, including a vow to land cosmonauts on the lunar surface by 2030. Space observers, noting the fragile state of the Russian economy and the skimpy funding that the Russian Space Agency is receiving, cast doubt on such grandiose claims. So that makes Wednesday’s announcement that Russia is in talks with China for a joint lunar program that would lead to a joint “lunar science station” all the more interesting.

Russian Space Probes: Scientific Discoveries and Future Missions (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sen. Barbara Mikulski will try to find more money for NASA

According to a Monday story in Space News, outgoing Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland gave voice to an ongoing problem that NASA has faced for quite some time. Specifically, the space agency is not getting enough funding to conduct all of the programs that it has been mandated to execute. Mikulski, who is the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has vowed to do something about it. How much more money Mikulski can garner for NASA and even if she would be able to increase its budget higher than the president’s $18.5 billion request for FY 2016 is an open question.

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything

Baltimore Mayor gives rioters 'space to destroy'

As CNN noted on Tuesday, authorities are finally moving to put an end to an orgy of rioting in Baltimore by issuing a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew starting Tuesday night enforced by National Guard troops. It is too late, however, especially for Baltimore’s hapless Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who said at a press conference on Monday, in effect, that the rioters had permission to have at it. They did so with a will in a day long orgy of looting, burning, and mayhem that made the city resemble a war zone that local police seemed helpless and unwilling to prevent.

Walking Baltimore: An Insider’s Guide to 33 Historic Neighborhoods, Waterfront Districts, and Hidden Treasures in Charm City

Monday, April 27, 2015
The Space Review: Battle of the Collossi: SLS vs Falcon Heavy

An unusually sober analysis of the tradeoffs between both launch vehicles.

The left has started to turn on Hillary Clinton

One of the things that veterans of the Clinton scandals of the 1990s used to bemoan was how different the media of that time dealt with them than they did, for example, Watergate. The narrative went something like this: Clinton has done some ethically challenged things, but they surely do not rise to the level of impeachment. Conservatives are just being overreaching and partisan if they think they can make President Clinton accountable. Fast forward more than 15 years, and it looks like Hillary Clinton is not being afforded the same privilege that her husband was, as illustrated by a Monday story in The Daily Beast by the venerable Eleanor Cliff.

Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy

Former NASA engineer to use drones to plant forests

A myriad of reasons exists for reforestation. Trees are a natural resource that provides material such as wood and other products. Forests help to restore ecosystems and soak up pollution. They also are instruments that help to alleviate global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide. According to a Saturday story on GoodNewsNetwork, a former NASA scientist and current CEO of BioCarbon Engineering named Lauren Fisher has come up with the bright idea of planting trees through the use of aerial drones.

The Man Who Planted Trees

George W. Bush slams President Obama on Middle East policy

Former President George W. Bush has decorously avoided making public comment about political or public policy matters. He has confined himself to writing, painting, and philanthropy. Indeed, he has made it known that he will avoid “getting in the way” of his brother Jeb’s campaign for the presidency, the theory being that Americans abhor dynastic politics. However, Bloomberg reported on Sunday that the former president laid on to President Obama at a private meeting of the Republican Jewish Collation in Las Vegas, Nevada.

41: A Portrait of My Father

Sunday, April 26, 2015
Scientists to try to settle the 'settled science' of global warming

According to a Sunday story in Breitbart, the Global Warming Policy Foundation is gathering together a group of eminent scientists, which will include climatologists, physicists and statisticians, to attempt to settle the “settled science” of global warming. At issue are two sets of data, one from ground-based monitoring stations, the other from satellites, that tell two different stories concerning the phenomenon that some call climate change. To put the matter succinctly, the ground-based stations show that human-caused global warming in occurring while the satellite data does not.

Cool IT (Movie Tie-in Edition): The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming

How some in the LGBT community are inadvertently making the case for Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz, along with most of the other Republican presidential candidates, actual and potential, appeared at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Summit on Saturday. He decried what he sees as “liberal fascism” that has ensured "there is no room for Christians in today's Democratic Party." Ironically, some people who support LGBT rights are busily making Cruz’s case, albeit inadvertently. Indeed, recently, Hillary Clinton, still the likely Democratic presidential nominee despite the play for pay scandal that is consuming her campaign, recently gave Cruz a boost.

A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America

Saturday, April 25, 2015
William Gerstenmaier's big idea, back to the moon after all

Space News’ Jeff Foust was sitting in on one of those myriad Washington meetings in which people discuss the future of space when he noted an interesting exchange involving going back to the moon between Mary Lynne Dittmar, a space consultant and strategist formerly of Dittmar Associates, and William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA. Dittmar noted that NASA’s short to midterm goals did not align with international partners, who are focused on returning to the moon. Gerstenmaier replied that, in fact, NASA is aligned. The Orion spacecraft and the heavy lift Space Launch System can take people to cis-lunar space. If an international partner would provide a lander, then a joint mission to the lunar surface could happen.

The first opportunity for such a joint mission, by the way, would be in the 2021-22 time frame, roughly 50 years after the end of the Apollo program.

Back to the Moon

Bill Maher follows the threads of Hillary's scandals and arrives at Sarah Palin

With the various scandals surrounding Hillary Clinton’s selling her office of secretary of state for money and now hints of a criminal prosecution being floated, leave it to Bill Maher to put everything in perspective. According to a Friday story on Breitbart, the HBO rant meister connected the dots and arrived at the woman of his nightmares, former Alaska Governor, former vice presidential candidate, and still most powerful female politician on the planet (until and unless Carly Fiorina gets nominated to something) Sarah Palin. Maher noted that Peter Schweizer, whose book “Clinton Cash” is rocking the political world, used to advise Ms. Palin on foreign policy.

America by Heart : Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag