Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Here are some predictions for 2003:

(1) Iraq, Iran, and North Korea will all endure regime change and will be much the better for it.
(2) Despairing of winning back the White House with the current crop of candidates, some Democrats will mount a serious Draft Hillary movement.
(3) NASA's NeXt team will push for an early and cheap return to the Moon and will justify it as a means of testing technology NASA is developing to break out of Low Earth Orbit.
(4) A package of tax cuts will pass the Congress. Democrats will condemn it as "tax cuts for the rich" while many vote for the package.
(5) China will launch a man into orbit.
(6) Gangs of New York will win the Oscar.
(7) UPN will pickup Firefly, the starship series Fox unwisely cancelled.
(8) Some of these predictions may turn out wrong. Not saying which ones.
Plans to explore Mercury, one of the more neglected planets of our Solar System, are afoot.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

China has launched the Shenzhou IV successfully. This constitutes yet another step for China's quest to be a space faring power and a rival to the United States in that arena.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

One of the more ammusing things about this claim of human cloning is how the media is behaving as if it actually happened without a doubt. I have heard breathless accusations of irresponsibility, of subjecting a human baby to the perils of desease and premature aging, all certainly well taken given the results of animal cloning. But there seems to be very little in the way of demans to produce the baby, the mother, and the doner. Nor an examination of this cult, the Raelians, who believe we were created by aliens. Does that claim not give one a little pause in considering the credibility of this announcment? I, for one, am skeptical,

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Rand Simberg offers a review of 2002 in space. His view is for the most part positive.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

In the spirit of the season, it is very sad to note that the shadow of Scrooge hangs over the land.
John Kerry's record as a war hero will not be enough. For one thing, it seems he accused American soldiers in Vietnam of commiting systematic war crimes.

Monday, December 23, 2002

Just when all hope seemed to be lost, our noble French allies joined the fight.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

A group called NuclearSpace supports the development of nuclear power and nuclear propulsion systems to open up the high frontier of space. Considering that there are environmental wacko groups to oppose such things, I think these folks might serve a useful purpose to balance lies and hysteria with truth.
The final test flight of the Shenzhou is scheduled to launch shortly.
Bill Frist is the Democrats' worse nightmare. Here we have a man who, when the Senate is out of sessions, travels to Africa to perform heart surgeries pro bono. Frist has probably saved the lives of more black people with his own hands than Bill and Hillary put together know on a first name basis. Naturally the Democrats think that Senator Frist's elevation is further proof of the inherent racism of the GOP.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Patty Murray is trying to explain herself, but not doing a good job. She doesn't seem to b at all-well-sorry for her statement about Bin Laden. She really needs to apologize to the people she has hurt-a whole lot of times.
"Hercules" weighs in about Firefly, including tonight's episode, the last which will air (at least for a while.)
Trent Lott, seeing the handwriting on the wall, has decided to do the honorable thing and step down as Senate Majority Leader Elect. Others have given Lott the back of their hand, no doubt well dserved, but I need to make the following observations. Unlike a another certain, southern politician the only thing Lott put in his mouth is his foot. And, again unlike the other fellow, Lott finally put his country and party above his personal ambition. Let that be an example.
Senator Patty Murray praises Osama bin Laden as a great philanthropist.
The old Puritans banned the celebration of Christmas as being inmoral. It looks like the Puritans have returned in the guise of Politically Correct school administrators and ACLU scolds.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

How the Democrats stole a Senate seat in South Dakota,
We saw the Two Towers last night and found it just as stunning an epic as Fellowship. I won't spoil things for you, though there are two observations I care to make. First, there needs to be a new Oscar category for Best Performence by a CGI Charecter. Gollum is more real than many live charecters played by actual acters I have seen. Second, the center piece of the film, the Battle of Helm's Deep, is a stunning meditation on the horrors of war, even when it is necessary to wage it. The message seems to be: Evil must be fought with our full strength, even when the triumph of evil seems inevitable.
Rand Simberg compares and contrasts our progress in air travel since the Wright Brothers and our progress in space travel since Sputnik, and makes some very telling points.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Go here for information on what to do to save the SF series Firefly. (See also below.)
Another nut case was running for President in 1946. His name was Henry Wallace, a man who made George McGovern seem like Atilla the Hun and whose campaign was riddled with communists. Oddly enough, a lot of modern liberals believe that country would have been better off has he won in 1948. We certainly would not have been affllicted by "all those problems" which come from having freedom.
John Kerry needs to apologize, a whole lot of times, for slurs against Italians, hispanics, and blacks.
The Fox Network has taken a decison which is epic in it's boneheadedness and has cancelled the series Firefly. Firefly is a space adventure taking place aboard a privately owned merchant ship five hundred years from now. It was, in my opinion, one of the freshest shows on televsion, with original charecters and wonderful writing. Joss Whedon, the show's creator who also gave us Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, will try to find the show a new home, perhaps on UPN or the SciFi Channel. Presumably if he succeeds, Firelfy will find a better timeslot than Friday night at 8 Eastern which has been the graveyard of many promising shows. The Curmudgeon will be following Joss's efforts to save Firefly with great interest and will be posting news concerning it as it breaks.

In the meantime, do watch the final episode to show on Fox this Friday, which oddly enough is the two hour pilot.
If you haven't yet gotten a Christmas gift for that someone special, E-Book versions of Children of Apollo and Nocturne can still be had before December 25th.
A who's who of aerospace pioneers gathered to kick off the year long Centennial of the first flight by the Wright Brothers on the 99th anniversary of their epic flight.
The usual suspects have already started carping about President Bush's plan to start building a missle defense system. The good news is that it doesn't matter anymore what they think.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

There's a view that we are indeed going back to the Moon and on to Mars. We're just not saying so right now and we're not going very quickly. The approach, in my opinion, is sound insofar as Mars or other really deep space destinations are concerned. There's a lot of technology that has to be developed before we go to Mars in any way that's not a flags and footsteps stunt. However, in my opinion, we could start going back to the Moon fairly easily, in a matter of a few years, and for very little money over and beyond what is being spent now. A short term effort to the Moon could compliment and support the longer term effort, in my opinion.

The article, by the way, makes one invalid assumption. No way will the liberation and rebuilding of Iraq will cost a net two hundred billion. The plan is to pay at least for the rebuilding with the sale of Iraqi oil.
The fact that starting in 2004 we shall at long last have a modicum of defense against nuclear missiles is proof that the outcome of elections do matter.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Maybe this is why Gore has decided not to run. But I should offer a warning, in a paraphrase of the old saying: Politics is easy; comedy is hard. And that is especially true if you are trying to do the latter deliberately.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Looks like Al Gore has concluded that he can't win in 2004 and therefore has decided not to try. So as of right now it looks like Kerry as the favorite of the old time liberals and Lieberman as the candidate for the centrist New Democrats.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Thirty years ago this day, the last man to walk on the Moon departed from the Moon. That fact, and the reality that it has been thirty years, is a blot on human civilization. To understand why, one must remember what was happening in 1972. The nation which had so ernestly taken up the challenge of the Moon was reeling from the twin tempests of Vietnam and the social unrest of the 1960s. Politicians and other opinion leaders told us to turn away from the promise of the High Frontier of space, to turn inwards, or in the words of one Presidential candidate, "Come home, America."

And we pretty much did.

Yet, we've recovered from all of that. We are the nation which won the Cold War and is now winning the War in Terror. We have gotten our spirit back, mainly by living an American Iliad which has changed the face of the world for the better; it is still changing it.

The time has long since come for an American Oddysey. The time has come for us to return to the Moon and to reclaim the promise of Apollo. It is nothing less than the promise of the next leap in human evolution, to end forever the time when the human species is limited to one, fragile world.

If not now, when? If not us, who?

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Daschle has apparently learned nothing from the last election.
Barbara Morgan is finally going to get to fly in space next year. In my opinion it's about fifteen years overdue.
Amazon Canada reports a sudden surge of sales of Children of Apollo up north. Thanks, guys. Keep it up. It's a good, thought provoking read.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Is it just me, or does anyone get the impression that if Trent Lott promised to be pubicly whipped as a penance for his remarks about Strom Thurmond, in the same way King Henry II was whipped for causing the death of Thomas Beckett, that there are certain people who would say it still wasn't enough.

Trent is probably toast, mainly because he doesn't have oodles of good will in any case. I have personally wanted him replaced ever since he botched the Senate trial of Bill Clinton. The irony, of course, is that other Senators who have done far worse-Teddy Kennedy comes to mind-will likely die in the Senate. Now that's a feat which Strom failed at, no matter how long he tried to accomplish it.
Condi, Warrior Princess, has told Red China's Lt. General Xiong Guankai that threatening to nuke Los Angeles and invade Tawain is not acceptable behavior. This much needed message, as far as we know, was never conveyed by anyone in the Clinton Administration.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

The usual suspects in Hollywood have signed a letter asking the President to keep our hands off of Saddem Hussein. This letter is not really meant to influence anyone, since I suspect even these actors know that no one in the White House is going to listen to them. It's meant for the signers, including the feckless Mike Farrell, to feel good about themselves. Farrell was asked, I think by Bill O'Reilly, what should be done if Saddem obstructs the UN arms inspecters. After hemming and hawing, Farrell said something about, "Enforced inspections." I'm not sure that he knows that means invading Iraq with troops and shooting Iraqis if they resist.

In the meantime, Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood, Arnold, and even usually left leaning Harrison Ford, support the ouster of Saddem. As Ms. Whittington points out, the President is supported by all the manly men in Hollywood.
Pete Dupont looks at various new forms of energy, including space based solar power.
Then again, Drudge is reporting that this isn't the first time Lott opened his mouth without engaging his brain first.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist anyone?
The Trent Lott Affair, the fury of which is matched only by it's triviality, is now threatening Tom Daschle. Seriously.
Speaking of movies, we saw The Emperor's Club recently and I cannot recommend this film enough. It's about a teacher, played by Kevin Kline, at a private boy's school who actually believes that one can learn the right way to live by studying the lives of the great men of history, ancient Greeks and Romans to be exact. His belief is tested by a young student who seems destined to be a Bill Clinton type, believing that charecter does not matter, only winning does. The story is uplifting and wonderful.
According to Done Deal, the fourth Mad Max movie has finally been greenlighted, with Mel Gibson reprising his signature role. Budget is rumored to be in excess of $100 million.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Trent Lott has apologized for his stupid remarks about Stom Thurmond and it ought to be the end of it. It's not the end of it, however, for Al Gore. Gore, whose father was a segregationist, wants the Senate to censure Lott. Of course Gore also opposed any kind of punishment for Bill Clinton.
More on the reinvention of Battlestar Galactica. Sounds very interesting, though I can already hear the howls of rage in certain quarters.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Calls for Trent Lott to resign just because he said some damn fool think about the country maybe being better off if Strom Thurmond had been elected on the Dixicrat ticket in 1948 strike me as very silly. Does any serious person think that Lott really wants to roll back civil rights and bring back Jim Crow? If every politician who said something foolish were given the royal order of the boot for saying something idiotic, then there would be no one in public office.

Of course Lott should resign anyway, at least as Majority Leader, for the simple reason that his leadership has been feckless and weak.
Here is an excellent reason why the title of "Last Man on the Moon" should be taken away from Gene Cernan, the sooner the better.

Friday, December 06, 2002

The Last Man on the Moon really wishes, after thirty years, that he was not the last man on the Moon.
Earlier I mentioned that the one thing different in the Spielberg miniseries on the SCIFI Channel, Taken, which is about UFOsand alien abductions, is that the head of the evil government conspiracy does not smoke. I've been informed by several people that by the second episode, he starts to smoke like a train. Well, of course.
It's not just right wingers who think that Hollywood is corrupting the morals of people who watch movies. It seems that some of your favorite movies, like Star Wars, are teaching you to tolerate genocide on a planetary scale.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Astronaut Bill Shepherd, the first commander of the International Space Station, has a lot to say.
Here's an account of an event which, in living memory, was science fiction by a beloved writer of science fiction, Anne McCaffrey:
The Launch, yes - well, we know how it goes, with clouds of smoke from the rear of the ship and then it slowly lifts from the gantry and up into the sky - but one doesn't see the plume of flame rising as well, or see the water of the lagoon bounce with the noise and shock wave. That's the real surprise...and the beauty of it all. I could stand seeing a launch every week, just to revive my spirit. It's simply amazing.

I was very tempted to stay on and see the landing but I knew I had to get back so I resisted. While in Florida (hot and sultry) we could watch what was going on and see lots of Pam (that is, Colonel Melroy, the pilot, whose guest I was at the Launch) on the Nasa channel. She was checking off the various tasks of the EVAs and keeping them current so the camera on her was called the Pam Cam! She comes over very well. I left her a hard cover lst edition of White Dragon, suitably inscribed, to trade for the copy she had taken with her on this trip. Yes, the White Dragon has been in space!

My thanks to Chantal for passing this one along.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Another one of John Kerry's not well thought out ideas is an "Apollo project" to create "green" renewable energy. A interesting idea, but with problems. First, the private market is working on that anyway. There are private companies which are right now working on fuel cells, residential solar power units, and wind mill farms. Second, it has been my experience that greenies like certain technologies in the abstract until they become reality, at which time they turn of them. A great example is the idea of wind mill farms. There's one in California that's had to shut down because environmental extremists believe that birds fly into them.

However, in the spirit of being positive and not just critical, here's my idea for a real "Apollo Project" for clean energy. Let's go back to the Moon and learn to use lunar materials to build space solar power stations. Let's also ramp up R&D on fusion so that one day we can use lunar Helium 3 as a power source. The Moon could be the Saudi Arabia of this century and the best thing about that is that it won't be overrun with Wahhabi fanatics.

Of course, if we do this, rest assure that environmental extremists are going to go berserk over the idea of space solar power stations microwaving birds and bees.
Will Smith may be making a big screen version of Asimov's I Robot, even though the plot line looks more like Caves of Steel.
Here's a rundown of the revival of Battlestar Galactica, one of my favorite space shootemups from the late 70s. Of course a female Starbuck is going to take getting used to.
God and the courts willing, McCain-Feingold has begun it's death spiral.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Speaking of social security one of the rarely reported aspects of Election 2002 is the number of GOP candidates such as John Sununu the Younger and Elizabeth Dole who won their elections on the proposition of allowing people to invest their social security taxes in stocks and bond. This proposition is surprisingly popular, considering recent stock market turmoil, among the growing investor class who recognize the long term value of investment. I suspect JF Kerry's plan is part of an effort to forestall this idea from becoming reality.
John F. Kerry has denounced the Bush tax cuts as being evil.
''The largest cost of the Bush tax giveaway will not be borne by any of us here today it will be paid for by our children. We're borrowing from Social Security and Medicare to put money in our pockets today and sticking our children with the bill.''

However, Kerry's main tax proposal is to cut social security taxes for the poor which will-well-drain money from social security.

Monday, December 02, 2002

A Vanderbilt University professor. whose personal hero is Che Guevara, thinks that everyone who fought for the Confederacy should have swung from the end of a rope. He also compares southern heritage organizations to holocaust revisionists and at least one Confederate General to Adolf Hitler.
I also just finished reading Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is ten years after the Armada has conquered England and brought her under the merciless heel of Spain. But one man is England's hope for a new birth of freedom. His name is William Shakespeare.
I saw the first installment of Spielberg's epic miniseries about UFOs and alien abductions, Taken on the Sci Fi channel. I must say it was a huge disappointment. There was nothing on the show that one hasn't seen on the X Files innumerable times. The only thing different is that the guy running the secret, evil government conspiracy doesn't smoke. Spielberg did a much better job on the subject over twenty years ago with Close Encounters and ET.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Looks like John F. Kerry is about to apply for the job of the latest second coming of John F. Kennedy. He will, doubtless, become the second coming of Michael Dukakkis instead.