Saturday, February 28, 2009

RIP Paul Harvey
Obama and the New American Tea Party
Friday, several thousand Americans gathered to protest the spending and tax policies of President Barack Obama in over forty cities across the United States in what has come to be known as the New American Tea Party.
Jerry DeGroot gives another slap at the very idea of space exploration. It's sad and silly.
Paul Spudis expounds on the question: Human spaceflight – What Value to Science?
There have been various pages depicting The Lord of the Rings as written by someone else. This is a new one. I particularly like Gilbert and Sullivan's LOTR.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The latest front runner for NASA Administrator appears to be Steve Isakowitz, currently at the Department of the Energy, formally of NASA and OMB. Steve Isakowitz had gotten a rather weird endorsement by Rand Simberg based in the say so in a anonymous poster whom Rand thinks might actually be another anonymous poster. Rather weird, IMHO.

Addendum: The anonymous poster in question has a few nore things to say about Steve Isakowitz on Rand Simberg's blog.
At OMB, Isakowitz pushed for two x-vehicles instead of one huge X-33. After the X-33 debacle, he was key to keeping NASA pushing in the reusable direction via SLI. The predecessor to COTS, Alternate Access, also originated in his office at OMB. And under Steidle, Isakowitz was part of the original ESMD team pushing to transition as much of NASA’s routine ETO access to the private sector as possible so the agency’s human space flight programs could focus on in-space/deep-space development and operations.

Isakowitz is not dogmatic about space access (no “religion”), but he’s very practical about the issue when it comes to NASA and where the agency’s overall focus should be from the perspective of good policy.

Leaving aside the sound journalistic principle of not using an anonymous source unless one knows the identity of the same, a couple of observations come to mind.

Having a fly off between two competing X-33s would have been a good idea. Unfortunately, as with the original notion of a fly off of the vehicle that eventually became the Orion, there is rarely the budget for such an approach. The only example that comes to mind was the competition between the F 16 and the F 17 back in the 1970s.

The less said about SLI, the better. It was a joke that led to nothing by paper studies and advanced the cause of commercial space flight not one iota. Even mentioning it in that context seems a little bit silly.

The rest of the post sounds like Steve Isakowitz and Mike Griffin (the lord of all evil, the despised one) were pretty much in agreement about space access. I'm not sure how that changes the return to the Moon program under a hypothetical Steve Isakowitz NASA. Not to say there won't be, but then again we might be observing some more wishful thinking from the Internet Rocketeer Club.
Newt Gingrich is calling Eric Holder out on cowardice and race. I expect Eric Holder to be--well--a racial coward.
Obama Addresses Marines at Camp Lejeune
President Barack Obama addressed Marines at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to congratulate them on a job well done and to lay out his strategy for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a speech that in many ways President George W. Bush could have made.
I don't know about you, but they'll take my TP when they pry it from my cold, dead--er--buttocks.
Sam Donaldson to Retire
Sam Donaldson, the long time TV journalist who worked, for the past two and a half decades, for ABC News is retiring soon. One does not believe one is actually writing this, but Sam Donaldson is going to be missed.
Is Barack Obama the Return of Jimmy Carter?
Barack Obama and his supporters like to compare him to past Presidents ranging from Abraham Lincoln to John F. Kennedy to even Franklin Roosevelt. Writer Michael Ledeen has another President in mind whom Obama most resembles—Jimmy Carter.
Eddie Murphey to play Richard Pryor. Hmm.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama 2010 Budget to Cut Weapons Systems Development
President Barack Obama's budget request for FY2010 will provide only a modest increase for the Defense Department of 1.4 percent. Money will be saved by cutting back the development of weapon systems, such as the F 22, not deemed necessary for the War on Terror.
Obama 2010 Budget to Increase NASA Funding
President Barack Obama's FY2010 budget request contains a generous increase for NASA, from a projected 2009 level of $17.8 billion to $18.7 billion in FY2010. The 2010 Obama budget request also endorses the return to the Moon program.
Obama to Renew Ban on "Assault Weapons"
Attorney General Eric Holder has suggested that the Obama administration will seek to reinstitute the "assault weapons" ban that lapsed in 2004 under the Bush administration. The reason stated is to help stop the violence in Mexico.
What is Baconnaise?
What exactly is baconnaise? Apparently it is bacon flavored mayonnaise that is actually made without actual bacon, but tastes like it. Baconnaise comes in regular and light varieties from an entrepreneurial company called J&D's.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It looks like that Obama is proposing $18.7 billion for NASA for FY2010, which is the same is FY2009 when one adds the omnibus spending figure with the billion to be spent from the Obama stimulus package.
Scooby Doo as told by Hunter Thompson or Fear and Loathing in the Mystery Machine.
RIP Philip Jose Farmer

Addendum: More of the death of Philip Jose Farmer.
To legalize and Tax Marijuana?
Will the California budget crisis accomplish the long cherished goal among libertarians of legalizing marijuana? San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano certainly hopes so, for he has offered legislation legalizing and taxing marijuana.
The revolt of the governors against the Obama stimulus package has spread to Tennessee, which has a Democrat Governor.
MSNBC "Oh God!" Gaffe and Liberal Bias in the Media
One of the more interesting scandals surrounding Bobby Jindal's response to Barack Obama's speech before Congress was an incident that happened on MSNBC. An on air personality is heard muttering, "Oh God!" as Jindal came into camera view.


Addendum: Chris Matthews fesses up with a weird excuse.
I was taken aback by that peculiar stagecraft, the walking from somewhere in the back of this narrow hall, this winding staircase looming there, the odd anti-bellum look [sic] of the scene. Was this some mimicking of a president walking along the state floor to the East Room?

Ante bellum look? The mind boggles.
Barack Obama's Durban Shame
In 2001 the Orwellian named "UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance" was held in Durban, South Africa, and concluded that Israel was the cause of all of those things.
Bobby Jindal Gives Republican Response
Bobby Jindal, the young, reformist governor of Louisiana gave the Republican response to Barrack Osama's address to a joint session of Congress. What resulted was an at times awkward presentation of sound, conservative principles.
Obama Addresses Congress and the Nation
President Barack Obama delivered his first speech to a joint session of the Congress Tuesday night. Rhetorically, Obama's delivery was first rate. Substantially Barack Obama's speech before Congress was one part scary one part mind numbingly audacious.
Barack Obama translated.
Barack Obama fact checked.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Apparently one of the New American Tea Party protests will be in Houston. I shall endeavor to get a full report, with pictures.
The 'Produce the Note' Maneuver
Homeowners who have fallen on hard economic times and are facing foreclosure have hit upon a new tactic to delay the day of reckoning when they would lose their homes. It is a legal tactic called Produce the Note.
New American Tea Party Brewing
When CNBC's Rock Santelli delivered the "rant heard around the world" about Barack Obama's plan to bail out mortgages and demanded a new tea party, he may well have tossed a lit match to the dry tinder of resentment.

There seems to be a new American tea party brewing.
Obama's War on Terror: Rhetoric vs. Reality
A couple of stories demonstrated recently how reality is starting to trump Barack Obama's campaign rhetoric about the War on Terror. During the campaign, Barack Obama excoriated George W. Bush's human rights record on the war.

But that was then, this is now.
Launch of Orbiting Carbon Observatory Fails
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory, designed to measure how carbon dioxide gases in the Earth atmosphere, was launched early Tuesday on a Taurus rocket. However, due to separation problem in the satellite's protective fairing, the launch was a failure.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Now that it's Obama's NASA and not Bush's, it gets a little more funding in the omnibus spending bill.
Just a while ago, when hearing that Obama's Energy Secretary had no clue that he was in charge of oil policy, I blurted out that I really just wanted to wake up from the nightmare to find out that Bush was still President. Apparently I'm not the only one. Both the Anchoress and, much to my astonishment, Rand Simberg have similar sentiments.
Jim Bunning Apologizes to Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Senator Jim Bunning, Republican of Kentucky, was forced to issue an apology for predicting that Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would be dead within the year. Justice Ginsburg recently underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer.
Comet Lulin to Pass Near Earth
One of the strangest comets ever to pass close to the Earth, designated Comet Lulin, is due to be visible in the night sky over North America during late February and early March. Comet Lulin has a number of very unusual properties.
Obama to Try to "Contain" a Nuclear Iran
The Obama administration is determined to try the diplomatic route in an effort to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. But if the LA Times's Doyle McManus is correct, President Obama is already looking ahead to a nuclear Iran.
Sean Penn Acceptance Speech Shows Political Subtext on Oscar Night
Andrew Breitbart, the media entrepreneur who most recently has created Big Hollywood, took note of the continuing left wing domination of Hollywood illustrated at the Oscars Sunday night. Then he had a modest proposal.
Taylor Dinerman asks Do We Need a New National Space Council? Jeff Foust disusses point to point space flight. Dwayne Day looks back at 2010--the movie that is.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

India's man in space program now has funding.
Happy birthday, George Washington.
Bobby Jindal to Refuse Some Obama Stimulus Money
Bobby Jindal, the young, reformist Republican Governor of Louisiana does not like one part of the Obama stimulus package directed to his state is therefore disinclined to accept the money. The part concerns the expansion of the unemployment compensation program.
Go Girl?

This is so wrong on so many levels.
Buzz Aldrin has co-authored something called Sustainable Space Exploration and Space Development — A Unified Strategic Vision which is filled with buzz word language, invalid assumptions, and a few recommendations, some of which are silly, some politically unsound, and a few that actually have merit.

My big concern is that these all encompassing, top down, "space visions" smach not only of central planning, but also tend to be so huge that they would fall apart of their own weight if they were ever to be attempted.

My approach has always been to narrowly focus government space activities to suit capabalities (the ability to marshal resources) and needs that governments have (national security, high risk/high payoff technology development, exploration, science research), making them as commercial friendly as possible, while making sure that taxes and regulations tend to encourage commercial spave development.
Oscars 2009: And the Winner Is--Who Cares?
The Oscars or Academy Awards will be presented Sunday night, mainly for movies few people have seen and for actors and actresses, with some exceptions, whom few people care about. It's a disturbing trend and was not always so.
Obama to Raise Taxes, Cut Military Spending, Cut Deficit
President Barack Obama's first budget will do the tried and perhaps not so true approach that all Liberal Democrat administrations have on government spending, Obama proposes to raise taxes, cut military spending, and boost domestic spending.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bush as Obama's War on Terror Czar. Sweet, albeit unlikely.
George Lucas: Are Obama's Policies "from the Dark Side?"
Hollywood has been a reliable source of support and money for Democratic politicians for decades. This has been especially true for Barack Obama. But the first serious crack in that support, in the form of George Lucas, seems to have appeared.
Did Ingmar Guandique Kill Chandra Levy?
An arrest may be near in the murder of Washington intern Chandra Levy, whose murder brought down Congressman Gary Condit and was a cause celeb for several months in 2001. Investigators are focusing on a convicted felon named Ingmar Guandique.
In last night's Dollhouse, Eliza Dushku's character Echo is asked whether she can handle a fire arm. Her reply, "I had four brothers. None of them Democrats."

Best line from a TV show in a long time.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Once upon a time, George Lucas pronounced Barack Obama to be a jedi. Now, it seems, Lucas has decided that Obi Wan Barack has gone over to the dark side.
Film director George Lucas of the famed “Star Wars” series said capping the salaries of CEOs at $500,000 a year as part of the $700 billion financial bailout is a decision that rests with stockholders, not with the government. Lucas also said he does not make that much money each year as a CEO, nor would he pay anyone that amount.

The highly successful movie-maker further said that President Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on people making $250,000 or more a year will not help the economy.
The Obama Administration is looking at reestablishing the National Space Council, a good idea but, perhaps, difficult to implement.
Paul Spudis responds to Neal Lane.
More proof that fears of global warming are overblown.
A glitch in satellite sensors caused scientists to underestimate the extent of Arctic sea ice by 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles), a California- size area, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center said.

The error, due to a problem called “sensor drift,” began in early January and caused a slowly growing underestimation of sea ice extent until mid-February. That’s when “puzzled readers” alerted the NSIDC about data showing ice-covered areas as stretches of open ocean, the Boulder, Colorado-based group said on its Web site.
New York Post Chimp Cartoon Controversy Continues
The controversy surrounding the New York Post chimp cartoon continues, with the New York Post issuing an apology and Al Sharpton claiming that he is not satisfied. A rally was held outside the Post Thursday and another is planned for Friday.
Did Google Ocean Reveal Atlantis?
Has Google Ocean, the recent add on to Google Earth that maps the ocean floor, found the lost city of Atlantis? Bernie Bamford, an aeronautical engineer in Chester, Great Britain seems to think so, based on an image 620 miles off the coast of Africa.
Will Obama Impose a Vehicular Miles Tax?
Barack Obama's Transportation Secretary RayLahood is considering a national tax on motorists based on how many miles they drive, rather than how much gasoline they use. The proposal has caused considerable concern from privacy advocates and tax opponents.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

NASA invites one and all to name node 3 of the International Space Station.

Hint: Fans of Firefly will know what to do.
The next anti stimulus protest will be in Overland, Kansas.
Apparently Fred Phelps and his daughter have been banned from Great Britain. See Westboro story below.
Rick Santelli's Anti-Obama "Rant Heard Around the World"
The markets are not reacting very well to Barack Obama's latest spending plan, which is to spend about seventy five billion dollars to rescue people who can't pay their mortgages. CNBC host Rick Santelli believes he knows why.
Dobson High School Students Skeptical of Obama Speech
President Barack Obama was famous during the campaign for getting young people excited about his message of "hope and change." However, the Advanced Placement government class at Dobson High School is somewhat unimpressed with Obama.
Neal Lane, a Clintonista and coauthor (along with the infamous George Abbey) of a report that suggested that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is too fixated on--well--aeronautics and space and should be doing things more "relevant", defended his report when asked about it by Jeff Foust. He also was pretty sure about how the public feels about space exploration.
Lane, by comparison, doesn’t think the nation is interested in human missions to the Moon and Mars. “It would be fine to go to the Moon if there was a reason to go to the Moon, and the people wanted to, but they don’t,” he claimed. “People don’t care about going back to the Moon and there’s no rationale for going back to the Moon. I would really like to see NASA go forward in a big way and have a larger and more exciting space program. But right now there’s not the support for it, and NASA’s flailing.”

I'm not sure what the levels of support are this very minute, but the most recent data we have is from a Gallup Poll done a few months ago. The findings tend to contradict Mr. Lane's notion of what the public is excited about. Gallup found that roughly 52 percent of the respondants favored increasing NASA's budget. Approximately 68 percent of respondants surveyed agree that the benefits of space exploration outweigh the risks of human space flight. 69 percent of the adult public surveyed say they believe that America’s space program inspires young people to consider an education in science, technology, math or engineering fields at least to some degree.

Mr. Lane seems to do what a lot of idealogues do and assume that other people think as they do. In fact there seems to be wide spread support for NASA and what it's doing, exploring space, and not a whole lot of clamor for turning the space agency to doing things like researching wind farms.
Jack Valenti Investigated by FBI in 1960s
According to the Washington Post, in 1964, the FBI under then director J. Edgar Hoover tried to ascertain whether Jack Valenti, then a White House aide, was gay. No proof was ever found, but the revelation illustrates how the FBI operated during the Hoover years.
Eric Holder: America a "Nation of Cowards" on Race
Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States, has called the United States a "nation of cowards" when it comes to race relations. Holder said this at a speech to Justice Department employees in honor of Black History Month.
Obama: How Not to Save the Automobile Companies
President Barack Obama has decided that a board of some kind would be best suited to save the American automobile industry rather than an all powerful "Car Czar." Meanwhile the automobile companies are demanding another bailout.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nine real life mad scientists
Some pro Syrian, Hezbollah affiliated thugs beat the crap out of Chris Hitchens in Beirut. I can hardly wait for the column he's going to write on it.
In Battle for Terra the evil, neocon humans try to conquer a peaceful planet filled with cute aliens. A thinly disguised Bush bash IMHO, with the alien planet subbing for Iraq, or Afganistan, and the Earthling refugees subbing for Republicans.
New York Post Cartoon Causes Offense
There seems to be a bit of a kerfuffle surrounding a political cartoon published in the New York Post. The cartoon depicts two police officers, having shot a chimpanzee, and one saying, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."
Nancy Pelosi Meets Pope Benedict
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI and, despite the fact that they are both Catholic, could not even agree on what exactly happened during the audience. Pelosi and the Pope issued differing statements on the audience.
Hundreds Rally in Denver Against Obama Stimulus Package
When President Barack Obama came to Denver to sign the timulus bill into law, not everyone was happy to see him. A group of several hundred people and one Vietnamese pot bellied pig rallied on the west side of the Colorado state capital against the stimulus.
Scientists deciding to do either a mission to Europa or a mission to Titan have decided to compromise and do both.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Westboro Baptist Church to Stage Protest in England
The Westboro Baptist Church, known less for its preaching of the Gospel than for its anti gay demonstrations at military funerals and other venues, has decided to invade England. The occasion is a play about the murder of Matthew Shepard.
Arnold and Stallone in the same movie. Pretty cool.
Marc Sheppard asks Has James Hanson Finally Lost His Mind?
The Israelis are apparently dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat covertly. One of the more dangerous jobs in the world is an Iranian nuclear scientist, it seems.
A case study on how not to get rid of excess mistresses.
The venerable Sam Donaldson reflexs. For some of us who really ground our teeth because of his performance in the 1980s, some of those reflexions are rather surprising.
Layoffs Loom as California Budget Crisis Continues
The California budget impasse continues as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger started to carry out a threat to layoff 20,000 state employees. A gigantic game of chicken is being played over a measure designed to fill a 42 billion dollar hole in California's budget.
Obama and the Fairness Doctrine by Other Means
Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats may be about to bring back the Fairness Doctrine by the back door. It will be done through the FCC, will not be called the Fairness Doctrine, and will apply to the Internet as well as AM radio.
The "Honor Killing" of Aasiya Hassan
Muzzammil Hassan, a prominent Muslim American businessman in Buffalo, New York is charged with beheading his estranged wife, Aasiya Hassan, in which some suggest is an "honor killing."
Khmer Rouge Leaders On Trial
Thirty years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, the first trials of the surviving members of the Communist government who perpetrated the Cambodian holocaust have begun.
Is Rambo going to Afganistan after all?
Hungry aliens drop by Regency England in Pride and Predator.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The intriguing and back room maneuvering over who will be the next NASA Administrator continues. Also, this tid bit:
NASA thought it had put the decision behind it to use the Ares to propel the Orion moonship into space when it selected a consortium of ATK Launch Systems Group, the Boeing Co. and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne to develop the moonship. The space agency has spent $13.6 billion on the rocket so far.

But the United Launch Alliance — a joint venture forged by Lockheed Martin Corp. and the Boeing Co. — never accepted Griffin’s decision as final, space expert John Logsdon said.

The alliance favors the Atlas V or Delta IV rockets, which the Pentagon uses to launch military satellites. Lockheed’s Atlas V rocket is built in Littleton, Colo.; Boeing’s Delta IV is constructed in Decatur, Ala.

“They see the choice of a new administrator as an opportunity,” said Logsdon, a former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University who served on the Columbia accident investigation board.

The Internet Rocketeer Club is going to be upset, but I have always suspected that the driving force behind the scrap Ares for the EELV was not a group of stalwart engineers who know that the Ares is a turkey and that an EELV is the only sensible way. Rather the force driving the campaign against Ares comes from ULA, which wants to grab the biggest space contract in a generation for itself. Unfortunately too many people, out of ego, out of misinformation, out of grudges, are going along with what is just, in the end, a fight between two groups of contractors for government money.

On socialized health care.
I don't know about you, but they'll take my hamburger when they pry it from my cold, dead hand, global warming or no global warming.
C-SPAN President's Day Ranking of the Presidents
Just in time for President's Day, C-Span has polled a group of historians to rank the Presidents. With certain exceptions, the results are a predictable as a popularity contest taken in a typical American High School.
Review of Without Warning by John Birmingham
Barack Obama has said that bad teachers should be fired. That people think this is something odd for a Democrat to say is very illuminating.
The recent prediction by Obama Energy Secretary Steven Chu of the death of agriculture in California has caused George Will to muse upon all of the other dire predictions by environmental hysterics that didn't come true.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Harrisom Schmitt speaks out on global warming.
I don’t think the human effect is significant compared to the natural effect," said Schmitt, who is among 70 skeptics scheduled to speak next month at the International Conference on Climate Change in New York.

Schmitt contends that scientists "are being intimidated" if they disagree with the idea that burning fossil fuels has increased carbon dioxide levels, temperatures and sea levels.

"They’ve seen too many of their colleagues lose grant funding when they haven’t gone along with the so-called political consensus that we’re in a human-caused global warming," Schmitt said.
Is Eric Cantor the New Newt Gingrich?
Is the House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, the next Newt Gingrich? The New York Times seems to think so. While the judgment of the Gray Lady may be suspect whereas who conservative leaders are, some conservatives tend to agree.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Barack Obama and the Supreme Court
President Barack Obama will very likely get a chance to name some Supreme Court Justices, perhaps as many as two in his current term in office. If Ken Starr, former Independent Counsel, is correct, Barack Obama is in for some trouble.
Mark Steyn compares Barack Obama to Titanic, but with a crucial difference: "The ship didn’t need to hit an iceberg; it stalled halfway down the slipway."
Judd Gregg Withdraws from Commerce
Senator Judd Gregg, having eagerly accepted President Barack Obama's nomination to be Commerce Secretary, has now just as eagerly withdrawn his name from nomination. The incident suggests a question that should be put to President Obama.

To paraphrase the character in Hunt for Red October, "Mr. President, you have lost another cabinet nominee?"
Dollhouse: Joss Whedon's TV Series Starring Eliza Dushku
Dollhouse, which premiered Friday, is the latest TV show from Joss Whedon, creator of such shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. Dollhouse, while it has some clich├ęd elements, has an interesting and original premise.

Friday, February 13, 2009

What will be the practical effects of the NASA stimulus funding?
Amateur Hour at the Obama White House seems to extend to choosing a NASA Administrator.
Beverly Eckert, Bereaved of 9/11, Dies in Buffalo Plane Crash
The bitterest of all ironies placed Beverly Eckert on Continental Flight 3407, the commuter plane that crashed near Buffalo, New York. Beverly Eckert lost her husband Sean Rooney at the World Trade Center on that Second Day on Infamy, 9/11.
Details now available for the NASA spending portion of the Obama stimulus bill
What’s most interesting about this, of course, is that Congress hasn’t stipulated how that $400 million should be spent on “exploration”. The statement does stipulate that NASA is directed to submit to Congress “a spending plan, signed by the Administrator, detailed its intended allocation of funds provided by this Act within 60 days of enactment of this Act.” Given that NASA doesn’t have an administrator yet, and that it will probably be several weeks before one is in place (taking into account the time needed for the Senate to confirm whomever is nominated), how to spend that money is going to be among the next administrator’s first decisions.
Wordle: Return to Tranquility

Return to Tranquility, as rendered in Wordle

The original:
I stand on the shore of an airless sea.
Home world above, in the void, blue and white
As if God painted the night sky with light.
I stride on the face of the airless sea
Toward hallowed ground of star sailors of old.
Their monument gleams on the airless sea,
Flotsam of their feat scattered carelessly.
I stop and see, tumbled into the dust,
The familiar standard, red, white, and blue
Which once flew over that perfect moment
When impossible became history
And all the dreams of an endless future
Lay before us like an epic story
Ready to be written by heart and will.
I pick up the flag, shake off ancient dust
I raise it anew where the winds slumber,
Ne'er again to fall, soaring forever.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Barack Obama seems to have lost another Commerce Secretary. It looks like that the Census grab and the stimulus package were just too much for Judd Gregg to stomach.
Eliza Dushku: Woman in Peril
Eliza Dushku, who stars in the new Joss Whedon produced series Dollhouse, brings to the role a decade and a half of experience of playing women in peril who manage to hit back at peril with great alacrity and skill.
How Abraham Lincoln United a Continent
President Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is two hundred years ago this February 12, united a continent in more than one way. Not only did Abraham Lincoln bring the Confederate states to heel, but he passed the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862.
Bill O'Reilly Mocks Helen Thomas
Bill O'Reilly, the combative and sometimes irascible commentator on Fox News, is in trouble again with the chattering class, as he often is. As usual the ire felt about Bill O'Reilly stems from his attacking, or this case mocking, the wrong people.
Obama, NASA, and Space Funding in the Stimulus Bill
President Barack Obama is down to either four names or a "list of names", depending on who one talks to, for his choice for NASA Administrator. Also it looks like the House/Senate conference has agreed upon a billion dollars for NASA stimulus.
Inglourious Basterds Trailer Released
The teaser trailer for Quentin Tarantino's upcoming movie, Inglourious Basterds, has been released. It appears that in Inglourious Basterds Quentin Tarantino proposes to do to the Nazis what he did to the Japanese Yakuza in Kill Bill.
Happy 200th Birthday Charles Darwin.
Happy 200th Birthday, Abraham Lincoln.
A first look at India's upcoming manned space craft.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

There are four names on Obama's short list for NASA Administrator, including a couple of retired Generals who have been mentioned before. Also, NASA gets a billion in the compromise Obama stimulus package, includin four hundred million for "exploration." Likely nothing for COTS-D, though.
Tonight I had the great pleasure of meeting John Birmingham, the author of the Weapons of Choice (The Axis of Time Trilogy, Book 1), Designated Targets: A Novel of the Axis of Time, and Final Impact (The Axis of Time). He was in town plugging his latest book, Without Warning, in which he destroys America just before the invasion of Iraq.

John's quite the raconteur, soft spoken, and very affable. He told the story about how he became a writer, which was part planned out, and part a series of accidents. Then he took questions and then signed some books. It was great to meet him after knowing him for so long electronically. John blogs over at Cheese Burger Gothic.
Julio Osegueda Meets Obama, Gets Fame and Maybe Fortune
At President Barack Obama's town hall meeting in Fort Meyers, Florida, a young man named Julio Osegueda got his fifteen minutes of fame when he asked his question and showed an enthusiasm for the President reserved usually for rock stars.
Chuck Schumer: No One Cares About Pork
Senator Chuck Schumer said, yesterday, that people didn't care about the pork that CongressChuck Schumer: No One Cares About Porkwas spending money on in the Obama stimulus package. This is likely true of Schumer's constituents, who keep voting him into office.

From Michelle Maklin's column
Schumer, Charles E. - (D - NY) Class III
313 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6542
Web Form: schumer.senate.gov/new_website/contact.cfm
Fax:202-228-3027

District Office- Albany:
Leo O’Brien Building, Room 420
Albany, NY 12207
Phone: 518-431-4070
Fax: 518-431-4076

District Office- Binghamton:
15 Henry Street, Room B6
Binghamton, NY 13901
Phone: 607-772-6792
Fax: 607-772-8124

District Office- Buffalo:
111 West Huron Street, Room 620
Buffalo, NY 14202
Phone: 716-846-4111
Fax: 716-846-4113

District Office- Hudson Valley:
Post Office Box A
Red Hook, NY 12571
Phone: 914-285-9741
Fax: 845-758-1043

District Office- Long Island:
145 Pine Lawn Road, Room 300
Melville, NY 11747
Phone: 631-753-0978
Fax: 631-753-0997

District Office- New York City:
757 Third Avenue, Suite 17-02
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212-486-4430
TTYD Number: 212-486-7803
Fax: 212-486-7693

District Office- Rochester:
100 State Street, Room 3040
Rochester, NY 14614
Phone: 585-263-5866
Fax: 585-263-3173

District Office- Syracuse:
100 South Clinton Street, Room 841
Syracuse, NY 13261-7318
Phone: 315-423-5471
Fax: 315-423-5185

And pork rinds to send to Chuck Schumer to tell him how much you care.
SpaceX is making a big push to get COTS-D including in the Obama stimulus bill. I have mixed feelings about that. I hate the Obama stimulus bill and believe that it will harm our economy in the long run. But funding COTS-D is a great idea.
For since I can remember, people have been saying that High Noon, the classic Gary Cooper western was an allegory of McCarthyism. I never got that. But, it seems, that a good case can be made for it being an allegory of the war on terror.
Why the Stimulus Bill Won't Stimulate
The office of Senator Tom Coburn has provided a list of spending items in the Obama stimulus package, which recently passed both the House and Senate, that he judges to be either wasteful, not stimulative, or both.
Will Tzipi Livni or Binyamin Netanyahu Be the Next Leader of Israel?
The Israeli elections are over, with the conservative Likud Party under Binyamin Netanyahu picking up 27 seats in the Israeli Knesset and Tzipi Livni centrist Kadima Party garnering 28 seats. Now the deal making to form a new government begins.
Decision time for the next, big ticket planetary mission drawas nigh. Europa or Titan?
The Dutch are providing a spectrometer for the Oddyesey Moon lander that is a competitor in the Lunar Google X Prize.
If it works, the private MoonOne lander and its successors could serve scientists much as a commercial trucking company serves wholesalers, providing a platform to ferry science instruments and other payloads to the lunar surface.

"The intention is to bring on a new age," says Alan Stern, science mission director for Odyssey Moon and former science chief at NASA. That could mean new opportunities for scientists whose instruments were cut or scaled back in government missions, or whose nations do not have their own lunar spacecraft. "It's an ongoing business that will make sense many years in the future," Stern says.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Senator Patrick Leahy has proposed a truth and reconciliation commission to examine all the horrible things that the Bush Administration is alleged to have done to defend the United States from terrorism. "I'm doing this not to humiliate people or punish people but to get the truth out," he lied. In fact that is precisely the purpose of Leahy's grotesque idea.

Interestingly, the original South African truth and reconciliation commission examined abuses by both sides of the conflict, both the white minority regime and the African National Congress. Both sides were allowed to give testimony to explain themselves and everyone had the opportunity to request amnesty. It was considered, on the whole, a success.

What Leahy had in mind, one suspects, is something very different. People who impeded the war on terror or used it to make political hay (like Patrick Leahy) will not be required to testify. Only Bush administration officials and servicemen will be dragged before what will be a kangaroo court to be brow beaten and held up to ridicule and scorn. It's a sick idea, verging on treason, and Leahy should be ashamed for even conceiving it.


Man vs Bacon Explosion
Who is Helen Thomas and Why is she in the White House?
In what was an otherwise tedious prime time Presidential press conference, the venerable and irrepressible Helen Thomas asked a question that suggested another question, not asked often enough: Who is that woman and why was she there?
OBama's First White House Press Conference
President Barack Obama's first prime time press conference has the feeling of a lecture on economics, political science and history. Unfortunately the professor (i.e. President Obama) was long-winded, sleep-inducing, and somewhat dishonest in his lecture.
Federal Health Care Grab in Stimulus Bill
According to Betsy McCaughey at Bloomberg, provisions have been tucked into the Obama stimulus package that would, in effect, take the ability of making medical decisions away from doctors and grant them to the federal government.
Proof positive that the Apollo moon landings keep paying unexpected dividends, even decades later.
Buzz Aldrin was the first to see the mysterious lights. They flared like tiny flashbulbs in the darkened cabin as his Apollo 11 spacecraft hurtled toward the moon in July 1969.

Dozens of astronauts on later flights noticed the same thing, even with their eyes shut. Scientists eventually decided the sparkles likely were cosmic rays and other high-energy space radiation streaking through the astronauts' eyeballs.

Earth's magnetic field shelters us from most such damaging radiation, but astronauts traveling beyond its protection face a heightened risk of cataracts, although the exact role that space radiation plays is still unclear. At least 39 have developed cloudy lenses that might be linked to space flight.

Rafat Ansari, a physicist at Cleveland's NASA Glenn Research Center, set out to find the early warning signs of cataracts in astronauts' eyes. What he came up with may also help people who never leave Earth, by identifying pre-cataract eye changes in time for possible preventive steps.

This is of somewhat personal interest to me. When I was two, the sight in my left eye was all but destroyed by a cataract brought on by birth trauma. It is likely that, at some point, my right eye will develop a cataract that will require surgery. So this kind of development is most welcome and, as Glenn Reynolds might say, faster please.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Mike Mealing has an online poll in which people are invited to pick one project that NASA ought to be doing. There choices are:
Establish a colony on the moon?
Establish a colony on Mars?
Study global climate change?
Explore our solar system beyond Mars?
Conduct missions beyond our solar system?
Explore how the universe, galaxies, stars and planets evolved?
Build orbiting platforms to launch future space missions?
Build telescope observatories in space?
Do basic aerospace engineering and space science research?
Provide and/or purchase basic in-space infrastructure to enable private sector development of space?
Figure out how to obsolete itself by creating a spacefaring society where everyone is capable of being their own NASA?

I have a big problem with these kinds of polls, because there are several choices that seem pretty good to me. If multiple choices had been allowed, I would have picked 1,3 4,5,6,7,8,9. 2 should be the responsibility of NOAA. 10 is just silly. There will always be a need for a government space program, mainly because of national security and other needs that the private sector will not provide.
Americans for Prosperity Announce Nostimulus Petition
Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots group advocating free market solutions to various problems, has created the Nostimulus Petition online to demand that the Obama stimulus package not be passed.
Amazon Rolls Out Kindle 2 EBook Reader
Amazon has rolled out the new version of its electronic book reader, the Kindle 2, due to start shipping on February 24th. Amazon's Kindle 2 has a number of new features that promise to make it even more remarkable than the first model.



Just as a reminder, the following is available on the Kindle and Kindle 2:


Addendum: A Kindle book on your cell phone?
An astronaut has created a satirical video that every NASA manager should be required to view. View the video here.
Political art for freedom of speech:
Obama to Seize Control of Census
The Obama administration, having nominated Republican Senator Judd Gregg to become Commerce Secretary, is planning to strip the Commerce Department of one of its key functions of conducting the national census and transferring it to the White House.
Victory Davis Hanson takes exception to the apocalyptic style of Obama administration rhetoric.
Is Hugo Chavez about to tank Venezuela's economy?
Taylor Dinerman suggests that Barack Obama could pass incentives to help create an RLV industry such as Lincoln did for the transcontinental railroad. Could, I think, but likely won't. Then there is this:
The railroad bills that President Lincoln signed gave an obscene amount of land to the companies that promised to build the transcontinental link. At the time the US government had lots and lots of land to give away. Today the folks in Washington cannot give anyone millions of acres of prime real estate, and the Outer Space Treaty insures that they cannot give away bits of the Moon or other “celestial bodies”.

A good reason to amend that treaty, methinks.
Jeff Foust explains how Virgin looks beyond space tourism, with everything from reusable sounding rockets to launching smallsats.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

As Barack Obama and the Democrats plot to foist national health care on Americans, a reminder of the dysfunctional health care system north of the border. Increasingly Canadians are viewing their health care system as a violation of their civil rights. It is certainly a violation of common sense.
Cate Blanchett to Play Maid Marian?
Claire Shipman: Speed Important for Stimulus Bill
Newsbusters published an exchange on the Obama stimulus package now careening its way through the Senate on the panel on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. ABC's Claire Shipman made the following statement:
Bill Press wants to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, mainly because his radio show couldn't get ratings and therefore is being dropped by OBAMA1260 Radio in Washington. The retort that the free market seems to favor conservative talkers falls on death ears. You see, according to Bill Press, it's a conspiracy.
However, under pressure from conservatives, President Ronald Reagan's Federal Communications Commission canceled the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, insisting that in a free market, stations would automatically offer a balance in programming.

That experiment has failed. There is no free market in talk radio today, only an exclusive, tightly held, conservative media conspiracy. The few holders of broadcast licenses have made it clear they will not, on their own, serve the general public. Maybe it's time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine -- and bring competition back to talk radio in Washington and elsewhere.

Fascinating that "serving the general public" means forcing down their throats programing that they do not choose to listen to. In a way, Bill Press demonstrates one of the least endearing qualities of a liberal. That is the attitude that he knows better than the people what is best for them and, by the way, what is best will also be good for Bill Press.
Another potential problem has been found with Ares 1 that is certain to get a lot of people excited, at least until it is solved.
NASA has concluded that the first and upper stages of its Ares I crew launch vehicle could collide after separation and this problem's impact on the Ares' development has been given the highest risk rating by the US space agency, according to documents obtained by Flight International.

This so-called recontact problem could end an Ares I mission - possibly catastrophically - during ascent. Failure could come seconds after firing of the separation pyrotechnics, if the upper stage's J-2X engine does not provide enough power fast enough to stop it from slowing down and colliding with the first stage and its motor, which would still be providing residual thrust.


Addendum: Following the discussion on NASA Space Flight, which is already entertaining and is bound to actually be informative.
Europe Doesn't Support Obama in Afghanistan
No one cheered the ascent of Barack Obama to the Presidency louder than leaders of Europeans countries, thankful for an American President who would listen more to European concerns. But Barack Obama is not likely to get more support from Europe in return.
Here are some facts about life in America brought to you from Hollywood.
Apple, Inc. supplies well over 98% of computers in the USA.
All good cops are tormented creatures in one way or another. 90% plus are divorced but have amazing relationships with their kids, usually teenagers.

“Religious types”, regardless of religion, are one step away from acting out violently, and usually do! Christians seem the most hair-triggered in this regard. Also, abject fear drives 100% of a “religious types” decision making process.
Conservatives by nature have something to hide.
The rate of drug use at high-end private high schools is 70% plus.
Most corporations have assassins on the payroll.
Liberals and minorities are always sincere and innocent, unless of course they cavort with Republicans or Corporations.
Abandoned warehouses are always available for holding hostages.
And lastly, raising children in a traditional family is by far the worst possible thing for them.
The recent death of James Whitmore reminded me of the one man shows he did honoring such iconic Americans such as Harry Truman, Will Rogers, and Teddy Roosevelt. It seems that Will Ferrell, star of such deathless epics as Telladega Nights, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy, and Blades of Glory has another of its type about George W. Bush, but with the purpose of heaping ridicule rather than doing honor to the man who kept us safe for seven years.

And President Bush is not alone in being the subject of Mr. Ferrell's lampooning for the delight of New York audiences.
Here, Hollywood is letting its mask slip. Ferrell and his director Adam McKay are so confident that everyone shares their contempt for Bush that they slosh over into contempt for all things associated with Bush: the show includes cracks about Texas, Christianity, and finally the military.

And the creative community wonders why so many people hold them in contempt.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Senate version of the stimulus bill has some stimulation for NASA.
Apparently Barack Obama does not have an army of loyal supporters willing to jump at his command.
Political Tensions Hamper Search for NASA Chief
Disagreements between the White House and some senior Democratic lawmakers have complicated the choice of the next U.S. civilian space chief -- and led to the emergence of a possible compromise candidate.

Retired four-star Air Force Gen. Lester L. Lyles is now viewed as new contender to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, according to lawmakers and aerospace industry officials. Gen. Lyles once headed the country's missile-defense program and more recently participated in blue-ribbon commissions studying manned space exploration.

But here is the bit that will make the Internet Rocketeer Club incandescent.
If the decision drags on, it could strengthen the position of Sen. Nelson and others who support the current space program and the thousands of jobs it provides in Florida and elsewhere. It is bound to take any new agency head months to conduct a review of NASA's priorities, and at this point the White House doesn't appear to have settled on its own action plans. Members and staff of the House Science committee, for example, so far haven't received any indications of White House desires to move away from the rockets and space vehicles currently under development.

Vis Jim Oberg
Stimulus Comprise Reached with GOP Moderates
Senate Democrats have arrived on a compromise stimulus package that seems to have attracted the votes of three RStimulus Compromise Republicans moderates. If all of the Senate Democrats vote for the stimulus bill, then there will be enough votes to stop debate and pass it.
James Whitmore Passes from Lung Cancer at 87
Actor James Whitmore has died after a brief struggle with lung cancer at the age of 87. James Whitmore passes away after a fifty year career that spans film, television, and the stage. James Whitmore was also a Marine veteran with service in the South Pacific.
The Carnival of Space is now up.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Bob Zubrin has his own stimulus plan. And you knew that the following would be part of it.
3. To expand our future, initiate a program to send humans to Mars within eight years. President John F. Kennedy’s Apollo program not only boosted the U.S. economy of the 1960s to terrific rates of economic growth, it mobilized the nation’s sharpest minds to create dozens of new technologies.
Obama Speaks to House Democrats About Stimulus
Thursday night, President Barack Obama addressed the House Democratic Caucus retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia. The speech was equal parts hysteria, whining, and prevarication when it should have been an admonishment.
Today is World Nude Day 2009
February 6th is World Nude Day, which goes to show that there is a day of celebration for just about everything. World Nude Day is apparently the invention of a group of strange people in New Zealand to celebrate—well—getting naked.
Governor Val Kilmer of New Mexico?
Actor Val Kilmer is considering a career change that a number of other Hollywood actors have undertaken. Val Kilmer is contemplating running for Governor of New Mexico, where he maintains a residence.
Debbie Stabenow and the Fairness Doctrine
According to the Politico, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, is the latest politician who wants to rein in conservative talk radio by bringing back something called "The Fairness Doctrine."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hilda Solis Latest Obama Nominee with Tax Problems
The Washington Post is reporting that yet another Obama appointee is in trouble for a tax problem. In this case she is Rep. Hilda Solis, Obama's nominee to be Labor Secretary. Rep' Solis's husband yesterday paid $6400 in tax liens against his business.
Stimulus, because all economies have performence issues...
Go Red for Women Day 2009
Friday, February 6th, is National Go Red for Women Day 2009, sponsored by the American Heart Association as a means to raise money and awareness for heart disease among women. The idea is to change the perception that coronary disease is solely a man's disease.
Netanyahu Advises Obama on Iran
Binyamin Netanyahu, who is likely to be the next Prime Minister of Israel, has some advice for President Barack Obama that he might not want to hear. The advice concerns Obama's plans to engage Iran diplomatically.
In Video Clip, Ashley Judd Attacks Sarah Palin Over Wolves
Ashley Judd, the actress, is angry with Sarah Palin. She is so angry, in fact, that she has cut video for the group Defenders of Wildlife demanding that a State of Alaska program permitting the hunting of wolves and bears from the air be stopped.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Obama's proposal to ban space weapons is not getting an enthusiastic response.
Ed Morrissey proposes a F 22 Stimulus.
Craig Crawford suggests Newt Gingrich for HHS Secretary. That would be a cool move, but one Obama is unlikely to make. Gingrich believes in free market solutions to health care, after all.
Nancy Pelosi 500 Million Gaffe
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, last month, suggested that five hundred million people in the United States are losing their jobs every month in order to sell her stimulus bill. Remarkable, considering that there are only three hundred three million Americans.
India is planning big things for its space program, including planetary probes, a lunar sample return mission, and manned missions.
Apparently someone who think he's a Klingon is robbing convenience stores in Colorodo Springs, using a batleth.
Rod Blagojevich on Letterman
Proving the old adage that impeachment cannot keep a—err--good man down, former Governor Rod Blagojevich appeared on Letterman. Letterman gave Rod Blagojevich a welcome usually reserved for people like Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly.
Has Barack Obama gone to war with Nancy Pelosi? Be still my heart.
Former Florida Congressman Dave Weldon is now working for Sarah Palin to try to attract business to a launch facility in Kodiak, Alaska. Florida Today goes ballistic and makes some unwarranted accusations. Jeff Foust is bemused.
The Moon Over Barack Obama
Recently Barack Obama and Michelle Obama escaped from the White House and the cares of public office to visit the Capital City Public Charter School. President Obama read to a 2nd Grade class from a book called The Moon Over Star.

Kyrgyzstan May Close US Air Base
Russia has agreed to give Kyrgyzstan a two billion dollar loan, write off 180 million dollars in debt, and add 150 million dollars in foreign aid. Kyrgyzstan then informed the United States it intends to close an air base vital to operations in Afghanistan.
Ralph Peters has an interesting perspective on how to understand other cultures.
Begin with the view that all opponents are aliens from another cultural planet. Build your assessment from a blank slate. What do the alien collectives desire or fear? How do they perceive the galaxy? What are their unique weaknesses?

Peters also muses on how it is better for an intelligence analyst to read science fiction rather than French Existentialists.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tom Daschle, Nancy Killefer Forced to Withdraw
Chaos has ensued in the Obama administration as two nominees, Tom Daschle for HHS Secretary and Nancy Killefer for Chief Performance Officer, have been forced to withdraw themselves from consideration because of tax problems.
There is another tax cheat appointed to the Obama administration?
A Revolt against Pelosi by House Democrats
Report: Iran Launches Satellite
According to the BBC, Iran has apparently successfully launched a satellite into low Earth orbit. Iran claims that its satellite, called the Omid, launched on a Safir-2 rocket, was designed for peaceful research and telecommunications.
President Obama to Keep Rendition
Even though President Barack Obama has decided to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and has ended "harsh interrogation techniques," he has decided to retain and even expand another War on Terror program. It is called rendition and it is controversial.
Google Maps of Mars, the Oceans
Most people will never venture to the bottom of the ocean or the surface of Mars. But Google has created some new features to its popular Google Earth application that will allow people to visit the bottom of the ocean and Mars virtually.
Singularity University Founded by NASA, Google
Google and NASA have partnered to create a school called Singularity University. The school, to be headed by Ray Kurzweil, will prepare scientists and others to deal with the effects of technological change. Kurzweil will serve as Chancellor.

Monday, February 02, 2009

NASA and Google sre founding a school for futurists, headed by Ray Kurzweil, author of The Singularity is Near.
Apparently Fox got it wrong when it reported that Obama wanted a ten percent cut in the defense budget.
Tom Daschle Sorry for Tax "Errors"
Former Senator Tom Daschle is sorry about all the fuss he has caused about not paying his taxes. Tom Daschle has sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee saying so. Most think that will be sufficient to save Daschle's nomination as HHS Secretary.
Super Bowl Movie Trailers
Now that the Super Bowl is over, talk on Monday morning drifts over not so much to game play, but to the commercials. For movie lovers, four come to mind. These were commercials for Star Trek, Transformers 2,GI Joe, and Witch Mountain.
Obama Economic Stimulus Goes to Senate
The United States Senate is seriously divided on what the economic stimulus bill should look like. But US Senators are united on one point. The House version of the stimulus package is dead on arrival and will have to be seriously rewritten.
Taylor Dinerman has some advice for the next NASA administrator while Jeff Foust has some for space advocates.
I've heard the proposal before, but Chuck Norris points out that moving Gitmo to Alcatraz would be a good economic stimulus for California.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Threat Closer to Home by Douglas E. Schoen and Michael Rowan
Hugo Chavez is one of those reoccurring phenomenons in the third world, the dictator with personal as well as political issues. Such a tyrant can either be an irritant to a great power like the United States, or a grave problem.



Addendum: Sigh, it looks like Obama will meet with Chavez soon.
Obama Proposes Military Funding Cuts
According to Fox News, President Barack Obama has demanded that the Department of Defense cut its budget request for Fiscal Year 2010 by ten percent, about fifty five billion dollars. The brunt of the cuts will fall on weapons systems.
Michelle Malkin suggests that the Left's obsession with Rush Limbaugh will be their undoing.