Thursday, April 30, 2009

Joe Biden's Swine Flu Gaffe
Vice President Joe Biden hasn't been much in the news lately, which must be considered a blessing by most people in the Obama administration. But Joe Biden made up for lost time when he had the following advice for swine flu.
Moon base not abandoned?
State of Play Starring Russell Crowe
State of Play is a paint by numbers, formulaic political thriller that is elevated by fast paced direction and the delightful acting by Russell Crowe as a scruffy, paunchy, ink stained wretch of a newspaper reporter and Helen Mirran as his acerbic editor.
National Council for a New America to Be Formed by GOP
The Republican Party is forming something called the National Council for a New America in an effort to rebrand the GOP and to come up with Republican ideas on a variety of issues such as health care, the economy, and education.
Elizabeth Edwards to Publish Memoirs
Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Senator John Edwards, who was also twice a Presidential candidate and once a Vice Presidential candidate, has done what wives of famous, philandering husbands often do. She has written a book.

GradeGov.Com Lets You Grade the Poiticians
GradeGov.Com is the creation of a former Republican Secretary of the US Senate named Elizabeth Letchworth. It's a way for average Americans to let politicians know what they think of them, unfiltered by the media or Congressional staff.
Apparently Texas is now a foreign country duly recognized by the US State Department.
Jon Stewart thinks Harry Truman was a war criminal for bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Jon Stewart is an ignoramus.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chris Scolese demonstrates NASA's new sense of drift under Obama. No permanent Moon base?

Hope and change.

Addendeum: One cannot help but get the idea that the Obama administration is thinking about slow walking out of the whole exploration project. This year it'll be the Moon base. Next year, visiting asteroids. Then, soon, nothing left.
Barack Obama: The First Hundred Days
The first hundred days of a Presidency is really something people think about because of Franklin Roosevelt. His first hundred days were said to be filled with accomplishment, which it was, through not to the long term benefit of the nation.
Deadliest Warrior: Pirate Vs. Knight
The latest episode of Spike TV's Deadliest Warrior pitted a medieval knight against a 17th Century pirate. One would have thought that it would be no contest, since gun powder weapons ended the reign of medieval knights.
Oliver Stone to Direct Wall Street Sequel
Film director Oliver Stone has agreed to direct a sequel to his 1987 polemic against free market capitalism, Wall Street. Michael Douglas will reprise the role of the reptilian Gordon Gekko. Shia LaBeouf will play an ambitious young trader.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Apparently the Obama State Department has refused an Iranian offer to turn over a number of Al Qaeda operatives.
What are NASA and SpaceX cooking up?
Arlen Specter Switches Parties
Arlen Specter, senior Senator from Pennsylvania, has announced that he will switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party and will run as a Democrat in the 2010 election. The attitude of most Republicans is: Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
The LEO version of Orion is being reduced from six people to four. While on has no doubt this will cause a lot of jumping up and down, finger pointing, and shouting from the Internet Rocketeer Club, the decision does cut out not only mass, but a lot of extra analysis and tests. It also would tend to make a commercial crew to ISS option far more likely, IMHO.
Air Force One Buzzes Manhattan
Someone at the White House thought it would be a neat idea to fly one of the modified 747s that serve as Air Force One when the President is on board, escorted by F 16s, low over Manhattan, Monday morning for a "photo op."
Frank Luntz is going to expand his polling and research operation to Hollywood, which should be an interesting learning experience for all concerned.
He recalled being hired as a consultant on “West Wing” years ago -- and a writer asked him to describe “how Republicans mourn.”

“I’m a science experiment to them,” he said of Hollywood liberals. “I’m an animal in a zoo.”

And there is the problem with the current purveyors of popular culture in a nut shell.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Is the UN engaged in a space power grab ked by the French? If so, how to stop Obama from going along?
The Ayn Rand Resurgence
One of the more surprising figures in the current controversy over President Barack Obama's domestic tax and spending plans is a writer of Russian ancestry who has been dead for twenty seven years. Her name is Ayn Rand.
The Media Still Love Obama
The Barack Obama Presidency is still a work in progress and judgments on its policies and decisions will be argued about likely far into this century. Peter Bart, though, has already rendered one judgment in Variety, of all places.
The first hundred days of President John McCain.
Is it time to panic?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

NASA Watch has sparked a discussion of the latest and perhaps most horrifying NASA administrator rumor yet.
Give Me Back My legions is a Harry Turtledove straight historical novel about the Teutoborg disaster in which German barbarians anniliated three Roman legions, thus ensuring that the land between the Rhine and the Elbe would never become Roman.

There is a wonderful scene in the book which depicts a Roman officer arriving with a column of legionaries to a German village to collect taxes. "What are taxes?" the German village chief askes. When the exasperated Roman officer tries to explain, the German village chief responds, "Oh, I see. You have come to rob us."

It is upon such cultural misunderstandings that history is made.
Despite what some might suggest, NASA is feeling the lack of an administrator as budget time start rolling around.
NASA plans to roll out its Fiscal 2010 budget the first week in May, amid complaints that the White House staff is giving short shrift to the U.S. space program. The space agency is struggling to make ends meet during the difficult transition to the post-shuttle era.

Leading the charge is former Administrator Michael Griffin, who says the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has proposed cutting $3.5 billion from NASA's budget for developing next-generation human spacecraft during the coming four years. That is just about what the U.S. space agency intends to spend to get started on the vehicles it would need to return to the Moon, a policy the Obama administration endorsed in February.

The OMB push to cut funding from Constellation is an accouning decision and not an engineering one. It either demonstrates a complete ignorance of what it takes to build a vehicle capabale of taking people to the Moon or else an unconcern about it.

Lest it be said that we're picking on the Obama administration, the problem existed in the Bush admnistration as well.

More from Florida Today.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

GI Joe: Resolute - a First Look
GI Joe: Resolute is a series of ten webisodes now ready for viewing on the Adult Swim site. They are meant to be a bridge of sorts between the iconic 1980s cartoon series and the live action film to premier this summer.
The Other McCain does not like Bill Maher at all. Neither do I.
Star Trek as a paean to American imperialism? Some people would actually suggest that is a bad thing. Then there is this:
There was always a very close relationship between the American Dream — not to mention American imperialism — and Star Trek, with its liberal, secular, multiracial, technophiliac vision of the future. But the two seem almost to have mind-melded with the election of an optimistic, liberal, multiracial President with a Kenyan father and a white American mother (Star Trek featured the first interracial kiss on US television, sparking protests at the time) — and, who is himself something of a 1960s tribute act, with his JFK and Martin Luther King cadences. Suddenly, with Barack Obama at the helm, America looks like a brand that people can believe in again. Or at least root for at the movies.

But as we explained, Bush is Kirk and Obama is Picard.
Gore and Gingrich Debate Cap and Trade
No greater illustration of the yawning divide in the United States that exists over so-called climate change could be seen than the testimony before Congress between two very different environmentalists—Al Gore and Newt Gingrich.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Henry VIII Love Letter on Display
In honor of the five hundredth anniversary of the ascension of King Henry VIII to the throne of England, an exhibition called Henry VIII: Man and Monarch is showing at the British Library in London. At the center of the exhibit is a love letter to Anne Boleyn.
'Baby Shaker' Application Deleted from Apple Online Store
Apple had a 99 cent application called Baby Shaker that one could download to ones iPhone that would simulate a baby crying. If one were to shake one's iPhone hard enough, the virtual "baby" would stop crying and have two red Xs over its eyes.
Obama vs. Cheney on National Security
While President Barack Obama remains relatively popular, former Vice President Dick Cheney is considered unpopular by virtually every poll. So it would follow that most people would agree with Barack Obama on national security issues? Right?
Paul Spudis discusses lunar dust.
If this is true, some major changes are ahead for the Constellation program.
Lori Garver, former NASA Associate Administrator of Policy and Plans, and space policy adviser to Democratic politicians - who was expected to be named the new NASA Administrator earlier in the week according to sources - will lead a major content review of the Constellation Program, in an attempt to find a way forward to get the schedule “back” into the March, 2015 timeframe for the debut manned flight of Orion.

General Peter Worden, Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center (ARC), will also spearhead a NASA review, which is deemed to have “wide scope” - likely to include shuttle extension - while a main body “Blue Ribbon Panel” will work with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in Washington, possibly overseeing all of the studies.

Lori Garver as NASA administrator is not something I'm comfortable with, though one has to remember that this is a story. Still, if Pete Worden is doing a review, it's all to the good.

More from Jeff Foust.

Addendum: Cots-D gaining ground?
Shepherd Smith, the F-Bomb and Torture
Shepherd Smith, Fox News' popular news caster, is known for occasionally getting impassioned about issues in the news. This was no more evidence than on Wednesday on a segment on Fox's Strategy Room on the subject of the interrogation memos.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gillian Anderson as an evl scientist on Doctor Who? The mind boggles.
Happy Birthday, Will Shakespeare
Though Shakespeare's actual birthday is unknown, April 23rd, St. George's Day, is the traditional date that it is celebrated. That seems oddly appropriate for the English's language's greatest wordsmith and poet.
Must Janet Napolitano Go?
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano may be the first Obama cabinet secretary to have to resign in disgrace. So far it is only the House Republicans who are demanding that Secretary Napolitano go, but that is how it starts.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

South Park: Fatbeard, a Review
Fatbeard, South Park's most recent episode, was one of those South Park adventures ripped from the headlines. In this case, Cartman sees on TV that piracy is all the rage again in Somali and, being Cartman, would like to be in on it.
Well, this is interesting.
The statement that the study is not finished also raises questions about the validity of the (NSF) article that kicked off this whole situation

It suggests that NSF has been provided with an incomplete summary or portion of the Aerospace Corporation report that does not reflect its true conclusions.

As long as I have been observing the whole Ares vs EELV keruffle, I should have learned better than to have reached any conclusions based on an Internet press report. I herby retract them, for now, an suggest that Ares may after all be safe.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Film and Computer Games

Vin Diesel has had some difficulties getting the sequels to The Chronicles of Riddick greenlit. The latest news is scripts are ready and production is slated for next year. In the meantime, video game spinoffs of the Riddick saga are available.
Obama May Prosecute Bush Lawyers for Interrogation Advice
After deciding with solemn magnanimity to not prosecute CIA officers who did horrible things to Al Qaeda terrorists to extract information from them, President Barack Obama has now hinted that he might prosecute the lawyers who said they could do it.
Most Wanted Terrorist is Daniel Andreas San Diego
The FBI's most wanted terrorist is now Daniel Andreas San Diego, a vegan, a computer specialist, an animal rights activist, and alleged planter of bombs at various research facilities. San Diego is the first domestic terrorist on the list.
Rand Simberg weighs in on both the Aerospace Corp's EELV study an Mike Griffin's recent talk. Leaving aside the astonishing smear against Your Humble Servant, Rand makes the following observation.
I think that this report will hammer the final nail in the coffin of the Ares 1, particularly since it was produced at NASA request.

That may be true since we have opined much the same possibility. But, leaving aside the question of whether the Aerospace Corp's report is accurate (and one suspects that the last word on that has not been uttered) one wonders how that comes into reality in today's political climate.

Senate Bill Nelson has been able to veto a couple of Obama suggestions for NASA administrator. One can just imagine Nelson's reaction to a change in direction that would cause devestation in aerospace jobs in Florida. Nelson will be helped n his reaction by Shelby from Alabama. (Yes, Rand, I know. Politics going on in Washington. Very shocking, like sex going on in a brothel.)

Mind, there is a way to finess it. That would be to spend some stimlus money to start serious development of Ares V immediately. It will cost more money sooner, but perhaps might save more in the long run. And it'll bring forward the date of the return to the Moon.
Deadliest Warrior: Ninja vs. Spartan
Deadliest Warrior, now airing on the Spike Network, matches up warriors from desperate cultures and time periods to ascertain who would prevail in a one on one combat. The latest episode matched Ninja vs. Spartan.
Iran's photoshopped air force.
Barack Obama recieves a visitation of a ghost of a President past.
Happy Earth Day/Lenin's Birthday. There is a connection.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Former NASA Chief: Obama OMB Creating 'Potemkin Space Program'
Barack Obama's space policy has taken more twists and turns than a satellite in an eccentric orbit. If former NASA administrator Mike Griffin is correct, Obama's space stance is about to take another change in direction.

The more I think about it, the more I suspect that Obama's people are moving to the EELV option. For one thing, it has moved beyond just a few people ranting about it on the Internet to an actual study, commissioned by NASA ironically. One can see the Obama people telling themselves that they can save several billion by doing this. That several billion may go away from NASA and won't be used to pay for something useful like COTS-D. Whether those savings are real depends on whether the Aerospace Corporation's numbers are real.

The other question is whether Congress sits still for it. Senator Bill Nelson has already proven that he has the pull to veto nominees to NASA administrator. How is he going to feel about a change of direction that will lose jobs in Florida?
Edgar Mitchell: "We Are Not Alone'
Former Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, in a speech at the National Press Club on Monday, April 20th, claimed that extra terrestrial life exists and that various governments, including the United States, are covering it up.
Ron Howard defends Angels and Demons.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Former NASA administrator Mike Griffin suggests that the Obama OMB is secretly plotting to slash NASA funding.

Addendum: On the other hand, this certainly pours gasoline on the whole EELV vs Ares controversy.

Griffin's remarks are interesting:
“I’ve grown impatient with the argument that Orion and Ares I are not perfect, and should be supplanted with other designs,” he noted. “I don’t agree that there is a better approach for the money, but if there were, so what?

“Any proposed approach would need to be enormously better to justify wiping out four years worth of solid progress. Engineers do not deal with “perfect”. Your viewgraphs will always be better than my hardware.

“A fictional space program will always be faster, better, and cheaper than a real space program.

There is a point there, which will certainly be lost on the Internet Rocketeer Club. Nevertheless, one wonders if the Obaam people are planning to go with the EELV solution regardless of the arguments against it.

Addendum 2: More from Jeff Foust.

Addendum 3: Rand Simberg leaps the length of his chain and makes a weird accusation.
There’s a lot of good discussion in comments (in which Mark Whittington makes a fool of himself by ignorantly slandering people like Steve Isakowitz),

The problem is that I don't even mention Isakowitz, who in any case works for DOE. I stand by my position that the cuts being enacted by OMB are arbitary and based on political considerations. Rand, who very often engages in hyper charged rhetoric, should know better than to throw around loaded words like "libel."
If you get your history from Hollywood, you might not know thes facts.
Obama Porn
'The Lost Symbol,' Da Vinci Code Sequel, Announced
Dan Brown, the author of the massive, international best seller The Da Vinci Code, has announced that his next book, The Lost Symbol, will be published in September. Initial print run will be five million copies.
Harry Reid Declared Defeat in Iraq Two Years Ago Today
April 20th is the two year anniversary that a lot of people in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Read in particular, would as soon forget. Two years ago Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared the war in Iraq to be lost.
Jane Harman Caught on Tape Peddling Influence
Congresswoman Jane Harman has been recorded on an NSA wiretap bargaining with a suspected Israeli agent, promising to use her influence to have the Justice Department reduce espionage charges against two officials of AIPAC.
Barack Obama Explained by Star Trek
President Barack Obama's political legacy is still a work in progress, but his affect on popular culture seems to be assured. From an appearance in Spiderman, to a Robert Howard takeoff of "Barack the Barbarian", the President is having an impact.
Kathleen Martinez and the Search for Cleopatra's Tomb
Is the tomb of Cleopatra and Marc Antony about to be discovered? If the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and a young archeologist named Kathleen Martinez are correct, the greatest find since King Tut's Tomb is about to be unearthed.
A sub orbital COTS program. Presumably it would be called CSOTS.
J.G. Ballard RIP
First look of Russell Crowe as Robin Hood.
NASA Watch has posted some PDFs of yet another alternative lunar return architecture said to have been presented at NASA. It is interesting for what it does not reveal as for what it does. Who made the presentation, exactly to whom, and when? What is a "Delta V?" A host of other questions occur. To quote from the document:

Is concept viable?
Necessitates further study

More, surely, anon.

Addendum: More than one commenter sees a resemblance between the "reusable lunar lander" and the Eagle lunar vehicles from Space 1999.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Victor Davis Hanson answers the question why do they hate us?
A common form of blindness may soon be cured using embryonic stems cells.
Eric Golub compares Susan Boyle, who proves that beauty is not always skin deep to Janeane Garafalo who proves that ugiliness can go down to the marrow.
Maureen Dowd visits George Lucas at the Skywalker Ranch and finds him to be a little touched.
Lucas explained politely as I listened contritely. Anakin Skywalker is a promising young man who is turned to the dark side by an older politician and becomes Darth Vader. “George Bush is Darth Vader,” he said. “Cheney is the emperor.”

I was relieved. In “Star Wars” terms, Dick Cheney was more evil than Darth Vader. I hadn’t been hard enough on Vice!

Lucas was on his way to Europe and didn’t have time to elaborate in person. But he sent me this message confirming our conversation: “You know, Darth Vader is really a kid from the desert planet near Crawford, and the true evil of the universe is the emperor who pulls all the strings.”

Since Lucas has already suggested that Barack Obama is Luke Skywalker, that puts a whole new angle on the relationship of the two Presidents.

Of course I want to know, who is Han Solo in Lucas's imagined Star Wars allegory? I'm pretty sure, by the way, that Ronald Reagan is Yoda.
Obama Plays Hardball with Israel
If one believes this story in the Australian newspaper, The Age, the State of Israel may have a new security threat. Unfortunately he lives in the White House and is prepared to play hardball with Israel to extract concessions on the West Bank.
Antarctic ice appears to be expanding, not shrinking. Another inconvenient truth.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Janeane Garofalo: Tea Partiers Are Racist
Janeane Garofalo, currently playing a frumpish FBI computer analyst on the TV show 24, recently opined about the Tea Party protests on MSNBC. Janeane Garafalo did for Barack Obama what the President dare not do; play the race card.
Obama Greets Hugo Chavez Like an Old Friend
President Barack Obama, while attending the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, fulfilled one of his more ill considered campaign promises. Smiling, he shook hands with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Allahpundit was not amused.
Obama's EPA to Regulate 'Greenhouse Gasses'
Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency has taken the first step in regulating so called "greenhouse gasses" by declaring they are a danger to the public health and welfare and require regulation. The consequences to the American economy could be dire.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I'm not sure if this film is any good, but please note the acting debut of someone who is most famous in quite another venue.
William Bainbridge scourage of pirates. One wonders what he would think of his namesake ship and er exploits againt the pirates of the Horn of Africa.
There may be a very personal reason
Obama Releases Bush Era Interrogation Memos
President Barack Obama has released Bush administration memos detailing interrogation techniques used during the months after 9/11 to extract secrets from captured terrorists. Even though these techniques are no longer used, Obama has come under criticism.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Final Trailer Released
The final trailer for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is now up. For anyone who has read the book, the scenes, mostly depicted in appropriate dark lighting, are very familiar. It is in this part of the series that Harry's story turns dire indeed.

My personal favorite of these posters of likely never to be made films is, of course: Serenity: The Alliance Strikes Back.
This story from Malaysia, via Jim Oberg, suggest that Space X's Falcon 1 is having problems that are causing delays.

Now, I could get snarky about this, suggesting that maybe Falcon is unsustainable and ought to be replaced by a different architecture altogether, but then I'm not really qualified to make that kind of judgment. In any case, delays and budget overruns seems to be a feature of space flight development, whether in the entrepreneurial private sector or the bureaucratic public sector.

In any case, I refuse to get snarky because I'm a big fan of space flight efforts,
I suspect that even Governor Rick Perry is among the 75 percent of Texans who would prefer to remain in the Union, even if it is being misrun by Barack Obama. I certainly am in that number.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What a topsy turvy world we live in when a French President can call an American President weak and feckless with some conviction.
Houston Throws a Tea Party
The remarkable thing about the Houston Tea Party, one of hundreds that took place on April 15th, Tax Day, was the people. It was the nature of the people who showed up at Jones Plaza in downtown Houston that made it quite unlike anything seen before.
Janet Napolitano and the Rightwing Extremists
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has a problem, largely of her own making. An "intelligence report" on "rightwing extremism" has caused many people to label her "Big Sister" for the broad brush way it characterized millions of Americans.
Rather stating what is obvious, the Congressional Budget Office suggests that the Constellation program, all other things being equal, can either have a schedule slip or a big budget increase. This will no doubt be used by the Internet Rocketeer Club to use as ammo to either cancel the project or to insert the scheme de jour that will doubtlessly increase the schedule slip (which is what happens when one stops and starts all over) and perhaps even balloons the cost.

No word about commercial solutions, such as COTS-D, which might alleviate the situation.

A 25 percent increase in NASA's budget in four or so years is not exactly unprecedented. One doesn't even hav to go back to Apollo to find it. It happened during the first years of the Reagan Administration, doubling in fact by its end.
I thought that only George Bush was the one spying on US citizens. In the meantime, Big Sister Janet Napolitano is feeling some heat.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hurt Locker, about a bomb disposal expert in Iraq, apparently has no political agenda.
We attended the Houston Tea Party with several thousand of our fellow rightwing extremists. Lots of fun was had by all stoking the fires of unrest and revolution. Later we ate at a place called Cabos which, like probably a lot of other eateries in downtown Houston, had been taken over by the right wing conspiracy.

Much more anon.
Marc Cooper: Tax Day Tea Parties Are Insane
Marc Cooper, the director of Annenberg Digital News at the Annenberg School for Communication at USC, may not be sure that the people going to Tax Day Tea Parties are "rightwing extremists." Cooper is pretty sure they're insane.
Active Denial Systems to Fight Somali Pirates
Fox News has an article about certain, high tech "active denial systems" that could be used to repel Somali pirates. The idea is to have a way to fight the Somali pirates without dealing with the squeamishness some have about arming ships' crews.
On the Tea Parties, What Should Obama Do?
On April 15th, Tax Day, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Americans will gather in hundreds of venues across the United States at "Tea Party" protests against over taxing and over spending. What should President Obama do about it?
Apparently the Obama adminustration's reaction to the North Korean missile launch included appeasing Kim Jong Il.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates denied permission for the U.S. Northern Command to use the Pentagon's most powerful sea-based radar to monitor North Korea's recent missile launch, precluding officials from collecting finely detailed launch data or testing the radar in a real-time crisis, current and former defense officials said.

Why should he do such a thing?
One current and two former specialists in strategic defenses said the administration rejected the request because it feared that moving the huge floating radar system would be viewed by North Korea as provocative and upset diplomatic efforts aimed at restarting six-nation nuclear talks.

Those talks do not appear likely to resume any time soon.

But, really, why?

However, Obama administration civilian policymakers accepted North Korea's claim that the rocket spotted by intelligence satellites being fueled at North Korea's Musudan launch complex was a space launcher with a satellite, and not a missile, the official said. He spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing internal deliberations.

We are being led by fools.
Liberty Sun Wards off Somali Pirates
Somali pirates appeared to be trying to make good their threat against American shipping off the Horn of Africa when a group of them attacked the American flagged, American owned Liberty Sun. The attack, though, was unsuccessful.
A script review of the remake of Red Dawn is now out, based on version written in March. Apparently we're invaded by the godless Red Chinese this time. The new Wolverines are the same high schoolers, a little more modernized and ethnically diverse, led by an Iraq war vet in the Patrick Swayze role.

Mind, the story take place not, in say, 2050, but the day after tomorrow, so the scenario is a little implausible. Unless you think tht Barack Obama is really going to screw up in the next year or so.

Still, it's nice to see that the trend in Hollywood of accepting commies as heavies is continuing.
Tom Jones offers his six space policy musts on PJTV.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

As predicted, Node 3 did not become the Stephen Colbert Micro Gravity Water Closet. However, there will be a Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill or COLBERT. Someone at NASA PAO was on the ball this time.

Addendum: Video:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Space Module: Colbert - Sunita Williams
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest
Barack Obama the Movie
HBO has announced that it will produce a movie based on the 2008 campaign, featuring Barack Obama, Hilliary Clinton, John McCain, and Sarah Palin as characters. The film, to be called Game Change, will certainly have a point of view, if precedence is any guide.
DHS Warns Against 'Rightwing Extremism'
An intelligence report, compiled by the Department of Homeland Security, distributed to law enforcement agencies around the country, and leaked to the media seems to suggest that there is a growing terrorist threat by "right wing extremists."
Rick Perry of Texas Asserts 10th Amendment Rights
Governor Rick Perry of Texas has joined with state legislators to push for a resolution confirming the 10th Amendment rights of states such as Texas against the encroachment of federal government power.
William Hurt Added to Robin Hood Cast
William Hurt has joined the cast of Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, a film starring Russell Crowe as the medieval outlaw hero. William Hurt will play the Earl of Pembroke, William Marshal, one of the great warriors and statesmen of the 12th Century.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama Lifts Cuba Travel Restrictions
President Obama has lifted restrictions on some travel and money transfers to Cuba that were put in place by President George W. Bush. The decision has caused a decidedly mixed reaction in the Cuban American community and others.
Paul Krugman Disdains Tea Party Movement
As people from across the country gear up for the National Tax Day Tea Party 2009, Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize Laureate and New York Times columnist, is clearly not very happy. And, judging by his latest column, he is a little confused.
Donald Payne Escapes from Somalia with His Life
New Jersey Democrat Congressman Donald Payne departed from Mogadishu, Somalia, after a fact-finding trip to the area when his plane was fired upon by Islamist rebel mortars. Donald Payne was unharmed.
Obama and the Somali Pirate Hostage Crisis
Will the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips by a team of Navy SEAL snipers, authorized by President Barack Obama, help the President's political fortunes? That largely depends on President Obama.
Spike TV has greenlita show about the US Navy doing battle with Somali pirates.
Andrea Peyser wags her finger at Ron Howard.
Can the space community learn lessons from the scientists who successfully brought CERN into existence? Jeff Foust discusses how Stephen Colbert and his fans hijacked NASA's naming process for Node3. Talyor Dinerman looks at the Ares 1-X test.
Jeff Hanley discusses where Constellation stands as he sees it. My only comment is to predict that it will be denounced as a pack of lies from the usual suspects.
Vatican Rejects Caroline Kennedy as Obama's Ambassador
President Barack Obama attempted to provide a consolation prize to Caroline Kennedy for not being able to get herself appointed US Senator from New York. President Obama apparently desired to appoint Ms. Kennedy ambassador to the Holy See.
Captain Richard Phillips Freed by Navy SEALs
Let's give credit where credit is due. A team of Navy SEALs has rescued Captain Richard Phillips from the Somali pirates who were holding him, killing three of the pirates. The operation was approved by President Barack Obama.
Ronald Kessler looks upon the Bush legacy and sees that it is good.
Is John Holdren channeling H.G. Wells?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Captain Richard Phillips is now free. One pirate to face justice on Earth, the other three to face a more infernal justice. Kudos to the Navy SEALS.
Samson Obama Turned Away from the UK
Barack Obama the Elder has a lot to answer for in the next world. Besides siring a President of the United States, Mr. Obama of Kenya also produced another half brother to the President, Samson Obama, who was recently refused entry into the UK.
Was Obama's enthusiastic greeting by the troops in Iraq staged?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ralph Peters suggests a solution to the Somali pirate problem. Hang 'em High!
National Tax Day Tea Party Set for April 15th
April 15th, Tax Day, will also be the day for the first nationwide National Tax Day Tea Party, set to occur in at least six hundred locations. There have been a number of tea party protests across the country, but April 15th will be the first big event.
Clark Lindsey is quite wide of the mark when he says things like this: "NASA's biggest challenge is to lower the cost of spaceflight."

Well, sorry, but no. NASA's primary challenge is to do cutting edge science, technology, and exploration at whatever budget Congress and the President allows it to have. It is the challenge of private industry to figure out how to do things like that cheaper. NASA, like government in general, is capable of doing some things well, but very few things cheaply. That is just in the nature of it beng a government agency. To wish othewise is to wish or something that can never be.

Addendum: Rand Simberg makes the interesting assumption that the political climate of the next decade will be the same as the 1960s insofar as space goes.
Apollo succeeded because it did have huge bales of cash thrown at it, but it certainly wasn’t politically sustainable or affordable, any more than redoing it will be.

The question arises: Why has the space shuttle and space station programs, for all their faults, been sustainable and--apparently--affordable but all of the sudden VSE would not be? That doesn't compute, IMHO.
Obama's Foreign Policy Conundrums
Proof that the way things look like are often determined by where one is at, President Barack Obama requested an $83.4 billion dollar supplemental appropriation to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of 2009.
A libertariam group has suggested Jim Davidson as NASA administrator. I knew Jim back in the early 90s. Besides the rather regrettable Mir lottery scheme that fetched him a brief stint in the pokey, Jim once was involved in a seccession of a Houston Chapter of the National Space Society from the national organization. It was a bit of theater, with a picture of Jim and some others pretending to be the signers of the original Declaration of Independence and a document itself that had to be read to be believed. Mind, I am entirely sympathetic with the discontent that anyone felt toward NSS during the Lori Garver era. That era contributed to the current dysfunction space activism suffers from. Still, pretending to be the Thomas Jefferson of the space movement was just a little silly, IMHO.
Paul Spudis suggests that one problem with doing large space projects like the Vision for Space Exploration is that there are fewer aerospace companies around than during Apollo.
There were only two major bids to NASA in 2006 for the development of the new Orion spacecraft, the replacement for the Space Shuttle now under development. Contrast this with the 12 bids NASA considered for the Apollo spacecraft in 1961. The difference is not simply a consequence of corporations teaming with each other; joint proposals were common during the Apollo program. The difference is that there are few aerospace companies left. Many of the small high-technology companies and the highly skilled workforce that made up our industrial base during the Cold War are gone or have been absorbed into the body of Boeing-LockMart-Grumman.

The net effect of all this is less innovation and resourcefulness in the execution of space projects. As they age, the tendency is for organizations to continue to do business in a certain way because “that’s they way we’ve always done it.” Institutions become more risk averse and less enterprising with time. It’s no surprise to read headlines about new delays in the Orion CEV program and how our return to the Moon will take longer and cost more because we have come to expect that from our space program.

This insight suggests that those people who think that all we have to do is scrap Ares and substitute some magic architecture are missing the point. No matter how we try to get back to the moon, it is going to take longer and cost more than we hoped.

My hope that the rise of commercial space enterprises like SpaceX will serve to correct this situation and inject a little competiton and innovation back into aerospace. Getting a lunar base together could be a catalyst for such, even if the initial effort is slow and costly.
NASA will name Node3 on the April 14th edition of the Colbert Report. I somehow think that it will not be the Stephen Colbert Zero G Toilet.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Karl Rove and Joe Biden Having a Feud
Karl Rove, the former political advisor to President George W Bush and current Fox news analyst and Wall Street Journal columnist, and Vice President Joe Biden have gotten embroiled in a good, old fashioned Washington feud.
ASU: No Honorary Degree for Obama
When President Barack Obama gives the commencement address at Arizona State University, he will not get an honorary degree, as is sometimes the custom. It seems that ASU does not give out honorary degrees to people who haven't done anything.
More on John Holdren's Mad Scheme that Could Destroy the Earth
Dr. John Holdren, President Obama's science advisor, gave a somewhat rambling interview to AP recently in which he touched on everything from space cooperation with the Chinese to eliminating nuclear weapons. And there was this:

A trailer for Moon, in which Sam Rockwell plays a lonely helium 3 miner with issues.

Moon, a Movie Starring Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey, Coming Soon

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Obama's Somali Pirate Hostage Crisis is an 'Annoying Distraction'
The Somali pirate situation in which the pirates took and then lost an American cargo ship and then took her captain as a hostage is being described as an "annoying distraction" for President Barack Obama.
White House Denies Obama Bow to Saudi King
According to the Politico, an unnamed Obama aide is claiming that President Barack Obama did not actually bow to the Saudi King. But looking at the video, it seems to be a case if "Do you believe the White House or your lying eyes?"
Obama's Immigration Reform Gambit
According to the New York Times, President Barack Obama is planning to revive immigration reform, a proposal that rocked the Bush administration with controversy when it tried to pass it. In broad outlines, the Obama proposal looks very familiar.
Brown Fat Tied to Weight Loss
A recent discovery of brown adipose material or "brown fat" in adults may lead to a new way to fight obesity. Until recently it was thought that brown fat was present only in infants and disappeared when a person became an adult.
South Park: Fish Sticks a Review
South Park's latest episode, Fish Sticks, was a bizarre riff on late night comedy, the nature of humor, Carlos Mencia, and Kayne West. It seems to have its origins in Akira Kurosawa, American gangster films, with a dash of theater of the absurd.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

When Jhn Holdern, Barack Obama's mad science advisor, was not musing on the possibiliy of terraforming the Earthto fix a problem that doesn't exists, he seems to be musing on delaying Orion, riding to ISS with the Chinese, and no nukes.
Biden has warnedIsrael not to mess with those poor, inoffensive Mullahs. Is this anoher example of America showing arrogance?
Pew Poll: Obama Most Polarizing President Ever
One of the arguments advanced in favor of electing Barack Obama President was that Obama, as President, would unite the country that had become so divided by George W. Bush. According to a recent Pew study, President Obama has failed utterly in that task.

Addendum: More from Karl Rove.
'Spray on Viagra' Passes First Human Trials
The latest innovation in sexual pharmaceuticals is something that people are calling "spray on Viagra." Apparently the PSD502 spray treats premature ejaculation and causes men to last six times longer during sexual intercourse.
NASA's Secret Rebels Want Obama on Their Side
Sure. Obama, along with everything else, is an excellent judge of rocket designs.
Somali Pirates Seize American Ship on the High Seas
The Somali pirates have seized an American cargo ship, the 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama, which has an all American crew. This hijacking would seem to be yet another foreign test for President Barack Obama. The question is how will he respond?

Addendum: A radio report indicates that the crew of the Maersk Alabama has retaken the ship, tossed three of the pirates overboard, and has taken a fourth into custody. If so, it looks like Obama is off the hook.

Addendum 2: Another report suggests a standoff between the crew and the pirates.
Barney Frank Gets Caustic with Joel Pollak Over Subprime Question
Harvard should have been the last place that Congressman Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, to have been challenged for his role in the subprime mortgage crisis. But Joel Pollak, a Harvard Law student, had other ideas.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Barack Obama in Iraq Channels George W. Bush
President Barack Obama traveled to Iraq from Turkey in a "surprise visit" that was speculated would happen, since Obama was "in the neighborhood." To hear Obama talk, one would have thought that George W. Bush had taken over his body.
Hollywood is refusing to make movies about heroic Americans in Iraq. No problem. The Battle of Fallujah, one of the Marine Corps finest hours, is coming in game form.
The "Excuse Me" Prez
The GM Segway PUMA is Rolled Out
If one were to take a rickshaw, get rid of the person who would pull it, add a lithium ion battery and an electric motor, and gussy it up a little to make it look high tech, one might come up with something like the GM Segway PUMA.
Obama to Slash Military Spending
President Barack Obama has been accused of being a profligate spender when it comes to priorities that he cares about. But there seems to be one area in which Obama means to be stingy. That is in national defense. There is already push back occurring.
The Kutner Memorial
The latest example of TV shows using fake web sites as a tie in is the Kutner Memorial, eulogizing the sudden gunshot death of Lawrence Kutner, a doctor character in the hit medical mystery TV show House M.D.
'Barack the Barbarian' Comic Book Coming Soon
Apparently inspired by Barack Obama's appearance in an issue of Spiderman, as well as the Conan stories, a company called Devils Due Publishing is about the launch a new line of comic books featuring Barack the Barbarian.
Barack the Barbarian? The mind boggles.
And on again off again project about the Special Forces commandos who helped to conquer Afghanistan on horseback is apparently one again and is now called Horse Soldiers.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Apparently there is not just one by two Michael Chrichton novels in the pipeline. They are an unnamed technothriller, and a pirate epic.

George W. Bush is very popular here in Texas.
Is the drive to extend the life of the shuttle threatening Constellation?
Rather bad timeing. The day after the North Koran missile launch, the Obama administration announced defense cuts, including cancelling an increase of the ABM system in Alaska as well as the airborne laser prototype.

Senators from both sides of the aisle oppose.
Looks like Russia is building its own version of Orion. And thus the new space race may be joined by a new/old player.
OBama Baklava
There seems to be something about President Obama and food. First there was Obama Sushi, then Obama Chicken fingers and Obama Fried Chicken. Now, as Barack Obama heads to Turkey, a team of bakers has created Obama Baklava.
Wounded Warrior Project Has a New Executive Director
15 years ago, Steven Nardizzi's desire to help wounded veterans started as a "temporary" job as a means of paying for law school. Now the "temporary" job has become permanent as Steven Nardizzi is the new Executive Director of the Wounded Warrior Project.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

How the Vision fo Space Exploration is doing largely depends on who is doing the talking. Florida Today recently related the official NASA line that while there are problems, things are pretty much on track. Jim Muncy provides a apocalyptic view of where things stand.

Of course NASA has a history of being a little optimistic where cost overruns and such are concerned. The history of the space station provides a clue. On the other hand, Muncy has a tendency to wax wroth, such as when he boasted that the first person back to the Moon would be a person flying for a private firm.

Who is closer to the truth? That will largely depend on developments that NASA has no control of and Jim Muncy has no way of predicting. So, stay tuned.
Barack Obama and American "Arrogance"
President Barack Obama delivered a speech in Strasbourg, France, in which he accused the United States (of which, by the way, Obama is the President of) of showing arrogance. It was a display of craven obsequiousness to Europeans.
The North Korean Missile Launch and Obama's Impotent Response
North Korea, true to its threat, launched a Taepodong-2 missile that flew over Japan and landed in pieces in the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. The launch was roundly condemned by world leaders, but little if anything is planned in response.
Obama in Prague Promises 'No Nukes'
President Barack Obama, in a speech to twenty thousand people in Prague at Hradcany Square, next to Prague Castle laid out a vision of a world without nuclear weapons. One wonders if he has consulted the leaders of North Korea and Iran.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Barack Obama, Pitchforks, and Tea Parties
During a recent meeting between President Barack Obama and the CEOs of the most powerful financial institutions in the country, political hardball was on full display. In fact, it can be safely said that a naked threat was issued.
Tom Braden, Eight is Enough Author, Dies at 92
The one thing one can say about Tom Braden, who recently passed away at the age of 92, is that he lived a full and eventful life. He was a journalist, soldier, spy, and the author of the iconic memoir, Eight is Enough, that became a hit TV series.
Is Obama trying to seize control of the Internet and repeal the 4th Amendment all in one go?

Trailer for Stargate Universe
Barack Obama parsed by the Guardian.
Helping the blind to see

Friday, April 03, 2009

Obama Fried Chicken
A restaurant called Obama Fried Chicken and Pizza located on St. Nicolas Street in Harlem is causing an uproar in New York City. It is one of several eateries in New York using the Obama name to sell fast food.
Obama Bows to the Saudi King
President Barack Obama has stirred yet another controversy when he appeared to bow to the King of Saudi Arabia during the recent G20 Economic Summit. The appropriateness of an elected President bowing before an absolute monarch has been questioned.
Obama in France: the Problems of Leadership in the Post Bush Era
Having failed to get much support for stimulus spending at the G20 Summit in London, President Barack Obama has moved on to the NATO Summit in Strasbourg, France, where he will fail to get much cooperation in Afghanistan.
Has the Recovery Started Without Obama?
Has a change in accounting rules helped the economy turn the corner, even before the Obama budget has passed and the Obama stimulus package takes hold? Barack Obama may well be faced with a recovery that he had nothing to do with.
Iowa Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on Same Sex Marriage
The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that Iowa's ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional. For anyone who has no problem with same sex marriage but considerable problems with judicial activism, the ruling is very troubling.
Japan is considering joining the race to the Moon.
Japan hopes to have a two-legged robot walk on the moon by around 2020, with a joint mission involving astronauts and robots to follow, according to a plan laid out Friday by a government group.

Specifics of the plan, including what new technologies will be required and the size of the project's budget, are to be decided within the next two years, according to Japan's Strategic Headquarters for Space Development, a Cabinet-level working group.
Will tooth cavities soon be a thing of the past?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Is Atlas Shrugged: The Movie about to become a reality? The book it having a revival and it certainly would be a balm for the Age of Obama.
Barack Obama's Search for a NASA Administrator, Part Two
President Barack Obama's quest for a NASA administrator has narrowed down to two people. One is the previously mentioned retired General Charles Bolden, a favorite of Senator Bill Nelson. The other is former Congressman Nick Lampson.
Michelle Obama Touches the Queen of England
President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama were presented to Queen Elizabeth of England during the Obamas' trip to the G20 summit. The meeting, despite some reaction in the media, went fairly well.
Flights from Hell: Horror Stories from 30,000 Feet
Air travel, especially in the current era of enhanced security and the habit of airlines of save money by cutting corners on service, can be something akin to a trip through Hell. The Flights from Hell website provides a way to vent.
Paul Spudis asks, Moon or moon. I always fancied Luna Nostra, for "Our Moon."
Life on Mars Finale Ends with a Twist
Life on Mars, an American version of a British TV series about a 21st century cop who may or may not have found himself in the 1970s, aired its series finale last night. The American Life on Mars chose a twist not seen in the British version.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Obama Car Policy Raises Doubts
The Obama administration is wasting no time altering the way both GM and Chrysler does business, even down to determining what kinds of cars they will manufacture. The moves have at least one lawmaker wondering where they have the legal authority.
Ashley Biden Video Causes Controversy
The video in which Ashley Biden, the daughter of Vice President Joe Biden, is alleged to have snorted cocaine remains the topic of conversation in the media, even though some in the conservative media are reticent about touching it.
Charges Dropped Against Ted Stevens
Former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, who lost his bid for reelection due to a number of felony convictions, now finds that the Justice Department has moved to drop all charges and not defend the convictions on appeal due to prosecutorial misconduct.
The story is going to be revealed in the next several days and, as far as I know, has not been embargoed. I’ve checked it out, so I’m pretty certain that it’s on the level.

It seems that the schedule for the development of the Orion/Ares space craft has not been what has been generally reported. In fact it appears that Orion will be flying much sooner than people outside the industry have been led to believe. In fact the first crewed flight of the Orion is scheduled for early 2011, with regular ISS visits slated to start in 2012. The first Moon landing will be in 2016.

The story goes back to the time when the Bush administration first announced the Vision for Space Exploration. There was concern, at the time, that the announcement would spur the Chinese to redouble their space efforts and attempt to beat the United States back to the Moon. Bush political advisors were certain that the Congress would not fund the huge sums necessary to conduct a 1960s style space race. So the Bush administration hit upon what eventually came to be called, in Bush circles, Operation Internet Rocketeer.

The idea was to leak out disinformation to the effect that the Orion and Ares were having more development problems than were actually the case. In order to avoid questions from some members of the Congress, a private ad firm named Cooper, Stewart, and Draper was retained to conduct the disinformation campaign.

The campaign started by having people posing as NASA or industry insiders post under anonymous or phony names to certain space websites “information” to the effect that Orion and or Ares were having technical and management problems to such an extent that the validity of the entire project would be called into question. It was anticipated that certain credulous bloggers and space reporters would take the story and run with it.

In order to further create the impression that the project was in disarray, an entirely fabricated “alternative plan” called “Direct” was concocted in the offices of Cooper, Stewart, and Draper with the help of unnamed NASA engineers. Other operatives working in Operation Internet Rocketeer would tout the EELV as the “obvious” solution. Every few months, the rumor would be spread to the effect that the entire Orion/Ares project was on the verge of collapse. Credible sounding stories about “thrust oscillation” and weight problems were spread.

Operation Internet Rocketeer succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the people who created it. Quite a number of people in cyberspace actually believed the stories. At least one main stream media outlet picked it up,

More importantly the Chinese seem to have bought it and subsequently slowed down their space effort.

Then came the change in administrations. Having found out about Operation Internet Rocketeer, the Obama people were appalled. It is not that the Obama administration is above lying to the American people or even, on occasion, America’s enemies. Obama, it seems, wants to open up space cooperation with China, a task made far more difficult by the coming revelation of Operation Internet Rocketeer. In fact, the famous public argument between former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin and Lori Garver was sparked, in part, by a disagreement over cooperation with the Chinese.

Thus, Operation Internet Rocketeer and the new China cooperation effort will be announced after President Obama returns from Europe, likely when Bill Nelson is officially named the new NASA Administrator.