Sunday, June 28, 2009

We're off for a week's vacation at an undisclosed location (more of that perhaps anon) and though we are taking a laptop, blogging may be spotty at best. But no to worry, as the great dramatist named Arnold was want to say, I'll be back.
In which I celebrate one of my favorite shows on the Food Network, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives
Restaurant review shows on the Food Network come in two types. There's the typical one where a host such as Gaida de Laurtentis will visit a five star restaurant and coo over tiny portions of elf food. Then there is Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.
I'm not sure about the abortion drama, but a one man play about Reagan would be great, if only the author can find a director who s not too much of a liberal fascist to put it on.

Addendum: Apparently the director has been found for the Reagan play, the same one who did 1776, not surprisingly.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Virtuality TV Movie Premiers on Fox
Virtuality, the TV movie that may or may not be the pilot for a series, premiered on Fox on Friday. It is the creation of Ron Moore, who pioneered the depiction of extreme stress in space on his reimagined Battlestar Galactica series.
Oliver Stone -- Reagan a "Dumb Son of a B----"
Oliver Stone, the director of such classics as JFK and Platoon, was on the Bill Maher HBO show this past Friday. Bill Maher, the sneering host, inquired of Oliver Stone, who has done films about JFK, Nixon, and the younger Bush, why not a film about Reagan.
Cap and Trade Vote Results in Passage of Huge Tax Increase
The House took a vote on Cap and Trade legislation on Friday and passed it by 219 to 212. Cap and Trade and how the House passed it, illustrates, as few other things have, what is wrong with the political system in the United States.
A blog calling itself "Vision Restoriation" has some questions it would like to pose to the Augustine Commission. But the first question made me roll my eyes and wonder whether the blog ought to have been named "Vision Gutting."
The current Constellation transportation architecture seeks to send 4 astronauts to the Moon's surface per mission. However, there is no requirement in the Vision for Exploration or Aldridge Commission documents for this number. Two astronauts would be enough to provide backup in case of injury. Including 4 astronauts instead of 2 per mission has the obvious benefit of larger crew, but it tends to drive up development cost, per-mission operations cost, and development risk. It also tends to reduce mass for equipment and engineering safety margins, and tends to extend development schedules. Increased development and mission costs reduce the funding available for other critical areas of the Vision for Space Exploration, such as technology development, innovation prizes, partnerships with commercial space, and robotic precursor missions to the Moon.

Why was a 4-astronaut mission requirement added?

Keeping in mind the goals of this committee to develop ISS transportation sooner, fit human space flight within the budget, investigate human spaceflight R&D and robotic precursor needs, and extend ISS beyond 2016, how would you adjust the transportation architecture if the per-mission requirement was relaxed to 2 astronauts?

One hardly knows where to begin. Shrinking the crew to two roughly halves what one can do on the Moon for not, I would think, a lot of savings. And let's just imagine the reaction of the Vision's stakeholders, including Congress, the scientific community, and the new space entrepeneurs.

On the other hand, maybe we can shrink the crew to zero, make a movie about returning to the Moon, and save some real money. And people wonder why I can't take these internet rocketeers seriously.

Addendum: Jon Goff gets snarky at the very idea of my questioning the proposal to shrink the lunar program. He also only takes into account two factors (the mass of the lunar vehicles) into calculations of cost, ignoring all other factors. For instance, he might want to compare the cost of operating a two person system as opposed to a four. The first is not one half of the other.

And if Jon thinks that shrinking the mission to two people will just allow us to stick Orion light and Altair lighter on a couple of EELVs without massive modifications, he as not really thought the thing through.

And that's not even taking into account the consequences to political support for the program by suddenly shrinking it's scale and capability. But them that might be Jon's true agenda, to kill the Vision for Exploration by strangulation rather than by shooting it all at once.

Or perhaps Jon really thinks that you have to throttle VSE in order to save it. Either way, it's very sad.
John Scalzi - SciFi Movies Made Money Before Star Wars, Too
John Birmingham asks the burning question: who should run Star Fleet, the Air Force (as in Stargate) or the Navy? (Hint, it's not called "Star Air Force.")

Friday, June 26, 2009

God knows why Ayn Rand was a Charlies Angels fan, but still Farah Fawcett as Dagney Taggart would have been interesting.
Cap and Trade has passed the House narrowly. Conventional wisdom is that it dies in the Senate.
A shield against earthquakes
Barack Obama: African Colonial
Barack Obama is nothing more than an old school African Colonial who is on his way to turning this country into one of the developing nations that you learn about on the National Geographic Channel.
Michael Jackson is Dead
Michael Jackson is dead. Considering the self styled King of Pop's numerous health complaints, it is a wonder that it took this long to happen. Michael Jackson's career may have been a triumph, but his life was pure tragedy.
'Burn Notice,' Season Three, Episode Four: 'Fearless Leader'
Burn Notice Season Three Episode Four Fearless Leader starts out with the premise that doing unofficial mercenary work is rather difficult when an obsessed detective is following one's every move. What is a burned spy to do?
'Royal Pains,' Episode Four, 'TB or Not TB'
Royal Pains Episode Four Tb or Not TB finds Dr. Hank in a melancholy mood. His ex wedding day is coming up, which is made worse by the fact that his brother Evan is so desperate to want to cheer him up.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It seems that Iranian TV is showing a Lord of the Rings marathon to keep people at home and off the streets. The problem is that the regime may not realize the films' politica subtext or that Sauron and Saruman are Ahmadinejad and Khamenei.

Addendum: Stacy Bartley says I've got it backwards. Perhaps, but then I'd liketo point out who has the white beard and who has the baleful stare.
The True Cost of Cap and Trade
Democrat supporters of cap and trade legislation are touting a Congressional Budget Office estimate that it would cost an average family only $175 a year by 2020. But as the Wall Street Journal points out, that number is only the beginning.
Jeff Foust reports that the Senate appropriators have not followed the House in cutting exploration. Less clear is the fate of the Centennial Challenges.
Paul Spudis, musing on the first meeting of the Second Augustine Commission, asks and then answers the question why are we going back to the Moon?
This zone is where all our commercial and national strategic assets reside. Rather than building custom spacecraft, launching them on an expendable rockets, using them for a few years and then abandoning them in place, we would be able to create maintainable and extensible space systems. Spacecraft can be refueled in orbit instead of launched whole cloth from Earth. The VSE asks NASA to find and use what’s out there to create a wholly new, sustainable spacefaring capability.

This is our “mission” on the Moon: learn the skills and develop the technologies needed to live and work productively on another world. Creating a space transportation infrastructure is akin to building the first transcontinental railroad; it will open up the frontier of cislunar space. And a system that can access cislunar space will take us to the planets.

NASA’s task is to probe beyond low Earth orbit—opening the space frontier for sustained exploration. The agency’s job is not to industrialize the Moon, but to answer the question, “Can the Moon be industrialized?” This new direction is far removed from the geopolitically driven Apollo template of “flags and footprints.” The multinational fleet of probes scouting the Moon is testament to mankind’s boundless curiosity and a timely reminder that those who explore, excel.

My onlyu caveat is that building that infrastructure, the trans continental railraod to the Moon, is not NASA's mission. NASA is a government agency and is no more suited to build tranportation infrastructure than it is, as Spudis points out, to industrilize the Moon. That job rests with the private sector, supported and enabled by NASA.
Does Enceladus Have an Ocean?
One of the more exciting placing in the Solar System seems to be a hitherto obscure moon of Saturn called Enceladus. Enceladus was found to emit a huge geyser of water and ice from its south pole by the Cassini space probe a few years ago.
Obama utters a gaffe about his health care plan
Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist and researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said that elites often propose health care solutions that limit options for the general public, secure in the knowledge that if they or their loves ones get sick, they will be able to afford the best care available, even if it’s not provided by insurance.

Devinsky asked the president pointedly if he would be willing to promise that he wouldn’t seek such extraordinary help for his wife or daughters if they became sick and the public plan he’s proposing limited the tests or treatment they can get.

The president refused to make such a pledge, though he allowed that if “it’s my family member, if it’s my wife, if it’s my children, if it’s my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care.["]
Buzz Aldrin has some entertaining ideas about what direction the US space program should go.

In a nut shell:

Extend the shuttle.

Scrap Ares 1.

Put Orion on an EELV.

Boost spending for COTS to get a manned Dragon operational.

Do something similar to Direct that Buzz calls Ares III.

Cede the Moon to an "International Consortium."

Head for Mars as fast as possible.

There is much of the Aldrin Plan that is debatable, not the least of which is the near term focus on Mars. It has the danger of turning into another flags and footsteps effort that will die out quickly as people tire of the expense. IMHO, the Moon needs to be the near term focus. It's closer and has a better potential for economic development. A secondary destination would be Earth approaching asteroids for much the same reasons.

I like pouring more money into COTS, for the obvious reasons of encouraging commercial development, But Buzz's change of launch architecture is, at best, debatable. He does not give a compelling case for doing so.

Interesting enough, the Aldrin Plan, for all of its flaws, has not gotten the usual snark that one would have expected from Rand Simberg, the Bill Maher of the Internet Rocketeers. I would have thought that Rand would have excoriated Aldrin for wanting to go to Mars and extend the shuttle. But, since he also wants to scrap Ares 1, Rand seems to approve, at least with his silence.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Oh my. The new Transformers movie seems to depict Obama as a Decepticon Appeaser.
The President's man, "Galloway," is a bespectacled blowhard who becomes an obstacle to our brave fighting men and their alliance with the noble Autobots. Operating specifically under presidential authority, he makes all kinds of mischief. He says the President wants to try "diplomacy" against the evil Decepticons and hints the President would consider handing over Shia LaBouf's character to be killed by them. He eventually is ditched by the fighting men (tricked into parachuting out the back of a transport)...In this movie, exactly one real-life politician is named: "President Obama." They went out of their way to make sure they named the craven, obstructionist president as Obama."

Addendum: More on Transformers 2 Villain -- Barack Obama
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen is an action-packed sequel to the 2007 film, once again staring Shia LaBouf as a young man caught in a battle between two armies of giant robots. But Transformers 2 seems to have a new villain— President Barack Obama.
North Korea Threatens United States
The North Korean government has threatened to "wipe out" the United States. This occurs as a North Korean ship is suspected of conveying forbidden weapons materials to Myanmar and is also reported to be ready to launch a missile toward Hawaii.
South Carolina's Mark Sanford Admit to Adultery
Political sex scandals have been a staple of American politics since America's founding. But the story of South Carolina Mark Sanford and his clandestine trip to Argentina to meet an Internet girlfriend has to be one of the most bizarre in history.
Buzz Aldrin Raps About Space Exploration
Since Buzz Aldrin came back from the Moon, close to forty years ago, he has dabbled in the arts. Buzz Aldrin has been an actor in several TV shows and movies, playing himself. He is the co-author of two novels. Now Buzz Aldrin is a rapper.
Massacre in Tehran
Frank Sietzen hits the nail on the head about what may follow the recommendations of the Second Augustine Commission.
If Augustine’s review confirms NASA’s current course, the challenge will be for the critics to close ranks and cease their sniping. But if the panel recommends replacement with another launch system, a more complex problem awaits.

Of course the surface of Venus will freeze over before the sniping will stop. But Sietzen is quite right about what will follow a recommendation to scrap Ares. It will be a vote of no confidence in NASA and the entire aerospace contractor community. And if one has no confidence in them, the logical thing to do would be to get rid of the lot of them.

One suspects that the folks on the Augustine Commission, not being fools, will consider that implication in their proceedings.
Will Cap and Trade Start a Trade War?
The principle argument against cap and trade, legislation said to be designed to cut the production of green house gasses, is that it would have the effect of a huge tax increase on Americans. But that appears to be just the beginning.
Bruce Bueno De Mesquita on Iran
Back in February, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, a professor of political science at New York University and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, made some interesting predictions about Iran that, in the light of recent events, bear examining.
James Hanson, the notorious NASA climate scientist and environmental hysteric, has has been arrested in a protest against mountain top coal mining.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jay Barbee suggests that Barack Obama has a JFK type decision to make on the Moon program. I think he's a little wide of the mark. JFK is taking his ease now in Crawford. Obama is more in the position of Lyndon Johnson, who blew a chance to build on Apollo, or Richard Nixon, who also blew the chance. Will Obama repeat those mistakes? Stay tuned.
A review of The Stoning of Soraya M. Very topical as you will discover.
Reza Cyrus Pahlavi Speaks Out on Iran
Reza Cyrus Pahlavi is the son of the late Shah of Iran, driven from power in the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Reza Cyrus Pahlavi is also a passionate advocate for freedom in Iran, as he demonstrated at a National Press Club speech recently.
Obama Press Conference on Iran, Health Care, Other Issues
President Barack Obama had a press conference in which he offered stronger language, albeit in a measured tone, on Iran than he has had previously. But then, in some of the answers to questions, President Obama temporized a little.
Rand Simberg screams and leaps again at my analysis of what some people expect to come out of the Second Augustine Commission, repeating some of the standard conspiracy theories concerning Ares and its alternatives. He seems to suggest (though likely, being Rand, he will deny it in retrospect) that Augustine could actually report that Ares is still the best alternative but it will ultimately fail anyway. It's a fascinating idea, suggesting as it does that not only is NASA filled with incompetents and crooks, but possibly the Augustine Commission as well.

Addendum: The Second Augustine Commission exists not because anyone thinks that Ares 1 is "in trouble" but because Barack Obama wants to put his own stamp on a Republican program, the Vision for Space Exploratin. It may have the happy effect of resolving once and for all the question of architecture, though I suspect that no matter what there will be die hards who will grouse on the Internet until the end o time. The one thing to watch is what the Obama people do with the recommendations of Augustine 2.0. They are under no obligation to actually accept them in whole or in part and could well go another way. Remember the Clinton era space station commission. They had three options and the Clinton people wound up choosing neither of them.
Neda Agha Soltan Learned Music in Secret
The tragedy of Neda Agha Soltan, a young woman gunned down in the streets of Tehran by a pro regime thug, continues to inspire awe and sorrow. The New York Times, of all things, mentioned something that goes beyond even all that.
Some of the apologists for President Obama's passive reaction to the uprising in Iran actually think that any forthright stance would just make things worse. John Avalon disagrees and has 5 High-Tech Ways Obama Can Talk to Iran and help the protestors.
Forget Ares, Direct, EELV, Shuttle C, and all o those other whimpy chemical boosters. This nuclear DC-X heavy lifter is clearly the way to go.
John Birmingham gives the Iranian Mullahs Hell.
LRO has entered lunar orbit.
Addendum: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in Lunar Orbit
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has arrived in orbit around the Moon. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched from the Kennedy Space Center on June 18th as the latest unmanned space probe to examine the lunar surface.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sarkozy: Burqas Not Welcome in France
The president of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, has said something that no French President has ever said before and no American President would dare say. He has denounced the wearing of the burqa as incompatible with human rights.
A lot of people are confidently predicting the death of Ares 1 just becaus the Second Augustine Commission exists. Rob Coppinger begs to disagree.
Analysis: Foreign Policy and Tension in Iran
There are roughly two possible outcomes to the present uprising in Iran. Either the protestors will succeed and the current regime will be overthrown or the regime will manage to crush the rebellion. Either outcome has profound implications for American foreign policy.
Analysis: Social Policy, Politics and Tension in Iran
The central fact of Iran, and the key to understanding the turmoil now rocking that country, is that roughly sixty percent of the population consists of young people, according to a recent article in Haaretz, who were not alive during the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
Jeff Foust was at the first public meeting of the Second Augustine Commission and reports on Constellation and its challengers. Jeff Foust also reports on launchng a space port in New Mexico. Taylor Dinerman asks, why is it so hard to get back to the Moon?
Iran's Neda Agha Soltan, Martyr of Her Country
The Iranian woman who was shot by a Basij thug during a protest rally in Terhan a couple of days ago has been identified as Neda Agha Soltan, identified as a twenty seven year old philosophy student.
ABC Impact Mini Series Fails to Impress
ABC has apparently decided to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Moon landing with a miniseries about the Moon hurtling down from its orbit to smack itself into Earth, killing us all. The results are somewhat less than impressive.
True Blood Season 2, Episode 2: Keep This Party Going
True Blood Season 2 Episode 2 Keep This Party Going started with Sookie and Bill in bed, enjoying the afterglow, Jason enjoying the company of fellow vampire hating religious fruitcakes, and Lafayette not enjoying anything at all.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Barack Obama appears (sort of ) in the new Transformers movie.

As what? A Deceptacon?

Of course if this were really the case, President Obama would be trying to figure out what the diplomatic solution is.
Neda, Iranian Woman Shot Video Seen Around the World
A copy of a video, apparently of a young Iranian woman named Neda, dying of a gunshot wound inflicted by Iranian security forces is circulating on the Internet, both of the mainstream and new media. It has become a rallying cry both inside and outside of Iran.

Addendum Her name was Neda Agha Soltan.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Where is Reagan when we really need him?
JibJab Does 'He's Barack Obama'
JibJab, those purveyors of satirical animated videos, have done it again with a (sort of) tribute video in honor (sort of) Barack Obama. He's Barack Obama catches the zeitgeist of Obama as savior of us all neatly.
Obama's war on science.
Is the Obama Agenda about to collapse? After hubris, Nemesis.
Clark Lindsey has an interesting idea regarding the EELV alterantive for launching Orion.
A cynical person might suspect, of course, that ULA is following standard aerospace procedure and under-estimating the development time to get the contract with the expectation that they will get paid anyway even if they are years late. The obvious way to call their bluff, if that's what it is, would be to contract them on a fix-price, milestone payment arrangement just like the COTS projects. If ULA doesn't meet their goals within a reasonable tolerance, they don't get paid.

The big problem with this is that, unlike COTS, ULA would not have any control over the payload (i.e. the Orion) There would have to be some coordination between the people designing Orion, the ULA EELV team, and the Ares 1 people. More complications, one can predict, and more unanticipated costs.

In any case, I suspect that should such a proposal be made, the people touting an EELV as the solution will very quickly make the estimates about the cost of an EELV derived launcher more conservative (i.e. more realistic.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Apparently they're all grown up and are out for cackling, black hat wearing, child eating blood.
USS John McCain Deployed to Intercept North Korean Arms Ship
More evidence that relations with North Korea are heating up was illustrated by the deployment of the destroyer USS John McCain to intercept and possibly board a North Korean flagged ship suspected of carrying forbidden arms and/or weapons materials.
Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney discuss the new blacklist.
The following is reprinted with permission:
This Father's Day Consider the Power of Legacy

By Doug Stanton

Author of Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan

Horse Soldiers is the untold story of a victory won by U.S. Special Forces and other Americans, alongside Afghan counterparts, at a critical time in our recent history. Part sociologist, diplomat, part foreign policy expert, the men in the book enacted a nuanced campaign that is a template for the way future conflicts can be approached, and a window to where we are in Afghanistan today. And, according to those who know, their ethos is simpatico with emerging national policy concerning Afghanistan. In other words, these guys got it right. One of the reasons I wrote Horse Soldiers was to understand the world my children would inherit after the events of 2001.

When I was writing my first book In Harm’s Way, I witnessed the sense of sacrifice that those WWII veterans possessed. I was surprised that sometimes their grandchildren hadn’t talked to them about the historic events of that night in July 1945, when the USS Indianapolis went down. With some modest means, I started a scholarship program for the grandkids of the survivors, one of the requirements of which was that they write an essay about their grandfather. This project was meant to foster a legacy in these young people of the sacrifices made by those who had come before them.

Recently, then, I was startled and more than saddened, after hanging up the phone with Betty McCoy, of Palm Coast, Florida, the wife of Giles McCoy, of the USS Indianapolis, who told me that Gil had just passed away after a battle with cancer. My son and I had visited Gil and Betty, making a last trip to say goodbye, although I didn’t want to admit that at the time.

Gil, a WWII Marine, having survived Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and the sinking of his ship, devoted himself to a life of helping others. He was about as resilient and strong a character as you could meet, and yet alongside his own steely self-awareness he possessed real powers of empathy. He never used phrases like “everyone agrees with me so I must be right.”

This idea of legacy, of being bound together around the campfire or kitchen table of shared experience, is important, because it’s in those moments that we move to the heart of solving problems, global and local, big and small. And of all people, I have learned that the people I write about in Horse Soldiers, the modern soldiers of the U.S. Army Special Forces, are trained to walk a selfless mile in another’s shoes during often dangerous journeys meant to create change. And as with McCoy, when I call their actions heroic, I’m using a word they are too humble to use in describing what they accomplished.

©2009 Doug Stanton, author of Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan. Originally published in the Traverse City Record-Eagle, May 5, 2009
Royal Pains Episode 3 Strategic Planning
Royal Pains Episode Three Strategic Planning started out almost immediately into what seems to be the formula for the show. There will be an upstairs (i.e. rich patient)) and the downstairs (i.e. poor patient) and Evan, Dr. Hank Lawson's brother, doing something silly.
Burn Notice Season 3 Episode 3 End Run
In Burn Notice Season 3 Episode 3 End Run, Micheal Westen had to deal with a minor irritant and a major pain. The minor irritant was Detective Paxson, who still is pretty sure Michael is up to no good, The major pain is Brennen, who is up to major no good.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The first step for Return to the Moon...

It's just a little more real now.
North Korea May Fire Missile at Hawaii
North Korea may be planning to fire a long range ballistic missile in the direction of Hawaii, according to a report in a Japanese newspaper, AP is reporting. Though the Taepodong-2 cannot actually hit Hawaii, the report is ominous to say the least.
Barbara Boxer: 'Call Me Senator'
Senator Barbara Boxer (D) California is a woman who is very jealous of her dignity and of proper forms of address, as Brigadier General Michael Walsh found out to his cost during a recent Senate hearing.
PETA Admonishes Obama for Fly Murder
Almost inevitably, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has reacted to President Barack Obama's brutal murder of a house fly in the middle of an interview with CNBC's John Harwood in the White House.
'Red Dawn' Remake Casting Proceeds Apace
The remake of John Milius's Cold War classic, Red Dawn, is proceeding apace with the addition of two new cast members as teenaged guerilla fighters who do battle against invaders of the United States, now Chinese as well as Russians.
The last adult to have been President loses patience with the current President.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Alan Boyle has a good roundup of the first public session of Augustine 2.0.
For your outrage, astonishment, and amusment Impact, coming soon to ABC. The Moon is about to hit the Earth.
Gerald Walpin Firing Raises Questions
President Barack Obama fired the Inspector General for Americorps, Gerald Walpin, who was investigating Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's community service organization, St. HOPE Academy. Questions are being raised about this firing.
Obama Kills a Defenseless Fly
President Barack Obama seems incapable of handling a recession, a nuclear armed North Korea, an Iran in turmoil or (as he complained in the interview with John Harwood) Fox News. But he can kill a fly with his bare hands and that impresses some folks.
It looks like the Iranian regime is using Hamas mercenaries to suppress Iranian demonstrators.
Mark Krikorian advances the imperial argument for space exploration. A good one, I might add, as Mars doesn't have natives to resent it. Mind, there are other countries and domestic liberals and libertarians who will.
Derbyshire has shifted his argument somewhat:
Stuck as I am with the rooted conviction that government does everything badly and in a spirit of financial irresponsibility, I'd keep government involvement to a minimum, with just perhaps a modest subsidy here or there to encourage entrepreneurs. Shuttle missions at half a billion dollars per, though? No thanks. Not unless I'm on board!

I rather thought that conservatives looked upon corporate welfare with disdain. Mind, I'm not opposed to a certain support of private space ventures.

Derbyshire's snarky remark that seems to suggest that he would be willing to support the space shuttle if he were bribed with a ride speaks to the self absorption we've mentioned previously.
Detroit's Monica Conyers Caught in Bribery Scandal
Monica Conyers would be just another obscure city council woman were it not the fact that she is the wife of John Conyers, the powerful Chairman of House Judiciary Committee. So the fact that Monica Conyers is linked to a bribery scandal is national news.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An astronaut responds to John Derbyshire's screed against space exploration,. Derbyshire remains unimpressed.

Addendum: Rand Simberg misreads Derbyshire's screed.
He is obviously not opposed to human space flight. I think that he might think differently had the taxpayers’ money done more (and a lot more) to allow him to go.

Actually Derbyshire makes it clear that he is opposed to all government funded space exploration, such as Apollo.

I've heard from more than one space enthusiast that the purpose of NASA should be somehow arranging for the space enthusiast t travel into space. While I'd like to travel beyond the Earth as much as the next person, this attitude sounds so self absorbed as to be absurd.

Read the comments by Paul Spudis and Tom Mautula, which are masterful and to the point.

Addendum: Please note Rand's little bit of snark against Your Humble Servant. Forgive him, but that is how he reacts to his peculiar world view being challenged, so insecure as he is.
Letterman Apologizes to Palin for Real This Time
David Letterman has apologized again to Sarah Palin for the joke he made about her daughter being "knocked up" by a baseball player during a game. This time Letterman sounded sincere, but a group calling for his firing said the apology was not enough.
Obama Deplores Iran Protest Violence
President Barack Obama announced that he was "troubled" by the continuing violence surrounding the Iran protests of an election that many Iranians consider to be fraudulent. Obama seemed somewhat subdued about the massive protests, though.
A group of folks remember Apollo.
The motivation behind Kennedy's ambitious goal ran deeper than prestige, or even aspiration, Sorenson says: If the Soviets could send a man into space, people could assume Communism had something to it—and Kennedy knew the U.S. must have a rejoinder.

True then. True now.
Obama owes Newt Gingrich an apology.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Calvin Klein Billboard - Teenage Group Make Out Session
Calvin Klein has a billboard up at the corner of Lafayette and Houston in the Soho area of New York City that is raising some eyebrows. It depicts four teenagers, wearing Calvin Klein jeans and little else, in a group make out session.
Alan Boyle discusses what's new in space.
John Derbyshire thinks that all this space travel is pretty pointless. He has some faulty historical analysis to try to buttress this buzz kill view:

First Derbyshire uses the Zheng He treasure fleets as an example of "pointless exploration."
There were no colonies established as a result of the treasure fleets, no trade routes opened up, no alliances formed, no enlargements of understanding among China’s educated classes. The Ming court decided, at last, that the whole business was too costly. The records of Zheng’s last two expeditions were destroyed in a court intrigue, and China commenced the retreat into incurious bureaucratic despotism from which she was awoken only 400 years later, when European traders came banging on the nation’s doors.

There's a couple of problems with this analysis. Zheng He's voyages took place over a short period of twenty five years in the early 15th Century and then ended when the Mings decided to turn inward. Twenty five years is a short time to translate voyages of exploration into colonies and trade. Also, subsequent history, which was of five hundred years of Chinese decline, suggests what an incredibly bad move stopping the voyages were.

The Europeans persevered and owned the next few centuries, undertaking a lot of voyages and other projects that could have been called "pointless" taken out of context. The Chinese did not and became a doormat. The Chinese have learned from this experience.

Derbyshire goes on to our own era.
There were no permanent consequences, and no jolt to the imagination such as the opening of the New World delivered to Europe. Once the Moon had been attained, nobody could think of any satisfactory follow-up. Mars was 100 times farther away, and promised essentially the same scenery, only under a different-colored sky. Why bother? With the Cold War still going on, and patriotism still widespread even among the educated classes, there was a general feeling that some kind of manned space effort ought to continue, and so the Space Shuttle was conceived. There is work we need to do in orbit! our politicians told us. This is the vehicle that will do it!

What was that work? Today, after 126 shuttle flights across 28 years and an expenditure of several hundred billion dollars, not one American in ten could give you an answer, and the occasional exception would be unable to explain why the work might not have been done as well by robots at one-tenth the cost. Probably most people who had any clue at all would mention servicing the International Space Station, or, with last month’s mission in mind, keeping the Hubble Space Telescope in operation. But then, your respondent could not tell you the point of the station, or give you a comparative-cost analysis of servicing Hubble with shuttles at half a billion per mission versus just sending up a replacement Hubble on an unmanned launcher. Still less could he explain why any of this was government business.

Being one of the one in ten, I can only point the study by the Royal Astronomical Society that suggested that humans are crucial for any program of space exploration. Why bother? Besides opening up a new frontier to all of possibilities, commercial, scientific, and otherwise inherent in space, preserving the human race by spreading it beyond a single planet, and ensuring our national security by maintaining a presence in space, I really can't think of any.

Sure there is much to criticize the space shuttle and space station, mainly as a detour from what ought to have happened, more exploration using Apollo hardware. But even mistakes can be learning exercises that can be applied to future undertakings. Derbyshire makes the mistake of assuming that because the space program has featured some bad policy decisions, the space program itself is faulty and not the decisions. It is sort of like saying that the various military and political mistakes made during World War II made liberating Europe and the Pacific "pointless."

No human endeavour is perfectly undertaken, certainly not the space program. But does that make it "pointless?" The answer is resoundingly no.
Iranians are now in the streets in the millions.
Obama at the AMA to Sell Health Care 'Reform'
President Barack Obama made a speech before a meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) in which he tried to sell his version of health care reform. The AMA has already come out in opposition to the public insurance option.
Much has been made of the Aerospace Company Study that seemed to "prove" that a Delta IV derived launch vehicle would be "cheaper" than the Ares 1 now being developed as a launcher for the Orion. A lot of my friends in the Internet Rocketeer Club have been jumping up and down and shouting, "See! See! NASA is lying! Mike Griffin is an idiot!"

However, as the Texas tycoon with the funny ears was once given to say, the devil is in the details according to an Aviation Week Story.
But the human-rated United Launch Alliance rocket would be less expensive only if the Ares V heavy-lift moon rocket development is deferred, the Aerospace Corp. study reports. And the Delta IV alternative could add two years or more to the "gap" in U.S. human access to orbit if it starts this year, according to the unreleased study obtained by Aviation Week.

In other words, we add two years to the space flight gap, push back the return to the Moon, and very likely run into some unanticipated costs that will make the EELV alternative not very useful. The Atlas V, by the way, is a worse alternative.
The study did not address the other U.S. Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) - a heavy-lift version of the Atlas V - because of "no clear advantages and several disadvantages," including the difficulty in obtaining human-rating data on its Russian RD-180 engines.

The interesting thing about the return to the Moon architecture debate is that the more people ask questions, the less clear it becomes that the current approach is as dysfunctional as other people claim. This also puts a new perspective on the proceedings of the new Augustine Commission. Several people have told me on and off line that they are very certain that the Augustine panel will recommend that Ares be scrapped and the EELV (or Direct, or something else) be adopted instead. I, however, remain unconvinced.
Debate on water on the Moon.
Dwayne Day concludes his discussion of space policy by touching on military space. Tayor Dinerman revisits the subject of NASA and soft power. Jeff Foust examines Space and (or versus) the environment. Michael Huang wonders about How to cut budgets and influence policy.
Bill Maher is Angry with Barack Obama
Bill Maher, the smug, snarky host of the HBO political talk show Real Time, is angry with President Barack Obama. One supposes that it was inevitable. Without George W. Bush to kick around anymore, Bill Maher had to be angry with someone.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Investigates Iran Voter Fraud
The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran with whom actual political power is vested, has ordered an investigation into whether the recent Presidential election, which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was said to have won, was rigged.
True Blood Season 2, Episode 1 Airs on HBO
True Blood Season 2, Episode 1 was aired on HBO and about time too. True Blood's sly mixture of violence, sex, quirky characters, and sly political commentary was sorely missed since Season 2 of the series had finished up months ago.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Netanyahu Speech Accepts Palestinian State with Conditions
In a foreign policy speech Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted the principle of a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel. However in his speech Netanyahu listed certain conditions that the Palestinians may have difficulty with.
Joe Lieberman, bless him, has come out against the central part of Obamacare.
Iran Riots Over Election Fraud Claims
Iranian supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi greeted reports that Mousavi's opponent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had won the Iranian elections by rioting in the streets in protest of what many view as a rigged election.
After reimagining Battlestar Galactica, Ron Moore's next project concerns virtual reality in space.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Iran Election Results - Ahmadinejad Wins
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the apparent landslide winner in the Iranian Presidential elections, according to the Iranian Interior Ministry. Ahmadinejad's main rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, has dismissed the announced results, claiming voter fraud.

The Obama people are pretty sure the Iranian election was fixed. Coming from Chicago, one supposes they would be in the position to know. Of course, the Obama people will still deal with the regime.
Well, if creating a warp drive was simple, we would hve them by now.
Nancy Pelosi wa in Houston last night, so the good people here decided to hold a tea party in her honor.
Looks like a big screen version of John Carter of Mars is on.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Jim Muncy suggests that reports of the death of COTS are premature. I rather hope that is the case. If SpaceX and Orbital get cut off at the knees, no one in the private sector is going to trust that the government will live up to its promises in any future joint venture. That includes Lunar COTS.
Michael Kinsley wants to boot The Star Spangled Banner as the national anthem. I could actually get on board with that, especially if Battle Hymn of the Republic is chosen instead. Yeah, a bit martial and a bit religious, but contrary to what Kinsley thinks, not really objectionable to Southerners any more. In fact we kind of dig the martial and religious stuff.
Palin Stature Soars Thanks to Letterman
David Letterman may have, in a perverse way, done Sarah Palin a big favor by insulting her daughters Bristol and Willow. This was evident when NOW actually came to the defense of the Palin ladies and condemned David Letterman.
Mike Griffin is still speaking out.
NASA says the program, dubbed Constellation, is the best and only realistic way to resume space exploration after decades of orbiting Earth in the shuttle. Yet some say the plan is too expensive and lacks the needed power and reliability.

Griffin, a design engineer by trade, acknowledges challenges within the current program. But the questions dogging Ares are tiny compared to the ones that swirled around the Saturn V design that first shot astronauts to the moon in 1969, he said.

Griffin said he doesn't think the administration's review will mean any major changes for Constellation, "unless someone moves the goalpost" away from completing the space station, returning to the moon and then sending people to Mars.

But such studies can lead to funding uncertainties and a loss of momentum, he said, and NASA underwent a "seminal change" after the Columbia disaster in 2003, one that led to the current plan to astronauts back to the moon and on to Mars.
Not that one would know from the mainstream media, but a thousand people showed up to protest Obama and Obamacare in Greenbay yesterday,
Royal Pains Episode 2 Sends Message
Royal Pains episode 2 has aired and the show is starting to settle into its format. Unfortunately Royal Pains is developing two problems that might mean a premature end to the show. These are the doctor who cares and the health care reform message.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Obama in Green Bay to Sell Health Care "Reform"
President Barack Obama was in Green Bay, Wisconsin attempting to sell his scheme to overhaul the health care system. President Obama is making this effort as opposition to the scheme has started to grow and Congressional Democrats dither over details.
Is Betelgeuse About to Go Supernova?
Is Betelgeuse, a red giant star about six hundred light years from our solar system, about to explode? Some scientists believe that Betelgeuse is exhibiting the signs of a star about to go supernova.
The AMA has seen the light and are now revolt against Obamacare.
Letterman "Apologizes"; Palin Declines to Accept
David Letterman offered something resembling an apology about his joke about Sarah Palin's daughter being "knocked up" by the baseball player Alex Rodriguez. The Palins are having none of it, which is understandable all things considered.
James Von Brunn Rampage Causes Media Firestorm
James Von Brunn, the crazed racist conspiracy nut who murdered a security guard at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, is causing quite a stir in the media. But the nature of his various hates are a little more eclectic than one might think.
Medieval appears to be a movie that is Oceans 11 meets Deadliest Warrior.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

David Letterman insists that he meant to say that it was the 18 year old Palin daughter who is a slut not the 14 year old Palin daughter. Right.
More push back against NASA exploration budget cuts.
James Von Brunn Opens Fire at Holocaust Memorial Museum
A disturbed gunman named James Von Brunn carried a rifle or shotgun into the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and exchanged fire with security guards, before being seriously wounded. One security guard was gravely wounded.
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer Interviews John Ziegler, Has on-Air Meltdown
John Ziegler, who became famous with his documentary How Obama Got Elected, was on MSNBC discussing with Contessa Brewer about an interview with Sarah Palin Ziegler had on his new radio show. The result was entertaining to say the least.
David Letterman and Sarah Palin: An Unhealthy Fixation
David Letterman seems to have an unhealthy fixation with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Second on the "Top Ten Highlights of Sarah Palin's Trip to New York" was the following laugh-out-loud gem:

"Bought makeup at Bloomingdales to update her slutty flight attendant look."

Addendum: Letterman is, mildly speaking, unapologetic. What is it with Letterman, the Palin women, and sex?
Palau to Take Chinese Uighur Muslim Guantanamo Inmates
Palau, a chain of islands in the Pacific known best for its tourism, has agreed to accept the seventeen Chinese Uighur Muslims now ensconced at Guantanamo Bay. The price is two hundred million dollars in development assistance.
Jeff Krukin takes Senator Shelby to school on commercial space.
I understand the Senator's need and desire to to protect the jobs of his constituents at NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center, but attempting to force an either/or choice between Federal and commercial space transportation is not the answer. That's as false a choice as Moon vs. Mars and manned vs. robotic space exploration. Both NASA and NewSpace have valid and valuable roles to play, so let's please not waste time and energy creating a schism where one need not exist.

Actually there are a lot of people who need to learn that simple truth.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I'm not all that opposed to the current Constellation concept, though I am open to serious suggestions. But wouldn't it be great if this were the Orion that was getting built?
Gingrich, Palin, Voight Featured at GOP House Senate Fundraiser
House and Senate Republicans held a fund raiser that featured former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as keynote speaker, actor and Hollywood Republican Jon Voight as master of ceremonies, and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as an honored guest.

Addendum: Here is Jon Voight lambasting Obama. However, Divus Barackus is not a "soft spoke Julius Caesar." Caius Julius had sensible policies, selling off government land to get the urban poor out into the countryside growing grain an grapes instead of sucking up bread and circuses. Besides Caesar knew how to deal with the barbarians.
Houston: The First Domed City?
Domed cities have been a staple of science fiction for almost since there has been science fiction. A recent episode of the Discovery Channel's Mega Engineering show imagines what it would take to build a dome over the modern city of Houston.
Christopher Hitchens deconstructs Barack Obama's now infamous Cairo speech to Muslims.
Evan Thomas of Newsweek thinks that Barack Obama is sort of a god.

Even the early Roman Emperors waited until they were dead before being elevated to divinity. However Divus Barackus has his own unique way of being worshiped. Instead of goats, doves, of virgins, he demands the sacrifice of our wealth and of our freedom.

Monday, June 08, 2009

James Hanson, prophet of doom who shouts from the rooftops how he is being silenced.
I'm not a great enemy of Constellation, by Richard Shelby's attempt to rob commercial space support to add funding to it is a disgrace. Republicans are, after all, supposed to be in favor of the private sector. Someone should remind Shelby of this.
Starbuck joins CTU.
Don't say Sarah Palin didn't try to warn ya.
There is already a little push back against the House appropriators slice and dice "deferral" of exploration funding.
Stephen Colbert Invades Iraq
The American-led coalition really has won a historic victory in Iraq. Stephen Colbert (both of them, one should wonder) has invaded Iraq to entertain the troops and tape same episodes of his popular Comedy Channel Show.
Dwayne Day has the first part of discussion of what went on at a space policy wonk conflab at the Space Policy Institute. The major topic seemed to be money and why NASA doesn't have enough of it. Jeff Foust writes about An Uptick in Space Tourism. Taylor Dinerman asks Should India and the US cooperate on space solar power?. (Yes, I think.) Jeff McGowen asks Can the private sector make a breakthrough in space access? (It had better, since no one else can.)But as McGowen points out, it is harder to do than many people realize.
More on NASA budget politics. The best summary one can suggest is that the situation is--well--fluid. And, theis, from Richard Obermann, staff director for the House Science and Technology space and aeronautics subcommittee:
"--it would be a grave mistake to try to pursue a space program on the cheap. To do so is in my opinion an invitation to disaster. There is a tendency in any can-do organization to believe that it can operate with almost any budget that is made available. The fact is that trying to do so is a mistake — particularly when safety is a major consideration."

Mike Griffin got vilified by the Internet Rocketeer Club for saying much the same thing. That doesn't make it less true.
2009 Lebanon Election Result a Hezbollah Defeat
The 2009 election results in Lebanon suggest that the pro Western government coalition has turned back an attempt by Hezbollah and its allies to seize control of the Lebanese Parliament. It had been feared that Hezbollah would win the election.
Laura Ling and Euna Lee Sentenced to North Korean Labor Camp
Laura Ling and Euna Lee, journalists working for the Al Gore founded Current TV, have been sentenced by a North Korean court to twelve years in a labor camp. Ling and Lee were convicted of "committing hostilities against the Korean nation and illegal entry."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Spaeaking of Rand Simberg, he's posted a couple of space policy suggestions, one of which is actually pretty sensible, the other not.

First, the one that isn't sensible.
First, it would be purchasing services, including launch services, from the commercial sector, as it does for unmanned exploration, and stop trying to develop and operate its own dedicated vehicles.

This refers to VSE. The problem with that idea is that, unlike satellites and robotic probes, there are no launchers just ready to be hired that can take people to the Moon. They would have to be designed, developed, tested, and then hired. The problem is that kind of project is too large for a private firm to undertake at the current time. NASA could finance it, in whole or in part, but along with that comes NASA requirements, which Rand and many others have complained about constantly these past few years.

There is the sensible idea.
Second, it would be canvassing those providers for input as to what high-risk technologies could reduce future costs and increase reliability, and start investing in those. That could include developing X-Vehicles, but they should be true X-Vehicles, each one focused on proving out one or (at most) two key technologies, and not relying on those technologies to be able to fly at all (the grand failing of X-33). They would also be much less risk averse for X programs, and not idiotically shut them down when almost complete out of fear of failure (e.g., X-34). Not to mention demanding that they incorporate some pet NASA project, like a Marshall-developed engine (X-34 again).

I wonder if NASA is the right place for this sort of thing. One of the complaints I've come to agree with is that whenever anything space related is proposed, NASA is always mentioned as the agency where it should get done. How about instead, a tax credit or even subsidy for private business to do these X projects? A few are doing them anyway on their own dime. NASA could have a small advisory and support role (loaning of facilities and experts, etc) but would not do the X projects itself.
Ed Morrissey has a discussion on anonymous bloggers. I tend to regard such with suspicion, especially when they use their anonymous status to be snarky or argue dishonestly. I've had to deal with more than one anonymous cyber stalker who have been angered by some opinion or another I've posted and lacked the courage to argue openly.

Some have argued that sometimes being anonymous or posting under a pseudonym is sometimes necessary to ward off retaliation at work. Rand Simberg (and whatever one can say about his opinions, he does have the sense of decency to post them under his own name) has a perspective on this.

On the other hand, the opinions of an anonymous or pseudonymous blogger are generally not taken as seriously by most people as those who identify themselves, except when those opinions match the biases of those reading them.
More potential problems for Orion/Ares.
Barack Obama has a food taster.

Addendum: Then again, so did Bush.
Money and technical problems are bad enough, but the main obstacle to private space development seems to be, as ut has always been, the government.
The American Institute of Beemed Eenergy Propulsion announces the Sixth International Symposium on Beamed Energy Propulsion.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Paul Spudis continues his discussion on lunar resources with Lunar Resources – Part 2: Changing our approach to spaceflight
What if Anne Frank had lived to be 80?
Making the blind to see with contact lenses and adult stem cells.
Obama Speaks at the 65th D Day Anniversary
President Barack Obama's speech at the 65th anniversary of the D Day invasion of Normandy said all the right things, for the most part. It was delivered in a monotone of a man reading from a prepared text who wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.
D Day the 65th Anniversary: Barack Obama at Normandy
The 65th anniversary of the D Day invasion of Normandy will be one of the last in which living participants are around to help celebrate. The world leaders who gather in Normandy for the celebration were not even alive during the battle.
Apparently Obamacare does away with the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Alan Boyle lists some of the many books coming out on the occassion of the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11.
The website fo the new Augustine Commission is now up.
Sotomayor Cartoon Causes Racism Accusations
Judge Sonia Sotomayor continues to cause controversy and accusations of racism and bias. But this time the shoe is on the other foot, thanks to a Sotomayor cartoon published in the Daily Oklahoman this Tuesday.
'Royal Pains': Great Show, Shaky Premise
Royal Pains, starring Mark Feuerstein as a suddenly unemployed trauma surgeon named Hank Lawson who finds himself curing the ailments of the rich and famous in the Hamptons, tries a little too hard to shoehorn an unlikely premise.
'Burn Notice' Season Three Begins
Burn Notice, starring Jeffrey Donovan, Bruce Campbell, Gabrielle Anwar, and Sharon Gless, started its season three with Michael Westen, the burned super spy, being reborn by emerging from the waters of Miami harbor.
The good news is that David Carradine may not have committed suicide. The bad nws is--well--read on.
George Will likes The Goode Family.
Saturn has been sold by GM to Penske Motors thus preservin the brand. As a Saturn owner for nearly fifteen years and well satisfied with the brand, I am pleased.
Nancy Pelosi is now less popular that Dick Cheney.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Mrs. Cumudgeon has found a web site in which environmentalist wackos complain about one another's maltreatment of the Earth.
You're a vegan? Well, tough. Soy is bad for the environment and is killing the Amazon rainforest.

You drive a hybrid car? Screw you. Hybrid cars are powered by electricity, which is evil because it comes from power plants, which are run on coal, which is bad for the environment.

Sounds like great material for The Goode Family.
Mike Griffin, who persists in actually talking, suggests that space flight can't be done on the cheap and that we need to "spend what it takes" to do it right. Someone should forward that pearl of wisdom to the House appropriators (see below.)

Considering the heart burn he is causing certain people, I hope Griffin writes his memoirs. Apoplexy will follow.
The House appropriators just took a big wack out of the NASA exploration budget. No doubt Mike Griffin will be blamed by the Internet Rocketeer Club.

Addendum: A source suggests to me that exploration may not have been cut as much as appears, but simply reshuffled. In any casem stay tuned, especially for Senate action. Of course if things follow recent precedence, the appropriations bill won't be passed in time anyway and NASA and much of the rest of the government will be financed by continuing resolution.
David Carradine Found Dead of Apparent Suicide
Actor David Carradine has been found dead of an apparent suicide in a luxury hotel room in Bangkok, Thailand. David Carradine, who was in Bangkok filming a movie, was found hanging. Authorities have not said whether there was a suicide note.
Tiananmen Square, Twenty Years Later
Twenty years ago, in 1989, the same year that the Berlin Wall fell, Chinese students gathered in Tiananmen Square to demand democracy and human rights. Twenty years ago, the Chinese regime responded with tanks and bayonets.
Ahmadinejad and Moussavi Debate
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is running for a new term as President of Iran, had an American style Presidential debate with his main opponent, Mir Hussein Moussavi, who is described as a "moderate" and a "reformer."
Obama's Cairo Speech to Muslims; an Analysis
President Barack Obama addressed the Dar-es-Islam in a speech at Cairo University. The Obama Cairo speech was one part tough love for Muslims, one part cringing apology, and one part Utopian vision wrapped up in historical ignorance.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

My Middle Eastern studies Prof used to play a trick on the first day of class by asking the question, "What is he largest Muslim country?" Most students would answer "Egypt" or "Iran" or even "Saudi Arabia." The correct answer is "Indonesia." This allowed the Prof to expound about how ignorant most Americans are about the Middle East.

Barack Obama illustrated that all by himself when he announced that the United States is "one of the largest" Muslim nations in the world. It's not even close. We are somewhere between Kuwait and Qatar in the number of Muslims living in America. So much for an Ivy League education.
Burn Notice's Michael Westen vs. James Bond
Burn Notice starts its third season this month, interestingly enough after a showing of Casino Royale, the James Bond film starring Daniel Craig. This brings up and interesting question. Who is the better spy? Burn Notice's Michael Westen or James Bond?
Fantasy Novelist David Eddings Has Died
David Eddings, the acclaimed fantasy novelist and author of such series as The Belgariad and The Malloreon, has died at the age of 77. David Eddings was predeceased by his wife and writing partner Leigh two years ago.
Reagan Statue Erected at Capitol Rotunda
A bronze statue of President Ronald Reagan was unveiled at the Capitol Rotunda. Among the onlookers were Reagan's widow, Nancy Reagan, and James Baker, who served in the Reagan administration in a number of capacities.
NBC News Anchor Brian Williams Bows Before Obama
Toward the end of a documentary on NBC, NBC News anchor Brian Williams, in saying goodbye to President Barack Obama, appears to bow before the President. It seemed to be an unconscious gesture, but one sure to generate controversy.
Some interesting words of wisdom from Mike Griffin along with, sadly, words of hate in the comments section.

Addendum: I wonder if accusing someone of being "almost autistic" and a liberal constitutes hate speech?

Seriously, I think that Rand doth protest too much. There is a certain kind of person on the Internet who has what amounts to GDS or Griffin Derangement Syndrome. Poor Dr. Griffin has been blamed by many people for the destruction of human space flight, an event that has not happened nor is likely to. He has also been accused of being an "academic" and an engineer.

Mind, there are a few things about which one can criticize Dr. Griffin's tenure at NASA, mainly by using 20 20 hindsight. But really, some of the posts I have read makes one wonder if he drinks the blood of virgins and eats the flesh of the young, so filled with rage they are.
Sotomayor Controversy Continues
Controversial Judge Sonia Sotomayor paid visits to key Senators, following a tradition for Supreme Court nominees. The impression she made split upon partisan lines, with Democrats expressing satisfaction and Republicans being more cautious.
It looks like the X-37B will finally fly in January.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

I Don't Want to Go to Heaven as Long as They Have Vulcans in Hell
'Rendition Guantanamo' Game Glamorizes Terrorism
Violent video games have often roused the ire of various groups for glamorizing killing, torture, and other various depravities. But Rendition Guantanamo has raised the bar, by not only glamorizing these, but terrorism as well.
Star Wars: The Old Republic' Teaser Trailer Released
Some details of the latest computer game set in the Stars Wars universe, "Star Wars: The Old Republic," have been revealed. This includes a teaser trailer that includes very impressive combat with light sabers, blasters, and the Force.
James Cameron's 'Avatar' Game Visuals Unveiled
James Cameron's Avatar, a 3D science fiction film, is not due to be released until December. But recently screen shots of the computer game version of the film were released. The visuals revealed were nothing less than eye popping.
President Obama is off to the Middle East and Ralph Peters asks how he shall grovel? Kristen Powers hopes that he does not.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Pawn of the Molotov: In which the Soviets won.
What a worldwe live in where Dick Cheney, Ted Olson, and Your Humble Servant support same sx marriage and Barack Obama does not.
Barack Obama, GM, and the Descent into Marxism
General Motors is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. When GM emerges from bankruptcy, which the Obama administration is promising will be in 60 to 90 days, the US government will own 60 percent of the company.
NASA makes the official announcment of the members of the new Augustine Commission.
Barack Obama, who talks a good game about green energy, has cut back funding for R&D for a promising technology that taps wave and tidal energy for generating energy. I wrote about this technology a few years ago.
Waiting for Augustine and what to do with ISS?
'Twilight: New Moon' Trailer Debuts
The first trailer for New Moon, the sequel of the teenage angst/vampire movie Twilight premiered at the MTV Movie Awards and is now available for viewing on the Internet. The New Moon trailer sets up the story of the movie.
Deadliest Warrior: IRA vs. Taliban
Deadliest Warrior: IRA vs. Taliban was the final episode of Deadliest Warrior for season one. The Deadliest Warrior episode pitted two of the most notorious terrorist organizations in modern times against one another.

Barack Obama as Xerxes