Curmudgeons Corner

Random thoughts on politics, current events, popular culture, and whatever else interests me.

Mark R. Whittington is a writer residing in Houston, Texas. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel of suspense Nocturne which he coauthored with his wife, Chantal, The Children of Apollo trilogy, The Last Moonwalker and Other Stories, Gabriella’s War, The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper, and Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Buy the following books wherever fine books are sold

Now Available for the Amazon Kindle

Contact Me

Return to the Moon Store
Children of Apollo Store
Muse Voices
Top Secret Writers
Capitalist Review
Blasting News
Instapundit
Spudis Lunar Resources Blog
Big Hollywood
Marks Fine Books - Used and New
This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
 
Little Women werewolves? As if the March girls didn't have enough problems...


 
Alan Grayson: Republicans Want Sick People to 'Die Quickly'
Rep. Alan Grayson, Democrat of Florida, believes that he has hit upon the real reason that Republicans oppose Obama health care reform. Republicans want sick people to die, according to the gentleman from Florida.


 
Whoopi Goldberg Defends Polanski
Whoopi Goldberg defended film director, fugitive and self confessed child rapist Roman Polanski with a remarkable commentary of The View about the differing definitions of rape. Polanski was arrested in Switzerland on a 31 year old warrant.


 
Lisa Synder Discovers Babysitting is a Crime in Michigan
Lisa Snyder, a suburban mom living in Irving Township in Michigan, thought she was just being neighborly by watching some of the children of her neighbors between the time they got off the school bus and the time their moms came home from work.


 
Barack Obama is secret agent working for Karl Rove to destroy the Democrat Party.

"Barack, why don't you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?



 
Obama Grants NIH $5 Billion in Stimulus Funds
President Barack Obama has dipped into the stimulus package and has granted the National Institute for Health (NIH) $5 billion to research for cures of various diseases. One is thus in the unaccustomed position of approving something Obama has done.


 
Tranquility Base 2009


 
Robert Harris, a fine writer of such works as Fatherland and Imperium, defends his good friend Roman Polanski against those evil, baying hounds who somehow think that child rape is, well, wrong.

This is something of an irony, and not just because of the fact that Polanski is working on a film version of Harris' Pompeii. Harris' book Imperium, of which a sequel is due out shortly, was about how Marcus Tullius Cicero made his bones prosecuting the corrupt and the venal. One can only think of how Cicero would have felt about a child raping film director who has been a fugitive from justice for far too long.


 
Gore Vidal in Winter
Gore Vidal, the famous man of letters, was interviewed by the Times of London recently. At 83, Gore Vidal remains a bundle of contradictions. One would think Gore Vidal was a conventional left wing loon, but in reality he is a different kind of loon.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

 
The court has tossed the Dan Rather suit against CBS. I'm a little disappointed because the trial with the disgraced Dan Rather going at the discredited CBS network would have been entertaining.


 
An attempt to restore the public option has met with a stinging defeat in Senate Finance.


 
'House' Season 6, Episode 2: 'Epic Fail'
House Season 6 Episode 2 Epic Fail starts with Dr. House announcing to Cuddy and Foreman that he will not, after all, return to his old post as Head of Diagnostics. It was his old environment, he reasons, that made him crazy to start with.


 
'The Predictioneer's Game' by Bruce Bueno De Mesquita
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has been called everything from a modern Nostradamus to a real life Hari Seldon for the accuracy of his predictions, using games theory mathematics. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has now published a book, The Predictioneer's Game.


 
Sarah Palin is 'Going Rogue' with New Memoirs
The publication date of Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin has been moved up from the Spring to November 17th. The memoirs by the former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate is having an initial printing of 1.5 million copies.


 
Whoopie Goldberg ponders what the meaning of the word "rape" is. Apparently it isn't rape if it is committed by a famous Hollywood director.


Monday, September 28, 2009
 
Today is the 66th anniversary of the rescue of the Danish Jews, an epic story that could hardly be believed as fiction, but that it really happened.


 
It says a lot that it is worse to be a conservative than a confessed child rapist in Hollywood.



 
The title of Sarah Palin's memoirs, due to be out in November, Going Rogue.



 
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds Dies from Lupus
'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds', aka Lucy Vodden, has died at the age of 46 from Lupus. Apparently Lucy Vodden was the real life inspiration for the famous Beatles song, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.


 
Jeff Foust asks the question A Tipping Point for Commercial Crew? Taylor Dinerman asks In the space industry, who is a contractor and who is commercial? Brian Weeden discusses missile defense. Dwayne Day gives a big thumbs down to Red Planet.



 
The Cleveland Show Episode 1
In The Cleveland Show, Episode 1, the token black character on Family Guy, Cleveland Brown (and what is up about being named for a football team?) is having more than his usual problems. His divorce is final and his is about to become homeless. Could things get worse?


 

Family Guy Season 8 Episode 1 Road to the Multiverse

Family Guy Season Episode 1 Road to the Multiverse is Seth MacFarlane's salute to Sliders, the TV show about alternate universe travel. It has one Family Guy non sequitur visual humor insert and at least three irritating left wing throw aways.


 
FlashForward Series Premier No More Good Days
FlashForward No More Good Days premiered on Thursday and repeated Friday on ABC. The premise is that at about 11 AM Pacific Time everyone in the world falls unconscious and experiences 2 minutes 17 seconds six months in the future.


 
Dexter Season 4 Episode 1 Living the Dream
Dexter Season 4 Episode 1 Living the Dream starts a few months after season 3 of Dexter left off. Dexter, outwardly a typical suburban family man, is trying to balance work, a new baby, and his—er—hobby and it is not working very well.


 
Mad Men Season 3 Episode 7 Seven Twenty Three
Mad Men Season 3 Episode 7 Seven Twenty Three starts with Don Draper, in pants and undershirt, waking up, bruised, on the floor of a motel room with an imperfect recollection of how he got there. The episode is about how he got there.


Sunday, September 27, 2009
 
Dennis Wingo discusses water on the Moon.


 
Going Boldly is an interesting web site apparently put together by some young, aerospace professionals as an attempt to sell space exploration.

Some of the usual suspects, including Jeff Foust, Clark Lindsey and, of course, Rand Simberg are having none of it.

Mind, the tiresome arguments about Ares 1 should have been laid to rest now that the folks on the Augustine Committee have concluded that there are no insurmountable technical challenges. But that doesn't stop some people from waving the bloody flag.

I'm currently reading a new book by Frank Luntz called What Americans Really Want...Really: The Truth About Our Hopes, Dreams, and Fears which is meant to be a tool for marketers.

Luntz has some very specific things to say about space and some general things to say about the wants and needs of Americans that would prove useful to anyone wanting to "sell" space. The gist of Luntz's point on space is that the space program has a load of benefits for the people paying for it, but that aerospace companies (and I dare say space advocates) have done a poor job pointing out that fact.

I also have to add that what Jeff, Clark, Rand, or even I want are not as important as what the customers want. Those customers are not just the American people, but the Congress and the White House. Of course it also has been my observation that a lot of space advocates don't know what they want, want things that can't be, or have no earthly idea about what it will take to get what they do want and could have.

There will be much more of this anon, when I finish the book and consult with my inner Don Draper.



 
Roman Polanski Arrested in Zurich, Switzerland
Roman Polanski, the famous film director of such works as Chinatown and Rosemary's baby, has been arrested in Zurich, Switzerland on a long standing warrant involving unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.


 
The following needs no explanation:


Saturday, September 26, 2009
 
'Dollhouse' Season 2 Premier 'Vows'
The Dollhouse Second Season Premier Vows aired Friday night, continuing one of the more original TV series ever to grace the small screen. But one can expect no less from the creative mind of Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, and Firefly.)



 
The return of Galactica 1980, but with a twist. Same characters, same situation, but this time a story that doesn't suck.


Friday, September 25, 2009
 
Children Praising Obama Song Subject of GOP Fundraising Letter
The infamous praise Obama song sung by a group of school kids at B. Bernice Young Elementary School has become the subject of a Republican Party fund raising letter. The New Jersey Department of Education is conducting a review.


 
Rush Limbaugh Has Fun on Jay Leno
Rush Limbaugh paid a visit to Jay Leno on his show Thursday night for a few minutes of light hearted, mostly political banter. There followed a thing called the Electric Car Challenge in which the goals and Rush's goals seem to diverge a bit.


 
Rules for Counter Radicals
Well, the system has been taken on. And it wasn’t televised: It was YouTubed. But it wasn’t Trippi or Markos. It happened on the other side of the World Wide Web street: Andrew Breitbart didn’t write the book, he did the deed.


 
Paul Spudis weighs in about the water on the moon discovery.
This exciting story isn’t over. More developments in this field are on the horizon. Results from other experiments carried aboard the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, including my own Mini-SAR imaging radar, have yet to be fully reported. The American Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission is settled into its mapping orbit and will be examining the Moon in detail over the next couple of years. Every time we get new data from the Moon or examine and map it with some new technique, we learn new and surprising facts.

As Paul says, things are getting very interesting.


 
Alan Henderson has an idea for a space program that would cause latter day Obamas to have something to apologize for.



Thursday, September 24, 2009
 
Netanyahu Delivers Moral Clarity at the UN
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, took to the podium at the UN General Assembly and chastised the UN for giving the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a rabid Holocaust denier and anti Semite permission to speak the day before.


 
Paul Kirk to Replace Ted Kennedy in US Senate
Paul G. Kirk Jr., an old Kennedy crony and former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has been named as Interim Senator from Massachusetts to replace Ted Kennedy until a January election selects a more permanent replacement.


 
Did Glenn Beck Boil a Frog to Death?
Glenn Beck, always able to stir up outrage and controversy, appeared to kill a frog on his Fox TV show by throwing it into a pot of boiling water. Glenn Beck later claimed that the frog was a rubber one, therefore not killed.


 
Arthur Guinness Birthday Celebrated
Today, September 24th, is the 284th birthday of Arthur Guinness, a man celebrated by beer lovers around the globe. December 31st, 1759, 250 years ago, Arthur Guinness signed a lease on a rundown brewery in the edge of Dublin.


 
B. Bernice Young Elementary Kids Sing Praises of Obama
Another video of children singing praises of Barack Obama has surfaced on Youtube. In this case the kids appear to be students at B. Bernice Young Elementary School in Burlington, New Jersey. The overall effect is somewhat creepy.



Wednesday, September 23, 2009
 
Humana Letter Causes Controversy
The Humana insurance company recently sent a letter to Medicare Advantage enrollees that suggested that health care reform would lower their benefits. The Obama Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ordered Humana to stop.


 
Muammar Qaddafi Rants at the UN General Assembly for an Hour and a Half
Following President Barack Obama, Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi took the podium at the UN General Assembly. Qaddafi's speech was supposed to last fifteen minutes. Qaddafi's speech actually lasted an hour and a half.


 
Obama's UN General Assembly Speech Epic in Its Own Awfulness
President Barack Obama's speech before the UN was filled with the kind of gooey, Wilsonian sentiments that one would expect from a leftist American President. The speech, while not as offensive as it could have been, was bad enough.


 
In defense of President John McCain.


 
'NCIS' Season 7, Episode 1: 'Truth or Consequences'
NCIS Season 7 Episode 1 Truth of Consequences started where the Season 6 finale left off. Season 6 left off, as all remember, with the beauteous Zva David strapped to a chair somewhere in the Horn of Africa getting abused by a scary Middle Easterner.


 
'Battleship' the Movie to Be Directed by Peter Berg
Battleship the movie is to be directed by Peter Berg, who previously directed Hancock, the super hero film that starred Will Smith. Battleship the movie is to be based upon Hasbro game by the same name in which players attempt to 'sink' the other's battleship.


 
Another example of an attempt to change history by rewriting it through the prism of politicsl correctness.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009
 
Hannah the ACORN slayer.


 

Bob Woodward Reports General McChrystal Demands More Troops for Afghanistan

Monday Washington Post reporter of Watergate fame Bob Woodward reported that the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has warned President Obama that more troops are needed.


 
'House' Season 6 Premiere: 'Broken'
House Season 6 Premiere Broken is not about a medical mystery. We pretty much know what is wrong with the patient in this episode, the patient being Dr. Gregory House. The question is, what is he going to do about it?


 
Did Chandrayaan-1 confirm water on the Moon?

The implications may be huge or, depending on political whim, a huge frustration.


Monday, September 21, 2009
 
Brad Pitt as Professor Moriarty?


 
Apparently there is a lot of water on the Moon. That argues for a lunar settlement. The question is, will there be any Americans living there?


 

'The Case for Killing Granny' -- a Response

Newsweek has a cover story on end of life health care that it somewhat provocatively entitled "The Case for Killing Granny." The argument of the piece is that we're spending far too much on end of life care and need to cut back.


 
Jeff Foust asks the three billion dollar question. He eventually hits upon a good answer, but is not convincing that the current administration would care to hear it.

Will the next space debate bit Augsutine (and Obama) against the Congress? Taylor Dinerman suggests that this will be so and that Obama will lose.


 
Buffy 'the Walmart Slayer' Wicks Heard on NEA/White House Conference Call
The White House has been caught on tape conspiring to use the National Endowment for the Arts to advance the Obama political agenda. The conference call involved Buffy Wicks, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.


 
A New Tax on Sugary Soft Drinks?

Casting around for ways to raise money to pay for health care reform, some politicians have hit on the idea of taxing "sugary drinks", i.e. coke, sprite, Dr. Pepper, and so on. The idea is that this would be a new sin tax, as on cigarettes and beer.


 
Why the Public Option for Health Care is Dead and Should Stay Dead
One of the features of health care reform or Obamacare is the "public option", essentially a kind of Medicare for everybody that would "compete" with a private health care insurance program. The public option has proven to be very unpopular.


 
'Mad Men' Season 3, Episode 6: 'Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency'
The main theme of Mad Men Season 3 Episode 6 Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency is the old saying, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." In this case it's the business plans of the British owners of Sterling Cooper.



 
Newt Gingrich and the American way of health care reform.


 
Dick Cheney: American.


Sunday, September 20, 2009
 
District 9 fosters bigotry against Nigerians. Or something like that.


 
'Trust Me' by Peter Leonard Delivers Thrills and Humor
Trust Me by Peter Leonard is the story of Karen Delany, $300,000, and the most curious collection of low lifes, gangsters, losers, people on the make, and other riff raff ever to inhabit a novel by a man named Leonard.


 
Barack Obama it seems never heard of ACORN and is unaware that it has been in the news lately.


 
Michael Steele plays the race card on Barack Obama.


 
Of course there had to be a sequel, likely the first of a few, of the Star Wars Family Guy.


 
Duane Lester outs some outrageous right wing terrorists.


 
What is the Ares V Lite?


 
'Audacity of Help' Defends Obamanomics
The Audacity of Help by John F. Wasik is a defense of President Obama's economic policies, based on his campaign promises, the passage of the stimulus package, and the proposal of his first budget. It is not very convincing.



 
Czars - The Music Video


Saturday, September 19, 2009
 
Zbigniew Brzezinski has an astonishing idea of how Obama should react is Israel makes a go at the Iranian nuclear sites.

He wants Obama to stop them, by any means necessary.

The mind boggles. One should think that even Obama, with his propensity for stabbing allies in the back, would not go that far.


 
'False' Fox Ad Enrages ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN

An ad taken out by Fox News in the Washington Post, as well as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, has angered the five other news networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and CNN, for what they regard as falsehoods.


 
Apparently ACORN was not the first target for James O'Keefe and his lethal candid camera. Here is O'Keefe lampooning Lucky Charms Part One:

Part Two:

And, in a more serious vein, Planned Parenthood and aborting African Americans:


 
ACORN the Movie staring Daniel Radcliff and Megan Fox as james O'Keefe and Hannah Giles.
But when two amateur journalists (in their early twenties, poorly dressed as sex workers, with under two grand in their budget) casually take down a sleazy behomoth that leeches off American taxpayers, you’d think Hollywood and the media would be all over this. I mean, what Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe did to Acorn – leading to the House approving to cut off all their funding – is the whistle blowing film to end ALL whistle blowing films. These two kids did what Michael Moore could never come close to accomplishing: uncovering lurid incompetence, affecting policy, and saving Americans millions of dollars.


 
Some Hollywood folks are taking out ads in support of Israel against an assault taking place at the Toronto Film Festival. This has caused the LA Times to sniff:
Left, right or center, there's two things nearly everybody in Hollywood agrees on: There's no disease that can't be cured by raising enough money and the state of Israel deserves unabashed support.

Considering the sort of films about Israel that comes out of tinsel town these days (Munich comes to mind) this will be news to many people. One is waiting for a remake of Exodus staring Brad Pitt in the Paul Newman role. Still it is comforting to know that blatant anti-Semitism will still be opposed from time to time.



Friday, September 18, 2009
 
Imperial stormtroopers reflect on their own 9/11:


 
Selling space based solar power to utility companies.


 
Irving Kristol, 'Godfather of Neoconservatism', Dead at 89
Irving Kristol, writer, philosopher, and social and political commentator has died at the age of 89. Irving Kristol, who is also the father of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, is known as the godfather of Neoconservatism.


 
Looks like one could really get out of jail free in Monopoly.


 
Mars - and Step On it The author using a Tom Hanks movie as a metaphor. It is not Apollo 13.


 
'Clash Church' Pastor Father of Hannah Giles, ACORN Sting Heroine
The Washington Post has finally taken notice of the ACORN scandal story and has related, from its own slant, the adventures of James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles in bringing ACORN to its knees. But the Post has found its own angle to the story.


 
Rush Limbaugh, Segregation and Obama's America
Proving how humorless some people are, Salon Magazine has published a story on a joke Rush Limbaugh made about segregating school buses in the wake of a videotaped incident in which a group of black kids beat a white kid on a school bus.


 
Obama as Witch Doctor Sign Spurs Calls of Racism
With an unerring sense for the sensational, the media has started to focus on some of the more provocative signs that have shown up at tea party rallies. One of the more provocative ones depicted Barack Obama as a witch doctor.



 
Paul Giamatti plays another famous historical character named John in yet another retelling of The Seven Samauri, this time with Knights Templar.


Thursday, September 17, 2009
 
More indications of ice on the Moon thanks to the LRO.


 
It looks like the Chinese think they are in a space race.


 
Et te Bill Cosby?


 
John Birmingham meets Tim Robbins (poor man) and then muses on civil disobedience on the right.


 
Obama Scraps Missile Defense in Eastern Europe
President Barack Obama has announced that he is scrapping plans to construct a missile defense system in Eastern Europe against Iranian missile attack. This decision has elicited wide spread outrage and accusations of appeasement.


Addendum: It didn't take long for the other shoe to drop. Apparently Iran can built the Bomb and can build a delivery system.


 
ACORN San Diego Video Continues Scandal
The latest city that James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles paid a visit was San Diego, where, as with Baltimore, Washington, New York, and San Bernadine, they found ACORN very accommodating for a spot of tax fraud and sex slave trafficking/



 
Henry Gibson has died. So has Mary Travers.


 
It looks like that John Stossel's brand of hard hitting, honest reporting has finally proven to be too much for ABC. Fortunately ABC's loss is Fox News' gain. And ours too.


 
Obama appears to have caved to Putin and has pulled the plug on missile defense for Eastern Europe. Craven appeasement.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009
 
ACORN Sting Results in Suspension of Operations
ACORN has announced that it is "suspending operations" pending an audit and a review. ACORN has undertaking this decision after a sting operation conducted by a twenty five year old film maker and his twenty year old assistant.


 
Masten has had its first attempt at the Lunar Lancer Challenge and was unable to make the required second flight. It has two more opportunities however.


 
Max Baucus Unveils His Health Care Plan
Senator Max Baucus has taken the wraps off of his version of a bipartisan health care plan that is not, strictly speaking, bipartisan. Indeed even Senator Olympia Snowe, who can usually be relied upon to join Democrats, is balking.


 

My brother Blake recommends the above, however it may be wise to send the kids out of the room.



 
Harry Potter the Theme Park to Open at Universal Studios, Orlando in Spring, 2010
Harry Potter the Theme Park, also known as 'The Wizarding World of Harry Potter', is scheduled to open up at Universal Studios near Orlando, Florida in the Spring of 2010. It appears to be another clever way to separate money from muggles.


 
Joe Wilson Admonished by House on Partisan Vote
Rep. Joe Wilson has been officially admonished by the House for yelling "You lie!" at President Barack Obama on a largely partisan vote of 240-179. Joe Wilson made his outburst during President Obama's health care speech last week.


 
Now it looks like there was no homicide at all but rather a very disturbed ACORN employee.



Tuesday, September 15, 2009
 
Harry Potter: the theme park


 
The dynamic duo of O'Keefe and Giles go next to California and uncover a possible homicide.


 
Senate Votes to Cut Off ACORN Funding
In the second major fall out of the revelations about the wiliness of ACORN to participate in sex trafficking of under aged girls and tax fraud, the United States Senate voted to cut off funding to ACORN under the Department of HUD.


 
Of course Nostradamus predicted the current mess.


 
Paul Spudis has some excellent thoughts about the Augustine Committee, the current exploration program, and how he thinks we should proceed. Which is not to say I necessarily agree with each and everyone of his points.


 
Space Travel and Television Part one and Part Two.


Monday, September 14, 2009
 
Patrick Swayze Dies of Pancreatic Cancer
Patrick Swayze, actor and dancer, has died at the age of 57 from the ravages of pancreatic cancer. His was a cruel death from one of the cruelest of diseases. Cruel because it robbed him of life and cruel because it robbed us of him.


 
It looks like that the Senate has voted to cut off funding to those community activists and supporters of kiddie prostitution at ACORN.


 
Raise NASA's budget from 18 billion to 21 billion a year? Shocking, profligate spending? Not really as it turns out.


 
Osama Bin Laden Tape Taunts Barack Obama
Osama bin Laden, or at least someone purporting to be the Al Qaeda leader, issued a new audio tape message on an Islamist website taunting President Barack Obama and blaming Israel for the current War on Terror.


 
Playing the waiting (and winning) game about Armadillo Aerospace taking the lead in the Lunar Lander Challenge. Can we sustain a commercial launch industry to meet NASA’s needs? Taming the fire: the Ares 1 first stage development test
From the latter:
The Ares program has been controversial, but my three prior visits to ATK’s Promontory site with explicit invitations to question the engineering team without limitation has convinced me of the competence of the Ares 1 first stage development team and has addressed all of my technical concerns—especially those related to crew safety.

Review of the crew survival analysis performed by the US Air Force in the event of a motor failure clearly shows, in my opinion, a number of fatal analytical flaws that would not pass even the most cursory scientific and technical review (see “Ares 1 launch abort: technical analysis and policy implications”, The Space Review, August 17, 2009). I am convinced that the Ares 1 program has been getting a bum rap in the media on technical grounds. Interestingly, a Florida newspaper recently printed an article on the Air Force crew survival analysis, and, when provided with a rebuttal response, refused to print it. It is not surprising that the public is so ill-informed about technical issues when agenda-driven media selectively filter news reporting.

We can all argue whether or not Ares 1 is optimally elegant or even cost-effective, but it is in an advanced state of development. Compared with many other government programs, I believe it merits pursuing.


Take that Internet Rocketeer Club.


 
'King of the Hill' Series Finale Airs
The King of the Hill series finale has aired and mores the pity. In these troubled times, we shall all feel the lack of the wisdom of Hank Hill, the sage of Arlen, Texas, His was the kind of common sense sorely lacking on TV and in life.


 
'True Blood': Season 2 Finale: 'Beyond Here Lies Nothin''
The True Blood Season 2 Finale Beyond Here Lies Nothin' has aired. It really felt like two half hour episodes, shown back to back, accomplishing the end of season 2 in the first half hour and setting up season 3 in the second.



Sunday, September 13, 2009
 
Two Cornell students have built a fart detector that actually has applications outside of frat houses.


 
Michael Moore may well have arrived at his sixteenth minute.


 
A year ago today, Hurricane Ike came calling, a most unwelcome guest indeed.



 
Norman Borlaug , father of the Green Revolution that saved billions of people from starvation, has died. Here was what I had to say about Borlaug when "the greatest man you never heard of" had gotten a Congressional Gold Medal for his work.

Ironically, Borlaug helped to prevent the massive, global famines that our current Science Czar, John Holdren, used to confidently predict, along with Paul Ehrlich, and used to justufy some of his nuttier proposals in the 1970s such as forced abortions and forced sterilizations.


Saturday, September 12, 2009
 
The Tea Party March on Washington Draws Hundreds of Thousands
Saturday, September 12th, a crowd estimated from 450,000 people to 1.2 million people marched on Washington to protest government tax and spending policies. The Tax Payers' March on Washington was the culmination of the tea party movement.


 
Jim Oberg launches a spirited defense of "Look But Don't Touch", which doesn't persuade, at least as far as I'm concern. I like the idea of doing a lunar space elevator, but how that is done from space is not clear to me. From L1 or L2? I should think raising one from one of the poles would be a better approach.

Also, while Jim is quite right about visiting asteroids having value because of the space resources and the Earth impact angles, "Look But Don't Touch" doesn't contemplate testing strategies for diverting Earth approachers.

Testing out VASMIR is also good, but I think can be done just as well (at least for a first try) with an unmanned probe.

"Look But Don't Touch" or, if you prefer, Deep Space is still better done in conjunction with a lunar return. It is not enough to learn how to get to and from distant places in space, but how to live and work there once we get there. The best place to do that is on the lunar surface,


Friday, September 11, 2009
 
Ed Morrissey remembers the heroes of Flight 93.

Here is what I had to say about the film United 93.
It was Thermopylae. It was the Alamo. It was like nothing that had ever happened before in the history of humankind.


 
United Space Alliance has its own exploration plan using, of course, EELVs.


 
It looks like the Ares 1 first stage engine had a successful test yesterday.


 
Peggy Noonan talks to folks now in college who were about 11 to 15 on the Second Day of Infamy. It's a very interesting notion that these kids grew up in the 1990s with little hint that the world was a dangerous place, only to get a rude awakening that day. I grew up in the 1960s, when the Soviet Union threatened the world. My parents have memories of World War II. These kids, one will assume, will be boring their kids silly about the War on Terror and where they were on that day.


 
'Vampire Dairies': Episode One, Pilot
Vampire Dairies seems to be derivative from the Twilight series as both are about a human girl meets vampire boy and then complications ensue. But the source material for Vampire Dairies actually predates Twilight.


 
Mike Griffin weighs in on the Augustine Committee Report

Addendum: Clark Lindsey, who can be level headed unless one mentions the word "Ares" in front of him, takes the opportunity for a little rant of his own.
I find it ironic for someone responsible for the ridiculous Ares I contraption to call anyone else irresponsible. As soon as he arrived at NASA, Dr. Griffin contrived the quick and dirty Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS) in a way that would produce the Ares I/V/Orion architecture, which he had long championed prior to becoming administrator. (See, for example, the Planetary Society study (pdf) that he co-led.) He sold the Ares I/Orion system as safe, simple and soon and it has failed the latter two requirements and its safety is highly in doubt and totally theoretical.

However, here is what the Augustine Committee has to say on that subject.
Most major vehicle-development programs face technical challenges as a normal part of the process, and Constellation is no exception. While significant, these are engineering problems, and the Committee expects that they can be solved. But these solutions may add to the program's cost and/or delay its schedule.

In other words whatever problems the current plan are experience are normal and to be expected. The Augustine Committee echoes my own principle: "It always costs more and it always takes longer."

I think that the Internet Rocketeer Club may be in for a rude awakening very soon. It's clear that Mike Griffin is being taken seriously among the adults, especially those in Congress who have to shell out the money. The Obama administration is waiting to "fully digest" the findings of the Augustine Committee. What the administration really is doing is waiting to see what the reaction is going to be. The hearings on September 15th will give us the first indication.

Addendum 2: Jeff Foust has some far more sober comments on Mike Griffin's analysis and his appearence before the Congress.


 
Memories of the Second Day of Infamy, September 11, 2001
I was home on the Second Day of Infamy, September 11th, 2001. Therefore I saw it all unfold in real time on television, every last horror of it. What a way for the 21st century to begin.


Thursday, September 10, 2009
 
What happens when a person thinks he has a disease he saw on House MD.


 
Rand Simberg expounds about risk aversion in human space flight. He has a point in the sense that there is no risk free activity in this life. However Rand fails to find a solution. When a shuttle crew gets killed on a NASA mission, it is politically impossible to move on quickly. Years of investigations, Congressional posturing, and bureaucratic inertia has ensued three times in the history of space flight.

I predict that it could get worse the first time a private space ship is lost with passengers and crew. Then the trial lawyers will get involved and there will be no end to mischief that could take place, absent limits of liability.

In both cases the incentive is to really believe that safety at all costs is necessary, because the alternative is likely to be worse.


 
Paul Spudis takes the opportunity of seeing a now all but forgotten biop of Von Braun to muse about public support for the space program, the silly Generation Mars proposal that has come out of the bowls of NASA, and to expound support for a lunar focused effort.


 
Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin offers a critique of the Augustine Committee Report. I disagree with parts of Griffin's conclusions, especially those concerning commercial applications, but I do find them well reasoned. I'm certainly not prepared to yell at him to just shut up and go away, unlike some people. Griffin has a vast amount of knowledge and experience that should be taken into account as the government makes decisions concerning the future of human space flight.


 
ACORN, Baltimore Caught on Tape
Big Government, a new Web site by Andrew Breitbart, has debuted with a splash. The Big Government news site features video tape shot by a filmmaker named James O'Keefe catching officials at ACORN in Baltimore committing crimes.


 
Rep. Joe Wilson Apologizes for Health Care Speech Outburst
During President Obama's health care speech before Congress, Rep. Joe Wilson, Republican from South Carolina, yelled out, "You lie!" when the President claimed that illegal immigrants would not be covered under health care reform.


 
Rep. Charles Boustany Responds to President Obama on Health Care
Rep. Charles Boustany, Republican of Louisiana, had the unenviable task of responding to President Obama's health care speech. But what Charles Boustany's speech lacked in pomp and circumstance, it had in succinctness.


 

Obama Health Care Speech Fails to Persuade

The Obama heath care speech before Congress was twice as long as it should have been. It was combative when it should have been conciliatory. It was obtuse when it should have been clear. It was contradictory when it should have been consistent.



Wednesday, September 09, 2009
 
Hillary Clinton, Candidate for Governor of New York? This could set up the epic Hillary/Rudi Battle that should have happened during the Senate race in 2000.


 
Tom Friedman has now found the perfect system of government. It's the one that runs Red China.


 
More wisdom from Obama's Dr. Strangelove, aka John Holdren.


 
Is Cass Sunstein the Next 'Van Jones?
Could Cass Sunstein be the next Van Jones? It largely depends on whom one asks. While it is suggested that Professor Cass Sunstein favors things like a ban on hunting or the right for animals to sue in court, there are some who suggest that he is not that radical.


 
'John Adams Project' Exposes CIA Agents to Terrorist Suspects
The John Adams Project is a joint effort by the ACLU and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to locate, stalk, and photograph covert CIA agents and to show those photographs to terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay.



 
More scifi westerns like Firefly? I could go for that, but how about a scifi version of Maverick?


Tuesday, September 08, 2009
 
Sarah Palin smites Obamacare.


 
Adam Baldwin (aka Jayne Cobb) comments on the Obama school speech.


 
The executive summary of the report of the Augustine Committee is now out. It is a well written, sober analysis of where we stand on space exploration and how we might proceed. It explodes quite a few myths that have populated the Internet, which will annoy the people who populate those myths.

Here is an interesting takeaway:
Mars is the ultimate destination for human exploration; but it is not the best first destination. Both visiting the Moon First and following the Flexible Path are viable exploration strategies. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive; before traveling to Mars, we might be well served to both extend our presence in free space and gain experience working on the lunar surface.

The cost will be three billion extra a year and the schedule will slip somewhat, unless more money is gotten (say, with commercial and/or international partnerships.)

Absent going with the current program, I find that the Ares Lite options most valid.

More analysis to follow.


 
Barack Obama, Charlie Sheen, Van Jones, and the 9/11 Truther Movement
According to the Prison Planet blog, actor Charlie Sheen is demanding a meeting with President Barack Obama in order to demand that an investigation be opened over whether the Bush administration was directly involved in the 9/11 attacks.


 
A Speech to the Kids - Then Versus Now
The Obama Administration's sneering at the controversy surrounding President Obama's address to students shows, if nothing else, that people not only have no memory but no shame. What constitutes controversy often depends on one's party affiliation.


 
Using the COTS model to address other NASA needs. The intersection of space and art. Another view of Defying Gravity.


Monday, September 07, 2009

 
Obama School Speech Text - an Analysis
President Barack Obama will address the public school students of the nation tomorrow, but we have the Obama school speech text on hand a day early to chew over and to mine for sound bytes and possible gaffes.


 
Michael Moore Debuts 'Capitalism: A Love Story'
Michael Moore, the rotund documentary polemicist whose films include Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Sicko, has premiered his latest left wing epic at the Venice Film Festival. It is called Capitalism: A Love Story.


 
Mad Men Season 3 Episode 4 'The Arrangements'
On Mad Men Season 3 Episode 4 The Arrangements, three of the various stories were about life changes, living, death and career, and the fourth about the alleged sport of the 1970s. That sport, at least according to a new client, is Jai alai.


 
NASA managers are trying to keep their people focused while uncertanty reigns due to proposed changes by the Augustine Committee. Alternative launch vehicles, some based on EELVs, some on a heavy lift shuttle derived something, are being refined just in case.


Sunday, September 06, 2009
 
Can Ares 1 be saved?

Some say that it's already dead. I'm not as certain.

Florida Today is conducting a poll and town hall on the future of the US space program.


 
Van Jones Resigns as Green Jobs Czar
Van Jones, President Barack Obama's now former Green Jobs Czar, has resigned. Thus ends for Barack Obama the first scandal of a particular sort that seems to strike many Presidencies, that being of the Presidential appointee turned national embarrassment.


Saturday, September 05, 2009
 
The GOP as the diversity party?
Under the right conditions, the GOP could end up in 2011 with female governors in the two largest states in the nation—California and Texas. Or with a black senator from Texas, an Hispanic female governor in New Mexico, a Colorado governor in his early 30s and two Indian American governors in the Deep South—one of them female.

Not to mention either the first female President or first Mormon President in 2012.


 
The coolest experiments in microgravity.


Friday, September 04, 2009
 
Want a revival of the US space effort? Jim Prevor suggests renegotiating or junking the Outer Space Treaty. I could certainly get behind that.

Mind it will be a cold day on Venus before Barack Obama would get behind such an idea. It smacks of things that he is against, such as American idealism, interests, and entrepreneurialism.

Oddly enough, I can see the Internet Rocketeer Club not liking the idea either. Junking the Outer Space Treaty and a subsequent "scramble for the Moon" would make a big, well funded space program a necessity.

Addendum: More on Renegotiating the Outer Space Treaty


 
A secret experiment gone wrong. An enhanced killer on the loose. So they call in the one man who can stop him. John Rambo.


 
The Death of Lance Corporal Joshua M. Bernard
On August 14th, Lance Corporal Joshua M. Bernard was hit by a Taliban rocket propelled grenade while on patrol in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan. A photo taken of Cpl. Bernard in his final moments is the cause of controversy.


 
A Commercial Orion?


 
Van Jones a 9/11 'Truther'
Van Jones, the Obama administration's "Green Jobs Czar" was not only once a communist, according to certain accusations, but also a 9/11 "Truther." A 9/11 Truther believes that the Bush administration arranged for the 9/11 attacks.


 
Obama School Address Causes Parental Revolt
What started as a seemingly innocuous attempt by President Obama to urge public school students has turned into a public relations nightmare for the White House. The controversy reflects the low esteem the President has among some of the American people.



Thursday, September 03, 2009
 
Looks like the Obama administration is is planning to punt on additional needed spending for NASA. If so it will demonstrate their lack of seriousness about space exploration.


 
Obama 'I Pledge' Video Raises Hackles
A video on YouTube called variously the "I Pledge" Video and the "Obama Pledge" Video is raising hackles in certain parts of the country. A school principle in Utah showed it to the children in his public school and then wished he hadn't.


 
Charlie Rangel Plays the Race Card in Health Care Reform
Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee Charlie Rangel has decided to play the race card. To be fair Charlie Rangel is not doing so on his own behalf, but rather on behalf of President Barack Obama and health care reform.


 
Miyuki Hatoyama 'Abducted by a UFO and Taken to Venus'
Japan's incoming First Lady, Miyuki Hatoyama, certainly promises to be entertaining. To anyone's knowledge, no spouse of any leader of any country of the history of the world has ever claimed to have been abducted by aliens.


 
Pete Stark: Health Care Co-ops a 'Medical Unicorn'
Rep. Pete Stark, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Sub Committee, takes a dim view of the idea of health care co-ops as an alternative for a "public option." Pete Stark considers the idea something of a political nonstarter in the House.


 
Organizaing for America vs. 'Right-Wing Domestic Terrorists'
Organizing for America is the successor organization for the Obama for President Campaign, Obama for America, and is dedicated to pushing the President's agenda. Organizing for America has also engaged in some pretty ugly rhetoric.



 
For what we are about to receive we are eternally grateful.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009
 
Apparently the British NHS is murdering terminally ill patients. This puts a whole new dimension to death panels in government run health care systems.


 
Jonah Goldberg muses on Global Warming and the Sun
But we live in a moment when we are told, nay lectured and harangued, that if we use the wrong toilet paper or eat the wrong cereal, we are frying the planet. But the sun? Well, that’s a distraction. Don’t you dare forget your reusable shopping bags, but pay no attention to that burning ball of gas in the sky — it’s just the only thing that prevents the planet from being a lifeless ball of ice engulfed in darkness. Never mind that sunspot activity doubled during the 20th century, when the bulk of global warming has taken place.

What does it say that the modeling that guaranteed disastrous increases in global temperatures never predicted the halt in planetary warming since the late 1990s? (MIT’s Richard Lindzen says that “there has been no warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995.”) What does it say that the modelers have only just now discovered how sunspots make the Earth warmer?

I don’t know what it tells you, but it tells me that maybe we should study a bit more before we spend billions to “solve” a problem we don’t understand so well.


 

The push back against scrapping the current exploration program and going another direction continues with the above video. The interesting part of the video is how it uses the statements of members of the Augustine Committee to suggest how going another direction is at best risky and at worse a disaster in the making.


 
Obama's School Speach Raises Concerns
President Barack Obama is planning to make a webcast speech to every public school in the United States. Fox News reports this is raising fears among parents and educators that Obama is engaged in political indoctrination of children.


 
Jim Traficant is Free from Jail
Jim Traficant, the former member of the US House who was famous for bad hair, weird suits, and floor speeches filled with colorful metaphors, which always contained the phrase, "beam me up, Mr. Speaker", is out of jail now.


 
A Tea Party 'Buycott' of Whole Foods
What does one call a movement to patronize a business to show political support for it? To avoid doing business with such an enterprise is called a boycott. But doing business with an entity is now called a "buycott."


 
So shows like House interfeer with Obama's drive for government health care. Actually, House operating under government health care mandates would be fun, considering how often he takes directions from a hospital administrator he actually likes enough to want to sleep with.



Tuesday, September 01, 2009
 
Sarah Palin, the woman who sits at the head of the table.


 
In which I make the wine snobs angry with Wine Chicken Pairing


 
Gravity tractors to move asteroids. Might make the Deep Space option more appealing.


 
Zo gives Bill Maher the bitch slapping his deserves.


 
What if Tarentino's Basterds took Taliban scalps?
Were Lt. Aldo Raine unleashed in Waziristan today, he and his men (all from New York City to provide the needed element of justifiable revenge) would no doubt relish taking al-Qaeda and Taliban scalps. Alas, were Tarantino to make this flick, it would end prematurely just as Osama bin Laden was about to be relieved of his wavy locks by Raine’s massive knife. The unsatisfying closing sequence would have a shocked Raine arrested by FBI agents after the Basterds’ cover was blown by the New York Times. The credits would roll on Raine’s trial by Attorney General Holder’s Department of Justice with bin Laden in protective custody as a witness to Raine’s heinous war crimes.


 
'Hubby Hubby' Ben and Jerry Ice Cream Flavor Celebrates Same Sex Marriage
Ben and Jerry, with their tendency to mix left wing politics with tasty ice cream, has decided to celebrate the advent of same sex marriage in their native Vermont by renaming their Chubby Hubby ice cream to Hubby Hubby.


 
Seventy years ago marks the start of World War II as Hitler sent his Panzers and Stukas to smite Poland. The great tragedy of at least the European theater of World War II was how avoidable it was. The Europeans had numerous opportunities to put Hitler in his place, starting with the occupation of the Rhineland. But it was more convenient to appease him and hope that this time would be his last territorial demand.

The result, fifty million dead and a continent in ashes.

Naturally there are some people who have not learned the lesson.



 
Charlie Rangel's Financial and Tax Scandals
Somewhat obscured by the controversy surrounding Obamacare is another scandal that is bubbling up in the House of Representatives that threatens to devour the powerful Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Charlie Rangel.


 
Tea Party Express Rolls Across the United States
The latest manifestation of the grass roots revolt against the Obama administration's policies is the Tea Party Express, a caravan of two forty five foot buses and various other vehicles currently winding its way across the United States.


 
Carrie Prejean Files Suit for Religious Discrimination, Slander
Carrie Prejean, the former Miss California, is suing K2 Productions, which runs the Miss California Beauty Pageant, as well as co-executive directors Keith Lewis and Shanna Moakler and publicist Roger Neal in Los Angeles Superior Court.


 
I've always thought that Naomi Wolfe was more than a little silly. But the idea of the chador as a feminist statement really pushes the envelope of lunacy. Next thing you know, being beaten with a stick will be positively liberating.
(Alright, if one is of an S&M bent, that might actually be true.)