Saturday, July 31, 2010

'Agora' a Tragic Film of Hypatia of Alexandria
"Agora" is a depressing, yet powerful film, as it is set during the fall of a great civilization rather than its rise or at its height. "Agora" is about the great female natural philosopher Hypatia, played with quiet passion by Rachel Weisz.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Vote on House NASA bill delayed until September at earliest
Examiner Bio
Former NASA engineer joins with PETA, campaigns against animal testing
Keith Cowing is reporting that Charlie Bolden is being kept away from the media. Good move, that.
Twilight Vs. Blade (Video)
The Exploration of Venus, including humans.
Anthony Weiner Goes Berserk on the Floor of Congress (Video)
Obama Administration Mulling Amnesty for Illegal Aliens 'By Other Means'
A draft memo to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas, written by four agency staffers, suggests that the Obama administration is contemplating granting amnesty to illegal aliens through non-legislative means.
Congressman McMahon Accuses GOP Opponent of Taking 'Jewish Money'
Mike McMahon, a Democratic Congressman from New York, has caused considerable trouble for himself by accusing his GOP opponent, Mike Grimm, of "taking Jewish money" from donors in Manhattan and Florida.
There things we don not know about the Moon.
Obama Administration Caused BP Oil Disaster, Report Suggests
A report from the Center for Public Integrity suggests that the ultimate responsibility for the BP oil leak disaster lays with the Obama administration, mainly because of a botched response to the initial fire from the Coast Guard.
'Futurama' Season 6 Episode 7 'The Late Philip J. Fry'
"Futurama" Season 6 Episode 7 "The Late Philip J. Fry" allows the show to examine a number of time-travel clichés and make fun of them, stretching all the way back from "The Time Machine" by H.G. Welles.
Charles Rangel to Face House Ethics Trial on 13 Violations
Having failed to reach an agreement to avoid the humiliation of a public trial, Rep. Charles Rangel finds himself charged with 13 ethics violations by the House Ethics Committee. The Rangel Scandal now takes center stage.
'Burn Notice' Season 4 Episode 8 'Where There's Smoke'
In "Burn Notice" Season 4 Episode 8 "Where There's Smoke," Madeline is rather astonished about what her offspring and his friends are proposing that she help them do. "You want me to do what?
The next lunar robot to be from Japan?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

On the Set of Atlas Shrugged the Movie (Video)
Green Pesto Sauce
Pesto originated in Geona. It is often used as a spread on bread, though it is also a delicious sauce for pasta or a topping on pizza.
Alabama's 2010 2nd District Race: Democrat Bobby Bright vs. Republican Martha Roby
It seems that Simberg and I have similar styles when it comes to political writing:

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

For fiction, though:

I write like
Arthur Clarke

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

And humor:

I write like
Mario Puzo

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

And finally, media criticism:

I write like
Leo Tolstoy

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Barack Obama Calls African Americans 'Mongrels' on 'The View'
President Barack Obama appeared on "The View" and discussed a wide variety of topics with the ladies, both frivolous and serious. If President Obama wanted to charm the women's vote, he may have said something that obscured that effort.
Texas A&M at College Station to compete with Houston for a space shuttle orbiter
A new Galactica series in the works set during the first Cylon War?
The following new alternate histories are now out:
The Tea Party Has Taken Over the Republican Party, Says Democratic Attack Ad (Video)
Greening the Moon and Mars
Future manned missions to the Moon or Mars could use plants as bio-harvesters to extract valuable elements from the alien soils, researchers say.

Now they hope to launch new experiments to follow up on tests done with plants and lunar regolith during NASA's Apollo program that landed men on the Moon.
Jeff Foust relates how reduced government funding may curtail some commercial space projects. The question arises, if such projects are that dependent on government funding, can they be said to be, strictly speaking, commercial?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chandrayaan 2 payloads to be chosen.
Hypatia and the death of classical civilization.
More water on the Moon news. Also recycled space probes study the Moon.
The Chinese are planning a large, heavy lift rocket.

I wonder what they plan to use it for...

Nah, Buzz Aldrin has already been there.
Obama on 'The View' Stirs Controversy
President Barack Obama is causing some controversy by appearing on the female gabfest show "The View" while skipping out on the 100th Boy Scout Jamboree taking place in and around Washington D.C.
Dee Snider of 'Twisted Sister' Has the Last Laugh on Al and Tipper Gore (Video)
Judge Bolton Stays Much of Arizona Anti-Illegal Immigration Law
Federal Judge Susan Bolton, a Clinton appointee, has blocked crucial portions of an Arizona anti-illegal immigration law from going into effect, pending the resolution of a variety of lawsuits. The ruling is likely to anger many border security advocates.
Condoleezza Rice Plays with Aretha Franklin for Charity (Video) Also Condoleezza Rice/Aretha Franklin Concert Protested by 9/11 Truthers
Wikileaks Afghanistan Document Dump Placed Afghan Informants' Lives at Risk
While the Wikileaks dump of 92,000 documents, despite some breathless claims to the contrary, provided no new information about the conduct of the Afghanistan War, it did mention the names of hundreds of Afghans working with Coalition forces.
'Covert Affairs' Season 1, Episode 3 'South Bound Suarez'
In "Covert Affairs" Season 1, Episode 3 "South Bound Suarez," Annie Walker is asked to do something that she seems very well-equipped to do, which is to vamp an impressionable and strapping Venezuelan student named Diego eight years her junior.
'Deadliest Warrior': Navy Seal Vs. Israeli Commando
"Deadliest Warrior": Navy Seal vs. Israeli Commando pitted two of the deadliest fighting forces in the world against one another. Both the Navy Seals and the Israeli Commandos have become legends fighting against the enemies of civilization.
Houston aerospace workers at United Space Alliance receive layoff notices
Jane Austen's Fight Club (Video)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

NASA's Kepler Telescope Detects 150 Earth-Sized Worlds
For at least the last several decades, people have wondered about planets orbiting other stars than our own. How many are there? How many of them are like our own Earth? It looks like NASA's Kepler Telescope has come close to answering those questions.
Charles Rangel Introduces H.R. 5741, Universal National Service Act
Charles Rangel is not only known for his various ethics violations, but also for his desire to bring back the military draft. For that purpose, Rangel has introduced H.R. 5741, Universal National Service Act.
A Gel that Could Cure Tooth Decay
A new gel being developed by French scientists may mean the end of dental fillings and, even more importantly, the dreaded dental drill. The gel, which stimulates the growth of tooth tissue, may prove a painless cure for dental decay.
Can Robert Dudley Save BP?
Effective Oct. 1, Tony Hayward is out as Chief Executive of BP and Robert Dudley is in. This is what happens when someone presides over one of the worse environmental disasters in history.
Franken Warns of 'Witch Hunt' Against Obama If GOP Takes Over Congress
Al Franken, the former Saturday Night Live personality, former radio talk show host, author of such deathless tomes as "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot," and now a United States senator, has a warning for the Netroots Convention in Los Vegas.
Martin Rees is still pretty sure that manned space flight is utter bilge.
Jeff Foust discusses how the New Space crowd is taking stock of the beating commercial space subsidies took on the Hill. Foust misses one point. The Obamaspace plan ultimately pitted commercial space against space exploration, whereas the Bush plan made them complimentary. The irony is that both lost in the Congress.

But most telling is how many of these people have no clue.
“It is mindboggling to me that we have gotten ourselves into this terrible situation where it’s commercial LEO versus government beyond LEO,” Muncy said, when in fact he argued that the former enables the latter. “I don’t know if it’s going to be possible to reframe the debate between now and then to clarify this,” referring to the end of this year, when Congress will likely compromise on a final appropriations bill. “Next year we’re going to have to have a different debate than the one we had this year.”

I'm not sure if I should tear my hair or bury my face in my hands. "commercial LEO versus government beyond LEO" was precisely the point of Obamaspace. Obamaspace canceled the Constellation program and sharply increased subsidies for commercial space. Obama initially proposed no space exploration program to replace Constellation and, when he did several months later, is was a joke, with missions set in the far future with no funding. Furthermore, the Obamaspace plan bypasses the Moon, which even some people at this conference are beginning to realize is nonsense.

So, considering all of that, what the hell did they expect Congress, which had agreed to the program of record after a hard won building of consensus, to do? Roll over for Obama? I think not.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How to clean sewage and generate electricity at the same time
Churchill once said that there is nothing quite as exhilarating as being shot at with no effect. So what must it be like to get blown up with no effect. One Marine now knows that feeling. And the Taliban think that God is on their side?
Cathy Hayes Gets Attacked by a Bison
Wikileaks Afghanistan Document Dump a Restatement of the Obvious
The Wikileaks document dump of 92,000 reports on the Afghanistan War has been touted as the modern day version of the Pentagon Papers. What the Wikileaks revelations seems to be is a restatement of the obvious.
Is the Moon a "been there done that" world? In one word, no.
The last session of New Space 2010 was apparently about going back to the Moon which was kind of ironic as President Obama has announced that we were doing no such thing, as Buzz Aldrin has already been there.

Rick Tumlinson, to his credit, suggested that announcement was "unfortunate", which is putting it mildly. And yet the Space Frontier Foundation is supporting Obamaspace anyway...

One other bit of news is that Elon Musk now wants to go back to the Moon. Hitherto, Musk has disdained the idea, wanting to focus on Mars.

The rest of the conversation seemed to be about how commercial business and NASA could advancxe the goal of a lunar return in the current political climate.
Journolist Members Were Afraid of Sarah Palin
The latest story about the members of Journolist or, as Fred Barnes called them, "The Vast Leftwing Media Conspiracy," is how they debated making their support of and coordination with the 2008 Obama Campaign more explicit.
'Mad Men,' Season 4, Episode 1: 'Public Relations'
The first words spoken in "Mad Men," Season 4, Episode 1: "Public Relations" are "Who is Don Draper?," asked by a reporter for Advertising Age. The question is an obvious riff from the opening line to "Atlas Shrugged."
Oliver Stone Complains About the 'Jewish-Dominated Media'
Film director Oliver Stone has some complaints about the media, or, as he put it in an interview with the Sunday Times in England, the "Jewish-dominated media." At least Mel Gibson had the excuse of being drunk when he said things like that.
'True Blood,' Season 3, Episode 6: 'I Got a Right to Sing the Blues'
In "True Blood," Season 3, Episode 6: "I Got a Right to Sing the Blues," things are getting a great deal more hazardous at the plantation mansion of King Russell. For one thing, using Bill Holliday as a soundtrack to torture is just, well, disturbing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Oliver Stone thinks that the "Jewish dominated media" is picking on Hitler and not allowing him to be placed in context.

Personally, one wonders how the Holocaust looks better "in context."
Howard Dean Plays the Race Card on Fox News
The Whitest Politician from the Whitest State of the Union

The irrepressible Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont, former Presidential Candidate, former Chair of the DNC, appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss, among other things,
the Shirley Sherrod Affair, among other things.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Keith Cowing is being rather caustic with the Space Frontier Foundation crowd.
NASA is always cast as simultaneously being the enemy and the source of funds for everyone's pet project. Same thing goes for Congress. No attempt is made to get outside the box and try and be relevant to the real world and the economic, societal, and political forces that make things work. The Space Frontier Foundation used to have some radical thinking. Now it has all evaporated away. All that's left is what you see on these panels - old thinking.

If your new business idea depends on government handouts and/or favoritism then you don't have the right product or the right business plan. You are just chasing after a new flavor of pork.
'Dexter' Season Five Trailer Released (Video)
At a time when Obama wants to nationalize American health care, the British government, with a lot of experience in what that is like, wants to decentralize British health care.
Iran wants to put a man in space by 2019. I guess Ahmadinejad doesn't need NASA to help Muslims feel proud of their accomplishments in science, math, and engineering.
Speaking of sucking at politics, the irrepressible Rick Tumlinson had few things to say:
- Lays out his categorization of space advocates:
-- Von Braunians - big govt space programs
-- Saganites - space is for science and study
-- O'Neillians - space is to be settled

Of course most people don't fit into cute categories. There is, for instance, some virtue to be found in all of Rick's groupings.
- The first people to walk on Mars may not be American, Chinese or Russian govt astronauts but private citizens taken there by commercial transports.

This doubles down on the fascinating idea advanced by Jim Muncy a few years ago that the first person back to the Moon would be a private citizen. Much as I would love to see that, I can't see it happening in the real universe in which he resides.

In any case, read all of Lindsey's post. Some of what Rick had to say, aside from the two howlers above, are pretty sensible.
Broken, bloody, but unbowed, the Internet Rocketeer club is now taking stock of the thrashing it got in Congress. Jim Muncy has some opinions along those lines.
One reason Muncy said the fight hasn’t even begun was that the debate had been incorrectly framed into one of government versus commercial systems, and entrepreneurial NewSpace companies versus established “OldSpace” companies, when in fact both are needed. The real fight, he said, is between “a white-collar welfare state space program and a frontier-opening, settlement-enabling, future-changing space strategy.”

My inner Don Draper cringed at that last, polysyllabic bit. The between the what and the what? This is one reason among many that a lot of space activists suck at politics. First, the message has to be clear and simple enough to be understood and remembered. Second of all, the message has to have some relationship with the real world. In no way does Obamaspace open, enable, or change anything. This is why Muncy and people like him keep getting their heads handed to them in these political hurley burleys.
'Salt', a New Spy Thriller Starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Daniel Olbrychski
'Salt', a new spy thriller starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Daniel Olbrychski, tries to cram in as many spy story clichés as it can into one, seamless, frantic whole that has as much action as it lacks soul.
So What really happened to Starbuck at the end of BSG?
The gay haters of the Westboro Baptist Church decided to picket Comic Con. not a good move as it turned out.

Addendum: More on Westboro Gay Haters Picket Comic Con in San Diego then kinda wished they hadn't.
Sam Axe: The Movie starring the incomparable Bruce Campbell, of course.
Paul Spudis compares and contrasts lunar vs. asteroid resources, their extraction, and their utilization.

Friday, July 23, 2010

An early mission for a SDHLV, deploying a space based solar power station prototype?
A big loser in the rejection of Obamaspace by the Congress, Lori Garver?
Is the Fall of the Iranian Theocracy Imminent?
Writing in Forbes, Reza Kahili, the pseudonym of a former CIA Operative who infiltrated the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, is predicting the imminent collapse of the theocratic regime in Iran.
House Science and Technology Committee passes its version of NASA Authorization Bill
Journolist Members Went After Keith Olbermann
The Daily Caller's latest story on the unfolding scandal that is Journolist concerns an unlikely target for ire from what Fred Barnes dubbed "The Vast Left Wing Media Conspiracy."
It seems that the folks at Journolist really hated Keith Olbermann.
Democrat Charles Rangel Charged with Multiple Ethics Violations
Rep. Charles Rangel, the former Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has been charged with multiple ethics violations by the House Ethics Committee. So far, the 80-year-old Rangel remains defiant.
'Futurama,' Season 6, Episode 6: 'Lethal Inspection'
"Futurama," Season 6, Episode 6: "Lethal Inspection" begins with what looks like a 31st Century version of "Deadliest Warrior," in this case Civil War Union soldiers, depicted by our heroes of Planet Express, versus the Sith Lords, depicted by nerds.
'Burn Notice:' Season 4, Episode 7, 'Past and Future Tense'
In "Burn Notice:" Season 4, Episode 7, "Past and Future Tense," a woman lounging on the beach who really ought not to be wearing a bikini may lead Jesse to Marv, his old boss, at least to a new clue on the matter he is working on, and perhaps even redemption.
'A Very Potter Sequel' Hams it Up (Video)
Fred Ward as Ronald Reagan in 'Farewell', a Cold War Thriller (Video)
Is the Senate asking NASA to to too much with too little? Almost certainly, though most think that the shuttle derived heavy lifter will cost less than the Ares 1.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Even more news about lunar water.
The discovery of abundant and ubiquitous water on the moon could mean a human settlement on the moon is not so far-fetched. Currently, the endeavour would be very expensive. For example, it costs $25,000 to take one pint of water to the moon. However, if scientists devise processes to easily recover this water from the lunar rocks for drinking water and fuel, a human settlement is not out of reach.

“Now we have ready sources of water that can be consumed by plants and humans but also electrolyzed into liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to develop rocket fuel,” Taylor said. “Until the recent discovery of water in and on the moon, it was going to be a very energy-intensive endeavor to separate these elements from the lunar rocks and soil.”

Of course there is no need to go back to the Moon, since Buzz Aldrin has already been there...
Rand Simberg makes an interesting argument against the House version of the NASA authorization bill. It will cede space supremacy to the Russians.

There are some arguments against the House bill; it does cut too deep into the commercial initiative, for example. Indeed, it doesn't fund anything very adequately (an argument against the Senate version as well.)

Mind, Rand makes some assumptions, like accepting the disputed conclusion that an Orion/Ares 1 system wouldn't be available until 2017 but a commercial system would be available much earlier. There are not guarantees either way.

Then there is this:

"We don't make this demand for moving troops to a war zone -- we rely on commercial systems."

Not exactly. We have a fleet of C-130s, C-5s, and C-17, chartering commercial aircraft when required to supplement the Air Force transports. That's sort of what the previous plan was for space; a government owned and operated Orion/Ares to be supplemented or replaced by a commercial vehicle should that come available.

And why is it determined to spend an order of magnitude more money for an "insurance policy" against the potential failure of multiple commercial providers? That's not how any insurance policy with which I'm familiar works -- usually it's a small amount of money to pay to insure a much larger amount.

Of course no amount of insurance money is going to get us access to ISS if the commercial companies fail or are even delayed (which has been the case up until now) and the Russians start holding that access hostage.

There is a pretty good argument for development a government space transportation system, which can be scaled up to travel beyond LEO, to provide a backup for the commercial system (which won't go beyond LEO) should there be failures and/or delays in its development. Rand's argument is specious also because handing over space to Russia, or China, or some other power would almost certainly happen under Obamaspace.
The Village to be shut down due to budget cuts.
It looks like Sarah Palin's post on the 9/11 mosque was deleted. Censorship?
The natural gas, clean energy idea of T. Boone Pickens, Texas oil man
How Journolist Went After Sarah Palin
The latest story from The Daily Caller on the unfolding Journolist scandal concerns a discussion that took place the day John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. It looks like Palin was right: the mainstream media was out to get her
Bobby Jindal Rallies the People Against Obama Oil Drilling Moratorium (Video)
More about the in the works companion film to 300, Xerxes.
Shirley Sherrod Escalates the Race War
Having been the victim of an unfounded charge of racism, one would think that Shirley Sherrod would have acquired a certain sensitivity about the issue. But a recent interview of Sherrod by Media Matters suggests otherwise.
The Space Frontier Foundation offers their usual purple prose in regards to the House version of the NASA bill.
Congressional ostriches seem willing to sacrifice practical, innovative exploration today for the possibility of Apollo-redux tomorrow. Friends of commercial space, now is the time to call Chairman Gordon, as well as the other members of the House Science Committee, to say, “Please restore the President’s funding level for commercial crew, have the House Committee postpone a vote, and go back to the drawing board to put together a sustainable plan that makes sense for NASA and the nation!”

Of course the only exploration envisioned by Obamaspace consists of vague promises of visits to asteroids and Mars orbit some time in the far future. In the meantime, the Moon is bypassed because, after all, Buzz Aldrin has already been there.

The real story is how the SFF and other Obamaspace koolaid drinkers have made themselves totally irrelevant by shackling themselves to a corpse. Can you imagine the quality of a handful of letters Congress will get because of this rant. "Fully fund commercial space and abolish NASA, you pork sated sots, or I'll hold my breath until I turn blue." To be filed under the nutter file.

Mind, the final product is likely to look more like the Senate version than the House, if only because the relevant players are getting behind it. In any event the House bill will likely be a bargaining position. What will emerge is a flawed compromise, but it is something that can be built on and improved in the out years. Meanwhile the Internet Rocketeer Club will continue to howl that it didn't get absolutely everything it wants.
Shirley Sherrod Racism Charges - Krauthammer Responds (Video)
Provision of House NASA bill suggests displaying space shuttle orbiters in Houston, Texas, Florida

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The guy who threatened the two South Park guys has been arrested and charged as a terrorist.
Captain America Latest Comic Book Hero to Be De-Americanized
It appears that Captain America is going to be the latest iconic comic book superhero to be de-Americanized for the movies, at least according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. That will be quite a trick for a hero with the word "America" in his name.
Media Bias Revealed on Journolist
Rush Limbaugh Must Die; Fox News Must Be Destroyed

The Daily Caller, a new online journal created by Tucker Carlson, has been reporting about the goings on at a now defunct online discussion group called Journolist. The reporting confirms the worst fears about the mainstream media.
'Covert Affairs' Season 1 Episode 2 'Walter's Walk'
In "Covert Affairs," Season 1, Episode 2: "Walter's Walk," Annie Walker, who had proven her worth in the take-down of the Russian assassin in the previous episode, is nevertheless assigned to interviewing walk in duty.
'Deadliest Warrior: Comanche Vs. Mongol'
"Deadliest Warrior: Comanche vs. Mongol" pitted against one another not only the two greatest horse-mounted warriors in history, but also the most fierce tribal-style fighters. Naturally, the usual bragging and threat displays were over the top.
Navy Shipboard Laser Cannon Shoots Down Aerial Drone
The idea of laser cannons being used in actual battle has been around since Buck Rogers fought with blasters. This Navy test of a defensive laser cannon shooting down an aerial drone shows that the idea may be reality soon.
Looks like the Senate Appropriators are going to use the Senate Commerce Committee blueprint with some minor alterations.
Andrew Breitbart and the Shirley Sherrod Video

Addendum: It seems that the President of the NAACP was preasent at the speech. What makes that interesting is that Ben Jealous condemned Shirley Sherrod's remarks even though he was present to hear the context and promised to look into the cheering and laughing during the racist bits, even though he was there to see it and may even have joined in.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Harry Flashman and the Invasion of Iraq? Fascinating idea, but are there not copyright considerations here?
Shirley Sherrod Video Exonerates Her (Video)
Armstrong, Cernan, and Lovell all like the NASA bills being worked in the Congress.

Link fixed
Filming for Atlas Shrugged Part 1 has wrapped.
'Smart' metal could replace refrigerants This could result in far cheaper to run air conditioning systems. Take that, Stan Cox!
A fact checker of Sarah Palin needs a little fact checking of her own.
'Mad Men' Returns for Season 4
"Mad Men," the AMC series about advertising men (and a few women) and their friends and family in the early 1960s, returns for a fourth season this Sunday, and none too soon. "Mad Men" is one of the most fascinating shows on TV.
SpaceX likes the Senate Bill.
Shirley Sherrod Resigns
Shirley Sherrod, the USDA official who was caught on tape recounting an incident in which she discriminated against a white farmer seeking government help, was obliged to resign from her position because of her remarks.

Addendum: Fred Thompson's take.
A black USDA employee was fired for saying during a speech to the NAACP that she refused to help a white farmer.

That's outrageous! We should expect government employees to give everyone - regardless of race - the same level of surly, resentful, unhelpful assistance.
A Flag in the Dust
Sadly, it appears right now that the next manned lunar mission is probably not going to be an American mission. Though the exact outline of NASA’s future remains as yet unclear, President Obama has rejected the Moon as a future destination, and Congress appears willing to accept this decision.

Instead, either a Chinese, Indian, or Russian astronaut is likely going to be the next human to stroll onto Tranquility Base, taking pictures and souvenirs. All three nations have expressed a determination to get to the Moon. All three have also demonstrated in recent years the technological know-how for making it happen.

When they arrive at Tranquility Base and see that flag on the ground, what will they do? I expect that they will likely leave it where they find it, photographing its sad state with a certain joyous glee. For they will be standing there over it, while we will be stuck here on Earth, unable to do anything about it.

As an American, I don’t like this prospect at all. It seems to me that the political decision to abandon the Moon is foolish and short-sighted. Though I completely support the idea of sending astronauts out to explore the asteroids, I see no reason to exclude the Moon in that journey.

Eventually we are going to want to build colonies on Mars. To make that happen, we will first need to figure out how to build spaceships capable of keeping humans alive in space for long periods of time. Thus, Obama’s proposal to go to the asteroids as well as do long term research on the International Space Station is precisely the right approach for gaining this type of engineering knowledge.

However, these things can teach us little about building a human settlement on another world. To gain this knowledge, we need to also build some test colonies. And what better place to do that but on the Moon?

In the final analysis, what I really want is for my own country to be the first to send its astronauts everywhere, not just to the asteroids but back to Tranquility Base as well. And what I also want is for those next American lunar explorers to see that fallen flag at Tranquility Base and to immediately set it upright again, for all to see.

By doing so, we will be declaring unequivocally to all that the United States and its free citizens are here to participate in as well as shape the future. We will be saying, without hesitation or fear, that “Here we stand, here we will stay, and from here we will go forward, for all time. Come with us!”

Amen amen, amen.
Obama cancels space exploration program, minorities hurt the most.
When Will the Next Moon Landing Be?
When will the next Moon Landing take place, and how will it be undertaken? Up until last February, the answer would have been sometime in 2019, and aboard space craft being developed by Project Constellation, started by President George W. Bush.
The Impeachment of President Al Gore
Happy 41st Apollo Moon Landing Day. After some months of near despair that there may never be another American on the Moon, Congress (of all things) has provided a little hope. See the story on the House version of NASA authorization below, which tracks with Senate NASA Bill to Include the Moon as a Destination for Future Explorers, Settlers.

Some more material about lunar exploration and settlement, in no particular order:

Lunar probe images debunk moon landing conspiracy theories

Living on the Moon

The Dish Reaching for the Stars from Down Under

Magnficent Desolation: Tom Hanks' Vision of Lunar Exploration

The Case for Private Property Rights on Other Worlds

The Promise of Lunar Based Astronomy

Building a Town on the Moon

The First Woman on the Moon

Will China Beat the United States Back to the Moon?

In the Shadow of the Moon

The Google Lunar X Prize

The Economic Development of the Moon

Fly Me to the Moon: The Moon as a New Economic Frontier

What Shall We Do with the Moon Once We Get There?

The Mythbusters Look at the Moon Landing Hoax

India's Chandrayaan 1 Successfully Launches

Christmas on the Moon

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in Lunar Orbit

Since Apollo 11, Changing Public Attitudes Toward Space Exploration

We Choose the Moon; Reenacting Apollo 11 Virtually

Apollo Moon Landing Hoax Theory Persists

It's Moon Landing Day at Tranquility Base

The Moon Landings as Told in Pictures

Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories and Whoopi Goldberg

Renegotiating the Outer Space Treaty

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter finds evidence of ice at lunar polar regions

Did Chandrayaan-1 confirm water on the Moon?

Water on the Moon found in lunar topsoil by Chandrayaan-1

Water on the Moon; What Comes Next?

William Safire's role in the Apollo Moon landing

Lunar water mining technology now being tested

A new theory on the origin of lunar water

NASA Moon bombing to take place early Friday, October 9th, 2009

LCROSS impacts the lunar surface

LCROSS detects debris plume over lunar surface

NASA's Regolith Excavation Challenge concludes with three winners

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter sees a flag on the Moon

LCROSS confirms water on the Moon

Water on the Moon discovery sparks more interest in lunar exploration

Water on the Moon; What Comes Next?

China to launch Chang'e lunar probe in October, 2010

Water on the Moon - science story of the year, if not the decade

A Hole in the Moon - Humankind's Next Home?

Public/Private Return to the Moon

Water ice now confirmed at Moon's North Pole

China to Build Moon Rocket in 'Saturn V Class'

Houston's Johnson Space Center 'Project M' details emerge

NASA's Robonaut to the Moon

The Strategic Importance of the Moon

Return to the Moon in Literature

More Water on the Moon Than in the Great Lakes

NASA MMO Game 'MoonBase Alpha' to Be Released

NASA's Project M to land a robot on the Moon proceeds apace, despite no formal approval

John F. Kennedy's 'We Choose to Go to the Moon' Speech at Rice Stadium

Why We Should Colonize the Moon with Dennis Wingo (Video)

Monday, July 19, 2010

The draft version of the House version of the NASA Authorization Act has been released. Like the Senate version, it calls for a space craft and a heavy lifter similar to the Orion/Ares system. It was explicitly lists the Moon as a destination, though it directs NASA to seek international partnerships to accomplish that goal.

My main caveat with that is that it may be more useful to seek commercial partnerships, say a commercial lander and habitat. But the House version of the bill expands the push back against the abandonment of the Moon by the Obama administration.

Much more anon.
New Thatcher Biopic, Starring Meryl Streep, to Trash the Iron Lady
When the film trades broke the news that a film biopic of Margaret Thatcher, to star Meryl Streep, was being developed, a tremor of dread went through the hearts of the many admirers of the Iron Lady who was once Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Obama Closing of Auto Dealerships Cost Tens of Thousands of Jobs, Government Audit Suggests
A new audit by Neil Barofsky, the Inspector General of the TARP program, suggests that the Obama administration made a huge mistake when it closed a number of auto dealerships when it seized control of Chrysler and GM.
USDA Official Shirley Sherrod Boasts of Discriminating Against a White Farmer (Video)
Glenn Reynolds reviews a book about the Voyager missions.
n this regard, Voyager was following in the footsteps of other great explorers, like Columbus, Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan. That's a point that Mr. Pyne makes at (very) great length. His treatment of earlier explorers is, in keeping with modern orthodoxy, largely censorious. He sees such figures as rapacious and base, driven by ambition more than by a thirst for knowledge. "Discovery nests within a narrative of Western imperialism," he writes. "It does not exist within a narrative of exploration as an act and institution in its own right."

But today's self-consciously critical treatment of the Age of Exploration is even more tiresome than yesteryear's heroically uncritical treatment. The great explorers of history may not have been perfect, but unlike their modern critics they were willing to risk all for new knowledge, and in the process they produced an interconnected globe and a civilization accomplished enough to send its eyes and ears to the edge of the solar system and beyond.

It remains to be seen whether today's intellectual legacy will be as impressive. The signs of late have not been encouraging. Witness the recent statement by President Obama's appointee to head NASA, Charles Bolden, who said that his "perhaps foremost" mission is to "engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering." Was Voyager the last gasp from an age of exploration that is past, or was it another triumph in a momentous era that continues? It's within our power to decide.
Andre Bormanis defends the "Constellation as Apollo is bad" meme and advocates a variety of partnerships for exploration going forward. Bormanis forgets that the partnerships he describes are already being practiced by NASA and would be part of an exploration program whether it is Constellation, Obamaspace, or something else. Jeff Foust thinks that the reaction to Bolden's "mission to the Muslims" gaffe is much ado about nothing by a bunch of right wingers. He's wrong and misses the point. The reaction laid bare a wide spread discontent over the dismantling of NASA's space exploration program, with a healthy disbelief that what was proposed to replace it had any value. Finally Linda Billings sneers at the idea of space settlements at least on other worlds like Mars and demands that such places be kept "pure" of human "contamination."
'True Blood:' Season 3, Episode 5, 'Trouble'
"True Blood:" Season 3, Episode 5: "Trouble" begins to really focus on King Russell as the focus of trouble and evil for this season of the series. If this were "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Russell would be referred to as the "big bad."
Sarah Palin, like many other politicians, has added to the English language. This is a sign of imagination and intelligence.

Addendum: Sarah Palin Invents 'Refudiate,' Gets a Lot of People Angry
Sarah Palin has gotten her enemies up in arms by inadvertently inventing a new word, "refudiate." Mind, this is likely a typo version of "repudiate," but that has not stopped the Internet frenzy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Frank Sietzen seems to have awaken from his Obamaspace delirium to write an interesting analysis of the Senate Commerce NASA bill. I don't think that the Senate bill is the end by any means, but it could be the beginning of a repair of the civil space program from the grenade that President Obama tossed into it.
Biden - Failure of Stimulus the Fault of Republicans
Faced with the failure of the stimulus package, Vice President Joe Biden is pretty sure who is to blame for the fact that the administration essentially took almost a trillion
dollars and burned it in a pile in the middle of the street for all the effect it had on the economy.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Why We Should Colonize the Moon with Dennis Wingo (Video)
Have the rules changed? Or liberals say goodbye to all that.
The Obama Bumper Sticker Removal Kit (Video)
The thirty fifth anniversary of Apollo/Soyuz has rolled around. In my opinion it was a waste of a good Apollo spacecraft which ought to have gone to the Moon or at least Skylab, in my humble opinion. Jim Oberg has some reflections. On a personal note, I was working at my college radio station at the time and was part of the live team coverage of the mission, which was quite a treat for a teenage space fan at the time.
Stars of 'Inception' Dump on Palin, Cheney, CEO of BP (Video)
Hugo Chavez Digs Up Simon Bolivar's Body
The latest grotesquery committed by Venezuela's mad cap dictator, Hugo Chavez, is his exhumation of the body of Simon Bolivar, the early 19th Century hero of the wars for independence of South America from Spain.
'Inception': The Dream as a Film and the Film as a Dream
'Inception', a film by Christopher Nolan and starring Leonardo Di Caprio, is one of the most fascinating and intellectually challenging films to come along in a long time. 'Inception' melds theme, character, and action into a seamless whole.
Apparently the Meryl Streep Margaret Thatcher movie will be worse than anyone has feared.
SpaceShipTwo, aka VSS Enterprise, flew aloft attached to WhiteKnightTwo.
Barack Obama, NASA, and the Hopelessness of Attempting to Satirize Him
Example: Perhaps one was working on a satirical piece regarding Obama and his apologetic disposition to the Muslim world, then mid-script, this actual headline appears: Barack Obama re-Directs NASA Away From Space To Reach Out To The Muslim World. How do you follow that on stage? Especially with the fear a second headline appearing: Obama To Present Leaders Of The Muslim World With Pearl Handled Box Cutters. Second, with Obama’s pathological obsession and defense of Islam, one would have to be wary of ending up, as have Salman Rushdie, Kurt Westergaard (the cartoonist depicting Muhammad), or Geert Wilders (Dutch Politician who is not particularly fond of Islam), on the to-do list of infidels who need to be emancipated from their heads with a knife by a peaceful and loving agent of Islam.
Old Spice Guy Gives President Obama Some Advice (Video)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Will Smith is going to play Cain (as in Cain and Abel) as a vampire.
Apparently honor killing is not longer a jailable offense in Canada.
More about living in Moon caves.
Sheila Jackson Lee and the 'Two Vietnams'
Lori Garver likes the Senate NASA bill. For now, at least.
World War II: Worse mini series ever.
Aaron Sorkin to Direct John Edwards Biopic 'The Politician'
Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter and television producer who is famous for projects that approach politics from a left-wing perspective, is about to direct a film based on a book about John Edwards. It is an unusual choice indeed.
Andrew Breitbart to NAACP 'You Can Go to Hell'
Is it Now on Between Palin and Romney?
Mitt Romney has a problem. Recently, some unnamed Romney staffers burbled to Time Magazine that Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and presumed candidate for president, was "not a serious human being."
'Futurama,' Season 6, Episode 5: 'The Duh-Vinci Code'
"Futurama," Season 6, Episode 5: "The Duh-Vinci Code" is, of course, the show's tribute to "The Da Vinci Code" -- somewhat late, considering that the book and the movie have been out for many years.
'Burn Notice," Season 4, Episode 5: 'Entry Point'
In "Burn Notice," Season 4, Episode 5: "Entry Point," Kendra, the lunatic assassin taken in the previous episode and tossed into the trunk of a car, has now been taken to a refurbished, undisclosed location for interrogation.
Will lunar caves lead to lunar spelunking? We'll see when we get there.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Wall Street Journal Article on the Senate NASA bill mainly concentrates on the commercial initiative. If one looked at some of the Internet Rocketeer Club blogs, one would think they had zeroed out commercial space and taken Elon Musk out and shot him. The inconvenient truth is that the Senate authorizors gave commercial space pretty much what Obama wanted. But try telling that to the IRC folks who look like they want to slit their wrists.
The first island made from recycled trash?
Senate Commerce Committee Passes NASA Authorization Bill
President Sarah Palin, 2012?

Addendum: Poll: Palin tied with Obama 46-46.

There is a line item in the poll for people who "don't remember" whom they voted for in 2008. I would suggest that would be the stoner vote which likely went for Obama.
Hillary Clinton for President 2012?
With President Barack Obama's poll numbers in a death spiral, and the Democrats in Congress facing the mother of all defeats in the November election, Pete Du Pont suggests a remedy for the Democrats' woes: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Bill Press Thinks Americans Are Spoiled and Don't Appreciate Barack Obama
It looks like the White House has thrown in the towel and will now accept the Senate compromise NASA bill.

Alan Boyle has more.

Addendum: Clark Lindsey's reaction seems typical of the Internet Rocketeer Club. Though the commercial space initiative gets funded, albeit at a lower level, Clark is about the commit seppeku over the fact that a space exploration program, based around Orion and a heavy lift vehicle, also remains.

This shows how utterly politically clueless large parts of space activism are. Politics, properly understood, is the art of the compromise. The Senate bill seems to give almost everybody everything they want. I personally don't like the fact that the technology program is not well funded and the overall bill (at least as of this writing) seems to underfund both commercial space and Constellation Lite. But those things can be fixed and built on in the out years, especially when the next President is in office. Overall, Senators Nelson and Hutchison did a pretty good job picking up the pieces of the US space program that Obama blew apart last February and put something reasonable back together.

But Clark and I suspect a few others are behaving like someone who just got a sports car for Christmas and, instead of being happy, is utterly enraged that his sister also got one. This is why the so-called space movement really suck at politics.

Addendum: Jon Goff joins the whining chorus. He's actually worse than the guy who just got the sports car. He's looking at it and complaining that it's not a Ferrari and that he has to pay for gas an insurance.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How the Orion/SD-HLV architecture can be used to go back to the Moon and then beyond. Lots of commercial options, some with fuel depots.
Larry Hagman, of 'Dallas' Fame, Supports Solar Power to Stave Off 'Collapse of Civilization'
The latest spokesperson for solar energy is none other than Larry Hagman, the star of such shows as "I Dream of Jeannie' and "Dallas." The irony is that Hagman played a character named J.R. Ewing, a walking, talking caricature of a Texas oil man.
Tomorrow the Senate Commerce Committee will mark up and pass the NASA Authorization Bill. There is some last minute lobbying going on, from the Obamaspace supporting Space Frontier Foundation and the Constellation supporting Support Constellation.
Robert Zimmerman provides a post mortem for Obamaspace.
If you are going to request major changes to any government program that requires the approval of elected officials beholden to the people in their districts, you have to provide those elected officials some cover for their actions. You simply can’t shutdown these programs willy-nilly without any negotiation and expect members of Congress to go along — even if what you propose is a good idea and makes sense.
Corvette 'We Still Build Rockets' Ad Implicitly Slams Obama Space Plan (Video)
Obama Justice Department Declines to Sue Sanctuary Cities
The Obama administration is suing the state of Arizona because it claims that its anti-illegal immigration law runs contrary to federal immigration law. Apparently, though, the Obama Justice Department will not sue so-called "sanctuary cities."
Speaker Pelosi Slams White House's Gibbs for Suggesting Democratic House Loss
Recently, Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, acknowledged what the entire world knows: that the Democrats are in serious danger of losing the House. This bit of news did not sit well with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Brad Sherman Had No KNowledge of the Black Panther Voter Intimidation Scandal
Congressman Pete Olson has answered the question of who was lying about the "Mission to the Muslims." It was, as many suspected, the Obama White House.
Senate NASA Bill to Include the Moon as a Destination for Future Explorers, Settlers
A draft version of the Senate NASA Authorization Bill for fiscal year 2011 has emerged. The outlines are pretty much as reported, with both elements of the Obama space plan and Constellation funded. However, the Moon is back on as a destination.
'Covert Affairs': USA Network's New Spy Drama Has an Appealing First Episode
"Covert Affairs," Season 1, Episode 1: "Pilot," is the first episode of a new television series on USA about Annie Walker, played by Piper Perabo, a newly minted CIA agent taken out of the Farm, the CIA training school, for an operation in Washington DC.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Trust Fred Thompson to figure out Obama's secret plan to go to the Moon.
The NASA IG report on the ouster of Jeff Hanley as manager of the Constellation program reads like a white wash. But if one reads the report carefully, despite certain denials, we can plainly see a NASA official being punished for expressing his opinion and being too supportive of a program that both the Congress and the public support.

More on NASA IG Report on the Ouster of Jeff Hanley as Constellation Manager a White Wash
The NASA Inspector General has issued a report on the removal of Jeff Hanley as manager of the Constellation space exploration program. The conclusion suggests that nothing untoward was done. The body of the report tells a different story.
NASA has announced three new Centennial Challenges
The Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge is to place a small satellite into Earth orbit, twice in one week, with a prize of $2 million. The goals of this challenge are to stimulate innovations in low-cost launch technology and encourage creation of commercial nano-satellite delivery services.

The Night Rover Challenge is to demonstrate a solar-powered exploration vehicle that can operate in darkness using its own stored energy. The prize purse is $1.5 million. The objective is to stimulate innovations in energy storage technologies of value in extreme space environments, such as the surface of the moon, or for electric vehicles and renewable energy systems on Earth.

The Sample Return Robot Challenge is to demonstrate a robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples from wide and varied terrain without human control. This challenge has a prize purse of $1.5 million. The objectives are to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies.
Taliban Training Monkey Soldiers? (Video)
NAACP to Play the Race Card Against Tea Party
It looks like the venerable civil rights organization the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is preparing to play the race card against the Tea Party movement, according to UPI.
Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina Take Lead in California, SurveyUSA Poll Reports
A new SurveyUSA Poll suggests that the top two Republican candidates in that state, Meg Whitman running for Governor and Carly Fiorina running for United States Senator, have moved into the lead against their Democratic opponents.
Repealing Obamacare--and Beyond (Video)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Al Franken May Have Been Elected to Senate by Voter Fraud, Study Suggests
A study done by an organization called Minnesota Majority suggests that Al Franken, of Saturday Night Live fame, was elected to the Senate on the basis of illegal votes by convicted felons in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
It looks like that Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, is the latest person to be thrown under the bus by Barack Obama for the "Mission to the Muslims" gaffe.

More on NASA's Charles Bolden thrown under the bus by Obama for "Mission to the Muslims" gaffe

To paraphrase that great philosopher Vin Diesel, his first mistake was that he took the job.
A lot of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation document Commercial Crew "Myths and Facts" contains assertions that might be true, but have not yet been proven by experience. So one should not read it uncritically.
"We Will Not Be Silenced 2008" Alleges Obama Stole Democratic Nomination from Hillary Clinton
Roman Polanski Freed; Swiss Refuse Extradition
Switzerland has refused to extradite filmmaker Roman Polanski to the United States to face charges related to the 1977 rape of a then-13-year-old girl. The reason for the refusal should provoke worldwide outrage, but likely will not.
Stan Cox Wants to Ban Air Conditioning
Proving that there is no folly fallacious enough that it can't be written down, both in a book and in an oped in the Washington Post, Stan Cox, an agricultural scientist, has proposed to ban or greatly restrict air conditioning.
Jeff Foust discusses The gap in NewSpace business plans in which he informs us how commercial space or "new space" has to adhere to certain economic rules to survive and thrive and not on magic. He risks being attacked by the Internet Rocketeer Club for his heresy.
Senate 'Compromise' NASA Bill Guts Obama Space Initiatives, Underfunds Space Exploration
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting budget number details from the Senate version of the 2011 NASA Authorization Bill. What appears to be emerging is a NASA budget that neither fully funds Constellation or the Obama space plan.
'True Blood,' Season 3, Episode 4: '9 Crimes'
n "True Blood," Season 3, Episode 4: "9 Crimes," Bill and Sookie finally get in touch over the cell phone. In a very flat voice, Bill informs Sookie that it is all over between them, which makes Sookie sad and confused.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Israel is launching its own civilian space program. It appears more designed to assist Israeli commercial space than developing a national space faring capacity.
Obama was selected not elected allege Hillary supporters.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani Death by Stoning Put Off in Iran 'For Now'
An Iranian judge has put off "for now" the execution by stoning of a 43 year old mother named Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. One supposes that there is some comfort that even one of the most barbaric, misogynist regimes in the world can know shame.
Why we still miss Bush.
Stephen Smith makes a phony analogy between the Obama/Bolden "Mission to the Muslims" and the Reagan era shuttle flight of Prince Sultan ibn Salman al Saud. Smith artfully leaves out some differences. Bolden said on Al Jazeera that it was the "foremost mission" of NASA to make Muslims feel good about themselves about their thousand year past accomplishments in science, math, and technology. The Bolden remarks took place against a backdrop of the utter gutting of NASA's primary responsibility, the exploration of space.

No one doubted Reagan's commitment to the space program. Reagan, after all, initiated the space station program (the way it was implemented is another issue.) There is some evidence that President Reagan would have started his own version of a beyond LEO space exploration program had the Iran/Contra scandal not blighted the last quarter of his administration. NASA as a diplomatic tool was seen as a happy by product of NASA engaging in space flight under every administration up until the current one. Under Obama, diplomacy and other fluff have become NASA's primary missions.
Has King Arthur's 'Round Table' Been Found?
Have archeologists found the site of the famous round table of the King Arthur legends and hence the site of Camelot? Recent studies suggest that "the round table" was, in fact, a Roman built amphitheater recently discovered in the English town of Chester.
Obama stimulus fund support of solar energy firms comes under criticism
Fly Me to the Crescent Moon

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Paul Spudis sees Charles Bolden's inane statements to Al Jazeera as a symptom of a deeper management malaise. Undoubtedly there is some truth to that, which makes me wonder further why anyone ever supported Obamaspace which seems to exacerbate that tendency and not alleviate it. In any case, the rot comes from the top, above Bolden's pay grade and did not start with the current President.
More Details of Senate NASA Authorization Bill Emerge
More details have been released about the Senate NASA Authorization Bill that is due to be marked up on Thursday by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. It is being described as a compromise as it preserves five main elements of Obama's space plan as well as some elements of Constellation.
'Predators' Film Review
In 'Predators' Robert Rodriguez attempts to both refresh the franchise and expand its scope. Superficially 'Predators' is similar to the 1987 original 'Predator' in the sense of a group of Earth warriors being hunted down in a jungle.
Mel Gibson's Rant May Sink His Career
Mel Gibson, who previously drew unwanted attention to himself by using anti Semitic language in a drunken rant to police officers, may have finally sunk his career by apparently using one of the words you cannot say ever to his ex girl friend.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Michael Reagan is the latest to inveigh against the "Mission to the Muslims.
ArcelorMittal steel plant uses "Recycled Green Energy" from waste heat to save on electricity costs
Are Congressional Democrats Planning a 'Mad Duck Session' to Ram Through a Left-Wing Agenda?
John Fund is reporting that congressional Democrats may be planning a very ambitious lame duck session after the November elections. The idea is that a liberal wish-list can be passed without fear of voter retaliation.
I'm not sure what to think about the news that Kevin Sorbo wants to produce a film version of Alongside Night the dystopic,libertarian story of American in collapse. It would certainly be a relevant film. On the other hand, Sorbo is responsible for dumming down "Andromeda." In any case, the synopsis:
The American economy is in freefall. Markets are crashing. Inflation is soaring. Bankruptcies, foreclosures and unemployment are up, and even defense contracts are going overseas. The United States military is threatening to go on strike. Foreigners are buying up everything in America at firesale prices while gloating over the fall of a once great nation. Homeless people and gangs own the streets. Smugglers use the latest technology to operate bold enterprises that the government is powerless to stop, even with totalitarian spying on private communications. Anyone declared a terrorist by the administration is being sent to a secret federal prison where constitutional rights don't exist.

And caught in the middle of it all are the brilliant teenage son of a missing Nobel-prizewinning economist, his best friend from prep school whose uncle was once an Israeli commando, and the beautiful but mysterious teenage girl he meets in a secret underground ... a girl who carries a pistol with a silencer.

The setting could be next week. But this novel was written three decades ago.
New Jersey's Christie Proposes Massive Privatization of Government Services
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is proposing that a vast array of state services be privatized. A study has suggested that the state would save roughly $210 million with this sweeping program of privatization.
Senate committee to refuse to authorize much of Obama space plan, much of Constellation to be kept
Sharron Angle's Anti Harry Reid Campaign Ad Focuses on Unemployment in Nevada (Video)
Obama's modesty about U.S. doesn't extend to himself
For good measure, Bolden added that the United States cannot get to Mars without international assistance. Besides the fact that this is not true, contrast this with the elan and self-confidence of President Kennedy's pledge that America would land on the moon within the decade.

There was no finer expression of belief in American exceptionalism than Kennedy's. Obama has a different take. As he said last year in Strasbourg, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Which of course means: If we're all exceptional, no one is.
'Futurama,' Season 6, Episode 4: 'Proposition Infinity'
In "Futurama," Season, 6 Episode 4: "Proposition Infinity," the series delves into heavy-handed social satire for the second week in a row. If the revival of the series becomes burning issue of the week, it is in trouble.
Does NASA's Moonbase Alpha game encourage bad behavior?
Senator Vitter slams Obamaspace.
Bob Zimmerman has a very nuanced critique of Obamaspace. Mind, there are some flaws, such as the use of the adjective "Soviet-style" to describe NASA. Mind NASA is a government agency, with all that implies. But a hint of why "Soviet style" may just be a little over the top would be to reflect that NASA engineers are not shot in the back of the head or shipped to a gulag when they miss a deadline. Nor is the space agency "socialist." By the rather loose definition supplied, every government agency is socialist, including the military and the courts.

Yes, the criticisms of NASA as being inefficient and slow to change are dead on. But I do not think that changing the space agency into a conduit for prizes and subsidies for commercial space firms is workable, not politically certainly, not even practically. Certainly both have their place in any space program reform effort, but there will always be, in my judgment, a place for cutting edge research and exploration run publicly.

My own model for what that would be like would be the operation run by Prince Henry the Navigator in the late 14th and early 15th Century. Prince Henry of Portugal helped to develop navigation and ship building technology that would serve a lot of the early explorers such as Columbus and Magellan in good stead. But the Navigator also tested that technology with actual ships in actual voyages of discovery, far out into the Atlantic, and gradually around the coast of Africa in search of a sea route to the East Indies.

In any event, Zimmerman's polemic against Obamaspace is dead accurate.
The problem is that I simply do not believe the Obama administration. Everything I have learned about the current President, including the specifics (or lack thereof) of his proposal, tells me that none of his promises are going to be fulfilled.

First, Obama himself has previously expressed a hostility to NASA and the space program. Early in the campaign in 2007, when he was not yet well known and could be more up front about his real beliefs, he stated that he believed NASA was a low priority and that the money would be better used to fund education programs. Though his more recent speeches have lauded the importance of space exploration, they have not been convincing to me. His words have seemed hollow and cliched.

My doubts were further substantiated by the new National Space Policy announced in early July. As I noted then, the sense I got “from reading the Obama policy is a focus not in pushing outward to explore the unknown, to go where no one has ever gone before, but on looking back at the Earth to make things on Earth better.” More proof came with the statements of NASA administrator Charles Bolden shortly thereafter in his interview with al-Jazeera. His priorities — as expressly assigned to him by President Obama — was to inspire kids, improve international relations, and help the Muslim world, not invigorate the American private aerospace industry and explore the solar system.

Then there is the Obama administration proposal itself. As it is often said, the devil is in the details. A close look strongly suggests that the subsidies for the new private companies will never occur.

First, the details are vague, if non-existent. The budget plans say the administration wants to commit a lot of money to several high-technology flagship missions, but lay out absolutely no specifics on what those flagship missions will be. Nor do they provide any specifics for how they intend to help the new private space companies develop the manned capabilities to replace the shuttle.

Second, the way the Obama plan was announced and marketed has demonstrated how incredibly tone deaf this administration is to political needs. The decision to kill both the shuttle program and the Constellation program at the same time is wrenchingly drastic, especially during these very bad economic times. Obama is putting tens of thousands of people out of work at a time when new jobs and new investment are hard to find. And he is doing it in many Congressional districts that face reelection in November.

The death of both these programs at the same time also leaves the United States very vulnerable. It will be years before we will once again have a capability for putting humans into space. In the interim, we will have to rely on Russia to get our astronauts to our own space station, which instantly raises some serious national security issues.

The suggestion that any reengineering of NASA has to take place gradually, to minimize the disruptions and smooth over the political problems, is a sound one.

Read also David Livingston's comment. Also cogent.