Thursday, September 30, 2010

Paul Spudis on viewing stereo maps of the Moon without special glasses.
Tony Curtis in Three Historical Epics: 'The Vikings,' 'Spartacus' and 'Taras Bulba'
Tony Curtis, who died recently at the age of 85, is most mentioned for his comedic roles such as "Some Like It Hot" with Marilyn Monroe and "The Defiant Ones", where he played a prisoner escapee with Sydney Portier.
Rand Simberg writes about the idea that anyone who opposes vast subsidies to commercial space firms are porkers. It's false to the verge of being libelous, in my humble opinion. I hope that the commercial initiative succeeds, despite the structual flaws within it, but I would not be surprised if the kind of delays and cost overrun we have seen in more typical aerospace procurement do not occur in this program as well. Then we'll see if Charlie Bolden, if he is still in charge of NASA at this point, is serious about doing what it takes to bail out SpaceX, et al.

In the meantime, the abandonment of the Moon is still a travesty.

Jeff Foust reports on the House vote. There appears to be a decided lack of enthusiasm, even among those who voted yes. The consenus seems to be that a bill, no matter how flawed, was better than no bill. Expect the matter to be revisited next year when the Republicans take over the House and possibly the Senate.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

'Stargate Universe' Season 2 Episode 1 'Intervention'
In "Stargate Universe" Season 2 Episode 1 "Intervention," Greer and Scott are outside the ship about to be zapped by the pulsar, T.J. is wounded, Kiva is more wounded, and the Lucians are about ready to kill everyone.
Advice to the Aliens for First Contact with the Earthlings
The appointment of Mazlan Othman by the UN as official ambassador to the aliens got me to thinking. We have all speculated about how we Earthlings should react should aliens come to visit. But how should the aliens behave?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mike Griffin opposes the Senate version of the NASA bill.
"As happened after the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia, it is time once again to ask ourselves whether we want to have a real space program, or not. If we do, then the Senate Bill won't get us there. If we cannot do better than that, then I believe we have reached the point where it is better to allow the damage which has been brought about by the administration's actions to play out to its conclusion than to accept half-measures in an attempt at remediation."
Justin Bieber Plays 'Tea Party Terrorist' on 'CSI' Episode
Justin Bieber, apparently the latest teenage heartthrob for hormone-addled pubescent girls, recently took a darker turn when he guest starred on the season premiere of "CSI," in which he plays a domestic terrorist.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews - Private Business Out to 'Screw Obama'
Was Sarah Palin Booed on 'Dancing with the Stars?'
Ordinarily I do not watch shows like "Dancing with the Stars." In fact, this whole live performance art genre that started with "American Idol" leaves me cold. But the presence of a participant for DWTS named Palin has forced my hand.
'True Grit' (2010) Trailer (Video)
'House' Season 7 Episode 2 'Selfish'
In "House" Season 7 Episode 2 "Selfish," House and Cuddy begin to confront the ramifications of their new relationship in the workplace. The degrading experience of going to HR to fill out a "love contract" is just the beginning.
'The Event' Season 1 Episode 2 'To Keep Us Safe'
"The Event" Season 1 Episode 2 "To Keep Us Safe" starts with the airliner, which a moment ago was in the skies over Coral Gables, Florida, about to smack into the President, in the skies over Arizona, about to smack into the ground.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Two new covers for the now famous OBama/Palin Archie comic book
The dark side of the UN's Envoy to the Aliens. Apparently there is an Iran connection.
Keith Cowing is speculating that NASA's Charlie Bolden is about to get the royal order of the boot something I suggested a few months ago.

Now, the question arises, who does Obama choose to replace him. Lori Garver, the current NASA Deputy Administrator, would be an unmitigated disaster for reasons that don't need elaborating.

Bart Gordon, the outgoing Chair of the House Science and Technology Committee? Possibly, even though he just lost a game of chicken with the Senate over the NASA authorization bill. The next person to run NASA will not necessarily be someone who is totally on board with Obamaspace because (a) there are not that many people who are qualified to be NASA administrator and (b) Obama doesn't care about what happens to NASA. He has moved on.
Virgin Galactic's Sir Richard Branson: First Tourist Flights of SpaceShipTwo to Start 'Within 18 Months'
Muses on the Future, Including Space Hotels and Perhaps Flights to the Moon

Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire businessman who founded Virgin Galactic, which plans to offer the first totally commercial space flights for paying customers, announced that the first flights will take place "within eighteen months."
First stills of Rush Limbaugh on Family Guy.
Apparently the House Authorizers have have thrown in the towel (for now) and will vote on the Senate version of the NASA authorization bill. This makes very little difference because (a) the bill sets NASA on auto pilot until the next President can fix things, (b) the appropriators will pass the real funding, though that will likely reflect what is in the authorization bill if one believes past statements, and (c) Congress is going to look quite a bit different next year when the process starts all over again.

For all of you folks who think that the drive to cut the deficit is going to end the SD-HLV, I suggest thinking again. NASA could be considered one of those "security" items (as was the plan for the McCain budget freeze) that gets exempt from the freeze. And if NASA does get cut, considering the bi-partisan antipathy toward Obama's "commercial" plan, I would no doubt that that is where the cutting will fall the heaviest.

Oh, and I predict that there will be a lot of unjustified crowing by the Internet Rocketeer Club for their famous "victory." I doubt that the handful of cards and letters sent to Congress opposing the House bill was even noticed. This was and inside baseball game of chicken between the House and Senate and the House blinked first.
Congressman Alan Grayson's Sleaziest Political Ad Ever (Video)
Rasmussen Polls Bring Hope to McMahon, O'Donnell Senate Bids
Rasmussen has some good news for a pair of long-shot Republican Senate candidates. They are Linda McMahon, the former pro wrestling magnate running in Connecticut, and Christine O'Donnell, who needs no introduction, running in Delaware.
Jonathon Coppersmith makes thew bizarre argument that Obamaspace, which features massive subsidies to "commercial" space firms, including Boeing, is not socialism.

Addendum: Rand Simberg agrees that government financed "commercial" space is "not socialist."
Jeff Foust examines the current thinking concerning "flexible path." The upshot, missions receding into the far future, under funded, and likely vulnerable to cancellation. In other words, more "unsustainable" than Constellation ever was dreamed of being.
Flexible Path is like a mortgage, he argued, that breaks a huge purchase into a large number of smaller payments, even if it means taking longer and spending more than if you bought the house with cash. “The beauty of the mortgage is that it lets you buy it a piece at a time, and that’s the gist of Flexible Path,” he said.

Such an approach, though, requires patience, since by fitting human exploration into a tight budget, it pushes missions out well into the future. Flexible Path, he said, “puts Mars decades away, many decades away.” That creates, more than ever, a need to develop a rationale for human space exploration that can be sustained and supported by multiple administrations and Congresses—a challenge that could prove far more formidable than any technical obstacle to human spaceflight beyond Earth orbit.
'Dexter' Season 5 Episode 1 'My Bad'
"Dexter" Season 5 Episode 1 "My Bad" begins the very second that the last episode of Season 4 ended, with Dexter finding Rita, the one woman who had reached that shriveled core
of humanity within him, bled out in the tub.
'Mad Men' Season 4 Episode 10 'Hands and Knees'
In "Mad Men" Season 4 Episode 10 "Hands and Knees," it looks like the firm is going to get a big, fat contract with North American Aviation. Unfortunately, along with the contract comes mortal peril for Don Draper.
'Boardwalk Empire' Season 1 Episode 2 'The Ivory Tower'
In "Boardwalk Empire" Season 1 Episode 2 "The Ivory Tower," the consequences of the hijacking of the liquor shipment for Arnold Rothstein continue. Some people will just not let go a little banditry and murder.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jim Lovell on the future of human space flight.
Rand Simberg on the fiftieth anniversary of the first Kennedy Nixon debate poses an interesting question.
If Nixon had won instead of Kennedy, would we still have done Apollo?

One has to remember the historical context. JFK had done a serious of rookie mistakes in foreign policy, particularly botching the Bay of Pigs invasion. Nixon would not have held back the air support, if he had gone through with the invasion at all. Of course, things might have gone worse...

The space situation by the Spring would have been the same. The Soviets would still have launched the first man in space and our own Mercury program would have stalled.

Nixon would have had to do--something to reassert American superiority. What it might be is open to speculation, so I will speculate. What about an early space station/space shuttle combo the way Von Braun (who would still have been around) envisioned? That would have kind of fit Nixon's thinking in our time line, building something that could ensure routine access to space with some place for it to go. Von Braun could have build some kind of Saturn V to deploy the space station while something winged (Dyna Soar? An X 15 follow on?) becomes the manned space craft.

Now here is the next question. How do JFK and Lyndon Johnson, who are the Senate in this scenario, react? Do they get on board? Attack the proposal as too much? Too little.

Also remember, under Nixon, no Great Society, probably no big Vietnam escalation. Plenty of money for a space effort focused on showing up the Soviets and doing something permanent.

Addendum: Stacy Bartley emails and makes the following suggestion, "I think a better question is whether Nixon would have gone ahead with the Nova booster. Or perhaps even have eschewing the atmospheric test ban treaty Kennedy favored opted for Dyson's Orion..."

Oh, be still my heart. Or, perhaps, someone should write an alternate history story.
UN Appoints Mazlan Othman, Malaysian Astrophysicist, to Be Alien First Contact Coordinator
The United Nations has prepared for a visitation of aliens on Earth by selecting a designated "first contact coordinator." Her name is Mazlan Othman, a hitherto obscure Malaysian astrophysicist.
Stuxnet Cyber Attack Launched Against Iran
At least thirty thousand computers in Iran, including some controlling the soon to be online nuclear power plant at Bushehr has been infected by a computer worm called Stuxnet designed to take over systems of industrial plants.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happy belated birthday to John Young, commander of Apollo 16 and STS-1 among other things. He turned eighty yesterday. His recent thoughts on why we must expand into space.
'The Good Guys' Season 1 Episode 10 'Vacation'
"The Good Guys" Season 1 Episode 10 "Vacation" was the first new episode since the summer and had Dan doing his usual dumb but macho thing by pursuing a purse snatcher in a commandeered car while blinded by pepper spray.
Andrew Breitbart Appears on 'Real Time with Bill Maher'
I had not planned to watch the second fall episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher", thinking my duty had been dispatched by watching the first. But I heard that Andrew Breitbart was going to be on, which piqued my interest.
Wayne Hale has made what will likely be historic blog post about what really went wrong with Constellation. It was not a flawed design, nor the evil machinations of Mike Griffin, or anything else but the lack of money. This is something the adults have been saying for quite some time.

Then there is this in the comments:
I’m not sure it is so much the internet as the total inability of the social media world to have give and take conversations rather than flame wars. Compromise is the genius of the democratic system and we seem to have lost that. There were plenty of debates about how to structure the space program in the 1960s and they were furious at times but rational decisions were made and almost everyone agreed that the selected way forward – if not their first choice – was at least acceptable. Today nobody seems to be able to accept anything less than total agreement with their position. The internet has contributed to that but it is an attitude hardening of positions that is the biggest problem.

No truer words were ever spoken. When the next President contemplates putting back the pieces of our shattered space program, I hope that he or she selects Wayne Hale as one of the advisers.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pete Olson (R) Texas has an Oped about the current mess that our space program has been turned into by the Obama administration. A couple of observations:
The last two Congresses — one controlled by Republicans, the other by Democrats - endorsed NASA's current path. Unfortunately, they failed to provide the necessary funding. This Congress must meet our commitment to NASA. We must stop bailing out the past in a seemingly endless stream of bailouts and instead start providing for our future.

That is all too true. However, realizing the problem, neither the House nor the Senate has moved to fix it. The Senate NASA bill and the House NASA bill are fairly close, but are deficient in one aspect. They are about three or so billion dollars short to accomplish what they say they want to accomplish.

Then there is this:
He would divert $6 billion in taxpayer dollars, much to companies that have no track record of putting a human in space, let alone ferrying cargo. That is not only wasteful, but potentially reckless. NASA has a nearly 50-year record of human space endeavor.

This is something that really gets that Internet Rocketeer crowd's collective back up. That is because none of them understand business and how it works. NASA, as a potential customer, certainly has a right to ask of companies like SpaceX and Boeing whether they can actually provide the service they say they can for the price they are asking. Every other customer of a good or service asks this if they follow the principle of caveat emptor (i.e. let the buyer beware.) But advocates of the Obamaspace subsidies to commercial space companies want to just assume that private space will do what it has never been able to do before, to bet a lot of money on that assumption and, oh yes, end space exploration for all practical purposes for the foreseeable future.

I always thought that the Bush era COTS approach was better, with time tables, goals that had to be reached, and consequences for failure, as well as a plan B in the form of Ares 1/Orion just in case the commercial space firms could not deliver on time. That way we don't bet billions of dollars and the future of manned space on commercial space companies who might or might not be able to perform.
'Night of the Living Trekkies' - the Trailer (Video)
Bill and Ted Part 3?

Christopher Coates Testifies About Race-Based Justice at the Obama Department of Justice
Christopher Coates, the former voting chief for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division,testified under oath, in defiance of Attorney General Eric Holder, to the Civil Rights Commission on the Justice Department's race-based prosecution methods.
When the Institute for Liberty came out against "Space Pork", many including your humble corespondent wondered what was meant by that. Rand Simberg interviews Andrew Langer of the IL and, while we still have no real definition for "Space Pork", we do have at least a nuanced view of things that is not automatic Obamaspace koolaid drinking.
No, I agree – the new plan has ill-defined goals. But that’s all the more reason why we shouldn’t be adding in more funding into the approps process. We believe in setting defined goals, recognizing the reality of innovation in the year 2010.

Assuming for a moment that the goal should be landing men on Mars by a date certain (and we wouldn’t presume to suggest a date), it isn’t going to be the government, or big-box, staid contractors that are going to solve the problems of how to get there. Those solutions are going to come from the high-tech sector, and we believe that space policy ought to reflect that.

IFL’s core mission is small business and entrepreneurship, and while we are not suggesting that a small firm will get us to Mars, we believe that America’s entrepreneurs will.

As for the “flexible path” – again, if you’re uncertain about where you’re going, the only thing that is certain is that you’re never going to get anywhere.

There is actually a lot that can be said for that concept, though I would focus more immediately on the Moon than on Mars.

It is refreshing to see someone who weighs in on space policy to enunciate what he is for as well as what he is against. Along the lines of a "commercial solution" to space exploration, I have written on that very subject here.

Addendum: How about this as a model for a human return to the Moon? Let's see, NASA provides the HLV and an Orion, some firm like Armadillo builds a lunar lander, Bigelow provides the lunar base, we bring in a lot of students to design experiments and hook up with the lunar explorers via VR technology, add in a lot more public participation, and then we maybe have a new Moon program than might even satisfy the nay sayers in the Internet Rocketeer Club.
Stephen Colbert Testifies Before Congress -- What Could Go Wrong?
For reasons that surpass understanding, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, Zoe Lofgren, invited Stephen Colbert to testify on immigration.

Addendum: The Audacity of Jokes.
'Bones' Season 6 Episode 1 'The Mastodon in the Room'
"Bones" Season 6 Episode 1 "The Mastodon in the Room" finds our intrepid heroes, seven months after the tender leave-taking in the airport, in some peril at opposite sides of the world, as well as back in Washington.
Ahmadinejad Utters 9/11 Truther Nonsense at the UN General Assembly
The annual meeting of the UN General Assembly has been the occasion for third-world thugs to get on the podium and behave outrageously. Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not disappoint as he suggested that 9/11 was "an inside job."
Houston Heights Walmart Controversy Reaches a Turning Point
HOUSTON — In a decisive move that may well end an ongoing fight by neighborhood groups in the Houston Heights to keep out a Wal-Mart store; the Houston City Council has passed an economic incentive package for the developer of Wal-Mart.
Sarah Palin - the White House--or Playboy? (Video)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A human powered aircraft that uses flapping wings
Mark's Bonny Chocolate Lassi
The reaction to the House compromise authorization bill is fascinating to behold. The Internet Rocketeer crowd has lunged the length of its chain. No compromise! No quarter! Senate bill or death! They also seems to be seeing things in the House bill that others can't, such as "24 separate restrictions on commercial crew, and opens the door to continuing Ares I." The most I and others have been able to find are ten, all of them quite sensible. And it seems very unlikely that an Ares 1 that can loft 70 metric tonnes can be built.

More discussion at Space Politics.

The House bill is something I can live with. The funding for commercial space is at a more sensible level. SpaceX and Boeing will have to look for private investment to build their space ships. Like the Senate bill, it is short by about three billion for the exploration part. But things are put into place so that the next President can more easily clean up to Obamaspace mess and maybe get the country back on track to the Moon and beyond.

Will the House bill pass before adjournment? Your guess is as good as mine, gentle reader.

Addendum: Simberg is saying that the Senate is standing fast and is taking an "our way or the highway" stance. We'll see who blinks first. Maybe no one, which means no NASA authorization this year and chaos continues to reign. This is what happens when one tosses a grenade into the American space program and has nothing credible to replace it with.

Addendum 2: A side by side comparison between the original House bill and the compromise language.

Addendum 3: Ferris Yalyn, over at Daily Kos, puts a partisan liberal spin on it. I wonder if Ferris knows that the House is still controlled by Democrats or that Bart Gordon is a Democrat.

'Undercovers' Season 1 Episode 1 'Pilot'

"Unndercovers" Season 1 Episode 1 "Pilot" is the latest in a number of hip spy dramas in the same vein as "Burn Notice" and "Covert Affairs." The show is a creation of J.J. Abrams, whose previous show, "Alias," also concerned spy adventures.
SpaceX's Elon Musk Goes to Washington, Demanding Money
Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, has traveled to Washington to lobby Congress for subsidies to build his Dragon space craft, envisioned to be launched by a heavy lift version of SpaceX's Falcon 9 to the International Space Station.
'Pledge to America' Rolled Out by Republicans
The Republicans have released "The Pledge to America," the 2010 version of the famous 1994 "Contract with America." The Pledge is interesting in what it lacks as much as what is included within it.
Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows Part 1 (Trailer)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Elon Musk takes time off from growing his rocket business to go to Washington with his hand out.

Then there is this:
Since 2003, Musk has given about $300,000 to federal candidates, divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans, according to records compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. In the first six months of 2010, however, Musk donated nearly $71,000 to Democrats, compared with less than $7,000 to Republicans from him or his company's PAC, the data show.

Considering who will likely be running Congress this year, that may not be the soundest investment Musk has made.

Musk also says that the reluctance on the part of some in Congress has diminished his faith in government. Perhaps as a cash cow.
Anticipating a return to the Moon, Futron conducted a market study for private lunar transportation. For now the study is academic, since Obama has declared the Moon off limits and whatever unmanned missions may still happen are not going to be enough to create a viable commercial market. One of the requirements is a Nasa funded Lunar COTS.

I seem to remember someone suggesting that a while back.
Glenn Reynolds does a video interview of Rand Simberg about space policy. Most of it is what one would expect coming from Rand (i.e. NASA bad, commercial good.) Rand defends something that he says is in the Obama space policy that really isn't in it. The Obama space policy does not, strictly speaking, support commercial space like COTS does; it takes it over with huge subsidies. Under Obamaspace no eccentric millionaire (it would take a billionaire in any case) is going to take us back to the Moon or anywhere else.

By the way, the huge subsidies that lenn and Rand support are going, in part, to that small, struggling, entrepreneurial space firm called Boeing. Talk about space pork.

There is an interesting suggestion by Rand, not original, for a "Space Guard" that handles things like asteroid diversion and space rescue. Question: Would the Space Guard have to ride around in commercial ships or will they, like the Coast Guard, have their own?

Rand also contradicts himself about the proper role of NASA. At a point or two he suggests that he would like to devolve it to a kind of space going NACA, limited to research and development. At another point he suggests that NASA should buy rides on commercial space craft. But a NASA like NACA would not do that.

No role for NASA in going back to the Moon, to Mars, or anywhere else of course. Nothing about what to do with ISS. Lots of running down of Apollo, which seems to me to be like running down Columbus or Lewis and Clark.

Rand and Glenn were indulging in a kind of libertarian fantasy that somehow remakes the space agency into not what it is, having grown into that over decades, but into something it cannot be. Taylor Dinerman wrote about the folly of attempting this very eloquently. For better or ill, NASA is an agency designed to do Apollo like programs. This is not a bad thing because, given a clear direction and resources, NASA can do that sort of thing very well. NASA cannot become a conduit for subsidies to favored space companies. That is a waste of money and it is a corrupting influence on the private sector.
Houston Schools scramble to aid children of laid off NASA, aerospace workers
'Fire from the Heartland' Trailer (Video)
The Persecution of Molly Norris
Molly Norris was the person who was behind the "Everyone Draw Mohammed Day" in protest of the treatment by the Comedy Channel of the "South Park" creators in censoring two episodes that depicted Mohammed.

Molly Norris is now, upon the advice of the FBI, in hiding, having changed her name in fear for her life. This is due to death threats issued against her by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Muslin cleric now hiding in Yemen.
Barney Frank's House Seat May Be in Peril
Is Congressman Barney Frank now in trouble? A poll conducted by OnMessage, quoted by Ed Morrisesey, suggests that the entrenched incumbent from Massachusetts may well be in peril of losing his seat to Republican Sean Bielet.
A group calling itself The Institute for Liberty has come under the common delusion that pork is spending I do not like. The IFL does not say what exactly the "Space Pork" is that it is exercised about. But it does have this point:
While people continue to be enthusiastic about the nation’s space program, they want that money spent wisely, on concrete and measurable goals that will be historic.

That would suggest that this organization is against the Obama space plan as well. Or at least should be.
Obama on Threat of Terror Attack: 'We Can Absorb a Terrorist Attack. We'll Do Everything We Can to Prevent It, but Even a 9/11, Even the Biggest Attack Ever . . . We Absorbed it and We Are Stronger.'
One of the revelations from the Bob Woodward book "Obama's Wars" concerns President Obama's attitude toward the possibility of another 9/11-style terrorist attack. The revelations show an emotional detachment that is bone-chilling.
One wonders if the Internet Rocketeer crowd knew back in February that this was going to happen, if they still would have supported Obamaspace. Quite possibly, since many of them have an antipathy for a government space agency of any kind. Unfortunately the nascent commercial space sector may be wrecked as well.
Jesse Jackson Jr. Faces More Federal Allegations
A federal investigation has uncovered evidence that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. offered to raise money for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in exchange for being appointed to the US Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.
Woodward Book 'Obama's War' Reveals White House in Disarray Over Afghanistan, President Reluctant to Pursue Victory
Bob Woodward is on the verge of publishing his latest book, titled "Obama's Wars," which describes a White House consumed with infighting and turf battles while President Obama desperately looked for a way to exit Afghanistan.
Union Hires Non Union Protesters to Picket Walmart (Video)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Frank Sietzen, who co-wrote a book with Keith Cowing on the return to the Moon program and writes and comments about space has suffered a stroke and is in the ICU at George Washington. Prays and best wishes for his speedy and complete recovery.
Republicans Surge in West Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania
One of the astonishing aspects of Election 2010 is how Republican candidates are surging in hitherto blue states. Recent polls that have come out in West Virginia, Wisconsin,
and Pennsylvania suggest a nationwide tsunami in progress.
Is obesity caused by a virus?
Bob Truax RIP
Rand Simberg, like many commercial space advocates, has attacked the Iran Nonproliferation Act (now including Syria and North Korea) as being ineffective and harming commercial space operations. The INKSNA states that it is illegal to purchase goods and services from Russia so long as that country technical assistance to countries like Iran that are developing nuclear weapons. The ACT has not stopped Russia from doing these things, is honored in the breach insofar as ISS support goes, and has harmed commercial space, according to critics.

But now Rand seems to be imply support for INKSNA as a means to attack the House version of the NASA authorization bill. The theory is that by denying subsidies to commercial space companies, the House forces us to continue relying on the Russians for access to ISS, which apparently now do--what?

Mind, there are troubles with relying on the Russians for access to ISS, but stopping them from supplying assistance to rogue countries is not one of them. Russia will do it anyway.

The better option would be to go back to the Bush approach, never well funded, to give sensible support for commercial space firms while building a public option in the form of Ares/Orion.

Addendum: Being called a liar by Rand Simberg is rather rich. I suspect that he will play Clinton-like word games by saying not "attacked" but rather "expressed reservations" or "was dubious about" or even "mildly amused by." Since it seems so important to him, I'll give him that.

And, actually, I get very little if any traffic from Simberg's blog, even when he explodes with rage, fury, and blind hate against some imagined slight by me. Believe me, it is not about him. It bespeaks of a remarkable ego that he would suggest such a thing.

ITAR, which he mentions in passing, is the International Traffic in Arms regulations that date back to the Cold War and has also been criticized for inhibiting commercial space. Yes, I do know that ITAR is separate from INKSNA.

I also know the difference between free enterprise and government subsidies which Rand, being an Obamaspace supporter, does not.

And, as usual, Rand misses the point about the above post. Whether we buy Soyuz rides or not does not effect Russian behavior. A commercial space craft could be created today with a magic wand and the Russians would go on behaving as they have. Thus, his article makes no sense whatsoever.

Addendum 2: Just in a way of clarification, the reason some commercial space interests have chafed at the INKSNA is the following section of the Act.
Dual use export prohibition.--Denial of licenses and suspension of existing licenses for the transfer to that person of items the export of which is controlled under the Export Administration Act of 1979 or the Export Administration Regulations.

There are, of course, a lot of items that can be considered "dual use" in the aerospace business.

Addendum 3: Asked directly what his actual position on INKSNA is, Rand finally had this to say:
I fully support INKSNA, I have always fully supported INKSNA, and I have no idea where you get your delusions that I have ever done otherwise.

Well, then I retract the above statement stating his opposition to the law and regret the error. However, the more important point about how INKSNA has nothing to do with the House authorization bill stands. If Rand wants to obscure that point by exploding with insults and histrionics,then it is on his head.

Is John Dingell in trouble?
Barack Obama and Sarah Palin appear in the Archie Comics? The mind boggles.
Young People Break Up with Obama (Video)
Sarah Palin Touts the Tea Party--and Sarah Palin (Video)
Harry Reid Refers to Fellow Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as 'Hot'
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed his appreciation for US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a very strange way. In a private business setting, if a male were to refer to a female associate in such a way, it would spark a trip to Human Resources.
'House' Season 7 Episode 1 'Now What?'
"House" Season 7 Episode 1 "Now What?" begins just as the previous episode ended, with House and Cuddy falling in love in the ruins of House's bathroom. All things considered, it is one of the strangest lovemakings ever depicted on TV.
'Castle' Season 3 Episode 1 'A Deadly Affair'
"Castle" Season 3 Episode 1 "A Deadly Affair" begins with Castle inside a room filled with mirrors getting shot at. He flees through a door into an alley to be confronted by Beckett with a gun. A gunshot ensues.
'The Event' Season 1 Episode 1 'Pilot'
"The Event" Season 1 Episode 1 "Pilot" is a show which, like "Lost," reveals what it is really about in driblets and drabs, with tantalizing clues. Like "24," the series seems to be ripped from current headlines.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What Prospect of Returning to the Moon by Commercial Means?
A Response to 'Space Program Launch Grounded in Congress' by Jack Kennedy

Jack Kennedy, not the President returned from the dead but rather a member of the board of directors of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority., published an oped in the Roanoke Times on the impasse on the NASA authorization bill in the Congress.
Lunar water, good for lunar settlers, bad for lunar astronomers.
A look into the heart of darkness that is the Christine O'Donnell opponent Chris Coons.
Christine O'Donnell's First General Election Campaign Commercial (Video)
More Voters Agree with Sarah Palin Than with Barack Obama -- Rasmussen
Rasmussen has published a poll that indicates that while 52 percent of the electorate believes that their views are "closer to Sarah Palin than to Barack Obama," only
40 percent of the electorate have views closer to the President's.
Christine O'Donnell Used to Practice Witchcraft
Christine O'Donnell is trying to laugh off the controversy surrounding the revelation in a 1999 episode of Bill Maher's old show, "Politically Incorrect," that she "dabbled in witchcraft" apparently while in high school.
Jeff Foust discusses space tourism and space policy.
Jack Kennedy (no, not that one) calls upon the Virginia Congressional delegation to oppose the House NASA authorization bill and support commercial space. His oped contains this howler.
Some argue that the Obama administration has abandoned the American space program by opting to make human treks to near-Earth asteroids a new target instead of a government-sponsored human return to the moon redux. In reality, the president's space policy brings closer the prospect of Americans returning to the moon by commercial means while pushing the government civil space program to focus on the new frontier: asteroid exploration and impact defense.

The White House and the Senate see the expansion of humans to the moons of Mars and on to the surface as NASA's long-term goal with advanced propulsion technologies.

There is nothing, in fact, in the President's space policy that enables a commercial return to the Moon. In fact, President Obama specifically ridiculed a return to the Moon because "Buzz has already been there." There are not any commercial space firms that envision returning to the Moon with astronauts.

Jack Kennedy is either confused or is being dishonest.
Obama Leaves Out 'By Their Creator' in Quote from 'Declaration of Independence'
'Boardwalk Empire' Season 1 Episode 1 'Boardwalk Empire'
Another story about the "dark side of the American dream" begins in "Boardwalk Empire" Season 1 Episode 1 "Boardwalk Empire." The story, of course, involves gangsters, corruption and murder. It's a theme as old as "The Godfather."
'Mad Men' Season 4 Episode 9 'The Beautiful Girls'
In "Mad Men" Season 4 Episode 9 "The Beautiful Girls," the problems of Don Draper are starting to mount. And he is not the only one beset by life. Joan's husband is now in Vietnam. And Peggy is being haunted by some of her Greenwich Village friends.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Charlie Bolden's mission to the Muslims continues.
Colin Powell bails on the One.
Congressman Mike Pence Wins the Values Voters Presidential Straw Poll
While Presidential straw polls taken at meetings over two years before an election are for all intents and purposes meaningless, Congressman Mike Pence's win by a small plurality at the Values Voters Summit is of interest.
Fight Over NASA Space Funding Reaches Impasse in the Congress
Mike Griffin's Revenge
The Washington Post is reporting that the clash over the future of the US manned space program is reaching a new stage in the Congress, with a resolution—or not—expected sometime this week.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bone's Emily Deschanel Discusses the 'Jersey Shore' Episode (Video)
Democrats Stage Palin, Beck, and GOP Candidate Adam Kinzinger as Hitler Rally (Video)
Lisa Murkowski Launches Write-in Campaign to Retain Her Alaska Senate Seat
Senator Lisa Murkowski, who was defeated in the Alaska primary by Sarah Palin and Tea Party backed political newcomer Joe Miller, has decided not to go quietly
into that good night and instead launch an independent write in campaign.
'Real Time with Bill Maher' Returns to Shock, Astound, and Offend
The first new episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher" since the beginning of summer started with the host bounding onto the stage, ebullient, his trademark sneer in full display, as the studio audience went wild.
Sarah Palin Speaks at the Reagan Dinner in Iowa (Video)
Christine O'Donnell Speaks at Values Voters Summit (Video)
Wellesley, Massachusetts Public School Students Pray at a Mosque (Video)

Friday, September 17, 2010

'Zero Taxes, Zero Gravity' -- a Better Way to Support Commercial Space
The debate raging about how best to support the growth of a commercial space sector seems to focus around how much money should be spent on subsidies for commercial space firms. But perhaps the tax code provides a better answer.
Reason Magazine decries "Big Government" Republicans for opposing Obamaspace, totally missing the point.

Obamaspace is not a wonderful, pro commercial space policy. In smothers commercial space with billions of subsidies instead of standing back, supporting commercial space at an appropriate level, but forcing it to develop private sources of capital and private markets.

Obamaspace also cancels any hope of human space exploration beyond LEO for the foreseeable future, which is something that should be opposed regardless of anything else.

My lament is that why the phony libertarians in the Internet Rocketeer Club keep failing to understand that?

Nevertheless, I tend to favor the Senate version of NASA authorization over the House version, but for different reasons. The House bill seeks to preserve Constellation, but doesn't fund it properly. The Senate bill at least preserves some options for the next President when he (she) will have to clean the mess Obama has made. Neither bill does commercial space satisfactory. The Senate spends too much and the House spends too little.
Even though Obama has placed the Moon under quarantine, some people are still working for the day people with live there. Case in point: a lunar garden.
'Rally to Restore Sanity' to Meet 'March to Keep Fear Alive' in Washington, Oct. 30
In an example that imitation is the best form of flattery, late night comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will lead dueling marches on Washington, called "Rally
to Restore Sanity" and "March to Keep Fear Alive," respectively.
Christine O'Donnell, as it turns out, is a Tolkien fan and suggests that his female characters could serve as role models. Since the feminist think Tolkien is a misogynist (but then what male writer is not in their opinion) one suspects that much will be made of this too. Here is the essay.

Addendeum: Latest Scandal from Delaware Senate Race -- Christine O'Donnell is a Tolkien Fan
The latest scandal surrounding the candidacy of Christine O'Donnell's run for the United States Senate surrounds a 2003 essay in which she wrote about gender roles of some of the female characters in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Andrew Sullivan tells a bald faced lie when he suggests that the GOP wants to "disenfranchise" gay people. But it is fascinating that one of Christine O'Donnell's warmest supporters is her lesbian, Wicca practicing sister.
Jim Geraghty has this to say about the Kosmas/Adams Race.
Sandy Adams has a lot of factors going in her favor in her race against Suzanne Kosmas in Florida’s 24th district, but probably none more powerful than the district’s sense of betrayal. Kosmas ran as a fiscal moderate and was helped by an Obama wave; in 2008, the Democratic presidential candidate was pledging to save manned spaceflight. Kosmas defied her district by voting for health-care reform, and many figured she had traded her vote to the Obama administration for some sort of deal to save Space Coast jobs. Instead, President Obama’s space-policy changes are effectively ending manned spaceflight*, disastrous news for workers in her district.

If Kosmas traded her vote for health care reform for space coast jobs, clearly the administration has stabbed her in the back. Rand Simberg, of course, disagrees that Obamaspace is ending human space flight.

Simberg may be right and the commercial folks will be able to step up, I suspect despite rather than because of the Obama regime's attempts to be "helpful." But we have to remember that the past thirty or so years is filled with bold promises of the next entrepreneur who was going to open up the high frontier of space, only to fail. It will happen eventually, but I am queasy about the idea that the government is going to pour money into commercial space to make it happen by a date, sometime in 2015, certain.

Besides, we don't know what is going to eventually come out of the congressional sausage making machine. Congress is quite capable of coming up with a worse plan and, as usual, not funding it properly.

In any case it is without question that Obamaspace has ended space exploration beyond LEO for the foreseeable future. Barely a few months after Obama's "bold" call for a look but don't touch mission to an asteroid by 2025, a NASA study pushed it back to 2031.

Just as the Bush administration refused to properly fund Constellation, the Obama regime will not properly fund its own plan. And so it goes.
Barack Obama is not only an anti colonialist but also, oddly, a neocolonialist. The problem is, the United States is the colony.
New Issue in Delaware; O'Donnell Opposes Masturbation
A new issue seems to have arisen, as it were, in the Delaware Senate race. It seems that, in the 1990s Christine O'Donnell opined, on an interview on MTV no less, that masturbation is a sin. When asked about it now, O'Donnell has wisely demurred.
The Tea Party comes to Australia. Can't wait for John Birmingham's take on this.
Now Stephen Breyer says that Koran burning is legal.
John Holdren, Obama Science Czar, Advocates 'De-development' of the United States Through 'Free Market Economy'
John Holdren, President Barack Obama's Science Czar, has hit upon a new way to accomplish an old goal of his. Holdren, in the 1970s, was an advocate of what he called the "de-development" of the United States, among other things.
Chris Coons, Christine O'Donnell Opponent in Delaware, Became 'Bearded Marxist' in College
While much has been made about Christine O'Donnell's past troubles with the IRS and other dubious dealings, very little has been written in the mainstream media about her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons.
'Hope!' Aka Springtime for Obama (Video)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cthulhu Wants You to Use Old Spice--Or Else (Video)
Deep fried beer. Most likely it will be banned under Obamacare.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer -- Burning Koran May Not Be Protected by First Amendment
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Stephen Breyer has opined that burning a copy of the Koran may not be protected speech. Justice Breyer bases this reasoning on a principle articulated by Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Jon Goff has an actually very interesting and imaginative vision for what space might look at in 25-30 years. It is certainly fare more expansive and compelling than that of Lori Garver.
'Covert Affairs' Season 1 Episode 11 'When the Levee Breaks'
"Covert Affairs" Season 1 Episode 11 "When the Levee Breaks" begins with an elderly but kindly professor of chemistry named Dr. Anton being snatched from his Hong Kong
private school by a gang of masked, heavily armed, and plainly nasty men.
'Covert Affairs' Season 1 Episode 10 'I Can't Quit You Baby'
At the beginning of "Covert Affairs" Season 1 Episode 10 "I Can't Quit You Baby," a gentleman is caught at the airport with rough diamonds in his box of medical supplies. Stupidly, he actually tries to run.
Christine O'Donnell Beats Mike Castle in Delaware
Christine O'Donnell has convincingly beaten Mike Castle to be the Republican nominee for US Senate from the state of Delaware. The Tea Party is ecstatic. The Republican Party is aghast. The Democratic Party is beside itself with glee.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Some upcoming myths on Mythbusters. My favorite: What really happens with poop hits the fan?
Are We Headed for a Space Bubble? Very likely, despite some of the chest thumping going on by some "commercial" space advocates. This will be a good thing, provided that the Obama administration does not try to keep firms afloat with bailout money.
Virgin Galactic Wants You to Fly into Space
Bill Maher Showed Up on Jay Leno; What Could Go Wrong? (Video)
Obama Now in Favor of Repealing Key Part of Health Care Reform
The health care reform bill has become so onerous that even the Obama administration is now in favor of repealing an important portion of it, the provision that requires businesses to submit a 1099 from transactions over $600.
Raul Castro's Cuba Shrinks the Size of Government, Enacts Free Market Reforms
In an astonishing example of how the world has turned upside down while President Obama is busily expanding the size and reach of the American government, Raul Castro, ruler of Cuba, is shrinking the Cuban government.
True Lies the TV series?
John Boehner -- the Latest Enemy of the People
The latest enemy of the people, according to the Obama administration, is John Boehner, the current House Minority leader and who most believe will become Speaker when the Republicans take over the House.
Dinesh D'Souza's piece of Obama the foreigner (psychologically, at least) is well worth reading. Here is a taste:
One more anomaly: A few months ago nasa Chief Charles Bolden announced that from now on the primary mission of America's space agency would be to improve relations with the Muslim world. Come again? Bolden said he got the word directly from the President. "He wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and math and engineering." Bolden added that the International Space Station was a model for nasa's future, since it was not just a U.S. operation but included the Russians and the Chinese. Obama's redirection of the agency caused consternation among former astronauts like Neil Armstrong and John Glenn, and even among the President's supporters: Most people think of nasa's job as one of landing on the moon and Mars and exploring other faraway destinations. Sure, we are for Islamic self-esteem, but what on earth was Obama up to here?

Texts of actual bills attached, which is useful since I suspect most people who are getting irate about one or the other has not actually read them.
Frank Tipler responds to Stephen Hawking on physics and the existence of God.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Muslims have been enriching Texas history since before the Civil War. Hajj Ali, later known as "Hi Joli" was a camel driver for the United States Camel Corps in the 1850s, fighting Indians and having other adventure until he died in the early 20th Century, still regaling people with his stories.
Liberals: We Oppose Obama Because We're All Insane
The problem with the United States is that we really don't appreciate President Obama because we're all nuts. Politico's Ben Smith is detecting that particular meme among many in the liberal political class.
Democrats to Pelosi and Obama: Let's Extend the Bush Tax Cuts Across the Board
President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have drawn a line in the sand: no extension of the Bush tax cuts for families making over $250,000 a year. But they are being challenged from an unexpected quarter.
Texas pioneers clean wind energy; biggest wind power state in the Union
Christine O'Donnell Pulls Ahead of Mike Castle in Delaware
Just days after both Sarah Palin and Senator Jim DeMint endorsed Christine O'Donnell for United States senator from Delaware, O'Donnell surged ahead in a PPP poll of Mike Castle, the sole congressman from that state.
Jeff Foust has an excellent piece on Debating the future of human spaceflight in an environment of no direction and no funding. Paul Torrance writes about The Real Mistakes of the Space Shuttle Program.
Nancy Pelosi as the Wicked Witch of the West (Video)
First of all, I have heard of sibling rivalry, but this is ridiculous. Also the fact that Olivia de Havilland (aka Melanie Wilkes)and Joan Fontaine are yet alive just blows my mind.
'True Blood' Season 3 Episode 12 'Evil is Going On'
"True Blood" Season 3 Episode 12 "Evil is Going On" begins with Russell and Eric chained together with the silver handcuffs slowly barbequing in the sun. Then Eric has a vision of his dead sire Godric.
'Mad Men' Season 4 Episode 8 'The Summer Man'
"Mad Men' Season 4 Episode 8 "The Summer Man" starts with Don Draper doing two things that are unusual for him. First, he is swimming incessantly as a form of both spiritual and physical exercise. Don is also keeping a diary.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Poverty Rate Skyrockets Under Obama
Experts are predicting that 2009 census figures are going to show a significant jump in the number of Americans living in poverty. This development will have happened on the watch of Barack Obama, unfortunately for him.
Palin and the Left’s Status-Anxiety
Since they have few meritorious indicators of a personal and group claim to status remaining, leftists are forced to fall back on the same standards employed by the European upper classes. They try to restrict status not by merit but by conformity to their own life pattern. They demand that people go to the right elitist schools. They demand that people live in certain communities. They demand that people have the right recreational interests. They demand that people enjoy uniform kinds of art and music. They demand that people have the proper modes of speech, accent and allusion. They demand that people have the right religious beliefs. And so on.

On this basis Palin is a nightmare: She went to a state college. She lives in the “backwoods”. She likes hunting, fishing and sports. She likes country music and representational art. She doesn’t have the right accent. She doesn’t dress appropriately. She’s a Pentecostal instead of atheist, Unitarian, Episcopalian, etc.

Palin’s success stabs them in the heart of their anxiety. If Palin can be a successful political leader, what does that say about the leftists’ claims of intellectual and moral superiority? If people don’t just instantly assume that leftists are smarter and better than everyone else, why would people trust a leftist government to make so many decisions about the people’s live, e.g., medical care?

That is why leftists see Palin as a genuine and significant threat of unusual magnitude. In the emotional thinking of leftists, she is a personal threat to everything each individual leftist has attained in life. They feel a sincere, visceral sense of danger about her because she attacks the very core of their egos. They feel the same hatred towards Palin that the European upper classes felt towards the upstart middle-class. They feel the same hatred that poor whites felt towards non-whites. They feel that way for the same reasons. If she succeeds, worse, if she is right, then they become nobodies.

As long as she is viewed as a significant political figure, the left’s obsession with Palin will never wane because it does not spring from rational roots. She threatens something too deep and too profound in a political subculture built around the belief that a small percentage of human beings have a vastly superior understanding of the world compared to all the rest.
Is John Boehner Caving on the Bush Tax Cuts?
In an interview on "Face the Nation" the likely future Speaker of the House John Boehner signaled that he was willing to cave to President Barack Obama on extending the Bush tax cuts to all tax payers.
Michael Moore Pours Gasoline on the Ground Zero Mosque Controversy
In an obvious attempt to pour gasoline on the fire of the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, film maker and provocateur Michael Moore has proposed building the 9/11 Mosque on Ground Zero and is soliciting donations to accomplish this.
Christian Toto reviews My Road to Al Qaeda the HBO documentary starring Lawrence Wright, author of the excellent study on Al Qaeda, "The Looming Tower." While the documentary has a chilling portrait of the terrorist mindset, it is ruined, IMHO, by it's blame America first conclusions.
Wright’s on target when he says the U.S. needs to better understand the radical mindset before engaging in a war on terror. But by blasting the Iraq War, excoriating enhanced interrogation techniques, and decrying modest crackdowns on civil liberties, Wright leaves few other tools available to beat back terror cells around the globe.

Anything the Western world does to fight al-Qaeda trips the Muslim “humiliation reflex,” causing them to hate the West even more. But what’s Plan B?

Wright lets loose with platitudes like, “Al Qaeda can’t destroy America. We can only do that to ourselves.” He’s correct — in theory — but a few well placed nuclear suitcases will bring down the country far more quickly than any draconian laws we can put in place to fight terrorism.

Also I had no idea that Wright had co-written the 1998 film "The Siege" which depicted an Islamo Fascist assault on America and America's overreaction to it, which involved rounding up Muslim Americans FDR style and actual torture (not just the water boarding kind.) The movie was horrible and is now just about unwatchable.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Paul Spudis discusses natural bridge recently discovered on the Moon.
Star Trek Does Monty Python (Video)
Rebuilding the World Trade Center Proceeds Apace
When of the great running sores nine years after the terrorist outrage of 9/11 2001 is that the World Trade Center has not yet be rebuilt. But according to the Wall Street Journal, that is finally about to change.
Jon Goff has left Masten and has started his own company, Altius Space Machines. Despite our well documented differences, I wish Jon the best of luck with his entrepreneurial endeavors,
Rush Limbaugh Went to School with Terry Jones, the Koran Burning Pastor
No one was more shocked than Rush Limbaugh when he discovered that he had went to High School in Cape Girardeau, Missouri with Terry Jones, also known as the Koran burning pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center.
9/11: A Thousand Stories of Heroism from the World Trade Center
I've written about 9/11, the Second Day of Infamy, in these pages six years after and again eight years after, and one would think there would be little enough to add today, nine years after. But after watching one of those TV specials it seems that there is after all.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rick Tumlinson's purple prose is always entertaining. but also illustrative of how not to try to affect the political process. Here is a choice sample:
In the coming weeks some in Congress will try to kill America's future in space as they desperately work to prop up the tax sucking, pork eating dream murdering monster known as the Constellation rocket program. Right now a bought and paid for cabal of hypocritical puppets in the House and Senate are trying to prop up this corpse of a dead end plan to go to the Moon and Mars that not only failed to deliver on President Bush's promise of a permanent U.S. presence in space, but continues to eat the budgets of the very exploration it was meant to support.

Worse, in order to line the pockets of a few old space contractors, those who support what I call the Constellation Hallucination want to block President Obama's plan to re-invigorate our space program that gets NASA back to exploring by kickstarting our commercial NewSpace transportation industry. With some democrats turning against their own president and so-called conservatives lying to their own constituents about the choice between their strangely socialist space agenda and the NewSpace frontier enabling Obama's space plan, it is obviously all about the money -- our money, and making sure it goes into the right pockets, not into opening space.

Those defending the status quo with hollow arguments that the president's plan is destroying our space program have succeeded so far in confusing the public as to what this is all about, and worse, made American enterprise look like the bad guys while defending a NASA human spaceflight status quo that has been a failure to launch when it comes to the dreams they have peddled us for all the decades since Apollo.

The first lesson is that when one is trying to influence members of Congress, one might want to consider not calling them a "cabal of hypocritical puppets." Nor should one suggest that the public is "confused." That tends to alienate the very people one is trying to convince. Just saying.

Mind, I'm still wondering what is so "commercial" about a scheme that shovels six billion dollars in subsidies into space firms. I'm hoping that things like the Boeing/Space Adventures alliance will bear fruit despite the state capitalism of Obamaspace.
Commercial Space Deal Between Space Adventures and Boeing to Be Announced
Alan Boyle, at MSNBC, is writing that Space Adventures, which arranged for trips by such people as Anousheh Ansari and Richard Garriott to the International Space Station, has signed a commercial space deal with Boeing.
Sony eBook Reader to Enable Ebook Lending Libraries
Sony is rolling out its new eBook reader in competition with the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Nobel Nook, along with the ebook feature of the Apple iPad. The Sony eBook has a couple of features that make it stand out.
Some one should tell Rand Simberg that "Pork" does not equal "spending I do not like." By his definition, the Obamaspace proposal is filled with pork and subsidies for so called "NewSpace" companies.

His wish that NASA go on autopilot without an authorization bill may be granted. But it is a case of "careful what you wish for." The default is Constellation as is, albeit very inadequately funded.
Dove World Outreach Center Cancels Plan to Burn Koran on 9/11; Update: Only Suspended
Terry Jones, the pastor of a Florida based church called the Dove World Outreach Center, has decided to call off a planned burning of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, in commemoration of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.
'The Lord of the Rings Online' Virtual Role-Playing Game Debuts
"The Lord of the Rings Online," a virtual, computer-driven role-playing game set in Tolkien's Middle Earth during the War of the Ring, debuts on Friday, Sept. 10. Players are invited to join in on the adventure.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Mike Griffin thunders against Obamaspace.
Did Fidel Castro Reject Communism?
The second part of Jeffrey Goldberg's article in the Atlantic about his conversation with Fidel Castro, retired tyrant of Cuba, has a more astonishing revelation than did the first. Castro, it seems, has started to sour on communism as practiced in Cuba
How the Tea Party Senators Will Redefine 'Moderation'
If the White House and congressional Democrats are looking forward to the prospect of Tea Party-inspired senators and congressmen with fear and loathing, the Republican Senate leadership seems only a little less nervous.
Florida's 2010 24th Congressional District Race; Republican Sandy Adams Challenging Incumbent Suzanne Kosmas
Andy Griffith's Popularity Nose Dives Over Support for Health Care Reform
The acrimony surrounding health care reform, stoked up to white hotness as the 2010 midterm elections draw nigh, seems to have claimed another victim, albeit an odd one: Andy Griffith, the long-living television and film star.
Hansel and Gretel: bounty hunters.
Film and TV versions of Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" to be directed by Ron Howard.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Human Exploration Framework Team's Phase 1 closeout report is now up. The one data point that jumps out is that the first trip to a NEO happens in 2031, not 2025 as proposed by the President. One of the selling points of Obamaspace was that we were going to have some exciting deep space voyages sooner than were planned under Constellation. Even given the most pessimistic (and thus arguable) projections for the Program of Record, it looks like (pending the Phase 2 report) Obamaspace pushes everything to the right by a number of years.

At this rate, we really will have to bring our visas the next time we land on the Moon.
A real life tractor beam.
Japanese Launch Microwave Powered Rocket
John F. Kennedy Debates Barack Obama on Tax Cuts (Video)
Warehouse Fire Destroyed Houston Ballot Machines, Raising the Possibility of Voter Fraud
Pajama Media's Bryan Preston is reporting that there are fears that a campaign of voter fraud, coupled with the lost of ten thousand voting machines in a warehouse fire, may be threatening the integrity of the 2010 elections in Houston.
Obama's assault on the Constellation return to the Moon program is now an issue in the Illinois Senate race.
Improving NASA's Public Relations -- a Thought Experiment Posed by Frank Sietzen
Frank Sietzen, a space journalist and co-author of "New Moon Rising," about the return to the Moon initiative now under assault by the Obama administration, poses an interesting question on the NASA Watch website:
More on President Reagan Film Biopic to Be Made
A motion picture biopic of President Reagan is in the works, to be entitled, simply, "Reagan." Unlike the infamous miniseries, "Reagan" the movie will be respectful of its subject. That would make the Reagan film cutting edge by Hollywood standards indeed.
Fidel Castro to Ahmadinejad: Stop the Anti-Semitism
Jeffery Goldberg, of The Atlantic, recently went to Cuba and had an interview with elderly retired dictator Fidel Castro. Goldberg recounted what transpired in a recent article. Castro had some surprising things to say.
Health Care Reform to Cause Insurance Premium Hikes
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, those who buy health insurance as individuals or through a small business are about to be socked with huge premium increases, ironically as a result of efforts to make health care reform more palatable.
'Covert Affairs' Season 1 Episode 9 'Fool in the Rain'
In "Covert Affairs" Season 1 Episode 9 "Fool in the Rain," two people go on a journey that ends with both in the same place. Annie winds up in Niagara with her sister. An Iranian gentleman named "Yahya" Rahimi also arrives by the Falls.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A film biopic about President Reagan that will be--well--accurate and respectful of its subject.
Richard Daley to Step Down as Mayor of Chicago; Rahm Emanuel to Seek Office in Advance of White House Staff Shakeup
Mayor Richard Daley the Younger of Chicago has decided to retire after his current term, clearing the way for Rahm Emanuel, the current White House Chief of Staff, who is known to be desirous of returning to Illinois and being Mayor himself.
Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas: No Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State
Illustrating the essential barrier to Middle East peace, Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas stated during a recent interview that he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, which is to say he will never recognize Israel as it exists.
Republicans to Take Over House -- Cook Political Report
The Cook Political Report, as quoted by Taegan Goddard's Political Wire, has announced that it is projecting that the Republicans will gain at least 40 seats in the House in the November elections, one more than needed to achieve a takeover
In Building a foundation for commercial crew Jeff Foust relates how NASA is providing grants and subsidies to various companies to try to jump start a commercial space transportation industry. Absent in Jeff's analysis seems to be how these companies are seeking private financing and markets. Commercial in what sense?

Also VASIMR: hope or hype for Mars exploration?
Battles Loom Between Obama and Congress for 2011-2012
If, as expected, the Republicans take over the House in November (and perhaps the Senate as well), the stage will be set for epic battles between the Obama administration and a new Republican-controlled Congress.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Dove World Outreach Center's Plan to Burn the Koran for 9/11
A church calling itself the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida has decided to commemorate 9/11 by burning copies of the Koran. The church gives 10 reasons why it is doing this, mostly having to do with the fact that Islam disputes Christianity.
Why Obama's Commercial Space Initiative is Not Commercial
One of the selling points of the Obama space policy is that it proposed to enable a commercial space transportation industry. No longer would NASA build expensive, in-house space ships like the shuttle or the proposed Orion/Ares 1.
Bart Gordon offers an inconvenient truth. The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, is not asking for enough money for its space program.
Will Valentina Matviyenko Be the First Female President of Russia?
Could the next President of the Russian Federation be a woman? The UK Independent is speculating that Valentina Matviyenko, the current governor of St. Petersburg and ally of Vladimir Putin, could run for that office in 2012.
Lori Garver's Small Vision of the Next Fifty Years in Space
Recently NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver made a speech to the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics on what she termed "the next fifty years in space." The address was primarily a defense of the controversial Obama space policy.

Addendum: Trent Waddington admonishes me.
Hey Mark, rather than just being a naysaying nelly, how about you throw your hat in the ring and take up a role in the next administration? It's easy to dream big, but actually turning that into reality seems to be something you consider someone else's job.

Well, of course, if any political candidate wants my advice, I am available at reasonable rates. In the meantime, anyone can go to my Associated Content page search on terms like "NASA" and "Space" and get a huge amount of space policy writing. In fact, even in my critique of Lori's small vision, I suggest that the goal of any space effort is to spread human civilization across the solar system, not just a few rich people in space hotels in LEO and government space explorers on Mars for temporary jaunts.

In the meantime, for a more expansive view of what space in the 21st Century could be like, given wiser choices that this administration is making, my own The Next Fifty Years in Space written several years ago.

'Mad Men' Season 4 Episode 7 'The Suitcase'
"Mad Men' Season 4 Episode 7 "The Suitcase" takes place on the eve of and during the Cassius Clay/Sonny Liston rematch that changed boxing history. But the real title bout is between Don Draper and Peggy Olson.
Obama to Propose $50 Billion Infrastructure Spending Program
President Barack Obama, as part of Stimulus 2.0, which will also include targeted and temporary tax cuts, is going to propose $50 billion in new infrastructure spending. That means roads, bridges, railroads, and airports.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Space Politics posts a bizarre argument for the government providing the bulk of the upfront investment in "commercial" launchers, based on the failure of the EELV to get an adequate commercial market.
Sowers noted the parallels between the EELV and commercial crew debates are “kind of eerie”. Because of that, he argued, repeating the same approach of the EELV program, with private ventures picking up most of the costs of developing systems on the basis of capturing promised commercial markets, is unwise. “Assuming the existence of a commercial market to entice or extort the companies to invest is the wrong way to go,” he said. Having the government invest in developing commercial crew capabilities is better for several reasons: the government needs the capability, a commercial approach can reduce costs over an all-government system, and the government can get a long-term benefit as commercial markets do emerge and cost go down as flight rates increase. “The government should invest” up front, unlike the EELV case, he said, “and if the government does invest, then a commercial market can be established and then the government can get its return on investment.”

However, if the commercial market is not established, the tax payer is stuck with both the bill and a launch system that will cost more to operate because there are no commercial customers to goose up the launch rate.

How is this whole scheme "commercial" again? And why are nominally libertarian space advocates supporting it?
Glenn Reynolds looks at the intellectual roots of James Lee's craziness.
Obama Grovels to the United Nations, Seeking Validation
Much has been made of the report that Obama administration is making to the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, that essentially accuses the State of Arizona of being a human rights abuser, at one with Iran, Cuba, and Burma.
Obama to Seek New Stimulus Package, Focusing on Tax Cuts
With the unemployment rate stubbornly hovering near ten percent, despite hundreds of billions of dollars paid out in stimulus funding, President Barack Obama is considering a measure that will contain—more stimulus.
Sarah Palin's Unwanted Neighbor, Joe McGinnis, Moves Out
The good news, insofar as Sarah Palin's family is concerned, is that Joe McGinnis, their unwanted neighbor of some three and a half months, has finally left the rented house next to the Palin homestead.
Russian Finance Minister, Alexei Krudin, Urges More Smoking, Drinking to Boost Government Revenues
The Russian Federation, like many other countries, including the United States, has problems raising revenues to fund government programs. But Russian Finance Minister Alexei Krudin thinks he has a solution—more smoking and drinking.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

'Nanny McPhee Returns' Starring and Written by Emma Thompson, a Review
"Nanny McPhee Returns" is the sequel to the 2006 film "Nanny McPhee", the story of a nanny with strange powers and an off putting appearance, who teaches a Victorian era family consisting of a widowed father and seven ill behaved children a few life lessons.
Now Sarah Palin Accused of Gay Bashing
In the wake of the now infamous Vanity Fair hit piece, of which now even the author is admitting may have some errors in it, Sarah Palin's acerbic reaction to the piece is now being spun into a manufactured controversy.
Now Some Democrats Want to Cut Spending, Taxes
Senaator Michael Bennet is angry about the increasing size of the national debt. According to the Washington Post, he even said so. "'We have managed to acquire $13 trillion of debt on our balance sheet. In my view, we have nothing to show for it.'"
Project M Update: Third Free Flight of Armadillo Lunar Lander Prototype (Video)
It looks like Ann Coulter has been lurking on Answers.Com on Yahoo looking for research material. For one theological question, my darling wife seems to have been awarded with "best answer" for one posed by the lovely, gracious, and formidable Ms. Coulter. I will never hear the end of it.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Selling the Space Program: A Conversation with 'Don Draper'
One of the talking points coming out of the Obama administration is that the one thing wrong about the new space policy that cancelled the Constellation space exploration program was that it wasn't sold properly.
David Brooks posits an alternate history in which Barack Obama did not make so many bad policy choices. Unfortunately he makes the common mistake of bad alternate history of creating an alternate Obama, doing things that the real one never would have contemplated.