Friday, December 31, 2010

Primaries for Palin' Urges Democrats to Vote for Sarah Palin in Republican Primaries
A Democratic group called "Primaries for Palin" is suggesting to vote in the Republican primaries for Sarah Palin, the theory being that Obama would have a better chance of beating her in the general election.
Using Lunar Industry and Natural Resources to build a Solar Empire

But, of course, Buzz Aldrin has already been to the Moon...
'The King's Speech,' Starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter
"The King's Speech," starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter, tells the story of the struggle of King George VI to overcome his severe speech impediment and thus become able to engage in public speaking.
ROTC to Return to the Ivy League After the Demise of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
Not so Fast, Writes Colman McCarthy

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been used as an excuse to keep the ROTC away from the campuses of Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Columbia. Now that the policy has been repealed, most of these universities are preparing to welcome back the program.
Alan Grayson for President
In the wake of the Great Shellacking of 2010 and President Obama's accommodation with congressional Republicans, liberals are casting around for a primary challenger for Obama in 2012. Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, and Russ Feingold have all been mentioned.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

11 Things Americans Will Be Doing in Space in 2011
Rand Simberg demonstrates a certain unseriousness when he says this.
The problem is that they haven’t followed through by either passing a new appropriation bill to allow them to implement it, or even do an anomaly on the current continuing resolution that allows NASA to move on to the new track. In fact, Congress has essentially made it impossible for NASA to follow “the law,” because it has two intrinsically incompatible laws in place. The notion that this is either NASA’s or the White House’s fault is ludicrous.

The problem is that Congress is doing what it always does when there is no leadership from the executive branch. Obama tossed a hand grenade into the old program of record and tried to replace it with something that was dysfunctional, unvetted, and unpopular. Aside from a snarky speech at the Kennedy Space Center, Obama essentially walked away.

NASA, between Bolden's mission to the Muslims and Garver's scheming and spinning, has certainly been counter productive.

Obama should, once it was clear that his policy was not going over very well, sat down with the Congressional space leadership (including Shelby; tool though he is, he is a formidable one) and hashed out a deal that included funding commitments. Instead he has let chaos reign.
I see that one of the authors has weighed in on a debate raging in the comments section of my review of Back to the Moon.

Harris Tweed opined:
Mr. Whittington, who's distaste for anything having to do with President Obama, gets his digs in here. In fact, Obama canceled a Moon program that was breaking the bank, and technologically mishandled. The future of this book may be more realizable for the sense that the President is trying to inject into our space program.

Doc Taylor replied:
Mr. Tweeds response is very politically motivated and ill informed. Constellation was far from breaking the bank. Any space program that is only costing a handfull of billions of dollars isn't even close to such. There is over 3 trillion of crazy bailout dollars and NASA's budget for going back to the Moon is only about 5-10 billion depending on the year in the plan. Mr. Tweed, you are very ill informed sir. Travis S. Taylor

Feel free to get into the fray yourselves if you like.
House Republicans to Adhere to the Constitution; Horror and Consternation Ensue
The House Republicans have vowed to closely follow the Constitution in writing legislation, which would tend to restrict what Congress can do. In a dialogue on MSNBC, Norah O'Donnell and the Washington Post's Ezra Klein were dubious.
California's Central Valley Compared to Zimbabwe, 1930s Ukraine
The Central Valley of California used to be the nation's breadbasket, producing enough food to not only feed much of the United States, but to export to the rest of the world. But that is no longer the case, thanks to environmental politics.
2011: The Upcoming Year at the Movies
The following are some of the films we are looking forward to. As with previous years, they are an eclectic group of originals, remakes, and sequels. Some will, no doubt, be disappointments, others unexpected gems.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jim DeMint Pays Sarah Palin the Ultimate Compliment
In a story about the Republican movers and shakers in the early primary states, Politico notes that Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina paid former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin the highest compliment one Republican can pay another.
Jon Stewart for Congress?
Kevin Zimmerman is advancing the rather odd proposal of electing Jon Stewart, the host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," to Congress. It seems that late night basic cable has become too small to contain Stewart's awesomeness.
Tucker Carlson: Michael Vick 'Should Have Been Executed' for Torturing Dogs to Death
Tucker Carlson, the Fox News personality, is raising some eyebrows by suggesting that Michael Vick, the football player who spent time in jail for running a dog fighting ring, should have been executed for his crimes, which involved torturing dogs to death.
The Human Mission to Mars: Colonizing the Red Planet
New York Mayor Bloomberg Slammed for Tepid Reaction to Snow Storm
The massive snow storm that gripped the northeast United States on and immediately after Christmas, closing down air and train travel and snarling traffic in city streets, may have made New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg a political casualty.
Space Predictions for 2011
After a 2010 that featured a disastrous new space policy from the Obama administration and some success on the commercial space front, 2011 promises to be just as, if not more, tumultuous on the space front.

Leonard David has his own look forward on commercial space. Someone should tell Rand Simberg that one of the qualities of a conservative is a healthy skepticism of having the new foisted on people just for the virtue of being new. Also, for the umpteenth time, government subsidies for commercial space companies is no more capitalist than taking over GM.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

16 offbeat non-Star Trek performances by Trek actors
Sarah Palin, Michelle Obama, and the War Against Dessert
Sarah Palin's offhand jibe against Michelle Obama's "Eat Your Veggies" crusade continues to roil across the land, with some people acting as if Palin had said something about the First Lady's intelligence or child rearing skills.
NASA Engineer has some clarification on the five hundred million being wasted on Ares 1 story.
This is not money going to revive the Ares 1. Ares 1 is dead and buried. Get over it.

This money is going to keep work going on things that Ares 1 had that may become part of SLS.

Meanwhile, back at centers that were working Ares, the money is NOT flowing. The current CR is not helping things at all. At MSFC specifically, tasks are running out by Jan 1 and many layoff notices have already gone out. There is no official count, but the number is not trivial.

At lot of people have rightfully asked how can this be? If the CR says don’t cancel any programs or start new ones, why lay people off? It’s because the money is there, but NASA is can’t or won’t spend it on tasks that keep people busy.

This is too bad. Assuming that eventually Congress will appropriate something to get NASA busy on SLS besides small planning teams, tasks will need to be filled again, but the people will be gone. It’s also not just the people. The orgs that needed Project money to survive are doing a re-org at the same time and they are losing not just people, but core capability.

Again we should note that Congress has left the door open to keep Primes at least functional, but they don’t seem to notice or care what damage they are doing to NASA.
Lettermarking and Phonemarking - Pork by Any Other Name
Even though Republicans have come to power in Congress by inveighing against earmarking, the pernicious practice of tucking pet projects in spending bills to benefit certain constituencies, some Republicans have found different methods to do the same thing.
Greta Van Sustren wags her finger at Juan Williams over his snarky remark about Sarah Palin's intelligence.
Has Juan interviewed either so as to have any knowledge about which he speaks? or is he just talking? Knowing if he interviewed (first hand knowledge) either and to what depth can help guide you as to whether you should credit his opinion or not. (Incidentally, I don't know if he has....maybe he has.)
Political Predictions for 2011
As the melancholy year of 2010 draws to a close, it is time for a series of predictions for 2011. First up will be political predictions, which are offered, as usual, in the spirit of often in error but never in doubt.
Another Spielberg aliens take over the world story. Only this time the aliens win, though it is implied that they then kind of wish they hadn't.

It also implies that President Obama, seeing them going in fast and hard with a fleet, actually assumes that they're friendly. McCain would have nuked them.

Addendum: Spielberg's 'Falling Skies' Alien Invasion Series Coming Soon
A trailer for the Stephen Spielberg-produced TV series "Falling Skies" has been released to the Internet. "Falling Skies" is set in the months after a successful alien invasion of Earth and the formation of a human resistance movement.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Can NASA Change in Order to Survive? Maybe and this is a hopeful sign:
But there are signs that NASA realizes that it must do things differently.

Perhaps the greatest test case is the Orion spacecraft, which has so far cost $4.8 billion and is not likely to fly for at least another three years — and at an additional cost of $1.2 billion.

Orion's prime contractor, Lockheed Martin Corp., has long complained that unnecessary levels of NASA oversight drive up costs and has pleaded with the agency to cut down on paperwork.

Now, according to Mark Geyer, NASA's Orion program manager, the agency is relenting, scaling back layers of supervision and looking at other ways to cut costs.

And rather than looking to build a fully loaded capsule capable of flying to the moon, NASA will build it in stages to match the budget. Under the latest plan, NASA and Lockheed would produce an unmanned test vehicle by 2013, and then a simple manned capsule in 2017.

By 2018, Orion would be ready to go to the International Space Station, and by 2020 would be capable of going to points beyond the moon for extended stays.

But, Geyer said, the real change has been cutting down on supervision of Lockheed "to really focus on the higher-risk items and not all the stuff Lockheed knows how to do."

"Lockheed had a lot of skill in building flight hardware. NASA doesn't have to watch that a lot," he said.

Geyer said scaling back on layers of supervision has allowed NASA to cut Orion's overhead budget by 70%, and allowed Lockheed to cut some of its costs by as much as 47%. The money saved, Geyer said, has been invested into making electronics for Orion.

Also When Will We Go back to the Moon?
The promises Obama wants you to keep forgetting

Including supporting a return to the Moon.
'Back to the Moon' by Travis S. Taylor and Les Johnson: A Review

EPA to Seize Control of Greenhouse Gas Regulation in Texas
Congress just concluded failed-to-pass Cap and Trade legislation that would limit the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by industrial facilities. This has not proved to be a problem for Obama's EPA.
NASA in Chaos as Continuing Resolution Preserves Canceled Constellation Program
Provisions tucked into the NASA version of the continuing resolution that funds the government until March show that chaos prevails at the space agency in the wake of President Obama's cancellation of the Constellation space exploration program.
Dana Perino is the latest female Republican to sharpen her claws and go after Sarah Palin.
On Fox News Sunday, former White House press secretary Dana Perino suggested somebody’s writing some of Sarah Palin’s meatier foreign policy musings–and it’s not Sarah Palin.

“It doesn’t sound like her when you read the materials,” said Perino, who conceded it’s hardly uncommon for politicians to have ghostwriters.

Perino said in Palin’s case the folksy style she brings to her public appearances, Twitter posts and on her reality show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska makes the uber-serious written takes, including a recent USA Today op-ed on Iran seem so out of character as to raise questions about her “authenticity,” which Perino claimed has “never been more important.”

A lot of people speak differently than they write. Formal writing can impose a certain discipline that is not present when speaking off the cuff. The written word is also a different form of communication that speaking.

I think Perino knows this and her purpose is to try to take a cut at Sarah Palin, a women who is likely a threat to whichever candidate Perino is planning to support next year,

Addendum: Jack Cashill rises to Palin's defense.

In Palin's memoir, Going Rogue, Palin does not shy from crediting Lynn Vincent for "her indispensable help in getting the words on paper." And yet the story is told honestly and sincerely in Palin's voice. There is no artifice, no postmodern mumbo jumbo, and not a sentence in the book Palin could not have written herself. My personal favorite, "I love meat."

The same cannot be said about the literary pretensions of Barack Obama. "I've written two books," Obama told a crowd of teachers in Virginia on the campaign trail in 2008. "I actually wrote them myself."

This is easily disproved nonsense. On their own, Palin is the better writer than Obama. Still, I can at least understand the disparate treatment of the two by the mainstream media. Their ideological house of cards requires it. That much I get.

But why our conservative brethren enable this charade is beyond me. Are invites to Georgetown cocktail parties that important?
Obama Administration to Encourage 'End of Life' Discussions
The Obama administration is planning to initiate a program to "encourage" doctors to engage patients in end of life planning through regulation, even though the provision was rejected in the final draft of the health care reform law.
'True Grit' (2010) by the Coen Brothers, Starring Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, and Matt Damon
The Coen Brothers' remake of "True Grit" will inevitably be compared to the original, made over 40 years ago starring the incomparable John Wayne. As a whole, the new version hold up pretty well as a modern Western.
Sarah Palin's Alaska' - 'Logging'
This week's excellent adventure on "Sarah Palin's Alaska" was called "Logging" and consisted of a trip to a logging camp on a small island just north of Kodiak Island for some tree cutting and some pouting.
Joanne King Herring, played with such panache by Julia Roberts in "Charlie Wilson's War", has a new plan for the development of Afghanistan that is getting some support.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The New York Sun, apparently risen from the dead, writes in praise of Sarah Palin who is much smarter than her enemies give her credit for. It seems that the Obama administration is going to try to establish the Death Panels by regulation rather than legislation. And that is not all that Palin has been proven right about.
The question that that we find ourselves thinking about is how was Mrs. Palin able to see this issue when others weren’t. Is she just smarter than the editors and the Congress? Or does she just have more life experience? Is it that her religion gives her a framework for learning all this stuff? Or is it that her sensitivity was heightened by making of her own decision to bring Trig into the world? Or is it something about the Alaskan spirit?

Our own conclusion is that it doesn’t matter. It’s enough that she was just ahead of the others, and the point is one to mark. She has become, at a relatively young age and by whatever means, a savvy woman. We noticed it, say, when she suggested the best way to handle the question of the West Bank settlements was to let the Israelis decide, a policy the administration is now following. We noticed it when she went to Hong Kong and warned about the collapse in the value of the dollar and spoke of the importance of gold.

It was apparent when she dove in before other politicians and the intelligentsia and warned about the dangers of the Federal Reserve’s second round of quantitative easing. And when, in advance of the BP oil-spill disaster, she’d been campaigning to develop our onshore energy resources. And when she began branding as her own the idea of commonsense, conservative constitutionalism — a year before a resurgent GOP is preparing to open the 112th Congress with a reading of the entire text of the Constitution.

No doubt it will be said that other politicians were onto these issue long before the former governor of Alaska elevated them to the national debate. But the observation only underscores Mrs. Palin’s ability. It may be that it’s her education in journalism, in which she holds a degree from the University of Idaho. Or just the fact that she’s on her game. But she understands one of journalism’s great principles, which turns out to be as true of politicians as it is of newspapermen. It’s not a scoop until it’s played like a scoop.

I heard Juan Williams sneer at Sarah Palin's intellectual acume on Fox News Sunday. In that he is doing the typical liberal thing by assuming conservatives are all stupid. This proved to be a great advantage for George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan before him as they were both "misunderestimated." It will prove to great advantage for Sarah Palin in the future.

Addendum: More about Juan William's snarky remark.
"There's nobody out there, except for Sarah Palin, who can absolutely dominate the stage, and she can't stand on the intellectual stage with Obama," Williams said.

I think that the image a lot of libs have of Obama as a great philosopher king is as great a myth as the one about Sarah Palin being a bimbo. Should ab Obama/Palin Presidential debate ever happen, I imagine there would be some very surprised liberals who would find out just whose intellectual stage it would be.

Meanwhile, Palin herself was very gracious and supportive of Williams when he got the Royal Order of the Boot from NPR.
The NASA funding situation is a mess almost beyond the ability to comprehend. It seems that even though the authorizors have approved a kind of melange of Obamaspace and the Constellation program, the appropriators have kicked the final choice down the road until March in the Continuing Resolution. That means NASA has to work on Constellation, which everyone assumes is dead, for a couple of more months.

The conventional wisdom suggests that this means NASA is in for some more cutting, thanks to the general mood that the over all budget needs it. But I think something else is going on. It has been a sad tradition that the authorizors and the appropriators often have two different ideas about space policy. The appripriators invariably win these fights because they are the ones who provide the real money. What the appropriators have in mind, I am uncertain of. But it is likely not to be pretty and not to be liked by anyone.

I blame Obama for this, for tossing a hand grenade into the old program and then essentially going on, letting others deal with the wreckage. There is no one person with the leadership or vision to cobble together a space effort worthy of the name. That means that we're in for at least a couple of more years of drift, acrimony, and waste. Thank you, Mr. President.

Addendum: The Orlando Sentinel is blaming the whole mess on Richard Shelby. But, really, Shelby is not NASA administrator nor is he President. The lack of leadership is on the other end of Pennsykvania Avenue. Shelby is just taking advantage of the chaos.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I swore I was not going to do this on Christmas, but Chantal is cooking stuff to take to her family down in Clear Lake and Tom is still asleep. Anyway, this is just too precious.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Will a new type of rocket fuel mean we can have heavy lift without heavy lift rockets?
In the tradition of The Silent Monks, via Sarah Palin:

For obvious reasons we will not be posting tomorrow. However, we offer here some of our best Christmas material from past years:

Christmas Miracle Mom and Baby Die Then Revive

Christmas is Nigh A Holiday Haiku

Middle Eastern Dishes for a Christmas Dinner

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

Christmas on the Moon

Christmas Movies to Own and Enjoy

The World War I Christmas Truce of 1914

The Flight of Apollo 8

Saturnalia: The Reason We Celebrate Christmas in December

And finally this, then as now, a balm for a troubled time:

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.
13-Year-Old Student Arrested for Illegal Possession of a Magic Marker
A 13-year-old middle school student, whose name has been withheld from the media, was arrested in Oklahoma City for possession of an illegal magic marker, apparently in violation of a city ordinance designed to combat graffiti.
Four More Sensible Ways to Restore America's Future

A Response and Critque to Loren Thompson's Forbes Article
Loron Thompson, the COO of something called the Lexington Institute, has published a column in Forbes with a plan to save the American economy. While he has gotten the four areas right -- trade, industry, environment, and space -- his solutions fall a little short.
Obama Promised Strategic Weapons Modernization, Missile Defense for START Ratification
The ratification of the START Treaty is seen as a foreign policy and political triumph of the Obama administration in the lame duck Congress. But a Republican memo published in the Weekly Standard shows that the triumph was not without cost.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wikileaks Joins with Novaya Gazeta to Expose Russian Corruption
According to Bloomberg, Wikileaks will join forces with a Russian newspaper, Novoya Gazeta, to expose corruption in Russia. Novoya Gazeta is owned by former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and billionaire Alexander Lebedev.
Continuing Resolution Defunds Obamacare
While some of the media are crowing about how President Obama is the "comeback kid," mainly for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the ratification of the START Treaty, a provision in the continuing resolution strikes a body blow against his agenda.
How the Obama Stole Christmas:

Guantanamo Revelations: Jewish Witches and Sex-Crazed Cats
A former inmate at Guantanamo, a Sudanese man named Walid Muhammad Hajj, was interviewed recently on Al Jazeera. Walid Muhammad Hajj had some startling revelations about some of the strange things going on at Gitmo.
'Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior' Starring Forest Whittaker and Janeane Garofalo to Premiere
"Criminal Minds," the hit TV series that depicts a team of FBI behavior profilers who hunt the worst of the worst serial killers, is about to get a spin-off series titled "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior" about another FBI team.
Report: Spielberg Advising Pelosi on 'Rebranding' Democrats
The Washington Post has a bizarre story to the effect that filmmaker Steven Spielberg is consulting with now former Speaker Nancy Pelosi on how to "rebrand" the Democrats. At first, it appeared to be a parody story.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Huckabee Joins the Sarah Palin/Michelle Obama Food Fight
Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, past candidate for president, and possible future candidate for president, joined the Sarah Palin/Michelle Obama food fight on the side of the First Lady.
FDA Revokes Approval of Avastin, Life-Extending Cancer Drug
In an unprecedented but unfortunately anticipated move, the Food and Drug Administration has decided to withdraw regulatory approval for the life extending (and sometimes life saving) cancer drug Avastin, solely on the basis of cost.
'Net Neutrality' a Threat to Internet Freedom
The Federal Communications Commission has decided, somewhat arbitrarily, that it has the power to regulate the Internet. By a 3-2 vote along party lines, the FCC passed something innocuously called "Net Neutrality."
Clark Lindsey is very pessimistic about Paul Spudis' lunar return plan until launch costs go down. The problem is, launch costs will not go down until there is a destination to go to. A lot of the Internet Rocketeer Club have the idea that one can magically reduce launch costs without a market (i.e. a private space station, a lunar base, etc.) That is putting the rocket before the whatever, IMHO.
Sarah Palin Being Wooed by TLC for Second Season of TV
Rumor has it that "Sarah Palin's Alaska" is so successful that TLC is after her to film a second season in 2011. Naturally, this begs the question about what else the former governor of Alaska might be doing in the summer of 2011.
For last minute Christmas shopping, just a friendly reminder that Amazon does now enable kindle books as gifts. This will especially be appreciated if one is giving a Kindle as a gift. Some good gift ideas along those lines can be seen on the left side of this friendly blog.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sarah Palin Wants the Islamic Republic of Iran 'Consigned to History's Dustbin'
Sarah Palin has a piece in USA Today that admonishes President Obama for being too weak against the Islamic Republic of Iran and suggests that there are ways to get tougher with the theocratic regime.
While I never thought that there was anything wrong with the Constellation program that couldn't have been tweeted with a minimum of fuss, it's cancellation does allow us to do a fresh look at the problem of returning to the Moon. Paul Spudis has always been a critic of Constellation, but unlike most he has been fair minded and genuinely interested in returning to the Moon.

One of things that really irritates me about some people is a tendency to find fault without suggesting solutions. As Tommy Lee Jones once said in a movie, "You don't like my plan? Fine. What's your plan?" Paul Spudis has a plan that is not only comprehensive, has a built in rationale, but on first glance holds together. I'm sure that the usual suspects will try to nitpick it to death. There may be some aspects that I might find reservations about. But it is a serious effort, one that aims toward recovering our space effort in the wake of teh damage Obama has created, and should be discussed and considered with all seriousness.

As a companion piece, Can we afford to return to the Moon?

Addendum: Behold the Prophet. While Rand Simberg, for now, seems open minded, some of his commentors are in their usual rabid form.
How Slavery Divided the North and South
Florida's Senator Bill Nelson Show Strength for Reelection--Except Against Jeb Bush
A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Florida Senator Bill Nelson in pretty good shape to be reelected if he runs against anyone except for Jeb Bush, Florida's former governor. There is also some ominous news for Nelson with other potential rivals as well.
Time to get tough with Iran says Sarah Palin.
Census Results Creates Winners and Losers Among the States
The Census Bureau has announced the 18 states that have gained or lost House seats and electoral votes due to the 2010 Census now completed.
'A Klingon Christmas Carol' Staged in Chicago
n a curious mating of Dickens and modern, episodic space opera, a Chicago theater is currently staging a play titled "A Klingon Christmas Carol." The dialogue is, of course, entirely in Klingon, a made up language for the show "Star Trek."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Timeline: 150th Anniversary of South Carolina's Secession
Is Karl Rove Behind the Prosecution of Julian Assange?
An interesting conspiracy theory has arisen over Wikileaks' Julian Assange's problems with rape allegations in Sweden. It seems that the two women in question were working in a honey trap operation at the behest of Karl Rove.

Speaking of Wikileaks:

Wikileaks: Mahmoud Abbas Conspired with Israel Against Hamas
A new Wikileaks revelation suggests that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is plotting with Israel against his rival, the Hamas terrorist group, which currently rules the Gaza strip. This revelation is potentially very serious for Abbas.
In this week's Space Review, Lou Friedman inveighs against the shuttle derived heavy lift rocket in Rocket to Nowhere.
I am as much of a space enthusiast as anyone. I very much want a deep space rocket and I want it to take humans out of Earth orbit into the solar system. I want huge telescopes, big asteroid missions, and big Mars ventures. But, those missions are not even being considered before the 2020s, so do we need to develop a launch vehicle for them five to ten years before we can use it? The resultant long, drawn-out schedule is another textbook prescription for wasting money.

What is Congress thinking? Are they really planning to accelerate human missions beyond Earth orbit? They did not mention that in their legislation. In fact, they were weaker on that subject than was the Administration. They are more likely thinking only about the next year—the usual political run-up to elections and short-term benefits. Given the current forces for budget-cutting and debt reduction, that will lead to an unsustainable program like Constellation.

What Congress is trying to do is to preserve as much of the space exploration program as possible so that the next President (or Obama if he changes his mind) has options to do exploration sooner rather than later.

Also Space budgets are made to be broken about the Webb Telescope. Finally Dwayne Day has another post mortem of that awful show Defying Gravity
'Sarah Palin's Alaska' -- 'Rafting'
This week's episode of "Sarah Palin's Alaska," titled simply "Rafting," lacked the drama of the previous week's and perhaps the controversy of the week before's, though one cannot count out the inventiveness of the Enemies of Sarah.
Total Lunar Eclipse to Occur on the Night of Dec. 20-21
An event that has not occurred since Charles I sat on the throne of England will occur in the night skies over North America, northwest Europe, and northeast Asia: a lunar eclipse coinciding with the winter solstice.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Analysis: Adjustments needed after 'don't ask, don't tell'
Debate Over START Treaty Hinges on Missile Defense
Debate on the ratification of the new START or Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty continues in the Senate. Many Republicans, including Senators John McCain and John Kyl, oppose ratification because of concerns over a paragraph in the preamble.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Apparently Winona Ryder once encountered Mel Gibson who was in a state on drunkeness at a Hollywood party.
"I remember, like, 15 years ago, I was at one of those big Hollywood parties. And he was really drunk. I was with my friend, who's gay. He made a really horrible gay joke. And somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about 'oven dodgers,' but I didn't get it. I'd never heard that before. It was just this weird, weird moment. I was like, 'He's anti-Semitic and he's homophobic.' No one believed me!"

Seriously. "Oven dodgers?!"
'Tron: Legacy' -- Return to the Grid for More CGI Action
"Tron: Legacy" is the very long waited sequel to the ground breaking, cutting edge of its time film "Tron." The new film, as the old, is visually stunning, but in the end a triumph of form over substance.
Wikileaks Reveals: Cuba Banned Michael Moore's 'Sicko'
Michael Moore, the infamous "documentary" film maker, contributed bail money for Julian Assange, the cyber terrorist and accused sex offender, to spring him from a British jail. Ironically a Wikileaks revelation may give Moore second thoughts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A lot has been writtem about water in the dark areas of craters at the lunar poles. Paul Spudis writes about the other great feature of the lunar poles in New Light on the Lunar Poles.
What is the significance of such features? Permanently lit areas of the Moon are important for future habitation and use of the Moon for two principal reasons. First, these sunlit areas are prime locations for the establishment of solar photovoltaic arrays. The constant sunlight here means continuous generation of electrical power using solar panels. This solves one of the most difficult problems of lunar habitation, survival during the 354-hour lunar night. Prior to the discovery of the quasi-permanently lit areas, we imagined that the only feasible power source to survive this long night was nuclear reactors. Such a power system does not exist and would require several tens of billions of dollars to develop. So sunlit zones allow us to go to the Moon and stay there without this expense and technology development.

The second advantage of a sunlit area is that it is thermally benign. The surface temperatures at the lunar equator and mid-latitudes depend almost entirely upon incident solar illumination and range from less than -150° to over 100° C, a 250° temperature-swing over the course of a day. In contrast, the surface temperature of these quasi-permanent lit areas is nearly constant – a nice, toasty -50° ± 10° C. This simplifies the thermal design of surface habitats and equipment and greatly relieves the energy required for thermal control at an outpost.

The sunlit areas of the poles occur in close proximity to high concentrations of water ice and other volatiles at the poles of the Moon. Their presence indicates the lunar poles are the best places we have found off-planet for human habitation. Constant sunlight, benign temperatures, near the water and a great view – that’s prime real estate.
Jeffrey Kluger has a sober assessment of the recent flight of the Dragon, what it means, and what it doesn't mean.
Pulled Pork: Omnibus Spending Bill Withdrawn in the Senate
Late Thursday night, Senate Majority Leady Harry Reid was forced to pull the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill from consideration. Reid was compelled to admit that he did not have the votes to pass it.
House Votes to Extend Bush Era Tax Cuts, Including for the Rich
The tax cut extension bill has passed the House and is expected to be signed by President Obama shortly. The bill, which contains extension of the Bush tax cuts and of unemployment insurance, was an example of a messy Washington compromise.
'Burn Notice' Season 4 Episode 18 'Last Stand'
In "Burn Notice" Season 4 Episode 18 "Last Stand," our intrepid heroes have very little time. Vaughn and his army of black-clad mercenaries are on their way to take the list or their lives. Very likely, they mean to take the list and their lives.
'Burn Notice' Season 4 Episode 17 'Out of the Fire'
In "Burn Notice" Season 4 Episode 17 "Out of the Fire" Michael and company face the odious Tyler Brennan, who has killed Marv, Jesse's old handler, for the list of people who burned Michael, a very dangerous macguffin indeed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

This day in 1773, a bunch of red neck tax protestors tossed a bunch of tea into Boston Harbor, thus creating a tradition that arose in our century to frighten the sleep of tyrants and would be tyrants.
Blake Edwards, Director of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "The Pink Panther" and "Victor Victoria," Dead at 88
Filmmaker Blake Edwards, creator of such romantic comedies as "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "The Pink Panther," "10", and "Victor Victoria," has died of the complications of pneumonia at the age of 88.
SyFy Channel just cancelled Stargate Universe.
Tax Cut Extension Hits Road Bump in the House
President Barack Obama is reported by The Hill newspaper to have told the House Democratic caucus that if the tax compromise that extends the Bush tax cuts is not passed, then it means the end of his presidency.
Is privatizing government – and maybe even the moon – a way to trim the deficit?

Here is the out of the box idea the article references.
Will the Government Shutdown on Saturday?
Is the United States headed for another government shutdown on Saturday, similar to what occurred during a fight over Medicare and Medicaid spending in 1995? If someone doesn't blink in the Senate, this may well happen.
For those people who think Sarah Palin is unelectable, Mike Potemra has some history about other unelectable people.

Addendum: Is Sarah Palin Unelectable?
One of the more widespread conventional wisdoms in politics being spread by the media is that former Governor Sarah Palin, for all of her charm and appeal, is unelectable. Poll after poll seems to suggest this.
Apollo 17 Departed from the Moon 38 Years Ago
Yesterday, December 15, 1972, the last men to walk on the Moon, Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17, departed from the lunar surface. No one has been back to the Moon in the 38 years since.

Oh the other hand, Rand Simberg is pretty sure who is to blame.
Humans haven’t walked on the moon since, for many reasons, but foremost because too many people think that the only way to return was the way we went the first time, with massive government expenditures and a big rocket. This false perception has held us back for almost four decades now.

Yep, I can see why wanting to have a space craft that can get to the Moon and that it should be paid for would seem to be unreasonable for some people. Mind, I am always open to other ideas, but so far have not seen any, especially from the folks who don't like the original idea.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Michael Mealling has a fascinating idea of grabbing small Earth approaching asteroids (He mentions two cubic meters), bringing it back to ISS and then selling access to it to researchers. Apparently the virtual certainty that this will actually work is an argument for not going back to the Moon.

I have a couple of questions that any venture capitalist would ask.

1) How much will this scheme cost?
2) What will be the market price for the service being offered?

Until these questions are answered satisfactory, color me skeptical.
From our friends in Tawain, The Bill and Barack Show...

Dr. Who, in a galaxy far far away...

Senate to Consider $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill with $8.3 Billion in Pork
The Senate appropriators are preparing to introduce a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2011that contains just under 6,500 earmarks costing about $8.3 billion.
You will likely never again see a paragraph in which Julian Assange, Sarah Palin, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Bill O'Reilly, and Your Humble Servant are all mentioned.
Another argument in favor of Sarah Palin. The Washington elites seriously cannot stand her.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Haggis flavored chips?
Notable British Royal Weddings
'The King's Speech' Gets Seven Golden Globe Nominations
"The King's Speech," a biop of King George VI, is the unexpected recipient of seven golden globe nominations. By all accounts, it is a stately, old-fashioned period piece that has the charm of telling an unknown but powerful story.
Henry Kissinger Indifferent to Soviet Jews, Nixon Tapes Reveals
The objects of Christopher Hitchens' ire make up, to say the least, an eclectic list. The list includes William Jefferson Clinton and every Islamic terrorist who ever lived. But it also lists Mother Theresa and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
The successful flight of the Dragon is causing some unseemly triumphalism among some of the Internet Rocketeer Club. Henry Spenser, for instance, sneers at some of the at some of the early launch failures NASA experienced in the Mercury program as opposed to SpaceX's first success on its first attempt. This little boy attitude contrasts with the somewhat more sober, adult mien assumed by Elon Musk during his post flight press conference in which he thanked NASA for all the support SpaceX got and stated, truefully, that the Dragon was flying "on the shoulders of giants."

Meaning, if it had not been for those early NASA failures, finding out what worked and what didn't, Dragon would never have been successful. Come to think of it, SpaceX had three launch failures with its Falcon 1.

Next, we have an old reliable Internet Rocketeer, making an an overly confident prediction.
The half-century-old paradigm of Apollo - a specific planetary goal, a gargantuan rocket, an unlimited budget - is finally dead. Replacing it is a more effective concept, for those who want to open up and develop the solar system, and not just send a few government-employee "explorers" at a cost of billions per flight - a robust and redundant space transportation infrastructure, with private competition and increasing activity driving down costs for all, and not just NASA.

Yeah, having a goal, and time table, a budget (which was not unlimited; Rand is either being ignorant or dishonest), and hardware is just so 1960s. Next, why the World War II paradigm of winners and losers in armed conflict is over as well.

Addendum: Rand responds, though apparently he still doesn't get the joke. And naturally he does not address any of the points, including the alhistorical "unlimited budget" Apollo is alleged to have had.

I do know a little bit about history, politics, economics, and so on, unlike Rand, his bragging aside, after all.
Every zombie kill in season one of The Walking Dead. Warning, quite gory.

Julian Assange has a new best friend--Michael Moore.
Chernobyl to Become Hot Tourist Attraction
The Ukraine plans to open up the area of Chernobyl, site of the worst nuclear disaster in history, to tourists next year. No doubt it will quickly become the hottest tourist attraction in Eastern Europe.
Richard Holbrooke, Diplomat, Journalist, Businessman, Dead at 69
Richard Holbrooke, a longtime State Department official, diplomat in various Democratic administrations, businessman and journalist, has died from the complications of a torn aorta suffered recently. He was 69.
Apparently the legend of Erin Brockovich is less than meets the eye.
'Dexter' Season 5 Episode 12 'The Big One'
In "Dexter" Season 5 Episode 12 "The Big One," Dexter is very frustrated indeed. He has to find Jordan before he kills Lumen in some slow, lingering way. But circumstances seem to persist in getting in the way.
Elon Musk has a new friend--Bob Zubrin.
BooBoo shoots Yogi the Bear...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Homer Hickam asks, What about a Moon Base?
If the U.S. Senate wants to exercise a little authority, here's three things it can do.

First, suck it up and fund SpaceX (and other companies like Lockheed, Orbital Sciences and Boeing) to take over American spaceflight to the International Space Station and other low-earth orbit missions. These companies have excellent managers who know what they're doing.

Second, convince the president to install new management at NASA and, third, order up a mission beyond Earth orbit that will, as JFK said about the Apollo program that sent men to the moon, "serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills." You don't have to add a cent to the paltry amount NASA gets; the Department of Education gets five times more money. Just give it the mission, stick with it over the years, and watch its excellent engineers pull it off.

How about the moon? It's close, it's loaded with resources, and we can get there with existing technology.

Build a station there, like the National Science Foundation's South Pole Station, and invite the world to join us. We'll give our technological prestige a sorely needed boost, and something else will also happen: New and wondrous products based on NASA requirements for metallurgy, composite materials, solar arrays, computers and batteries will boost our economy, just as the technologies of the Apollo mission did.

It happened once, it could happen again. Worth a try, senators.

I could quibble about going all in with SpaceX, being still queesy about the state capitalism aspects. But Homer's proposal makes a lot more sense than the course we're on now.
Obama Delegates Press Conference to Bill Clinton
Political circles are still buzzing over a bizarre incident during a White House press conference in which President Obama begged off for a Christmas party, leaving former President Bill Clinton to continue fielding questions.
Jack's back...

'No Labels' Political Group Formed
The idea, in theory, of No Labels is beguiling. Why not jettison concepts such as "left," "right," "conservative," "liberal" or "progressive" and try to approach political problems with solutions based on their own merits?
A Canadian worries about how Obama is trashing the US space program.
A bionic leg that helps stoke victims learn how to walk again.
Obama Health Care Reform Individual Mandate Ruled Unconstitutional
District Judge Henry Hudson in Virginia has ruled that the individual mandate portion of the health care reform law, also known as "Obamacare," is unconstitutional. Because of a quirk in the law, this could mean that Obamacare itself is null and void.
Lou Friedman defends the idea of bypassing the Moon and going to an asteroid by, without awareness of irony, invoking Apollo. Being first to an asteroid would be a glorious thing, but I would prefer to have a sustainable program that uses the Moon's resources. It is funny that people who spit at the word "Apollo" prefer it as a model for the vague and likely illusory goals of Obamaspace.
Jeff Foust has a pretty good piece on the implications of last week's flight of the Dragon, including the caveats that most writers do not include.
While SpaceX received plenty of praise, the company, and the overall concept of commercial human orbital spaceflight, will continue to receive plenty of scrutiny in the months and years to come. Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX), selected last week by fellow House Republicans to be the chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee in the next Congress, remained skeptical of the ability of private companies to carry out such missions.

“If you’re really a conservative you long for the day when anybody… can launch their own missiles and not have NASA, the government, do it. But that day’s not yet,” he told Dallas radio station KERA on Friday. “It’s a time when you still need government backing and sure tax money to see that you have successful launches and safe launches.” Hall also told the Dallas Morning News that he would ask Musk to testify at a future committee hearing.

Others question just how “commercial” such systems could really be. “I think one of the worst things that happened in managing this revolutionary proposal with respect to human spaceflight is to call the transportation service ‘commercial,’” John Logsdon, the former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, said in a space policy forum earlier this month hosted by the Marshall Institute. “There is no obvious market” right now for crewed flights beyond NASA’s needs, he claimed, and allowing that question to dominate the policy debate “is one of the policy failures of the last year.”
Rand Simberg has a fascinatingly twisted defense of Obamaspacethat sounds very much like other peoples' fascinatingly twisted defense of Obamacare. Or cap and trade. Or any of the other mad schemes that have come out of this administration. Rand does not actually says why Obamaspace is so great, but rather tries to suggest that its critics are just wrong, or dishonest, or both.
But what’s fascinating is, finally, an implicit admission by some of the most vociferous opponents of the new policy that they had no concept of what it actually was, and that their opposition to it was based entirely on the (politically stupid) decision by the White House to make a big effing deal out of the fact that we aren’t going back to the moon as the first destination (allowing people not paying attention to nuttily spin this into the notion that we weren’t going back at all or were ending the American human spaceflight program).

Never mind that the decision itself was epically stupid, since the Moon is a well suited jumping off and support point for voyages into deep space. Rand also has the charming notion, at least in this paragraph, that President Obama actually was serious when he threw out asteroids and Mars orbit as destinations. It was a politician's way to try to distract people from the cluster frack that cancelling Constellation and wasting money on vague, directionless, and goalless technology projects that won't get funded are.

Rand compounds his folly.
But as I noted over there, it remains frustrating that so many people are basing their opinions about the new direction totally on emotion, determined to remain ignorant of what it actually is, and primarily based on the speech of a president whose every statement comes with an expiration date, and who is likely a one-termer, so it doesn’t matter where he says we’re going to go first or ever in space.

The underlining premise might be true. Whomever the next President is will have to undo a lot of damage caused by President Obama. But by suggesting this, Rand contradicts his first paragraph. He is at once saying that Obama created a good policy and that it doesn't matter because he is a liar and will likely not be around much longer.

Finally there is this.
It is a tragedy, from a policy standpoint, that it was this politically incompetent White House that came up with the smartest space policy in the history of the program, in terms of finally opening up space (not that that’s a high bar), because it poisoned the well in selling it, particularly with the incoming Congress.

The mind boggles at what it must take to write these words and evidently believe them. We have probably lost at least three years of dithering because Obama blew up one space program around which a carefully formed political consensus had been built and had offered another that has no support whatsoever. Constellation was not perfect, by any means, but the proper course was to improve it and not to scrap it and start over with a new scheme that does nothing what it or Rand says it will do. What a tragedy. What a farce.

Oh, and by the way, if Constellation constituted "Apollo Redux" (a false statement, despite Mike Griffin's unfortunate phrase "Apollo on steroids") what program to send people back to the Moon is not "Apollo Redux?" Rand has never actually opened his mind on this question.
'Sarah Palin's Alaska' -- 'Alaskan Hospitality' -- Kate Gosselin Goes Camping.
In "Sarah Palin's Alaska" -- "Alaskan Hospitality," Palin and family attempt to take this woman named Kate Gosselin and her eight kids out on a real-live camping trip by a lake in the Alaskan wilderness.
Sarah Palin Goes to Haiti and Makes Her Enemies Look Foolish -- Again
Sarah Palin's weekend trip to Haiti had two intended purposes and one unintended but predictable effect. The intended purposes were for Palin to draw attention to the continuing plight of the Haitian people and to be seen doing so.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wow, that will be the last time I have dried fruit for gaming snacks. I have not has a reaction like that since a particularly foolish thing I did while in college that involved, among other things, margaritas. Back to nice, healthy pork rinds and Cheetos for me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' -- a Film Review
"The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader" begins with Edmund, one of the four British children who have twice before adventured in the mystic land of Narnia, trying to enlist in the British Army of World War II.
Navy Railgun Test Achieves Important Milestone
The United States Navy has achieved a milestone in the development of an electromagnetic railgun, a weapon that promises to change the face of naval warfare as thoroughly as carrier launched airplanes, the submarine, and steel clad ships.

Friday, December 10, 2010

House Democrat to Obama; 'F--- the President!'
The rage against President Barack Obama by House Democrats has heated up to the incandescent, and has lowered into new depths of vulgarity as a Democrat House member at a recent meeting was heard to say, "F--- the President."
Sarah Palin Endorses the Paul Ryan Roadmap
In an oped in the Wall Street Journal, Sarah Palin has endorsed the Paul Ryan Roadmap, a plan developed by the incoming Chairman of the House Budget Committee to deal with the deficit through entitlement and tax reform.
Margaret Atwood, the Canadian author best known for "The Handmaid's Tale", appears to be a Moon landing denier.
'Bones' Season 6 Episode 9 'The Doctor in the Photo'
In "Bones" Season 6 Episode 9 "The Doctor in the Photo," the discovery of the remains of a woman by an urban tree that has been uprooted has a very strange effect on Dr. Brennan. She is starting to show human emotions.
'Burn Notice' Season 4 Episode 16 'Dead or Alive'
In "Burn Notice" Season 4 Episode 16 "Dead or Alive," Michael arranges for Jesse's old handler, Marv, to get the coded list of those people who have burned him. Much more of that anon, because there is another problem.
Iran to Build Missile Base in Venezuela
It appears that Iran is going to build a ballistic missile base in Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, armed with intermediate-range missiles that can strike at the United States. Eerie parallels with the 1962 Cuban Missile Crises are being noted.
SpaceX is being rightly praised for its nimbleness and ability to rapidly and cheaply solve problems that would take NASA a lot of time and money to fix.
The most amazing thing happened before Wednesday's launch. Engineers found cracks in the nozzle of the upper-stage engine. Living with the shuttle, we are accustomed to such anomalies resulting in launch delays that can go on for weeks and cost millions.

Instead, SpaceX engineers whipped out their metal snips and trimmed off the edge of the nozzle where the cracks were situated.

It was the proverbial duct-tape fix of the Mercury era.

That last sentence should serve as a warning. Something obviously happened to change the nimble NASA of the Mercury era to the bureaucratic one of today. Outsourcing functions to companies like SpaceX would not be very useful if, twenty or thirty years hence, SpaceX is just as slow and bureaucratic as NASA is today. The trick is to prevent that from happening.

One caution: People tend to be a lot more careful when, unlike this week's launch of the Dragon, there is a crew involved. We'll see how SpaceX behaves when that happens.

And, on the other hand, perhaps NASA could learn from SpaceX. The problem is that NASA would actually have to do stuff to make that happen. Like go back to the Moon.

But, of course, Buzz has already been there, so what's the point?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Sarah Palin supports the Paul Ryan Road Map.
Neil Armstrong on what it was like to walk on the Moon.
Apparently the House Democrats really, seriously, hate Obama. I condemn this lack of civility in politics.
Getting environmental whack jobs to sign a petition to ban "dihydrogen monoxide” is an prank that apparently doesn't get old, since they seem to have fallen for it in Cancun.
Is Ireland's Current Debt Crisis a Foretaste of America's Future?
Sarah Palin to Take Foreign Trip in 2011
The Daily Beast is reporting that former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is planning an extended overseas trip next year. Top on the list of destinations are Great Britain and Israel.

Addendum: To Haiti this weekend.
Westboro Baptist Church to Picket Elizabeth Edwards Funeral
The Westboro Baptist Church is planning to picket the Elizabeth Edwards funeral. Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of politician and former personal injury lawyer John Edwards, died recently after a six-year battle with cancer.
It appears that the third Transformers movie, along with "Apollo 18" and "Dark of the Moon", is using the "hidden history of Apollo" gimmick. It looks like Neil and Buzz found something on the Moon.

So, tell me again how Apollo gets curtailed?

Addendum: 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' Trailer Now Out
The first trailer for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," the third installment of the franchise based on the cartoon series about giant robots that, well, transform, starring Shia LaBeouf is now out. The setting is the Moon and the date is July 20, 1969.
Wikileaks Supporters Widen Cyber Terror Attacks; Swedish Government, Sarah Palin, Amazon, Paypal Targeted
The cyber terrorist denial of service attacks by supporters of Wikileaks continues, with targets ranging from the Swedish government to Amazon to PayPal. Sarah Palin's personal website and credit card information have also been attacked.
Lame Duck House Passes Dream Act for Illegal Aliens
The House has passed the so-called Dream Act that would grant illegal immigrants a path to citizenship provided they crossed the border below the age of 16and they attend college or serve in the military.
I have been informed that a monthly payment Associated Content makes to my pay pal box has been delayed by 'Operation Payback' launched by the Wikileaks crowd. Now I am very put out.

They are cyber terrorists and need to be dealt with accordingly.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Bush v. Gore: Key Players
SpaceX's Dragon Splashes Down in the Pacific After Perfect Flight
After a perfect launch and a test flight that consisted of two orbits around the Earth, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft fired its retro rockets, reentered the atmosphere, and successfully splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, the apparent end of a perfect flight.

Addendum: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, one of those evil Republicans who hate commercial space flight, praises.

Addendum 2: Jay Barbee says that if SpaceX continues its success the space flight gap will shorten significantly.
Wikileaks 'Hacktivists' Launch Revenge Cyber Attacks
Buttressing the notion that Wikileaks is part criminal mob and part terrorist group, site-inspired hackers struck back at corporate entities, private individuals, and government entities they believe have persecuted Julian Assange.
Dragon successfully splashes down. A moment in commercial space as important as John Glenn's first orbital flight. More anon.
Sarah Palin Gets More Snark from Maureen Dowd, Aaron Sorkin on the Hunting Trip
Sarah Palin's shooting of a caribou in front of a TV camera is still rankling the sort of people Sarah Palin enjoys rankling. The latest to bloviate about Palin's hunting are Maureen Dowd, NY Times columnist, and Aaron Sorkin, Hollywood screenwriter.
First there was Wikileaks, now there is Wookieleaks.
Sarah Palin talkes to Sue Aikens the woman she encountered on her summer hunting trip who fought a bear an won.
Jonah Goldberg smacks down Obama's "Sputnik moment."
'Assange File Reveals Extraterrestrial Contact' Apparent Rumor Spread by Wikileaks Followers
One of the rumors now being spread on the Internet is that Wikileaks has in its possession top secret documents that "reveal extraterrestrial contact." The rumor is based on an interview Julian Assange did with the UK Guardian.
It looks like Dragon is headed for Low Earth Orbit. Congratulations to Elon Musk and the SpaceX team.

More SpaceX Launches Dragon Space Craft Aloft Falcon 9
SpaceX has launched its Dragon space craft into low Earth orbit, taking another giant leap toward the day of regular, commercial flights into space. The Dragon is due to splash down in the Pacific about three hours after launch.
Apparently Cate Blanchett will appear as Galadriel in the upcoming film version of "The Hobbit" even though she did not appear in the book. Also "former Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy would play wizard Radagast the Brown."
Maureen Dowd, ever entertaining, rarely right, assails Sarah Palin for her hunting skills and for the fact she does hunt and, well, for everything else. Then she compares Barack Obama to a caribou standing around waiting to be slaughtered.

Addendum: Aaron Sorkin, whom I guess will never do a "West Wing: The Next Generation" starring a female President who likes to hunt, goes berserk over Sarah Palin hunting animals.
I'm able to make a distinction between you and me without feeling the least bit hypocritical. I don't watch snuff films and you make them. You weren't killing that animal for food or shelter or even fashion, you were killing it for fun. You enjoy killing animals. I can make the distinction between the two of us but I've tried and tried and for the life of me, I can't make a distinction between what you get paid to do and what Michael Vick went to prison for doing. I'm able to make the distinction with no pangs of hypocrisy even though I get happy every time one of you faux-macho s--theads accidentally shoots another one of you in the face.

I'm not sure what Sorkin was getting at with this rant. He admits that he likes meat and enjoys wearing and sitting on leather. But apparently doesn't like killing animals and thinks that hunting "for fun" is psychotic. (Too bad Dick Cheney wasn't a guest star on that episode; Sorkin's head would explode.)The mental gyrations that are necessary for that makes one's head spin.

Addendum: One of Palin's friends denies there was a makeup trailer at the hunting camp.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards More Than Just a Political Wife
Atlas Shrugged the Movie Part 1 coming April 15th, 2011
As expected, Ralph Hall will be Chairman of the Science Committee. There was not much chance that Dana Rohrabacher would have gotten it, mainly because of his support for Obamaspace.
Doubts raised about arsenic eating microbes.
Today, thirty eight years ago, Apollo 17 departed for the Moon. There have been no lunar expeditions since, mores the pity.
It looks like the confident predictions that the Republicans were going to hack and slash at NASA's budget are wide of the mark.

At least for the time being.
Julian Assange: Sarah Palin Wants Him 'Hunted Down like Osama Bin Laden'
Julian Assange, now cooling his heels in an English jail accused of committing sex crimes, tries to explain his Wikileaks activities. Assange joins the people who think Sarah Palin wants to have him killed.
Elizabeth Edwards Faces the End of Her Life
Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former senator, vice presidential candidate, presidential candidate, and all-around creep John Edwards, has but months to live. Her cancer, which she has been battling since 2004, has spread to her liver.

Addendum: Elizabeth Edwards has died.
Rsnd Simberg has some interesting thoughts about the planned first launch of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft on top of a Falcon 9. He expresses irritation that Elon Musk is getting all the glory for commercial space. It is inevitable, though. Musk has personalized the development of commercial space flight that an big, bureucratic company like Boeing cannot.

And there is this:
Beyond that, it won’t be at all shocking if the very first flight of a new spacecraft doesn’t work. That’s why we have test flights — to understand new systems and wring the bugs out of them. To use such a failure to justify a return to a failed and expensive space policy that has been disastrous for the taxpayer and has trapped us in low earth orbit for almost 40 years would be a travesty. A lot will be riding on tomorrow’s launch attempt, but not as much as those protecting the status quo will say. But a successful flight, whether this week or even a few months from now, after a failure of this attempt, will be an important milestone in opening up space, both near and far, not just to NASA astronauts but, affordably, to humanity at large.

In a perfect world, that should be the case. But Barack Obama, with Elon Musk's enthusiastic help, has politicized the development of commercial space as a means to help end George Bush's space exploration program. That has angered quite a few people, especially those people from Congress from whom Musk has been demanding funding as if he were entitled to it.

Therefore a lot of people would not mind if Musk failed. But if one lives by the politioally inspired government subsidy, one should be prepared to die by the lack of the same.
Not in Mourning for John Lennon
Sarah Palin Shoots Caribou and Makes PETA Unhappy Again
Before and during the episode of "Sarah Palin's Alaska" in which Sarah Palin shoots a caribou and then, along with her father and a family friend, field dresses the carcass, Palin practically dared PETA to say anything about it.
Julian Assange Arrested in London for Rape, Sexual Molestation in Sweden
Julian Assange, the Australian-born cyber-anarchist and founder of Wikileaks, has been arrested in London as part of a Swedish investigation for alleged sex crimes. Assange has become notorious for his release of secret US documents.
Obama Makes Agreement with Republicans on Bush Tax Cuts, Other Tax Incentives, Unemployment Aid
In an astonishing turn about in policy, President Barack Obama has agreed with congressional Republican leaders on a package of tax incentives, including the full extension of the Bush tax cuts, in exchange for also extending unemployment benefits.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Robotic mining of helium 3 on the Moon.
Memories of the Gore Presidency
Holding a Casablanca Theme Party
Pearl Harbor Birthed Modern Super Power in America
Dec. 7, 1941, dawned on an America that still considered itself isolated from the world. The war in Europe and the advance of Adolf Hitler worried many. Others worried about the idea of yet another American intervention.

Few anticipated war any time soon.
George W. Bush's approval numbers higher than Obama's

Bush’s rebound gives some credence to what he has long said — that history will eventually judge his presidency.

One of his role models is Harry Truman, who left office deeply unpopular but now gets credit for laying the groundwork to fight the Cold War. Bush sees parallels with his own efforts in the early days of the global war on terror.

Miss him yet?
Barack Obama and the Next 'Sputnik Moment'
President Barack Obama appeared before an audience in North Carolina and warned it and the nation that the United States faces a new "Sputnik Moment" if Americans do not act to compete in world markets.

Addendum: Chinese space goals.
Although the country has not officially announced plans to send people to the moon, many experts say that's where they're heading, and that the space station project, lunar surveyors and robotic landers are merely the setup for that goal.

"They're very conservative about laying out their goals," Johnson-Freese told "They have not announced an official manned lunar program. They want to have all the building blocks in place for success before that's announced."

That is the key. The Chinese do not want to telegraph a lunar program too far in advance, for fear or waking up the Americans.

Addendum 2: It looks like Obama wants to spend more money on research and development. No specifics.
Lunar water looks a bit on the salty side
Travis Senor sets up a straw man by demanding that we "break the shackles of Apollo."

The problem is that no one has actually tried to do a second Apollo or even suggested it, despite Mike Griffin's unfortunate characterization of the late and much to be lamented Constellation as "Apollo on steroids." Constellation was a relatively modestly, slower paced effort to return astronaut explorers to the Moon and then beyond.

Senor's prescription is also wide of the mark. He essentially wants to do the original goal of Obamaspace, a directionless, badly funded, and ultimately futile technology development program. Without a destination, there is no where to go.