Leonard David, writing on Saturday in his blog, Inside Outer Space, makes the case for inviting the Chinese to become partners for space exploration. He echoes the sentiments expressed in Time Magazine by Jeffrey Klugar, who ridicules the national security concerns expressed by opponents of such an arrangement. The calls come at a curious time, as a crisis perpetrated by the Chinese in the South China Sea has kindled fears of a shooting war between the rising Asian power and the United States and her allies.
Saturday, May 30, 2015
Hillary Clinton, former senator and secretary of state and a once and current candidate for president of the United States, signed her name Thursday to an editorial published in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, a newspaper in Iowa, supporting what she called “rural clean energy.” In Iowa, that means ethanol derived from corn. The EPA mandates that a certain amount of ethanol from various sources, but mainly corn, be blended with gasoline, the idea being to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. The real reason for the mandate is that Iowa is the first caucus state, and the mandate represents a considerable source of income for farmers.
Friday, May 29, 2015
Space News reported on Friday that NASA is fleshing out it plan to conduct deep space missions between the first crewed flight of the Orion, envisioned as being a lunar orbit mission in 2021, and the first expedition to Mars. The missions will be conducted in cis-lunar space and will consist of tests of habitation modules and other technologies necessary to conduct the Mars mission. The missions will include both commercial and international partners. One of this missions may be the asteroid redirect mission that would involve an Orion rendezvousing and docking with a bolder in lunar orbit No mention is made of landing people on the lunar surface.
In a Thursday post in the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology blog, scientist and science fiction writer David Brin opined that while there is money to be made in asteroid mining, the moon is not a profitable venue for such enterprises. He stated that the moon is “a sterile desert without any (presently plausible) use, void of applicable resources, at the bottom of a deep gravity well – is not our best-next destination in space.” He followed this statement with a slam against former President George W. Bush whose Constellation space exploration program would have returned American astronauts to the moon by the year 2020 but was canceled abruptly by President Barack Obama.
Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont and candidate for president of the United States, has had views on sexuality that are even more off-putting that his views on economics. In 1972, he penned an article for the Vermont Freeman that stated that men fantasize about abusing women and that women fantasize about being raped, according to a Thursday article in the Washington Examiner. In many ways, this statement is even more disturbing than the one that Todd Akin made that destroyed his Senate race.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Campaign songs have been around American politics since at least the early 19th Century. The custom culminated in 2008 with the erotic “Crush on Obama,” the homoerotic “Hot for Hillary” and the more wholesome and rip-roaring “Raisin’ McCain.” After a hiatus from singing about politics in 2012, Hot Air reported on Wednesday that the first campaign song of 2016 has been released. It is a rap song called “Set it On Fire” by a group called “We are the Watchmen.” The song celebrates the candidacy of Ted Cruz.
Does Carly Fiorina have a shot? The conventional wisdom, which I’ve shared to a certain extent, is that the presidency is not an entry-level political job. Fiorina’s sole political experience is getting beat by Barbara Boxer in an abortive Senate race. Yet, as the Washington Times reported on Thursday, she has ascended to the top ten in the latest Quinnipiac University Poll. She is just at two percent, but if she maintains that standing, she qualifies for the first national debate in August. And then she has a chance to shine in front of a national audience.
According to a Tuesday story in the UK edition of the International Business Times, Neil degrease Tyson, the celebrity astrophysicist and media personality, advocated a space race between the United States and China. The idea is that such a race would spur innovation and cause industry to grow. The Apollo race to the moon caused a similar explosive period of scientific research and engineering development.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Going to Mars, either to explore or, perhaps, to stay us all the rage these days. An eventual NASA expedition to Mars is the one thing that politicians in America of on both sides of the political divide agree on. SpaceX’s Elon Musk dreams of founding his own Mars colony and says he would like to die on the Red Planet “though not on impact.” A Dutch group called Mars One is actively recruiting potential Mars settlers. A new undertaking, called Mars Polar, has just been proposed though, like the Mars One effort it is underfunded and sketchy in details. In the meantime, a Wednesday’s post on Medium poses the question, “Shouldn’t we fix poverty before migrating to Mars?”
Bill Nye, who once called himself “the science guy,” took advantage of the torrential rains that hit Houston and the surrounding area to get up on the global warming – aka climate change – hobby horse. Tuesday, he tweeted, “Billion$$ in damage in Texas & Oklahoma. Still no weather-caster may utter the phrase Climate Change.” Of course meteorologists, unlike Nye, have spent their careers studying weather and its underlining causes. For a more scientifically accurate explanation of what caused the storms, read the Houston Chronicle’s excellent and fact based analysis.
The National Review found on Wednesday that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., despite her big government, anti-business pretensions has an entrepreneurial side to her. It seems that back in the 1990s, when the real estate market was hot, the future great left hope of the Democratic Party made quite a pile picking up houses, some of which had been foreclosed on their original owners, and flipped them for a tidy profit.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the only self-confessed socialist in the United States Senate, is not coy about what his agenda is, unlike Hillary Clinton, who is all coyness. Indeed, whereas the former secretary of state is running on the basis of who she is, the current senator from the state of Vermont is running on what he wants to do. According to a Tuesday story in the Washington Examiner, what he wants to do is breathtaking. If a voter imagined that Ms. Clinton or President Obama were insufficiently leftist, then he or she will not possibly imagine the same thing about the venerable Sanders.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Sen. Bernie Samders, the socialist from Vermont is, by all appearances, running for president. But, one might be forgiven if one were to conclude that his real job is to make Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, seem sane. A case in point is found in a Tuesday interview on CNBC when the venerable Sanders rolled out an oldy but goody from the far left. He proposed that the top marginal tax rate be jacked up to 90 percent, just as it was under Eisenhower. The theory is that, contrary to supply siders like Ronald Reagan, we did pretty well in the 1950s and no one complained about his taxes.
NASA announced on Tuesday that nine scientific instruments out of 33 that were reviewed have been selected for the upcoming Europa Clipper mission. The Europa Clipper will launch as early as 2022 and will orbit Jupiter, making repeated flyby passes of the icy moon Europa. It will approach as close as 16 miles and as far as 1,700 miles during the planned 47 passes.
A short distance away from where the Islamic State is trying to recreate the 7th Century in all of its barbaric horror, the United Arab Emirates is launching a purely 21st Century enterprise. The UAE, according to a Tuesday story on CBS, is starting its own space agency. The new UAE Space Agency will integrate existing efforts that include communication satellites and commercial space ventures, such as an investment in Virgin Galactic. The new space agency will promote space as an integral part of business, science, and education within the Gulf nation. It also hopes to launch a probe to Mars, the first for an Arab, Muslim country.
Sunday, Twitchy, a site that monitors entertaining exchanges on Twitter, noted that actress Rose McGowen leaped the length of her chain over something that Sen. Ted Cruz, a candidate for president of the United States is alleged to have said. However, Cruz actually did not say it, the quote coming from a satirical site. McGowen offered a sort of an apology that did not concede one micron her hatred of the junior senator from Texas and all he stands for.
The Washington Times reported on Monday that a district court has refused to halt part of President Obama’s immigration program that allows spouses of legal guest workers from seeking employment in the United States. Federal District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ruled that a claim by a group of technology workers that they were being displaced by foreign workers was “highly speculative.” The Obama administration has also refused to consider what seems to be a growing problem for American high-tech workers who are finding themselves out of a job in favor of cheaper foreign guest workers under the H-1B visa system. The spouses will now be able to work under the H4 visa system.
Monday, May 25, 2015
The Google Lunar XPrize Foundation confirmed on Monday that the deadline for a successful lunar landing by one or more of the competitors has been extended, once again. Now the deadline is the end of 2017. However, another deadline has been added for securing a launch contract. If none of the competing teams acquires a launch contract by 2015, the competition will be declared to be at an end, and the combined prize purse of $30 million will be forfeited.
“Tomorrowland” certainly looked as if it had promise. The trailers suggested that the movie was about a teenage girl, played by a spunky Britt Robertson, on a quest to reclaim the future of flying cars, jet packs, and regular space travel to the moon and Mars that we all dreamed about way back when. The film had George Clooney as a burnt out hero, Hugh Laurie as a villain, and the incomparable Brad Bird in the director’s chair. But, Deadline Hollywood reported on Sunday that the movie, which cost $190 million, tanked. Looking at the analysis in the Washington Free Beacon (warning, spoilers) it is not hard to see why.
The first and perhaps only season of “The Lizzie Borden Chronicles” came to an end on Sunday with an unusual amount of carnage, even for an episode of the highly fictionalized account of the most famous ax murderer of all after the 40 whacks. An unusual amount of carnage occurred, even for an episode of this delightfully campy series starring Christina Ricci as a reimagined late 19th Century serial killer. Oddly, much of the killing took place in a gun battle between two Wild West gunslingers and a family of Boston mobsters. Lizzie only dispatched one or two victims.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
The Washington Post noted on Friday that the House has passed the Space Act, a bill that sets out the regulatory regime for commercial space mining activities. Congress has dealt with this matter before, ever since the Challenger accident alerted policy makers of the need to enable a commercial space sector. However, for the first time, a piece of legislation that has passed a house of Congress is dealing with mining the moon and asteroids. Space mining was the stuff of science fiction as recently as five years ago. With the advent of companies such as Planetary Resources, Deep Space Industries, and Moon Express, science fiction is moving toward reality.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that John Nash, whose brilliant career as a Nobel Prize winning mathematician and his struggles with mental illness, inspired the hit film “A Beautiful Mind,” has died. He was killed, along with his wife Alicia, when the cab they were riding in crashed into the guardrail of the New Jersey Turnpike. Neither of them was wearing a seat belt, and both were thrown from the cab. They were pronounced dead on the scene. John Nash was 86, and Alicia was 82.
In the United States, the term “war on women” is meant to represent certain policies by the Republican Party that are alleged to harm women, such as resisting government subsidies for abortion. Look for Hillary Clinton to play this particular card, even though it did not have much of an effect in the 2014 midterm elections. At the same time, as the Washington Post reported on Friday, ISIS is conducting a very real war on women that is as systematic, in its own way, as the Nazis’ war on the Jews. But, in this case, the goal is not mass murder, the goal is mass subjection and mass rape.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
The United States space program is going through a period of deep malaise. The Apollo glory days are long gone. The space shuttles have been retired, and astronauts are no longer departing from the Kennedy Space Center to do exciting things on the high frontier. Commercially operated crewed launches are two years into the future. Astronauts will not venture into deep space, whichever destination is eventually arrived at, until 2022. As a result, space-related tourism to KSC has dropped off considerably. Florida Today reported on Friday of a new effort to rectify this situation, called “We Are Go,” an advertising campaign by Space Florida, financed by a $1.5 million grant from the state of Florida.
In a Friday piece in the Washington Post, David Bernstein noticed something off-putting about the president’s interview in the Atlantic that went beyond his casual attitude toward Iran getting a nuclear weapon. Bernstein, who by the way has no use for Netanyahu, noted that Obama has a strange pining for the Israel of the 1950s and 1960s, dominated as it was by socialist, mainly European-descended, secularized, Ashkenazic idealists. Unfortunately, it was an Israel that marginalized Jewish immigrants from Middle Eastern countries, just as America had marginalized its own ethnic minorities in the same period.
Friday, May 22, 2015
The Russian space program has been beset with a number of accidents and delays, calling into question its long term viability. That fact seems to have been a factor in India’s decision to pull out of a partnership with Russia for a mission to the moon. Previously, India was scheduled to launch a Russian lander on one of its rockets and send it to the lunar South Pole. Now, according to a Thursday story in Russia and India Report, India will go it alone, building its own lander to touch down on the lunar surface within the next few years.
The more high-brow sorts of reality shows involve taking a group of people, sometimes a family, into a period in history and see how they cope. Examples of this subset of the genre include “The 1900 House” and “The Colonial House.” The viewer was invited to have fun watching people having to cope without modern conveniences while wearing quaint costumes. The Associated Press reported on Friday that a reality show in the Czech Republic, entitled “A Vacation in the Protectorate,” is going to take a family back to the days of the Nazi occupation and see how they cope with privation and the ever present threat of the Gestapo.
According to a wide-ranging Thursday interview in the Atlantic focusing on the Middle East, President Obama hotly defended his impending nuclear deal with Iran. He said, “Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this.” The apparent hit to Obama’s legacy may be of cold comfort to Israel and the nearby Arab states who would be threatened with nuclear annihilation by a nuclear-armed Iran. Combine nuclear weapons with a missile or the terrorist infrastructure necessary to infiltrate a bomb into an American city, the United States would be threatened as well.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
It is no secret that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a candidate for president of the United States, opposes same-sex marriage. His stance is more nuanced than many people will recognize since he opposes the reinstitution of the Defense of Marriage Act that President Clinton signed into law. He would leave the matter up to the states and opposed a possible Supreme Court decision that would overturn state laws that ban same-sex marriage. According to a Wednesday story in Real Clear Politics, Cruz was at a campaign stop in Beaumont, Texas when he was ambushed by a local reporter who peppered him with questions on same-sex marriage and gay rights in general.
Do we need a world flag to plant on Mars when astronauts eventually reach the Red Planet? That is the position of Oskar Pernefeldt of the Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden, who has designed what he calls a flag for Planet Earth, as reported by Wired UK on Tuesday. However, despite media accounts to the contrary, NASA is not directly involved in the flag project. It is still the official policy of the space agency that when Americans land on Mars, sometime in the 2030s as currently scheduled, they raise the Stars and Stripes over the Martian surface, just like the Apollo astronauts did on the moon decades ago.
PETA or the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is nothing if not diligent in ferreting out even a hint of abuse against the other species with whom we share this planet. In that spirit, the UK Express reported on Thursday that the UK branch of the animal rights group has focused its attention on a 1400 year old pub in St. Albans in Hertfordshire. The pub’s name has been “Ye Olde Fighting Cockes” since 1872, during a time when cock fighting was still common. PETA has invited the pub to change its name to “Ye Olde Clever Cocks” to celebrate the intelligence and sensitivity of chickens.