Thursday, December 31, 2015
Even while both Russia and the United States has abandoned all thought of landing people on the lunar surface, at least for now, interest in a return to the moon seems to be growing in Europe, according to a Wednesday piece in Space.com. Recently, an International Symposium on moon 2020-2030 was held in the Netherlands and was attended by representatives of 28 companies. The growing consensus developing is that an international moon base, a “moon village” to coin a phrase by European Director General Johann-Dietrich Wörner, is the next step in space exploration after the International Space Station.
When a fire broke out at the Islamic Center in Houston, a store front mosque attended by many in that city’s Muslim community, on Christmas Day, the natural assumption was that it was a hate crime. The narrative took a hit when the Houston Chronicle reported on Wednesday that Gary Nathaniel Moore, a self-described devout Muslim and a worshiper at the Mosque, was arrested on the charge of arson. Now the motive for the alleged crime is considered “unclear.” Moore claims to have been attended the Mosque for past five years and has been praying there five times a day, seven days a week as prescribed for devout Muslims in the Koran.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
The Hollywood Reporter revealed Wednesday that CBS and Paramount filed a suit on Christmas Day to put a stop to the production of a fan created, crowdfunded film, “Axanar,” set in the “Star Trek” universe and taking place decades before the classic series. As IO9 suggested, Trek fans are both puzzled and angered at the sudden move. CBS, which now owns the television rights for the Star Trek franchise, has been tolerant of fan-created films and TV episodes, so long as they were not being produced for commercial purposes. Indeed, CBS executives met with “Axanar” executive producer Alec Peters and seemed satisfied that the project would not infringe on its intellectual property.
Sputnik News reported on Wednesday that Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency, has decided to abandon plans to send cosmonauts to the moon, at least until 2025. The news comes on the heels of an order signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to abolish Roscosmos and replace it with a government owned corporation. The corporate structure is thought to allow the central government to control costs and to fight corruption that has afflicted the Russian space program.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Just as a way to prove that Sen. Ted Cruz was on to something when he suggested bombing ISIS to see if “sand can glow in the dark”, ISIS has just published what amounts to a rule book for rape, according to a Tuesday story in Reuters. The fate of women who are unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of Islamic State jihadis is vile from the modern imagination. But, the rapists who comprise the ISIS terrorist army have to follow certain rules when they violate their female slaves.
Monday, CNN released the results of a poll that constitute a devastating rebuke to the Obama administration and, by extension, Hillary Clinton, his former secretary of state who wants to follow him into the Oval Office. When asked who is winning the War on Terror, 40 percent replied that the terrorists are winning. 18 percent stated that the American-led coalition us winning. 40 percent said that neither side was winning. The poll results suggest that the discontent over how the war is going, with the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino and the persistence of ISIS, is crossing party lines.
One of the provisions of the new NASA spending bill, which provided a hefty $1.3 billion boost to the space agency’s budget, is a mandate to build a prototype habitation module for deep space exploration by 2018. Space News suggested on Monday that NASA is uncertain how to proceed with this sudden largess. Quite some time has passed since the space agency has gotten more money than expected and been told to speed up the development of an item of hardware. Usually, the opposite happens, with accompanying delays and increases in overall costs.
Monday, December 28, 2015
As SyFy Blastr reported on Monday, NASA and the Department of Energy have started to create plutonium 238 for the first time in decades. This decision is a welcome move since the space agency’s store of the substance is close to being exhausted. The plutonium is needed to power space probes, especially those that range too far from the sun for solar panels to be a practical energy source.
A truism has developed among political pundits that if Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, the election would be pretty much handed to Hillary Clinton. As George Will asked, “--is there a disagreeable human trait he does not have?” However, a Monday poll released by Rasmussen casts some doubt on that scenario. It seems that Clinton is supported by 37 percent of respondents and 36 percent support Trump. But the most interesting number is that 22 percent who want some other – any other – candidate than either Clinton or Trump.
Sunday, December 27, 2015
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the Hillary Clinton for President campaign is preparing to deploy its most potent surrogate, none other than the candidate’s husband, former President Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton has all of the political skills and the ability to fake empathy that Hillary Clinton lacks. But, as CNN noted, Bill Clinton could be a double-edged sword. Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner, is already accusing the former president of “a penchant for sexism” for his long history of marital infidelity and alleged sex crimes, included a reported rape of a woman named Juanita Broddrick in the late 1970s.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
As people across America were toasting the coming Christmas holiday with egg nog and placing presents under the tree, the Democratic candidates for president had discovered that the Obama administration had placed some coal in their stockings. As NBC News reported on Thursday, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, and a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton were expressing levels of concern and outrage over plans by the Department of Homeland Security to start conducting systematic raids to sweep up illegal aliens and deport them back to their homelands.
The last time men walked on the moon was during the flight of Apollo 17, 43 Decembers ago. According to a Thursday story in Forbes, lunar soil and rock samples returned by the last moonwalkers are still yielding new insights into the history and nature of Earth’s nearest neighbor. In the meantime, the latest explorer to go to the moon, a Chinese robotic rover named Yutu, has made some discoveries of its own.
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Tuesday, CNET noted a recent poll taken by Public Policy Polling that asked a lot of holiday-themed questions. One of the questions was about whether or not “Die Hard” qualifies as a Christmas movie. Of the 1,267 registered voters surveyed, 62 percent said that the action movie starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman was not, in fact, a Christmas movie. Only 13 percent said that it was.
2015 was a historical year for NASA with its close flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto last July. But the space agency rings out the year with some close looks at two divergent worlds thanks to its far-ranging space probes. On Tuesday, the Dawn mission returned the closest images yet of the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt. On the same day, the space agency released images of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, whose ice geysers have fascinated scientists, indicating a subsurface ocean similar to the one that resides beneath the ice moon of Jupiter, Europa.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a candidate for president of the United States, struck back Wednesday at the Washington Post in particular and the media in general for a cartoon that depicted him as a Santa Claus organ grinder and his two young daughters as dancing monkeys. He released a tweet that showed a cartoon of his own, similar to the offensive one that appeared briefly in the Washington Post before being taken down, depicting Hillary Clinton with two lapdogs on leashes, labeled “the Washington Post” and “the New York Times.”
As 2015, an eventful year in space, draws to a close, the political year of 2016 draws nigh. In the spirit of space and politics, Breitbart Tech opined Tuesday that the one thing Donald Trump really needs to do to “make America great again” would be to ramp up the space program. The article offers a familiar recitation of the history of space exploration, starting with the Apollo program and finishing up with SpaceX’s remarkable feat of landing a rocket, which had just flown into space, back near the launch pad. However, on at least two occasions, Trump has been quoted as disparaging space exploration in favor of spending on America’s infrastructure.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Ordinarily the minor children of political candidates are considered off limits to both the media and their political opponents. The rule has been occasionally violated, but such has been accompanied by such a backlash, they are few and far between. Ann Telnaes, a cartoonist for the Washington Post, was the latest to flout this rule of politics when she published a cartoon Tuesday depicting Cruz as Santa Clause and his two daughters, ages seven and five, as performing monkeys. Telnaes was apparently irate that the two little girls appeared in a Cruz spoof that involved the senator and presidential candidate reading particular kinds of Christmas stories to them.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a candidate for president of the United States, celebrates his birthday on Tuesday. The Quinnipiac Poll has given Cruz the sort of birthday present that any man with aspirations for high office would want. The poll indicates that Cruz has surged to within four points, inside the margin of error, of the frontrunner Donald Trump in a national survey of registered Republicans. Trump comes in as 28 percent, with Cruz nipping at his heals at 24 percent. Sen Marco Rubio, R-Florida and Dr. Ben Carson follow at 12 and 10 percent respectively.
In the hit movie, “The Martian”, NASA astronaut Mark Watney survives by planting potatoes in one of the modules of the Mars base who is stranded at. The plot device received a great deal of praise from space agriculture experts, according to a recent story in Popular Mechanics. Of course, future space farmers would be advised to grow a variety of crops in order to diversify their diet, not an option for Watney. In any case, according to a Tuesday story in ZME Science, NASA is partnering with Peru’s International Potato Center (CIP) to do what Watney did and grow potatoes on Mars.
No one human being is more responsible for the caricature of former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin as a psycho bimbo than comedic actress Tina Fey. Her impressions of Palin on Saturday Night Live (“I can see Russia from my house.”) during the 2008 elections, in which the Alaska governor ran as a vice presidential candidate, did much to define her among left-leaning audiences. Fey returned to the role that made her famous among the left and infamous among everyone else on last Saturday’s SNL. As USA Today reported on Monday, Palin got even with a parody sketch of her own.
Monday night, SpaceX achieved a new milestone in the development of the art of spaceflight, as Ars Technica reported. Its Falcon 9 rocket, for the first time since the launch accident last June, lifted off from its launch pad in Florida and delivered 11 ORBCOMM communications satellites to low Earth orbit. Then, from 120 miles above the surface of the Earth and a considerable distance downrange, the first stage of the Falcon 9 turned around and landed back in Florida, descending on a tail of fire as SpaceX workers uttered a thunderous cheer that matched the noise of the rocket engines.
Monday, December 21, 2015
The latest campus protest has united the adults on the left and the right in equal scorn at the spectacle of entitlement-addled students getting irate at trivialities. The Daily Beast noted on Sunday that students at Oberlin College are protesting university cafeteria food. Such a protest would be understandable since food served on college campuses traditionally would choke a goat. But, as Hot Air also noted, the students are protesting that the food is not only racist, because it appropriates Asian cultures, but it does so badly by being not authentically prepared.
Politico noted on Sunday that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas has solidified his lead in Iowa, according to a CBS Poll. He is favored by 40 percent of likely caucus-goers, with Donald Trump at 31 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida at 12 percent, Dr. Ben Carson at six percent, and everyone else polling at two percent or less. The numbers are part of the reason that conservative pundit and radio talk show host Erik Erickson had announced that Cruz is favored for the Republican nomination, despite the media dustup over whether and when the senator from Texas did or did not favor legalization of illegal aliens.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
During Saturday night’s stealth presidential debate, which the Democrats held while most Americans were either out Christmas shopping, going to see Star Wars or else watching football, Hillary Clinton achieved new levels of brazenness. Not only did she take a swipe at Donald Trump, as ABC News reported but, as Politifact added, she lied about another video. The latest assault on Trump is only likely to help his candidacy, a prospect, if one thought Clinton had any political skills, might suggest that the lie was deliberate. More likely, Hillary Clinton was just following Lyndon Johnson strategy of telling a brazen lie that forces the other candidate to deny it. Which, Trump did on Twitter.
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Reuters reported Saturday that the Bernie Sanders for President campaign and the National Democratic Committee had reached an agreement on Sanders’ access to voter data files, short-circuiting, for the time being, a nasty civil war in the Democratic Party. However, the Independent Journal Opinion suggests that the imbroglio may have left such a bad taste in the mouths of the fiery socialist from Vermont and his followers that Sanders may decide to go third party.
Readers who have wondered where Andy Weir, whose book “The Martian” featured a NASA astronaut stranded on Mars, will take us next will wonder no longer. According to a Thursday story in the Huffington Post, Weir’s next novel will feature a woman living in a city on the moon. The novel is due to be out in late 2016 or early 2017.