Sunday, January 31, 2016
Space Daily reported on Sunday that NASA is preparing to test a new kind of communications modem that works with a new technology called photonics. The idea is that like most microchips and circuits use electrons to work, a device using photonics uses light. If the technology can be made to work, it will change just about every form of technology, from computers, to telecommunications, to medical imaging. The User Modem and Amplifier (ILLUMA) will serve as a terminal on board the International Space Station for NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, or LCRD experiment.
Saturday, the Washington Examiner noted that a Ted Cruz rally in Iowa had an unusual attendee in the person of actor Richard Dreyfuss. He was not there, being a Hollywood liberal, to endorse the fiery conservative from Texas nor, oddly, to heckle him. Indeed, he was seen hobnobbing with the candidate and people such as media personality Glenn Beck and pollster Frank Luntz.
Saturday, January 30, 2016
According to a Friday story in The Hill, the Ted Cruz for President Campaign has unleashed a new attack ad in Iowa accusing his political rival Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida of being a “Republican Obama.” The ad highlights Rubio’s support for amnesty for illegal aliens as part of the infamous “Gang of Eight” legislation. The attack ad also accuses Rubio of favoring a cap and trade system for reducing carbon emissions, something Congress has rejected even when it was controlled by Democrats.
The State Department has acknowledged that 22 of the emails found on Hillary Clinton’s server are so top secret that they cannot be released in any form, even redacted, according to the Washington Post. Speculation abounds that the top secret material involves the identification of human intelligence assets. Since the intelligence resided on Clinton’s unsecured server, it is virtually certain that foreign intelligence services, from Russia, China, and Iran, already have the information in their possession. If so, the worst intelligence disaster in American history may well have occurred because Ms. Clinton found using her private email server to be more convenient than using a secured, State Department system.
Friday, January 29, 2016
The Thursday night Republican presidential debate, sponsored by Fox News, was vastly improved by the absence of the GOP front-runner, mercurial businessman and media personality Donald Trump. The two hours featured heated discussions on the issues and the records of the various candidates. The event was a peek into an alternate universe where Trump had decided to stay on “The Apprentice” and leave the politicking to the professionals. That universe was becomingly free of vulgarity and name calling.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont is boldly advocating a single payer, government-run health care system as part of the basis of his campaign. But, even if he were to become president and even, to compound that miracle, he was to have a Democratic House and Senate, he would never get the idea passed into law. The Washington Examiner reported on Wednesday that none other than House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, one of the most left-wing office holders in Washington, has thrown cold water on the idea. She suggests that it is useless to even to talk about it, as Medicare for All would never pass.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
In what has to be the weirdest rap battle in history, an Atlanta rapper named B.o.B. released a “diss track” called “Flatline” that called out celebrity astrophysicist and media personality Neil deGrasse Tyson for his belief that the Earth is round, Rolling Stone reported Tuesday. The musical salvo elicited a response in the form of another diss track called “Flat to Fact” launched at B.o.B. by Tyson and his nephew, rapper Stephen Tyson.
Also from last year, The Death of the Space Shuttle Challenger
Donald Trump, the mercurial businessman and media personality, decided to skip the Thursday night Republican presidential debate, declaring that the presence of Fox News’ Megyn Kelly as a moderator was intolerable. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas has decided to take full advantage of Trump’s skittishness and has challenged him to a one on one debate. There would be no moderators, just two candidates taking questions from the voters of Iowa. The Iowa Caucuses are due to take place February 1, next Monday. The model for the debate would be the same as the Lincoln/Douglas debates, which took place in the 1850s and involved detailed answers on issues of the day.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
The first episode of the return of The X-Files Sunday night, with the second episode airing on its regular time slot on Monday. The new series has Fox Mulder called out of retirement and reunited with his old partner, Dana Scully, to investigate the bizarre and the unexplained for the FBI. One of those mysteries is the top secret conspiracy revolving around the existence of aliens and the cover up of what UFOs really are. The conspiracy has undergone a reboot and, on close examination, it doesn’t make any sense.
During a Democratic presidential town hall that took place on Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, the socialist candidate for president, promised to raise taxes to pay for his “Medicare for All” scheme, according to the Hill. He did not add the usual proviso that the taxes would be raised “on the rich” but rather they would go up for everyone. Such refreshing honesty has not been heard from a Democratic presidential candidate since Walter Mondale made the same promise in 1984. Mondale went on to lose 49 states against President Ronald Reagan, which is one reason such frankness has become vanishingly rare
Monday, January 25, 2016
Space Daily reported on Monday that part of NASA’s strategy for exploring deep space will be to use humanoid robots, not only to prepare the way, but to assist human astronauts in exploring Mars, asteroids, and perhaps the moon. These robots will be able to perform repetitive tasks, such as building a habitat on a planetary surface in advance of human arrival. They would also act as scouts under the direction of human operators, exploring potentially dangerous territory before human astronauts follow. The space agency is doing some serious research and development to create these robot assistants in advance of sending humans beyond low Earth orbit.
Politico reported on Monday that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas has picked up the potentially potent endorsement of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who made an abortive run for the presidency in 2012 and briefly ran again in 2016. Perry will campaign with Cruz in Iowa, bringing his credibility as a successful governor of one of the biggest red states in the Union.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Back in 2012, when NASA first proposed building a deep space habitat beyond the moon, the Obama administration took a dim view of the idea. However, fast forward over three years alter, and the idea has become part of the Journey to Mars program. According to a Saturday story in Spaceflight Insider, the deep space habitat will be deployed in cis-lunar space in the 2020s to test various technologies related to sending humans to Mars. The DPH could also be part of an infrastructure that would support a return to the moon should the next administration decide to go that route.
Just when all hope seemed to be lost, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to weigh a Ross Perot-style independent run for the presidency, according to a Saturday story in the New York Times. The gambit is no joke. Bloomberg, like Donald Trump, has the billions to finance his campaign. And, as Hot Air noted, Bloomberg could get Perot level votes in a race that also includes Hillary Clinton and Trump.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas is taking a stand against the ethanol mandate, which has earned him the ire of both Iowa’s Gov. Terry Branstad and his main political rival Donald Trump. The conventional wisdom is that no one can win the Iowa Caucuses without paying due obeisance to Big Corn. However, a Friday story in the Washington Examiner suggests that Cruz’s free market stance against the ethanol mandate, which had become sacred in Iowa, may not hurt him after all.
The commercial space race between Blue Origin and SpaceX continued Friday when the former company launched the same New Shepard spacecraft that it had launched and then landed in November in a suborbital jaunt and then landed it a second time. Blue Origin had therefore accomplished a space first by flying a vertical takeoff and landing rocket into space twice in a row. The company has taken another step toward its goal of taking the well off and adventurous on suborbital jaunts for fun and profit.
Friday, January 22, 2016
Law professor and purveyor of Instapundit Glenn Reynolds opined in a Wednesday USA Today editorial that the 2016 presidential election may well put Donald Trump vs. Sen. Bernie Sanders, once seen as a low probability event. Clinton’s poll numbers continue to crater as her scandals and her general unlikeability have combined to devour her campaign. Trump continues to be lifted by a fervent, anti-establishment sentiment and the recent endorsement by Sarah Palin.
The Flint, Michigan water crisis has caused a lot of recriminations and finger pointing, thanks to the fact that the town knowingly purveyed lead contaminated, dirty drinking water and was slow to correct the problem. The failure occurred up and down the levels of government, with a Republican governor of Michigan, a Democratic mayor of Flint, and President Obama’s EPA. According to a Thursday story in NBC News, EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman has already been obliged to resign. Hillary Clinton has already slammed Gov. Rick Snyder, and Bernie Sanders has called on him to resign. The Ted Cruz campaign had a slightly different response, according to WJRT in Flint, the local ABC affiliate.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
The Atlantic noted on Wednesday that the Hillary Clinton Campaign, rattled by the surge by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, is about to play the socialist card against him. The problem is, a recent poll suggests that most Democratic primary voters have a warm regard for socialism. This fact presents a problem since another poll reports that 50 percent of Americans would not vote for an avowed socialist, even one who claims to be a “Democratic socialist,” under any circumstances. That percentage is more than who would refuse to vote for a Muslim or an atheist.
Quietly, the Russians appear to be forming a space alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to a Thursday story in Sputnik. Not only is Russia in talks to launch Iranian satellites on Russian rockets but also to include an Iranian astronaut on a future space mission. What that space mission might be is open to question. A visit by an Iranian astronaut to the International Space Station would likely kick up a political firestorm with the United States, even though the Obama administration is attempting to develop a rapprochement with the Islamic Republic.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Hillary Clinton’s fortunes must be really taking a turn for the worst when Lena Dunham, a usually reliable, lefty, feminist millennial begins to have doubts about her. According to a Wednesday story in the New York Times, Dunham expressed some unease about Ms. Clinton’s attempts to discredit the various victims of her husband’s sexual misconduct. While Dunham is not quite yet ready to bail on Hillary, her disquiet was a marked improvement over that of 1990s feminist journalists who rolled their eyes, even at the accusation of rape by Juanita Broaddrick.
The science journal Nature reported on Wednesday that two scientists at CalTech have uncovered indications that the solar system has a new ninth planet (or the tenth planet should Pluto ever be restored from its current dwarf planet status.) Thus far, the new planet has not been imaged by a telescope. Rather its existence has been determined mathematically, through computer models of how certain Kuiper Belt objects are behaving. To put it briefly, an object ten times the mass of Earth is orbiting the sun in an elliptical orbit that takes 10,000 to 20,000 years to complete. Planet X does not get any closer to the sun than 200 times the distance of the Earth to the sun or, as astronomers put it, 200 astronomical units.
Somewhat overshadowed by the news of Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump, the revelation reported by Fox News on Tuesday that an intelligence community inspector general had found numerous top secret intelligence on Hillary Clinton’s email servers is a game changer. Some of the intelligence that Clinton stored on her server for every hacker to see concerned “special access programs” that would be classified as “beyond top secret.” The intelligence was such that would only be authorized for the eyes of a few government officials such as the president of the United States.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
You can certainly say about Sarah Palin that just when the media has written her off as a has been for the thousandth time, she does something that causes the world to go into a frenzy. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Palin will endorse Donald Trump for president at a rally in Ames, Iowa. The news has had the effect of touching off a nuclear bomb in the Republican primary race, buoying the Trump campaign, visibly irritating Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump’s main rival, and causing even some of Palin’s warmest supporters to question her sanity.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, is riding high in the polls, nipping at the heels of the presumed front-runner, Hillary Clinton. He has done so by not being under FBI investigation and by promising a lot of “free stuff,” such as health care. However, as AL.com reported on Monday, an ugly side to Sanders and his quest to bring a socialist revolution to America was revealed when he used Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama that is employed as a “warming station” for the local homeless. Because Sanders needed the space, the homeless were tossed unceremoniously into the streets where the temperature was in the 20s, with a wind chill of about 15 degrees.
Monday, January 18, 2016
Of all the charges levied against Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a candidate for president of the United States, the one that accuses him of being an anti-Semite will have to enter the history books as the most brazen. Joanna Rothkopf, writing in the Forward on Sunday, opined that, “To many Jews, Ted Cruz’s attack on Donald Trump’s ‘New York values’ sounds vaguely anti-Semitic.” A Saturday Night Live skit had an actor portraying Cruz say, “Believe me, if I could say ‘liberal Jews’ I would. Even Jake Tapper, who should have known better, asked Donald Trump, “There are some observers out there who think that when Ted Cruz talks about ‘New York Values,’ he's talking about something else, in their view, ‘ethnics,’ Jews. What do you think he means?”
Space News reported on Sunday that SpaceX successfully launched the Jason-3 satellite on its Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Unfortunately, an attempt to land the first stage of the rocket on a barge in the Pacific met with catastrophic failure. The touchdown went as planned, but because one of the landing legs did not latch, the first stage tipped over, exploded, and burned.
The latest Democratic presidential debate took place on Sunday and was hidden away among the football playoffs featured numerous clashes between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, an avowed socialist. At issue was Sanders’ proposal for “Medicare for All,” essentially the abolition of private health insurance and its replacement with a government-run health care system. Clinton believes that attempting such a radical public policy change is foolish in the extreme. She favors incremental changes in the current Obamacare system, in effect, reforming health care reform.
Sunday, January 17, 2016
One of the charming aspects of Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, a candidate for president of the United States, is that while his economic theories are crackpot, he was a moderate on the 2nd Amendment and gun ownership. This position was informed by the fact that he represents a rural state inhabited by a lot of people who are comfortable around fire arms. Indeed, in 2005, he voted for a measure that granted immunity to gun manufacturers from lawsuits if their products are used in a crime. However, as CNN reported on Saturday, now that Sanders is running for the Democratic nomination, his views have, in the political parlance, “evolved.”
While it is unclear what if any implications the recent successful landing of the first stage of the Falcon 9 first stage means for the future of space travel, planetary scientist and space commentator Paul Spudis suggested on Friday that the feat and the similar one performed earlier by Blue Origin could have some benefit for a return to the moon. In the meantime, a test of the engines in the recovered first stage had mixed results. The engines fired alright, but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reported, “thrust fluctuations” that might have been caused by “debris ingestion.” Does that mean the rocket could or could not have been reused? The answer is not yet forthcoming.
Saturday, January 16, 2016
CNN reported on Friday that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a candidate for president of the United States, has offered an apology – of sorts – for all the New Yorkers who may have been affronted by his “New York values: gambit. Cruz had artfully suggested that his main rival Donald Trump was adhering to New York values – taken to mean far left positions on the issues that many outside New York City would find off-putting. Trump had just as artfully invoked the spirit of 9/11 to suggest that Cruz was being offensive. The New York Daily News went even further by publishing a cover story with the title “Drop Dead, Ted” with the Statue of Liberty making a rude gesture.
Reuters reported on Friday that the Chinese have announced that they will land the Chang’e 4 space probe on the far side of the moon in 2018, two years sooner than had been previously announced. The Chang’e 4 will be similar to the Chang’e 3, which landed on the lunar surface in late 2013, and will carry a rover. The landing, which will also require the deployment of a communications satellite in cis-lunar space, will be a first as no nation has every landed anything on the side of the moon that faces away from the Earth.
Friday, January 15, 2016
When Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas accused Donald Trump of having New York values, most people outside of New York City knew what he was talking about. In flyover country (think the Midwest and the South) New Yorkers have a stereotype of being loud, arrogant, decadent, and ultraliberal. Cruz must have concluded that he is not likely to carry New York, either in the primaries or the general election, so it was safe to be caustic about the place. Unfortunately, as Yahoo Politics noted Thursday, Trump had the perfect comeback during the most recent Republican debate that rendered Cruz temporarily speechless. He invoked the spirit of 9/11.
President Barack Obama’s “moon shot” to cure cancer is getting a collective eye roll from the medical community. It is not that anyone is against curing cancer. That is an issue that unites all Americans of every race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, and political persuasion. The problem seems to be in the president’s approach to the problem and the inappropriate use of the “moon shot” approach, as suggested in a Thursday story in Ars Technica. Others suggest that Obamacare constitutes an obstacle to finding and implementing effective treatments for cancer.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
The Verge reported on Thursday that NASA has awarded the second round of contracts for the commercial resupply program. Two companies, SpaceX, and Orbital Sciences, which have been hauling cargo to the International Space Station in the first phase of the program, will receive contracts to fly at least six flights each to the ISS through 2024, the anticipated end of operations year for the space station. But Sierra Nevada has also gotten a six flight commitment, using a cargo version of its Dream Chaser spacecraft.
The BBC reported early Thursday that Alan Rickman, the English actor who had perfected the art of the sneer in numerous films, has died of cancer at the age of 69. No film actor in modern times has quite played villains with such zest and panache.