Random thoughts on politics, current events, popular culture, and whatever else interests me.
Mark R. Whittington is a writer residing in Houston, Texas. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel of suspense Nocturne which he coauthored with his wife, Chantal, The Children of Apollo trilogy, The Last Moonwalker and Other Stories, Gabriella’s War, The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper, and Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?
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Friday, September 30, 2016
Why is Donald Trump still obsessing over Alicia Machada and not Hillary's economic lies?
One aspect of Donald Trump that has his supporters tearing their hair in despair and Team Hillary high-fiving in delight is his propensity never to let a personal insult go unanswered. Four days after Hillary Clinton brought up the matter of Alicia Machado during the debate, Trump is still tweeting about it. Ironically, as Hot Air reports, Clinton told a whopper on the same night that touches Trump’s primary area of expertise – real estate. She said that the Bush tax cuts caused the Great Recession, the effects of which we are still living. As the Washington Post points out, this is a lie. In fact, a piece of legislation passed by Hillary’s husband led to a real estate bubble that burst just in time to tarnish George W. Bush and ensure the election of Barack Obama.
Does Elon Musk's Mars colony violate the Outer Space Treaty?
Elon Musk’s grand vision for a city on Mars has already been savaged as being incompatible with the principles of social justice. A recent article in IO9 suggests that it may be illegal. The case that Musk can’t proceed because of the Outer #Space Treaty is weak. In fact, the recent Moon Express mission approval provides a precedence that will likely be codified into law shortly. In any case, the article is flat wrong when it states that the company only has permission to land but not do anything once its probe is on the lunar surface. What Moon Express intends to do, in compliance with the mission approval and Article 6 of the Outer Space Treaty, has been spelled out as part of the conditions for winning the Google Lunar X Prize.
'Trek against Trump' urges you to vote for the Borg Queen not the Orange haired Ferengi
One of the most bizarre reactions to a presidential candidate has to be the new Facebook page “Trek against Trump” which consists of a statement opposing the candidacy of #Donald Trump. The document is signed by a myriad of people, directors, producers, writers, actors, and even children of the same associated with “Star Trek.” The argument against making Trump president is, “Never has there been a presidential candidate who stands in such complete opposition to the ideals of the Star Trek universe as Donald Trump.”
Thursday, September 29, 2016
'South Park' takes down the presidential candidates
Let’s face it. Most of comedy TV is going to go after the Republicans in any election. Indeed, “Saturday Night Live” has hired one of the big guns in the form of Alec Baldwin to take down Donald Trump. The happy exception is “South Park,” which had nearly captured the absurdity of the current election cycle and of the two candidates who would be president, as Hot Air points out.
'Designated Survivor' deals with racial profiling of Muslim Americans
“Designated Survivor,” the new political drama that stars Kiefer Sutherland as the president of the United States in the wake of a terrorist attack that has wiped out most of the government, aired its second episode, “The First Day.” One comes away with the unmistakable desire for Sutherland’s Tom Kirkman to be president in the real world than either person whom we are likely to get. Kirkman is a fundamentally decent man who thinks things through and, despite being woefully unprepared for the role he has been thrust into, proves to have a mind like Machiavelli’s.
Elon Musk's Mars colony vision slammed as elitist and evil
Most of the critiques if Elon Musk’s vision of a colony on Mars focuses on it technical or financial feasibility. Robert Zubrin, the author of “The Case for #Mars” and the leading advocate for Mars exploration, posted an alternate architecture on his Facebook page. However, Linda Billings, a self-described “#Space policy analyst” posted a full-throated assault on the very idea of sending humans to the Red Planet on her blog. The attack has led to outrage on the Internet, with NASA Watch lamenting, “But I thought this whole "but people are starving in [fill in the blank]" or "why spend money in space when we should spend it on Earth" mindset was a thing of the 1960 and 1970s.”
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Now Peter O'Toole's 'Lawrence of Arabia' is sexist
One of the oddest made up controversies arose recently because of a note in New York Magazine that accused “Lawrence of Arabia,” the classic early 1960s film that made both Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif movie stars, is sexist. The slam seems to be motivated by a conspicuous lack of female characters in the film.
Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos is the other billionaire CEO who wants space colonies
While the media was fixated on SpaceX’s Elon Musk’s presentation of his vision of colonizing Mars, it turns out that another billionaire CEO has an idea for spreading humanity across the solar system. According to Geek Wire, Rob Meyerson, the President of #Jeff Bezos’ #Space company #Blue Origin, was at the same conference in Guadalajara where Musk rolled out his Mars scheme and mentioned in passing his boss’s vision for both Mars and the moon.
SpaceX's Elon Musk presents his vision of a Mars colony
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk stood before a huge audience at a conference in Guadalajara, Mexico and laid out his vision of #Mars colonization. A massive rocket that would dwarf anything that has ever been launched from the surface of the Earth resides at the center of that vision. Musk’s goal is to establish a city on Mars numbering a million people sometime later in the current century.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Howard Dean accuses Donald Trump of cocaine abuse
The first presidential debate has sparked another debate about who won and who lost. However, the most memorable part of the event took place on Twitter when former Vermont Governor and presidential candidate #Howard Dean offered the following observation on Twitter. “Notice Trump sniffing all the time. Coke user?”
What if Ted Cruz was the Republican nominee for president part 3?
Or an alternate history of how Cruz would have beaten Hillary Clinton during the presidential debate
Sen #Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the Republican nominee for president, met former Secretary of State #Hillary Clinton in the first presidential debate and proved why he won awards as a debater when he was in college. By every measure, he won the contest played out before an audience of 100 million plus people. Clinton came at her Republican opponent with her prepared talking points, which Cruz disposed of adroitly.
Monday, September 26, 2016
NASA scientists believe the Hubble has detected water plumes erupting from Europa
A group of #NASA scientists announced that 15 months worth of observations from the #Hubble Space Telescope might have detected water plumes erupting from beneath the ice crust of #Europa, a moon of Jupiter thought to contain a subsurface ocean. The ocean, scientists theorize, is warmed by tidal forces exerted by Jupiter. If that ocean contains organic material, it might contain extraterrestrial life.
The Bloomberg Poll shows Donald Trump pulling ahead of Hillary Clinton
Going into the first presidential debate, Team Hillary got some horrible news via the Bloomberg Poll. #Donald Trump now leads Clinton nationwide in a four-way matchup (including Gary Johnson and Jill Stein) at 43 to 41 percent. A two-way race has Trump and Clinton neck and neck at 46 percent. Hot Air has a pretty good rundown on the numbers and an analysis.
The Barack Obama White House regards Donald Trump with fear and loathing
Politico has an interesting story about the evolution of the attitude of the Barack #Obama White House toward the presidential candidacy of #Donald Trump. In the beginning, Team Obama looked upon it with a mixture of amusement mixed with astonishment, as did most people. That feeling morphed into barely disguised giddiness when the mercurial and gaffe-prone real estate tycoon and reality media star gained the Republican nomination. But the joy has morphed into sheer terror as Trump has moved into a dead heat with Hillary Clinton and, in some polls, has pulled ahead.
Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson proposes space colonies in response to climate change
#Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, was being interviewed on “This Week” on ABC when the question was put to him about #Climate Change, the theory that human use of fossil fuels in pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere is raising the temperature of the Earth. Johnson offered an unusual policy prescription for the problem, according to the Washington Examiner. He said "we do have to inhabit other planets. The future of the human race is #Space exploration.”
Sunday, September 25, 2016
If Hillary Clinton loses the Democrats could face a generation in the wilderness
With a Hillary Clinton defeat beginning to appear at least conceivable, and some think even likely, the incomparable Michael Barone looks into his crystal ball and delves into the possible effects on the Democratic Party. To put it succinctly, the Democrats can look forward to a generation in the wilderness, ruling over only the West Coast, the Northeast, and a few enclaves in what they contemptuously call “flyover country.” The Democrats will have accepted the far left agenda of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both too elderly to become candidates in 2020, and will have been repudiated. Moreover, no Democrat seems to be positioned to become the next generation of a national candidate.
Texas Democrats are thinking of running Wendy Davis against Ted Cruz
While Sen. #Ted Cruz, R-#Texas is mulling the Catch 22 situation he finds himself in by having been hated for not endorsing Donald Trump and then being hated for endorsing Trump, Democrats, sensing some vulnerability, are casting about for a candidate to run against him in 2018. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that some have fixed their gaze entirely on #Wendy Davis, the former Texas state senator who ran for governor in 2014 and was handed an epic thumping by the current Gov. Greg Abbott.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Rick Perry survives for yet another week on 'Dancing with the Stars'
Former Texas Governor and twice presidential candidate #Rick Perry may not be the oddest contestant to appear on “Dancing with the Stars” but he has certainly failed to impress the judges thus far. Twice in as many weeks he has turned in subpart dance performances, the latest to the tune the theme from Green Acres, as CBS News noted. However, voters at home urged on by Perry’s fellow Texas politicians such as Sen. Ted Cruz, have saved him from elimination thus far. One suspects that the folks back home will continue to keep Perry in the running whether he improves his dance step or not.
Scene in 'Transformers' film depicting Churchill birthplace with Nazi flags causes outrage
For some reason, a fifth Transformers movie is being produced. The studio has not offered any word about plot details about the latest big budget epic about giant robots fighting each other while humans run for cover. However, one photo published in the British tabloid The Sun shows Blenheim Palace, where Winston Churchill was born, decorated with Nazi flags with German military vehicles parked outside. The photo has caused outrage in certain quarters, which some suggesting that the transformation of a British icon into a Nazi military headquarters shows disrespect to the dead Churchill, the man who saved Great Britain and the world from Adolf Hitler’s tyranny.
Ted Cruz endorsement of Donald Trump causes a mixed reaction
As widely reported, Sen #Ted Cruz, R-Texas officially endorsed Donald Trump for president, stating his reasons in a Facebook post. Essentially, Trump is the only person who stands between the United States and the horrors of a Hillary Clinton presidency, so Cruz has decided to support his erstwhile political foe. While Trump himself was gracious in his reaction, the same cannot be said for some in the media and social media.
Friday, September 23, 2016
More of my wisdom via Foreign Policy Journal Was NASA’s Charles Bolden right all along about Muslim outreach?
Report: Ted Cruz to endorse Donald Trump
According to the Washington Times, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas has decided to endorse Donald Trump, a move that could happen as early as Monday, Sept 26. The development that broke the ice between the two men was Trump’s support of Cruz’s effort to derail President Barack Obama’s plan to hand over control of the Internet to an international group. Cruz contends that the move would give authoritarian regimes such as Russia, China, and Iran undue influence over the Internet. A number of supporters of the move, including many tech companies, dispute this assertion.
Team Donald Trump using psychological analyses to beat Hillary Clinton during the debate
Classic debate prep consists of boning up on the various issues that are likely to come up during the event, stuffing the debater’s head full of facts and figures. But political debates are more performance combat than anything else. Toward that end, Team Trump is conducting a sophisticated analysis of Hillary Clinton’s debates dating back to her first 2000 Senate race with the idea of ferreting out weaknesses, Politico notes. Team Hillary, for its part, will also use psychological techniques to throw Donald Trump off his game with the idea of provoking him into misbehaving and saying something alarming.
Sequel to 'Magnum PI' featuring the daughter of the original Tom Selleck character
“Magnum PI” was one of the great action series of the 1980s, starring Tom Selleck as a former Navy SEAL who used his skills developed in the Vietnam War to fight crime and international espionage in Hawaii. Of course, no successful show ever made has not been considered for a remake, reboot, big screen version, or reimagining. Deadline Hollywood reports that this is the case for “Magnum PI.” The twist is that the proposed new series will feature Magnum’s daughter, Lily “Tommy” Magnum, a character established in the original series.
Hillary Clinton screams 'why aren’t I 50 points ahead you might ask?'
Hillary Clinton raised some eyebrows recently when she was addressing the Laborers International Union of North America meeting in Las Vegas via conference call, according to the Daily Caller. While inveighing against Donald Trump’s support for right to work laws, she demanded, in an alarming, screaming tone of voice, “Now, having said all of this, why aren’t I 50 points ahead you might ask?” The video is below.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Why Hillary Clinton has embraced nuclear energy
A lot of people are focused on Hillary Clinton’s various prevarications and the state of her health to the detriment of examining some of her more nuanced stands on the issues. The sharp-eyed Robert Bryce at National Review noticed that Clinton, in response to a questionnaire on various science and technology issues, has come out for nuclear power. In so doing she has defied the environmental orthodoxy that has adhered for the past 40 years. And yet, given her acceptance of the global warming gospel, her position was all but inevitable.
Why the rioting in Charlotte may elect Donald Trump president
#Charlotte, North Carolina has become the latest American city to devolve into chaos because of a high-profile police shooting of an African-American. Because of an initial narrative of the man holding a book, mobs took to the streets, attacking bystanders (and each other), looting stores, and battling with the police. The National Guard has been turned out to restore order. Ironically, as a video has proven, the man came at police officers with a gun and thus gave them no choice. The cop was not a white racist, but also an African American. But the truth no longer mattered.
Kiefer Sutherland's 'Designated Survivor' flirts with liberal cliches
‘Designated Survivor’ is the latest series depicting machinations in Washington D.C. against an increasingly chaotic world. The hook of the series is that the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Tom Kirkman played by Kiefer Sutherland, finds himself president of the United States after the Capitol Building explodes, taking out the president, most of the cabinet, Congress, and much of the rest of the government in the worst terrorist attack since 9/11. Unfortunately, the pilot episode flirts with the hoariest cliché of them all, a crazy, right-wing general who wants to start blowing things and people up without discrimination before all the facts are known.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Elizabeth Warren asserts veto power over Hillary Clinton's presidential appointments
Sen Elizabeth Warren. D-Mass., presents herself as Hillary Clinton’s warmest supporter. But, as the Nation reported, she has also served her favorite candidate notice that she will not allow her to appoint any of her Wall Street backers to high-level government positions, especially the cabinet. In effect, Warren is claiming veto power on Clinton’s appointments even before the candidate is elected president.
Is Ted Cruz about to endorse Donald Trump?
Is Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas about to endorse Donald Trump? Hot Air is reporting that Jeff Roe, Cruz’s old campaign manager, thinks so and that the senator thinks about it every day. Cruz, it is reported, is impressed at how Trump has managed to get control of himself, maintain campaign discipline, and thus catch up with Hillary Clinton in the polls. Of course, Roe may not know any such thing and he is trying to push his old boss in that direction.
Last night's Space Show appearance is now archived for the ages.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
For those readers who intend to listen to my wisdom on "The Space Show" podcast with Dr. David Livingston, here follows a reading list that will cover some of the topics that will be discussed.
Space articles in The Hill Newspaper
Space articles in Forbes
A Giant Lunar Leap For Private Enterprise - The Wall Street Journal
Sell the space station, explore Mars - USA Today
Milo Yiannopoulos goes to the University of Houston to make trouble
Proving that the University of Houston, the author’s alma mater, has not quite been taken over by the sorts of social justice warriors who oppressed student government vice president Rohini Sethi, Breitbart News’ Milo Yiannopoulos was allowed to speak on campus with only one serious disruption. The said disturbance is in the video below and, trigger warning, at least one use of bad language and is therefore not safe for work.
Student team at Cornell creating a CubeSat with water as propellant to orbit the moon
A team of students at Cornell University is creating a #CubeSat, a tiny satellite no bigger than a breadbox, that it hopes to fly in orbit around the moon as part of a NASA-sponsored competition, according to #moon Daily. The innovative part of the Cornell Cubesat is that it will carry water as propellant. Water, which covers most of the Earth’s surface, is one of the more common substances in space. The moon is filled with deposits of water ice in permanently shadowed craters. Individual asteroids and comets contain water as well. The idea is that eventually spacecraft will top off from water supplies found in celestial bodies and thus can continue, in theory, indefinitely.
Hillary Clinton accuses Donald Trump of Treason
The level of hysteria coming from Team Hillary about Donald Trump has reached heights rarely seen in a presidential contest. According to the Associated Press, Hillary Clinton stood on the tarmac in front of her campaign plane and accused Trump of giving “aid and comfort” to ISIS by providing an incentive for the terrorist army to make more recruits. He has done this, she asserted, with his “anti-Muslim” rhetoric.
Monday, September 19, 2016
Hillary Clinton supporters are already making excuses for her election defeat
#Election 2016 is just around a month and a half away but some Hillary Clinton supporters are already starting to make excuses for her increasingly likely defeat. Toward that goal, Rebecca Onion wrote a recent piece in Slate entitled “America Has Always Seen Ambitious Women as Unhealthy.” The theory is that Americans are rejecting Clinton because they think her relentless drive for the Oval Office is making her sick. The problem is that the author has had to reach back to the Edwardian age to find examples of ambitious women being demonized as being less than healthy. She offers no explanation as to why very healthy and determined women on the right – Carly Fiorina and Sarah Palin come to mind – were smeared by people on the left.
SpaceX's Elon Musk is already setting his sights beyond Mars
#SpaceX’s Elon Musk intends to open his mind further about his plans to colonize Mars, which included starting robotic probes by 2018 and a crewed expedition as early as 2025, at a conference in Mexico late in September. But the sharp-eyed Eric Berger at Ars Technica has noticed a series of tweets from the commercial space tycoon that suggest that his ambitions are already expanding beyond #Mars.
The top Emmy winners, 'Game of Thrones' and 'Veep,' are shows about politics
The prime time Emmys were handed out the night of September 18. Two shows about cut throne politics (one using the term literally) won the top honors according to the Washington Times. “Game of Thrones” the epic fantasy series airing on HBO won the award for best drama. “#veep” the series depicting a Hillary Clinton-like politician who starts as vice president but spent the last season as an unlikely president won the Emmy for best comedy series. Of course, all seemed appropriate in an election year.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
President Barack Obama rages against black voters turning to Donald Trump
President Barack Obama’s supporters used to present their man as a cerebral man, a kind of “President Spock,” calling him “No Drama #Obama.” People who think calling a leader Spock is a complement never watched “Star Trek.” In any case, the man who will shortly become a private citizen is capable of boiling, white hot rage, as he demonstrated at a speech before the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner in Washington according to Politico. He said, among other things, that if African American turnout declines for Hillary Clinton, he would regard it as “a personal insult, an insult to my legacy.”
Bombings in Chelsea and New Jersey likely to benefit Donald Trump
As of this writing, no one knows whether the dumpster bomb in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea, the nearby possible pressure cooker bomb, or the pipe bomb set at a Marine charity run in New Jersey are terrorist acts. However, the three possibly related events are likely to redound to the political benefit of Donald Trump, if for nothing else for reminding people how dangerous the world has gotten under President Obama and how much more dangerous it is likely to get under Hillary Clinton should she become president.
'Barry,' a second film about the young Barack Obama, finds a distributor
The announcement that “#Barry,” the second independent film with the young Barack #Obama as the central character, has found a distributor has proven that even though the president has demonstrably failed to repair the American economy, he has created a new cottage industry in small budget #Movies. “Barry” finds the president to be in his first year at Columbia University struggling with issues of his racial identity and wondering how he fits in the vast scheme of things. Ashley Judd plays his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who was more interested in her anthropology research than being a mother to her son. Newcomer Devon Terrell plays young Obama. Vikram Gandhi directed.Dreams of Barry's Stepfather
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Now reading Marching With Caesar: Birth of the 10th Legion. It's the origin story of Titus Pullo, played with such zest by Ray Stevenson in the Rome: The Complete Series HBO miniseries.
Why Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' is failing at the box office
Oliver Stone’s latest movie, “#Snowden,” about the NSA analyst and traitor Edward Snowden, is not doing very well at the box office, opening far below more entertaining and uplifting fare such as “Sully.” A piece in the National Review, which deconstructs his image as a public-spirited whistleblower and suggests that he damaged national security by handing over secrets to Russia would suggest why. Most filmgoers get it and do not care to watch #Movies about creeps.
China launches the Tiangong-2 space station module into Earth orbit
The Chinese have just launched their #Space station module #Tiangong-2 into Earth orbit with a crew to follow shortly on board the Shenzhou spacecraft, according to AFP. But already #china is looking ahead to its larger space station, scheduled to begin construction in 2017 and enter service in 2022. The Chinese intend to send crews up to the future space station, which will consist of a large, central module and two attached lab modules, for stays of over a year. They will conduct experiments in a wide variety of scientific specialties including bio-medicine and physics.
Donald Trump suggests he will reverse course on normalizing relations with Cuba
Clearly aiming at the Cuban-American vote in Florida, Donald Trump told a rally in Miami that as president he would suspend the normalization of relations with #cuba unless the Castro brothers meet certain conditions. Those conditions would be to grant the Cuban people certain religious and political freedoms that the rulers of that island nation have denied them for decades, according to the Washington Examiner.
Friday, September 16, 2016
Donald Trump fools media into covering campaign infomercial with birther announcement
As the Daily Caller noted, Donald Trump pulled one over on the media. He announced that he would appear in the presidential ballroom of the Trump International Hotel in Washington and address the so-called #birther issue. Trump once had lots of fun with the idea that President Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya and not Hawaii. Naturally, the media was very interested because a major presidential candidate trafficking in conspiracy theories is always something fun to cover.
Ted Cruz proposes new NASA bill to ensure continuance of programs in the next presidency
A bipartisan group of United States senators, led by Sen. #Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has introduced the #NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016. The other cosponsors of the bill include Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. The act seeks to codify continuity of NASA programs, heading off the sort of disruptive changes by the next president such as the one perpetrated by President Barack Obama when he canceled the Constellation #Space exploration program without consulting Congress.
What if NASA and SpaceX were to merge their Mars efforts?
According to Inverse, William Gerstenmaier, #NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, was posed an unusual question at a recent panel discussion at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’s annual Explore SPACE Forum. What will NASA do if Elon Musk’s #SpaceX beats the space agency to #Mars?
Donald Trump appears on 'The Tonight show with Jimmy Fallon'
Ever since then-candidate Bill Clinton appeared on “The Arsenio Hall” show and played the saxophone, late night has been a must-go stop for presidential candidates. Late night hosts, except for some of the edgier ones like Jon Stewart, tend to be friendlier to even controversial politicians than people on the cable news networks. Such was the case when Donald Trump appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon. Allowing the host to mess up his orange hair, thus proving that it is not a toupee, was just one instance of the candidate humanizing himself.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
'Come from Away,' a musical about 9/11, is coming to Broadway
Ordinarily, the 9/11 attacks would not be thought to be the fit subject of a #Broadway #Musical. A Shakespearean-style tragedy, maybe. However, one such musical, called “Come from Away” is headed for Broadway after successful runs in Toronto and Washington D.C. The play tells the story of how 38 airliners filled with thousands of very confused and frightened passengers found themselves in the town of Gander, Newfoundland. The arrival of so many people happened when the American government ordered the skies over America cleared of all air traffic in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the heroic but doomed battle on Flight 93. The entire town, not numbering much more than their unexpected guests, turned out to house, feed, and comfort the refugees who were suddenly in their midst.
SpaceX president expresses confidence that Falcon 9 can return to flight in November
While #SpaceX has not yet announced or perhaps even discovered why a Falcon 9 launch vehicle was destroyed, along with an Israeli communications satellite and the launch pad, that company’s president, Gwynne Shotwell expressed confidence that the next flight will occur in November. Shotwell made this pronouncement at a satellite industry conference in Paris, according to NBC News.
Republicans increasingly confident of holding the Senate
Whatever happens in the presidential contest, and Donald Trump seems to be surging against a faltering Hillary Clinton, Republicans are increasingly confident about holding the Senate, the Washington Examiner reports. The situation is a marked change from a month or so ago when the GOP feared that Trump might lose big and drag down their majority in the Senate with him. Now, with the prospect of Trump winning or, at worse, losing narrowly, Republican Senate candidates are surging as well.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Hillary Clinton says that she supports NASA's Journey to Mars
The aerospace newspaper Space News reported the results of a questionnaire sent to the presidential candidates by ScienceDebate.org on the subject of space policy. None of the candidates went into too much detail and, indeed, libertarian candidate Gary Johnson did not respond at all. However, Democratic nominee #Hillary Clinton announced that she supports the exploration of Mars. “A goal of my administration will be to expand this knowledge even further and advance our ability to make human exploration of Mars a reality.”
Does it matter what NASA's Charles Bolden thinks of the Falcon Heavy and the New Glenn?
Ars Technica caught up with #NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Space 2016 Conference where he was conducting a question and answer session. Bolden took the occasion to comment on efforts by #SpaceX and Blue Origin to build heavy lift rockets, the Falcon Heavy New Glenn respectively. Bolden pronounced himself “not a big fan of commercial investment in large launch vehicles just yet." The implication is that only NASA is capable of creating a heavy lift rocket such as the Space Launch System.
Team Donald Trump sends Mike Pence to court Ted Cruz
#Mike Pence, the Republican nominee for vice president, appeared on Capitol Hill, according to the Wall Street Journal, to court congressional Republicans, Sen. #Ted Cruz in particular, for the cause of electing #Donald Trump for president. Cruz, because of appalling things that Trump said about his family, is one of the highest profile holdouts for endorsing the Republican nominee. No one outside the meeting knows what happened when Pence met Cruz and, publically, Cruz has still not endorsed Trump. However, Cruz did lay into Hillary Clinton for her “basket of deplorables” remark that smeared millions of Trump supporters.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Eddie Murphy returns to the big screen for a quiet, dramatic role in 'Mr. Church'
Eddie Murphy has not been on the big screen since 2012’s forgettable “1000 Words.” In “Mr. Church,” Murphy plays a character who as is as far from Axel Foley as can be imagined.
Some more of my wisdom courtesy of USA Today. Sell the space station, explore Mars
A three pronged approach to cheap access to space proposed
Paul Spudis, a lunar geologist who writes frequently about #Space policy, has published a piece in Air and Space Magazine about the vexing problem of cheap access to space. Currently space flight is expensive because we tend to throw away most or all of the rocket that launches things and people, and we have to take everything we need to sustain people into space. Most efforts to lower the cost of space travel has involved making rockets reusable, dating back to the space shuttle and now being pursued by companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin. But Spudis suggests that is only one part of a solution.
Is Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos planning a return to the moon?
When Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos announced his new, orbital, partially reusable rocket, the New Glenn, he also teased an even bigger rocket, the New Armstrong, that is planned for further down the road. The fact that New Glenn has more than half the lift capacity of a Saturn V has caused Ars Technica’s Eric Berger to speculate that the founder of Amazon.com’s ultimate goal is a private program to colonize the moon.
Monday, September 12, 2016
Just in time for Election 2016 South Park starts a new season
Just in time to help us laugh at the madness that is #Election 2016, “South Park” starts its new season this September 14. According to Deadline Hollywood, the first episode is entitled “Members Berries” and will be about how a national icon reboots the National Anthem. Clearly, the episode will be inspired by the fad of football players taking a knee instead of standing respectfully during the playing of the National Anthem, inspired by Colin Kaepernick.
Oliver Stone implies that George W. Bush knew of the 9/11 attacks in advance
Filmmaker #Oliver Stone, whose latest movie “Snowden,” tells the story of the traitor Edward Snowden who gave NSA secrets to the Russians, mused about 9/11 recently, Deadline Hollywood reported. During his musings, he implied that President George W. Bush must have known in advance that the 9/11 attacks were going to happen. “In a sense, you might think that they let it happen because it helped their agenda, which they put through with the Patriot Act and many other things, the war in Iraq.”
Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos announces the orbital launch vehicle New Glenn
According to #Space News, Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos announced the name and some details of the orbital launch vehicle that company has been working on in secret. The rocket will be called New Glenn, after John Glenn, the first American to fly in low Earth orbit. The first stage will be powered by seven Be-4 rocket engines that burn liquid oxygen and natural gas. The second stage will have a single one of those engines. The New Glenn will be used to send both satellites and people into low Earth orbit. A variant with a third stage will be used for beyond Earth orbit missions. The first stage would fly back and be reused much like the suborbital New Shepard and the SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage.
Could a NASA return to the moon provide unity to a divided United States?
One of the more dispiriting aspects of the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was the shows of disunity, as illustrated by football players following Colin Kaepernick’s lead by refusing to stand for the national anthem. The situation stands in stark contrast with the great unity and resolve that the United States experienced in the aftermath of the attacks. Could some other event, hopefully, not a mass casualty terrorist attack, serve as a catalyst for reuniting a bitterly divided United States?
Hillary Clinton behaves irresponsibly with a diagnosis of pneumonia
#Hillary Clinton, a candidate for president of the United States, shocked the nation by leaving a ceremony to commemorate 9/11 early and collapsing while trying to enter an SUV. She attempted to project a picture of health outside her daughter Chelsea’s apartment, even hugging a small child as part of a photo op. Then, Clinton was whisked away to her home of Chappaqua to recover what her campaign finally admitted was #pneumonia, an infectious and potentially deadly disease, which she was diagnosed with, it is said, on Friday. She has canceled a campaign swing to the west coast, according to the UK Daily Mail.
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Hillary Clinton leaves the 9/11 ceremonies early, collapses trying to enter an SUV
The rumors of Hillary Clinton’s health problems suddenly leaped from the conspiratorial musings of Donald Trump supporters to open media speculation after the presidential candidate left the 9/11 ceremonies early, complaining of overheating. She was seen in the video below being propped up against a concrete barrier. When she tried to enter a black SUV, she wobbled then collapsed and then, as Hot Air put it, was tossed into the vehicle like “a side of beef.” Clinton was taken to her daughter Chelsea’s apartment to rest. She appeared briefly on the street outside, claiming she was okay and posed for a photo op with a little girl who had been strategically position there for that purpose. Then Ms. Clinton was whisked away to her home in Chappaqua without any of the traveling media.
Portions of 'Hidden Figures' screened at the Toronto Film Festival
Deadline reports that some clips of the upcoming film “Hidden Figures” were screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, unusual because the movie is not yet finished. The film, described as “The Help” meets “The Right Stuff” tells the story of three African American women math geniuses who played a crucial role in the early #Space program. Their accomplishments took place in an era when the contributions of both women and ethnic minorities were not appreciated as often as they should have been. “Hidden Figures,” perhaps despite itself, will redeem the Apollo race to the moon from a libel that it has had to endure for decades.
Remembering 9/11, the day 'a terrible beauty was born'
9/11 was the day that, as it the words of the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, a terrible beauty was born, when an act of savagery was met with heroism so epic that it still stirs the heart 15 years later. From police officers and firefighters who rushed into burning buildings to save who they could, even at the cost of their lives, to the passengers of Flight 93, who charged the cockpit of their hijacked plane in a doomed attempt to save their lives, the day made heroes out of ordinary people.
Saturday, September 10, 2016
As 'The Last Ship' ends season three the show is renewed for two more seasons
“The Last Ship,” TNT’s epic series about a United States Navy destroyer, the Nathan James, in a post-apocalyptic world, has been renewed for not just a fourth but a fifth season as the third season ends. This decision should be a welcome development for people who like their after the Holocaust TV fare to be uplifting and hopeful, unlike some other TV shows (called “The Walking Dead.”)
Hillary Clinton insults Donald Trump supporters as a 'basket of deplorables'
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was at a fundraiser in New York attended by some of the more well-heeled in the LGBT community when she told them exactly what she thinks of tens of millions of Americans who support her opponent, Donald Trump. She suggested that one could put half of Trump supporters into the “basket of deplorables” and went on to call them “Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.”
After 'Sully' Tom Hanks eyes World War II epic 'Greyhound'
#Tom Hanks, whose Clint Eastwood film about the “Miracle on the Hudson” “Sully” is eying a World War II epic, “Greyhound,” about a destroyer captain “fights his self-doubts and personal demons to prove he belongs” according to Deadline. The title comes from a period slang term for Navy destroyers because they ran fast in the ocean compared to larger ships. Hanks has written the script and hoped to star in it.
Friday, September 09, 2016
Bill Clinton plays the race card against Donald Trump
Former President #Bill Clinton complained back in 2008 that then-candidate Barack Obama had “played the race card in me.” Fast forward eight years and the aging aspiring “first dude” is doing the same thing to Donald Trump. He suggested that the slogan “make America great again” is racist as it really means that Trump wants to elevate white people, currently feeling put upon, at the expense of minorities. The problem is that Clinton himself used the same slogan, both in 1992 when he was campaigning for president and in 2008 when he was campaigning for Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton recounts a story of being bullied while applying to Harvard Law
Hillary Clinton, when her back is against the wall, has a tendency to play the put-upon victim card, such as her disputed story about being told that NASA did not take girls as astronauts when she wrote the space agency at the age of 16. According to AOL, Clinton, who is running for the highest office in America, trotted out another story about how men bullied her, according to AOL, in this case, while applying for Harvard Law during her senior year in college.
North Korean atomic bomb test casts doubt on Iran nuclear weapons deal
The Associated Press is reporting that South Korean, American, and European monitoring stations have detected “artificial seismic waves” coming from the Punggye-ri test site in North Korea, indicating that the country has conducted another nuclear bomb test. North Korea has a rudimentary nuclear arsenal and is developing ballistic missiles to deliver nuclear warheads against South Korea and Japan. The United States is deploying missile defense systems to counter such a move.
NASA sends to OSIRIS-REx probe to the asteroid Bennu
NASA reported that the #OSIRIS-REx probe lifted off on top of an Atlas V launch vehicle in the early evening of September 8, 2016, from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The probe is currently embarked on its way on a nearly two-year voyage to the asteroid Bennu. Once arrived, in August 2018, OSIRIS-REx will orbit the asteroid for two years. At the end of this period, it will touch down on Bennu and take a two-ounce soil sample. OSIRIS-REx will then head back to Earth and deliver the sample in September 2023 where it will be studied at #NASA’s Johnson Spaceflight Center in Houston, where the original moon rocks were taken decades ago.
Thursday, September 08, 2016
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo makes first flight in almost two years
As Alan Boyle at GeekWire reported, the #Virgin Galactic #SpaceShipTwo rocket ship flew while attached to WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft for the first time in almost two years. The flight was successful and represents the would be #Space tourism company’s comeback after a catastrophic accident that caused a previous model of SpaceShipTwo to break apart in mid-flight, killing one test pilot and seriously injuring another. The accident is considered the commercial space version of the Challenger disaster.
Warrant arrested for the arrest of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein
While some people no doubt still entertain fantasies about seeing Hillary Clinton being arrested on the campaign trail for her various misdeeds, a presidential candidate has actually had a warrant issued against her. #Green Party candidate #Jill Stein, who is polling in the low double digits, appeared at protests of the proposed #Bakken Pipeline. She spray painted the words “I approve this message” and “We need decolonization” on some of the equipment being used to deploy the pipeline. As a result, according to AOL News, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department has issued a warrant for her arrest for trespassing and vandalism.
Hillary Clinton comes off worse than Donald Trump at NBC Commander in Chief forum
Hillary Clinton and #Donald Trump faced back to back questioning by NBC’s Commander in Chief forum on board the Intrepid Museum before an audience of veterans. Both were put on the defensive by pointed questions by both Matt Lauer and some of the audience. But, in the end, Clinton came off the worst, primarily because she had a lot of explaining to do for her record and had few if any real answers, according to the Washington Examiner.
Wednesday, September 07, 2016
Donald Trump vows to increase the size and power of the military
Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, laid out his plan to rebuild the military during a speech in Philadelphia. He advocated raising the sequestration caps on defense spending, increasing army troops levels to 550,000, increasing the Marine Corps, and adding ships to the United States Navy and planes to the United States Air Force, according to the Wall Street Journal. Trump also advocated building a missile defense system and augmenting cyber defenses and offenses.
Ted Cruz doesn't think much of Colin Kaepernick
A reporter from TMZ buttonholed Sen. Ted Cruz. R-Texas as he was leaving Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. and asked him what he thought of Colin Kaepernick, the second string quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers who is refusing to stand for the National Anthem. The conservative Republican does not think much of Kaepernick or his gesture.
NASA OIG report suggests delays of commercial crew vehicles
In a report issued before the accident that destroyed a SpaceX Falcon 9 and its Israeli communications satellite payload, and trashed a launch pad, #NASA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) concluded that the first commercial crew flights would be delayed until at least late 2018. Both the #Boeing CST-100 Starliner and the #SpaceX Dragon are facing significant technical challenges that have to be overcome before the two spacecraft can fly crews to and from the International Space Station, according to Space News. Previous development delays could be ascribed to funding shortfalls. In this case, the delays are the result of the technical challenges that just about every space system is beset with during its development phase.
For a somewhat skeptical view of the current state of space, Not Vaunted, Not Clever and Not Working – The State of America’s Space Program. Agree or disagree, worth the read.
Hillary Clinton says that Hurricane Hermine was caused by climate change
In between coughing fits, Hillary Clinton was able to say a few words about the issues, according to the Washington Free Beacon. Unfortunately, her words were as alarming as her simulation of hacking up a lung. She told an audience in Tampa, Florida that “climate change” was responsible for Hurricane Hermine, a small, category one storm that passed across Florida and then marched up the East Coast.
Blake Farenthold is seriously upset with Ted Cruz
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas sat down with NBC News, according to Real Clear Politics, and expressed his ire with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Essentially Farenthold is mad at Cruz for not supporting Donald Trump for president. Cruz, after all, promised to support the eventual nominee way back when he thought he was going to be that person. So Farenthold says that the junior senator will have to “earn my vote back.”
Tuesday, September 06, 2016
Why President Barack Obama was humiliated on his Asian trip
President Barack Obama went to #china for the G20 summit and then to Laos for a state visit, though at the end he likely wished he had stayed at home. First, the Chinese deliberately snubbed the president by not giving him a red carpet welcome at the airport, going so far as forcing him to exit from the back of the plane. Then President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, called his American counterpart a vulgar name for criticizing his human rights record. Duterte is fighting a real war on drugs by executing drug dealers without a benefit of a trial.
Courtesy of Forbes, some new wisdom from yours truly. How Moon Express Launched Commercial Regulations In Space
Donald Trump surges ahead of Hillary Clinton in latest CNN/ORC Poll
In a sign that #Election 2016 is a real political race, the CNN/ORC Poll showed Donald Trump has edged out #Hillary Clinton 45 percent to 43 percent. Third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein poll 7 percent and 2 percent respectively. The two candidates have reached parity as far as support from their own parties is concerned, with Clinton being supported by 92 percent of Democrats and Trump by 90 percent of Republicans. Trump had lagged behind in that area up until this point. Finally, an enthusiasm gap has opened between the two candidates, with 55 percent of Clinton voters less than enthusiastic and 56 percent of Trump supporters reporting enthusiasm for voting for their candidate.
Hillary Clinton's latest coughing fit raises fresh questions about her health
Hillary Clinton made a speech in Cleveland where she excoriated Donald Trump and touted her fitness to be president. But her coughing fit at the beginning, the latest of many, overshadowed her message and caused the media to start questioning Clinton’s #Health, according to the Washington Examiner. So far, Team Hillary has been able to pass off questions about the candidate’s health as the ravings of right wing fanatics and Trump supporters. But the series of coughing fits and fainting spells have piled up so that even the mainstream media is starting to take notice.
Monday, September 05, 2016
To The Moon, Alice! - Why We Stopped Going There
Someone should write a book about this. Oh, wait, someone did.
The enduring appeal of 'Star Trek' is that of a space faring future
50 years ago a TV show called “Star Trek” aired its first episode. The series, about the 23rd Century adventures of a crew of #Space explorers on board the Star Ship Enterprise, should have been an all but forgotten curiosity. It lasted only three seasons before being ignominiously canceled by the network, ironically just weeks before the Apollo 11 moon landing, one of the most watched #Television shows in human history.
President Barack Obama shows he does not understand Donald Trump or his appeal
According to the Washington Examiner, President Barack #Obama sat down for an interview with CNN which aired about the same time he was being snubbed and humiliated at the G20 Summit in China. The question was put to him, what about this Donald Trump guy? What is his appeal? Obama’s answer was more illuminating of his psyche than it was about Trump. He dismissed Trump as representing a small, “change resistant” minority who would be swept away by the tides of history. No doubt Trump supporters have some grievances, but basically, it must suck to be them.
Sunday, September 04, 2016
Ted Cruz's endorsement still counts for something
One of the measurements of a strength of a politician is how much his or her endorsements are worth. By that metric, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas still retains some of his mojo. All but one of the candidates he endorsed in the recent Arizona and Florida primaries won.
NASA's Juno probe gets a first look at Jupiter's north and south poles
#NASA reported that its probe Juno, currently orbiting #Jupiter, executed the first of its planned 36 orbital flybys, coming to within 2,500 miles of the largest planet in the solar system on August 27. For six hours #Juno flew over Jupiter’s North Pole then its south pole, returning six megabytes of data. Scientists are still analyzing the data, but the picture that emerges are of storm systems and weather patterns in the planet’s clouds that have never before been seen in NASA’s exploration of the solar system.
Saturday, September 03, 2016
Donald Trump goes to Detroit in search of African American votes
The mainly African-American parishioners at the Great Faith Ministries Church in #Detroit were treated to something that they don’t see every day, a wealthy, white Republican presidential candidate from New York asking them for their votes. Donald Trump attended a church service and then addressed the congregation, according to the Detroit Free Press. Trump praised the African American Christian community as “one of God’s greatest gifts to America” and stated that he was there to hear their message and, by his presence, have it disseminated to a wider audience.
Hillary Clinton's FBI interview may sink her campaign for the presidency
The #FBI artfully dumped the account of its interview with Hillary Clinton on the media on the eve of the Labor Day weekend, when most people were planning their last vacations before the fall. It may not have mattered. The contents were so astonishing that they might sink Clinton’s chances of becoming president and at the same time call into question the Bureau’s credibility in recognizing when a high official has committed criminal acts.
First space test of the 'impossible' propellantless Cannae Drive announced
Lots of attention has been focused on the EM Drive, a device that its proponent's claim produces thrust by generating microwaves in an enclosed #Space. However, a similar device, the #Cannae Drive, invented by Guido Fetta, may be headed to space, according to a piece in Popular Mechanics.
Friday, September 02, 2016
Are space reporters too much in love with NASA and companies like SpaceX?
Eric Berger, the redoubtable writer for Ars Tehnica, asks a question that sometimes arises. Are #Space reporters too much in love with the subject that they cover to be objective about it? It is a fair question. However it is an objective fact that the things that companies like SpaceX and Moon Express and even the current NASA are doing are indescribably cool and wonderful. No amount of trying to be “fair and balanced” is going to change that.
What will Ted Cruz do if Donald Trump wins the presidency?
The Chicago Tribune recently published a think piece that mulled the question of what Sen. #Ted Cruz, R-Texas will do in a post-Trump world, the assumption being that #Donald Trump gets beaten in the presidential election. However, since Hillary Clinton seems to be imploding under the weight of multiple scandals and a campaign style that can best be described as ennui and Trump seems to have found a measure of stability and discipline, Cruz needs to consider what he is going to do if Trump wins.
NASA's Dawn discovers ice volcano on dwarf planet Ceres
Dawn, the NASA probe currently orbiting the dwarf planet #Ceres, has made a remarkable geologic discovery, the #Space agency reported. Ahuna Mons is an ice volcano and was recently active on a geological time scale. Scientists are comparing it, in appearance, to Tolkien’s “Lonely Mountain” from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Thursday, September 01, 2016
SpaceX Falcon 9 destroyed during static pad test (Video)
During a routine static test in advance of a planned launch of an AMOS-6 Israeli communications satellite, a SpaceX Falcon 9 exploded, resulting in the destruction of the launch vehicle and an unknown amount of damage to the launch pad, according to Florida Today. No injuries were reported since, as is standard procedure, the pad was cleared before the test. #SpaceX CEO Elon Musk later tweeted that the problem started during a propellant fill of the upper stage oxygen tank. More information will likely be forthcoming in due course.
The HD 164595 signal turns out not be aliens or even from space
Recently scientists experienced a brief thrill of excitement when a Russian radio telescope detected a strong radio signal apparently coming from a star called HD 164595, residing 94.4 light years away from Earth in the constellation Hercules. Perturbed that the Russians had waited for months before sharing this bit of news, SETI scientists scrambled to place the star under observation to see if any other signals were forthcoming. None were and, as Eric Berger of Ars Technica reports, the Russians have had to sheepishly admit that the signal likely was of Earth origin. Another possible discovery of aliens has gone bust.
Donald Trump conquers Mexico in presidential style summit meeting
If Donald Trump is elected president, August 31 will be seen as the date when he ensured that history making event happens. First, accepting an invitation from the President of Mexico, he traveled to Mexico City for what amounted to a summit meeting. Watching the joint statement and press conference that followed the hour-long closed-door meeting, one could be forgiven for wondering if one had fallen asleep and woken up in 2017 to find that Trump had been elected president and had learned to conduct himself in a calm, diplomatic fashion.