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, May 26, 2017
Report: The cost of electric vehicles to be less than gasoline cars by 2025
The big problem with #Electric Cars, despite the fact that they are cheaper to run and maintain than are gasoline powered vehicles, is that they have high upfront costs. A typical electric car, say one sold by Elon Musk’s Tesla Company, costs as much as a luxury vehicle that runs on gasoline. The upfront costs of EVs place them out of reach of most middle and working class drivers. But that fact is about to change, according to a recent piece in Bloomberg.
Hillary Clinton compares Donald Trump to Richard Nixon at Wellesley commencement
Hillary Clinton [VIDEO] gave the commencement address to Wellesley College, where she graduated in 1969. She mentioned the latest fundraising vehicle that she has created, “Forward Together.” She also had a coughing fit of the sort that blighted a number of her campaign speeches when she last ran for president. But most of all, she compared Donald Trump to #Richard Nixon.
NASA announces the latest discoveries made by Juno at Jupiter
People have had an image of #Jupiter as a huge, gas giant with bands of clouds and the big, red spot ever since Galileo peeked at it through his telescope just over 500 years ago. While space probes like Pioneer, Voyager, and Galileo have vesting increased out knowledge of the biggest planet in the #Solar System, the latest visitor from Earth to come to Jupiter, #Juno, has given us a look never before available at that planet’s poles.
Female-only screening of ‘Wonder Woman’ touches off social media firestorm
When a movie theater in Austin, Texas decided to hold an advanced screening of the “Wonder Women” film, it decided to make the event a woman-only one, according to IO9. The exclusion of male fans has touched off a social media firestorm from people who objected to what they regarded as gender discrimination. The entertainment media, needless to say, has been less than sympathetic. Is “#Wonder Woman” about to be ruined by the same gender-based politics that sunk the all-female Ghostbusters last year?
‘Star Wars’ a movie forty years on
May 25, 2017, marked the 40th anniversary of the premiere of a movie called “#Star Wars.” The science fiction epic #Space Adventure became a cultural phenomenon, with the film’s first run lasting an entire year. The movie was a bright experience, full of color and zest that brightened the otherwise dreary later part of the 1970s.
Obama on the disaster in Syria: ‘At least we tried’
While President #Donald Trump was conducting his first foreign trip, winning plaudits even from his enemies, former President Barack #Obama was rambling about at the ruin of the world he had left behind. On #Syria, for instance, a butcher shop of competing, battling factions, including ISIS, Obama ruefully suggested that “at least we tried.” One is reminded of the line Yoda, the little green fellow in “Return of the Jedi,” which was, “Do or do not. There is no try.” When it came to preventing the Middle East from going up in flames, Obama did not.
Greg Gianfort body slams Montana special congressional election
Greg Gianfort beat Rob Quist soundly in the #Montana special congressional election. Not even a close contest, in the end. The margin of victory was about six points or over 23,000 votes, despite the fact that Gianfort allegedly assaulted a reporter from the UK Guardian. The candidate took the opportunity to apologize during his #Acceptance Speech.
Thursday, May 25, 2017
How a Frenchman ‘culturally appropriated’ Texas barbecue
When thinking about the story of the two unfortunate ladies in Portland, Oregon who were hounded out of business for the crime of culturally appropriating authentic Mexican tortillas, I suddenly remembered that an even greater example of this sort of thing has occurred. A couple of years ago the Houston Chronicle ran a story about how a Frenchman named Thomas Abramowicz visited Texas and acquired the secrets of the most delicious of culinary delights -- authentic #Texas Barbecue. Surely on the scale of cultural appropriation, this act is as heinous as Napoleon conquering most of Europe, or it might be if people in Texas were as OCD about that sort of thing as people in other states seem to be.
Bill Maher doubles down on hatred of Mars colonies
#Bill Maher, the ranting star of the HBO show “Real Time,” has doubled down on a recent diatribe against billionaires like #Elon Musk who want to colonize Mars. He has produced an animated video in partnership with the left-oriented media company ATTN, which Maher is an investor in. According to Deadline, Maher’s screed against moving to Mars is the backdrop of some cheesy animation in a definitely not safe for work video.
Is it time to rethink the problem of cleaning space junk?
The problem of #Space Debris has been something that has been discussed for decades, ever since someone noticed that everything humans have launched into low Earth orbit tends to stay there for a long time, even past their operational lives. Old satellites, rocket fairing, and even dropped tools and parts from space walks are flying around the Earth at thousands of miles an hour. Right now we occasionally have to move communications satellites or even the International Space Station to avoid getting hit. But, sooner than we think, the problem is going to become so dangerous that space debris will become a hazard to navigation in the heavens.
About how Greg Gianforte allegedly assaulted a reporter
At first glance, the story of how #Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate in a special House election in #Montana grabbed and body slammed Ben Jacobs, a reporter for the UK Guardian, to the floor is the stuff of campaign nightmares. The incident took place the day before the #Special Election and Gianforte has been charged with misdemeanor assault. To put the icing on the cake, an audio file exists of the incident, and it was witnessed by a Fox News reporter. Conventional wisdom suggests that the Republican has just thrown the election by losing his cool with an admittedly aggressive reporter.
A political feud breaks out between Sen. Al Franken and Sen. Ted Cruz
A good old fashioned political feud seems to have broken out between Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. The back and forth started when the media revealed that Franken had devoted a chapter in a memoir, which he entitled with a becoming lack of modesty, “Giant of the Senate,” in which he ruminates on how much he hates Ted Cruz. Cruz, for his part, was unamused and suggested that Franken was trying to increase book sales.
Kooks Burritos: is making tortillas while white 'Cultural Appropriation'?
As the UK Daily Mail suggests, a burrito food cart in Portland, Oregon using authentic Mexican recipes seemed like a good idea at the time. But two women who parlayed what they learned during a recent trip to Puerto Nuevo, Mexico about tortilla making ran into accusations of “#cultural appropriation” by the politically correct. The hate generated by a food blog in the Portland Mercury became so intense that the women, Kali Wilgus and Liz 'LC' Connelly, were obliged to close down their business, likely for their own safety.
Rocket Lab launches Electron into space but fails to achieve orbit
Rocket Lab, an American – New Zealand company, successfully launched its Electron rocket from its Mahia Peninsula launch site on the North Island of the country southeast of Australia. The small launch vehicle did not make it to orbit but did fly into space according to Peter Beck, CEO, and founder of the company. The first stage burned its engines, achieved separation, and then the second stage burned its engine and executed a fairing separation. The flight did not include a payload.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
DARPA chooses Boeing to build Phantom Express space plane
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA has announced that it has selected Boeing to develop the prototype of an autonomous, reusable space plane designed to put up small (up to 3,000-pound) satellites into low #Earth Orbit practically on demand. The #space plane will be called the Phantom Express and will, it is hoped, disrupt the satellite launch industry.
Latest trailer for new season of ‘Game of Thrones’ drops
The new #trailer for the upcoming season of “#Game of Thrones” has dropped. It looks like winter is not the only thing that has come to Westeros. It sounds like the final war for the throne of the Seven Kingdoms is drawing nigh. In the meantime, the white walker invasion that might make the entire game moot is brewing in the north. One can hardly wait until the show starts airing on HBO this July.
Katy Perry’s solution to terrorism is about what might be expected
The reactions to terrorist outrages such as the slaughter of the innocents at a concert in Manchester, Great Britain are sadly predictable. Politicians will condemn the barbarity of the act and vow to take measures to make sure it doesn’t happen again – at least until it does. Media talking heads will lecture piously about Islamophobia, pointed out that most Muslims do not blow themselves up to slaughter little girls. Singer Katy Perry is the first from the entertainment industry to weigh on the matter and what she had to say was a real beauty.
Jon Stewart deal with HBO falls apart
#Jon Stewart’s post-Daily Show career has not been quite as fruitful as one might have expected for the original purveyor of fake news for a generation of credulous millennials who took his shtick to be the real thing. Stewart’s career as an independent film director never took off, his one effort about an Iranian dissident having failed to gain audiences. Now a deal for Stewart to produce topical, #Animated Shorts for HBO has fallen through.
‘Top Gun 2’ ready to fly into the danger zone
Ever since “Top Gun,” the Tom Cruise led drama about a naval aviator finding romance and his life’s meaning at the United States Navy’s Top Gun school, blazed across the big screen in the Reagan eighties, fans have wondered when and if there would be a sequel. Cruise has announced that the “#Top Gun 2” is finally going to happen and will begin filming next year.
The Americans: Regarding Henry
The horrific psychological effects of keeping her parents’ secrets on Paige, the daughter of the two KGB agents named Philip and Elizabeth, have already been noted. But the recent second to the last episode of the current season of “#The Americans” shows that their son, Henry, is in deadly peril of losing his future if his parents go through with their desire to return home to the #Soviet Union, presumably taking their two American children with them.
Trump meeting with Pope Francis said to be stiff and strained
President Donald Trump arrived at the Vatican for the third stop of his first foreign trip while in office and was received by #Pope Francis. The #Meeting appeared to be stiff and strained, which is understandable considering the sharp exchanges the two men have had over immigration. But the mood brightened considerably when the two men exchanged gifts, according to the Washington Examiner.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
NASA’s asteroid redirect mission may be dead
The final NASA budget that will emerge from Congress will likely change substantially from the request made by the Trump administration. One thing that will almost certainly not change is the cancellation of the asteroid redirect mission (ARM) that evolved out of President Barack Obama’s 2010 mandate to send astronauts to an asteroid in advance of a mission to Mars. According to "Air and Space," NASA is already planning to reuse some of the technology developed under ARM for other purposes in its plans for deep space exploration.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu explains the removal of Confederate statues
When the city of #new orleans decided to take down public statues of Confederate war heroes, the decision touched off a controversy over what some saw as the erasure of history and what others call a reevaluation of an unsavory period in which the “lost cause” of the Confederacy was celebrated. New Orleans #Mayor #Mitch Landrieu, now that the removal of the statues is a fait accompli, laid out the reasons for the decision. Landrieu made a number of compelling points.
Farewell Roger Moore, rogue, gambler, gentleman, and super spy
#Roger Moore, who died Tuesday at the age of 89, specialized in playing roguish, sophisticated characters who had fun while saving the day and, of course, getting the girl. He was rarely deep in his portrayals, but he was always entertaining.
Monica Lewinsky blames Roger Ailes for her troubles
We can count #Monica Lewinsky as one of the people who is not sorry that the late #Roger Ailes is dead. She has named in a New York Times op-ed the former Fox News Channel CEO as the author of all of her problems, which include being held up for ridicule and humiliation as a young intern back during the scandal to which she lent her name and her difficulty getting dates decades after the torrid affair that led to the president’s impeachment. In the history of people not taking responsibility for their actions, the article is breathtaking.
How electric, self-driving cars will change the riding experience
The nature of car travel is about to change more profoundly than when the mass-produced Model T was introduced to the roads of America. For one thing, people will no longer drive cars, leaving that task to the onboard navigation system. Also, the switch from the internal combustion engine to electric powered cars is going to drive changes in interior design that are going to alter the experience of being in a #Motor Vehicle, according to Wired.
Why the suicide bomber targeted children in Manchester
The terrorist outrage at an Ariana Grande concert in #Manchester, #great britain was part of a strategy aimed at demoralizing and frightening people in the western world to stop resisting the worldwide jihad and, eventually, submit to Islam. Children were targeted deliberately to enhance the horror and to send a message that “immoral” behavior is not going to be tolerated.
Monday, May 22, 2017
California just got the price tag for single-payer healthcare, and it's huge
California is the latest state of the union flirting with the idea of inflicting a single-payer, government-run healthcare system on its residents. Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight. Democrats enjoy super-majorities in the state legislature. So, the theory goes, no time will ever be better for a government takeover of healthcare in California. However, a state financial analysis has thrown a monkey into the wrench, as it were. The costs of going single-payer would be enormous, even by the blue state's tax and spending- happy standards.
The best way to cook a chicken breast on a charcoal grill
One of the most difficult things to cook on a charcoal grill is a boneless chicken breast. All too often the result is something that is burnt on the outside and dry on the inside. However, a few simple steps will ensure that cooking your chicken breasts with fire will produce something that is juicy and succulent every time.
Astronomers scramble to observe strange dimming of KIC 8462852
According to Phys.org, astronomers around the world are scrambling to turn their telescopes on a star called KIC 8462852, also known as Boyajian's star or Tabby’s star. The star, which has been observed since 1890, was studied by a team led by Dr. Tabby Boyajian at Yale University. In 2015, the Yale Team announced something strange about the star. While most stars dim and brighten periodically, when a planet moves between them and Earth, Boyajian's star dims in an unpredictable manner and seems to have done so since the first observations. During one dimming episode, light from the star decreased by 22 percent. A Jupiter-sized object would have caused just a three percent dip.
If Trump is Putin’s Manchurian Candidate why is he acting against Russia?
Most people who have been paying attention know the conspiracy theory being spread by Democrats that President Donald #trump is Vladimir Putin’s Manchurian Candidate. In the remake of the movie, Trump, having taken the oath of office and made the speech and then gotten into the limo for the parade. Then his control – in my imagining it’s Ivanka – says, sweetly, “Daddy, why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?” Then the new POTUS would get his instructions from the Kremlin. However, as Pajamas Media suggests, something seems to have gone wrong. Trump is not working in the best interests of Russia.
Elon Musk attacked with ‘Whitey on Mars’ blood libel
One would have thought that the hoary old debate of space exploration vs. social programs would have been left on the ash heap of history. However, a recent article in Aeon, “Whitey on Mars” brings the race baiting and poverty pimping attack on space exploration to the age of commercial space and entrepreneurial buccaneers like #Elon Musk. The article is a full-throated attack on Musk’s dream of building colonies on Mars. Fortunately, the attack is answered with great eloquence by Earle Kyle, one of the few #African American engineers to work on the Apollo program.
Jerry Brown may regret calling California tax rebels ‘freeloaders’
If #California Gov. #Jerry Brown thought that he was going to tamp down the latest #Tax revolt in his state by calling the rebels “freeloaders” then, according to a recent article in the Washington Times, he might want to think again. The leaders of a movement to place a referendum on the 2018 ballot to repeal a massive tax increase on gas, diesel, and auto licensing fees reports being deluged with calls with offers to volunteer. The same was the case for a separate but related effort to recall State Sen. Josh Newman, a vulnerable Democrat targeted for his support of the tax bill.
Donald Trump brings the Art of the Deal to Israel
President of the United States #Donald Trump has arrived in #Israel on the second stop of his first international trip. He was welcomed with great ceremony by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a host of dignitaries, and a guard of honor. Israelis are looking forward to the president’s visit with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
President Donald Trump throws down the gauntlet on terrorism
#President Donald Trump threw down the gauntlet to leaders of 55 Islamic countries in a speech in Saudi Arabia in which he not only urged them to unite in a war against Islamist terrorism but called for a new birth of tolerance in the #Middle East between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. The tone of the speech was as much religious as it was political.
President Donald Trump has gone to Saudi Arabia ready to do business
Besides going to #Saudi Arabia to create an Arab NATO and to exhort the Sunni Arab states to reject jihadism and to join the war on terror, #President Donald Trump went prepared to do business. Not only did the president sign a $110 billion arms deal ($350 billion over ten years) but facilitated $50 billion in business with American companies that will have a profound impact on the United States economy.
Jeff Bezos lays out his vision for a lunar settlement for school children
Amazon and Blue Origin CEO #Jeff Bezos was at the Seattle Museum of Flight recently when he conducted a #Question And Answer session with a group of school children. The event took place against a backdrop of the museum’s Apollo exhibit which features pieces of an F1 Saturn V engine that Bezos had recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic as well as an intact F1 that was never flown during the talk and question and answer. The Internet billionaire laid out his vision of a lunar settlement.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Why having AI as a president is a stupid idea
A recent article in Wired offers the modest proposal of electing an artificial intelligence computer as #President of the #United States. The theory is that an AI president would not make dumb decisions based on ego or any other human failing. The idea is a supremely stupid one, even if one has never seen a science fiction film in which such things go terribly wrong.
Alabama lawmakers move to preserve symbols of the Confederacy in the state
Ever since Dylann Roof massacred a number of African American parishioners while at Bible study, politicians throughout the south have been scrambling to remove every vestige of the old #Confederacy and the Civil War. Schools which were named after #Civil War figures are being renamed. Confederate battle flags are being hauled down from public spaces. New Orleans has even gone so far as to remove public statues of Confederate figures such as Robert E. Lee. However, the state of Alabama is moving in a slightly different direction where it comes to Confederate heritage.
How Ted Cruz saved us from the RompHim
Few people, especially his enemies, would ascribe to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas a sense of humor, not to mention consider him an arbiter of men’s fashion. But, thanks to a caption contest run by the Washington Free Beacon, he seems to have accomplished both roles with alacrity. Cruz also may have “ruined” or saved us from, depending on one’s point of view, men’s rompers or, as some are calling it, the RompHim.
Friday, May 19, 2017
New York Times: Beto O’Rourke is 2018’s version of Wendy Davis
The #New York Times has an interesting piece about Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who is running to take Ted Cruz’s Senate seat away from him. O’Rourke, by all accounts, has become the latest heartthrob of Democrats, especially those who have never sullied themselves by actually visiting the Lone Star State. Surely this time O’Rourke will turn deep red Texas blue by defeating Ted Cruz. Sadly, from the point of view of the left, O’Rourke is likely to be 2018’s version of #Wendy Davis.
New York Times: Beto O’Rourke is 2018’s version of Wendy Davis
The #New York Times has an interesting piece about Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who is running to take Ted Cruz’s Senate seat away from him. O’Rourke, by all accounts, has become the latest heartthrob of Democrats, especially those who have never sullied themselves by actually visiting the Lone Star State. Surely this time O’Rourke will turn deep red Texas blue by defeating Ted Cruz. Sadly, from the point of view of the left, O’Rourke is likely to be 2018’s version of #Wendy Davis.
Anthony Weiner cops a plea to sexting a 15-year old girl
The fall of #Anthony Weiner, whose once promising career in Congress was cut short by a sexting scandal, is now all but complete. He has copped a plea admitting to transmitting obscene material to a minor, a 15-year-old girl, which is a felony with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, though he may get just two years. At the same time, his long-suffering wife, Huma Abedin, a consigliere to #Hillary Clinton, has filed for divorce. There will be no reconciliation.
About what happened on ‘The Blacklist’ season four (spoilers)
“#The Blacklist” has finished its fourth #season with some tumultuous changes in the lives of several of its characters, especially the James Spader character, Ray Reddington. The series also concluded for the spring with not just one but two big reveals.
Bob Beckel fired from Fox News – again
#Bob Beckel, the long term on-again, off-again liberal talking head at #Fox News, has been fired from the cable news network – again. This time he was said to have made “an insensitive remark to an African-American employee.” One would have to assume, though it is by no means certain, that the remark was racial in nature. Beckel, as one of the original co-hosts of the panel discussion shows, “The Five,” was famous for his “insensitive” remarks during the many political back-and-forth arguments that took place on the program.
Russian space chief casts doubt on SpaceX moon mission
When SpaceX’s Elon Musk first announced that he had two paying customers willing to take a trip around the moon on a specially outfitted Dragon spacecraft launched by a #Falcon Heavy in 2018, the announcement was met with a combination of excitement and skepticism. The excitement stems from the fact that Musk is one of the cool kids in the aerospace community and such announcement, such as the one about the Mars colony, are given a certain weight that no one else, even NASA, enjoys. The skepticism comes from the other fact that Musk has a tendency not to hit targets he has set for himself. The Falcon Heavy, for example, due to be test launched later in 2017, is years behind schedule.
California Gov. Jerry Brown snarks that tax opponents are ‘freeloaders’
The burgeoning tax revolt taking place in California has given conservatives hope that, at long last, Californians have grown tired of the #Abusive Relationship they have with their state government. Certainly, Gov. #Jerry Brown is not amused. He recently called those people who are objecting to a new tax hike on gasoline and diesel, along with an increase in auto licensing fees, as “freeloaders.”
Are you ready for FBI Director Joe Lieberman?
The name of former Sen. #Joe Lieberman has risen to the top of the list for a new FBI Director according to a number of reports. The notion seems to run counter to the conventional wisdom among political observers that President #Donald Trump should choose someone who is a non-politician with heavy law enforcement experience. Lieberman, though a life-long Democrat, is pretty much hated by the base of that party. Ironically he is very popular among Republican senators.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Report: Jim Bridenstine to NASA and Scott Pace to the National Space Council
One of the burning questions facing the Trump Administration is when to roll out a new #Space policy. News reports abound about plans to an early return to the moon and commercial partnerships. We also know that the president intends to reestablish the White House National Space Council, to be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. But highest in the minds of space policy observers is who will be nominated to be #NASA administrator, and who will be nominated to direct the National Space Council? NASA Watch is reporting that those people are likely to be Jim Bridenstine, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma, and Scott Pace, a former NASA official, respectively.
Statewide ride-sharing bill passes Texas Legislature
The #Texas Legislature has passed a bill that establishes a statewide regulatory regime for ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft. The bill was drafted in response to a number of local governments such as #Austin’s which imposed onerous regulations, mandating fingerprinting of drivers, that resulted in the two major ride-sharing companies leaving the cities where such rules were imposed. The bill is headed to the desk of Gov. Gregg Abbott who is expected to sign it. The moment the bill goes into effect, both Uber and Lyft intend to return to Austin and expand their services throughout Texas.
Does President Donald Trump have a persecution complex?
Twice in about a week, #President Donald Trump suggested that he is being persecuted more than any other politician in history. He said so before the graduating class at the Coast Guard Academy, claiming, “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.” Then he tweeted, just after Robert Mueller was appointed as a special counsel to investigate alleged ties between Russia and his campaign. “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” He also complained that he was being subjected to a double standard that was not applied to President Barack Obama or #Hillary Clinton.
‘Young Sheldon’ is a portrait of an annoying genius and a young boy
Spinoffs of hit TV shows rarely turn out well. But, if the trailer for “Young Sheldon.,” the spinoff of “The Big Bang Theory,” is any indication of the quality of the series, it might be the exception. The series, due to air in the fall, is essentially a portrait of an annoying genius as an even annoying #Young Boy. Nine-year-old Sheldon Cooper, living in a town in East Texas, is being bumped up to the ninth grade. What could go wrong?
How Roger Ailes changed the face of TV news forever
While it is unfortunate that #Roger Ailes went out of #Fox News and now out of life under a cloud of accusations of sexual harassment, that circumstance should not overshadow the enormity of how he changed the face of television news. No one who came of age after October 1996, the month Fox News came on the air, will understand the extent of his accomplishment. In a way, FNC has made more people mad than what Ailes is alleged to have done to female employees.
Ted Cruz to hold hearings on whether and how to amend the Outer Space Treaty
Space News is reporting that Sen. #Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the chair of the Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA, intends to conduct the second in a series of hearing regarding the future of the space program and commercial space. The subject of the planned May 23 hearings is the #outer space treaty and how it might be amended to account for the realities of 21st Century space exploration which is increasingly featuring private players as well as national space agencies.
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller appointed special counsel
Donald Trump Administration The boiling scandals that have emerged inside of it have come to the stage that by now seems inevitable. The bad news is that not more than a few months into the Trump presidency, a special counsel has been appointed. The good news is that person is #Robert Mueller, a former #Fbi Director who served under both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Muller is well respected by both Republicans and Democrats and has a reputation for honesty and fairness. He is considered incorruptible and impervious to intimidation.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Donald Trump to propose an ‘Arab NATO’ during a visit to Saudi Arabia
One of the initiatives that President #Donald Trump intends to announce during the stop in #Saudi Arabia is the creation of what the White House calls an “#Arab NATO.” The idea is that pro-western Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, would band together for mutual defense against enemies such as ISIS and Iran. The United States would provide a great deal of material and technical support to help bind the new alliance together. The massive Saudi arms deal is the first installment of that support.
Michael Moore declares that his next movie will bring down Donald Trump
#Michael Moore, the rotund left-wing, documentary filmmaker, fell on hard times during the Obama years, like many other people. He has not had a film of note since 2007’s “Sicko,” his polemic for government-run health care. Now, according to the Washington Times, Moore is reaching back to his glory days, when the anti-Bush movie “Fahrenheit 9/11” made him the voice of the anti-war and terror on the left. Get ready for the sequel, “Fahrenheit 11/9” the film that will, in its director’s view, will bring down the #Donald Trump presidency.
In ‘The Americans’ Philip & Elizabeth reach their breaking point (spoilers)
In the most recent episode of “The Americans,” entitled “Dyatkovo,” the two KGB spies are given what might be considered a dream assignment. They are tasked with tracking down and identifying a Nazi collaborator who has been living in the #United States since soon after the end of World War II. After they have confirmed her identity, they are to terminate her with extreme prejudice. If there are anybody that both Soviets and Americans hate with equal passion, it is the Nazis. The mission, as it turns out, is not quite as satisfying as one would think.
Can Elon Musk beat NASA in a race to Mars?
CNBC is reporting that SpaceX’s #Elon Musk may actually beat NASA to Mars, perhaps within the Trump presidency. While NASA’s #Journey To Mars program will not see astronaut boots on the Red Planet until sometime in the 2030s, Musk in contemplating launching a crew of his own as early as 2024, which would be in the last year of a hypothetical Trump second term. But, a number of problems exist that need solving before Musk can accomplish his dream of sending people to Mars.
NASA accused of inviting an alien invasion
A recent story in the American Spectator is accusing NASA of inviting an #Alien Invasion of Earth. At issues are deep space probes, including Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, and #New Horizons that have either already left the solar system or will do so eventually. Each of these space probes contains plaques and other material meant for the attention of any aliens who might come across them in the interstellar gulfs.
Rosie O’Donnell endorses Ted Cruz’s opponent
The Hill is reporting that Rosie O’Donnell announced on Twitter how she has maxed out on her contributions to Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Texas Democrat who is running to take Sen. #Ted Cruz’s Senate seat away from him. Cruz, employing some political jujitsu, is fundraising off of the tweet, pleading with Texans to in effect, save the Lone Star State from O’Donnell and other “out of touch liberals.”
Report suggests that Trump tried to get Comey to shut down Flynn investigation
A report in the #New York Times that President Donald Trump allegedly tried to influence then FBI Director James Comey to wrap up an investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has caused the latest firestorm and headache for the #White House. Democrats are calling for a special counsel and are even hinting at impeachment. Some media reports suggest that the Trump administration is teetering on the brink of collapse. But is the story much to do about very little? Some details suggest that it might be.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson edges out President Trump in a 2020 match-up
It was probably inevitable that someone would take a poll ever since Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson suggested that he would like to run for president once the action hero gig runs its course. A PPP poll has Johnson edging out President #Donald Trump 43 percent to 36 percent. Of course, Trump supporters, even those who are fans of the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, will likely shrug. The president has always outperformed the polls, which, as late as November 7, had #Hillary Clinton edging him out by single digits.
An unflattering portrait of Buzz Aldrin causes a media controversy
A recent unflattering portrait of #Buzz Aldrin in The Space Review by Dr. Dwayne Day has kicked up a controversy over how much American heroes should be respected, whether or not that have unsettling idiosyncrasies. Aldrin, who is in the winter of his life at the age of 86, has been a tireless advocate for sending people to Mars since the 1980s. He also has a well-deserved reputation of seeking out media attention for its own sake. Keith Cowing, of NASA Watch, warmly supported the second man to walk on the moon.
How a story about Kellyanne Conway ‘hating’ President Trump damaged the media
Recently a story in the Washington Post stated that #President Trump had revealed classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to United States. A large number of people, as expressed in social media and calls to conservative radio talk shows, do not believe the report on the theory that the #mainstream media is out to get Trump and will stop at nothing to tear him down. Conservative Trump supporters have distrusted the media since the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign. Perhaps the fact that the media have gotten things wrong about Trump, or judge him by a different standard than they do politicians they prefer, has something to do about it.
Support for same-sex marriage rising, even among Republicans
As Hot Air notes, a recent Gallup Poll indicates that 47 percent of Republicans now favor the right to same-sex marriage. 74 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Independents now support gay marriage as well, with 64 percent of all Americans supporting the practice.The previous year support among Republicans was at 40 percent, according to Gallup. Two years after the #Supreme Court Ruling that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, it is useful to figure out why support for people to marry others of the same sex has been steadily rising and why the controversy is fading, unlike with abortion in the wake of Roe v, Wade.
Mars exploration advocate condemns NASA deep space station plan
NASA recently revealed that, as part of its Journey to Mars program, it intends to build a deep #Space Station in lunar orbit. The purpose of such a station would be to test systems that would be needed for the eventual expedition to Mars, which would include a year-long stay by astronauts in the late 2020s.
Did the president compromise the intelligence asset of an American ally?
A claim by the Washington Post that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to the #Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the United States that compromised a third country source inside ISIS has touched off a firestorm. Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, denied that such a thing ever took place.
Monday, May 15, 2017
Fans call for boycott of ABC over cancellation of ‘Last Man Standing’
ABC has canceled “#Last Man Standing” a sitcom starring #Tim Allen after six seasons, even though the ratings for the series were second only to “Modern Family.” Fans of the show have expressed outrage, expressing the opinion that the action was taken in retaliation for Allen’s outspoken conservative beliefs and his support of #Donald Trump as president of the United States. Calls for a boycott of the network are starting to be heard as a result of the cancellation.
Miss USA's answer about healthcare rocks the Internet
#Kara McCullough would have been a most extraordinary #Miss USA even if it had not been for the answer to a question she was asked about whether healthcare is a right or a privilege. Besides being African-American and representing the District of Columbia, she is a radiochemist working for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She is the child of a Marine and has lived all over the world. Considering all of those factors, Ms. McCullough might be expected to answer the healthcare question in one way. In fact, she had the exact opposite take on the matter.
By 2030 private car ownership will be rare according to study
By the year 2030, 13 years in the future, private ownership of motor vehicles will be a thing of the past for most #people. That is the conclusion of a study conducted by American think tank RethinkX, according to Australian news site RenewEconomy.
Rocket Lab announces the first test flight of the Electron launch vehicle
Space News is reporting that Rocket Lab, an American-New Zealand launch company, has announced when it intends to launch its first Electron rocket. The company has announced that it will perform a test launch from its facility on the Mahia Peninsula on New Zealand's North Island. The Electron will not carry a satellite, and the first launch will be outside the view of the public. The flight will be the first of three test launches that Rocket Lab intends to conduct before proceeding with commercial operations.
Students devise how to make the moon into a refueling depot
The concept of mining #Lunar Ice and refining it into #Rocket Fuel has been around for the past few years. A recent study at MIT suggested that using the moon as a refueling depot would lower the cost and decrease the complexity of a mission to Mars, the idea being that the interplanetary ship would not have to carry all the fuel it needed all the way from Earth. According to LiveScience, a group of students has devised a plan for how that mining, refining, and refueling process might work. The students are Gary Li from the University of California, Los Angeles, Danielle DeLatte from the University of Tokyo, Jerome Gilleron from Georgia Institute of Technology; Samuel Wald from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Therese Jones from Pardee RAND Graduate School.
Trump and the Republicans go bold for tax reform
The Washington Examiner is reporting that the Trump Administration and congressional Republicans are undertaking #Tax Reform that they feel will be even more transformational than the ones adopted during the Reagan presidency. The approach will be to cut tax rates for both individuals and businesses, including small businesses that generally do not incorporate, and at the same time cut out a large number of deductions. The corporate tax rate would be reduced to 15 percent, for example, making the United States a more attractive place to invest in. The new tax code would remove a lot of distortion that the old one has created in the American economy, hence fostering economic growth and job creation.
Latest North Korean missile test has United States considering options
The Washington Post is reporting that #North Korea has tested a new missile that national security experts fear is one step closer to a working ICBM capable of delivering a nuclear weapon. The missile was launched from a site near the #North Korean border with China, flew in a high arc of 1240 miles, and then hit the ocean 435 miles away from the launch pad.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Tax revolt brewing in California
People in deep blue #California may have had, at long last, enough. According to the Washington Times, a revolt is brewing over a massive, $52.4 billion tax hike imposed to finance an infrastructure repair and mass transit program. A drive has been mounted to put an initiative on the ballot to repeal the measure. Opponents are also starting a recall petition to oust state Sen. Josh Newman, a Democrat, seen as having cast the deciding vote for the tax increase. The proposition would be slated to go on the 2018 ballot, same time as the mid-term elections.
Michelle Obama accuses Trump of wanting the feed school kids ‘crap’
Several weeks ago, Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue ordered a rollback of some of the school lunch mandates that had been imposed on American public schools at the behest of former First Lady Michelle Obama. The changes seemed minor enough. Permissible salt levels were raised. Schools would be able to opt not to serve whole grain meals. Students would be offered one percent milk instead of fat-free. However, during a recent speech, Mrs. Obama reacted badly to what was, in effect, a change that would wipe out her legacy.
NBC decides to uncancel ‘Timeless’ after all
What a difference a few days makes. Of all the show cancellations that took place over the past few weeks, the one that NBC inflicted on “Timeless” seemed to be the most aggravating. “Timeless” depicted a trio of time travelers who were chasing a criminal throughout history to stop him from changing crucial events while at the same time unmasking a conspiracy so immense that it was spread out over time as well as space.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
Kenneth Branagh’s next project may be ‘Keeper of the Diary’
Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Kenneth Branagh is in talks to star in and direct a movie entitled “Keeper of the Diary.” The film will depict the struggles of #Otto Frank to find a publisher for his daughter’s diary, kept when she, along with her family and others, were hiding in the secret annex in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of Holland. The Franks and their friends were eventually caught and sent to concentration camps. Otto was the sole survivor of the group.
Trump administration nears $100 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia
The #trump administration is reported to be near an arms deal with #Saudi Arabia which will be initially worth $100 billion and eventually as much as $300 billion. The deal would enhance the desert kingdom’s ability to participate in the war on terror and to confront Iran. The agreement would not, coincidentally, be a big boost to American manufacturing and job creation. The deal may be announced during President Trump’s upcoming foreign trip which includes a stop in Saudi Arabia.
NASA and the White House decide not to send people around the moon in 2019
NASA announced that, after due consideration of a proposal by the #White House to put a crew on the first flight of the Orion spacecraft launched by a heavy lift #space launch system around the moon, that it will stick with the original plan to keep the mission uncrewed.
Friday, May 12, 2017
Ursula K. Le Guin’s ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ coming to television
Variety is reporting that Critical Content picked up the TV rights to Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1969 science fiction novel “The #Left Hand of Darkness.” The material will be developed for television with Le Guin serving as a consulting producer. Le Guin has had two novels, “Earthsea” and “The Lathe of Heaven” previously adapted for the small screen.
Bill O’Reilly vows revenge on the ‘left wing cabal’ that drove him off the air
Bill O’Reilly, the long-time Fox News talking head, has not been heard from since he left on his vacation to the Vatican during which he was terminated from his show in connection with accusations of sexual harassment of female staffers and guests. O’Reilly recently granted an interview with Glenn Beck, a talk radio and Internet media mogul who had a show on Fox News several years ago. According to the Hollywood Reporter, O’Reilly vowed legal action against a “left-wing cabal” he says was behind the accusations and his subsequent dismissals.
China mulling a plan to capture an asteroid for eventual mining
The South #china Morning Post is reporting that the Chinese are considering a much more ambitious version of #Asteroid Redirect Mission that NASA has proposed. The idea is to find a resource-rich asteroid, attach rockets to it, and then fire it into #lunar orbit within the next decade. Eventually, the asteroid would be mined for its resources. However, the Chinese do not anticipate having the technology for large scale space mining for another four decades.
Tax lawyer statement fails to reassure Trump critics on Russian ties
To tamp down the furor over President #Donald Trump’s tax returns, which the president has successfully concealed from the media, his political opponents, and the American people, Trump’s tax lawyers have released a statement that not only didn’t help but may have made things worse. Essentially. Trump has not made any money from business deals with Russians nor does he owe any Russians money, with “few exceptions.” That last caveat had many people tittering on social media, removing any beneficial impact the statement may have had.
What just happened on ‘The Big Bang Theory?’
It’s time to discuss what happened on the season finale of “The #big bang theory,” the long-running sitcom about the socially maladjusted geniuses and the women who love them. The show has lasted so long because of the various ways that it has allowed the characters to grow and develop beyond the initial premise. Leonard married Penny, the pretty, wonderful girl next door. Now it is #Sheldon Cooper’s turn to grow as the result of a love of a woman.
What happens if the first intelligent life we find is more primitive than us?
One of the memes of science fiction has been what might happen if an advanced alien civilization contacted the Earth. The scenario has appeared on film ranging from cerebral offerings such as “Arrival” and “Contact” to more action oriented alien invasion stories such as “Independence Day.” However, a recent article in Discover invites us to consider what may happen if Earth discovers a preindustrial civilization residing on another Earth-like planet. Then Earth will be the advanced aliens with some decisions to make about dealing with the primitives.
Report: NASA cautions against crew on first flight of the Space Launch System
According to Bloomberg, a #NASA study has recommended against putting a crew on the first flight of an Orion launched on a heavy-lift #space launch system rocket. The study, ordered by acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot in the wake of the Trump Administration requesting a look at the scheme’s feasibility, suggests that immense scheduling and funding problems exist to execute the idea. Also, NASA is very leery about launching a new rocket with a crew on it for the first time.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
SpaceX’s Elon Musk may send two Red Dragons to Mars in 2020
ArsTechnica is reporting that SpaceX is mulling the possibility of sending not just one but two Red Dragon landers to Mars in 2020. The theory is that the challenges of landing such a heavy vehicle on the Martian surface are so great that a little redundancy would be in order. If the first landing attempt fails, then it would provide enough data for the second try to be successful.
In the wake of Comey’s firing, Democrats call for a special counsel
One of the fallouts of the furor surrounding President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey has been calls by Senate Democrats, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, for the appointment of a #Special Counsel to investigate contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Democrats are pretty sure that Comey was getting too close to some imagined conspiracy between Trump and Vladimir Putin. Hence the president fired the FBI Director. The theory is ludicrous because the FBI investigation will proceed apace no matter who is running the Bureau.
NASA envisions a deep space gateway in lunar orbit to support Mars missions
Space.com is reporting that, as part of its #Journey To Mars program, NASA may conduct a yearlong mission in #lunar orbit sometime in the late 2020s. The announcement was made at a recent Humans to Mars Summit that took place in Washington D.C, by Greg Williams, NASA's deputy associate administrator for policy and plans in the agency's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
China conducting simulated moon base tests inside a ‘Lunar Palace’
Demonstrating that China is serious about pursuing a return to the moon program, Phys.org reports that a simulated #Moon Base experiment is being conducted using a 1,170 square foot facility called "Yuegong-1", or "#Lunar Palace.” Four postgraduate students, two men, and two women have entered the sealed lab to conduct tests of #Closed Loop environmental systems that will be needed for the long-term settlement of the moon.
Michael Dowd declines an independent run against Ted Cruz for the senate
Sen #Ted Cruz, R-Texas received some more good news in advance of his campaign for a second term as a #United States senator. Mathew Dowd, a political commentator and former official in the Bush 43 White House, has declined to launch an independent bid for Cruz’s seat. Previously, Democratic Rep Joaquin Castro decided to pass on a run against Cruz. That leaves only Rep.Beto O’Rourke as a Cruz challenger, thus far.
‘Timeless,’ NBC’s time travel adventure series, has been canceled
“Timeless,” which finished its first and now the only season on NBC, was one of the more intelligent #Time Travel series to have debuted last fall. The premise was that a mad man was going through time to destroy history as a way to exact revenge against a shadowy conspiracy that had murdered his family. A trio of time travelers went in hot pursuit to try to stop him, while at the same time unraveling a secret that had persisted for centuries and had affected #American History in various ways. Unfortunately, NBC has decided to pass on giving the show a second season. Absent the remote possibility of another network picking up the show, “Timeless” has finished its run..
Trump to arm Syrian Kurds for offensive against ISIS
The Washington Free Beacon reports that the Trump Administration has decided to provide the Kurdish YPG with small arms, including rifles, machine guns, and mortars, along with ammunition, with a view for the rebel force assisting in the taking of Raqqa. Raqqa is the de facto capital of ISIS in Syria, containing currently some 4,000 fighters. The taking of the town is central to American strategy in destroying the terrorist army in Syria. However, the move places the #United States on a collision course with its ally Turkey, which regards the Syrian Kurd force as part of a terrorist group that is trying to create a separate Kurdish nation, partly on Turkish territory.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
How Stephen Colbert was flummoxed when his audience cheered Comey’s firing
One of the funniest aspects of the firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Trump is how the left is tying itself in knots to make Comey the victim and Trump the bad guy. This phenomenon is happening after months of demanding Comey’s head for allegedly handing the election to Trump by talking too much about the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. Things got so bad that #Stephen Colbert, who has made the monolog of “The Late Show” into a nightly two-minute hate against the president, was tripped up when he had announced the firing that had happened minutes before taping.
Why ‘The Americans’ is as much about child abuse as it is espionage
The most recent episode of “The Americans,” entitled “Darkroom” was proof that the series has become just as much about a peculiar kind of #Child Abuse as it is about mid-1980s Cold War espionage. Paige, the daughter of the two deep cover KGB spies, has been quietly going insane from the stress of keeping the terrible secret that her parents have been keeping since before she was born.
Are you ready for President Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson?
Blame it on Ronald Reagan, who made the leap from radio broadcaster to actor to #Governor Of California to #President of the United States to world historical figure for winning the Cold War. A lot of Hollywood stars reach a point in their careers when they start to mull the possibility of going into politics. Part of the motivation is the “I could better than those clowns in office.” Part of it is a natural ego that comes from being a beloved movie star that many think can be translated into that other performance art, politics. In any case, Dwayne “the #Rock” Johnson is the latest to imagine himself in the Oval Office.
How the anti-GMO and anti-vaccination movements are linked
Alex Berezow at Asch suggested that the anti-#gmo movement and the anti-vaccination movement are one in the same. At the very least the two groups are linked ideologically and are primarily comprised of the same people.
SpaceX conducts ground static test of the Falcon Heavy core
Space News noted that SpaceX recently did s static test fire of the core stage of its #Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, currently scheduled for a test launch late in the summer of 2017. The firing is a crucial step for the rollout of the long awaited and often delayed launch vehicle.The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper
Iranian satellite program seen as a cover for developing an ICBM
Iran is preparing to launch two satellites into space but, as the Washington Free Beacon notes, the #trump administration is pretty sure that it’s a cover for an ICBM program. The nightmare scenario being mulled by national security experts involves the Iranians launching a nuclear warhead to explode over the central United States. The resulting EMP pulse would send much of North America back to the Middle Ages, killing tens of millions of people by inches as technological civilization is destroyed. This prospect is a gift that Barack Obama gave the country he used to govern thanks to his misbegotten nuclear weapons deal. Team Obama has been beating its collective chest about how the deal allegedly denied Iran a nuclear arsenal. In fact, the deal enabled it.
The real reason President Trump fired James Comey
President Donald Trump has fired FBI Director #James Comey. This was not a case of “I want your resignation on my desk in the morning” but rather Celebrity Apprentice style, “You’re fired!” Comey found out just as he was about to give a speech in California. He had to undergo the added humiliation of heading for the airport as a news helicopter followed him.
Tuesday, May 09, 2017
Report: Americans are headed on a voyage around the moon in 2019
Parabolic Arc notes that Chris B at NASASpaceFlight.com has tweeted that the decision to go with a crew on the first flight of the Orion-Space Launch System has been made. The Trump administration had requested from NASA an evaluation as to whether the plan is practical. The flight, if Chris is correct, would take place in 2019. Putting astronauts on the first flight of the Orion on top of the heavy lift SLS has a whole host of advantages, tangible and intangible. The gambit also carries with it some serious risks.
Donald Trump regards Elizabeth Warren as the greatest threat for 2020
President #Donald Trump was elected about eight months ago and has been president for less than four months. But. According to the Hill Newspaper, the White House has decided that it is not too early to think about 2020. The Team Trump views Sen. #Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass as their most likely opponent in three years. Warren has lots of popularity with the left wing of the Democratic Party, combining the radical politics of her fellow senator, Bernie Sanders, and the gender identity that Hillary Clinton tried to ride to the Oval Office, as it turns out to no avail.
Why are millennial women really dating older men?
The story that an increasing number of #Millennial Women want to date older #Men was, to say the least, intriguing to this aging baby boomer. Apparently, it all boils down to a remarkable number of millennial men relying on Tinder to pick up women, have sex with them, and then cast them aside like a bottle that their favorite craft beer came in. What it all boils down to is that women, even in the 18 to 35 year old demographic, want to be treated like a lady. They want to be appreciated as a human being, with intelligence and feelings. They don’t want their lives to be one empty hookup after another.
Jimmy Carter reveals himself to be a Berniebro
Former President Jimmy Carter said two remarkable things while at an event with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont at the Carter Center in #Georgia. The first thing was that he voted for Sanders over Clinton, presumably during the primaries. The second point was a claim that if 80 percent of the American people voted the Republicans would be a “distinct minority.” That was a remarkable statement coming out of the mouth of a man who made so many people switch to the Republican Party when he was president, back sometime before the Great Flood.
A remarkable number of couples are breaking up over political differences
Usually, when #couples decide to split up, the problem is infidelity, money, or maybe a lack of communication. However, as the Washington Examiner notes, increasingly some marriages and committed relationships are fracturing because of #political differences, especially over President Donald Trump. The problem seems to be most keenly manifested, not surprisingly, among millennials.
New novel to be an alt history where Hillary Rodham doesn’t marry Bill Clinton
Most people haven’t heard of the novelist Curtis Sittenfeld, whose previous work was a thinly disguised story about former First Lady Laura Bush, albeit with embellishments that included a secret abortion and a lesbian grandmother. Her next book, an #Alternate History story about what would have happened had Hillary Rodham not married Bill Clinton, will likely put Sittenfeld on the map.
Ted Cruz has a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all
As the Obamacare #Repeal and Replace debate moves to the Senate, the question arises over how much of the House bill should be included if at all. According to the Washington Examiner, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas has a bill that should take care of the matter once and for all, bypassing the three-stage process that the House leadership has been following. Moreover, Cruz believes that his approach will pass under reconciliation, meaning that it doesn’t need Democratic support.
Monday, May 08, 2017
Andy Weir’s next book is called ‘Artemis’ set In a small town on the moon
ome time ago, #Andy Weir, the author of “#The Martian,” the greatest space adventure story of the 21st Century, announced that his next book would be set on the moon and would involve a professional criminal. Nerdist has announced more details of the book. The novel will be called “Artemis” and will come out on November 14, 2017. The movie rights have already been sold and will no doubt, hopefully, sooner rather than later, become a blockbuster film just like Weir’s first book did.
Don’t tear down Confederate monuments says -- Condoleezza Rice
In the wake of Dylann Roof’s massacre of a group of African American church parishioners, a number of state and local governments are falling over themselves to deconfederize its public buildings and monuments. The names of Confederate generals are being removed from schools and are being replaced by those of civil rights figures. Monuments to Confederate figures are being taken down throughout the south, in New Orleans much to the outrage of some of the locals. Now, an unusual celebrity has spoken out against what she views as a sanitizing of American history: former #Secretary of State #Condoleezza Rice.Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom
117 patients died while waiting for care at a single VA hospital in Los Angeles
One of the memes that have developed during the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare is that no matter what the Republicans do, the United States is headed inexorably to a single payer, government-run #Health Care System. Some, like Charles Krauthammer, fear it. Others, like Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, eagerly anticipate it. For those who have not been warned off of the temptation to place out healthcare in the hands of the same people who run the IRS, the Washington Free Beacon reports on an OIG report that 117 patients died while on a waiting list for care at a single #Va Hospital in #Los Angeles in a nine month period.
Bill Clinton & James Patterson writing thriller novel ‘The President is Missing’
According to the Hill Newspaper, former President Bill Clinton and thriller writer James Patterson intend to collaborate on a novel. Plot details are not readily available, but the title, “#The President is Missing,” kind of speaks for itself. A 1967 novel, “The President’s Plane is Missing,” touched on the same concept that the title of the Clinton-Patterson novel suggests. In the previous novel Air Force One crashes, and it is uncertain whether the president was on board since all the bodies are burned, and the story took place before DNA testing. The book had a Cold War plot with an incompetent vice president planning to launch a preemptive strike against China.
NASA, Stanford researchers developing space concrete
One of the problems with living on the moon and Mars is that future space colonists need to be protected from the bombardment of micrometeorites and radiation. Some concepts for space settlements have involved placing them in lava tubes underground. But some engineers at #NASA and the Sanford School of Engineering are working on the way to make #Concrete out of lunar or Martian soil according to Tech (2).
Texas passes law banning sanctuary cities
The war over illegal immigration took a new turn when Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill that banned so-called “#sanctuary cities” in the Lone Star State. The bill will allow law enforcement officers to question people who have been detained, including at traffic stops, about their immigration status. The law will also prohibit local and county governments from passing laws preventing police officers from doing so. It provides legal sanctions, including fines, for local officials who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration agents.
Obamacare architect Jonathon Gruber claims Trump caused its collapse
Jonathon Gruber, the MIT economist who was instrumental in crafting Obamacare and then was caught on video boasting how its implementation was based on lies, is at it again. Gruber was on Fox News Sunday debating Obamacare and the effort to #Repeal and Replace the law with Karl Rove. He blamed the fact that the health care system that the #affordable care act set up is collapsing on President Donald #trump. The claim was made all the more brazen considering that the law was passed and implemented under President Barack Obama. It started its death spiral under the former president as well, with skyrocketing premiums and deductibles and insurance companies fleeing the exchanges.
Sunday, May 07, 2017
Bill Maher went there with an incest joke about Ivanka Trump
Proving once again that Bill Maher, the far left rant specialist whose show “Real Time” runs on HBO most Friday nights, he made a crude incest joke about #Ivanka Trump, the president’s oldest daughter and close advisor. The remark took place as Maher was having a conversation with New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman.
Emmanuel Macron humbles Marine Le Pen into the dust in the French election
In the end, despite some apparent attempts by the centrist candidate to throw the French presidential election, it wasn’t even close. #emmanuel macron has humbled Marine Le Pen into the dust by a percentage that some exit polls suggest is 65 to 34 percent. The business oriented, internationalist moderate has trounced the fiery French nationalist.
Vertical farms prove that if you want to save the Earth, settle space
Popular Science recently discussed how agricultural #technology being developed for settlers on the moon and Mars has the potential to revolutionize farming on Earth. Mars colonists are going to have to grow their food in greenhouses, using hydroponic techniques and LED lights, at least until the Red Planet is terraformed sometime in the distant future. It turns out that some people are trying the same method on Earth in so-called #Vertical Farms.
Saturday, May 06, 2017
The BBC is developing a ‘The War of the Worlds’ miniseries
The Verge is announcing that the BBC is developing a miniseries based on the classic alien invasion novel by H. G. Wells, “#The War of the Worlds.” By so doing, the network has opted for an outside the box, unique approach to the story. The TV series will set the Martian invasion in #Victorian England, the very place and time where Welles set his novel.
Mike Huckabee comes to Stephen Colbert’s defense
When Stephen Colbert was trying to walk back the homophobic joke he made about President Donald Trump having a sexual relationship with Vladimir Putin, he ruefully suggested that on further consideration he might have used less crude language. Then he quipped that Trump has the launch codes and Colbert has jokes, so it is a fair fight. Trump is not going to nuke Colbert literally, but the talentless would-be comedian is going to find out that the president has another weapon in his arsenal, the FCC.
Republicans want rape to be a preexisting condition is a big lie
One of the more outrageous accusations that the opponents of repeal and replace Obamacare being made by the left and its rabid horde of tweeters is that the American Health Care Act just passed by the House makes rape a #Preexisting Condition and allows insurance companies to deny coverage to women who have been raped and abused. As a recent article in Reason points out, this is a lie on two levels. First, the AHCA does not address rape or domestic abuse at all. Second, while the bill allows states to allow people with preexisting conditions to be charged higher premiums it also mandates that they be grouped together in high-risk pools and have their health care subsidized. There is nothing about denying anyone coverage.
Friday, May 05, 2017
John Culberson looks ahead to NASA funding for FY 2018
With the government, including NASA, funded for the rest of the fiscal year, Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas addressed a meeting of the Space Studies Board of the National Academies. He took credit for the generous $19.6 billion that the space agency got and well he might as he chairs the House appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA. Culberson also took the time to look ahead to FY2018.
Another Cinco de Mayo is here as well as the complaints
#Cinco De Mayo is officially a celebration of the 1862 victory of Mexican forces at the Battle of Puebla over French invaders. It is actually an excuse for people in southwestern states, especially Texas, to get silly on margaritas and scarf up a lot of tacos and fajitas with queso while listening to mariachi music and maybe wear a sombrero. Even though Mexicans do not make the day a big celebration and are annoyed that people north of the border do, the day has been considered harmless fun, sort of a Hispanic version of St. Patrick’s Day. Naturally, as the Daily Caller noted, some people find the whole thing an example of cultural appropriation.
Astrobotic and Carnegie Mellon University developing ‘CubeRovers’ for NASA
First, CubeSats were invented, those breadbox-sized probes packed with microelectronics and sensors that allowed university labs and small businesses to explore space. A number of CubeSats have already been launched from the International Space Station, and plans are afoot to send some to cis-lunar space and in pursuit of Earth-approaching asteroids. Now, Astrobotic and Carnegie Mellon University are developing the CubeRover under contract from #NASA.
How an entire family got kicked off an airliner flight
Another day another airline #Customer Service outrage that has gone viral on YouTube. The incident involved an entire family getting kicked off of a Hawaii to California #Flight for not giving up a seat being occupied by a toddler. What transpired was a classic example of how not to do customer service, courtesy of #Delta Airlines.
Macron files a complaint against Le Pen for telling lies about him
The UK Times reports that Emmanuel Macron, a candidate for president of the French Republic, has filed a complaint with the police that his rival, the National Front’s Marine #Le Pen, has smeared him by implying that he may be a puppet of the Kremlin. One can imagine that President Donald Trump, who has been accused of being in the pocket of #Vladimir Putin and worse, is wondering why he can’t get back at his enemies in a similar way.
Why not offer indulgences for cultural appropriation?
The venerable and erudite #Michael Barone has cast his attention to the latest made up sin coming from the social justice left, that being “#cultural appropriation.” Cultural appropriation is defined as participating in a culture not one’s own, including wearing clothing or hairstyles, listening to music, or even eating food that is not from one’s own ethnic group. White women are being attacked for braiding their hair in the African American style. University cafeterias are being protested for serving General Tso’s Chicken. Fraternities are being suspended for celebrating Cinco de Mayo and serving tacos. Barone, a proud Italian-American, has what he calls a modest proposal to take the fight against cultural appropriation to the next level.
Liberals say that thousands, maybe millions will die if Obamacare is repealed
One of the more entertaining aspects of the passage of the American Health Care Act, the first step in the #Repeal and Replace of Obamacare, has been the hysterical reaction of many on the left on social media. According to far too many overwrought people, thousands, perhaps millions will die as a result. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn was pretty sure that mass death would follow, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Thursday, May 04, 2017
House Republicans pass the first step in Obamacare repeal and replace
The passage of the American #health care Act in the #House gave a new meaning to the term sausage making. The process leading up to the narrow vote for passage included two failures, and a lot of behind the scenes arm twisting and cajoling. The bill moves to the Senate where the betting is that the upper body will write its own measure that will #Repeal and Replace Obamacare.
California mulling a tax on rocket launches
Trust #California to be different where it comes to the space launch industry. While other states, such as #Texas and Florida, are using tax breaks and other incentives to attract launch companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, the formerly Golden State is devising a new way to tax rocket launches. According to Ars Technica, California’s Franchise Tax Board is proposing to slap taxes on rocket launches based on “miles traveled” much like trucks and trains are assessed. Presumably that all depends on how far a rocket goes before it releases a payload.
New biography casts light on the character of the young Barack Obama
Last year, before the #Barack Obama presidency became history, an independent film called “Southside with You” was released that was alleged to have been an account of the first date between Barack Obama, the future president, and the woman he would eventually marry and make the first lady, Michelle Robinson. In what way the reality had to give way to drama in the movie will likely be debated forever. However, a new biography of Obama, entitled “Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama” by Pulitzer Prize-winning David J. Garrow has enough material for a different kind of movie, one that would show a different view of the president’s character.
Bill Nye used to believe that chromosomes determined gender
Back before 9/11 and during a time when President Bill Clinton was presiding over a country blessed with peace and prosperity, #bill nye had a show on PBS called “Bill Nye the #Science Guy” in which he taught kids the basics of science in an entertaining fashion. Subscribers to Netflix can access episodes of the program and show them to a new generation. However, a segment of one of the episodes has been expunged down the #Memory Hole because it deals with the forbidden theory that gender is determined by biology and not, as all enlightened people realize now, by personal preference.
Behind Vladimir Putin’s campaign against GMOs
Russia’s Vladimir Putin has been accused of handing the presidential election to Donald Trump, a conspiracy theory that perhaps gives the former KGB spy too much credit. Russian attempts at disinformation, an old technique dating back from the days of the Soviet Union, are more directed toward sectors of the #American economy that Moscow views as a threat. The Russians are very keen, for example, to stop fracking, the drilling technique that has flooded the world with oil and gas, made America a fossil fuel exporter and decreased the value of Russian product that is its sole export commodity. Now, according to Acsh, Moscow is taking aim as GMO foods, genetically modified to introduce useful traits.
San Francisco mulls a tax on robots to help displaced workers
When San Francisco, among other cities, decided to give people a “living wage” by bumping up the minimum wage to $15 an hour, they were surprised as only big government people can be when businesses started to automate. Jobs that were formerly performed by humans, like hamburger flipping and deliveries, are starting to be performed by robots. Low-income people with few skills are being hurt the most. #San Francisco, which is at once one of the more leftwing cities and one of the communities with the most income disparity (two characteristics that are related) is now scrambling to do something about the rise of the robots. A City Supervisor named Jane Kim is mulling a tax on robots.
Writer laments that no Asian actors cast in ‘Murder on the Orient Express’
In times past, say when Siskel and Ebert ruled the genre, it was expected that film writers would be familiar with movies. That requirement no longer seems to be the case. How else does one explain a tweet by one Rebecca Theodore, a contributor to the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly, posting a picture of the cast of the upcoming Kenneth Branagh-directed adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” with the following lament: “’Movie called "#Orient Express’ – and I don't see any Asian people on here?” According to Twitchy, the reaction was fast and furious, though having nothing to do with the movie franchise.
Wednesday, May 03, 2017
Rep Culberson touts interstellar propulsion initiative in spending bill
As Marcia Smith noted in a Twitter post, Rep John Culberson, R-Texas took to the floor of the House and touted a provision of the bill that will fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year that encourages NASA to develop propulsion technology for interstellar flight. Culberson would like an expedition to be launched to #Alpha Centauri in 2069, the hundredth anniversary of the first moon mission of Apollo 11.
Hillary Clinton makes a reference to 'The Handmaid's Tale'
#Hillary Clinton seems to be on a roll. The day after she blamed her electoral defeat on FBI Director James Comey and the Russians via Wikileaks, she addressed a celebration thrown by Planned Parenthood and made a reference to “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a dystopian novel that was recently made into a TV series on Hulu. According to the Washington Examiner, Clinton said "Now, I am not suggesting this dystopian future is around the corner, but this show has prompted important conversations about women's rights and autonomy. In ‘#The Handmaid's Tale,’ women's rights are gradually, slowly stripped away. As one character says, 'We didn't look up from our phones until it was too late.'"