Curmudgeons Corner

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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Saturday, September 30, 2017
 
Will SpaceX’s BFR be a Space Launch System killer?

One capability that the BFR launch vehicle that SpaceX’s Elon Musk proposed for his dreams of colonizing Mars and doing a lot of other things as well as its advertised capacity to lift 150 metric tons to low Earth orbit. Indeed, with on-orbit refueling, the BFR can take the same mass to the moon or Mars. Indeed, that is what it is designed to do.



 
Do the Kurds deserve their own country?

The recent overwhelming vote for Kurdish independence is being regarded as yet another headache coming out of the Middle East by the Trump administration and the State Department. To be sure, if anyone deserves their own country, it is the #Kurds. They are a religiously diverse and tolerant people who respect the rights of women, rare in the region and have been a stalwart American ally for decades. However, moral right is running up against geopolitical reality, as #Hot Air points out.



 
Trump gets into a tweetstorm over Puerto Rico disaster relief

President Donald Trump has rightly gotten high praise for his handling of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma which hit Texas and Florida respectively. However, Hurricane Maria that ravaged #Puerto Rico has proven to be a different matter. The infrastructure of the island has all but collapsed, making the distribution of relief supplies very difficult. This fact led the Mayor of #San Juan Carmen Yulín Cruz to make an impassioned plea for more to be done. In turn, Trump did not react very well.



Friday, September 29, 2017
 
According to the poll numbers, Trump has sacked the NFL

When President Donald Trump came down on the kneeling #Football Players at the rally in Atlanta, many of his critics were aghast, especially at his use of vulgar language. Many pundits predicted that the president would turn out to be a loser. Besides, he has better thing to do with his time than trolling protesting professional athletes. The spread of the kneeling protests seems to validate this assessment, though the fans seemed to react badly to the displays during the national anthem.



 
California may ban gasoline powered cars by 2040

A state lawmaker in #California is considering offering legislation in the next legislative session that would prohibit the sale of gasoline-powered cars by 2040. California would be following the lead of such countries as Great Britain, France, India, and China, all of which have laws on the books that mandate an end date for the internal combustion engine. The motivation is, of course, an attempt to mitigate the emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere and hence climate change. However, the advance of technology over the next 23 years may make such a law moot.



 
School librarian rejects Melania Trump's gift of Dr. Seuss books

Dr. #Seuss is one of the most famous children’s authors of all time. Very few, if any, Americans who grew up in the last few decades are unfamiliar with “Green Eggs and Ham,” “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” and “Horton Hears a Who” among many other wonderful stories. Dr. Seuss had a fantastic knack of language that seemed musical, appealing to children of all ages.



 
Lockheed Martin rolls out Mars lander concept

It turns out that SpaceX’s Elon Musk is not the only person to have announced ambitious space plans at the space conference in Adelaide, Australia. #Lockheed Martin has proposed adding a lander to its #Mars Base Camp concept. The additional lander will not only give astronauts a way to access the Martian surface at will but also be adapted to lunar landing.



 
India is engaged in a private vs. government race to the moon

India is engaged in a curious race to the moon. In one corner, Team Indus, India’s entrant for the #Google Lunar Xprize, is scheduled to land a rover on the #Lunar Surface by March 2018. In the other corner, the ISRO, India’s space agency, has announced that it intends to launch the Chandrayaan 2 to the moon in the same month.



 
SpaceX’s Elon Musk presents his vision of a space future

Last year, at a space conference in Mexico, SpaceX CEO #Elon Musk revealed his plans for colonizing Mars using a super-heavy-lift rocket called the Interplanetary Transport System. This year, at a conference in Adelaide, Australia, Musk refined his vision, including what he thinks is a way to pay for the enterprise.



Thursday, September 28, 2017
 
‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ turns 30

September 28 is the 30th anniversary of the premiere of “#star Trek: #The Next Generation,” the first Trek series since the original one signed off in 1969, shortly before the first moon landing. The second Star Trek series was, as was its predecessor, very much a product of its times. The Reagan 1980s were different than the 1960s when the original series first aired. However, in many ways, the second series followed quite a few of the traditions of the first.



 
How Democrats blew a chance to pick up a Senate seat in Alabama

When #Alabama Republicans chose Roy Moore to run for the unexpired term of Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat, #democrats rubbed their hands together in glee. Moore has made numerous off-putting statements, such as the wish to outlaw homosexuality. He had been removed twice from the Alabama state Supreme Court for defying federal judicial orders. Surely there is an outside chance that Moore will be too much even for deep red state Alabama.



 
Rapper B.o.B wants to fund a satellite to prove the Earth is flat

When people talk about “science deniers” whether they are climate change skeptics or people who are against GMOs, the common epithet that is applied to them is “flat-earther.” The vast majority of the human race know that the #Earth, just like every other planet, is a sphere.



 
The real reason Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi hate tax reform

Just as surely as night follows the sunset, Democratic leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer D-New York and House Minority Leader #Nancy Pelosi, D-California roundly condemned the current tax reform proposal rolled out by President Donald Trump as “tax cuts for the rich.” The trope has been used by Democrats since President Reagan cut tax rates, thus setting up the economic boom of the 1980s. However, a real reason exists for Schumer’s and Pelosi’s ire and, ironically, it’s because the Trump plan could represent a hefty tax increase for the wealthy.



 
‘South Park’ skewers victim culture

In a world in which justice always prevailed, the war against the statues would have been declared over the moment that the third episode of the current season of “South Park” aired. That pernicious phenomenon was just one of the things that the episode skewered. Victim culture, genealogy sites, the ire against #Christopher Columbus, and “Brokeback Mountain” all came in for some ribbing.



 
Hugh Hefner is dead at 91, as incredible as that is

The #Sexual Revolution probably would not have happened, had Hugh Hefner not hit on the idea of founding a men’s magazine, put a nude or semi-nude woman on the cover, and selling it: At its height, to millions of people a month. However, he gave the acceptance to debauchery that started in the 1960s with a particular style that seemed at once innocent and depraved from the point of view of the anxious, uptight 20th Century. The '#Playboy lifestyle'” was roundly condemned, first by Puritans, later by feminists, but also followed by many. The 20th Century would have been less fun and less controversial if "Playboy" had not been in it.



Wednesday, September 27, 2017
 
Trump to sign executive order to create nationwide health insurance market

With the defeat of the latest attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare in the rearview mirror, President Donald #trump is exploring ways he can fix the dysfunctional Affordable Care Act using executive orders. According to the Washington Examiner, Trump is having just such an order drawn up to allow Americans to buy #health insurance policies across state lines, creating a nationwide market. He has also promised that a new push for #Repeal and Replace will happen in 2018. In the meantime, he will hear out Democrats concerning whether they are amenable to finding common ground on reforming health care reform.



 
NASA signs statement with Russia for a deep space station near the moon

NASA announced that the space agency and Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency, have signed a joint statement of intent to explore joint efforts to create a deep space station or gateway in the vicinity of the moon. The announcement raises two questions. Why is NASA still contemplating the #Deep Space gateway when the Trump administration is pivoting toward a return to the lunar surface? Why is NASA signing joint statements with Russia as the Putin regime becomes increasingly hostile to American interests?



 
What if the United States bombed Venezuela with food and medicine?

When Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro called on his country’s military to prepare for war against the #United States, he was pulling a classic ploy that tyrants employ to try to distract his people from the effects of his misrule. There is almost zero chance that the United States Marines are going to land at Caracas to overthrow Maduro and his socialist horror. The United States does not, as a rule, knock over a foreign government just because it is oppressing and starving its own people. War only becomes a possibility if a country becomes a military threat, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un would be secure until the end of time if he would just dismantle his nuclear arsenal and stop threatening everyone.



 
Directors chosen for the film version of Andy Weir’s ‘Artemis’

The good news, as Deadline Hollywood reports, is that the movie version of “Artemis,” the upcoming novel by #Andy Weir of “The Martian” fame, has a pair of directors. The potentially bad news is that the director team consists of Phil Moore and Christopher Miller, who were fired from the #Han Solo Movie because of creative differences with the producers and screenwriter #Lawrence Kasdan. They were replaced by Ron Howard who is currently finishing the film.



 
Roy Moore beats Luther Strange in Alabama special Senate runoff

Tuesday night, according to the Washington Examiner, Alabama Republicans held a runoff election for a candidate to fill the rest of the unexpired Senate term of Jeff Sessions, who became President Trump’s Attorney General. Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice #Roy Moore beat the appointed incumbent, #Luther Strange. Moore will face Democrat Doug Jones in a special election in December.



 
Bill O’Reilly makes a triumphant return to Fox News on the Hannity show

Former #Fox News host Bill O’Reilly returned to the network where he appeared for over 20 years as a guest on the Sean Hannity program. He plugged his new book, “Killing England,” decried the protesting #Football Players, and hinted at some kind of more permanent return to cable news. Not everyone was happy with the appearance.



Tuesday, September 26, 2017
 
Saudi women will soon be allowed to drive

Proof that not every bit of news coming out of the Middle East is horrible, #The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced that starting in June 2018 women will be allowed to drive. The royal decree represents a large step forward to modernity for the patriarchal, medieval society. However, the decision raises some questions, especially how #Saudi men, who exercise lots of control over women, are going to take to this new freedom for females.



 
Meeting of the National Space Council to take place October 5

Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center to receive a briefing on the status of the Space Launch System and other projects the space agency is working on there. Pence also placed a video call to the American astronauts on the International Space Station. He did not open his mind a lot about plans the Trump administration has for civil space, except to tell one of the veteran NASA employees to “Stay. It’s about to get exciting.” Some hint about what that excitement will be about may be forthcoming next week. #the white house has announced the first meeting of the National Space Council in a quarter of a century to take place October 5.



 
‘The Good Doctor’ features a brilliant surgeon with autism

“The Good Doctor,” the latest medical drama created by David Show, had its premiere Monday night. The series features Dr. Shaun Murphy, a newly minted surgeon who happens to have autism and savant syndrome. The combination of conditions means that while he is one of the most brilliant doctors who ever lived, he has extreme difficulty relating to people and the world around him.



 
Will political correctness sink ‘Star Trek: Discovery?’

“Star Trek: Discovery” by all accounts opened solidly with the broadcast of its premiere episode on Sunday night. However, some disquieting indications exist that #political correctness may damage the show’s long-term success, which depends on people signing up for the CBS Access live stream service. The phenomenon goes beyond banning mention of God from the series and depicting the Klingons as Trump supporters. Specifically, cast members of the show are wading into contemporary politics and are lending their support to the take the knee campaign that has rocked professional football.



 
‘Young Sheldon’ is a different version of ‘The Wonder Years’

Right after the first episode of the new season of “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS gave us a sneak preview of the spin-off series, “Young Sheldon.” It tells the story of our favorite obnoxious, socially dysfunctional genius as he enters a Texas high school at age nine in the year 1989. Think of the series as “#The Wonder Years” featuring a little snot.



 
Why the ‘take a knee’ protests are an epic fail

When the history of 2017 is finally written, the controversy surrounding professional athletes kneeling or sitting during the national anthem as a form of protest will be seen as a made-up controversy that happened before something really significant occurred. That thing could be the Second Korean War or the second race to the moon. One conclusion that historians will agree with is that the “take a knee” protest was an epic fail. The reason for the failure is that the professional sports players violated a number of principles of civil protest.



Monday, September 25, 2017
 
From the Houston Chronicle Apollo landing sites on the moon merit preservation


 
Anthony Weiner is going to prison for 21 months

As Hot Air reports, a former congressman, former candidate for mayor of #New York, and convicted online sexual predator #Anthony Weiner has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for sexting with a teenage girl. He also has to submit to Internet monitoring, serve a three-year supervised probation after he leaves prison, and register as a sex offender. Weiner’s fall would be Shakespearian if it were not so sordid and pathetic.



 
Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the physics of Game of Thrones dragons

Every time a science fiction epic such as “The Martian” and “Gravity” hits the big screen, we can count on Neil deGrasse Tyson to take to Twitter to nitpick the science. Tyson’s purpose is twofold. First, he tries to use popular culture to impart some lessons about #Physics to a wide audience. Second, Tyson takes the opportunity to show off his awe-inspiring brilliance.



 
‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’ is a different kind of origin story

“Wonder Woman,” the film that featured Israeli actress Gal Gadot cutting a swath through Europe in the closing weeks of the First World War, was one of the few smash hits of the 2017 summer movie season. By an odd happenstance, another #Origin Story of the famed, feminist superhero is coming to the big screen. It is called “Professor Marston and the #Wonder Women.” The story is about how a Harvard psychologist named Dr. William Marston created the #Wonder Woman comic and how his unusual domestic arrangements with his wife and a former student influenced the development of the super heroine.



 
Australia is getting its own space agency

#Australia has played a crucial role in the exploration of space dating back to the Apollo program, as anyone who saw the film “The Dish” is aware of. However, the country has not had its own #Space Agency, something even New Zealand has had, until a recent announcement held at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide. The new Australian space agency is designed to coordinate aerospace policy for the country and to make it a player for international cooperation, notes the Australian newspaper.



 
‘Star Trek: Discovery’ airs its pilot episode at last

The long-anticipated first new “Star Trek” to appear on television in 12 years aired on CBS recently. The #Pilot Episode will be followed by the rest of the season that will only be available on CBS #Access. CBS is a new live streaming service that will only be available for a subscription fee. “Star Trek: Discovery” is set ten years before the original five-year mission of the USS Enterprise and features Lt. Commander Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green. She is a human woman who was raised by Vulcan Ambassador Sarek, serving on the USS Shenzhou under the command of Captain Georgiou, plated by Michelle Yeoh.



 
The Sunday professional football became a political battlefield

The first football #Sunday occurred after President Trump threw down the gauntlet [VIDEO] concerning football player protests during the #National Anthem. Just as the president planned, many players joined the protests by kneeling during the salute to the American flag. According to the AP, fans at stadiums booed and yelled for the players to get to their feet. Others cheered. In a million living rooms across the country, emotions ran high, likely mostly negative. The day resulted in bizarre behavior, instances of courage, and acts of ignominy.



Sunday, September 24, 2017
 
Will the first person to go to Mars leave from Texas?

#Elon Musk’s SpaceX continues to construct its spaceport at #Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas. The latest schedule suggests that rocket launches of the Falcon 9 and perhaps the Falcon Heavy will commence from the Texas launch facility toward the end of 2018. In the meantime, rumors abound of greater plans that Musk has for the commercial spaceport.



 
Hillary Clinton accuses women who voted against her of lacking self-respect

#Hillary Clinton is continuing her blame tour [VIDEO] and has found a new group of people to point an accusing finger at. Women, especially white women, who voted against her lack all respect for themselves. Why else, she suggests, would they vote for a man who said what he said about women that was caught by Access Hollywood? Just once, one would hope that an enterprising reporter would call the twice-failed presidential candidate on her record where rape victims are concerned.



 
How protesting pro athletes are like the Westboro Baptist Church

President Donald Trump, using his unerring ability to find an issue [VIDEO] to get people mad at him for his benefit, has doubled down on his lambasting of professional sports athletes who kneel during the #National Anthem. He has now called for a boycott of the NFL until the demonstrating players are brought to heel. Just as he intended, many of the players and even some owners are offering defiance. They will now show disrespect during the National Anthem not because they think that the United States mistreats #African Americans, but because they are mad at Trump and, by extension, people; who voted for him.



Saturday, September 23, 2017
 
North Korea threatens to test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean

The latest North Korean threat is to conduct a hydrogen bomb [VIDEO] test in the middle of the #Pacific Ocean. Whether or not this is just windy posturing is best known to Kim Jong-un and his associates as well as, one would hope, various intelligence agencies. However, as a piece in the Atlantic suggests, a bomb test in the ocean is a far more concerning matter than the usual test in an underground chamber.



 
Donald Trump slams protesting professional football players

During his lengthy and freewheeling speech at a political rally in Huntsville, Alabama, President #Donald Trump suggested that football players who “disrespect the American flag” as Colin Kaepernick used to do, should be fired, using the kind of salty language that he is known for. The line brought immediate applauds from the audience and yelps of outrage from some of the players and their supporters. However, the president is on to something where an issue that benefits him is concerned.



 
Jimmy Kimmel forgets that his sole job is to be an entertainer

The job of a late night talk show host is to be entertaining. The formats of the various shows that come on after the local news vary to some degree, but boil down to the host doing an opening monologue and then engaging in light banter with celebrity guests. Sometimes a musical number or a comedy skit occurs.



Friday, September 22, 2017
 
John McCain may have killed Obamacare repeal and replace – again

One thing one can always count on Sen #John McCain, R-Arizona is that one cannot count on him. McCain has announced that he cannot “in good conscience” support the Graham Cassidy Obamacare #Repeal and Replace bill. McCain has very likely killed the bill, barring a miracle. Great rejoicing could be heard from left, including from Jimmy Kimmel, late night talk show host turned health care warrior. The rest of America who thought it had elected a Republican government to rid itself of Obamacare is learning once again to live with disappointment.



 
Uber to be banned in Greater London

Transport for London, the local governing authority that oversees the transportation infrastructure in the #Greater London Area, has decided not to renew #uber’s license in its jurisdiction. TFL cites problems with the ride-sharing company’s lack of “corporate responsibility.” The 40,000 Uber drivers who operate in London and the three and a half million Londoners who use the app are pretty sure that the TFL has caved into demands from the traditional black cab company, its drivers, and the union it represents.



 
Seth MacFarlane commits a thought crime in the latest episode of ‘The Orville’

The third episode of “The Orville,” the first to air on Thursday night, delved into a favorite “#star Trek” theme of ethical conundrums based on alien cultural norms as opposed to universal standards. The episode also triggered the folks at io9 who concluded that #Seth Macfarlane, the show’s creator and star, is guilty of a #Thought Crime. Some spoilers follow.



 
A plot line from ‘Salvation’ reminds one of an old Bond movie

One of the various plot threads that run through “Salvation,” a CBS TV show about an asteroid headed on a collision course with the Earth, consist of the machinations of a hacker group called “Resist” or as some spell it “Resyst.” The mainly millennial members of the group appear to report to a mysterious leader who is never seen or identified. During the final episode of the first season, the agenda of the group becomes evident. It means to start a #nuclear war between the United States and Russia, presumably to eliminate the two great powers for reasons that remain unclear. The plot thread is very reminiscent of something the occurred in an old James Bond movie, which suggests a big reveal in a potential second season.



 
Trump persuades China’s central bank to cut off North Korea

President Donald Trump scored a major diplomatic victory at the United Nations and raised hopes that the North Korean Missile Crisis might be resolved short of war. Soon after Trump signed an executive order targeting financial institutions doing business with #North Korea, the Peoples Bank of China, that country’s central bank, agreed to freeze all financial transactions with the Pyongyang regime, according to the Washington Examiner.



 
Bernie Sanders to complicate CNN health care debate?

CNN has announced that it intends to hold a live debate about #health care reform on September 25. In one corner will be Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, the co-sponsors of a bill that proposes to take Obamacare spending and send it as block grants to the states. In the other corner are Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn and Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. The inclusion of Sanders, who is pushing a single payer, government health care bill has mainstream Democrats riled, according to the Washington Free Beacon.



Thursday, September 21, 2017
 
The European Space Agency proposes commercial partnership for a moon mission

It looks like NASA will not be the only national space agency to leverage commercial lunar landers to return to the moon. The #European Space Agency is reaching out to commercial providers to provide a lander for a mission it calls “In-Situ Resource Utilization Demonstrator Mission.” The idea is to test technologies that would use lunar resources such as water to leverage human occupation of the moon.



 
Valerie Plame is in trouble again

#Valerie Plame, the former CIA analyst and a covert officer who was at the center of a President George W. Bush-era scandal, is in trouble again. According to the Hill, she tweeted an article in the Unz Review entitled “America’s Jews are Driving America’s Wars.” The resulting firestorm on social media was as instant as it was predictable. The article was written by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counterterrorism officer who is a frequent critic of Israel and #American Jews. Plame has expressed admiration for Giraldi in the past.



 
Bernie Sanders is now going for a wealth tax

You have to hand it to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. Ever since being beaten for the Democratic presidential nomination by Hillary Clinton, he has been on a roll. First, he proposed seizing control of healthcare by the government in his “Medicare for All” bill. Now, according to Hot Air, Sanders has trotted out that #Socialist oldie but goodie known as a wealth tax. Before he is hustled off to the afterlife, where everyone is equal, Sanders will likely call for nationalization of industries, such as the airlines, the oil companies, and the high-tech companies like Google and Apple.



 
Why ‘Salvation’ deserves a second season

“#Salvation,” the wildest and, in many ways, most original show that you’re probably not watching just ended its first, and some fear its only #season with multiple cliffhangers. Is the world about to blow up in a nuclear war even before the asteroid hits? What is that new plan to stop the asteroid that Liam came up with at the last minute? Did Amanda make it out of the burned ruins of Capital Eye alive? Who freed that traitorous vice president and where did they take him?



 
It turns out that NASA is willing and able to go back to the moon

Back in the middle of the Obama administration, when the #Journey To Mars was the program of record, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden would regularly dismiss the idea of a return to the moon, which many in Congress, the #Commercial Sector, and the scientific community preferred. According to a 2013 piece in the Huffington Post, Bolden declared that NASA did not have the budget to develop a lunar lander. The #Space Agency was entirely focused on asteroids and Mars, for which it did have a budget – or so Bolden said. However, that was then, and this is now.



 
‘South Park’ just can’t quit Donald Trump in ‘Put it Down’

Before the current season of “#South Park” began, Trey Parker and Matt Stone promised that they were going to leave politics and especially President Donald Trump behind. However, the second episode of the current season, “Put it Down” features the president’s tendency to make alarming tweets. The episode also touches on #North Korea, fidget spinners, texting while driving, and childhood suicide. It ends with a musical number. Some spoilers follow.



Wednesday, September 20, 2017
 
Buzz Aldrin endorses Jim Bridenstine to be NASA Administrator

#Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, along with Greg Autry, a commercial space expert, has endorsed Jim Bridenstine to become #Nasa Administrator. Aldrin had thus moved further to undo that damage he helped to wrought when he threw his support behind Barack Obama and his gutting on human space exploration over seven years ago. Somewhere, Aldrin’s old shipmate, Neil Armstrong, who opposed Obama’s cancellation of the Constellation space exploration program, is smiling.




 
‘Firefly’ the cult classic space western has turned 15

"Firefly,” the short-lived #science fiction western created by #joss whedon represents one of those wistful “what might have been” events that fans of the show still pine about a decade and a half later. The series did not last a single season and, even though a big screen motion picture sequel was created three years later, “Firefly” could not be called a commercial success. Reasons for the fact that the series did not last ten seasons as it surely deserved to remain a matter of debate, though sabotage by executives at Fox is the favorite theory.



 
What are future expansion plans for Houston’s light rail system?

According to a recent article on Crain’s Houston, the #Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County is contemplating what it should do next with the light rail system that extends north through the Houston Medical Center and Downtown with branch lines that extend south-east, covering among other places the University of Houston Central Campus. The current system, especially the main red line that extends north to south, has been more successful than its supporters had hoped for when it first went into service in 2004. Ridership is booming, and economic development has been proceeding apace along its route.



 
If Obamacare repeal and replace passes thank Bernie Sanders

The Washington Examiner is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell intends to bring the Graham Cassidy Obamacare repeal and replace bill up for a vote next week. The bill would take a lot of Obamacare spending and block grant it into payments to the states. It would also get rid of a number of mandates that the original #affordable care act imposes. If the bill passes, and thus far only Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky has expressed explicit opposition to it, one analysis suggests that Republicans have Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont to thank for it.



 
Will the LUVOIR be the great space telescope of the 2030s?

The Hubble #Space Telescope, despite a rocky start due to an out of focus mirror, has revolutionized astronomy in its many years of observing everything from distant galaxies to nearby planets. The follow-on to the Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope, is due to launch in 2018 and should push back the frontiers of astronomy even further. A new piece in Forbes is touting a concept for an even greater space telescope, the Large UV/Optical/IR Surveyor (LUVOIR), that is said to have 40 times the capacity of the Hubble. LUVOIR is one of four #Decadal Survey Mission Concept Studies that was started in January 2016 and will last for three years.



 
France may outlaw wolf whistles and asking a woman for her phone number

The latest attempt to criminalize boorish behavior is taking place in France, according to the UK Sun. There is a move to outlaw what many think is the harassment of women in public places, such as the street or in the Paris Metro. Acts that may become criminal offenses include wolf whistling, asking a woman for her #Phone Number, and following her around. Marlène Schiappa, France’s under-secretary for gender equality, is championing the proposed law, which is also supported by French President Francois Macron.



 
Confederate Chic in popular culture

Victor Davis Hanson has discovered something interesting about #Popular Culture and the Confederacy. While images of Confederates in bronze and marble are threats to democracy and racial harmony, people who wore the gray during the Civil War are often the heroes in old movies. Indeed, a lot of popular music over the years have celebrated the Lost Cause. Hanson refers to this phenomenon as “Confederate Chic” purveyed by mainly left-wing creators of popular culture.



Tuesday, September 19, 2017
 
Jim Bridenstine gets Richard Shelby’s endorsement to be NASA administrator

Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma has picked up and important endorsement for his nomination as NASA Administrator. Sen. #Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, the chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Justice and Space tweeted, “Met w/ @POTUS nom for @NASA Administrator, #Jim Bridenstine. We had a good meeting. I look forward to supporting him throughout this process.”



 
More reasons why Amazon should relocate to Texas

The Dallas Morning News recently published a piece that examined Amazon.com’s desire to establish a second corporate headquarters outside of Seattle. The paper noted that a city in Texas would be ideal for such a facility owing to the state’s business-friendly culture. Naturally, the piece touted Dallas as the perfect site for the new headquarters, but most of the points made apply to Houston as well. Also, Houston has a seaport, something that Dallas lacks.



 
President Donald Trump gives a UN General Assembly speech like no other

If anyone doubted that the United States is under new management, #President Donald Trump disabused them of that notion in his first United Nations #General Assembly speech. Trump has said what it said before the United Nations before, but no American president said those things inside the General Assembly meeting hall. Trump was employing diplomacy as a fully charged phaser bank, to use a reference from “Star Trek.”



 
Dan Helmer wins the prize of the most cringe-worthy campaign ad in recent memory

The Democratic primaries in Virginia are not for a few months, but already the race for the Democrat who will go up against Rep. Barbara Comstock, a Republican representing the 10th District is already going hot and furious. #Dan Helmer, one of the Democrats, has gotten some name recognition in the worst way possible, with one of the more memorable and cringe-worthy campaign ads in living memory.



 
Bill O’Reilly talks to Sean Hannity about his firing from Fox News

Bill O’Reilly, the former #Fox News host who left the cable news network in April under a cloud of sexual harassment accusations and an advertiser boycott, was on #Sean Hannity’s radio show recently, his first public appearance beside his podcast. O’Reilly has a new book, “Killing England,” coming out. He was also buoyed by recent revelations about one of his principal accusers.



Monday, September 18, 2017
 
Hillary Clinton thinking of declaring her 2016 defeat illegitimate

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting that Hillary Clinton [VIDEO] is considering questioning the integrity of the election in which she lost the presidency for the second time. She also admitted that even if she decided that machinations from the Russians denied her the Oval Office, not a lot of options are available to overturn the results and, in effect, replace President Trump in the middle of his first term. Nevertheless, Ms. Clinton seems to be spiraling down into the fever swamps of conspiracy theories.



 
Jerry Pournelle, Newt Gingrich, & Donald Trump were smeared in the Daily Beast

David Auerbach waited until Jerry Pournelle [VIDEO]’s corpse had barely chilled before publishing a bizarre piece in the #Daily Beast that links him, #Newt Gingrich, and Donald Trump together. He did this by taking some passages out of a couple of Pournelle’s novels out of context and by making assumptions about space-based missile defense (which Pournelle and Gingrich favored), moon bases (which Gingrich has championed) and, of course, the border wall.



 
Could we build an Orion nuclear bomb ship today?

Glenn Reynolds, the purveyor of Instapundit, used his weekly column in USA Today to use the occasion of the end of Cassini’s mission to Saturn [VIDEO] to wonder if we could have sent a crewed spacecraft to Saturn in 1970. Because of a little-known military project called #Orion (not to be confused with the current deep spacecraft project), the idea was not entirely frivolous.



 
Dallas school board member publishes list of schools considered for renaming

When the war against the statues first boiled over, President Trump openly wondered whether it would go beyond figures of the Confederacy to #Founding Fathers such as George Washington and #Thomas Jefferson. While the president’s speculation was met with eye-rolling, the jihad to remove history has not only included slave-holding founding fathers but figures such as Joan of Arc and Christopher Columbus.



 
The Emmys go full bore anti-Trump

It used to be that a Hollywood awards show would have a single incident in which a recipient would say some annoying political statement. The rest of the broadcast was devoted to the art, though often in an aggravating self-congratulatory fashion as if the most important thing in the world is who won the award for best-supporting actress in a comedy. However, the most recent Emmys had become a three-hour political rant with a few television awards added in, as if by an afterthought. Welcome to the age of Donald #trump.



 
Stanislav Petrov, the man who saved the world, has died

Stanislav Petrov, according to sources in Russian media, now being reported widely in the West, died last May. Remarkably that event was not noted at the time and was only known because of Karl Schumacher, a German political activist, found out from Petrov’s son. The man’s passing should have been commemorated on a scale of that of a world leader or a famous philanthropist. The reason for that fact that I am writing this article and you are reading it solely because of an action Petrov undertook one day during the height of the Cold War.



Sunday, September 17, 2017
 
Trump sets social media ablaze with gif of him hitting Hillary with a golf ball

President Donald Trump’s sense of humor is sometimes questionable, to put the matter mildly. Recently the president tweeted a Gif in when he hits a #Golf Ball and then cuts to the projectile hitting Hillary Clinton [VIDEO] in the back as she boards a plane. The video is not particularly amusing unless one thinks that the twice-failed presidential candidate getting hit in the back by a golf ball is funny. One suspects that a large number of people, including those who have been wronged by the former first lady, senator, and secretary of state, are vastly amused. However, the reaction on social media is over the top hilarious.



 
The White House lawnmower boy gets criticism

Young boys have been mowing lawns since the lawn mower was invented. Many suburban families delegate lawn mowing duties to their male children (and more recently girls as well) as a way to teach responsibility and to give dad and mom a rest from a disagreeable chore. Some young folks make a little extra money, even an age of professional landscaping services, by mowing neighborhood lawns.



 
Dianne Feinstein steps up her attacks on Judge Joan Larsen

When Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California questioned the Catholic faith of Judge Joan Larsen, a Trump nominee for the Sixth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals, she received a firestorm of criticism. Feinstein was accused of being an anti-Catholic bigot and of imposing a religious test for a judicial appointment, which is contrary to the United States Constitution. Sen. Feinstein elaborated what bothered her about Judge Larsen on a broadcast of CNN’s “The State of the Union.”



Saturday, September 16, 2017
 
Chelsea Clinton falsely accuses Michigan of allowing gay people to die

Chelsea Clinton just learned a valuable lesson about how one should be careful about what one posts. She recently tweeted, "Absolutely appalling: Michigan House Passed Bill Allowing EMTs To Refuse Treatment To #Gay People." The problem was that was not true, and Clinton was obliged to delete the tweet when this was pointed out to her, according to the Washington Free Beacon.



 
Are you ready for ‘True Lies’ as a TV series?

“True Lies” was one of the most popular films of the early 1990s, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a super spy and #Jamie Lee Curtis as his initially clueless wife who thinks he’s a computer salesman. According to Deadline Hollywood, an effort is underway to bring the movie to the #Small Screen as a series. James Cameron, the director of the original film, is involved, as is McG, who successfully brought the film “Lethal Weapon” to television.



 
After Cassini what is next for Saturn?

Now that Cassini is history, having taken its death plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn, scientists are dreaming of what kind of million should follow it to the system of the ringed planet. As the New York Times reports, nothing had been funded yet, but a lot of ideas are being proposed.



Friday, September 15, 2017
 
Senate Republicans getting closer to passing last ditch Obamacare bill

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana has told reporters that Republicans are two votes away from passing the last ditch Obamacare repeal and replace measure, accord He stated that the tally for the bill stands at 48 to 49 and that the cosponsors of the bill are talking to two or three senators whom they think are persuadable. The Republicans have until the end of September to pass the bill under reconciliation rules that require only 51 votes.



 
The sharing economy comes to the sex robot industry in China

The #Sharing economy has already revolutionized how we travel from place to place and how we stay away from home. Using the Uber or the Lyft app, people are taking customers on trips in their personal cars. Airbnb allows people to rent rooms or their entire homes to weary travelers. Now, according to the UK Sun, the sharing economy has come to the sex robot industry in China.



 
Ben Shapiro gave his speech at Berkeley and the world did not end

By all accounts, the University of California at #berkeley and the city of Berkeley prepared for the visit by conservative pundit Ben Shapiro with thoroughness as the states of Texas and Florida did for the recent hurricanes. Most of the classes were canceled, and nearby businesses were boarded up and closed for the evening. Much of the Berkeley campus was closed off with concrete barriers and battalions of police who were not prepared to put up with any nonsense. People who showed up wearing masks and refused to take them off would be arrested. Individuals who acted up and refused to stand down would get a dose of pepper spray. All in all, $600,000 was spent to keep the peace because one guy showed up to make a speech at a college campus.



 
Texas Hyperloop Line among the finalists in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge

The Hyperloop One Global Challenge has narrowed down the proposals to build lines of the revolutionary transportation technology developed by #Elon Musk to ten in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, and India. One of the finalists is a Texas Hyperloop line that would connect Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Laredo.



 
Cassini has completed its 20-year mission to Saturn

The 20-year voyage of the Cassini space probe has come to an end as it executed a death dive into the atmosphere of Saturn. The mission, which included 13 years in orbit around the ringed planet, was one of the most spectacular and productive in the history of #space exploration. #Cassini discovered a wealth of information about Saturn, its rings, and its moons that will keep scientists busy for decades.



 
How Democrats threw away their presidential chances in 2020

The Washington Free Beacon wonders why 15 Democratic senators, some of them with presidential aspirations, choose to, in effect, follow Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont off a cliff by supporting a “Medicare for all” bill. The bill, essentially a government takeover of the American healthcare system, is a free gift for Republicans and will assure the reelection of President Donald Trump in 2020.



Thursday, September 14, 2017
 
Should the first person on Mars be a woman?

During a Twitter discussion of her speech before the annual #Mars Society Conference, Iranian American businesswoman, private space traveler, and philanthropist opined, “First person on Mars should be a woman.” The tweet was an offhand comment. However, the gender and perhaps the ethnic background of the first person on Mars, or even the first person to return to the moon, is an interesting topic for discussion.



 
Roland Emmerich to direct a film about the battle of Midway

The news, as reported in Deadline Hollywood, that German-born director #Roland Emmerich is slated to make a film about the #Battle Of Midway has been met with some apprehension in certain quarters. Emmerich has created some solid hits, including “Stargate,” “Independence Day,” and “The Patriot.” However, a lot of his more recent content, including a splashy sequel to “Independence Day” have received a less than favorable reception.



 
Trump says there is no deal about the Wall and DACA

When Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Nancy Pelosi announced that they had reached a deal with President Trump over some aspects of the illegal immigration issue, a social media firestorm was touched off. The so-called deal was to make permanent the provisions of DACA in exchange for stronger border enforcement but with no funding for the all. The rage expressed by Trump supporters was incandescent. Ann Coulter, an erstwhile Trump sycophant, called for Trump’s impeachment. Even Sean Hannity, one of the warmest supporters of the president, openly wondered if we had reached a “read my lips” moment in which a president reneged on a campaign promise, then not to raise taxes, now to build a border #Wall.



 
Hillary Clinton tells the story of the NASA letter in ‘What Happened’

One of the stories that Hillary Clinton likes to tell about herself is about how she is alleged to have sent a letter to #NASA in the early 1960s inquiring how one might be an astronaut, only to have her girlhood dreams dashed by a response that stated that girls couldn't become astronauts. Clinton repeats this story in her latest memoirs, “What Happened,” [VIDEO] as an illustration of how she was made aware of how her gender was a barrier to her success. The problem is, Clinton may not be telling the truth about the letter at all.



 
‘South Park’ is confused about ‘white nationalists’

A few days ago, we found out that “#South Park” was going to take on “white nationalists” in the first episode of the Trump era. Knowing how the minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone work, the prospect was rather intriguing, to say the least. However, the episode seemed to be wide of the mark insofar as hitting the target.



 
Now Jim Bridenstine is in trouble with the LGBT community

While support continues to build for the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma to become the next NASA administrator from the commercial space sector and scientists such as Paul Spudis, the lawmaker, and Navy aviator is getting opposition from an unusual quarter. According to Politico, a number of #LGBT activists have decided to oppose Bridenstine’s nomination for his past positions on issues that are near and dear to them.



Wednesday, September 13, 2017
 
Ron Paul goes to war against Elon Musk’s SpaceX

Ron Paul, the three-time #Presidential Candidate and former member of Congress, has written an editorial for Fox News accusing a cabal of politicians led by Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona to allow SpaceX to have a “monopoly” in military space launches. As Eric Berger at Ars Technica and also Next Big Future points out, Paul is rather wide of the mark.



 
Does China have a working EM drive?

A number of media outlets, including Yahoo News UK, are suggesting that the Chinese have (or at least claim to have) developed a #Working Prototype of an #Em Drive, citing a video put out by Chinese television. One has to regard the claim with a little bit of skepticism, at least until someone offers a public demonstration of the technology.



 
Hillary Clinton does not get the meaning of ‘1984’

#Hillary Clinton’s campaign memoirs, “What Happened,” has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving for people who write opinion pieces for a living. First, she blames just about everyone [VIDEO]but herself for her defeat. Then she identified herself with the mad queen in “Game of Thrones,” Cersei Lannister [VIDEO]. Now, according to the Daily Caller, she epically missed the point of a crucial scene in the #George Orwell novel “1984.”



 
What is Bill O’Reilly up to these days?

No doubt a lot of people are wondering whatever happened to Bill O’Reilly, once the foundation of #Fox News’ prime time line up, since his 20-year career with the network crashed and burned due to allegations of sexual harassment. The mighty may have fallen, but O’Reilly at age 69 is keeping busy, according to the Hollywood Reporter.



 
Bernie Sanders introduces ‘Medicare for all’ bill

Sen. #Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont has finally introduced his “Medicare for all” bill that finally allows the government to seize control of the #health care system and fix it once and for all. Politico notes that liberals like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are among the 15 cosponsors of the bill, but that Democrats who are vulnerable in 2018 and the congressional leadership are steering clear. Jim Geraghty notes that public support for #Single Payer mostly depends on how the polling question is asked.



 
It took Stevie Wonder just 15 seconds to ruin the Hand In Hand telethon

One of the more charming aspects of a great natural or human caused disaster is when celebrities band together and put on a show to raise money for the victims. It’s a chance for the privileged class of actors and musicians to show how much they care about the little people. The #Hand In Hand telethon to raise money for Harvey and Irma victims was supposed to be just that. There was to be a lot of singing and begging for money, with a good time had by all. Unfortunately, as the Daily Caller notes, it took #Stevie Wonder just #15 Seconds to ruin everything by getting political.



 
Hillary Clinton obviously identifies with – Cersei Lannister

#Hillary Clinton’s book of excuses, her campaign memoirs entitled “What Happened” is now out and the rubes are lining up around the block to get their copies signed and to bend the knee, as it were. The sharp eyed folks at ”Reason” have noticed that Clinton (or perhaps one of her ghost writers) has chosen to identify with a famous character from “Game of Thrones.” The identity of this person has jaws dropping and palms smacking faces across the world.



Tuesday, September 12, 2017
 
Houston’s mayor proposes a property tax hike for Harvey clean-up

#Houston home owners, still struggling to get their flood-ravaged houses repaired in the wake of Hurricane Harvey [VIDEO], are facing a new threat to their financial well-being that has nothing to do with mother nature. House Mayor Sylvester Turner has announced a proposal to slap a nine percent increase in property tax [VIDEO] that would raise extra money, he says, for #Harvey clean-up. According to the local ABC News affiliate, Houston residents are somewhat skeptical and very irate at the reach into their wallets, already emptied by Harvey costs.



 
You’ll never guess which iconic scifi character Jim Bridenstine was compared to

Mashable has discovered that Rep. #Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma, #President Trump’s pick for NASA Administrator, used to be an investor in a scheme called the #Rocket Racing League which wanted to set up NASCAR-style races using rocket planes. The idea never got off the ground, but the revelation has won praise for the space agency chief nominee from an unusual source, NASA Watch’s Keith Cowing.



 
‘The Orville’ is a gentle, respectful send-up of ‘Star Trek’

When “The Orville,” a send-up of “Star Trek” by Seth MacFarlane, was first announced, one would have been forgiven for being skeptical. MacFarlane is best known for vulgar humor in his animated shows such as “Family Guy” and “American Dad.” Indeed, the storylines and characters of his cartoons often verge toward the vicious.



 
New movie depicts the Chappaquiddick incident

A film about the “Chappaquiddick” incident is a gutsy move by any definition. The movie, which recently premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, tells the story of a July 18, 1969, incident in which Senator #Teddy Kennedy, driving under the influence of alcohol in the company of a #Young Woman named Mary Joe Kopechne, drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts into a tidal channel. Kennedy swam free and left Kopechne to drown by inches, trapped in an air pocket inside the submerged car. Kennedy and his aides exercised epic damage control, resulting in his getting a suspended sentence for leaving the scene of an accident leading to an injury.



 
In the wake of Harvey and Irma calls for punishing skeptics of climate change

One of the of the more disturbing effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, besides the flooding and the wind damage, has been rising calls for people to be jailed for the thought crime of “#Climate Change denial.” Surely two category 4 storms making landfall inside a couple of weeks is proof enough that #Global warming is real and that anyone who says otherwise should be declared enemies of the people and dealt with severely, according to the Washington Times, It turns out that the link between climate change and storms is dubious at best.



 
Laura Ingraham likely to get a prime time Fox News show

According to the Washington Free Beacon, a deal is all but in place that will restructure #Fox News’ prime time line up once again. The shake-up was prompted by the firing of Eric Bolling, a long term Fox personality who was accused of sexting several female coworkers, a charge that he denies. Bolling is also dealing with the sudden death of his college age son.



Monday, September 11, 2017
 
‘South Park’ returns to poke fun at ‘white nationalism’

“#South Park” is returning for a new season in a few days. The purveyors of the long running satirical show about a group of foul mouthed elementary school students promised that they would shy away from politics after the Mr. Garrison as Donald Trump story line from last year went sideways when Hillary Clinton lost the election. It looks like Matt Stone and Trey Parker, not being able to help themselves, have decided to defer the fulfillment of that promise with a look at #White Nationalism.



 
Report: Saudi crown prince secretly visits Israel

Israeli National News is reporting that a member of the Saudi Royal family visited the State of Israel in secret to discuss advancing regional peace between the Jewish state and the Arab world. Various sources have identified the Saudi royal as Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia and heir apparent to the throne. To be sure, some of the discussions involved an effort to revive peace talks with the Palestinians. However, a couple of other reasons exist for an Israel Saudi Arabian rapprochement.



 
Why Frank Randall is the true tragic hero of ‘Outlander’

The third season of “Outlander” has started and the sighs of the fans for poor Claire, the strong willed, former #World War Ii era combat nurse, and Jamie, the wild, red haired Highland Laddie, separated by the centuries, can be heard across the land. However, someone at least had to spare a little sympathy and shed a tear or two for Frank Randall, Claire’s 20th Century husband, who is caught in an impossible situation.




 
Hillary Clinton now blames the Electoral College for her defeat

Hillary Clinton [VIDEO]has famously blamed everyone and everything [VIDEO] for her defeat in the 2016 presidential election but herself. Hot Air notes that her latest excuse was that the #Electoral College stopped her from entering the Oval Office. Was it not for that meddlesome Constitution, she would be president by now.



 
The 21st Century was not supposed to be about 9/11

9/11 was not the way the #21St Century was meant to be. A long time ago, back when the world was young and telephones were rotary, the hopeful view of the current century involved cities on the moon, flying cars, and technological marvels. The less than hopeful view featured nuclear or some other kind of destruction or a variation of dystopia, such as depicted in the films “Blade Runner” or “Soylent Green.” Instead we got the long, grinding war against militant Muslims who believe their god demands that we all die or submit to Islam.



 
Someone suggested firing guns into Hurricane Irma

One wonders how shooting at a hurricane became a thing that people actually had to be warned against. According to the UK Telegraph, just as #Hurricane Irma started to bear down on the state of Florida, a person named Ryon Edwards, age 22, set up a Facebook Event in which he proposed staving off boredom and frustration by firing weapons into the storm [VIDEO]. 40,000 people posted interest in doing so. Others suggested that maybe using flamethrowers would do the trick.



Sunday, September 10, 2017
 
You will not believe who Hillary Clinton blames for her defeat now

Hillary Clinton [VIDEO], the twice failed presidential candidate, kicked off the media round for her new book, “What Happened,” with an interview on CBS Sunday with venerable journalist #Jane Pauley. The best that can be said about the interview is that it coincided with Hurricane Irma slamming into southwest Florida and thus few people noticed. Otherwise, the interview was a delicious train wreck that caused face palms among the left and eyebrows to raise and jaws to drop among everyone else.



 
Betsy DeVos restores rule of law to colleges concerning rape allegations

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, as the Washington Examiner is pointing out, has started to reverse an Obama era directive that has made college campuses a living nightmare for far too many male students. A 2011 letter demanded that university administrations dump the standard of clear and convincing evidence and substitute preponderance of the evidence in dealing with accusations of campus rapes and sexual assaults. DeVos is now reasserting the #Rule Of Law and the Constitution to matter.



 
Jim Bridenstine is accused of wanting to ‘privatize’ NASA

A lot of the criticism of the nomination of Rep. #Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma to be NASA administrator revolves on whether or not he is a “climate denier” or as a politician not experienced enough in science and engineering to head the space agency. A recent article in Salon by Keith Spencer opens a new line of attack against the gentleman from Oklahoma. Bridenstine is in favor of “privatizing” NASA, whatever that means.



Saturday, September 09, 2017
 
In ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ the Klingons are going to be like Trump supporters

When “Star Trek” first hit the airwaves the main bad guys, the Klingons, were surrogates for the Soviets during the Cold War, The hyper aggressive, warlike aliens were a great foil for Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. By the time “Star Trek: #The Next Generation” rolled around, coinciding with a thaw in American-Soviet relations, the Klingons had become unruly allies, with even one, Lieutenant Worf, serving on the Enterprise.



 
Space visionary and science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle has died

The news that #Jerry Pournelle died suddenly at the age of 84 was met with sadness in both science fiction and space policy circles, for he was a giant in both fields. His novels, particularly the ones written in collaboration with #Larry Niven, helped to bring science fiction into the mainstream. His advocacy for space settlements, space based anti-missile systems and cheaper access to space, pioneered those concepts in the 1980s that redound to this day.



 
Why Amazon should choose Houston for its new headquarters

The announcement by Amazon.com that it wants to build a second corporate headquarters that will be the coequal of the current one in Seattle has sparked rare excitement in the major cities across the United States. Everyone will want the five billion dollar investment and the 50,000 jobs that the new facility brings with it.



Friday, September 08, 2017
 
John Deere acquires a robot farming technology company

John Deere has just acquired a company called #Blue River Technology, a startup that was formed in 2011 to automate certain aspects of farming and to provide a means to precisely apply herbicides in order to get rid of weeds while leaving the crops unsullied. The company, which is now operating as a subsidiary of John Deere, is working on automated planters and harvesters.



 
Jennifer Lawrence is pretty sure that Harvey and Irma are Mother Nature’s Wrath

#Jennifer Lawrence, noted actress most famous for appearing in “The Hunger Games” movies and, apparently, a theologian has declared that Hurricane Harvey which ravaged Texas and Hurricane Irma, which as of this writing is approaching Florida, are examples of divine wrath. It seems that “#Mother Nature” is angry with Texas and Florida for going with #Donald Trump in the most recent presidential election.



 
NASA to issue a call for proposals for commercial lunar landers

Jason Crusan, director of advanced exploration systems at #NASA, made a little bit of news at recent hearings before the House Space Subcommittee when he announced that the space agency was developing a call for proposals for commercial landers to transport payloads to the lunar surface. The move comes on the heels of a request for information that was made earlier this year concerning such vehicles. The announcement was made with representatives of three of the companies that might be called upon to provide such services, Moon Express, Astrobotic, and Blue Origin.



 
How Hillary Clinton ‘evolved’ on the illegal immigration issue

Proving that Hillary Clinton [VIDEO]will say anything if she thinks it will benefit her politically, we have the video below from 2014 in which she advocates sending unaccompanied children who had been pouring into the United States back home. The video does not exactly coincide with the current controversy over DACA. The people affected by DACA are primarily teens and adults who were brought across the border when they were children and who were granted a kind of temporarily amnesty by President Barack Obama with a constitutionally dubious executive order. President Trump has announced that he intends to rescind (maybe) that order but has given Congress six months to come up with a permanent and legal solution.



 
Americans approve of Trump’s handling of Harvey by 55 percent

As Hot Air notes, President Donald Trump seems to be doing quite well with Americans concerning Hurricane Harvey [VIDEO]. 55 percent of the American people approve of his handling of the storm and its aftermath that ravaged the central Texas Gulf coast and inundated Houston with a biblical flood. That number includes 36 percent of Democrats, remarkable as the president is universally hated by that particular political group. The numbers compare favorably to the overwhelmingly negative response to President George W. Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina, which hammered #new orleans a dozen years ago.



Thursday, September 07, 2017
 
NASA mulls how to decrease the cost of the Europa Lander

Space News is reporting that NASA has defined a baseline Europa Lander mission. However, the project is likely to cost several billion dollars, so the space agency has started to explore cheaper alternatives. The #europa lander is an initiative of Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee that handles NASA funding. The mission will land on Europa, an ice shrouded #Moon Of Jupiter, and take samples of its surface to examine in for signs of life. Europa is thought to have a warm water sub-surface ocean where alien life may reside.



 
The MasSpec pen could be a game changer for cancer detection

One of the particularly demanding aspects of cancer surgery is making sure that the all the cancerous tissue has been extracted, Surgeons, in the middle of a procedure, have to send sample tissue to a pathology lab to test it for cancer, a task that can take half an hour. The accuracy of these tests can be spotty, meaning that a surgeon sometimes does not get all of the cancer. Such misses can mean that a patient has to be subjected to more #Surgical Procedures and follow up treatments.



 
How smart stores will cut down on crime

A recent article in MIT Technology Review suggests that smart stores are going to have another benefit besides eliminating the expense of hiring check-out clerks. The stores #Run by computers with little or no human intervention will cut down on crime.



 
Elizabeth Warren is the latest to jump on the Medicare for all train

The surprise is not that Sen. #Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. signed on to the Medicare for all bill being offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. The surprise is that she took so long to announce her intentions, coming after Sen. Kamala Harris [VIDEO], D-California. Warren has two reasons to go for government run #health care, one from her convictions, the other from cold blooded political calculus.



 
Coming soon, a new confection called ruby chocolate

#Chocolate is often seen as proof that there is a God and that he loves us. The #Confection, made from the cocoa bean, comes in milk, dark, and white varieties, depending on how much added sugar, milk, and other ingredients are added. Too much chocolate tends to be bad for one, though dark chocolate is said to have some health benefits due to it having a lot of antioxidants and less sugar than other varieties.



Wednesday, September 06, 2017
 
John McCain flips on Obamacare repeal and replace

Sen. #John McCain, R-Arizona, who’s no vote was instrumental in ending an attempt to #Repeal and Replace Obamacare, has indicated that he will support another effort being put forward by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana. However, it may be too late to bring the bill to a vote in the Senate.



 
How social media can make even smart people sound stupid

Ross Pomeroy has an interesting piece on RealClearPolitics that delves into the question as to why even #Smart People post stupid stuff on #social media, such as Twitter. He quotes a book called “Thinking Fast and Slow” which divides human modes of thinking into system 1 and system 2.



 
Bernie Sanders has a great comeback to Hillary Clinton

Yesterday we reported that one of the rogues’ gallery whom #Hillary Clinton points the accusing finger of blame [VIDEO] for her defeat in the 2016 presidential election was her main rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. #Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. According to the Hill Newspaper, Sanders had a caustic response to the twice failed #Presidential Candidate. Get over it.



 
Student accused of islamophobia for mocking ISIS

One would think that mocking #ISIS, now that the forces of the civilized world are closing in on the Islamic State, would be noncontroversial. ISIS, after all, practices sexual slavery, decapitates and burns prisoners alive, throws gay people off the roofs of buildings, and carries out mass casualty terrorist attacks around the world. However, as a 21-year-old law #student named Robbie Travers at the #University Of Edinburgh found out, that proposition would be wrong.



 
Now Hillary Clinton is mad at Joe Biden for some reason

It looks like former Vice President #Joe Biden is the latest target for #Hillary Clinton’s rage in her upcoming book. What did creepy Uncle Joe do to offend Her Majesty? He said that the Democrats did not focus enough on the middle class during the last campaign. The assessment is accurate, particularly where Clinton is concerned, but the twice failed presidential candidate is having none of it.



 
TNT’s ‘Will’ canceled after a single season

Deadline Hollywood reports that TNT’s series about the early years of #William Shakespeare called “Will” has been canceled after only one season. Sadly, this decision was not surprising. The series made a number of bad decisions that turned off viewers who otherwise might have been attracted to a period drama about the life of one of the greatest poets and playwrights in history.



Tuesday, September 05, 2017
 
Rush Limbaugh asks the burning question: what if Robert E. Lee had been gay?

Rush Limbaugh recently asked an obviously rhetorical question that has eyebrows raising and people lunging to their keyboards to react with incredulity on social media. “If Robert E. Lee had been proven to be gay, would his statues still be standing?’ Rush, as he tends to do, is being outrageous to expose outrageousness, but the idea seems to be fun enough to examine to chew over.



 
What is an Italian sausage, and what is it used for?

What we call an #Italian sausage in North America consists of ground pork or turkey with fennel or anise as seasoning. A sweet Italian sausage adds basil in the seasoning, and a hot Italian sausage employs red pepper flakes. Ironically, despite the name, the “Italian sausage” is not the only variety known in Italy. The food is very versatile and lends itself to a variety of dishes, such as toppings for pizza or as an addition to pasta sauce.



 
Hillary Clinton directs her ire at Bernie Sanders

Some more excerpts from “What Happened,” #Hillary Clinton’s book of excuses about why she lost the presidency in 2016 have emerged. She directs her ire at #Bernie Sanders, the independent socialist senator from Vermont who ran for the presidential candidacy as a Democrat, according to CNN. She accuses him of restoring to “innuendo and impugning my character.” She claimed that Sanders did her “lasting damage” which set her up to get defeated in the fall at the hands of Donald Trump.



 
The battle for Jim Bridenstine’s nomination to head NASA is joined

As of this writing, the nomination of Rep. #Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma has not been officially announced, but already various luminaries in the science and space world are lining up for and against the appointment. Who these people are, including President Obama’s science advisor on one side and a prominent lunar scientist and advocate of a return to the moon on the other, is illuminating of how the politics is working out. The reasons both sides are giving are even more so.



 
Democrats to make single payer health care the center of their strategy

The Hill has a piece about the move by many #democrats, led by independent socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, to make a #Single Payer #health care plan the centerpiece of their drive to take back the House and Senate in 2018 and then the White House in 2020. The Democrats are pretty sure that “Medicaid for All” will be their ticket back to power. Republicans are equally sure that the scheme will be the pathway for their opponents to be in the wilderness for the next generation.



Monday, September 04, 2017
 
No Mutt Williams in ‘Indiana Jones 5’

We don’t know much about "Indiana Jones 5," expect that Harrison Ford is going to be in it, that the character, like the actor who plays him, will be in his late 70s, and that it is due to be released in 2020. However, IO9 reports two welcome bits of news about the project. The script is pretty much written and Henry “Mutt” Williams, Indy’s natural son, will not be a character, which means that #Shia LaBeouf will not be in the movie.



 
About Jim Bridenstine being a ‘climate change denier’

Since President Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Rep. #Jim Bridenstine (R-Oklahoma) to become NASA Administrator, an Internet lynch mob has arisen against him. It sees that the congressman is a “#Climate Change Denier.” An article in Think Progress expounds on this meme, using the politically-loaded term “denier” several times.



 
Did the Kellogg Briand Pact stop wars of conquest?

The New York Times seems to be trying to rebrand itself as a history revisionism rag. First, it published an article that claimed that sex was so great in the old Soviet Empire that it was apparently one big Playboy Mansion. Now, the Times has published a piece by two law professors at Yale that claim that the Kellogg-Briand Pact actually worked.



 
Taylor Swift is in trouble for something she didn’t say

Jazz Shaw over at Hot Air is reporting that #Taylor Swift, who has been described more than once as the living embodiment of American exceptionalism, is in trouble. She is being attacked by the Twitter mob, not for what she said, but for what she is not saying. Swift is not taking any political stands at all, not even to reveal for whom she voted in the last election. A particular group of people is taking offense at this and are drawing conclusions.



 
The Refabricator will recycle plastic on NASA’s International Space Station

In space, recycling is not just #Environmentally Conscious, but is also thought of as a necessity. With supply chains reaching all the way back to Earth, the more one can recycle on the International Space Station or a future moon base, the better. Newsweek is reporting on a new piece of equipment that the ISS is getting next year called the Refabricator,



 
How nuclear power rode out Harvey unscathed

Texas has a diverse system of power generation, including natural gas, wind power, and #Nuclear Power. A recent article in Forbes suggests that nuclear power rode out Harvey [VIDEO]pretty smoothly as compared to other #Energy Sources, providing much-needed electricity for residents and first responders in the storm’s wake.



Sunday, September 03, 2017
 
Bill Nelson getting pushback for his opposition to Jim Bridenstine as NASA chief

When President Donald Trump announced, as had been expected for months, that he intended to nominate Rep. #Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma for the position of NASA Administrator, Sen. #Bill Nelson, D-Florida reacted somewhat negatively. He suggested that it was inappropriate to nominate a “politician” for space agency chief, but rather a “space professional” should be named instead. However, Sen. Nelson is already getting some pushback, via the NASA Watch blog, because of an instance over 30 years ago when then Rep. Nelson used raw political power to get a ride on the #Space Shuttle.



 
President Trump gets touchy feely on his second trip to Texas

When President #Donald Trump first visited the Harvey strike zone in #Texas, he was all business, viewing some of the devastation and consulting with local officials about what the region needed to recover. What he was not was #Touchy Feely, hugging hurricane victims for the cameras and so on. For this lack, the president found himself warmly criticized. So, when he came to Texas a second time, visiting the flood ravaged Houston, Texas [VIDEO], the president added his media personality hate to his businessman one.



 
North Korea claims to have tested a hydrogen bomb

Overnight, #North Korea was shaken by a 6.3 earthquake in what that country claimed to be the first test of a #Hydrogen Bomb small enough to be mounted on an ICBM. The test was quickly condemned by various interested powers, including the #United States, South Korea, Japan, and China. However, the nuclear test, coupled with a recent missile test, suggests that measures to curb North Korea diplomatically and economically are not working.



Saturday, September 02, 2017
 
After Cassini scientists ponder the next targets for outer planets exploration

Cassini, the joint NASA-European Agency space probe that has been orbiting Saturn for the past 13 years, is preparing its final death dive into the ringed planet. After Cassini is gone, the next big #Outer Planets explorer will be the Europa Clipper, which will explore Jupiter’s ice bound the moon. However, scientists are already dreaming about what could follow in the exploration of the outer planets.



 
Now Texans will be allowed to carry swords in public

Just to prove that people do things different in Texas, a new law that allows people to carry swords openly has come into effect. From now on, #Texans will be allowed to sport a variety of edged weapons in public, everything from katanas to Bowie knives. The law restricts the carry of edged weapons to certain places such as bars and restaurants, schools and universities, and so on.



 
Trump’s pick of Bridenstine as NASA head gets pushback from Florida senators

As has been expected for months and reported in the media for weeks, President Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma to become the next NASA Administrator. While the move is likely to be cheered by most supporters of America’s space effort, both conducted by the space agency and commercial companies, Florida’s two United States senators are not so sure.



Friday, September 01, 2017
 
A Salt Lake City police detective illegally arrests a nurse

Detective Jeff Payne of the Salt Lake City Police Department committed the terrible folly of attempting to violate the civil rights of an unconscious hospital patient and actually violating the rights of a nurse who stopped him from doing so. He compounded this stupidity by doing these things while body cams of nearby police officers were running. Why he would do such a thing is open to conjecture and will no doubt come out in the inevitable trial. However, Reason Magazine gives a pretty good account of what went on, and the video below captures the action.



 
What should be done with Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi?

A story in the Washington Examiner notes that General Stephen Townsend, commander of the American backed coalition that is battling ISIS in Syria and Iraq, is busily trolling that rapidly shrinking number of Islamic State terrorists. In particular, he has some choice words for Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi. Noting that the so-called caliph of the Islamic State is on the run somewhere on the Syria Iraq border, General Townsend stated, “When we find him, I think we'll just try to kill him first. It's probably not worth all the trouble to try and capture him." Townsend is likely applying a little psychological pressure but he does raise the question, do we try to catch or just kill the monster?



 
Trump’s National Space Council to have first meeting ‘very soon’

When President #trump signed the executive order recreating the National Space Council, the question arose when it would start meeting and formulating #Space Policy. Greg Autry, the former NASA liaison, suggested that first meeting will happen “very shortly” during a speech at the Space Technology and Investment Forum in San Francisco, according to Space News. The Space Council will focus on defense and the economy, but will also start a return to the moon program based on commercial partnerships.



 
Sadly we have to talk about that Charlie Hebdo cartoon

The #Charlie Hebdo cartoon that depicts Texans drowning in the flood waters brought by Harvey as being neo-Nazis is outrageous and disappointing on so many levels. The graphic not only demonstrates a colossal ignorance of the #Lone Star State, its political culture, and its ethnic makeup, the cartoon is also an act of ingratitude, considering how the #United States, including a lot of children of Texas, went to the aid of France (D Day comes to mind) and even Charlie Hebdo in particular in the wake of the Islamist terrorist attack. To be sure the magazine is famous for offending everyone, but for something to be satirical, it has to have an iota of truth to it.