As we bid a fond fair well to 2017, we look ahead to the #Coming new year of 2018. Predictions of the future can be a tricky thing, even if one claims to have the powers of a Nostradamus. However, certain trends can be analyzed and conclusions drawn. On the other hand, wildcard events can occur that will upend even the most thoughtful consideration of things to come.
Saturday, December 30, 2017
Street protests have erupted across Iran with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets to call for the end of the #Islamic Republic, which has imposed its will on the #Iranian people since the 1979 revolution. The specific grievances of the protesters include a weak economy and Iranian military adventures in Iraq and Syria. Despite the ill-considered nuclear arms deal struck with the Obama administration that involved the transfer of nearly $200 billion in seized assets and the easing of economic sanctions, the Iranian people have seen little if any benefit.
Friday, December 29, 2017
When one wonders what the biggest story of 2017 is, only two present themselves as contenders. One is the #metoo phenomenon, also called “pervnado,” which started to out sexual predators, ranging from out and out rapists to crude unsocialized males.The other story is the #Donald Trump presidency.
A giant has arisen at the #Kennedy Space Center. For the first time, according to Spaceflight Insider, a Falcon Heavy rocket has been raised to the vertical position at #Pad 39A in advance of a series of ground tests and eventual launch sometime in January 2018. Pad 39A is a place heavy with history.
Thursday, December 28, 2017
As both Legal Insurrection reports, Hillary Clinton fans went ballistic on #social media at a #Vanity Fair video that suggested that the twice-failed presidential candidate, among other things, take up knitting. Two questions present themselves. #Hillary Clinton still has fans? And, what is so wrong about knitting?
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
As my readers know, I write a lot about space, both on Blasting News and in other venues, such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Hill. So, as 2017 is headed toward becoming history, it is only fitting that I take stock, steal from Time Magazine, and name my Man of the Year in Space. The winner, if you have been paying attention, should be obvious.
#Rachael Ray, the celebrity chef, and talk show host would seem to be the last person to get embroiled in Middle East politics. However, a tweet she made announcing “Holiday Feast Highlights - Israeli nite” has caused fury among Arab and Palestinian activists.
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Fans of “South Park” may be surprised that Lorde, the famous #Pop Singer, is not, in fact, a middle-aged man from Colorado, but really is a 21-year-old girl from New Zealand. Recently Lorde announced a series of concert dates that included St. Petersburg and Moscow in Russia and Tel Aviv in Israel [VIDEO]. At that point, the infamous BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) movement went to work on the young lady and applied pressure to force her to cancel the Tel Aviv concert. Lorde eventually caved in and complied with the demand. Now she is facing a #social media firestorm that includes, oddly, #Roseanne Barr
2017 has been a remarkable political year in many ways, as it must be with #Donald Trump in the White House. One reason for this fact has been the emergence of #Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina and current UN ambassador, as a rising Republican superstar. In fact a diverse number of people ranging from Professor Jonathon Adelman writing in the Huffington Post to Fox News analyst and author Ralph Peters touting her as the next president of the United States. The idea, admittedly, is very beguiling.
Sunday, December 24, 2017
An incident recently took place at Bush Intercontinental Airport that involved Jean-Marie Simon, a lawyer, private #School Teacher, and human rights activist and Congresswoman #Sheila Jackson Lee. Simon was on the last leg of a trip home, from Guatemala to Washington D.C., at the Houston airport when she was informed by the gate attendant for United Airlines that her ticket was not in the system. United claimed that Simon had canceled her ticket. Simon responded that she had done no such thing. Eventually, she was given a seat in the economy section and a $500 voucher. At that point, things began to get curious.
Saturday, December 23, 2017
The end of the current session of Congress means that the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma [VIDEO] is still in limbo, having not gotten to the full Senate. Bridenstine is being held up by a blindly partisan campaign by Democrats led by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida to deny his confirmation. Bridenstine is a young reformer whose capabilities and ideas frighten Nelson and his cohorts who are resistant to change. Fortunately, the holiday break gives the opportunity for a final push to put the congressman over the top. I suggest a three-part strategy.
Friday, December 22, 2017
The story about how the Obama administration’s Middle East policy went off the rails, primarily due to political considerations, has slowly started to leak to the media. Politico is reporting how the former president obstructed a DEA investigation into a drug and #Gun Running operation conducted by Hezbollah, a terrorist group. The Washington Times reported that the Obama White House would leak classified information about terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda for political gain.
That 1968 was a year from hell is to put the matter mildly. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Bobby Kennedy was murdered. The Tet Offensive blew the Vietnam War up from a running sore to an apocalyptic disaster. Race riot, anti-war riots, and riots just for the hell of it became a daily feature on the news. It seemed to many that the very fabric of American society was being torn apart.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Having a Christmas tree over the holidays is one of the joys and at the same time one of the hassles of the season. The tree, covered with decorations and lights, is a wondrously beautiful thing, especially with the room lights turned down. On the other hand, selecting the perfect tree outside the supermarket or at the tree farm can be a bother. If you’re not careful, you can wind up with a bedraggled, sad little thing that Charlie Brown was stuck with during his Christmas [VIDEO] special. And, the cleanup after New Year’s Day, with the needles in the carpet, is another aggravation that you don’t see on any Hallmark special. No wonder many opt for one of those artificial models with the built-in LED lights.
NASA has announced the two finalists for the next #New Frontiers mission to take place in the mid-2020s. Those missions are CAESAR or Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return and Titan Dragonfly. Moreover, the space agency selected ELSAH or Enceladus Life Signatures and Habitability and VICI or Venus In Situ Composition Investigations missions for further technological development for a future selection process.
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Chris Jones, writing in Wired, has proclaimed the International Space Station [VIDEO] the “the single best thing we did.” Many people might think that the Apollo moon landings were the greatest accomplishment in human history. I described why that might be so in “Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon” by pointing out the various scientific, political, and economic benefits Apollo caused to come into being. Continuing the effort to access the opportunities the moon offers is one reason why now three American presidents have proposed going back and why Trump’s proposal might be the one that succeeds.
The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 was one of those singular events that would have been impossible had not the fighting on the #Western Front in World War I had become static, with opposing trenches filled with armies confronting one another between Switzerland to the English Channel. The truce did not happen again on the scale that it did just five months after the First World War broke out. The 19th Century sense of chivalry that had prevailed that Christmas was soon swallowed up by the merciless brutality of 20th Century warfare that featured poison gas, aerial bombardment, and the first use of tanks and high-speed artillery.
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
As the Houston Chronicle notes, NASA has been quietly working on a lunar rover called the Resource Prospector since 2009. The mission, should it be given the go-ahead, would cost about $250 million, considered cheap by space agency standards. The current plan would be to land the Resource Prospector on the moon in the 2022-23 timeframe. Whether or not the #trump administration funds projects like NASA’s lunar rover, as well as enter into partnerships with companies such as #Moon Express and Astrobotic, will be an early sign of how serious [VIDEO]it is about going back to the moon.
Christmas just happens to coincide, roughly, with the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. A number of cultures have held celebrations on that day. In Scandinavia, the day was the occasion of the Feast of Yule, which lasted 12 days. In China, the time of the year was marked by the Donzhi Festival. Most famously, the ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia. All of the holidays featured merriment and feasting, commemorating when the days started to grow longer, and summer began to draw nigh.
Monday, December 18, 2017
Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas is well-known as a Star Wars fan. Long before that anti-Trump left invoked the current slate of films by calling itself “The Resistance,” Cruz was invoking the spirit of the Rebel Alliance in his lonely fight to defund Obamacare.
Spaceflight Insider has an interesting editorial that charts the course of #NASA’s space exploration efforts over the past 14 years or so. The piece, entitled “How NASA Became a #Ping Pong Ball,” get a lot of things right, but one crucial thing wrong. The idea that the space agency is whipsawed because of the shifting vagaries of politics is nothing new. However, the changing course of NASA during the last three presidencies is a study in how political ADD can afflict an agency that needs a sensible, long-term direction.
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Recently SpaceX made history again by launching a reused Dragon spacecraft with a version of the Falcon 9 that had a reused first stage rocket, thus paving the way for space launches at a significantly reduced cost. At the same time, SpaceX is finally getting ready for the first test of the Falcon Heavy, which will also have a reusable first stage rocket and two reusable strap-on rockets. Whimsically, CEO Elon Musk intends to use the test launch to place his Tesla Roadster electric car in orbit around Mars.
Saturday, December 16, 2017
When Arthur C. Clarke was born, #100 Years ago to the day of writing this, World War I still raged, which featured men doing combat in the skies over France in kite box-like airplanes. When he finally died on March 19, 2008, men had walked on the moon [VIDEO], and people were living and working on a space station in low Earth orbit. The reality was not quite the vision of “2001: A Space Odyssey” that had featured a vast, wheeled shaped space station, a base on the moon, and a nuclear-powered spacecraft headed to the outer planets. That real life had not entirely aligned with Clarke’s vision was not in any way an indictment of what he had foreseen.
Friday, December 15, 2017
Deadline Hollywood is reporting that #Apple, which is developing its own live streaming video service to compete with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, has bought a new untitled space series from #Ronald Moore. The series is based on the premise that the #Space Race of the 1960s never ended. It appears to be similar to the scenario depicted in this writer’s “Children of Apollo” trilogy that is centered around an Apollo mission to the south pole of the moon in the mid-1970s.
American presidents, at some point, always find themselves being compared to previous chief executives, bad ones by people who hate them and great ones by those who love them. President Donald #trump is no exception in this regard. However, the question is, which previous president does he most resemble. A group of Hollywood types is pretty sure that Trump is Richard Nixon. Yet, a case can be made that he really is the second coming of John F. Kennedy.
Thursday, December 14, 2017
The news that #Quentin Tarantino has an idea for an R rated “Star Trek” movie has raised eyebrows. Considering the director’s body of work this has also intrigued a lot of people. As Screen Rant suggests, #Gene Roddenberry’s vision was of an optimistic future in which many societal problems that afflict the modern age have been solved, telling mortality tales onboard an exploration starship in the 23rd Century. The various spinoff shows and movies have kept to that formula, though “#Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” comes closest to a little subversion of the premise.
As Ars Technica notes, Blue Origin test flew a new version of its suborbital New Shepard rocket along with a new and improved crew capsule. The crew capsule had windows on it, 3.6 feet tall, for the future enjoyment of paying passengers who will fly just past the #Edge Of Space to experience microgravity and a view of the curvature of the Earth before descending, slowed by parachutes
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
As Space.com notes, praise for President #Donald Trump’s return to the moon directive [VIDEO] has been nearly universal, from the scientific community, the commercial space sector, and Congress. The only caveat has been the question as to whether the president is serious enough about the plan [VIDEO]to commit resources and political capital to see it through. However, a piece in Salon by Keith Spencer is a lonely voice of dissent. The push to explore and economically develop the universe is all part of a conspiracy.
Despite perfectly reasonable predictions to the contrary, it turned out that the Republican Roy Moore [VIDEO]rather than the Democrat Doug Jones [VIDEO] who blew a perfectly winnable Senate seat in Alabama. Any other Republican would have won running away by double digits. Why was #Roy Moore defeated?
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
With the scandal that some are calling "Pervnado" sweeping celebrity men off of their influential positions right and left, ranging from super producer Harvey Weinstein to celebrity chef Mario Batali, some have started to dream of the scandal destroying the biggest fish of all. Led by Sen Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, a good friend of the Clintons, a group of liberals and feminists are demanding that President #Donald Trump resign because of alleged past sexual abuses. A number of women who claimed that Trump abused and assaulted them during the campaign have resurfaced. At least one is suing the president. Trump, understandably, is having none of it.
When President Donald #trump and Vice President Mike Pence announced the signing of a space policy directive [VIDEO] that sets America on a course back to the moon, response to the event was muted by a degree of skepticism. Two American presidents named George Bush had announced similar programs only to see them come to naught. Neither Trump nor Pence filled in any details, such as budgets, timetables, and especially when we might expect astronaut boots to be on the lunar surface.
Monday, December 11, 2017
In a ceremony at the White House that was brief and to the point, President Donald Trump signed #Space Policy Directive 1 that ordered the United States government, including NASA, to send human beings back to the moon. The president and Vice President Mike Pence made a few remarks that contained the usual phrases about pioneering spirit that accompanies such initiatives. However, as Laura Seward Forczyk noted, another motivation will propel the third attempt to return Americans to the moon, after almost 30 years.
The midseason finale of “The Walking Dead” [VIDEO]was suitably apocalyptic, with the #Saviors apparently turning the tables on the coalition of Alexandria, the Hill Top, and the Kingdom. The second best scene was the fight between Rick and Negan in which Rick momentarily gets his hands on Lucille and asks, in an exasperated tone, “Don’t you ever shut up?” The response was, uncharacteristically piffy, “No!” The best scene was at the very end, and it was not only an unexpected diversion from the comics, but it was searing.
Sunday, December 10, 2017
On the eve of Steven Spielberg’s paean to journalism in its days of glory, “The Post,” comes a piece in the contemporary Washington Post with the odd title, “Hillary, please don’t reject romance novels — you are a romance novel heroine.” The article was written by an author of romance novels named Lisa Kleypas, apparently in response to Ms. Clinton’s panning the genre by suggesting that it is all about women being grabbed, thrown onto a horse, and ridden off into the distance.
Saturday, December 09, 2017
According to the Washington Free Beacon, journalist Nate Silver is suggesting that there exists a high probability that the 2020 Democratic Convention will become a “brokered convention” due to the likely large number of candidates expected to run for president that year. Also, reforms that are intended to decrease the power of superdelegates, party, and elected officials who vote for a nominee, will increase the probability of a drama happening that has not occurred in living memory, since 1952.
Friday, December 08, 2017
Snow in #Houston is considered as rare as an honest person in Congress or perhaps an intact marriage in Hollywood. However, an inch and a half dusting of the white stuff on lawns and sidewalks greeted commuters on the morning of December 8, 2017. The snow and icy streets have made going to work complicated for many people, but compared to the deluge of Harvey, the unusual snowfall is not a very bad thing and can be fun, while it lasts. As of this writing, the snow and ice are not expected to last beyond sunrise.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg offered an unusual throw down against SpaceX. He appeared on CNBC and declared that the first person to land on Mars would fly there thanks to the rocket that Boeing is the prime contractor of, the #space launch system. He also claimed that the first flight of the SLS would take place in 2019 and would consist of a slingshot flight around the moon. SpaceX’s #Elon Musk had a piffy response to his counterpart’s claim.
Thursday, December 07, 2017
Sen. #Al Franken, D-Minnesota, took to the floor of the Senate and announced his resignation as a United States Senator. He stated, apparently without a hint of irony, “I am proud that during my time the Senate I have used my power to be a champion of women and that I have earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside every day.” Franken was first outed by a female radio personality who posted a picture of him groping her breasts [VIDEO] while she slept and he mugged for the cameras. A report by CBS confirmed most of the details in this article.
According to Bloomberg, a bill that will soon be offered in the #California Assembly will ban automobiles that run on gasoline in that state by 2040. However, if predictions cited the Economist are accurate, the law, if passed, will be redundant. Electric cars will be the norm, likely by before 2040. While the switch from the internal combustion engine to batteries will have a number of benefits, not all of them environmental, it will also cause a number of problems.
Wednesday, December 06, 2017
American presidents have been promising to recognize Jerusalem as #Israel’s capital and to move the United States embassy to that city from Tel Aviv for decades, even before the passage of the #Jerusalem Embassy Act in the 1990s. Those same presidents have been signing waivers, putting off that move for decades, citing diplomatic niceties, and the feelings of the Arabs, especially Palestinians.
Recently film director Steven Spielberg [VIDEO] and film star Meryl Steep sat down with the Hollywood Reporter to talk about their new movie, “The Post,” [VIDEO]along with three women who were also associated with the movie. #Tom Hanks, the film’s other star, was apparently busy doing something else. Spielberg and Streep exercised the privilege of old people by complaining about the state of the world, as two Hollywood liberals might in the Age of Trump. During the conversation, Spielberg offered an endearing image of himself among friends and family members outside the Hollywood bubble.
Tuesday, December 05, 2017
In a time when a number of members of Congress, such as John Conyers and Al Franken, are under fire from accusations of past sexual harassment and are being urged to resign their seats, another name comes to mind of someone who needs to retire to private life – #Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi needs to resign from Congress, not because she has sexually harassed anyone, but because she appears to be losing it. While the #House Minority Leader has been known to say alarming things during her career, the recently passed tax bill, versions of which are being reconciled in a conference committee, has placed her over the edge.
If he is known for anything, President #Donald Trump is known for his often toxic feuds with other celebrities, fueled by his boundless ego and his tendency to never allow a slight, real or imagined, unanswered. His new argument with former 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney was almost inevitable since the two men are opposites in so many ways. Romney has lived a life of propriety, being as he is a devout Mormon. Trump has not. On the other hand, Romney lost a presidential election that many analysts felt was winnable. Trump won his election that many of the same experts believed was unwinnable.
Monday, December 04, 2017
Most everyone who has been to a pizzeria has seen the chef hand toss the #Pizza dough in the air. Throwing pizza dough shapes and stretches it to fit the pan without it losing as much moisture as rolling it out. In any event, the #Astronauts on the International Space Station applied new meaning to flying pizza when they recently prepared snacks for movie night under the direction of Italian astronaut Paulo Nespoli.
Just a few weeks ago Republicans, especially in Washington, had concluded that Roy Moore [VIDEO] was an unacceptable person to be in the United States, which is saying a lot considering who has been a United States senator in the past (yes, I am thinking of Teddy Kennedy and #Hillary Clinton.) After all, the man has been accused of chasing teenage girls while he was in his 30s, something perfectly acceptable if one were living in the Middle Ages but not in Alabama of the late 1970s.
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Space observers have started to notice that NASA has spent the longest time in its history without a confirmed administrator. While the acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, is getting high praise for his stewardship of the space agency, NASA is in need of a steady hand at the helm to help guide it through the changes that have been planned for it and its mission. The space agency will be expected to cooperate as never before with commercial companies while charting a course back to the moon. It is hoped that a firm direction and a strategy to achieve it will pull NASA from the drift it has been caught in for the past decade or so.
Saturday, December 02, 2017
When the news was released that the first launch of the Falcon Heavy was to be delayed from late 2017 to early 2018, hardly anyone was surprised. The big, heavy lift rocket launcher being developed by SpaceX has faced numerous delays as #Elon Musk’s engineers struggle to overcome the technical challenges of building what will be the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V last flew in the early 1970s. However, when Musk announced on Twitter what he would be launching to #Mars on top of the #Falcon Heavy, the world was surprised.
Friday, December 01, 2017
“Young Sheldon,” the spin-off series of “The Big Bang Theory,” is a delightful depiction of the #Boy Genius who became the irascible Sheldon Cooper, living in 1989 East Texas in a small community south of Houston. The most recent episode, “A Patch, a Modem, and a Zantac” reveals for the first time Sheldon Cooper’s hitherto hidden role in a monumental development in space history. However, the episode needs some explaining in historical context. Some spoilers follow.
The fact that even a #San Francisco jury could acquit an illegal alien who discharged a firearm in public and killed a young woman of all charges except unlawful possession of a weapon seems shocking on its face, on a scale of the O.J. Simpson case. However, the folks at Red State suggest that the verdict that found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty of murdering Kate Steinle [VIDEO] was reasonable according to California law. Nevertheless, a #Miscarriage Of Justice has occurred.