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?
Buy the following books wherever fine books are sold
Now Available for the Amazon KindleContact Me
Return to the Moon Store
Children of Apollo Store
Top Secret Writers
Spudis Lunar Resources Blog
Marks Fine Books - Used and New
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Congress must include a return to the moon in the new NASA bill
#Space News is reporting that Congress is moving to pass a #NASA authorization bill soon and that it will be based on the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016 that was passed last year by the Senate but not by the House. That being the case, the Congress needs to tweak the bill to a certain extent to align it to the likely space policy of President Donald Trump. The bill does not mention a return to the moon, something that the current Congress needs to fix.Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?
Team Hillary Clinton have a new culprit for her defeat: Barack Obama
The various conspiracy theories involving the defeat of Hillary Clinton at the hands of Donald Trump include Russian hacking and FBI Director James Comey meddling. It looks like, according to Hot Air, that Team Hillary has come up with a new culprit for the fact that Clinton did not become the first woman president. His name is former President Barack Obama.
Iran missile test President Donald Trump’s first national security test
Fox News reports that #Iran has tested a Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile in defiance of a United Nations resolution to not do so. The rocket flew 600 miles before exploding when the reentry vehicle failed. Nevertheless Iran has previously announced that it intends to start production of the missile.
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates fired for defying President Donald Trump
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama appointee, decided to make policy by herself by ordering Justice Department lawyers not to defend President #Donald Trump’s executive order concerning refugees in court, despite the fact that it was entirely legal. (Whether it was wise is something that can be debated.) In any case, she violated her oath of office and the United States Constitution for an act of political grandstanding. The president, left with no other choice, has a simple two-word message for her.
Monday, January 30, 2017
Why Calexit is a very bad idea
Secession fever is spreading across #California like a plague, with a group working to get enough votes to put the question on the 2018 ballot. The idea behind emulating Jefferson Davis and executing something called Calexit is that California should separate from red state America and form its own liberal progressive nation. However, a recent op-ed in the LA Times smells a Republican plot. The leader of the Yes California Independence Campaign is a gentleman named Marcus Ruiz Evens, a card-carrying member of the GOP.
Why metallic hydrogen is a big deal
Recently a group of Harvard scientists achieved something that was thought possible only in theory, according to #Space Daily, and have created metallic hydrogen. They performed this feat by pressing a small sample of hydrogen between two pieces of specially treated synthetic diamond at more than 71.7 million pounds per square inch, greater than it exists at the center of the Earth. Scientists predict that the resulting material will remain stable when the pressure is removed.
De Blasio: Drunk driving not a 'serious offense' for sanctuary city law
Mayor Bill De Blasio of New York City was on the “State of the Union” show on CNN, according to the Washington Free Beacon, when Jake Tapper questioned him about New York’s status as a sanctuary city. The way the law is worded is that an illegal alien is charged with a “serious or violent crime” then New York will cooperate with federal officials. Apparently, drunk driving is not considered a serious offense if it does “not lead to any other negative outcome.” Presumably, the “negative outcome” means death or injury.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Trump administration makes a slight adjustment to immigration order
In the midst of the pearl clutching, finger pointing, virtue signaling, and mass hysteria surrounding President Donald Trump's temporary immigration ban, the New York Times reports that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has signaled a slight adjustment in the executive order. People with green cards that allow them to legally live and work in the United States will no longer be barred from entering the United States during the three-month reevaluation period. However, some may be subject to extra scrutiny.
Moon Express' hopes of winning the Google Lunar XPrize ride on Electron rocket
By almost every measure Moon Express is the front runner for the Google Lunar XPrize Moon Race 2.0. The company has become the first private group to get government permission to land on the lunar surface. It has amassed the necessary funding to mount a lunar expedition. Now, all it has to do is to make sure it has a viable launch vehicle. Rocket Lab, a company based in New Zealand, is preparing to test its Electron launch vehicle upon which Moon Express hopes to propel its lunar lander over a quarter of a million miles to the moon’s surface.
How Lena Dunham defiled the memory of Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore continues to be mourned by many millions of fans who remember her warm, funny show from the 1970s in which she was a feminist icon when such could still be charming. The New Yorker cast around for a modern equivalent to write about Mary’s passing and, having not found such a person, settled upon Lena Dunham, the perpetrator of a show on HBO called “Girls.”
Saturday, January 28, 2017
President Trump's immigration executive order sows chaos worldwide
Apparently, President Donald Trump ‘s executive order temporarily barring immigrants from countries with ties to terrorism has blown up into a major headache. #Immigration officials are interpreting the order very broadly, prohibiting legal residents of the United States who hold green cards from reentering the United States and people whose entry into the United States have already been approved. One case involves an Iraqi soldier who served as an interpreter for American forces and was being sponsored by members of his old unit. The New York Times is describing stories of people being detained at the airport, being barred from boarding flights, and even in at least one case being pulled off a plane that they had already boarded. Lives are being disrupted, and the president has the proverbial egg on his face.
Ambassador Nikki Haley to 'take names' at the United Nations
Perhaps one of the better appointments of President Donald Trump is that of former Gov. Nikki Haley to United National Ambassador. She presented her credentials and then signaled that she is going to be a UN ambassador in the mode of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, John Bolton, and Jeane Kirkpatrick.
John Hurt struts the stage and screen no more
The late John Hurt has been noted for a variety of roles, from his breakout performance as the horribly disfigured John Merrick in “The Elephant Man” to his various appearances in genre films such as “Alien,” the Harry Potter films, and Dr. Who. But two little-mentioned roles, in “A Man for All Seasons” and “1984” are defining examples of Hurt’s approach to the craft of acting.
Friday, January 27, 2017
Why Donald Trump is already a failed president
As this is written, the #Donald Trump presidency is a week old. A lot has already been written about what our orange-haired overlord has accomplished in just seven days, including starting the border wall, the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, ending a number of Obama-era regulations, and making the media’s heads explode on a daily basis. But nothing has been written about what hasn’t happened. Simply put, the Trumpocalypse has no signs of having begun yet.
New exhibit commemorating the Apollo Fire opens in Florida
According to SpaceRef, the Apollo/Saturn V Center at #NASA's Kennedy #Space Center in Florida has opened a new exhibit dedicated to the memories of Guss Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee who died on January 27, 1967 when the Apollo capsule they were in while conducting a test on the launch pad caught fire. Despite the efforts by the pad crew to get them out, the astronauts quickly died of asphyxiation while trapped in the inferno that had swept through the crew cabin.
Identity of the 's---- our president' inauguration eve fire setting boy revealed
One of the enduring mysteries surrounding the violent protests against the inauguration of President Donald Trump has been the identity of the smart mouth brat who had set a fire and then told Fox News on camera that he did it to, “S--- our president.” Presumably, the boy meant Trump, though at the time that he uttered the curse phrase heard round the world Barack Obama was having his last night as the occupant of the White House.
What John Culberson and Ted Cruz talked about at the GOP congressional retreat
While the Republican members of Congress retired to Philadelphia to discuss policy and listen to speeches by the likes of President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May, Rep John Culberson, R. Texas and Sen. #Ted Cruz, R-Texas held their own conversation. Culberson posted a picture of the two on his Facebook page with the cryptic but encouraging caption, “Today Senator Ted Cruz and I discussed how we will work together to restore NASA to the glory days of Apollo.”Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Hillary Clinton mulls TV talk show as her path to the White House in 2020
Undaunted by the second thumping she received at the polls, #Hillary Clinton is mulling the possibility of getting a TV talk show in order to prepare the battlefield for a third attempt to become president in 2020, according to Fox News. The show, which lacks a name or a network thus far, would allow Clinton to discuss the issues of the day while keeping her in the public eye before pivoting to challenge Donald Trump for a rematch in 2020.
Government bureaucrats use fake Twitter accounts to undermine President Trump
Politico is reporting on a #Twitter uprising from a number of accounts purporting to be from rebellious Park Rangers at the National Park Service, the EPA, and NASA. The tweets, much to the cheering from the left, are offering similar talking points about #Climate Change (including the long debunked notion that “97 percent of all scientists believe in global warming) and is offering defiance to President Donald Trump’s environmental and energy policies.
Would going to Mars Apollo-style unite America? Not so fast
As the future direction of NASA’s #Space program hangs in the balance, a piece in the Washington Examiner advocates a stepped up Journey to Mars program. The idea is to use part of the money saved by President Donald Trump’s across the board cut in domestic discretionary spending to add enough money to NASA to get people to Mars and back in a reasonable amount of time. The reasons for an equivalent to an Apollo program to Mars deserves some examination.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Mary Tyler Moore has died at the age of 80
Everyone of a certain age was a little bit in love with Mary Tyler Moore, To be sure her first big TV role was as the wife of comedy writer Rob Petrie in the early 1960s sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” But she dazzled in her own show, which dominated the 1970s, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” in which she played Mary Richards, the 30 something, single producer of a local news show in Minneapolis St. Paul. She was backed by a great ensemble cast, including Ed Asner as her crusty boss Lou Grant and Ted Knight as the hapless, dim-witted news anchor Ted Baxter. But she was the star attraction of the warm, funny, and sometimes poignant show.
Are you ready for a Scientists' March on Washington?
Washington D.C. is still cleaning up the debris left by the Women’s March. However, it looks like the capital of the United States had better get ready for another group of annoyed people to descend upon it, yelling, waving signs, and listening to pompous speeches. The Washington Post reports that a meme has started on Reddit and is spreading across the Internet like a plague. Prepare yourself for the Scientists’ March on Washington.
Elon Musk endorses Rex Tillerson for secretary of state
Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and a future Mara colonist, has tweeted support for Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, Why would a businessman who has been vocal about the dangers of climate change get friendly with an Exxon oil baron? Musk explains that Tillerson believes global warming is a danger and has advocated a carbon tax. On the other hand as secretary of state, Tillerson would be advancing America’s interests as defined by President #Donald Trump and those have little room for an over concern for climate change or support for a carbon tax.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
The final five in the Google Lunar XPrize race to the moon announced
With the dawning of 2017, the Google Lunar XPrize competition has entered it final stretch. The Google Lunar XPrize Foundation has announced a $1 million “diversity” award to be shared by all 16 participants. But only five teams, being the only ones who secured a launch contract, have advanced to the final stage.
President Donald Trump to advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines
Bloomberg is reporting that President #Donald Trump intends to sign executive orders that will allow for the completion of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Both projects have been the flashpoints of environmental protests and obstruction by the Obama administration. Studies have suggested that environmentalist objections to both pipeline projects were bogus. Native American objections to the Dakota Access Pipeline suggesting that it would encroach on sacred lands were also shown to be bogus.
Sen. Chuck Schumer hurts his credibility by reneging on Mike Pompeo deal
Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made a deal with Senate Republicans to allow the vote on Mike Pompeo for director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Inauguration Day along with James Mattis for Defense Secretary and John Kelly for Homeland Security Secretary. Then, Sen Ron Wyden, D-Oregon announced that he was delaying Pompeo’s confirmation, a move that Schumer agreed to. The delay engendered an angry exchange between Schumer and Sen. Tom Cotton. R-Arkansas on the Senate floor. Cotton demanded to know why Schumer had reneged on the deal. Schumer, according to the Weekly Standard, claimed that he had only speaking for himself and not the rest of the Democratic caucus. Things spiraled out of control from there.
Monday, January 23, 2017
Elizabeth Warren is now in political trouble in Massachusetts
Unless the economy implodes or President Trump is caught up in a major scandal, the Democrats are going to have major problems keeping the Republicans from padding their majority in the Senate in 2018. The opposition is defending 25 Senate seats, including the two “independents” who caucus with the Democrats. So Hot Air is reporting that the Democrats have more reason to feel heart burn in that Sen. Elizabeth Warren from deep blue Massachusetts and the darling of the far left has underwater reelection numbers. Only 44 percent of her state believe that she deserved reelection. 46 percent would like her to be retired to the private sector that she so warmly despises.
China to launch Chang'e 5 lunar sample return mission in November 2017
It looks like 2017 is going to see numerous #Space probes attempt to land on the lunar surface. While private groups such as Moon Express and Israel’s SpaceIl will try to make it to the moon under the Google Lunar XPrize competition, #china has announced that it will launch the Chang’e 5, a lunar sample return mission, in November 2017. The Chang’e 3 was the first object to land on the moon in decades a little more than three years ago. China also intends to land on the far side of the moon a year later in 2018.
Donald Trump using his pen and his phone to lift environmental regulations
One of the first moves that the new #Donald Trump administration is prepared to undertake by executive order is to dismantle the Obama era climate change regime, according to the Washington Examiner. It will end the so-called social cost of carbon metric, a top secret standard that the Obama administration had used to justify the enormous cost of many of its environmental regulations. It will also end the State Department’s authority for approving transnational pipelines. The latter move will clear the way for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the often delayed and now blocked pipeline designed to take oil from the Alberta tar sands in Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Why the ‘Women’s March’ is likely to benefit Donald Trump
The reported numbers attending the so-called “Women’s March” that occurred in Washington and 600 cities throughout the world were no doubt inflated. Everybody who conducts mass street protests does that. However, as any aerial shots of the crowds of annoyed woman (and some men) demonstrate, the actual size of the demonstrations was impressive by any measure. But unfortunately, from the perspective of the organizers of the march, the event is likely to benefit its target, #Donald Trump.
Support for Donald Trump by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick give New England fans heartburnn
The New England Patriots, heavily favored to win the AFC playoffs against the Pittsburgh Steelers, are not strangers to controversy. Deflategate comes to mind. However, as Newsweek points out, electoral politics has intruded on football. It seems that quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick are Donald Trump supporters and this fact is giving New England fans a dose of heartburn as the run-up to the Super Bowl continues.
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Sudden outbreak of the stomach flu complicates the Steelers' chances
Complicating the prospects of the Pittsburgh Steelers winning the AFC championship game against the New England Patriots is the fact that 15 of the team’s players have come down with the stomach flu. Six of the players did not suit up for practice as a result. Head Coach Mike Tomlin expressed confidence that this plague will not impede his team’s prospects of winning the big game and thus advancing to the Super Bowl.
The participants in the Women’s March has no clue about what they want
The day after Donald Trump was sworn into the office of the presidency, an event that was unthinkable by most just six months ago, hundreds of thousands of women (and some men) took to the streets to make their displeasure known. But, in the annals of mass protests, the sheer futility of the gesture is awe inspiring. To be sure they wish that Trump was not the president, but it is rather too late for that. And most of the protestors are obsessed about abortion, hence the blackballing of the pro-life anti-Trump women. But aside from that, what do these women want?
How President Donald Trump plans to use energy to pay for infrastructure
One of the first proofs that elections have consequences came when, at the very moment that President #Donald Trump took his hand from the Bible after being sworn in, a section called An America First Energy Plan appeared on the official White House website while the Obama-era section on climate change vanished. The plan is to open up federal lands to oil and gas drilling and sweep away regulations that impede energy production in the United States. The goal for the change in policy is two-fold.
SpaceX's Elon Musk's new BFF is President Donald Trump
CNN is reporting that Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, has a new BFF and his name is President #Donald Trump. This strange new alliance being the case, the development shows that Musk has an adroit sense of where to cultivate power. Eight years ago, Musk’s best friend was the newly elected President Barack Obama. Musk was even photographed showing Obama his Falcon 9 rocket shortly before it launched. The alliance was a factor in #SpaceX being a participant in NASA’s commercial crew program in which the company is developing a crewed version of the Dragon spacecraft to take astronauts to and from the International #Space Station.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Shia LaBeouf and Sabo create art to commemorate the Donald Trump inaugural
Art has always been a medium of political protest. The Donald Trump inauguration is no exception, but in this case art protests have shown up both in opposition and support of the new president.
Donald Trump and family walk part of the inaugural parade route
As expected, at a certain point during the inaugural parade, Donald Trump and extended family got out of their armed limo and walked down the route a for a while. Trump, the consummate showman that he is, waved to the crowd and gave his signature thumbs up gesture. Melania Trump, the new first lady, walked by the president’s side, looking radiant. Trump thus showed himself to the people and the reaction was ecstatic – for the most part. The Secret Service detail flanked the first family, looking grim faced. The presidential protection service really would have preferred that the first family, especially the president, had kept bullet proof armor between them and the crowd, some of which jeered at them.
Violent protests mar Donald Trump's inauguration
The mayhem that took place outside the DeploraBall the night before the Donald Trump Inauguration continued on the day of the event. Protestors, some wearing masks, rampaged in parts of Washington D.C.., throwing rocks, breaking windows, and spray painting slogans. The police dispersed the rioters with tear gas and made arrests as storeowners and passersby huddled in terror.
As Donald Trump becomes president climate change section vanished from White House website
President Donald Trump had just taken his hand off the Bible, having completed his oath of office, when the extensive climate change section on the official White House website. The move was abrupt and has caused something of a social media firestorm with the global warming community. To add insult to injury, a section promising more oil and gas drilling showed up as part of the so-called “America First Energy Plan.”
President Donald Trump touts technology in his inaugural address
Alan Boyle of Geekwire notes a paragraph of Donald Trump’s inaugural address in which the new president noted how technological advances are going to make America great again, to coin a phrase. The remarks were seen as a bright spot in a speech seen by many to be combative and populist.
Hillary Clinton greeted at Donald Trump’s inaugural ceremony with jeers
Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017 was not what Hillary Clinton had imagined it to be. When she took her seat at the podium, accompanying her husband, former President Bill Clinton, she was greeted with jeers from Trump supporters in the crowd and chants of, “Lock her up!” The display was thoroughly lacking in magnanimity but it did illustrate that the bitterness of the campaign yet lingers and is coming from both sides. Hillary supporters rioted the night before. Supporters of the new president confined themselves to making rude chants.
President Donald Trump delivers the 'Forgotten Man' inaugural address
President Donald Trump took to the podium and give his inaugural address, which some are already calling the “Forgotten Man Speech.” It was a full-throated, populist restatement of the president’s agenda that he had pushed for throughout the campaign trail. If there was any reconciliation in the address, it was a call to reconcile behind him and what he now intends to do to remake the United States and to place the Barack Obama legacy upon the ash heap of history.
Chuck Schumer gives statesmanlike speech at Trump swearing in
With the departure of Barack Obama from public office, if not from the public scene, and the decimation of other Democratic office holders in the last few elections, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer finds himself the highest ranking elected Democrat. It therefore fell to him to represent the loyal opposition to Donald Trump during the swearing in ceremony. According to the Washington Times, the speech was not received well by many in the audience, Trump supporters for the most part. But it did strike statesmanlike tones and themes, in stark contrast with many Democratic House members who boycotted the ceremony.
Team Donald Trump wanted tanks and missile launchers in inaugural parade
One report in the Hill Newspaper suggested that Team Donald Trump wanted tanks and missile launchers included in the inaugural parade. The military shot the idea down, noting that the grade of Pennsylvania Avenue would not bear the weight of the vehicles. However, there were flyovers of military jets planned.
Trump inauguration greeted with riot and anger outside the DeploraBall
The inauguration of a president of the United States, no matter how heated the campaign, no matter what the politics or personality of the man being sworn in, is always an impressive spectacle. Not everyone is greeting the #Trump inauguration with joy, however. The night before Donald Trump was sworn in, a group of anti-Trump activists rioted outside one of the unofficial balls, called artfully the DeploraBall.
Can Donald Trump make America great again?
Donald Trump ascends to the presidency with no one having a neutral opinion about him. Half the country awaits his becoming president with the eagerness of the people of Paris awaiting the advent of the liberating allied armies in 1944. The other half regard his presidency with the same dread as the people of the same city did the arrival of the Nazis in 1940.
Barack Obama leaves the presidency with a legacy of failure
By every measure, #Barack Obama leaves the office of the presidency with a legacy of failure. Americans are poorer, less safe, more bitterly divided, angrier, and more cynical than when he entered it. To say that the world would have been better off had Obama lost in 2008 would be to put the matter mildly.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
It looks like Donald Trump is serious about cutting government spending
While the media is entertaining us and each other about boycotts of Donald Trump’s inauguration and fake news about some of his cabinet nominees, The Hill points out that the real consequences of the election are about to come like the arrival of the Visigoths to Rome. Team Trump is planning to shrink the size of #Government in a dramatic fashion, eliminating about $10.5 trillion over the next ten years.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Wyoming mulling a war on wind and solar
Forbes is reporting on a bizarre new twist on the energy wars. Hitherto both the federal and some state governments have thrown restrictions on the drilling and use of fossil fuels. Now the state of Wyoming in contemplating what is, in effect, a ban on solar and wind energy in the state.
Tucker Carlson exposes Dom Tullipso as a fraud on Fox News
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson proved why he is rapidly becoming the king of cable news when he started his primetime show with an interview with someone calling himself Dom Tullipso. Tullipso claims that he is the head of something called Demand Protest, which purports to pay people $2,500 a month to protest against incoming President Donald Trump. However, the #Fox News research team did their due diligence with Mr. Tullipso, according to Mediaite, and so Carlson opened the segment by destroying his guest.
‘The Martian’s’ Andy Weir sells ‘Mission Control’ pilot to CBS
Andy Weir, the author of the bestselling science fiction novel “The Martian” which became a 2015 hit movie starring Matt Damon, announced on his Facebook page that he had sold a pilot to CBS for a proposed TV series entitled “Mission Control.” The series will feature astronauts on board the International #Space Station and the flight controllers and scientists at the Mission Control Center in Houston who supports them. The show will evidently be set in contemporary times. The project is currently in pre-production with casting pending.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Corinne makes a big mistake on 'The Bachelor' with a trench coat and whipped cream
One of the reasons that reality shows have the audience they enjoy is the lengths that some of the participants will go to win the prize. For instance, in “#The Bachelor,” the prize is for a bevy of beautiful young women to earn the hand of a handsome bachelor and an expensive engagement ring along with him, though the latter is only if the couple stays together for two years. For example, we can point to what the beautiful, blond, ‘business owner” Corinne tried to do to get Nick Vail, this year’s bachelor, into bed.
Why mining asteroids and the moon will not destroy the world's economy
A British tabloid called the Daily Star, noting the recently announced plan for #NASA to send a probe to the main belt protoplanet called 16 Psyche, claimed that unnamed experts had pegged its value, mainly in iron, nickel, and other materials, at $10,000 quadrillion. Considering that the protoplanet is 130 miles in diameter, the figure sounds about right. Then the story claims that if 16 Psyche were to be brought to Earth, it would destroy the world’s economy, likely for depressing commodity prices.The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Gene Cernan Twitter lament causes social media firestorm
On the occasion of the death of Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, Neil deGrasse Tyson left a tweet that lamented more than just the passing of an American hero. “In 1927 Lindbergh flew from NY to Paris. 45 yrs later, in 1972 we last walked on the Moon. 45 yrs later, in 2017 we… we… we…” The tweet has caused something of a social media firestorm, largely from people who misunderstand what the celebrity astrophysicist was getting at.
Someone should write a book about it.
Monday, January 16, 2017
Gene Cernan, the last moonwalker, has died at 82
Gene Cernan, the last moonwalker, has died at the age of 82. Cernan is most famous for having commanded the mission of Apollo 17, the last mission that carried human beings to the lunar surface in December 1972. He was also on the lunar orbital mission of Apollo 10 and the Earth orbit flight of Gemini 9. Previous to Cernan’s #NASA career he served as a Navy aviator. He retired as a Captain.
Moon Express will shoot for the moon on a rocket with a 3D printed engine
When Moon Express mounts what it hopes to be the first private expedition to the moon later in 2017 in its quest for the Google Lunar X Prize, it will be doing so using an unproven rocket, the Electron, built by a company called Rocket Lab. The Electron, according to 3D Printing Industry, is powered by the Rutherford engine, the first to be constructed with primarily 3D printed parts. If the rocket succeeds, it will represent a leap and a first in engine #technology.Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?
Donald Trump raises eyebrows about the EU, NATO, and 'universal health care'
President Elect Donald Trump is causing heartburn, even among his supporters, with recent remarks about the European Union, NATO, and universal #Health care. He expounded on the first two subjects in an interview with the German newspaper Bild. The Washington Post reported on Trump’s musing on the latter subject.
Valentina Tereshkova, first woman in space, boasts that Russia will be the first on Mars
Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in #Space, boasted to a meeting of gifted Russian children, that #Russia would be the first to land humans on Mars. She also had some things to say about the fact that the United States is dependent on Russian spacecraft to fly to the International Space Station. She lamented that at the age of nearly 80 she would be too old to embark on such an expedition herself.The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Joss Whedon wants a rhino to perform an unnatural act on Paul Ryan
Joss Whedon is a beloved TV show and filmmaker, having created such TV shows as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly” and the first two “Avengers” movies. He is also an infuriated man, made more so by the election of Donald Trump. Most recently, for some reason, he decided to tweet a rude suggestion about Speaker Paul Ryan.
Carrie Fisher will not be brought back digitally as Princess Leia after all
Rumors to the contrary, Entertainment Weekly reports that LucasFilm will not resurrect Princess Leia digitally in Episode 9 of the “#Star Wars” series. Through the use of computer technology, the Grand Moff Tarkin was brought back for “Rogue One” despite the fact that Peter Cushing, who played him in the original movie, has been dead for over 20 years. The young Princess Leia was also recreated. Carrie Fisher, the actress who played Princess Leia in the original trilogy and in “The Force Awakens,” died tragically at the age of 60 of a coronary event.
Rand Paul to offer Obamacare replacement bill
As congressional Republicans move swiftly the effect the orderly and long overdue demise of Obamacare, Democrats are offering hysterical jibes on the theme that the GOP has no plan to replace it with and when they do come up with one, it will likely kill a lot of people. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, plans to offer an Obamacare replacement bill very soon. As of this writing, the details of the bill have not been made public, but the general outlines of a replacement proposal are starting to take shape.
Peter Thiel is mulling a run for governor of California
It looks like that the idea of eccentric billionaires running for high public office may be catching. Politico is reporting that Peter Thiel, the gay, Silicon Valley tycoon with libertarian leanings who supported Donald Trump is thinking of running for governor of #California. That his prospects are daunting is to put the matter mildly. California is a deep blue state that is dominated by the Democratic Party and which went for Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly in the last election, giving her along with New York State much of her edge in the popular vote. On the other hand, he provides the formerly Golden State a much-needed perspective as it struggles under the misrule of Democrats.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Donald Trump hits back at John Lewis for calling him illegitimate
Rep John Lewis, D-Georgia, is a hero of the civil rights movement, something that has allowed him to say alarming things more recently. Lewis has declared that Donald Trump is not a “legitimate” president because of what he sees as Russian influence in his election. Trump, who generally never gives anyone a pass when they attack him, was not amused and said so in a series of tweets, according to The Hill.
German court hands down suspended sentences in firebombing of synagogue
In a ruling that is raising eyebrows across the world as well as concerns for the safety of Jews in one of Europe’s largest countries, a German appellate court upheld a lower court ruling that handed down suspended sentences to three Palestinians who firebombed a synagogue in the town of Wuppertal. The court declared that the firebombing that caused less than a thousand Euros worth of damage was motivated by “legitimate criticism of Israel” and not anti-Semitism. Ironically, the same synagogue was burned by Nazis in 1938.
Friday, January 13, 2017
Moon Express has raised the money for private lunar expedition
One of the truths that has hampered the exploration of #Space has been the lack of money to undertake all the projects that some would want to do. The fact applies to big space agencies such as NASA and small, commercial startups. Money will no longer be a barrier for Moon Express’ quest to be the first private company to land on the moon. The company announced that it has raised $20 million to finance its first attempt to land its MX-1E spacecraft on the lunar surface by the end of 2017.
Showrunner of 'The Americans' comments on Donald Trump and current relations with Russia
The cast and the producers of “The Americans,” including former CIA agent turned #Television showrunner Joe Weisberg, held a presser in advance of the March beginning of the show’s second to last season. The show depicts the adventures of two deep cover Soviet agents in 1980s Washington in the shadow of the end game of the Cold War. Naturally, the subject turned to contemporary American Russian relations, Donald Trump, and accusations of computer hacking.
Barack Obama slams the door on Cuban refugees
With about a week left in his presidency, #Barack Obama has suddenly ended the so-called wet foot-dry foot policy for Cuban refugees. Henceforth, at least until Donald Trump reverses the order soon, Cubans seeking to flee tyranny in the island nation will be subject to deportation. The new policy is seen as part of the president’s effort to restore normal relations with the Castro government. Of course, the United States government will still consider asylum requests as it does with emigres from other countries.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Sen Lindsey Graham apologizes to Sen Ted Cruz for suggesting he could be killed
Last February 2016, in the heat of the presidential campaign, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina opined that if Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas were to be murdered on the floor of the Senate, the assassin would get away with it so hated the man was. Cruz had become a constant irritant to his fellow senators, forcing them to take stands on Obamacare and spending that they rather not have done. However, the old adage that that was then and this is now applies. Graham and Cruz are joining forces to defund the United Nations unless and until it rescinds the anti-Israel resolution the Security Council passed with the tacit support of the Obama administration. Graham openly apologized to Cruz for suggesting he could be killed according to The Hill.
Is it time for a sequel to 'Hidden Figures?
“Hidden Figures,” the movie about how three African American women helped shape the early #Space program while battling against the culture of discrimination that adhered at the beginning of 1960s America, has become the number one movie in America, edging out the previous front runner, “Rogue One.” The movie has had a lot of crossover appeal, attracting both white and black audiences with its inspirational story. The inevitable question arises, could there be a sequel?
Rex Tillerson jousts with Marco Rubio over Vladimir Putin
When it was Rex Tillerson’s turn to face a confirmation hearing he found himself jousting with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida over whether or not Russian President #Vladimir Putin is a war criminal and a human rights abuser. Tillerson, who has been nominated to be soon to be President #Donald Trump’s secretary of state, was reluctant to say that Putin was those things categorically. Rubio was unsatisfied with those answers and suggested that he might vote against him. If every other Democrat also votes against, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have voted not to recommend confirmation.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Donald Trump abuses CNN reporter at raucous press conference
#Donald Trump, proving once again, to paraphrase Napoleon, that it is sometimes better to be a lucky politician than a good one, held his first post-election press conference the day a fake news story was published by Buzzfeed and reported on, to some extent, by CNN, blew up. The story was a lurid tale of Trump, Russian hookers, shadowy deals with agents of Vladimir Putin, based on what American intelligence concluded was an attempt at disinformation. However, Buzzfeed did a document dump, and CNN reported on what the webzine had done. The development allowed Trump to beat up on a CNN reporter during the news conference as the hapless journalist sputtered denials.
Sen Ted Cruz and Rep John Culberson to have more influence over space policy
The new congress has set about making committee assignments. According to #Space Policy Online, two powerful Texas legislators have been returned to chairmanships of subcommittees that will have an increased role in determining the future of the United States space program during the Donald Trump presidency. Sen. #Ted Cruz, R-Texas will chair the Senate Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee. Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas will continue to lead the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA. Both men are champions of space exploration and, to varying degrees, commercial space. Donald Trump’s attitude toward space is more in line with that of these two Texans than was Barack Obama.
Cory Booker starts his run for president to go after Jeff Sessions
Sen Cory Booker, D-New Jersey is set to testify against Sen Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama during the latter’s confirmation hearings as Attorney General. The gambit is seen as a breach of Senate etiquette and, in any case, a quixotic gambit. After his adroit performance during the first day of hearings, Sessions is widely judged to be easily confirmed. So why is Booker, who had once allied with Sessions to pass civil rights legislation, going after his fellow senator?
Buzzfeed tale of Donald Trump, secret deals with Putin agents, & Russian hookers collapses
Social and other media is buzzing (so to speak) about a report in Buzzfeed that claims that the Russians have “compromising” information on Donald Trump, The report contains stories of Trump operatives making secret deals with Russian and that the President Elect had Russian prostitutes performing “golden showers” on him. The story started to fall apart within hours of its publication. Indeed, the story was known to a number of news media outlets, but even the most stridently anti-Trump websites and newsmagazines refused to run the unsubstantiated charges.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Donald Trump chooses anti-vaxxer Robert Kennedy Jr. to study vaccination safety
President Elect Donald Trump caused considerable alarm in the #Health care community when he summoned Robert Kennedy Jr to the Trump Tower and then appointed him to a vaccination safety panel. Unfortunately the younger RFK, nephew of President John F. Kennedy, is a leader of the so-called “anti-vaxxer” movement, which believes that a link exists between childhood vaccinations and autism. The theory was first posited in a 1998 article in the British medical journal Lancet. 12 years later Lancet was obliged to retract the article when it was revealed that the underling study was based on, at best, dodgy data and was funded by lawyers representing parents who claimed that their children were given autism by vaccines.
Report: Contestants on 'The Bachelor' are not paid
The whole purpose of “reality shows” like “The Bachelor” is that they are relatively cheap to make in comparison to scripted TV. To be sure, the contestants are vying for a prize, money sometimes, a cookbook contract on “Masterchef,” or the chance to become the heir to Adam and Jamie on the new “Mythbusters.” However, if a report on Mic is accurate, the contestants on “#The Bachelor” are shamelessly exploited. Not only are they not paid for their appearances, but the single prize is an expensive engagement ring that they don’t get to keep unless they stay with the Bachelor for at least two years.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar seriously does not like 'The Bachelor'
The current season of “The Bachelor” is on, featuring a group of beautiful women vying for the attention of a smoldering handsome man, with the attended drama, emotions, skin, and smooching. The ladies range from a food server to an “aspiring dolphin trainer,” while the object of their desire is a 36 year old software sales executive. The show has its following, since it has remained on the air year after year. But “The Bachelor” has its detractors as well, most recently basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar has called “The Bachelor” the equivalent of “romance porn.” He penned his critique in a guest column in “The Hollywood Reporter.”
American military tests Perdix micro-drone swarm delivered by F/A-18 Super Hornets
The Defense Department announced that the United States military successfully tested a swarm of 103 Perdix micro-drones programmed to fly and act in concert, much like bees. The 103 drones were dropped by three F/A-18 Super Hornets. The artificial intelligence software that guided the six inch long drones allowed the swarm to exhibit “collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying and self-healing,"
The anti-Trump protest movement starts to fall apart
Proof positive that the Trump years are going to be entertaining has arisen due to a speck of dust up resulting from the planned protests at the Inauguration. Hot Air relates the story of a woman named Jennifer Willis who had expected to attend the rally with her daughters. But she was put off by a blog post by another woman named ShiShi Rose that people like her should check their privilege regularly if they mean to attend the protest. Willis has decided instead to stay at home and yell at the television.
Joe Biden to wage a personal war on cancer during his post-vice presidency
When people have been at the pinnacle of power for eight years, figuring out what to do next can be difficult. That situation is not the case for Joe Biden, soon to be the former vice president. He has decided to spend the rest of his life waging a personal war on cancer, launching the Joe Biden Cancer Initiative. He is motivated by the fact that he is in the sad position of being a parent who outlived one of his children, thanks to the death of his son Beau from Brain Cancer. Biden was already the moving force behind the so-called Cancer Moon Shot which deploys government resources to find cures and other treatments for the pernicious set of diseases that start in various parts of the body to take the lives of over half a million Americans a year. To be sure, thanks to new treatments and preventative measures, that number represents a decrease in recent years. But it is not yet zero.
Monday, January 09, 2017
Breakthrough Starshot and European Southern Observatory to hunt for Alpha Centauri planets
The International Business Times announced that the Breakthrough Institute, which proposed Project Starshot to send nanoprobes to Alpha Centauri, has made a deal with the European Southern Observatory to hunt for planets that may be orbiting that star, one of the nearest to our solar system. After upgrades are made to the VISIR instrument on the Very Large Telescope located in Chile, the search for planets will commence starting likely in 2019.
Meryl Streep helps to turn the Golden Globes into an anti-Trump pity party
One of the most annoying things that happen during #Hollywood awards ceremonies is when actors decide to turn their acceptance speeches into political rants as if pretending to be other people gives them license to do so. The Golden Globes was no exception. The first ceremony of awards season was broadcast in the shadow of the coming great Donald Trump terror. Meryl Streep, who once played Margaret Thatcher, took the occasion of her lifetime achievement award to paint an apocalyptic vision of what is to come for the entertainment industry under the Orange Haired Overlord.
How did 'Hidden Figures' became a smash hit in Donald Trump's America?
In its first weekend in wide release, “Hidden Figures” came within $200,000 of overthrowing “Rogue One” as number one movie in America, despite being in 1,500 fewer auditoriums. The phenomenon suggests a mystery. How was it that a film about three black women struggling against racism to help put the first American into orbit in the early 1960s became such a smash hit in Donald Trump’s America? To listen to the media, this unexpected popularity should be impossible in a nation divided by racism and sexism that just elected a monster as president.
Sunday, January 08, 2017
The departure of Judith Currey from Georgia Tech is a wake up call for climate science
The departure of Judith Currey from her safe, tenured position at Georgia Tech should provide a wake-up call for the field of climate #Science, a discipline that has been rocked by corruption and well-founded accusations of political bias. Currey, while an eminent climate scientist, does not subscribe to the revealed orthodoxy that global warming is human caused and will inexorably cause the death of humanity unless it is addressed with draconian policy measures. For her pains, she had been subjected to savage abuse in the media and scientific community. So she has decided that her efforts would be best made outside the academia bubble.
'Mythbusters: The Search' reinvents the old show as competition reality
“Mythbusters” has returned, in a manner of speaking, in the form of a competition reality show called “Mythbusters: The Search.” The show has been transformed into something like “American Idol” except for engineers, technicians, and builders instead of singers. The series started with ten would be mythbusters vying for the title to replace Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman by taking on myths and being eliminated one by one. The first episode involving building a sideways ejector seat depicted in one of the “Fast and Furious” movies. The original guys had already done the vertical kind seen in the James Bond movies. The show also did a brief foray into “deflategate” to find out if a deflated football really is easier to catch.
Saturday, January 07, 2017
United States House votes to condemn UN Security Council anti-Israel resolution
The Obama administration’s decision to abstain on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Jewish settlements in the West Bank has been roundly condemned as a stab in the back against an American ally. The depths of opposition to the decision became manifest recently when the House of Representatives voted 342 to 80 to condemn the resolution and, by extension, Obama’s decision to allow it to pass. The vote, which was symbolic, may be just the beginning of the other shoe dropping. Sentiment is growing in #Congress to accept a proposal by Sen. Ted Cruz and others to cut off funding for the United Nations unless and until that body reverses its anti-#Israel resolution. The move might well cripple the world body’s ability to operate since the United States provides 22 percent of its budget.
Russia carried out disinformation campaign against oil and gas fracking
Around the same time that the federal government’s intelligence community reported that #Russia ran an operation attempting to influence the outcome of the 2016 election for Donald Trump, it has been revealed that Moscow has been running a disinformation operation against fracking. The Washington Examiner reports that Russia has been using its government controlled new agency RT to claim that fracking, the technique of forcing oil and natural gas out of shale formations by injecting them with fluid, is environmentally hazardous. The idea seems to have been to support environmentalist demands to get the practice banned in the West.
Friday, January 06, 2017
Woman claims that aircraft dumped human waste on her property, car
A woman living in West Jordan, Utah, near the Salt Lake City Airport, believes that a commercial aircraft flying into or out of the airport dumped a load of human waste on her car and surrounding property. She would like someone to clean it up and for the incident not to reoccur. The claim presents a challenge, however.
NASA guy explains why the space agency doesn't build reusable rockets and why he is wrong
Over at Forbes, a gentleman named Robert Frost, who works for #NASA and had no relation to the poet, tries to answer the question, why doesn’t NASA invest in reusable rockets? After all, the Space Launch System, a great as it is, is going to be expensive to operate because it will be a traditional, throw away rocket. Frost has two answers to this question.
Is Hillary Clinton serious about running for mayor of New York?
The rumor that #Hillary Clinton has elicited reactions ranging from head scratching to yelps of astonishment. The conventional wisdom is that she is so popular with New Yorkers that she will sweep all before her, taking our the mediocre De Blasio and getting what would amount as a consolation prize for having lost the presidency twice. One question, however, does arise.
Thursday, January 05, 2017
Tucker Carlson moving to Megyn Kelly's time slot is the last laugh against Jon Stewart
The replacement of the departing Megyn Kelly with Tucker Carlson was an outside the box but, in retrospect, an obvious, brilliant move. Ever since Carlson was given a show in the seven o’clock Eastern timeslot, his cache has rocketed into the stratosphere. His hard hitting interviews, his caustic wit, and his evident preparedness has revealed a cable news superstar that had been always there inside the man who has been around TV for decades. Carlson’s seemingly instant success is also an example of he who laughs last laughs best.
Four African Americans kidnap and torture white special needs man in Chicago
The bare facts of what is likely to be one of the most shocking hate #Crime in recent memory are known. Four African Americans in Chicago kidnapped and held a white special needs man, tied and gagged him, and beat, kicked, and cut him for hours while screaming, “F--- white people! F--- #Donald Trump!” In a macabre twist, the perpetrators live streamed the torture on #Facebook. The four are in custody, and their victim has been treated at a hospital and is being questioned by detectives. He is said to be disoriented and traumatized.
Students compete to fly experiments to fly experiments on Team Indus' moon mission
As Team Indus, the Indian entry in the Google Lunar X Prize race to the moon, readies its lander for flight it has started a competition for students in that country for flying experiments to Earth’s nearest neighbor. In so doing the team has expanded participation in what may be Asia’s first landing on the lunar surface. 3,000 teams of students under 25 are vying for the right to fly an experiment to the moon. A list of the Lab2moon experiments that will fly to the moon will be announced in March, according to the Hindu newspaper.
Wednesday, January 04, 2017
NASA chooses two new Discovery class missions to explore asteroids
#NASA has selected the two next Discovery class missions to explore destinations in the solar system. One mission, Lucy, will visit a group of asteroids known as Trojans which share the orbit of Jupiter. The other mission, Psyche, will visit a huge, nickel iron asteroid. Discovery class missions are low cost that can be mounted in a relatively short time. Past examples of Discovery missions include Mars Pathfinder, Lunar Prospector, and Dawn, the latter having explored the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper
How NBC was able to poach Megyn Kelly away from Fox News
#Fox News was so keen to keep Megyn Kelly in her evening slot between Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity that it was willing to pay her just about anything she wanted. But in the end, NBC was able to offer Kelly something that Fox could not, a position that facilitated life work balance. Over at NBC, Kelly will host a morning news and interview show during the week and a Sunday night newsmagazine. She will also be available to provide analysis as needed during breaking stories, primarily political developments.
American scientist warns of Chinese missions to the moon
Recently the Chinese announced a mission to the far side of the moon in 2018 and another to Mars by 2020. Paul Spudis, a planetary and lunar scientist who writes about #Space policy, recently focused on China’s lunar ambitions in Air and Space Magazine, including a sample return mission that China is planning for 2017. He sees larger national security implications. Both the sample return mission and the far side mission will demonstrate China’s ability to move space assets at will as well as serve as precursors for crewed missions to the lunar surface.
Tuesday, January 03, 2017
Bridenstine will not scrap the Space Launch System and Orion to return to the moon
Recently Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma, opened his mind about the necessity of returning to the moon on his congressional blog. His reasoning will be familiar with people who have delved into the issue. Essentially, the water ice that resides at the lunar poles, as well as other valuable minerals, makes the moon valuable real estate to visit and to commercially exploit. Also, the Chinese are keen to go to the moon, and since Beijing is a potentially hostile power, it behooves the United States and its allies to do the same.
American Cuba policy about to make a sharp turn under Donald Trump
President Barack Obama offered the carrot to #Cuba by normalizing relations and calling for an end to the economic embargo. Despite the fact that Fidel Castro has finally passed beyond this mortal coil, his brother Raul is continuing the repressive ways of the communist government with savage abandon. The carrot is about to be replaced by the stick, according to the Washington Times, when #Donald Trump becomes president.
Donald Trump declares North Korea will not have nukes capable of reaching America
Kim Jung Un, the corpulent dictator of North Korea, has promised that a test of an ICBM capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to the American homeland is forthcoming soon. President-Elect #Donald Trump tweeted, "North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen!" The folks at the Resurgent newsletter are now afraid that Trump, known for his provocative tweets, is daring Kim, known for being and acting insane, to try to lob a nuclear weapon on – say – California.
Monday, January 02, 2017
Some New Year's resolutions for Hillary Clinton
Politico is saying that losing a presidential election is like being dumped, which is idiotic because a person who has been dumped from a relationship has been rejected by one person while the loser in a presidential election was rejected by the whole country. With this is mind, we offer some New Year’s resolutions for #Hillary Clinton.
Will 2017 be the year the private sector lands on the moon?
One of the events people may well be celebrating is the first landing on the moon by a private organization, thanks to the Google Lunar X Prize. The questions that make the new moon race interesting is which private group(s) will accomplish the feat that hitherto only national #Space agencies have done and which will be first.The Last Moonwalker and Other Stories
Sunday, January 01, 2017
In 'Hidden Figures' the struggle for civil rights meets the race to the moon
Two of the singular events in the 1960s were the Apollo race to the moon and the struggle for civil rights. The two rarely intersected. One time that they did happened when the Reverend Ralph Abernathy led a protest march to the site of the launch of Apollo 11 to use the event to remind the nation of the problems of poverty, crime, and education that then as now blighted many African Americans. “Hidden Figures,” which goes into wide release on January 6 is another occasion when the struggles of African Americans met the #Space program. The story is both illuminating and uplifting.
Rep Joe Bridenstine emerging as pick for NASA administrator
Rep. Joe Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma is emerging as a consensus pick for NASA administrator, awaiting only the final approval of President-Elect #Donald Trump, according to the Wall Street Journal. The announcement could come as early as the first week in January, but that and the Bridenstine pick is subject to change.Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?
Will self-driving cars really mean a shortage of donor organs and does it matter?
Proving that some people will see a dark side to everything, Popular Mechanics suggests that the future of self-driving cars is going to cause more people to die on waiting list for donor organs because fewer people will die in auto accidents. Self-driving cars are not subject to distracted driving, road rage, and so on. Thus, far less than the over 38,000 people who died in car crashes in 2015 will perish, meaning their organs will be unavailable to people who need them.