Random thoughts on politics, current events, popular culture, and whatever else interests me.
Mark R. Whittington is a writer residing in Houston, Texas. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel of suspense Nocturne which he coauthored with his wife, Chantal, The Children of Apollo trilogy, The Last Moonwalker and Other Stories, Gabriella’s War, The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper, and Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?
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Friday, March 31, 2017
Harry Mudd to return in ‘Star Trek: Discovery’
#Harry Mudd, or as his beloved wife Stella calls him “Harcourt Fenton Mudd,” is one of the more beloved characters from classic “Star Trek.” Mudd was an interstellar con artist who made the lives of the Starship Enterprise’s crew exciting, twice in the live action series, and once again in the animated series. Whether the scheme was a drug that made women more desirable or android women who would do anything one desired, Mudd was more of a rascal, albeit a sleazy one, than a villain. He was played with a large zest by the late Roger C. Carmel. In a kinder universe, Mudd would have gotten his own spinoff series.
Climate scientists propose ‘red teams’ to check climate change conclusions
The recent climate change hearing conducted by the House Science Committee was created by yelps of outrage from many corners of the media. The witnesses were all climate scientists, but only one, Michael Mann, was a firm believer in global warming. The hearing featured a lot of posturing and accusations of bad faith. However, according to the Washington Post, one useful proposal arose from the event. The idea is to select so-called “red teams” to challenge the conclusions by many in the scientific community that #Climate Change is real, is caused by human activity, and has to be dealt with by draconian measures.
March for Science organizers object to Bill Nye because he's a white guy
The so-called March for Science, which is supposed to highlight the importance of science in American life, has already started to go off the rails with social justice infighting. At issue is the selection of Bill Nye as the March’s chair, according to Heat Street. To be sure, Nye’s choice is curious, to begin with, because he is not a scientist but rather an engineer. His main claim to fame was his stint as the host of a children’s science program in the 1990s. However, some of the March’s organizers are objecting to Nye as its leader, not because he is a non-scientist, but because he is a white male.
SpaceX launches a satellite with a Falcon 9 with a reused first stage
Recently #SpaceX launched a communications satellite called SES SA that was built in Luxembourg and will serve Latin America into space. The launch would have been routine except for the fact that the #Falcon 9 rocket included a first stage that had been landed and recovered from a previous flight. This aspect of the flight is being hailed as a historic first in the history of spaceflight, paving the way to an era of reusable rockets and low-cost space travel.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Scientists debate go directly to Mars or return to the moon first
One group of people that is very excited at the prospect of a Trump inspired push beyond low-Earth orbit is the scientific community. The 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference recently met in the Woodlands, a planned community north of Houston, to discuss the latest findings in space science and to debate the future direction of the American space program. The discussion revolved around the question of whether to continue on NASA’s Journey to Mars or to divert to the #moon, as some inside the Trump administration seem to favor. According to a story in Scientific America by Leonard David, the moon first faction had the better argument.
How 3D printing and not public policy will reduce the cost of healthcare
One of the inconvenient truths of #Public Policy is that advances in technology will have more of an effect on lowering the cost of healthcare than will the machinations of politicians and bureaucrats (the latter often having the opposite effect.) After all, how much do we spent on polio besides vaccinations these days? In any case, the latest proof of the maxim was described in a recent article Longitudes about the coming 3D printing revolution in medicine.
Joss Whedon to helm stand alone 'Batgirl' movie
IO9, among other media outlets, reports that a “Batgirl” standalone movie is being developed for the DC franchise of films and that it is going to directed by none other than Joss Whedon. For most people, this news will be the cause of great rejoicing. Whedon had been a favorite of genre fans since “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” 20 years ago. He also directed some of the highest-grossing movies in the Marvel Comics universe, the first two “Avengers” movies. However, some discontent and anger may be coming from the #Social Justice Warrior crowd.
EU head threatens to campaign for Ohio and Austin to leave the United States
While some in the #United States harbor a conspiracy theory that suggests that Russia swung the results of the recent presidential election and made #Donald Trump, in effect, a real-life Manchurian Candidate, the head of the European Union, Jean-Claude Juncker, has one of his own about Brexit. He blames Britain leaving the EU on Donald Trump and the Americans and, according to CNN, has a plan for revenge. He is threatening to campaign for Austin, Texas, and Ohio to leave the United States and form their own countries.
California state Attorney Generals got campaign money from Planned Parenthood
The criminal charges against two pro-life activists who secretly taped Planned Parenthood officials describing how the abortion provider sells fetal body parts just acquired a whiff of corruption and bought and paid for prosecution. The Washington Examiner revealed that Planned Parenthood contributed to the two California state #Attorney Generals who were responsible for bringing the charges. Moreover, the abortion provider had giving money to one of the attorney generals when he was a congressman when he pushed legislation that would prohibit secret taping by undercover activists.
What will the Saudis do now that they no longer control oil prices?
One of the many salutary effects of the fracking boom, besides how cheap it had made oil and natural gas, is how much it has hurt both OPEC and the Russian oligarchs. Most people of a certain age remember how the #Oil And Gas cartel imposed an embargo against the United States and other countries in the wake of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, resulting in gas shortages and long lines at service stations. A second oil shock took place in 1979 in the wake of the Iranian Islamic Revolution.
Can a former punk rocker congressman take Ted Cruz’s Senate seat?
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas has drawn his first opponent for his bid to run for a second term in the Senate, according to the Houston Chronicle. His name is Rep. Beto O’Rourke, R-Texas, who has an unusual resume, to say the least. While in college O’Rourke played in several punk rock bands. He won his House seat in 2012 by unexpectedly beating the preferred Democratic candidate, Silvestre Reyes, the incumbent in a primary upset. He has since bucked the Democratic leadership in the House, declining to vote for Nancy Pelosi as party leader for example.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Private company to launch a mission to an asteroid
A company called ExoTerra is poised to be the first private company to fly a mission beyond the moon, thanks to a $2.5 million grant from NASA to develop a #Solar Electric Propulsion system capable of sending a CubeSat across interplanetary distances, according to Space Daily. Cubesats are shoebox sized space probes made possible by modern, miniaturized electronics. They have applications ranging from remote sensing satellites to deep space planetary missions. Cubesats are cheap enough for private companies to use for the sort of missions that hitherto only #National Space Agencies have been able to undertake.
Are you ready for Senator Mitt Romney?
#Hot Air relates the interesting news that Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah has expressed the willingness to retire if #Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and 2012 presidential candidate, were to agree to run for his seat. Hatch is in his eighties and may be inclined to retire in any case. On the other hand, Romney is pushing 70 and thus is no spring chicken himself.
Hillary Clinton comes out swinging in San Francisco
Usually when a politician gets defeated as thoroughly as Hillary Clinton did last November, said candidate would withdraw someone quiet and try to understand the reason for the debacle. Clinton may well have done that, but according to AP she is done hiding and has come out with a speech before a group of businesswomen in #San Francisco to lambast President #Donald Trump for the sin of sexism.
Turning the moon into a giant solar power station
With both NASA and the private sector turning their attention to the moon again, people are starting to try to find ways to monetize such an effort. Ideas range from lunar mining to space tourism. But, as Forbes reports, a Houston physicist is touring his decades-long idea of turning the moon into a giant #Solar Power Station for Earth.
Obamacare repeal and replace may not be quite dead yet
The Washington Examiner has revealed that congressional Republicans are still searching for ways to revive Obamacare repeal and replace, in effect bringing it back from the dead sooner rather than later. Meetings are happening behind the scenes of the various factions, beyond the merciless purview of the media, to try to find common ground and move a bill, any bill, that will advance the ball on reforming healthcare reform.
More on ‘entomological warfare’ in ‘The Americans’
As the current season of “The Americans” proceeds the viewers are still left with the question of how the characters could convince themselves that the United States would embark on a mad scheme of destroying Soviet agriculture as a means of winning the Cold War. A recent article in the Washington Post provides some insights.
‘Bones’ leaves the fans wanting more in its final episode
The #Final Episode of “Bones” ever, “The End in the End,” completed the 12 season story of the now venerable series of #Crime Fighting and forensic anthropology while suggesting that the story, after several life changes experiences related to a bomb, will continue. But, sadly, the further adventures of the folks at the Jeffersonian will proceed without us. Still, things did finish on a high note, while teasing an awful tragedy for Temperance Brennan, the robbing of her of her intellect via brain damage.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
United States Senate vote clears the way for Montenegro to join NATO
The Washington Post reports that the #United States Senate has approved by 97 to 2 procedural vote that will lead the way for the approval of Montenegro, a republic on the Adriatic coast that was once part of Yugoslavia, to join #NATO. The inclusion of one of Europe’s smallest and newest countries will not add much to the alliance’s combat power as its entire military establishment, Army. Navy, and Air Force, numbers less than 2,000 personnel. But Montenegro joining NATO will represent a slap in the face of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which has been keen to add that country to its sphere of influence and gain basing rights to its navy.
NASA reveals some details of the Journey to Mars
Ars Technica is reporting that NASA has started providing some details to its #Journey To Mars program as the Trump administration mulls changes to space policy. Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s head of human space flight, gave a briefing of what the 2020s will look like for NASA leading up to a Mars orbital mission in 2033.
China is moving to dominate space and crush the United States
Like it or not, the #United States is locked in a space race with China. However, according to CNBC, the modern space race is not directed toward a single destination, but rather toward the domination of the #High Frontier itself. It also involves not just two government space agencies, but commercial space companies in both countries.
Chuck Schumer goes berserk against Trump supporter at a New York eatery
Sen Minority Leader Chuck Schumer went berserk at a #New York City eatery, according to the New York Post, went he encountered Joseph and Hilary Califano, Joe Califano was a domestic policy advisor to President Lyndon Johnson and the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Jimmy Carter. Hilary Califano is the daughter of William Pauley, the chairman of CBS, and a #Trump supporter. This last fact was apparently what set Schumer off when he encountered the couple at Sette Mezzo on the Upper East Side.
Trump to eliminate Obama’s clean power plan
President Donald Trump is preparing to sign an executive order that will rescind Barack Obama’s #Clean Power Plan, which would have mandated a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses from power plants by 2030. The plan was designed to bring the United States in compliance with the Paris climate accord. It has already been stayed by the United States Supreme Court and has never gone into effect. Had it done so, the coal industry would have primarily been hammered without any prospect that the targets the former president set would be achieved.
Researchers develop a pill that reverses diabetes in mice
#Type Two Diabetes is a form of the disease that happens when people become more resistant to insulin, the hormone that metabolizes sugar in the human body. The condition can arise in people who are obese. Individuals who are living with the disease can control it with diet and exercise, but often have to resort to medications or insulin therapy. Type two diabetes is the most common form of the disease with over 29 million Americans suffering from it. Now a research team at the University of California at San Diego is developing a medication that, when taken daily, could reverse the effects of diabetes.
Elon Musk’s new company will develop direct human to computer interfaces
Conquering space, building electric cars, and providing every home with solar energy is apparently not enough for Elon Musk. The restless entrepreneur has created a new company, called Neuralink, which promises to treat certain intractable neurological diseases such as epilepsy as its first step. Its second phase is to provide a fusion of the human brain and computers in order to enhance human intelligence.
Monday, March 27, 2017
Apollo astronaut Alan Bean is pretty sure aliens have not visited Earth
The late Apollo moonwalker Edgar Mitchell was pretty sure that aliens had visited the #Earth and that possibly world governments know this and are keeping it a secret. Fellow lunar astronaut and renowned artist #Alan Bean begs to disagree. While he certainly believes that alien civilizations exist, he does not conclude that they have paid Earth a visit. He bases this supposition on logic.
Dr. Robert Zubrin calls for going back to the moon and to Mars in parallel
Dr. #Robert Zubrin has been one of the most fervent advocates of sending humans to #Mars ever since he developed the Mars Direct concept in the 1990s, described in detail in his book “The Case for Mars.” As a result, he has tended to denigrate the idea of returning to the moon, before going to Mars or at all. However, in a new article in Space News, Zubrin seems to have bowed to the inevitable and has conceded that a return to the moon would be useful, so long as it is done in parallel with the primary goal of going to Mars.
Canadian company gearing up to start ocean floor mining
While much of the media is focused on the potential for lunar and asteroid mining, a number of companies are within a couple of years of starting to mine the seabed floor here on Earth, according to ZME Science. As it turns out, more resources necessary to keep a technological civilization prospering exists on the #Ocean Floor than ever existed on land. Naturally, a number of #environmental groups are gearing up to stop seabed mining before it starts.
Two British operatives plot to split California into two states
While some conspiracy theorists are still entertaining themselves with the notion that Vladimir Putin engineered the results of the last presidential election and that #Donald Trump is a Manchurian Candidate, two gentlemen from Great Britain have loosed a plot to breakup #California. Nigel Farage and Arron Banks, two of the purveyors of Brexit, are raising money to split California into two states, according to the UK Daily Mail. One would be a rural, more conservative East California and the other a costal, urban, ultra-left West California.
ISS or the Journey to Mars is the wrong question for NASA
Science Times has a piece that describes a conundrum that space policy experts, especially in Congress, which writes the checks, have about the International Space Station. If we want to keep the ISS going past 2024, we may have to postpone the Journey to Mars. Of course, that may be the wrong question to ask, considering that many in the Trump administration and Congress want to pivot back to the moon on the way to Mars. A lunar effort would happen almost immediately and would, therefore, result in some difficult choices before 2024.
Trump seeks to reform the way government works
Periodically, new presidents make a go at reforming the way government operates, making it more efficient, bringing in new ideas from the private sector. The #trump administration is no exception to the rule. President Trump has established #the white house Office of Innovation to bring in business ideas to various government departments and agencies and has set his son-in-law Jared Kushner to head it, according to the Washington Post.
In the ‘Walking Dead’ Rick offers the women of Oceanside a choice
The most recent episode of “The #walking dead,” “Something They Need” featured an operation conducted by Rick and his friends to prepare for the final assault on Negan and the Saviors. Fans of the show are debating the ethics of what happened.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
‘Life’ is a remake of ‘Alien’ set on the International Space Station
“Life,” a new science fiction horror movie that recently opened, is apparently a remake of “Alien” only set on the #international space station. A Mars sample return mission delivers a single cell organism from Mars for the folks on the ISS to study safe beyond the confines of Earth. The organism grows and starts eating the astronauts.
Joe Biden asks himself what if he had run for president after all?
According to the Hill Newspaper, former Vice President Joe Biden expressed regret that he did not run for president during the 2016 election cycle. Probably, all things considered, a lot of Democrats are sharing that grief. Whether Biden could have gotten the nomination against the woman of destiny, Hillary Clinton, or having done that beaten #Donald Trump is a matter that alternate historians will debate endlessly.
Norfolk doctor may have found a cure for sepsis
#Sepsis is a massive response by the body’s immune system to a bacteria infection which most often happens to people who have been hospitalized. The symptoms include organ failure, a drop in #Blood Pressure, and difficulty breathing. Most individuals with mild sepsis survive, but once one gets to the stage of sepsis shock, the chances of dying are roughly 50 percent. However, according to the Virginia Pilot, a doctor in #Norfolk may have discovered a cure for sepsis that is so absurdly simple that he is getting skepticism from the medical community.
Forget Earth Hour, Celebrate Human Achievement Hour instead
Saturday, March 25, between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. people were urged to turn all of their lights out and contemplate the horrible effects human beings have on the planet, during the so-called “Earth Hour.” As a way to counter what is, in effect, self-flagellation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute urged something called the “#Human Achievement Hour,” a celebration of how humans have bettered life on this planet.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Courtesy of Business Insider Everybody's flying to the moon
Trump touts NASA and space exploration in his weekly address
While official Washington and the country beyond it were mired in recriminations and finger pointing about the collapse of Obamacare repeal and replace, President #trump choose to highlight a success that took place recently during his #Weekly Address to the nation. In a well-produced video that used footage of #space exploration that dated back to the Apollo race to the moon. Trump touted his signing of the NASA Authorization bill, a rare example of bi-partisan support in Congress.
After the failure of Obamacare repeal and replace what comes next?
Contrary to the usual cliché, the failure of Obamacare repeal and replace had many parents. House Speaker Paul Ryan failed by not forging a consensus for a bill before drafting it but instead feverishly trying to amend the legislation as various factions within his caucus, particularly the #House Freedom Caucus, objected. President Donald Trump failed by not intervening early and for not realizing that the Art of the Deal has to be modified when parties are motivated by ideology. The House Freedom Caucus failed by not bending an inch and by getting hysterical about “Ryancare” or “Trumpcare” or even “Rinocare” on social media. Proponents of #Repeal and Replace failed by not getting the millions of people who have been harmed by the law to make their voices known, leaving the field to people who think that Obamacare saved their lives.
Friday, March 24, 2017
Now it is sexist for a man to take pleasure in a woman’s orgasm
Most guys have been there. They have a beautiful romantic interlude with a lady, and things go well. Then, after the climax, in the post-orgasmic afterglow, the guy, stroking his partner with affection asked, “Was it good for you?”
Colorado startup producing prototype of a supersonic airliner
According to Fortune Magazine, a startup called Boom Supersonic based in #Colorado has acquired $33 million to start work on the one-third scale prototype of a #Supersonic Airliner. The airliner, if it becomes a reality, would travel between #New York and London in three hours and 15 minutes, roughly half the current flight time. Tickets for the new service will cost $2,500 one way. The funding pays for the prototype and the flight tests that are scheduled to begin in a year.
Cisgendered boy sues school for forcing him to be naked in front of a trans boy
Just in case the gentle reader thought that the transgendered bathroom wars could not get any weirder, the Daily Caller brings us the story of a decidedly heterosexual, #Cisgendered, #Teenage Boy who is suing his school over being forced to change clothes in front of a transgendered “boy.” The trans boy in question is still anatomically female, which is causing the plaintiff some confusion and embarrassment. The suit tells us several interesting things.
Ted Cruz to start working on new NASA legislation
The 2017 NASA Authorization Act, recently signed into law by President Donald Trump, will only cover the space agency’s activities for the current fiscal year. With the long-term space program in mind, Sen. #Ted Cruz, R-Texas, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space, has already started on a new authorization bill as well as a follow-up to his commercial launch bill passed in 2015.
Moon dust could be part of a power solution for future lunar bases
One of the problems of living and working on the moon is the fact that while the day lasts for two weeks on the #Lunar Surface night lasts just as long, which complicates the problem if providing a lunar base with power using solar panels. While some places near the lunar south pole are exposed to sunlight virtually all the time, scientists are looking for alternative methods of energy production.
Legal strategy for Maryland illegal alien rape is to blame the victim
The alleged rape and sodomizing of a 14-year-old high school girl by two illegal immigrants in the school bathroom has rocked the community of Montgomery County, Maryland., The strategy of the law firm that has been retained to defend one of the alleged rapists, Henry Sanchez-Millian, is likely to inflame tensions. The proposed defense is that the rape was consensual. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson had one of the partners of the firm, David Moyse, on his show to explain the approach.
Australian scientists may have found a treatment that reverses aging
One of the holy grails of medical research is to find a treatment that reverses aging, the idea being that human lifespans can be extended as well as people's health. According to Science Daily, a group of researchers at the University of New South Wales may have stumbled upon just such a treatment, with added benefit for astronauts exposed to radiation on long space missions and people whose DNA have been compromised as the result of childhood cancers.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Soon Maine may not discriminate based on climate change skepticism
According to the Associated Press, the oddest piece of #Civil Rights Legislation had just been introduced in the #Maine State Legislature. If passed, the bill would prohibit the state attorney general from investigating or prosecuting people or corporations based on their views on climate change. The bill would also forbid the state from instituting economic boycotts or handing out government contracts based on the same reason.
The Paris Climate Change Agreement begins to fall apart
The #Paris Climate Change Agreement has officially gone into effect for a few months, and it is already falling apart. Part of the reason is that President Donald Trump is taking a dim view of measures that will do little to affect carbon emissions and at the same time continue to put a damper on the economy. The attitude is likely to be shared by other countries that are part of the agreement that attempts to control carbon emissions by government fiat may have consequences, but those will mainly be political and economic.
Schumer declares a filibuster to stop Neal Gorsuch
By all accounts, Judge Neal Gorsuch is shining at his confirmation hearings for his nomination for #Supreme Court Justice. He is deftly handling every and all questions, showing up the Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee on his vast knowledge of the law. Indeed, Gorsuch is demonstrating what ciphers people like Sen. Al Franken are. And so, as Hot Air informs us, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has declared that Gorsuch’s confirmation shall be filibustered. Clearly, a man like that should never be allowed near the Supreme Court.
In wake of a brutal rape by illegals Maryland moves to become sanctuary state
The Washington Times reported that the House of Delegates in Maryland has voted to make that state a so-called “sanctuary state.” The law, if passed, would mean that state officials would be prohibited from cooperating with federal immigration agents to locate and deport #illegal aliens living in Maryland. The timing of the bill’s passage was exquisite coming as it did in the wake of the rape and sodomizing of a 14-year-old girl in her high school bathroom by a pair of illegal immigrants. The image of Maryland state lawmakers, in effect, extending a middle finger to the rape victim, her family, and the good people of Montgomery County is something that should not be lost on anyone.
Nunes incidental surveillance revelation rocks official Washington
When President Donald #trump, in one of his famous Twitter rants, claimed that President Obama had wire tapped him, he elicited a lot of eye rolling that rose to a crescendo of outrage when FBI Director Jim Comey told a congressional committee that no evidence existed that such ever took place. But now the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep Devin Nunes, suggested that something like a wiretap may well have occurred, all perfectly legal, for the most part.
Has Mike Lee saved Obamacare repeal and replace?
As of this writing, the classic sausage making that is surrounding the House version of the #Repeal and Replace Obamacare law is going at a feverish pace behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. The House leadership is scrambling to find a way to craft a bill that will be acceptable to conservatives and can still pass the Senate with 51 votes under reconciliation. According to the Washington Times, Sen #Mike Lee, R-Utah may have found a way to save the bill from defeat.
After the Westminster Bridge Massacre the big, burning question
The attack in London that took the lives of four people, including a police officer, a mother, and the assailant himself, and injured nearly 40 followed the familiar and sad pattern of terrorist outrages that have rocked western civilization in recent years. A man described as “Asian” mowed down dozens on #Westminster Bridge, jumped out just outside the halls of the British Parliament, stabbed a police officer, and then was finally gunned down. The mourning, the defiant speeches, and the questions remain in the wake of the dead and the maimed.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Shaquille O’Neal thinks the Earth is flat and the moon is 10 hours away
People have been rolling their eyes ever since basketball great Shaquille O’Neal announced that the world is flat, something that has been known not to be true since the time of the ancient Greeks. Now, according to For the Win, Shaq’s friend and colleague Charles Barkley mentioned that he has even more bizarre views on astronomy. It seems that the former basketball player believes that the moon is closer to Los Angeles than Atlanta, the theory being that Shaq can see the moon from his house but not Atlanta. He believes that the moon is about ten hours away by plane. It actually took the Apollo astronauts three days.
How realistic is the biowar story arc in ‘The Americans?’
“The Americans” is well into its new season and already a plotline has developed that could be out of a Clancy novel, the twist being that the #United States is alleged to be engaged in a nefarious plot to destroy the protagonists’ country, the Soviet Union. Philip and #Elizabeth, the deep-cover Soviet spies, believe that they have uncovered an American plot to destroy the Soviet grain supply, causing a famine, and bringing the USSR to its knees. The two KGB agents have discovered a greenhouse in Illinois and a research lab in Oklahoma that is developing, or so they think, weaponized midges, an insect that likes to eat grain. But how realistic would such an attack be in the real world?
Democrats and Republicans support nuclear power bill in the Congress
Republicans and #democrats confront one another with daggers drawn in Congress on a variety of issues, from immigration to taxes to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice. But a bi-partisan consensus seems to have developed around a bill that would simplify the process to approve a #Nuclear Power plant in the United States. While much of the rest of the world is rethinking nuclear power thanks to the accident at Fukushima, Japan, Americans are looking at the technology as the solution to a number of problems.
SpaceX’s Elon Musk unhappy with NASA Authorization bill
While politicians such as Sen Ted Cruz and Rep. John Culberson, both Republicans of Texas, expressed satisfaction as President Donald Trump signed the NASA Authorization bill, that joy was not shared by #Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX. According to CNBC, Musk complained that the bill provides no support to his Mars ambitions, which include an eventual settlement on the Red Planet. Musk is also planning a private robotic mission to Mars, called Red Dragon, now scheduled for 2020.The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper
Trump’s first foreign trip will be to a NATO meeting in Brussels
During the 2016 campaign, then-candidate Donald #trump was critical of the NATO alliance, which has kept the peace in Europe, except the 1990s conflicts in the Balkans, ever since the end of the Second World War. So the irony that President Trump’s first foreign trip will be to #Brussels for a meeting in May of all of the leaders of the member states of the alliance was delicious in the extreme. The announcement will likely go a long way toward mollifying the ire of many in #NATO over the fact that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will not be attending an earlier meeting in April to instead meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago along with Trump. Tillerson is also scheduled to meet with Vladimir Putin in Moscow later that month.
Ted Cruz provides the nerdiest moment in Supreme Court conformation history
The second day of the Gorsuch #Supreme Court hearing was the first in which the nominee for associate justice had to endure questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The question and answer sessions consisted of senators trying to get Neil Gorsuch to reveal how he might rule on this case or that and the nominee deflecting the question with answers containing as little information as possible. The Democrats did not lay a glove on him and, for the most part, beclowned themselves. Fortunately, Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, provided a rare moment of levity.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Sony contemplates the future of the ‘Ghostbusters’ franchise
In the wake of the box office bomb of the all-female “Ghostbusters” reboot, the suits at #Sony Pictures are contemplating the future of the franchise, according to IO9. To be sure content is still being produced. A #Comic Book is coming out that will feature a cross-universe crossover of the new gals and the old guys. And a VR experience called “Ghostbusters: New Hire” is being rolled out. But new live action movies are on hold for the time being, or in the parlance of Hollywood, development hell.
President Trump touts jobs as he signs NASA Authorization bill
President Donald Trump signed the latest version of the NASA Authorization bill, the first since 2010, while congressional space leaders of both parties looked on appreciatively. While the president touted space exploration and commercial space, his primary concern seemed to be on how the space agency can create jobs, "a lot of jobs, and these are great jobs." However, the real news was the announcement by Vice President Mike Pence that the executive order reforming the #White House Space Council would soon be signed.
Arnold Schwarzenegger taunts Donald Trump in ongoing Twitter war
The great #Donald Trump #Arnold Schwarzenegger #Twitter feud continued as the aging action star tweeted a video in which he taunted the president for poll approval numbers that show him in the high 30s. ““But what do you expect? I mean when you take away after-school programs for children and Meals on Wheels for the poor people, that’s not what you call ‘making America great again.’ Come on!”
Tim Allen gets into trouble with 1930s Nazi Germany comparison
#Tim Allen, a well-known actor and Hollywood conservative, recently suggested that the atmosphere in the entertainment industry toward people on the right was akin to 1930s #Nazi Germany. The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect has decided to invoke Godwin’s Law and ask whether Allen has “lost his mind.”
Canadians are starting to be dubious about illegal immigration too
One of the little noticed stories surrounding the Trump administration’s hardline attitude toward illegal immigration has been the flow of people to Canada who had been living outside the law in the #United States. The theory is that illegal aliens will find a more welcoming environment in America’s northern neighbor, an attitude that is being encouraged by liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. However, a #Plurality of Canadians are starting to push back on open borders and now support deporting illegals from the country by a 46 to 41 percent margin.
Bathroom bill boycott of North Carolina a bust
North Carolina was the first state in the union to pass a so-called bathroom bill, mandating that a person should use the public restroom that matches the sex on his or her birth certificate and not the one that identified with. The measure was meant to spare females, especially children, the trauma and the potential danger of sharing facilities with people who are anatomically male. The law was seen by some groups as being bigoted against transgendered people, resulting in an economic boycott of the state. But, except the NCAA championships, the NBAA All-Star Game, and Bruce Springsteen, the boycott is pretty much a bust.
Monday, March 20, 2017
Neil deGrasse Tyson still refuses to admit Pluto is a planet
A group of scientists, including some associated with the New Horizons space probe, are working diligently to restore #Pluto’s status as a full-fledged planet. They believe that a planet should be defined by its inherent physical properties and not by its surroundings, as the scientists who downgraded Pluto did. But the effort will not succeed if Neil deGrasse Tyson has anything to say about it.
The next frontier in space exploration will be commercial space habitats
The Space Angels Network has a piece on commercial space habitats and how they are going to shape the future of exploration and the eventual settlement of the high frontier starting in the 2020s. NASA has already begun a number of public/private partnerships geared for the development of commercial space stations, lunar bases, and habitat modules for interplanetary voyages, say to Mars.
Corruption and bribery charge of Democratic Senator Menendez to proceed
Hot Air is reporting that the United States Supreme Court has cleared the way for a #corruption trial for Sen. Robert #Menendez, D-New Jersey. Menendez is accused of accepting campaign contributions and gifts from a friend named Salomon Melgen in exchange for interceding on his behalf, including an $8.9 million Medicare funding dispute. The trial is slated to start this fall.
Part Time Scientists from Germany are shooting for the moon
While five teams from across the world are vying to be the first private group to land on the moon as part of the Google Lunar XPrize competition, a sixth team, which did not qualify for the final cut, is still making an effort to be the first on the moon. According to the UK Telegraph, #Part Time Scientists, a team based in Germany, has a Falcon 9 launch contract for early 2018 and are still planning to shoot for the moon.
Will no one get rid of Negan on ‘The Walking Dead?’
One thing that the latest Walking Dead episode, “The Older Side,” proved is that there seems to be a dearth of people in the #Zombie Apocalypse world who know anything about irregular warfare. That fact explains why Negan continues to prosper. It also explains why he has not been taken out.
Live action ‘Beauty and the Beast’ smashes box office records
The live-action version of the Disney princess film, “Beauty and the Beast,” has smashed all #Box Office Records over the first weekend, making $350 million worldwide, $170 million domestically. The remarkable success of the movie proves three things.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Hillary Clinton is not ready to come out of the woods yet
#Hillary Clinton, who recently failed for the second time to be elected the first woman president of the United States, recently announced that she is ready “to come out of the woods.” She believes that she has it within her to find unity in a divided nation. By expressing this remarkable sentiment, Clinton demonstrated that she still does not understand the reason why the American electorate rejected her for one of the most unlikely men to ever achieve the presidency. She should stay in the woods, find a quiet place, and think about her life until she reached some kind of understanding.
Justin Trudeau and Ivanka Trump attend Broadway performance of ‘Come from Away’
Recently “Come From Away,” a feel-good musical about 9/11, opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater on Broadway to rave reviews and standing ovations. Canadian Prime Minister #justin trudeau and #Ivanka Trump, daughter of American President Donald Trump, attended the official opening night’s performance. Trudeau made a speech before the performance touching on how the events that the play depicts illustrate the special relationship that the United States and Canada, two nations who share the same continent, have.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Russia recruiting cosmonauts for an expedition to the moon
Recently Roscosmos has put out a call for new cosmonauts, specifically to fly on board a new spacecraft called the Federatsiya to the moon. The idea that one can apply for a job to be the first Russian to fly beyond low Earth orbit is a great selling point and will no doubt cause many to respond eagerly. Whether any Russian will fly to the moon on board a Russian spacecraft remains to be seen.
Colin Kaepernick has earned the hatred of professional football
#Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who made a spectacle of himself by taking a knee during the playing of the #National Anthem during the last Football season, is having trouble signing with a team as a free agent. The Mercury News suggests that the reticent of team owners to include him goes beyond just business considerations.
Friday, March 17, 2017
College student writer thinks milk is racist
Who knew that milk is racist? That is the conclusion of Samantha Diaz, a writer at the Daily 49er, the student newspaper at California State University. Diaz suggests that just about everything about America has racist roots, so the government’s dietary guidelines that people should include a certain amount of milk in their diet must also be racist. Curiously, Diaz does not mention that milk is white. (Does that mean chocolate milk is not racist?)
The World of Tomorrow and self-driving cars
Big Think recently ran a piece that had the feel of one of those “world of tomorrow” rhapsodies about how technology is going to change our lives for the better. The idea is that self-driving cars are going to make traffic jams, expensive urban parking, auto accidents, and even shopping trips obsolete. The future it paints, occurring as soon as 2030, is a beguiling one.
Venezuela begins to seize bakeries and arrest pastry chefs
#Venezuela has a bread shortage, something that is utterly predicable considering the mad cap, apocalyptic socialism that country is now being destroyed by. Also, just as predicable, has been the regime’s reaction, which is to seize bakeries and arrest pastry chefs.
John McCain and Rand Paul have it out over Montenegro joining NATO
One would wonder how the same party, the Republicans, could contain both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Rand Paul. The two honorable senators are in the midst of a feud that started when Paul objected to a resolution that would allow Montenegro, a tiny country in the former Yugoslavia, to join NATO. McCain shot back that apparently Paul was working for Russian President #Vladimir Putin. Paul returned with an implication that the octogenarian McCain had gone unhinged and was an argument for term limits.
Is cutting funding for Meals on Wheels a path to Hell?
One of the more controversial budget cuts tucked into the Trump #Funding proposal, which also trims research and limits NASA spending, is one that eliminates $3 billion a year to #Meals On Wheels, a program that prepares meals for seniors who either cannot afford them or are unable to prepare their own food. The proposal has arrived with the usual accusation that the president wants to starve old people. However, as Forbes points out, Meals and Wheels is a private charity that only takes 3.3 percent of its funding from government. Most of the program comes from corporate, foundation, and individual contributions.
About that story that Sean Hannity pulled a gun on Juan Williams
One of the most bizarre instances of fake news to occur in modern times appeared as a story on CNN to the effect that conservative media personality Sean Hannity “pulled a gun” on liberal journalist #Juan Williams during a heated argument. As the American Spectator reports, there is a less about the story than meets the eye. In fact, the story says more about stereotypes about gun toting right wingers than it does about objective reality.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Stephen Colbert goes after Rachel Maddow without mercy
Even as Rachel Maddow was breathlessly revealing President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax return as if she had a copy of the Pentagon Papers, the MSNBC host was mercilessly mocked, particularly on rival Fox News. The ridicule proceeded nonstop on conservative talk radio as well. But now it looks like the fiasco was too much even for Maddow’s ideological soul mate Stephen Colbert, the host of “The Late Show.” Colbert joined in the pile on against Maddow, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Trump tries to kill the Asteroid Redirect Mission and the Europa Lander
With its new budget proposal, the Trump administration is trying to shut down two major NASA projects. One, the Asteroid Redirect Mission, is a no brainer as hardly anyone outside the space agency likes it. But going after the Europa Lander is the definition of a futile gesture because of one man who supports it.
Trump goes after arts and culture funding in his new budget
One of the many targets of the Trump budget blueprint is funding for arts and humanities, primarily those Great Society high brow relics, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The president intends to succeed where previous Republicans, President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, failed to do, in eliminating these subsidies. The argument for doing so has never been more reasonable.
Chelsea Clinton to publish a children’s book ‘She Persisted’
Only a few weeks has passed since Sen. Elizabeth Warren was told to sit down and be quiet while she was in the midst of slandering then Sen. Jeff Sessions in violation of Senate rules. Part of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s explanation for his sanction was, “She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” The statement has been turned into a slogan by the radical, feminist left to paint Warren as something of a cross between Joan of Arc and Xena Warrior Princess. Now the last sentence has become the title of a new children’s book that Chelsea Clinton is putting together and is publishing under her name.
A rapper and a journalist make nasty remarks about First Lady Melania Trump
The campaign to delegitimize President Donald Trump took an ugly turn recently as a rapper and a journalist made vile, nasty remarks about First Lady Melania Trump. Other first ladies, in particular, Hillary Clinton, have been the recipient of political and even personal attacks, but Ms. Trump has been targeted in the crudest way possible.
Trump budget proposal would devastate science and medical research
As the Washington Post notes, NASA aside, the Trump administration proposes to take a chainsaw to science and #medical research in its first budget proposal. It can be actually be said that the new president’s proposed cuts at the National Institutes of Health, the Energy Department, NOAA, and other parts of the government are not designed to make America great again. In fact, the effects of the budget cuts will likely have the opposite effect.
First Trump NASA spending proposal not as horrible as many feared
The best thing that can be said about the Trump administration’s proposed NASA budget is that it was not as horrible as rumors had suggested it would be. Some indications had suggested that the new president would cut the #Space Agency by more than a billion dollars. The actual budget proposal would slice space spending by a couple of hundred million, a blessing compared to the hit that some non-defense spending took. That doesn’t mean that Congress is going to swallow the proposed spending with any enthusiasm.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Lab grown meat tastes just like chicken
A variant to an old joke would go something like this: “What does lab-grown meat at #Memphis Meats tastes like?” The answer, as it turns out, is “Just like chicken.” The startup, according to the Wall Street Journal, recently had a taste test and diners pronounced the breaded chicken strips that had been grown in a vat to be tasty enough to eat again. Memphis Meats hopes to start a food revolution that will make traditional livestock raising obsolete. Traditional meat producers, such as Tyson Chicken, are starting to take notice and are investing in the technology.
Michelle Obama’s ‘healthy food’ initiative may soon be at an end
One of the most onerous public policy blunders of the Obama presidency came not from the president but from First Lady Michelle Obama. Ms. Obama pushed for a got standards imposed that mandated healthy foods be served at #school lunch cafeterias across the country. The goal was laudable, but as with much else in the Obama era the execution left much to be desired. The resulting menus consisted of unappetizing swill that public school students declined to eat in droves, increasing food waste and making many school cafeterias money losing propositions. The situation created its own hashtag “#ThanksMichelleObama” as students posted images of the slop and swill they were being fed at school.
What was Rachel Maddow thinking?
What was Rachel Maddow thinking? That is the question that media watchers have been asking themselves and one another ever since she took to the airways to announce that she had Donald Trump’s #Tax returns with the same breathlessness as if she had the secret Nixon tapes. The returns, as it turned out, actually made the president look good as a man who made a lot of money and paid a lot of taxes. Despite her hyperactive musings about Russian oligarchs, that was all there was. Even the folks at Hot Air are scratching their heads.
NASA and Russia mulling a joint expedition to Venus
Unlike Mars, #Venus has always been the ugly stepchild of planetary exploration. The cloud-shrouded world is a hell of blistering temperatures and crushing pressure on its surface. Various Soviet landings on the second planet from the sun have either failed or lasted only a brief time. The United States has studied Venus safe from afar, starting with Mariner 2 in the early 1960s and ending with Magellan in the 1990s. Now Russia would like to revisit Venus and #NASA is interested in joining in, according to Space.com.
‘The Americans’ is a stunning look at Soviet paranoia during the Cold War
Season 5 of “The Americans” is turning out to be a delicious study in #cold war paranoia from the point of view of two deep-cover KGB agents. Moscow has decided, for whatever reason, that the United States government in 1984 is planning to poison the wheat it is so generously shipping to the #Soviet Union, committed genocide to win the superpower contest once and for all. The story line depends on the viewer’s ignorance of history as well as the mindset of Philip and Elizabeth, the two deep cover agents in question, about the intentions of the enemy with whom they have been living for decades.
How Rachel Maddow swung and missed at Donald Trump with 2005 tax returns
One of the most sensational farces in the history of broadcast journalism took place when MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow announced on Twitter that she had the first two pages of President Donald Trump’s 2005 #Tax returns. The implication was that she had dirt on the president that might well bring him down, as he has studiously refused to release any returns. However, before air time, the White House scooped Maddow by revealing that in 2005 Trump had paid $38 million on $150 million in income, not to mention various other kinds of taxes. When Maddow went to air, she started with breathless and unsubstantiated speculation about Russian oligarchs and what not. Then only facts that she was able to give that #Donald Trump paid a lot of taxes on a lot of income.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
American based airlines begin to cancel routes to Cuba
One of the benefits of President Barack Obama’s reopening of relations with #Cuba was supposed to be a new tourist industry. Americans would be able to jet down to the island paradise just 90 miles away, untouched by civilization, and be able to buy Cuban cigars and rum to bring back home after a few days of lolling on the beach and exploring the quaint colonial architecture of old Havana. The reality, according to the Miami Herald, has not lived up to its promise. Two airlines, Frontier and Silver, have canceled flights to Cuba citing weak demand and high costs.
Bernie Sanders claims that ‘thousands will die’ under Obamacare repeal & replace
A lot of conservatives to not like the current bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, primarily because it keeps too many features of the Affordable Care Act and leaves off many reforms such as the ability to buy health insurance across state lines. While Sen Ted Cruz’s idea to have the vice president declare every reform germane for reconciliation and thus needing only 51 votes in the Senate may mollify Republicans, nothing short of socialized health care will satisfy Sen Bernie Sanders. According to Newsmax, Sanders declared that if the Republican bill is passed, then “thousands will die.”
Russia may be a problem for the Boeing Starliner crewed vehicle
While SpaceX is the cool kid of the aerospace business, albeit with a bad boy reputation due to its tendency to not fulfill promises in the time frame indicated, its crewed version of the Dragon is not the only commercially operated, publicaly funded spacecraft being developed. Boeing is building and testing the Starliner, a crewed vehicle that, like Dragon, will take astronauts to and from the #international space station in a year or so. However, as Hot Air suggests, the Starliner has run into an unexpected problem, that being the #Atlas 5 launch vehicles it will use and the Russian-made rocket engine, the RD-180.
New season of ‘Veep’ to feature the post-presidency of Selina Meyer
The new season of “Veep,” depicting the further misadventures of #Selina Meyer, the former vice president, and former president played with such foul-mouthed zest by Julia Louise-Dreyfus. The show, which long ago burst out of its original premise of a madcap female vice president whose ambitions and appetites were only exceeded by her incompetence, will examine Selina Meyer’s post-presidency. Meyer had been an accidental president for the previous two seasons but only for a few months of real time. Through the most unlikely of events, she has now been retired to the private sector. That doesn’t mean she does not lust any less for power and relevance. To be sure, most previous former presidents ease into their private roles with ease. But Meyer has had just a taste of power before having it snatched away. She is not a happy person.
Bill Nye and the Planetary Society has some suggestions for NASA
The Verge reminds us that #bill nye the Science Guy had some helpful suggestions before the last election about the future direction of NASA for the “next president.” No doubt the bow tied head of the #Planetary Society had no idea that the president was going to be Donald Trump, a man he has no use for because of differences on the issue of climate change. Nevertheless, the report has some resonance as the Trump administration mulls future space policy.
A year after chasing out Uber and Lyft Austin still lacks reliable ride sharing
Last May, #uber and Lyft, the two largest ride sharing companies, left Austin, they said being forced out due to onerous regulations, the city said to avoid necessary safety measures. About ten months later, according to TechCrunch, a number of local alternatives such as Ride Austin, Fasten, and Fare, all of which comply with the city’s background check regulations, have risen to fill the gap. For the most part, these services provide the same experience their now vacant larger competitors once offered. Unfortunately, unlike Uber and Lyft, the smaller alternatives saw their apps crash when too much demand occurred. This phenomenon took place on the biggest night of SXSW, an annual tech and entertainment conference that has become well attended in the capital of Texas. People could not load the apps to summon cars. Cars could not connect with riders.
Monday, March 13, 2017
Senate Democrats to Trump: Insist on the Wall and we shut down the government
According to Hot Air, #senate democrats are threatening a government shutdown, a tactic that they abhorred when Republicans used it during the Obama era if certain provisions such as funding for the Wall is included in a must-pass appropriations bill. The bill would fund the rest of the government for the balance of the current fiscal year after April 28.
American special operators to practice strike on North Korean leadership
More proof, if it is needed, that the Trump administration regards #North Korea as a serious problem, if not a clear and present danger, came in the form of news from the Yonhap News Agent that American special operations units will practice a strike at that country’s command and control structure. The idea is that in the event of war, Seal Team Six, the Army Special Forces, Delta Force and the Army Rangers would kill as many of North Korea’s political and military leadership as possible, starting with the mad, bad and dangerous to know Kim Jong-un. The practice is part of larger military exercises called Foal Eagle and Key Resolve.
New ‘Wonder Woman’ trailer shows the origin story of the Amazon superhero
As IO9 notes, the latest trailer for the upcoming film “#Wonder Woman” starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot has dropped. The trailer has some never before seen footage showing the origin story of Diana, the Amazon warrior who will be known as Wonder Woman when she enters the #World Of Men.
Trump spokesman Sean Spicer ambushed in an Apple store
#Sean Spicer, President Trump’s White House spokesman, was ambushed inside an #Apple Store recently by a young woman who demanded to know how it was like to work for a fascist. The exchange, along with commentary by Shree Chauhan, the woman in question, was posted on social media.
Newt Gingrich upbeat about a return to the moon
With both NASA and a number of commercial companies aiming for a return to the #moon, the one man on the planet who must be feeling the most vindication is former Speaker of the House and one-time presidential candidate #Newt Gingrich. In a fit of exuberance, Gingrich recently told the Washington Post, “Done properly we can be on the moon in #President Trump’s first term and orbiting Mars by the end of his second term.”
Ted Cruz finds a way to bury Obamacare once and for all
Who would have thought that Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, would find the Gordian knot that will change the #Obamacare impasse from a grinding campaign to try to pass a repeal and replace bill that no one is entirely satisfied with? The senator seems to have found a way to avoid a filibuster entirely in the effort to reform health care reform and pass a new, free-market law.
In the ‘Walking Dead’ we find that pacifism and appeasement never work
One of the most interesting characters in “The #walking dead” has been #Morgan, the stick-wielding zen-pacifist who has gone on a journey from bereaved father to get where he was, a man who refused to kill the living, even though plenty needed it in the zombie apocalypse. However, in “Bury Me Here” we find that pacifism is not possible in a world where someone like Negan prospers.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
IRS refuses to turn over 7,000 documents that may be Tea Party Scandal related
The Washington Times recently reported that the IRS had acknowledged the existence of some 7,000 hitherto undisclosed documents that may offer further insight into the #Tax Agency’s relentless targeting and harassment of #Tea Party and other conservative groups. The IRS, at least for the time being, is refusing to release those documents.
Ridley Scott has an idea for a ‘Gladiator’ sequel
#Ridley Scott is doing the finishing touches on his latest science fiction movie, “Alien: Covenant.” However, the great director revealed that he has an idea for a sequel for “Gladiator,” his famous movie set in ancient Rome, which would have its star Russell Crowe coming back to reprise the character General Maximus. The problem is that the character died at the end of the movie – apparently.A Passion for Glory: A Romantic Adventure of Caius Julius Caesar1
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara refuses to resign, is fired by President Trump
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has finally gotten around to asking for the resignations of the remaining Obama-era 46 United States Attorneys. 45 complied without unnecessary drama. One, #Preet Bharara refused the order, forcing President Trump to fire him, an event that he noted on his Twitter feed. Democrats, characteristically, reacted with unmitigated fury.
Buzz Aldrin discusses space with Vice President Mike Pence
For a man in his 80s, #Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, gets around. His latest visit was to Vice President #Mike Pence at the #White House where, Space.com reported, they discussed things space. The meeting took place amidst stories of a developing space policy by the Trump administration that involve a return to the moon with commercial partnerships and rumors of budget cuts in store for NASA.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
California soon to allow true self-driving cars on the road
The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that California state regulators are considering rules that will permit actual self-driving cars to operate in that states streets and highways. The development stems from increasing confidence on the behalf of engineers that not having a human driver ready at all times to take over the wheel will be safe for passengers. Hitherto, #California has required a driver to be present in an autonomous vehicle.
Chinese developing space based weapons
The LA Times is reporting that the #Chinese are developing a number of space-based weapons, including lasers and rail guns, designed to blind or destroy American satellites in the event of war between the two countries. If China succeeds in deploying such weapons without an American response, it will gain an insurmountable strategic advantage. While the #United States is developing such weapons, it has studiously avoided any idea of deploying them in space, preferring to mount them on ships and planes.
Friday, March 10, 2017
NASA, International partners designing cis-lunar space station
The Planetary Society reports that NASA and some of the International #Space Station partners have quietly started to design a space station in cis-lunar space. However, there seems to be some disagreement as to what its primary purpose would be. NASA, following the current, Obama-era Journey to Mars policy wants the cis-lunar station to be a stepping stone to Mars. Some of the other partners, such as Russia, want it to focus on lunar surface exploration. The difference would be reflected in what kind of orbit the station would be deployed around the moon.
Elon Musk proposes to solve South Australia’s energy crisis
Elon Musk has given the state of South Australia an offer it may find difficulty refusing. Ever since South Australia went heavily into wind power it has experienced periodic blackouts and #Power Outages, especially during peak energy demand periods during the summer months. The reason seems to be that no one thought about what happens when the winds are calm. Musk, ever vigilant for a chance to make money and drum up some publicity has offered to build a 100 megawatt hours storage battery farm in 100 days from the signing of the contract or he will do it for free. The cost if he can do it within a 100 days will be $25 million according to CNN.
Why are things looking up under Donald Trump
#The National Review has just published a piece entitled “Tired of All The Winning” that documents how things are getting better all of the sudden now that #Donald Trump is in the White House. From a sudden increase in job creation to a drop in illegal immigration to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of Arab and Kurdish groups, preparing for the final assault on Raqqa and the destruction of ISIS, things seem to be turning up.
Could Donald Trump build the first Hyperloop?
President #Donald Trump is starting to pay some attention to the trillion dollar infrastructure scheme, something that it is said will be partially financed by private capital. Trump, a builder in private life, is certainly keen to get the road and bridge repairs started. However, he is said to be interested in high-speed rail, something that has proven to be a boondoggle, particularly in California where it is behind schedule and over budget. But, Elon Musk, the president’s unlikely tech advisor, is telling him about what he thinks is a better idea, the Hyperloop.
Are you ready for Senator Arnold Schwarzenegger?
#Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stint as governor of California was less than stellar. After an initial attempt to pass some impressive reform measures that failed in the Golden State’s famous referendum process, the so-called “governator” settled back to serve as a relentlessly moderate Republican politician, mouthing talking points about climate change, and vetoing the occasional wacky bills coming out of the Democratic dominated legislature. He did little if anything to halt or even slow down the relentless decline of California as businesses continued to flee the high tax, massive regulatory regime that adheres on the West Coast. He also managed to destroy his marriage with an ill-considered affair with one of the maids that resulted in an out of wedlock child.
Scientists prove that future astronauts can grow potatoes on Mars
In the bestselling book and smash hit movie “The Martian” stranded astronaut #Mark Watney is able to survive for months on the Red Planet by planting and cultivating potatoes inside a habitat, nurtured by human waste and recycled water. NASA and the International Potato Center (CIP) have done the plucky astronaut/farmer one better by growing potatoes in simulated Martian soil inside a CubeSat developed by Peru’s University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC). The potatoes thrived under Mars-like condition inside the CubeSat.
Thursday, March 09, 2017
‘Flippy’ robot flips hamburgers better than a human kind
First, the development of automation and the push to drive up the minimum wage of a “livable” level of $15/hour started eliminating order takers at counters at #Fast Food places in favor of kiosks. Now a crucial job in the kitchen, that of hamburger flipper, may be the next on the ash heap of history, thanks to a robot named “#Flippy” according to Food and Wine Magazine.
Samantha Bee show implies man with brain cancer is a Nazi because of hair cut
Samantha Bee went just a tad too far recently on her #Late Night show on TBS and implied that a young man with stage 4 brain cancer has a “Nazi haircut” which is to say clipped short on the sides and kept longish up top. The slam took place on a snarky segment about CPAC where Bee’s correspondent went to the convention and make snide comments.
NASA has learned to stop worrying and love commercial rockets
Ars Technica notes that with the new Trump administration and its friendlier attitude toward both space exploration and #commercial space, #NASA has started to like heavy commercial rockets such as the SpaceX Falcon Heavy and the Blue Origin New Glenn. The space agency still sees a role to play for the #space launch system, but only when huge payloads need to be launched into space at one time. But the reusable and cheaper commercial rockets will also have a role to play in NASA future space exploration plans.
China announces the development of a spacecraft to take people to the moon
Chinese state media has announced that #china has begun to develop a spacecraft that will take as many as six astronauts to the moon. While China has an extensive robotic lunar exploration program and has hinted at plans to land people on the lunar surface, the announcement is the first time it has been specific as to spacecraft development. #The Chinese offered no time frame, but clearly, the announcement is in response to news of both NASA and commercial companies aiming for a return to the moon.
Trump to campaign heavily for Obamacare repeal and replace
The Obamacare repeal and replacement bill has run into opposition with many conservatives, primarily because of the tax credit that some see as a new entitlement. According to Politico, President Donald Trump will participate heavily in selling the bill, negotiating with balking conservatives and whipping up public support. The first step in that campaign was doubtless the dinner he held with Sen Ted Cruz and his wife, Heidi. Cruz would be a crucial ally in moving the bill if he can be brought on board.
The captain in ‘Star Trek Discovery’ has been cast
CBS has a major casting announcement for its upcoming series “Star Trek: Discovery.” Jason Isaacs will play the captain of the starship #Uss Discovery, Captain Lorca.
Wednesday, March 08, 2017
NASA issues Request for Information for payloads on private probes to Mars
According to Space News, NASA has issued a #Request For Information concerning possible inclusion of #Space Agency payloads on commercial missions to the Martian surface. The space agency has already issued a similar RFI for commercial flights to the moon.
From Business Insider A modern-day race to the moon has been in the making for years, and now it's in the final stretch
Chelsea Clinton’s epic spinach pancakes fail
The good news is if Barbara Streisand is still trying to find a way to break her Trump induced pancake eating binging, Chelsea Clinton may have a solution. The daughter of a president and a presidential candidate has come up with something called spinach pancakes, which she was incautious enough to mention on Twitter, according to the Washington Free Beacon. Social media reacted with all the fury of a junior high cafeteria against the outcast kid.
Ted Cruz has ‘significant concerns’ about Obamacare replacement
While the members of the conservative Freedom Caucus and Sen. Rand Paul have found the Republican #Obamacare replacement bill weighed in the balance and found wanting, at least for the first day or so Sen #Ted Cruz, who made repealing and replacing the Obama-era health care reform law one of his signature issues, was silent. But, according to the Texas Tribune, the #Texas Senator, and former presidential candidate has made his mind known and, as many expected, Cruz was negative as well.
How Barack Obama ruined NASA space exploration courtesy of The Hill
Sales of Ivanka Trump products soar
The ascent of her father to the presidency has given #Ivanka Trump a number of headaches concerning her business that sells a line of women’s apparel and accessories. Unlike the Clintons, the Trumps are keen not to trade off the name of #President Trump, at least as much as possible under the circumstances. Ms. Trump has removed herself from the day to day operations of her company as a result. But she cannot change her name or her relationship with her dad.
‘The Americans’ returns with a message for our times
"The Americans” has returned to FX for its fifth season and a lot of ink is being wasted, as in the New York Times, that the Cold War era series is a lot more relevant these days because Donald Trump is president. The TV show that depicts how the Soviet Union was really out to get us is a great historical document since a lot of people were in denial about that fact during the Cold War. What the show has to do with #Donald Trump is something that is hard to fathom, except that the writers of such essays hate the president, much as they hated Reagan, and want to attach his name to the bleak story lines of Soviet espionage.
Are you ready for 3-D printed pizza?
Astronauts who spend an appreciable amount of time in deep space, either on a lunar base or a mission to Mars, are going to have to find new ways to cook and eat dinner. With that problem is mind, a new company called Beehex has developed a 3D #Printer that can make #Pizza. While the project has raised the ire of some budget hawks in Congress, the 3D pizza printer has gone forward and may soon be ready for testing in space.
Russian opposition leader says Putin is concerned about Trump
The media narrative about President Donald #trump and Russia is that, at worse, Trump is a Manchurian candidate, under the thumb of #Putin, and at best much too chummy with the #Russian leader for America’s own good. However, the Washington Free Beacon recently ran an interview with one of Putin’s opposition leaders, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who suggests that Trump could be the catalyst that removes the Russian leader from power. In Khodorkovsky’s narrative, Putin is presiding over an increasingly unstable country, and it would be in the best interest of both Russia and America if he were retired to private life, the sooner, the better.
NASA authorization bill mandates Mars and ‘other destinations’
Congress has passed and sent to President Donald Trump’s desk a #NASA #Authorization Bill that, for the first time in a long time, mandates that the space agency conduct a long-term program of #space exploration with Mars and “other destinations” as goals. The bill also mandates the Orion deep space exploration vehicle and the heavy lift Space Launch System as key components of that effort. Verbiage is included for NASA to seek international, academic, and commercial partners to explore space.
Tuesday, March 07, 2017
New high-tech sponge could help clean up oil spills
From the BP oil spill that took place in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 to the Exxon Valdez spill that blighted the Alaska coast around Prince William Sound in 1989, few disasters are harder to clean up that a massive amount of oil being accidentally dumped into the ocean. Cleanup crews use booms to contain the spill and then skimmers to clean it up. Chemicals are also used to break up the oil and biodegrade it. But the damage to the ocean environment and sea life can be devastating. Fortunately, a new solution may be at hand in the form of a high-tech sponge.
Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos announces the New Glenn rocket
#Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com and Blue Origin and the owner of the Washington Post, revealed some more details of his rocket company’s New Glenn rocket along with an impressive video of it taking off and landing. Bezos also announced that a customer has already been lined up for the rocket’s first flight.
'The Last Man on Earth' depicts the deaths of seven GOP presidents
Hollywood often takes out its ire at Republican presidents by depicting their deaths in drama, The 2006 movie “Death of a President” imagined that assassination of then-President George W. Bush and the subsequent great terror inflicted on the land by President Dick Cheney. A comedy about the end of the world, “#The last #Man On Earth,” takes that one step further and imagines the deaths of several GOP chief executives in a row.
Are urban farms the wave of the future?
The farm of the future may not be the traditional kind with crops planted in vast fields and serviced by tractors and subject to the vagaries of weather and soil quality. According to Buzzfeed, the farm of the future will be in warehouses in the middle of the city, with crops #Growing in nutrient baths and temperature, light, and even the atmosphere tightly controlled.
Rand Paul is unhappy with the Obamacare replacement bill
#The House Republicans have rolled out their version of the replacement for Obamacare. Sen. #Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, who has his own Obamacare replacement bill, is very unhappy. He believes that the Republican bill is Obamacare light, according to CNN, for three reasons.
North Korean and Iranian missile tests cause threats to peace
Little remarked upon but of potentially grave concern, both Iran and North Korea tested ballistic missiles over the weekend. Both tests constitute threats to the peace of the Middle East and the Northern Pacific respectively, according to Hot Air. The Iranian tests were meant to demonstrate the Islamic Republic’s ability to strike at #United States Navy ships. North Korea aims at frightening South Korea and Japan and extending a middle finger to the United States.
Monday, March 06, 2017
Negative media coverage of President Trump begins to take its toll
On the one hand, the #media’s relentlessly #Negative coverage of President Donald Trump has started to take its toll. On the other hand, the toll that is being taken is on the media. That conclusion was reached by the results of an IBD/TIPP Poll. 55 percent of respondents declared that they have grown weary of the media’s negative portrayal of the Trump. 54 percent responded in the affirmative that the media had assumed the role of the opposition party and not a fair and balanced purveyor of the news.
Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks to team up in ‘The Post’
#Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who last collaborated on the historical drama “Bridge of Spies,” teaming up for another movie set in American history “The Post.” The film, about the Washington Post’s involvement in #The Pentagon Papers affair, will also star Merryl Streep as Post publisher Katherine Graham. Hanks will star as the Post’s chief editor Ben Bradlee and Spielberg will direct.
Could Obama sue Trump for libel over the wiretapping allegations?
President Donald Trump accused Barack #Obama of having him wiretapped, and the media cannot talk about much else. The debate has mostly revolved around whether #trump is talking out of his hat or rather there is something to the allegations. According to Hot Air, NBC News, which tends to take the former view, is speculating that the current #President libeled his predecessor and therefore is open to a lawsuit.
Academics ask what if Donald Trump was a woman and Hillary Clinton a man?
The #2016 Election was the first in American history that pitted a female candidate against a male one. That the erratic, rude, and arrogant man beat the calm, confident woman has proven to be a mystery to supporters of the latter. So a group of academics at NYU decided on an experiment. They hired an actress to play a Donald Trump character named Brenda King and an actor to play a Hillary Clinton character named Jonathan Gordon, They reenacted excerpts of some of the debates, with each actor replicating the speech patterns and body language of the person of the opposite gender they were portraying.
In ‘The Walking Dead’ Rick and Michonne had a road trip
Most of #The Walking Dead, Season 7, Episode 12, “Say Yes” concerned Rick and Michonne’s #Road Trip to hunt for supplies, especially guns and ammo that would be useful to put an end to Negan. The trek works as a fun vacation to this pair of lean, mean zombie killing machines. They have a lot of opportunities for taking sex breaks. For a while, all is right with the world, even when they kill a couple of golfers who happen to be Saviors for their stuff.
United States Air Force stepping up development of laser weapons
With the new Donald Trump administration firmly installed and planning a military buildup, the #United States #Air Force has started testing laser cannons again. The Air Force just announced that it would be equipping AC-130 gunships for testing. The laser-equipped aircraft could be a game changer for aerial combat. Eventually the military hopes to miniaturize lasers enough so that they can be installed on fighter jets such as the F-15, F-16, and the new F-35.