Curmudgeons Corner

Random thoughts on politics, current events, popular culture, and whatever else interests me.

Mark R. Whittington is a writer residing in Houston, Texas. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel of suspense Nocturne which he coauthored with his wife, Chantal, The Children of Apollo trilogy, The Last Moonwalker and Other Stories, Gabriella’s War, The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper, and Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Could the ‘moon base moment’ become an issue in Romney’s Utah senate bid?

Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and twice failed #Presidential Candidate, is likely running for the United States Senate from the state of Utah. One issue that may rise to haunt him concerns an exchange he had with former Speaker Newt Gingrich concerning the latter’s proposal to build a #Moon Base by the year 2020, six years ago, during the 2012 Republican primaries. Utah has a vibrant aerospace and defense sector that will benefit from President Trump’s plan to return to the moon. Romney’s current view regarding returning to the moon should be considered by Utah, rather than the negative position he took back in 2012.

Trump’s medical examination results came in and they were shocking

One thin reed of hope that President #Donald Trump’s many enemies in the media and elsewhere were leaning on was that some physical or mental deficit would render the excuse to remove him from office under the 25th Amendment. Dr. Ronny Jackson, who has been personal physician to three presidents, dashed those hopes with a nearly hour-long press conference after a thorough #Medical Examination in which he gave the president a clean bill of health. The examination included a cognitive test, which POTUS aced.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The following is a departure for me in my professional writing in that it is not an analytical or advocacy piece such as I’ve published in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and other places. The piece is a straight biographical history of one of the most remarkable men whom I never met but wished I had.

The story of Major Robert Henry Lawrence is both inspirational and tragic at the same time. Lawrence was an African American born in the south side of Chicago and, due to intellect and drive, became an Air Force astronaut barely past the age of 30. His life was cut short due to a flying accident 50 years ago last December. Had he lived, I think that he would not only have flown the shuttle, as I state in the article, but might have walked on the moon. Those who may remember what race relations were like in the late 1960s can just imagine the effect of that happening.

Those of you who have read Children of Apollo may remember Desmond Thomas, the African American astronaut who saves the crew of Apollo 23. Thomas was loosely based on Lawrence. With the movie “Hidden Figures” having revealed the role of young African American women in the early space program, I think Lawrence’s story would make a great film.

Read The First Black Astronaut and America’s Secret Outer Space Spy Program.

In the meantime, enjoy, pass it around to your friends. Maybe if the article gets enough page views, the magazine will want me to write more for them. Mark R. Whittington

Documentary film about Apollo 8 in the works

2018, among other things, is the 50th anniversary of 1968, a year from Hell that made some people think that the end of civilization was nigh. It started with the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, proceeded with riots that convulsed American cities, including the famous battle at the Democratic National Convention, and the assassinations of two iconic leaders, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. Around the world, a leftist uprising in Paris occurred, and the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia, crushing a government that had gotten too independent from Moscow. For you Millennials who think the last two years have been stressful, you should be thankful that you were not alive 50 years ago.

Yet, 1968 ended with something so sublime and beautiful that the heart is full just thinking about it.

First to the Moon Kickstarter

First to the Moon webpage

How the #MeToo movement has started to become unhinged

Has the #MeToo movement started to go off the rails, failing to distinguish awkward or even caddish behavior from the kind of violent #sexual assault as was allegedly perpetrated by #Harvey Weinstein and others over decades? Has anyone who advocates a little moderation when dealing with male-female relations become beyond the pale? A couple of stories that have percolated in the media would suggest that this is so.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Why the world was spared a nuclear Armageddon

With the false nuclear alert [VIDEO] that occurred in Hawaii quickly still fresh in the minds of Hawaiians, the feeling of nuclear anxiety has been introduced to a new generation, with a 21st Century twist that it comes from rogue states such as North Korea and Iran possessing atomic weapons. Back during the #cold war, the #Balance Of Terror was based on the idea that each side in the bilateral world, the United States, and the Soviet Union, was too rational to launch a first strike knowing that it would elicit an overwhelming response. This, on the part of National Security and military strategy, was called the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction(MAD).

That time Donald Trump paid to restore the sight of hundreds of people

The sound and fury over what President #Donald Trump is alleged to have said [VIDEO]during a meeting with congressional leaders over immigration over the nature of certain developing world countries continue unabated. The media narrative has shifted somewhat due to disputes over what the president actually said and about which countries he said it. Trump, by the way, has changed into denial mode and is threatening to tape every meeting for now on so that there can be no disputing what words were used. Then, Sen. #Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, had some interesting perspective on Trump’s real attitude toward people in some of the not so nice parts of the world.

Sunday, January 14, 2018
38 minutes of nuclear terror in Hawaii

The week that started with speculations about President Oprah continued with a storm about s---hole countries and ended with a false (thank God!) nuclear missile alert in Honolulu. The warning, which went out over cell phones, television, and even old-fashion sirens that a missile was incoming seems to have been human error. Someone is alleged to have pressed the wrong button, though one would not be surprised if computer hacking is involved. In any case, for about 38 or so minutes, over a million Americans got the scare of their lives.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune I suggest Romney should open his mind to space exploration

Romney is likely going to run for Orrin Hatch's Senate seat, so I am naturally reminding people of the following incident on the 2012 campaign trail in Florida:

Of course a lot of other businessmen, including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, more successful than Romney was, disagrees with him. If Romney and his people want to learn more, they can read the following:

Postscript: It looks like Romney has the perfect opportunity to address this issue if he cares to Mitt Romney to speak next week at Utah Silicon Slopes Tech Summit. Failing that. maybe a reporter could put the question to him.<>/P>

Martha McSally the best hope Republicans have of keeping Arizona senate seat

Rep. Martha McSally. R-Arizona is the third person to run for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake [VIDEO]. Her opponents are former State Sen. Kelli Ward, who failed to unseat Sen. #John McCain, and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a man in his 80s whose career as a law enforcement officer was, mildly speaking, controversial. So far the race is neck and neck, though McSally represents the best hope Republicans have of retaining the Senate seat and avoiding another Alabama-style debacle.

Friday, January 12, 2018
We have to talk about the latest outrageous thing to come out of Trump's mouth

We all know what was allegedly said. According to numerous press accounts, when a group from Congress presented President Donald Trump [VIDEO]with an immigration package that had next to no funding for border security and what amounted to amnesty for hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens, plus chain migration, he exploded with a very blunt question, “Why are we having all these people from s---hole countries come here?” Much of the media and the political class are acting like Victorian ladies who saw someone expose a little ankle.

Possible lava tubes near the moon’s North Pole

The SETI Institute and the Mars Institute, using images acquired by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, has discovered possible entrances to #Lava Tubes on the northeastern floor of Philolaus Crater near the #North Pole of the moon. Since scientists believe that permanently shadowed craters at the lunar poles contain ample deposits of #Water Ice, the discovery has enormous implications for future lunar colonies and economic development.

Thursday, January 11, 2018
A liberal mosque in Berlin will change the way you think of Islam

#Islam has suffered from a severe press in recent years, mainly from actions of some of the religion’s more fringe adherents. Terrorist attacks by organizations such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS have imparted one of the great world religions with violence. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, which practice a strict adherence to forms of sharia law, which are oppressive to women, religious minorities, and gay people, have further stoked anxiety around the world. It should be noted that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, thought to be the next king of Saudi Arabia, is moving to enact reforms in Saudi society [VIDEO].

Trump book author gets savaged on ‘The View’ by Meghan McCain

#Michael Wolff, the author of the book “Fire and Fury,” which might have been subtitled “signifying nothing,” [VIDEO]has been having an easy time of it. Wolff’s progress on the media tour has been a love-fest despite the fact that his book has been demonstrated to be a fictionalized account of the first months of the Trump administration. It has catered to the biases of the never-Trumpers, even to the point of printing gossip, half-truths, and even lies as truth.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
The time in 1988 when Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey sat down to talk politics

Of course, all the world knows how #Donald Trump made the great leap from #Real Estate Tycoon and reality show star to the President of the United States. Recently, because of a speech she made at the Golden Globes [VIDEO], and because she is universally beloved, #Oprah Winfrey is being touted as the next celebrity to become president, supplanting the one who is already in the Oval Office. The prospect of a Trump vs. Oprah 2020 presidential death match causes us to go back 30 years ago when a young Donald Trump sat with Oprah and talked about the idea of his running for president.

New stem cell treatment could reverse age-related frailty

Age-related frailty, directly speaking, is how we physically start to decline as we get older. We become weaker, more susceptible to physical injury and disease, and more prone to stress brought on by environmental factors such as extreme heat and extreme cold. Eventually, time catches up with us, and we die.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018
Researchers in Singapore develop a water-cooled air conditioner

Air conditioning, as anyone who lives in more tropical climes, is not so much a luxury as it is a necessity. Without the ability to keep homes and other enclosed spaces during the summer months cool, people are not only uncomfortable and sweaty but are often in grave danger of dying of heat stroke.

California company to use space technology to measure cow flatulence

One of the vexing problems in the agricultural sector is how to predict future food prices. Agricultural commodities ranging from corn to pork bellies are traded on futures exchanges where investors try to ascertain what the prices of such products will be. Predict accurately, and one can make a killing. Information on the supply of products versus demand is key to keeping such in balance and thus preventing price spikes or supply gluts.

Monday, January 08, 2018
Oprah Winfrey for president? Not so fast

Golden Globe Awards must be thanking a beneficent God for #Oprah Winfrey. Instead of talking about all of the annoying movies and TV shows that got ill-deserved awards or the rancid spectacle of Hollywood celebrities denouncing sexual harassment while dressed in funereal black, the media is talking about that speech and the dizzying prospect of Oprah running for president in 2020. Who else to save us from a celebrity president like Donald Trump [VIDEO]than another one — albeit one that is universally beloved and admired?

Ted Cruz opponent Beto O’Rourke wants to bring back the draft with a twist

Most of the early polls show Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas [VIDEO] running comfortably ahead of his likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, 57 percent to 43 percent in a recent matchup. O’Rourke is struggling to achieve some measure of name recognition, though many Democrats hope that he will be able to be the first Democratic senator from Texas in decades. O’Rourke is attempting to remedy that situation by offering a bill that will bring back the draft but with a twist.

Sunday, January 07, 2018
How Elon Musk sold space colonization to Donald Trump

“Fire and Fury,” the new book by Michael Wolff that has taken cable news by storm, is rightly being excoriated as a collection of gossip, half-truths, and downright lies [VIDEO]designed to slake the hunger of the never Trump crowd for dirt on the president they love to hate. However, according to Business Insider, one revelation about #Elon Musk and the colonizing of space. The story may serve as part of an explanation as to why the Trump of the campaign, who twice expressed skepticism about the Journey to Mars, has ordered NASA to send astronauts back to the moon.

Saturday, January 06, 2018
Apollo moonwalker John Young is with the ages

NASA has just announced that #John Young, Naval Aviator, and astronaut, has passed away at the age of 87. His career spanned much of the early space program as he flew two Gemini missions, two Apollo missions, including one to the lunar surface, and commanded two initial flights of the #Space Shuttle. He was the first astronaut to fly six times in space on three different kinds of spacecraft.

Author of tell-all Trump book admits that much of it may not be true

Michael Wolff has created the perfect White House tell-all book [VIDEO]for the Trump age. By his own account, according to the Washington Times, Wolff wrote down a lot of gossip and quoted it verbatim in "#Fire And Fury." He has admitted that he is not entirely sure that what is in the book is, strictly speaking, true. In fact, he acknowledges that what is in the book conflicts with some known facts.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Trump administration to open huge areas offshore to oil and gas exploration

According to the Houston Chronicle, the #trump administration has proposed to open vast swaths of the continental shelf to oil exploration and eventual production, including areas off the west and east coasts that have been off-limits for decades. However, a number of factors may delay development of potential offshore oil reserves for years. Even so, the policy change is a reversal of Obama-era restrictions on oil and gas development.

Thursday, January 04, 2018
Doubts are being raised about Trump’s return to the moon

While President #trump’s directive to NASA to #return astronauts to the #moon has received a great deal of praise, it has not come without some doubters raising objections. Writing in Forbes, astrophysicist Ethan Siegel flatly states that America is not going back to the moon. In a dialogue on Market Place, Molly Wood and Kimberly Adams also cast doubt on whether the third time is a charm for a return of America to the lunar surface. The common theme seems to be a question of how to pay for it. [VIDEO]

‘The X Files’ jumps the shark with the moon landing hoax conspiracy

“#The X Files” has returned with the first episode of Season 11 and, without revealing too much, it seems that most of Season 10 was nothing more than a fever dream being experienced by Scully and her son William. That means that the world still has a chance. However, that fact was not the only big reveal from the show.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018
Better Help has some articles and some advice about mental health. Check it out.

Report: Donald Trump never expected to be elected president

The juiciest revelation from an upcoming book about the Trump candidacy and the first months of his presidency is not the claim by Steve Bannon that a meeting between #Donald Trump Jr. and some Russians at the #Trump Tower during the transition was “treasonous.” The claim can be easily dismissed as the ravings of a disgruntled former hanger-on who is seeking relevance now that his adventure in the recent special Senate election in Alabama turned sideways. The real gold, an excerpt in New York Magazine from “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff is that Trump expected to lose his race for the presidency and was as shocked as anyone when he won.

President Trump drops a Twitter nuke on Kim Jong-un

Hours after North Korean dictator #Kim Jong-un claimed that he had a nuclear button at his desk and that his country’s nuclear arsenal was a reality that the world would have to deal with, President Donald Trump [VIDEO] had a message of his own, sent via Twitter. Social media was consumed by a firestorm of nuclear proportions.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018
What a free Iran would mean for the world

To be sure, the betting is that the current uprising in Iran [VIDEO] is more likely to end in a Tiananmen Square moment than the end of the Islamic Republic and the rise of a free #Iran. The regime is quite capable of unleashing tanks and machine guns on their own people and start killing them until no more uprising exists. The Chinese communists slaughtered 10,000 people in Beijing to keep their grip on power. The mullahs, who, after all, believe that they are following the will of Allah, are capable of killing as many to keep calling the shots.

Asian race to the moon developing for 2018

2018 is going to be the Year of the Moon for a number of reasons, not the least of which the number of missions to the #Lunar Surface that are being planned. Besides the Google Lunar XPrize missions that have to finish by the end of March, #India And China are planning flights to the moon, constituting an #Asian Race to the lunar surface. Both will be follow-ups to highly successful lunar missions undertaken by both countries.

Monday, January 01, 2018
Former Obama officials advise passivity in response to Iranian uprising

The uprising in Iran [VIDEO] is in its fourth day, as of this writing, and rumors abound of armed clashes, regime officials fleeing, and demonstrators being shot in the streets. However, even the most horrific events are not without their comedy element, in this case how former Obama officials are reacting to the events taking place in the Islamic Republic. Remember that the Obama administration pursued a relentless policy of appeasement toward the Tehran regime, which including ignoring people when they protested in 2009-10.