Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sarah Palin "Man" of the Year
Rasmussen: Most Want Umar Abdulmutallab Waterboarded
Instead of being sent through the criminal justice system, with an ACLU lawyer and being given all the rights of a criminal defendant, most people would prefer that Umar Abdulmutallab be sent to Gitmo and be water boarded.
More proof that the science is not settled about global warming.
Rush Limbaugh in Hospital with Chest Pains
Yesterday, on December 30th, paramedics whisked Rush Limbaugh away to a hospital in Hawaii after he complained of chest pains. Limbaugh was staying at the Kahala Hotel and Resort and playing golf at the nearby Waialae Country Club.


Some Want Rush Limbaugh to Die
As Rush Limbaugh was taken to the hospital with chest pains, the inevitable whoop of joy rose up from certain parts of the Far left. This was sadly expected; anyone who offers opinions for a living like Rush Limbaugh is going to get ill wishers.
Can commercial space walk the walk?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The cast of Mad Men join the Star Ship Enterprise.
Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton Tie for Most Admired Woman
The annual Gallup Poll of the most admired man and most admired woman is out. The most admired man is President Barack Obama at 30 percent. The surprise is that the most admired woman is a tie between Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.
Christmas Miracle Mom and Baby Die Then Revive
Call it a Christmas miracle or call it a strange series of unexplained events. The story of the Christmas miracle mom and her baby who apparently died for four minutes and then, almost as mysteriously, came back to life is too wonderful not to make one think.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Paterson Oppose Health Care Bill
Health care reform, at least the version that passed the Senate, has a couple of new opponents. The opponents are not right wing, radio talk show hosts, cantankerous tea partiers, or anyone who is likely to be in the pay of the drug companies.
Sarah Palin's epic memoirs, Going Rogue, number three on the non fiction list in...the San Francisco Bay Area.
Dick Cheney, Maureen Dowd Slam Obama on Terrorism
It is so rare when former Vice President Dick Cheney and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd agree, it should be noted very prominently. Both Cheney and Dowd think that President Obama is an incompetent leader in the War on Terror.
Tim Hart, of the group Steeleye Span, has died of lung cancer.
Putin Responds to Obama Concessions with an Arms Buildup
The UK Telegraph is reporting that despite unilateral concessions on a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, Russia's Vladimir Putin is vowing to build new offensive weapons systems before even considering a renewal of the START treaty,
Russia proposes mission to divert asteroid Apophis

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

NASA selects three New Frontier mission finalists - to the Moon, Venus, or an asteroid
Ron Paul appeaser.
Sen. Chris Dodd Cut Aviation Security Funding
One proof that pork barrel politics, to which many politicians are addicted to, has arisen in the wake of the attempted Christmas Day bombing. It seems that Sen. Chris Dodd reduced airline safety programs in favor of firefighter grants.
Ben Nelson Learns the Price of Betrayal
Senator Ben Nelson is discovering that the wages of betrayal contain a little more than a little bit of pork for Nebraska. Rasmussen is reporting that should the election for Senate be held today, Ben Nelson would be wiped out two to one.
Bristol Palin's Custody Fight Made Public
Bristol Palin has no doubt long since looked back upon her tryst with Levi Johnson and has wondered, "What did I see in him?" Bristol Palin is now revealed to be embroiled in a custody battle for the son she bore the ex-high school jock.
Erik Gates, of Mythbusters Fame, Dies in Freak Accident
Erik Gates, who is most famous for having appeared on several episodes of Mythbusters in his capacity as a rocketry expert, died in a freak accident when he apparently fell off a roof where he was working through a skylight thirty feet to his death.
2009 The Year in Space Cinema - The Good, the Bad, and the Very Weird

Monday, December 28, 2009

Obama Reacts to Christmas Day Terrorist Attack
President Barack Obama, three days after the attempted bombing of an American airliner in the skies over Detroit, had his first response to the incident. From the reaction, President Obama might as well have just stayed on the beach.
Chantal offers a Movie Review: Avatar
Janet Napolitano - Homeland Security System Failed
Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, has changed her mind. Yesterday she claimed that "the system worked" despite the presence of a Muslim terrorist with a bomb on an American flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.
Bruce Gagnon latest protest cause - US out of Pandora!
"Did you know that the Na'vi people are real, their troubles are real, and you can be a hero who saves them? It's true! The story of 'Avatar' is the story of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries attacked and occupied by U.S. mercenaries and U.S. troops. You don't have to ride a dragon or shoot an arrow, but you do have to call this number 202-224-3121 and ask to speak with your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives and tell them that their career will be over if they vote another dime to pay for the evil depicted in Avatar."

The mind boggles.
JFK Photo Taken on a Yacht with Naked Women Discovered
The JFK photo that appears to show John F. Kennedy, a Senator at the time, sunning himself on a yacht while naked women cavort, jumping into the water, and sunning themselves topside could well have changed history had it surfaced when it was taken.

Addendum: Apparently a hoax.
Was Max Baucus Drunk on the Senate Floor?
Was Senator Max Baucus drunk on the floor of the Senate? A YouTube video showing a rambling, slurring floor speech on health care reform is causing people to speculate that Sen. Max Baucus has gotten some political mother courage.
2009 The Year in Space Television - Disappointments and Triumphs

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Iran News - Uprising in Tehran
Does the news from Iran presage a new revolution in the making? Massive street protests in Tehran, which feature clashes between the Iranian populace and security forces, have an eerie feel of déjà vu from the events of 1978-79.
Homeland Security Jane Napolitano - No Clue About Terrorist Attempt
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was tasked with going on some of the Sunday talk shows and to try to explain how a terrorist on the Terrorist Watch List got on an American airliner with a bomb.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Year in Space 2009
We certainly could have used one of these during Hurricane Ike.
What if Spike Lee had directed Avatar?
Terrorist Attack Over Detroit Averted on Christmas Day
A Christmas Day terrorist outrage was averted when a Nigerian man attempted to ignite an explosive device on a Northwest Airlines Flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. The would-be terrorist was subdued by passengers and crew.
John Kerry to Go to Terhan?
Senator John Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is considering a high level trip to Tehran to meet with Iranian government leaders. The idea is supported by the White House and opposed by the Iranian opposition.

Addendum: Iranian rebels save condemned men from hanging.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Top Ten TV Detectives of 2000-2009
Top ten movies that take place during Christmas.
A few Christmas stories for your holiday cheer, one fiction, two factual:

Christmas on the Moon.

The World War I Christmas Truce of 1914

The Flight of Apollo 8
If you're still planning Christmas dinner, check out Middle Eastern Dishes for a Christmas Dinner, on the theory that Jesus was born there after all and likely did not have turkey on his birthday.
NASA engineers have found a solution to the thrust oscillation problem that had been plaguing the Ares 1 design. While this proves that the Internet Rocketeer Club was being silly about it, the solution may be moot if Obama cancels the program.
Anwar ak Awlaki, radical Muslim Cleric, terrorist, and Nidel Hasan's pen pal, apparently now burns in Hell.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jimmy Carter Apologizes to the Jews
Former President Jimmy Carter has publicly apologized for a number of statements and actions that many people have taken to be not only anti Israel, but anti Semitic. Some accept Jimmy Carter's apology at face value; others see a political motive.
Health Care Reform - the Sausage Making Continues

The sausage making surrounding the Senate version of health care reform continues. Certain cost savings touted to make the plan "deficit neutral" are counted twice. Also the urgency for passing health care reform seems to have passed.
'Balloon Boy" Parents Get Jail Time
Richard and Mayumi Heene the Fort Collins couple who perpetrated the "balloon boy" hoax, have learned the price of manufactured fame. Both Heene have drawn a brief jail sentence, four years probation, and a hefty fine.
Does Pope Pius XII Deserve to Be a Saint?
The Vatican has stirred up an old controversy by moving Pope Pius XII closer to Sainthood. Pius XII, who was Pope during World War II, has been accused by many of being far too friendly to Hitler's Germany and not condemning the Holocaust sufficiently.
Water on the Moon - science story of the year, if not the decade
Apparently President Obama is putting off the "urgent" issue of health care reform until February. One suspects that the United States Senate is now wondering what all the rush is about.
To all of my secular humanist friends who watch too much TV, Happy Festivus. And for my pagan friends, Happy Saturnalia.
Father Tim Jones 'Thou Shalt Steal' If One is Poor
Tim Jones is an Anglican Priest who in a sermon to the congregation at St Lawrence's church in York suggested that there is an exception to the Eight Commandment, the one that says Thou Shalt Not Steal.
Newt Gingrich says Victory or Death.
Jean Luc Picard conservative?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Obama now more hated than George W. Bush.
Rock the Vote and Withhold Sex from Health Care Reform Opponents
Rock the Vote, an MTV inspired campaign to get young people to go to the polls, is alleged to be non partisan. However, that particular virtue appears to have been breached with its most recent video concerning health care reform.
Is Health Care Reform Unconstitutional?
Does the Senate health care reform bill violate the Constitution? According to the Weekly Standard Senator Jim DeMint believes that he has found a provision within health care reform that violates Article 1 Section 5 of the US Constitution.
Blue Dog Parker Griffith Switches to Republican
At first glance, the decision of Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama to switch from Democrat to Republican would not seem to be the smartest political move ever made. Parker Griffith is joining the minority in the House of Representatives.
Death of Hossein Ali Montazeri Sparks Street Protests in Iran
The Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri was buried in the Shiite holy city of Qom, in Iran, attracting a huge funeral processing that turned into yet another protest against the theocratic regime. Montazeri has been a reformer and opponent of the regime.
Democrats' 2010 Election Strategy
Presuming that health care reform passes and is signed into law sometime early next year, what is the Democrats' political strategy for the 2010 midterm elections. Apparently the strategy is to run on the health care reform bill and George W. Bush.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dwayne Day takes a swipe at Space fetishism: space activism’s obsession with technological and ideological saviors.

Taylor Dinerman discusses Britain;s new space agency.

Frank Stratford asks Why Should Humans Go to Mars?
A Dark Matter Breakthrough?
I've made the Drudge report with this story.
Miles O'Brien, having been given the royal order of the boot from CNN, is now back on the Internet with This Week in Space.

This Week In Space from Spaceflight Now on Vimeo.

Help us George W. Bush you're our only hope.
Alan Grayson Demands Jailing, Fining of Political Critic
Congressman Alan Grayson, Democrat of Florida, is very angry with Angie Langley, private citizen of Lake County, Florida. Alan Grayson is so angry that he wants Attorney General Eric Holder to put Angie Langley in jail and fined.
Ben Nelson Faces Outrage in Nebraska Over Health Care Reform Vote
Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, may have gotten more than he bargained for with his providing the sixtieth vote to pass cloture in the Senate on health care reform. AP is reporting that people back in Nebraska are not happy with Nelson.
Senate Cloture Vote Paves Way for Passage of Health Care Reform
When the Senate cloture vote on health care reform was done, in the early morning hours on Monday, December 21st, the results were strictly on party lines. All sixty Democrats, including the two independents voted for, and all forty Republicans voted against.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More on Obama's plans for space exploration. The approach appears to be to continue the Bush policy of spinning off things like transportation to Low Earth Orbit to private companies, allowing NASA to concentrate on exploration. To where remains to be seen.
Not only is Sarah Palin more respected than Al Gore, but so is George W, Bush.
Ares 1 not quite dead yet. Poor message management on the part of the Obama White House, IMHO. Note Frank Sietzen's comments.
Marvin the Martian - the Movie starring Mike Myers?
Can the Senate version of health care reform pass teh House? Maybe not.
It seems that Medicare denies claims at twice the rate of private insurance. So much for evil profits causing patients to be denied health care.
Nathan Myhrvold's Anti Global Warming Scheme
Nathan Myhrvold is a former technology officer for Microsoft who has found his own company, Intellectual Ventures, which is involved in a number of technology development programs, including new forms of energy generation.
NASA/ESA Cassini images sunlight reflecting on Titan methane lake
For your Hollyday pleasure...

What if someone else had written Avatar?

Plus John Podhoretz is very unimpressed with Avatar.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Mythbusters and the Star Trek Gorn cannon.

Ben Nelson's Price is Met on Health Care Reform
First there was the Louisiana Purchase that bought Mary Landrieu's vote for health care reform for three hundred million dollars in government goodies. Now the Senate Democrat leadership has found a way to meet Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska's price.
Alan Bolye celebrates the decade in science.
David Solway says that Al Gore is a bad poet.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Avatar, James Cameron's polemic against western civilization and all its works

Addendum: Jim Pinkerton has a subversive take on Avatar.
So we come back to the “meta-politics” - -the politics above the politics -- of “Avatar.” And these meta-politics lean right, not left. What do I mean? After you get past the corporate-bashing, you see a hero -- played by Sam Worthington, a hunky up-and-comer last seen in “Terminator Salvation” -- who faces profound temptations and so must make a stark moral choice. Choosing to do the right thing, this hero proves his own superiority through manly combat. Thanks to his courageous leadership, he ends up saving the day and getting the girl. (Oh, did I give that away?) That’s not exactly handwringing liberalism. Indeed, some advanced leftist critics will inevitably complain that “Avatar” is actually racist, because the Na’vi need an outsider -- a heterosexual white male -- to save them.
Ganja Gourmet Cooks Up Cannabis Confections
Most people know that marijuana can be consumed in brownies -- in addition to being smoked -- and many pot aficionados prefer the former for health reasons. An establishment in Denver called the Ganja Gourmet is taking the concept a little further.
Al Franken Disses Joe Lieberman on the Senate Floor (Video Included)
The hatred that the Left has in what passes for its collective heart for Senator Joe Lieberman was on full display yesterday on the floor of the Senate. Lieberman had a somewhat strange exchange with Senator Al Franken, presiding over the Senate session.
Obama Goes to Copenhagen, Though He Probably Shouldn't (Video Included)
President Barack Obama traveled to Copenhagen for a photo op at the UN Climate Change Conference. While Obama hopes to make some kind of agreement in Copenhagen, he might do well to escape with what if left of his political popularity intact.
Dan O'Bannon, SF and Horror Screenwriter, Passes On
Screenwriters tend to be considered Hollywood's ugly stepchildren, crucial of course for the making of a movie, but not getting as much respect as directors and actors. Dan O'Bannon was the writer of such SF classics as Dark Star, Alien, and Total Recall.
Obama Copenhagen Speech Falls Flat (Video Included)
President Barack Obama delivered a speech before the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen that most observers fell curiously flat. Obama said, "That's why I come here today -- not to talk, but to act."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More possible details of Obama space plan for NASA emerges
More details on the Obama plan. Apparently Ares 1 will be killed in preference to a commercial space launcher. The United States would build a heavy lifter *Ares V Lite or side mount shuttle derived) by 2018 and presumably the Orion. International partners would build a lunar lander and modules for a lunar base. Looks like a marriage between Moon First and Look but Don't Touch.

Much more on this anon.
Jack Bauer vs Santa
Al Gore, Poet Laureate of Global Warming (Video Included)
Al Gore is a man of many talents. Gore is a former Senator, Vice President, and Presidential candidate. Al Gore is an author of several books and he is an Oscar winning film maker. Al Gore has even won the Nobel Peace Prize for his sins.
Now organic matter on the Moon?

One of the slams I've heard about going back to the Moon is that, really, we've already been there, done that, and know everything there is to know.

Clearly that assessment is wide of the mark.
My polemic against 'Defying Gravity' and late and apparently lamented space soap opera has elicited many comments, some of them very nasty toward your humble servant. But here is an interesting one from a gentleman named Bob, who apparently lives in Great Britain.
After Defying Gravity, Firefly and how the truly ground breaking Babylon 5 was treated by the networks, it is clear that if you want good science fiction you'll just have to read books because no TV network takes the genre seriously.

"Read Books";has it really come to that?
Obama and NASA's Bolden discuss space exploration
Schwarzenegger and Palin 'Greener Than Thou'
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin have gotten into a tit for tat over how best to be green. Schwarzenegger started the fight during some interviews in Copenhagen.
Terrorists Use 'Skygrabber' to Download Predator Video
Skygrabber is a $26 piece of software designed to allow one to capture unencrypted video feeds from satellites. Skygrabber is typically used by people who want to get such material others are downloading without paying for it.
'Iron Man 2 Trailer', Starring Robert Downey Jr., Now Up
The Iron Man 2 trailer, now available for view on the Internet, starts with Tony Stark, the billionaire weapons maker as well as Iron Man, being subjected to a Senate investigation and a demand that he turn over his Iron Man suit to "the American people."
To Pass Health Care Reform, Democrats Violate Senate Rules (Video Included)
The depths to which Senate Democrats will descend to ram through the health care reform bill were laid bare yesterday when the Senate Parliamentarian decided to waive Senate rules during a reading of an 767 page amendment.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nancy Pelosi is, not surprisingly, not a fan of things space. The “fierce determination” by Democratic leaders to reduce the deficit was kind of funny, coming from a dour person like her.
Top Five Political Stories of 2009
Latest results from LRO.
Apparently India's strategy for landing a person on the Moon looks similar to the current NASA program, which will no doubt cause angst in certain quarters.
Paul Spudis gives the back of his hand to "Look But Don't Touch."
To be blunt, the difficulty with Flexible Path lies in its motivations, assumptions and likely implementation. Development of FP by the Augustine Committee was driven largely by their determination that NASA’s chosen architecture for lunar return (ESAS) is unaffordable. Assuming that movement of people beyond LEO is desirable, FP offers an allegedly low cost path to accomplish such. But to what end? The Augustine report is a bit vague as to the objectives and goals of the various FP missions. Mentioned is the servicing of telescopes at the L-points; the problem is there are none, at least at the moment. The James Webb Space Telescope is not yet launched, nor is it designed for human servicing. The L-points are empty spots in space; there’s nothing there except what we put there. In that sense, as a destination for people, it is no different from low Earth orbit, except that being outside the Van Allen belts (which protect astronauts on the ISS and Shuttle,) the radiation hazard is much greater.

The Augustine Report indicates that human missions to asteroids—Near Earth Objects (NEO), could yield valuable information, including gathering strategic information for the possible mitigation of asteroid collision with the Earth. Yet such targets are potentially dangerous. Some NEO asteroids have very high rates of rotation (on the order of an hour or less) making close approach very hazardous, except near the poles. Many asteroids are loose piles of rubble and co-rotating pieces of debris in the near field of such bodies could pose a hazard to a human vehicle. The Orion spacecraft must be completely depressurized to allow astronauts to egress and explore an asteroid with EVA, so having all the crew in suits would be required. Exploratory capability would be very limited, on a scale similar to that of Apollo 11, the first lunar landing.

To be fair, Paul doesn't have use for the current program either. But the problems he sees with the current program he suggests will just be repeated by "Look But Don't Touch" without the advantage of actually going to the Moon.

I'm not sure what the objection is to the POR, aside from the idea that it is expensive and that Paul thinks it does not address the use of lunar resources. The former, to my mind, is debatable. I'm not sure that any meaningful architecture, even (perhaps especially) with space based fuel depots would turn out to be less expensive without sacrificing capability. As for the other, to use lunar resources one has to get at them. I can certainly get behind a commitment to do ISRU earlier, but I'm not sure how that effects flight hardware.
Happy Beethoven's Birthday.
'Time Person of the Year' is Ben Bernanke, Fed Chairman
2009's Time Person of the Year is Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, which for once is not likely to be a controversial choice. Bernanke was chosen as Time Person of the Year for his influence in the struggles to heal the American economy.
Iran Missile Launch Raises Questions About Obama Policies
The Iran missile launch, which involved an enhanced version of the Sajjil-2, a two-staged solid-fuel rocket capable of hitting targets throughout the Middle East and as far as Europe, is raising questions about the Obama administration's defense and foreign policies.
'Alice in Wonderland' Trailer, Starring Johnny Depp, Now Available for Viewing (Video Included)
The trailer for a Disney production of 'Alice in Wonderland', directed by Tim Burton and starring Mia Wasikowska as a grown up, 19 year old Alice and Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter is now available for viewing on the Internet.
'Gone with the Wind' Turns 70
'Gone with the Wind' the epic film starring Vivian Leigh as the Georgia plantation owner's daughter Scarlett O'Hara and Clark Gable as the roguish Rhett Butler turned 70 yesterday, December 15th.
Allen West Runs for Congress a Second Time (Video Included)
Allen West, a retired Army Lt. Colonel and an African American conservative, is making his second attempt to take away the Congressional seat in the Florida 22nd District from Democrat Ron Klein. Allen West was recently on Hannity to make his case.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

President Spock or why Obama lacks emotional intelligence.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is being summoned to the White House to talk about the Augustine options with President Obama.
Jon Goff has a comparison of the current program of record with what he thinks "Look But Don't Touch" would do. He performs a rhetorical trick of assuming all of the worse case assumptions for the current program while piling in some optimistic assumptions for "Look But Don't Touch", many of them which have nothing to do with the "Look But Don't Touch" scheme and could easily be done by tweaking the current program, by one of the Moon First Variants, or by a combination of Moon First and "Look But Don't Touch."

I'm particularly amused by the claim by Jon and some others that under "Look But Don't Touch" the first landing back on the Moon is only delayed by three or four years. Matt Wronkiewicz's analysis of the options presented by the Augustine Report tells a different story.

"Look But Don't Touch" (Ares Lite) First Lunar Landing, 2035

"Look But Don't Touch" ("Commercial HLV) First Lunar Landing, 2030

"Look But Don't Touch" (Shuttle Derived HLV) First Lunar Landing, 2030

In other words at least a ten year delay, provided there are no schedule slippages, to the first lunar landing.

Mind, the schedule offered in the final report (Figure 6.5 1-1)while somewhat vague as to dates between 2020 and 2030, suggests a return to the Moon in 2027 or 2028, again assuming no schedule slippages.

The Moon first scenarios (Figure 6.4 1-1) suggests a lunar return about 2024-25; not good, but better than "Look But Don't Touch." But that the Augustine Committee suggests that even the much criticized program of record gets us back to the Moon about the same time as the Ares Lite scenario.

This suggests that the problem is really just money. Mind, if I had to choose, it would be between an enhanced "program of record" plus commercial and an augmented (over what the Augustine Committee recommends) duo Ares Lite plus commercial. I would find creative ways to augment funding through international or, better, commercial partnerships, not matter which variant is chosen.
Tobey Maguire as Bilbo Baggins?

Plus a real life Hobbit House, albeit in a modern style. More here.
The EELV option. not so cheap after all.
Chris Kraft offers his views on how the civil space program should go forward. There are two problems with his approach.

First, he is far too pessimistic about the possibility of commercial launchers. Mind, it may be prudence to develop Ares 1 too as a "public option" but ultimately if human beings are going to travel in space in large numbers, a commercial launch industry is vital.

Second, while his ideas hold together technically, they run afoul of one singular fact; it will cost far more money than anyone is likely to be willing to spend. Keeping the shuttle flying, keeping ISS, and doing Constellation will cost more than the three billion a year Augustine says is necessary to do a proper exploration program.
'Robin Hood' Trailer Now on Internet
The trailer for Ridley's Scott's upcoming film, 'Robin Hood', staring Russell Crowe as the famous outlaw and Cate Blanchett as his lady, Maid Marion, is now up and on the Internet ready for viewing.
Boeing 787 Dreamliner to Make First Test Flight
Depending on weather conditions, the first flight of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is scheduled to take place out of Seattle today, December 15th. The Dreamliner, touted as being the first airliner made from composite materials, has suffered numerous delays.
Apparently the follow up to 300 will be about Marathon.

Monday, December 14, 2009

From the creators of 24, a mini series about the Kennedys told like a season of the Sopranos
Senator Richard Shelby plays hardball with Augustine committee staff

Meanwhile Norm Augustine has a conversation about human space flight.
[Also], when the Constellation program was put together four years ago, the people who did that, primarily at NASA…had what they thought would be a budget that would be likely for the next 15 years or so. And that budget has not occurred.

Then there have, of course, been technical problems in the program that have placed greater demands on the budget, and in order to fulfill those demands, [NASA] has had to draw money away from other parts of Constellation [the next-generation spaceflight program] and delay them. So you have a situation where all these pieces are supposed to come together, but they appear at the wrong time. One piece appears, and the next piece you need won’t be here for a decade, and so on. So [with] what started out as a pretty well-organized train, if you will, today we’ve got the caboose arriving three days before the engine, and the boxcar, we’re not sure where it is. We’ve kind of lost the continuity of the program.

The question arises, why not just pay for the current program since any new program is going to cost more money anyway? I'm not sure Augustine has had a good answer to that.
Christmas is Nigh
Obama Gives Himself a B Plus on Oprah
As College students face their mid terms, President Obama faces the end of the first year of his administration. When asked by Oprah Winfrey to give himself a grade, President Barack Obama gave himself a good, solid B plus.
Space Frontier Foundation to start 'Take Back Your Space Program!' campaign
The alternate history of President Al Gore would be laughable if it were not so wide of objective reality. Gore manages to avoid 9/11 by bombing Afghanistan in August, 2001, but still passes the Patriot Act. He also both cuts taxes and passes health care reform. Vice President Lieberman becomes hated by everyone for supporting intelligence gathering. Obama becomes a Supreme Court Justice.

In alt-history circles we would call this "Gore-wank."

On the plus side, a ticket of Bush and Bush gets elected in 2008, beating Hillary.
Congressman Bart Gordon, chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, to retire
Jeff Foust has an account of the roll out of SpaceShipTwo appropriately called Blown Away. Meanwhile, Taylor Dinerman discusses SpaceShipTwo and the modern imagination.

Dwayne Day asks Where's the Space Council?

David Ashford begs to inform us that Space Tourism is not a Hoax
Joe Lieberman a No on Health Care Reform
The Senate health care reform bill suffered a body blow Sunday when Senator Joe Lieberman, speaking on CBS's 'Face the Nation', announced that he would not vote for cloture on the current version of the bill. Democrats are howling double cross.
NASA's WISE (Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer) launched
'Dexter' Season 4, Episode 12: 'The Getaway'
'Dexter' Season 4 Episode 12 'The Getaway' depicted the climatic cat-and-mouse game between Dexter and the Arthur Mitchell, aka the Trinity killer. It was the last 'Dexter' episode of the season and ended with a gut wrenching, heart breaking development.
Berlusconi Attack Causes Soul-Searching in Italian Media
A man with a history of mental problems launched an attack against Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at a political rally in Milan with a model of Milan's main cathedral, sending Berlusconi to the hospital.
Esther Dyson and Steve Forbes discuss the future of aerospace, among other things.
Mel Gibson's next film as a director is apparently a Viking epic staring Leo DiCaprio. Should be both fun and violent.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Emily Bazelon has a problem. Her sons are wild about all things outer space. She could care less and in fact would just as soon cancel all manned space programs to "fix social security."
Also, and inconveniently, my boredom plays straight into tedious gender stereotypes I hate to reinforce. What's the message I'm sending: Men are from Mars and women are from … not even Venus?

Over twenty five years after Sally Ride, and there are still people who think this.

My advice to learn some more about history and math (the latter because the entire NASA budget would never fix social security.) And resist the temptation to be such a buzz kill for the kids. Worst than becoming computer hackers, they could become climate scientists instead of astronauts.

Addendum: Rand Simberg has an lengthier response that is classic Simberg when it comes to space. Boiled down it reads "Yes, NASA is a turkey, but also Ms. Bazelon is an idiot." As is common with such things, the comments are more interesting than the original post.

Addendum 2: Glenn Reynolds asks that we all lay off Emily Bazelon for her anti space screed. I'm afraid I shall just have to agree to disagree with the good Professor on that one.

Emily Bazelon's sons love space exploration but she couldn't care less

Annise Parker Elected Houston Mayor
Annise Parker has been elected Houston Mayor, becoming the first openly gay mayor of the fourth largest city in the United States. Annise Parker beat Gene Locke, an African American former City attorney with 53.6 percent of the vote in a runoff with 16.5 percent voting.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The NASA Watch post about an impending Obama decision on the space exploration program is less interesting than some of the comments, many of them pessimistic as hell, some of them inane. Such as this one:
I'm gonna make a prediction-if the President chooses some combination of Moon First and Flexible path, he'll pay for it by a combination of stimulus money AND cuts to other NASA accounts. Don't be surprised if all of the Earth science part of NASA gets peeled off into a new environmental science agency.
Just a guess-but I doubt that the top line of NASA's budget gets raised...I strongly predict that the Republican leadership will be against any NASA increases, no matter where they might come from, especially from John McCain.

While certainly a combination of "look but don't touch" and back to the Moon might be useful, depending on architecture and money, the rest is fanciful.

I think that John Logsdon is right, that Obama is going to split the difference and provide NASA with some money, but not all that Augustine says it needs. Obama will hope that some international partners will step in to close the funding gap. That's not a bad strategy, depending on which international partners and how their contributions are structured.

Spinning off NASA Earth science into a new science agency may be a good idea, but it's going to require Congressional approval. I'm not sure that Congress is up to the kind of squabbling that is going to entail, with climate-gate roiling and fights over how to rob us blind in the name of fighting global warming looming.

Any opposition to a funding hike for NASA is not going to come from just one party or another. Support for NASA programs and opposition to them tend to be both bipartisan in the current era. The fight will come from a handful of GOP deficit hawks and a larger number of liberal Democrats who are offended at any spending that doesn't go to social programs (i.e. people like David Obey and Barney Frank.)

Look for a fight if there is a drastic change in architecture too. If Constellation is technically sound, as both Norm Augustine and Charles Bolden say it is, then it will be very hard to convince Congress that a change in midstream is necessary. There is also, unfortunately, a great deal of skepticism on commercial solutions to space access in the Congress at this time. That will be hard to overcome.
It looks like Houston has its first lesbianm fiscally conservative mayor.

Stare at boobs for longer life: Study | TheMedGuru

Stare at boobs for longer life: Study | TheMedGuru

That's alright for someone like me, but what are women or gay men supposed to do?
It look like that a quarter of GOP elites would just as soon Sarah Palin just shut up and go away. They didn't like Reagan either, as I recall.
Sarah Palin Takes Revenge on William Shatner
William Shatner has lampooned Sarah Palin before, having read from her twitter messages as only William Shatner can, with the dramatic flourishes and pregnant pauses made famous by the man who was Captain Kirk and Denny Crane.
'Invictus' - a Film of Sports and Nation Building
'Invictus', the latest film by Clint Eastwood, staring Morgan Freedman and Matt Damon, tells the story of how South Africa became a country for all of its peoples through the unifying balm of sports, in this case rugby.
One of the good things buried in the 2010 NASA budget is a fresh infusion of four million dollars in cash for the Centennial Challenges, which will allow two or three new ones to be created.
Did George W. Bush take over President Obama's body for at least the first third of his Nobel Peace Prize speech? Some might think so.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Apparently inconvenient questions about climate-gate are stopped armed force.
Ann Coulter details the involvement of the current candidate for US Senate in Massachusetts in the more horrific miscarriage of justice to happen in that state since the Salem Witch Trials, the case of the Amiraults falsely accused and convicted of mass child molestation.
Enter Martha Coakley, Middlesex district attorney. Gerald Amirault had already spent 15 years in prison for crimes he no more committed than anyone reading this column did. But Coakley put on a full court press to keep Amirault in prison simply to further her political ambitions.

By then, every sentient person knew that Amirault was innocent. But instead of saying nothing, Coakley frantically lobbied Gov. Jane Swift to keep him in prison to show that she was a take-no-prisoners prosecutor, who stood up for "the children." As a result of Coakley's efforts -- and her contagious ambition -- Gov. Swift denied Amirault's clemency.

Thanks to Martha Coakley, Gerald Amirault sat in prison for another three years.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to Become a Major Motion Picture
'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' by Seth Grahame-Smith is a strange mélange of Jane Austen and horror/slasher movies. 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' is now slated to become a major motion picture with Natalie Portman.
Blackwater Personnel in Secret CIA Commando Raids
According to a story in the New York Times, personnel of the controversial Blackwater Worldwide Company participated in raids conducted by the CIA against suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq.
First Avatar reviews in; James Cameron's space epic film
Fight looming between Obama and the Congress over space exploration

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The first reviews of Avatar are in and it doesn't look pretty.
With the use of such charged phrases as “shock and awe” and Sully’s curt summation of the situation (“When people are sitting on stuff you want, you make them your enemy”) Cameron adds a thought-provoking political dimension to the story.

It looks like James Cameron has spent a half a billion dollars on a scifi version of another cheesy, Hollywood lefty, anti Iraq War movie.
The Ten Dumbest Green Gadgets
Harry Reid's Health Care Conundrum
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in a lot of trouble. He is up for reelection back in Nevada next year and is behind in the polls against each of his possible Republican candidates. So Senator Harry Reid has made a request of the Republicans.
The Breitbart media empire continues to grow.
Barack Obama Picks Up His Nobel Peace Prize
President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway with "deep gratitude and great humility", which was becoming of him since he had not actually done anything to deserve the honor, besides not being his predecessor.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

First water on the Moon, now possibly life?
Talking about biting the hand that feeds him, Obama seems to be going out of his way to piss everybody in Norway off. The worse bit was not having lunch with the King of Norway. One would think Obama would be eager to meet another royal to bow to.
"Code Red Rally' to Oppose Government Health Care
As the health care reform bill grinds on in the Senate, with the paid-for abortions now in and the public option also out (sort of), Americans who oppose the bill are once again attempting to make their Senators listen with the Code Red Rally.
Is Sarah Palin this generation's Ronald Reagan? Yes and no.
'Cash for Caulkers' Proposed by President Obama
President Obama has proposed a program to help jump start the economy and facilitate job creation that some wags are already calling "cash for caulkers." The new program would provide incentives for people to weatherize their homes.
'Beast of Kandahar' in the Skies of Afghanistan
The United States Air Force has acknowledged the existence of a new type of unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) designated the RQ-170 Sentinel. The new jet powered, stealth reconnaissance drone has been dubbed "the Beast of Kandahar."
More proof that more and more people are missing George W. Bush.
Perhaps the greatest measure of Obama's declining support is that just 50% of voters now say they prefer having him as President to George W. Bush, with 44% saying they'd rather have his predecessor. Given the horrendous approval ratings Bush showed during his final term that's somewhat of a surprise and an indication that voters are increasingly placing the blame on Obama for the country's difficulties instead of giving him space because of the tough situation he inherited. The closeness in the Obama/Bush numbers also has implications for the 2010 elections. Using the Bush card may not be particularly effective for Democrats anymore, which is good news generally for Republicans and especially ones like Rob Portman who are running for office and have close ties to the former President.
Al Gore insists to Sarah Palin that ManBearPig really is real, serially.
James Cameron is now thinking of another remake of 'The Seven Samurai, this time in a Sci Fi setting.
Sarah Palin drops the hammer on climate-gate and its enablers.
Soviet 'Star Wars' space based laser program revealed

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

More evidence that George W. Bush is being missed, this time from the Hollywood Left.
Harry Potter is going to ?get nekkid in the next movie.
Copenhagen Climate Conference Praises EPA Carbon Dioxide Decision
The recent decision by the EPA that carbon dioxide is a "threat to human health" has garnered praise at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, even as certain European countries demand that the United States do more to curb "green house gasses."

Monday, December 07, 2009

Google Goggles Uses Visual Objects as Search Terms
Google Goggles is a new application, currently for phones running the Android operating system. It appears to be a quantum leap in searching the net. No longer will one have to point and click on a phrase. One just takes a picture with the phone.
Paul Spudis wonders about Another Moon Forming Collision.
Was the Democrat's Health Care Strategy Written in Federal Prison?
Apparently Obama's Safe School Czar promoted a sexual practice called fisting to fourteen year olds. Warning. The story the link leads to contains disturbing information not for children or more sensitive adults.
SpaceShipTwo and the promise of commercial space travel
'Dexter' Season 4, Episode 11: 'Hello, Dexter Morgan'
In 'Dexter' Season 4, Episode 11 'Hello, Dexter Morgan', the race between Dexter cornering Arthur Mitchell, aka Trinity, and ending him and Debra finding and arresting the same is turned up into high gear.
Copenhagen Climate Conference Begins with Fanfare, Doom, Gloom and a Big Carbon Footprint
The Copenhagen Climate Conference, held ostensibly to solve climate change but actually to rob the world blind, has opened with the appropriate pronouncements of doom and gloom amid glitz and glamor that would put Hollywood to shame.
SpaceShipTwo will be rolled out today. Jeff Foust examins some of the implications beyond space tourism. Then Foust looks at the safety issue.

John Jurist gives the back of his hand at certain dysfunctional space advocates about their rabid, uninformed rantings about Ares 1 and the Ares 1-X test. He provides a much needed balm of truth.

Taylor Dinerman asks How damaging is “Climategate” to NASA? Potentially quite a lot, I think.
Proponents of same sex marriage continue to undercut their own position with fascist legal tactics.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

And They Say Bush was an Idiot?
The SNL Tiger Woods Skit and the Taking in Adultery of a Golf Legend
One of the perks of being both a celebrity and someone taken in adultery is the one gets to be made fun of on Saturday Night Live. The SNL Tiger Woods skit played on December 5th, as the poor champion gofer was mired in more scandal.
A recent episode of 'Bones', one of my favorite shows, depicted some of our characters camping out in line for hours to see 'Avatar', the new James Cameron scifi retelling of 'Dances with Wolves.' I'm not sure that 'Avatar' is going to be a megahit, the equivalent of 'Star Wars' om 1977, but of the producers of 'Bones' wanted a real world example, they could have used this.
The diplomatic option to deal with Iranian nukes was games at Harvard recently. The results were not good.
My scorecard had Team Iran as the winner and Team America as the loser. The U.S. team -- unable to stop the Iranian nuclear program and unwilling to go to war -- concluded the game by embracing a strategy of containment and deterrence. The Iranian team wound up with Russia and China as its diplomatic protectors. And the Israeli team ended in a sharp break with Washington.
Max Baucus Nominated Girl Friend Melodee Hanes for US Attorney
Senator Max Baucus, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, was having an affair with his state office director, Melodee Hanes in the summer of 2008. Senator Max Baucus nominated his mistress for the post of US Attorney.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

'Monk' Finale Ends on a High Note
After eight years of solving crimes and driving everyone around him insane with his quirks, including an epic case of obsessive compulsive disorder, Adrian Monk ended the finale of his show having gotten two things he wanted.
'Stargate Universe' ends 2009 with a game changing development

Friday, December 04, 2009

April Ryan, Robert Gibbs and the Strange Gate-Crasher-Gate Question
President Obama's White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, a man not known for grace under pressure, had a bizarre confrontation with April Ryan, a reporter for the American Urban Radio Networks, over a question from Gate Crasher Gate.
A trailer for a yet to be produced British SF series called Slingers, described as Firefly meets Mad Men with an Oceans 11 plotline:

SLINGERS from Mike Sizemore on Vimeo.

Tea Party - The Movie.
Memories of Snow in Houston
Houston weather rarely contains even a hint of snow. There are rare exceptions, of course, and it looks like that Friday, December 4th is one of them. In fact today's snow in Houston is the earliest it has been in recorded history.
Visiting Ancient Pompeii Via Google Street Views
Thanks to permissions given by the Italian government, users of Google street view can now visit the ancient city of Pompeii, the most well persevered archeological site from ancient Roman times, virtually.
SpaceX trains NASA astronauts in use of Dragon cargo ship

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A really stupid crook.
The Real White House Gate Crashers. Now are we going to get an episode of Barack Obama myths.

"What do we have this week?"
"Well, we have a series of Barack Obama myths including can we create money by spending money."
"Sounds exciting."
"And is human created global warming real?"
"It looks like these are going to be tough ones."
I want one of these.
Senator Boxer: Climate Gate Scandal E-Mail Hacking 'a Criminal Matter'
Senator Barbara Boxer, the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is pretty sure she knows who the real villains in the climate-gate scandal are. Oddly enough they are not the scientists accused of data suppression and fraud.
Chris Horner to sue NASA for climate change data
Mitt Romney will not be at the so-called "jobs summit." Yet he has some helpful suggestions.

Addendum: So does Eric Cantor.
Mitt Romney will not be at the so-called "jobs summit." Yet he has some helpful suggestions.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Cimate-Gate Scandal Continues to Spread
The Climate-Gate scandal continues to grow in scope and in intensity. Climate-Gate is already starting to exact its first casualties, even while President Obama makes plans to attend the Copenhagen Climate Change summit.
Obama 'Jobs Summit' Not About Creating Jobs
Scheduled for tomorrow, December 3, the much ballyhooed "jobs summit" that President Obama has called for in the wake of the failure of the stimulus package will not have many people who have, in their careers, actually created a job.
John Birmingham gives the Australian government the back of his hand for not making a proper commitment in Afghanistan.
Obama is well past the point where he can be satisfied with tokenism from his allies. He's in it for real and we're not. Europe's not. Nobody but the US and the poor old Afghans themselves are.

I thin J.B. is giving Obama just a little too much credit. With the 2011 exit date, I'm pretty sure he's not really in it for real.
A hitherto unknown ancient European culture has been discovered.
Obama's Afghanistan Speech at West Point is Sleep-Inducing
It is a rule in politics and in life that when one proposes to send a lot of young men into harm's way, one ought to be inspirational about it. But President Obama's Afghanistan speech at West Point was less inspirational than sleep-inducing.
Chris Matthews: West Point 'Enemy Camp' for Obama
One of the most curious reactions to President Obama's Afghanistan speech at West Point came from MSNBC's commentator, Chris Matthews, who actually referred to West Point, the place where the cream of Army officers are trained, as the "enemy camp."

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Dick Cheney, Michael Moore Attack Obama on Afghanistan
In the formulation of his Afghanistan strategy, President Barack Obama has had to perform a delicate balancing act. The left thinks Obama should withdraw all troops from Afghanistan. The right thinks he should fight to win.
Sarah Palin - children's book star.
Stephen King is working on a sequel to The Shining.
'The War on Kids' -- a Polemic Against Public Schools
A new documentary entitled 'The War on Kids', a polemic against public schools, is causing some comment. The message of 'The War on Kids' is that public schools in the United States greatly resemble maximum security prisons.
Climate change follow the money.
Ares 1 vs. commercial launchers - how to replace the space shuttle?