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January 31, 2010

NASA: Not About Space Anymore

Administration officials this week announced that they were going to kill NASA’s manned moon mission, envisioned as an eventual platform for the exploration of Mars, and choose instead to focus on developing commercial space transport and performing maintenance of the International Space Station (ISS).

Clearly, the White House recognizes how important it is that we inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers, to instill in a young child the dream of one day breaking free of the bonds of gravity that hold us tightly to this rocky plane, and soaring off into the outer reaches of low earth orbit to deliver a payload of spare valves and CO2 scrubbers.

Another new focus of the space program will be to stop going into space.  At least under our own power, as the White House plans to proceed with the decommissioning of the space shuttle fleet by the end of this year, leaving the United States without any means of sending astronauts to the ISS, which the US largely built and championed.  But not to worry, we can still get there as long as the Russians let us hitch a ride with them.

As the President said in his State of the Union Address this week, he will not accept second place for the United States of America.”

Third place, however, remains on the table.

A formal announcement has yet to be made, but we were privy to an excerpt of an early draft of the President’s planned remarks on his decision, which he patterned after one of his role models, John F. Kennedy:

...But why, some say, low earth orbit? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why stroll up a modest hill? Why take a bus uptown? Why does Oregon play Portland State?

We choose to go into low earth orbit. We choose to go into low earth orbit in this decade and do the other things, not because they are hard, but because they are easy, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the most pedestrian of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we’ve already done over and over and over again.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision to shift our efforts in space from leading the way to the moon and Mars, to begging the Russians to take us to our own space station, as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.

We have seen facilities now being created for the greatest and most complex exploration in man's history. We have felt the ground shake and the air shattered by the testing of a ChangZheng 4 booster rocket, many times as powerful as the Fengbao 1. We have seen the site where the Long March 7 vehicles are being sent into space from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

So why try to match that?  The growth of our science and education will be much more enriched by our new focus on going round and round in orbit. Next to some Russians.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there."

Did you catch the part where he died?

And, therefore, we ask God's blessing for the Chinese, the Russians, the Indians, and so on, as they set sail for the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

Us?  We’ve got some windows to insulate!

The President’s plan also includes placing greater emphasis on having private companies take a leading role in going into space.

Because as we all know the proper role of government is to make automobiles, run banks, and decide what kind of health care we should have.

Space?  That is clearly more appropriately handled by the free market.

And the Chinese.

J.

January 31, 2010 at 07:19 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 29, 2010

Advocates Of Free Speech Exercise Their Rights Of Free Speech By Continuing To Criticize Expansion Of Free Speech

Many Democrats remain outrageously outraged with the Supreme Court ruling that found that incorporated entities such as businesses, labor unions, and advocacy groups, mysteriously retain the free speech rights of their organizers, believing this is “breaking precedent.”

The Bill of Rights
No, not that precedent.  

The one, from 2003:

From The Bill of Government-Permitted Privileges
How about you try showing a little respect for the historical foundation of our republic and the timeless figures from our past who helped shape it? McCain, Feingold, Stevens, O’Connor… You know, the giants.

Some expressed disappointment that Justice Roberts, who put together 5 votes for the decision, wasn’t being more of a “consensus builder,” like, say, Justice Stevens, who put together a consensus of 4 votes in opposition.

Their fury was further stoked when Justice Alito was seen to mouth the words, “not true” as the President criticized the Court’s decision during his State of the Union address.

As Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman remarked, it was “totally classless.”

You know what is classy?

Viewing the position of United States Senator as a temp job by agreeing to keep the seat warm for your former boss’s son for a couple of years, as if you were helping him hide a super-special birthday present until the big day.

And then having the son decide he doesn’t want daddy's stupid Senate seat present after all.

Okay, that last part isn’t classy.

But it is funny.

For his part, Senator Patrick Leahy said that the court’s ruling “risks corrupting our political process."

We guess he meant, "again."

When confronted with these kinds of complex fee speech issues, we here at Planet Moron, prefer to err on the side of not having the government tell us who can say what, when, under what circumstances, through which medium and with whose money. 

But hey, that’s what makes us radicals, right?

J.

January 29, 2010 at 05:01 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 28, 2010

“Who Is This ‘Vick Tory’ Guy You Keep Talking About And What Does He Have To Do With Iraq?”

This country has long marked “V-J Day” (Victory over Japan) and “V-E Day” (Victory in Europe), but based on what President Obama said last night, it looks like we’re going to have to add another such day to our calendar later this year:

E-I Day! 

Ending in Iraq Day.

How is it ending?  The President wasn’t specific.  All we know is that the he pledged that this war would end in ending, and true to his word, he announced in his State of the Union speech that, “this war is ending.”

To our brave men and women, the President said, “they have our respect, our gratitude, our full support.“

For whatever it is they did over there.

In other news, it was reported that the President snuck out of the White House the other night to help coach his older daughter’s struggling basketball team, and was overheard giving them a pep talk at halftime:

“I know things look tough now, but I think we can still end this game.  If we stick to the basics, and pull together as a team, ending can still be ours.  Are you with me?  Now let’s go out there and end this thing!  End! End!  End!  Yeaaaahhh!!”

We’re not sure how the game turned out, but we’re sure it was their biggest end of the season.

J.

January 28, 2010 at 04:07 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 27, 2010

2010 Washington DC Auto Show

Imagine if Code Pink were to organize a military arms expo. Sure, the dealers would do their best to appear cheerful as they try to peddle their rocket launchers and troop carriers, but they'd know all too well where they really stand in the scheme of things as large portions of floor space are turned over to displays extolling the virtues of diplomacy, the promise of appeasement, and a future in which arms will be rendered obsolete.

That pretty much sums up theWashington DC Auto Show.

Long-time readers, and there are some (even a few who are not directly related) know I've held this view for some time.  Whether it was greeting patrons with the latest in mass transit options, a crushed automobile, a message about diminishing fossil fuels, or back in 2006 when they tried to rebrand it “The Congressional Auto Show,” organizers have overtly tried to give the event a “Washington personality,”  which is kind of like trying to give a pastrami sandwich a “vegetarian personality,” or Al Gore a, well, just a “personality.” (Okay, bad example.)

The 2010 edition is no different. Even before I attended I was greeted with this breaking headline from their web site:

First-Ever Car Powered by Government Paper Waste Makes Debut at Washington Auto Show

If that doesn't fill you with wild and unruly passion, you probably like cars.

When you first enter the initial hall (it's held on two floors) you know exactly where the emphasis is.

Just Use Your Imagination

Cars that don’t necessarily exist yet!

While every crackpot idea and/or farm belt boondoggle was represented, from biofuels to hydrogen to ethanol, electric was the clear star:

I have seen the future!

Scary Future 1
And it sucks!

Scary Future 2
A lot.

Future of Electric Cars

You know, if you're trying to sell the American public on the future of electric vehicles, you should try and not be so honest about what the future of electric vehicles really looks like.

Chrysler's old discredited past:Dodge Challenger SRT8

Chrysler's vibrant exciting future!Fiat Electric 500

Or should that be “future.”

Here is the Chevy Volt:Chevy Volt Discounted!

The concluding remarks made by the presenter (paraphrased only slightly): “I can’t tell you what the price is, or when it will be available, but I can tell you one thing: It comes with a $7500 tax credit!”

 The car isn’t available yet and its chief selling point is that it comes with a rebate. A government rebate. Meaning you are giving yourself a rebate to encourage yourself to buy a car you don’t want.

And here I thought the federal government was incapable of finding a new reason for me to want to repeatedly ram my head into a wall until the sweet peaceful darkness of unconsciousness overtakes me.

Fortunately, the show wasn’t all about hating the automobile so much you want to transform it into a passionless yet efficient ovoid blob. There were actual dealerships there displaying their wares.

There were, for instance, the Toyota Corolla and Camry.Too Dangerous To Sell

Upside: Stylish, practical and priced right!

Downside: Too dangerous to sell!

We wonder if that will affect the resale value...

The Jeep Wrangler “Islander” edition:Jeep Wrangler Islander Edition

 Ah, if only I were 25 years younger.  And a girl.

Here is an area set aside just in case 16 children with expansive notions of personal space show up:Kid Space

Now this is more our speed:Mercedes G 550

Not the price, that's someone else's speed entirely. I could live with the Dodge Challenger above, too.  I don’t need either one nor do I have any place to put them. But despite what they may think here in Washington, when you buy a car, you’re not purchasing an appliance.  You are making an investment in your soul.

And no, my wife doesn’t buy that either.

The Washington DC Auto Show runs through Sunday.  Despite everything, I go every year and always enjoy it.  I was pleasantly surprised that it had as many automobiles displayed as it did. It’s worth the ten bucks if you really love cars.

Just don’t let the organizers find that out. 

J.

January 27, 2010 at 03:18 PM in Weekend Leisure | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 26, 2010

Top Ten Ways Your Life Will Be Different With A Power Grid Designed By Bill Gates

Microsoft founder Bill Gates this past week launched a personal initiative to explore ways he could lend his particular talents, experience, and expertise to addressing the world’s energy needs with a particular focus on ways technology can be employed in the generation and delivery of electric power.

Where could this new endeavor lead?

We take a look at:

The Top Ten Ways Your Life Will Be Different With A Power Grid Designed By Bill Gates

10) There will be weekly outages so operators can reboot your local power plant.

9) It will take ten minutes to turn on the microwave.

8) In order to use the air conditioning you will have to install the proper drivers, none of which exist yet.

7) You will need to purchase expensive anti-virus software for your toaster.

6) Every time you flip on a light switch, Clippy will appear to offer assistance:

Clippy Utility Helper  










5) Before using your Waterpik You will have to make sure it is compatible with your hair dryer.

4) You’ll have no choice but to take the pre-bundled floor lamps and wall sconces.

3) Turning on the stereo will require an activation key.

2) People with families will be required to purchase site licenses if everyone wants to use the electricity at the same time.

And the Number One way your life will be different with a power grid designed by Bill Gates:

1) Apples’ new iPower will be better. But you won’t be able to afford it.

J.

January 26, 2010 at 05:22 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 25, 2010

It’s Not Clear If Flying Airliners Into Buildings Makes The Top Ten

I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest,” President Obama warned darkly this weekend.

What is this threat so destructive, so harmful to the very fabric of our Republic that it “strikes at our democracy itself?”

That age-old scourge of liberty: Freedom of speech.

Specifically, the Supreme Court’s decision last week to recklessly expand that freedom to incorporated entities such as businesses, advocacy groups, and labor unions.

Like most Planet Moron readers, you are probably under the mistaken impression that women find you attractive.

Also, that a corporate entity is owned, run, and controlled by actual people who may want to engage in political speech through that entity, whether it’s as an owner wishing to weigh in on a public issue that affects him or her directly, or simply a group of citizens who hold similar political beliefs wanting to pool their resources to be better able to get their message out to a wider audience than might otherwise be possible.

This could not be further from the truth. Okay, it could be a little further, but that’s not what’s important.  What is important is that we all know these corporations are evil entities attempting to, as the President elaborates, “directly interfere with elections by running advertisements for or against candidates in the crucial closing weeks.”

And the last thing we want is elections interfered with by the airing of different points of view. Is that really what democracy is all about?  Allowing interested parties to publicly make political arguments that will then be weighed by the citizenry before casting a vote?

As Maryland Representative Chris Van Hollen understands, there’s only one word for that:

Un-American.

The President fears that as a result of the Supreme Court decision, special-interest influence in the political process will increase, something he has fought against, proudly pointing out that:

On my first day in office, we closed the revolving door between lobbying firms and the government.”

That door is closed so tight that those influence-peddling K-Street lobbying firms have struggled this past year to barely eke out double-digit gains in revenue growth.

Okay, so maybe they need a better lock on that revolving door of theirs.

While it’s unlikely that the Supreme Court decision will change the way campaigns are financed all that much, the president believes otherwise and has pledged to “get to work immediately with members of Congress… to develop a forceful, bipartisan response to this decision” to “repair the damage that has been done.”

We certainly are fortunate to have a former constitutional law professor as President who “actually respects the Constitution.”

He never said which one, did he?

 Obstacle To Utopia

J.

January 25, 2010 at 07:45 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 21, 2010

The Reason You Will Never Win A Nobel Prize In Economics. Well, One Of The Reasons.

Perhaps anticipating the election results in Massachusetts this week, Nobel Prize winning pop economist for the New York Times, Paul Krugman, wrote in his Sunday column that Barack Obama has made three mistakes in his first year:
  1. Not spending enough money.
  2. Not being tough enough on the banks.
  3. Not blaming Bush enough.

We’ll take these in turn:

Not spending enough money.

Even the casual political observer could not have helped but notice the growing tea party demonstrations during the year, in which angry voters around the country came out to decry the administration’s reckless fiscal conservatism.

 No Deficit Spending-No Peace!

Paul Krugman believes the Stimulus bill should have been twice as big as it was.  With close to two trillion dollars, we could easily have not created twice as many jobs as we have with the original Stimulus.

For families struggling in a difficult job market, it would be a real comfort knowing that at least we owe China another trillion dollars.

What could we have done with twice the Stimulus funds?  You don’t think the Escape Massage parlor could have used another $168, 300?  You don't think that an additional $389,357 could have helped Buffalo University and the important work they are doing exploring the factors involved in the concurrent and separate use of malt liquor and marijuana?

You want to stimulate the economy?  Massages, malt liquor, and marijuana is the way to go.

Not being tough enough on the banks.

The best illustration of this shortcoming is the President’s plan to make banks pay back TARP money that they have either already paid back or never borrowed in the first place.

What is he, Wall Street’s doormat?

Why not show how tough he really is and make them pay back three or four times the amount of money they already paid back or never borrowed in the first place.  Beyond the symbolism, this would serve two concrete purposes:

1) Free up additional funds for companies that did take TARP money and haven’t paid it back.

2) Encourage those fat cat bankers to give up their bonuses so the money can go where it can do some real public good. Like paying for the bonuses of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives.

 Not blaming Bush enough.

While it’s true that the Obama administration spent most of the last year pointing out that it inherited its problems from George Bush, “inherit” suggests that the problems were in fact passed on to Obama. This creates the unfortunate impression that Obama somehow bears responsibility for them now that he has been in office for a year and has had the opportunity to implement his own policies and solutions for dealing with them.

Rather than say he “inherited” these problems, Obama should claim that George Bush had them placed in a blind trust. 

Hey, what can he do?  It’s out of his hands.

So there you have it.  If only President Obama had spent more money, been tougher on the banks, and put more of the blame on Bush, perhaps things would have turned out differently.

In related news, Howard Dean believes the message from Tuesday’s election is that Democrats weren’t liberal enough.

J.

January 21, 2010 at 01:18 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 20, 2010

Virginia Senator Jim Webb Was “Born Fighting.” Fighting To Keep His Job, Anyway.

Virginia Senator Jim Webb in a December 24 press release:

“I voted in favor of health care reform legislation in the Senate… the status quo of our present system, which is damaging our national economy at many levels, is unacceptable.”

Virginia Senator Jim Webb in a January 19 press release:

“I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.”


As the Senator says at his “Born Fighting” PAC web site:

“It is time for us to lead on the critical issues facing our nation – and we will.”

Technically speaking, leading a retreat is still leading.

J.

January 20, 2010 at 03:26 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 19, 2010

CONSENSUS WATCH – 1/19/2010

An ongoing series dedicated to vigorously monitoring emerging threats to The Consensus that global warming is real, caused by humans, and must be addressed at all costs.

Because without Consensus, scientific conclusions would have to be based on something other than hearsay.

Proponents of anthropogenic global warming have had a difficult couple of months, as the scientific foundation of their claims has come under serious question.

But The Consensus does not rely solely on scientific research.  In fact, the IPCC scientists at the United Nations, who have long been at the forefront of research into which climate factors have the greatest influence on increasing levels of global hysteria, have a number of sources from which they draw their most important conclusions.

Such as “stuff they read in a magazine somewhere.”

For example, the headline-grabbing announcement a few years ago from the IPCC that global warming would cause the Himalayan glaciers to completely melt by 2035 was based on something the researchers had remembered reading somewhere in an eight-year-old copy of New Scientist magazine. Perhaps in the dentist’s office.  Or was it the hairdresser?

Regardless, some challenged the claim saying that the data showed that the Himalayan glaciers were under no such dire threat, but those denials were simply a sign of arrogance.

Look, these guys read it in a magazine somewhere.  What more proof do you people need?

Let’s face it, “stuff someone read in a magazine somewhere,” has long served as an important source of information on which we have all grown to rely.

For example, see if this sounds familiar:

Friend #1: You want another beer?

Friend #2: Nah, I think I’ll switch to gin and tonics.

Friend #1: Did you know that if you mix your alcohol you’ll get a worse hangover?

Friend #2: Where did you hear that?

Friend #1: I read it in a magazine somewhere.

Friend #2: Wow.

Friend #1: Also, you’ll grow breasts.

With the advent of widespread access to broadband connectivity, the dissemination of information in this manner has only increased:

Friend #1: You want another beer?

Friend #2: Nah, I think I’ll switch to gin and tonics.

Friend #1: Did you know that 9/11 was an inside job, Obama isn’t a natural born citizen and Trig isn’t Sarah Palin’s son?

Friend #2: Where did you hear that?

Friend #1: I read it on the Internet somewhere.

Friend #2: Wow.

Friend #1: Also, you’ll grow breasts.

Sure, sometimes stuff you read in a magazine somewhere doesn’t always pan out, but that in no way should call into question the legitimacy of The Consensus.  In fact, if we don’t act soon to reduce carbon emissions, the ice caps will melt, people will starve, hurricanes will destroy our cities, the rivers will run with blood, and we will be beset upon by locusts.

Also, you’ll grow breasts.

We read that in a magazine somewhere.

J.

Consensus Watch T-shirt Looking to increase your carbon footprint?  Don't forget our extensive line of CONSENSUS WATCH MERCHANDISE!

In addition to the “my parents fought global warming and all I got was this lousy sweatshirt” hoodie we introduced last month, we’ve updated most of the Consensus Watch store adding T-shirts, thermoses and other items Stop Raping The Planet Shirt most of which were probably shipped from China.

Hey, those polar bears aren't going to drown themselves, so get cracking and order stuff you don't need that has to be shipped a lengthy distance!

January 19, 2010 at 04:29 PM in Global Warming with CONSENSUS WATCH | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 18, 2010

This Is What Happens When You Run Out Of Real Problems

According to The New York Times, one of the fastest growing areas in psychological therapy is the conflict that arises when couples have divergent views regarding their relative commitment to environmental sustainability and green living.

Thomas Joseph Doherty, whose practice, “Sustainable Self,” focuses on “development of environmentally sustainable lifestyles and identity,” notes that environmental issues touch “every part of how they live: what they eat, whether they want to fly, what kind of vacation they want.”

When put in those terms you realize that this is not a problem you can simply ignore, deciding to accept your partner for what he or she is and focusing on those things that bring you together.  No, this is a problem you need to give professional psychologists like Mr. Doherty between $120 and $150 a session to resolve.

We here at Planet Moron hate to see couples suffer unnecessarily and would like to help. 

Do you find yourself in a relationship where your partner is having difficulty dealing with your seeming inability to take personal responsibility for remembering to bring the reusable shopping bags?  Does your partner find you distant and cold whenever the subject of separating No. 2 from No. 5 recyclable plastics comes up? 

If these issues are threatening the health of your relationship, just follow our simple two-step program:

Step 1: Get out of that relationship.

Step 2: There is no Step 2.

Of course, this won’t work for every relationship.  Cherl Petso notes that visiting her parents can be “tense at times” in part because her mother likes to use Styrofoam plates.

We have a two-step program for that too:

Step 1: Get over yourself and be nice to your mom.

Step 2: Repeat Step 1.

Life is so much simpler when you break it down into steps.

J.

January 18, 2010 at 01:10 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack