Thursday, July 23, 2009

The F-22, Sarah Palin, Gidget and Jon Stewart... oh my.

A mixed bag of news and views, if you will :)  In no particular order

First up, Jon Stewart is America’s most trusted anchorman.  At first I thought this would make my childhood hero, Walter Cronkite turn over in his (new) grave.  Then I realized that Walter just might agree.  All three of the other candidates for the title have an axe to grind, and a cause to proselytize.  What sets Stewart apart and far ahead, at least in my book... he’s honest about it.  He’s a comedian for god’s sake, he wants you to know he has an opinion.  The other top contenders...Brian Williams in number 2 with 29%, Charles Gibson with 19% and Katie Couric with 7%.  Jon Stewart got 44%.  I can understand Williams and Gibson, but the vapid piece of fluff got 7%?  Amazing. To see that Couric is even mentioned is doing her a favor.  She even fails at being window dressing.  Williams had a great run with Katrina and the Bush administration, it’s kinda easy to get headlines there, but now that there is substance to report, he’s not up to it.  Charlie Gibson?  I think he got his job because the Today show needed new blood, honestly, why is he an Anchor?  Carry on Jon, America needs you!

Looks like the old folksy charm might be wearing a little.  Sarah Palin may have dipped into the old legal trust fund a wee bit?  The jury is out, I guess, and this is a HuffPost story, so there is some bit of shrillness to it, but it could be.  I still stand by the fact that this broad is the WORST thing the republican ever did.  Until she is nothing more than a fund-raising puppet, I won’t be happy.  Oh, and if she decides to run as an independent, I say bless her little heart.  I still think she has been deluded into thinking she is a “somebody” in politics.  How sad...

Well, here it is.  There is no sugar coating for this... Gidget is dead :(  Yup, I still have my stuffed Taco Bell dog from the collection.  The batteries are dead, but it still sits proudly on my computer desk.  Why is this news, you say?  It isn’t.  It’s just an homage to cute little dog.  And what can you say bad about the company the company that gave us the dog, and the Spork!!

And last but not least... I see hope for the future.  I have been Obamatized :)  The senate of this country, while doing a bevy of amazingly stupid other things, managed to TURN OFF FUNDING FOR THE PIECE OF SHIT F-22.  Lets examine the Raptor-come-shitmonster’s record shall we? Oh wait?  You mean we have bought 178 of these over priced pieces of shit and they have NEVER flown a combat sortie?  But we’re at war, how can this be?  Ohhh, they have a few problems and aren’t quite combat ready yet.

But back to the Senate...  What a bunch of morons.  Lets see.  Secretary Gates didn’t want the F-22 funded.  The USAF didn’t want the F-22 funded.  The DoD didn’t want the F-22 funded.  Well, golly gosh, Mr. Wizard, why was there a funding bill on the floor of the US Senate?  Oh, could it be that corrupt pieces of crap like Chris Dodd and the New Mexico Delegation (Udall and Binginthehead) wanted to fund it some more and shove it down the throat of the USAF and up the arse of the American people...  Why yes!

Even the Air Force didnt want any more of these abortions.  They want the F-35 now.  Even the USAF realizes now that these planes are a solution in search of a problem.  They’re not combat effective or ready and they will NEVER face an enemy capable of testing them.  What amazes me the most, is that even when the DENSE heads that run the USAF figure this out, that our senators cannot.  Mr. Dodd, you are cordially invited to go screw yourself.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Apollo – The greatest generation’s greatest failure.

After basking in the glow of the 40th anniversary of the moon landing all weekend and especially Monday, I knew today would come and I dreaded it.  Why?  Because the Apollo program stands as a huge living testament to the greatest failure of the greatest generation.  Yes, I know, I am committing blasphemy, since the greatest generation is a sacred cow and not to be derided at any cost.  I’m sorry, but the failure stares us all in the face and you cannot shrink from it.  (Luckily, there is a faction that believes Apollo doesn’t belong solely to the greatest generation, so I may not go straight to hell... I might get the scenic route.)

Before I go any further, let me just say that I blame no one at all, nor do I mean any of this to paint anyone or anything with a derision.  What the men and women of NASA did will always stand as a phenomenal achievement.  To get to the moon and back, 6 times, with less computing power than my iphone or your average blackberry is amazing.  They did all this in 8 years, with slide rules and nothing more than an unflagging dedication to the truth.  After the events of Apollo 1 on the launch pad, the refocus and dedication to the cause was amazing.  The accomplishment alone stands the test of history as first among the great feats of mankind.  Bringing President Kennedy’s vision to fruition was a mighty endeavor, the kind only trusted to giants.

And all I can think is “Damn Kennedy’s speechwriter to hell!!”

Yep... you heard that right... damn him to hell, whoever he was. (metaphorically, of course, I really hope he has/had a great life with all he ever wanted.)  But with three little words he screwed over generations and set us on the path to not seeing space again for a very long time.

Three little words... “in this decade.”

Most people think that NASA sprang from the ground after Pres. Kennedy made his famous speech.  In reality, they had been going for a few years (since ‘58) and actually were working on things like the moon.  After all, the russkies had spanked us all over space and it was starting to hurt.  There were folks in NASA who were formulating plans to develop a low earth orbit station that could be manned.  (Defense guys loved this since those guys could have bombs to drop on them Russkies.)  From there, we would use disposable rockets and re-entry vehicles to get men and equipment to the station.  There, they would build a lunar spacecraft that would then make all kinds of round trips to the moon and back.  (Keep in mind that Dr. Robert Goddard wanted to go to Mars and not the moon, but he knew he couldn’t get funding for that...)

Then Pres. Kennedy makes his timely speech (May 25, 1961), a political one, to be sure, since the russkies were winning the space race.  Then he has the nerve to get himself killed.  Next thing you know Johnson is latching onto that desire for the moon and telling NASA to DO it.  Don’t think about it, DO IT.  (Remember, Johnson was an absolute space nut, moreso even than Kennedy.)

So instead of an orderly, paced and scientific methodology to get to the moon and back, and then the planets, we got Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.  Crash test programs designed to get us there “firstest with the mostest.”  Lest you think I blame our political leaders for it, I tell you that Werner von Braun had more to do with convincing Johnson (who then convinced Kennedy) than anyone else.

What we did next was a marvel.  From nothing at all, we built a rocketry/guidance/environmental/control and telemetry project that could, and did, take us all the way to the moon and back.  Average men and women moved mountains, thought the unthinkable and truly dreamed the impossible dream, made it a reality and we all basked in the glory of it all.

And then the luster faded.  The glory subsided.  We did what Kennedy wanted, didn’t we?  ANd what was all this getting us anyhow?  Some rocks from the moon.... whooopie.  After building the impossible, we did the unthinkable.  We terminated the program before it even finished.  NASA learned the age old axiom about being careful what you wish for...

And now what do we have?  An aging shuttle that is a poor substitute for a space program and an international space station whose heavy contributions to science are now things like seeing if the hair on mice are sensitive to weightlessness...

It makes a geek/nerd wanna cry.  I have a collection of Slide Rules, not because I know how to use them, mind you, but because I saw the guys at NASA (my heroes) use them to send guys to the moon.  I met Buzz Aldrin once and was moved to tears by his recount of the trip.

WHERE IS MY GENERATION’S APOLLO????  I wanna go to space damnit!  I want my jetpack and I wanna work at Spacely Sprockets!

Mercury, Gemini, Apollo...  They got us there, but like some other great projects, nobody thought enough about what we do when we make it.

Soon, the Shuttle will stop running.  They have to, they’re falling apart and cannot be maintained.  There is nothing waiting in the wings.  Without another massive effort we’re not going back to the moon for a long time.  Pres. Obama was very obvious on Monday that he is not going to put any more money into “A silly bunch of egghead crap”, no President before him has either.  Congress won’t fund them, there are no kickbacks in NASA funding bills.  We’ll see the Chinese flag, the Japanese flag and European flags on the moon long before the stars and stripes.

It’s not just the moon either.  We need to be looking into space, but we don’t have the sight, we lack vision.

Will someone please come forward, have a great vision for space and then get shot?

It seems like thats the only way...

P.S.  There is a great history article over at NASA that talks about how the decision was made for Apollo.  Very interesting reading and has some things that not alot of people know or realize. You can CLICK HERE TO GO TO IT

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite, Rest in Peace, Good Sir.

As I returned this evening from our local AAA baseball team’s game, I learned of the sad news.  Walter Cronkite has left us.  Mere hours before the most famous broadcast (IMHO) he ever made, covering Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon and his descent to the lunar surface.

I suppose it’s not right to say that we are worse for his passing, since it has been 28 years since he last anchored a nightly news show, but he wasn’t gone then.  Now he is.  He was a reporter and anchor at a time when the very fabric of trust in this nation was torn to shreds by Richard Nixon.  Cronkite was one of the few things you could believe.  Cut from the same cloth as Murrow, he was one you could trust.  He didn’t opine, unless he told you that he was doing so.  He gave you the news and let you decide.  Hey Fox, CNN, MSNBC... ever thought about that?

So, without going on and on, I’ll say this.  Farewell, good sir.  Thank you for always being the one I could believe in.