Going to the Moon Again-- Finally

NASA Awards Deep Space Contract

It has only been about 45 years since President Kennedy challenged NASA to take the US to the moon by the end of the 1960's. Today we have visions of going to the moon and beyond, and today we know how we're going to get there. Lockheed Martin, aerospace contractor, was awarded the contract over a competing bid from engineers at Northrop Grumman and Boeing, and will for the second time in a decade attempt to replace the space shuttle with a reusable deep space vehicle. They won the contract because their design relies on mostly known technologies and it seems very plausible this attempt will be much more successful than their last attempt, which failed because of technical problems. This is very exciting, especially since the Russians and Chinese announced this week that they will work collaboratively on a moon mission, with hopes of going to Mars. The race is on- good luck NASA.

Big Day for Free Information

Google News-- Google Books to Offer Free PDF Downloads of Classics

Google News-- Free Universal Music Download Site to Challenge iTunes

The music and publishing industries both experienced radical alterations to their typical business model as Google and Universal Music have both launched services aimed at providing users free content by attaching advertisements to their online interfaces. There has been great resistance to Google's Book service from publishers at first, but Google wisely went slow and offered publishing houses an opportunity to make up any lost revenue by coordinating their titles with links to ordering information. Universal Music has yet to win over any of its critics, but it isn't set to be released until the fall. Consumers have been spending more on music since the launch of iTunes music store, which sells tracks at 99 cents each, so what makes anyone believe that free is all that matters? Google is definitely forcing change within the publishing industry and hopefully Universal's bold attempt to take on Apple bears some fruit by way of radically altering the way music is distributed and consumed.


Keith Richards Hassled for Mid-Concert Cigarette in No-Smoking Area

Keith Not Burned by Smoking Ban - Aug 28, 2006 - E! Online News
Google News- Keith Richards Under Investigation for Smoking a Cigarette?

Don't get me wrong, smoking is the bane of my existence, and I wish I could muster the will power necessary to quit once and for all. However, it is absolutely appalling to me how some local governments, both in Europe and here in the US, have come to disregard entirely the concept of smoker's rights. This story about the brief investigation by a UK municipality into the possible violation of a smoking ban by Rolling Stones rocker Keith Richards, who lit a cigarette while on stage during a recent concert, is truly disturbing. If the world has become a place where not even a rockstar is immune from scrutiny by Machiavellian public health policies such as outdoor smoking bans, it is truly frightening to consider what other unhealthy pleasures the government may choose to regulate in the future.


North Korean Nuclear Test Imminent?

Recent speculation on the Korean peninsula has focused on whether or not the North is preparing to test a nuclear weapon for the first time. Missile tests launched on the 4th of July failed miserably, and there has been much anxiety amongst regional observers as to how Kim Jong-Il would respond to such a damaging blow to his nations international prestige. I personally see North Korea as the greatest threat the United States has ever encountered, because the status quo is not indefinitely sustainable and I can't imagine a scenario in which the North will peacefully submit to the West. The Kim family has had 50 years of "ceasefire" along the border with the South, which has given people living in Il-Song and Jong-Il's Orwellian prison state no reason to fall disenchanted with their bizarrely narcissistic "Supreme Leader." My grandfather fought in the Korean War, and my entire life he has told stories of the time he spent on the Penisula. One which particularly frightened me was when he told of the Korean advances at the American lines, with the first wave of soldiers carrying the only rifles available for the entire invading force, with the second wave following delicately, unarmed, waiting for the first opportunity to seize a weapon from one of their completely slaughtered comrades. The ceasefire on the 53rd parallel is only temporary, for I can assure you that Kim Jong-Il won't stop playing with matches until a 10,000 pound bunker-buster burns his house down.

France Pulls Through for Lebanon Peacekeeping Mission

Google News- France Meets Commitment, Offers 2,000 Troops

Paris has finally agreed to send 2,000 troops to take the lead of an international peacekeeping force, which already has 5,000 Italians and commitments from every member of the Arab League to contributed "boots on the ground." Looking as silly as I have ever seen him, French President Jacques Chirac spoke quite earnestly on French television announcing the governments decision to send more than their previously embarrassing offer had called for. I can't say that before the current crisis I had ever said anything favorable about the French President, but his response to the actions of the Israeli government was the most impressive of all veto-wielding Security Council members. Similarly, prior to the current debacle I hadn't been one to criticize Bush's policies because generally I think he is on the right track, but his disregard for all reason and compassion in response to the brutal tactics and disproportionate response of the Israeli army will be a permanent stain on his otherwise historic legacy as a crusader of virtue in the Middle East.

Google News Links

Google News- How much do we know about Iran's nuclear program?

I like to post a link to the article that I drew my information from, especially when writing on news as it happens, but I often read so many news stories from different media outlets on any given topic that I couldn't feasibly cite every source of information. But then it occurred to me that through Google News I can instantly get every article written throughout the world through a simple keyword search. From now on, unless I am citing a specific journalist or newspaper, I will post a link to all of the Google News stories associated with the general topic of my post. The link above, as you may already know, will give you a complete collection of media reports on the United States' intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, and is an example of how I hope to provide substantive and diverse information and divergent perspective alongside my own opinions.


Racial Profiling These Guys? Why not?

The media has been eager to debate the merits of racial profiling recently as the threat to airline travelers becomes apparent following the London bust of a terror cell. Last week I was shocked to find out the two men photographed on the left caused quite a stir after boarding a flight in Europe, with several passengers walking off the plane because of the suspicious appearance and conduct of the two men. Generally, I can understand the concerns of Muslims around the world who fear they will become the victims of unjustified profiling, because I don't think that all Muslims deserve to be treated like terrorists. However, these guys don't look like normal, unthreatening Muslims, but rather appear to have been taken directly from central casting of "True Lies." If people don't want to be pigeon-holed and unjustly accused or suspected of being terrorists, they should put more effort into making themselves look less like terrorists. Maybe it is Hollywood's fault that we all have a picture in our heads of what a terrorist must look like, but until little old ladies and small children start strapping bombs to themselves, I think we would be best served by focusing our suspicions on those who most deserve the attention.