Space Exploration

It’s a fact: Humankind is headed for Mars. The Red Planet beckons, and humans are answering the call.

NASA, Perseverance Rover, February 2021

Since the first successful flyby in 1965, four space agencies have made it to Mars: NASA, the former Soviet Union space program, the European Space Agency and the Indian Space Research Organization. Several others, including space agencies in Russia, Japan and China, have attempted Mars or Martian moon missions without success.

The latest batch of Mars-bound missions as of February 2021 are NASA’s Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter, the United Arab Emirates’ Hope orbiter (a first for that country), and China’s Tianwen-1 orbital and lander-rover mission.

Perseverance successfully soft-landed on Mars on February 18, 2021, setting down as planned in…

Say you dropped in from outer space for a quick review of the American political scene, circa early 2021. You could be forgiven for thinking, among other things, that the Republican party seems a bit unhinged.

Depending on who you ask these days, the GOP is dead, or nearly dead, or in danger of dying. Or doesn’t really exist any more, having morphed into the Trump party. Or consists of two main groups: Trump and his followers on one hand, and Mitt Romney plus, maybe, Liz Cheney on the other. …

In an essay published in Medium two months ago (“Climate Change — It’s Worse Than You Think”) I noted that:

…if public policy is to address climate change with the urgency it actually demands, it is first necessary to make the case for that urgency in terms that a majority of ordinary citizens not only understand but can feel viscerally for the threat that it is.

During the Trump administration, focus was intentionally turned away from the climate change problem — withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, rolling back fuel-efficiency standards, and so forth. …

In an address in his home state of Delaware on January 19, President-elect Joseph R. Biden demonstrated one of the most important ways he differs from outgoing President Donald Trump. Speaking about the gratitude he feels toward the people of Delaware, and reflecting on the losses he has felt in his own life, Biden openly shed tears — proof, if any were needed, that he actually has a heart. What a welcome change that will be.

Image by Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

He showed the same kind of heartfelt sincerity a few hours later as he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris paid tribute at the Lincoln…

Very soon, Donald Trump will leave the U.S. presidency, one way or another. But his supporters will remain a powerful force in the electorate for years to come. They might seek to reinstall a resurgent Trump in 2024, though impeachment proceedings now underway could forestall that option. Lacking Trump, they will likely seek post-Trump candidates who embody many of his signature qualities, including authoritarianism, populist nationalism and disdain for traditional norms of American governance.

Who are Trump’s voters?

To a large extent, they are Republicans, though a growing minority of Republicans do not identify as Trumpists. They include a substantial…

How to Do Space

There is a vast universe of work to do for humankind to grow from our Earth-based launch programs to something of truly Star Trek proportions. It doesn’t mean we won’t try.

Space Force & Starfleet Graphic: WKMG

Within the ever-popular Star Trek fictional universe, Starfleet is described as a uniformed space force maintained by the United Federation of Planets (“the Federation”) as the principal means for conducting deep space exploration, research, defense, peacekeeping and diplomacy.

Within that narrative, Starfleet began as an Earth agency not unlike NASA, dedicated to space exploration and eventually utilizing interstellar starships such as the Enterprise to travel the galaxy.

On Star Trek’s version of Earth, warp drive (the ability to warp space / travel faster than light) was invented and first flown in 2063 by hipster scientist Zefram Cochrane. …

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire — and there’s a lot of smoke

Elaine Kamarck, a Senior Fellow at the prestigious Brookings Institution, recently raised the question, “Does Trump owe Russia?” Writing on the Brookings website on July 10, 2020, Kamarck outlined a long series of questionable moves Trump has made during his time in office that, in aggregate, suggest an attitude of unseemly deference toward Vladimir Putin and Russia. In terms of kowtowing to the enemy, nothing remotely similar has been demonstrated by any other president in U.S. history.

Trump and Putin — Kremlin public domain

Trump’s infractions, as described by Kamarck and others, include:

— on July 11, 2016, during the Republican platform meeting, Trump aides moved to…

Dangers Loom. Time Is Short. What We Do Matters Now.

On December 7, 2020, a news story from Common Dreams described an open letter sent by some 250 scientists and scholars to policymakers of many governments warning of impending “societal disruption and collapse due to damage to the climate and environment.” The letter called for urgent international efforts to “begin to prepare and so reduce its likelihood, speed, severity, harm to the most vulnerable, and to nature.”

The dire message echoed similar sentiments contained in a recent pair of United Nations reports on the same topic, briefly summarized by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as: “The state of the planet is…

America’s Prospects for the Future Aren’t Promising

Generally speaking, I prefer a glass-half-full approach to life whenever possible. I’d rather believe there is a way forward, light at the end of the tunnel, than not. I suspect most mentally healthy people feel the same.

But I’m also committed to the proposition that denial is almost never a healthy or useful response to reality.

Make no mistake, denial is one of the more common states of mind among Americans today. Faced with daunting near-term challenges at home — pandemic illness, unemployment, fears for their children, a hotly contested election that is still not resolved in the minds of…

Looking around the American landscape in mid-autumn 2020, it’s easy to find cause for concern. A deeply divided electorate. The Covid pandemic still raging out of control. An economy in shambles, with huge numbers of citizens facing potential disaster as winter approaches. The list goes on.

These are examples of immediate, relatively short-horizon problems — bad things happening right now. These kinds of concerns capture our attention more readily than do longer term, slower-emerging issues. That’s understandable.

When the near-term is filled with urgent problems, the longer-term tends to fade into the background. But that creates another kind of problem…

Michael Lindemann

Futurist, street philosopher, agitator, closet musician, planetary advocate

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