News Roundup

Weird Al: This fall there will be a show with Weird Al . It’s called Milo Murphy’s Law and will be on Disney XD. It looks interesting but that’s about all I can tell from the theme song that’s been released so far. Disney ūüėĄ also has Star Wars Rebels and a bunch of Marvel animated shows as well. It come on in October so I will check out a couple of episodes.

NASA: Here’s a nice feel good story as NASA has found and re-established contact with a probe that it lost two year ago. The probe it found is the STEREO-B one of the pair of probes used in the STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) mission which looked at the sun and we’ve gotten a whole bunch of information from this mission including a complete picture of the sun.

Top Gear: So the most recent series of Top Gear with Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc has been regarded as a huge miss and Evans himself resigned from the show after the season was over. There are some rumors that perhaps the BBC might be pulling for another new host, but there are also rumors floating around saying that the trio of Clarkson, May and Hammond might return. However they have that Amazon Prime show The Grand Tour coming some time in the future. So it seem like only a distant dream from the BBC as it would get a huge hit back with them coming back to Top Gear.

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Space: Astronaut Scott Kelly has returned to Earth after almost a Year in Space. PBS will be airing a show about this Year in Space and Kelly will be doing a Reddit AMA and a Facebook Live on Friday. It will be interesting to hear what NASA and RKA have learned from this and how they use it on future expeditions.

Beer: There are places where Pumpkin beers are still on the shelves. Forbes says that there are many still there because there were just so many different Pumpkin beers this past fall from a wider variety of sources as well as increased production of favorites. The article also points toward the warmer than average Fall and perhaps has to do with Fall beers appearing around mid-summer. Hopefully this upcoming year we will see a smaller variety of Pumpkin beers and perhaps some other fall flavored beers (Pecan Pie or a nice Marzen (Oktoberfests) would be nice)

Politics: Well, it was Super Tuesday and the American Electorate couldn’t care less it seems all be inevitable that come November it will be Hillary Clinton running against The Donald. Is this what we deserve not really but it’s what we get with the system we have.¬† As someone has said the system is broken. It would be nice to see some change in the political landscape. Yet this might be a single term so there is some hope that it won’t last long.

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This week we have a varied grouping of articles that piqued my interest this week.

Netflix: Researchers have crunched the data and have determined that the average viewer spend about a minute to a minute and a half browsing Netflix to find something to watch. This is furthered by the fact that viewers look at between 10 and 20 title before just giving up.

NASA: This is some pretty cool news as NASA is toying with the idea of working with laser propulsion system which could possibly make interstellar travel a reality. This would be a game changer in the spaceflight since you wouldn’t have to use all that fuel to go anywhere which would make it a less expensive endeavor. Also according to the report it would cut down travel time between Earth and Mars currently about 8 month for like a probe but according to this if the science works out it would cut it down to merely days.

Musical Theater: Over on Playbill there is a unique look at the current state in the musicals where they ask if we are in a new Golden Age, perhaps a Platinum Age of Musical theater. Rick McKay is working on his Golden Age trilogy about the oral history of Broadway from the 40s-today. Playbill says that musicals are more a national phenomenon today with the abundance of musicals available to the general public with the success of the live musicals on NBC and FOX as well as in movie theaters and on musical shows such as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Nashville and Empire. Not to talk about that musical about Alexander Hamilton which debuted at 12 on the Billboard 200 and was number one on the Rap chart.

Politics: In not really big news Senate Republicans have confirmed that they will not vote on any Supreme Court nominees that Obama gives them. This would be the first time since the 1800s that this has happened. However this plan by the Republican might blow up in their faces since they have 24 seats up and it seems like the American people might have gotten sick and tired of what they’ve been doing in Washington and want a change. This might also change how Mitch McConnell and Republican feel about scheduling any appointment hearing for Supreme Court justice.

The Martian (2015)

The Martian or as it could be called Matt Damon gets rescued again, I think he is the most rescued individual in modern film. Spoilers to follow.

It’s 2035 and Mark Watney (Damon) is a member of the Ares III mission who are on a 31 sol (Martian Day) mission. A huge dust storm comes and the mission is aborted Watney gets hit by debris while trying to make it to the MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle) in order to get to Hermes and head back to Earth. Watney’s fellow crew member think he’s dead and head home without him, but Watney was just punctured by an antenna which also made it’s way through the bio meter, but his blood sealed the suit so he stayed alive. Watney realizes that his only hope would be to get the where the Ares IV is scheduled to land but he need to get more food although the mission supply would last him roughly a year so Watney as a botanist decides to become a farmer, he sets up a field of martian dirt adds some fecal matter as fertilizer and plants some potatoes from the Thanksgiving meal. He gets this figured out rather quickly. Eventually he goes and upgrades his rover with the other rover and the plutonium¬† to make it work better. This leads him to discover Pathfinder, which just needed a battery change and works perfectly after sitting for 40 years and the technology used back in 1996 is compatible with the 2030s tech as using Pathfinder Watney can communicate with NASA¬† and they talk him through linking the rover to Pathfinder so they can chat that way.

All in all it’s a fun movie Matt Damon trying to survive on his own on a planet. It is Ridley Scott’s best movie in years and was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and was in several top ten list for 2015.¬† I think we need to have a couple of films where Matt Damon does some rescuing or they just fail to save him. The biggest problem with the movie is that after watching it you really don’t care much about anyone else or could you tell their names with the exception of Damon. That might be the biggest problem I had with the movie.

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X-Files: The miniseries debuted on Sunday on Fox and the ratings were pretty high for that episode and the episode that aired on Monday night also got decent ratings as well. This could bode will for fan of the series as with the enthusiasm for the series Fox, Chris Carter and the cast might be persuaded to make another miniseries type season. I am sure there would be people who want to watch it. The first two episode are a nice addition to the series.

Cursing/Swearing: Over on Reddit there is a memo from back in 1898 about offensive language used in Baseball which was issued to rid the sport of offensive language. Unfortunately not much has changed but the memo is pretty funny to read as although language has changed a great deal since 1898 but the terms and way that we insulted people hasn’t changed much.

Mars Rovers: Opportunity has been on Mars or a dozen years. It is remarkable that the 90 day plan has been surpassed 47 times. It’s been sending back information about Mars ever since and it’s nice that NASA is still relevant although they currently don’t have their own way into space. Hopefully that will change soon with the commercial crew options in 2017.

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Music: This was a cool story about how the music of Mozart and other classical composers sounded a little different from what we know it as. Since there was a completely different style of playing the piano. Christina Kobb has taught herself how they played the piano some 200 years ago. It’s pretty cool and there is a video of it as well. If you have some time watch the video.

Theatre: Some sad news Theodore Bikel the originator of Captain Von Trapp and played Teyve more times than anyone in the world has died. I was lucky to see him in Fiddler back in 2001 when it stopped by Wolf Trap.

Space: This is the best news of the week NASA has conducted a study which said that human could be back on the moon by 2021. With all the recent NASA news about Pluto and the the robotic missions it is nice to have some speculation about NASA sending human back into space. This is only if NASA continues the collaboration with the private space companies (SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Boeing) like with the resupply missions (ongoing) and eventually crewed missions (2017). I hope that with all the other science that we are getting from Outer Space it inspires younger American to get interested in become Astronauts, and perhaps there will be one day when we have a moon colony and we can go visit the moon like it’s only a trip across the ocean. Then we can start development on Luna Park.

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Space: This is the biggest news since NASA’s New Horizons probe has reached Pluto and is sending back information currently. However this new information is going to take a long time to be all send over at Gizmodo they point out that we will be getting a smattering here at the beginning but to look at all we have it’s going to take about 16 months for it all to be sent back to earth. It is a reasonable speed when we remember that the probe left Earth about a decade ago, Pluto is 3 billion miles away and it’s running on like 10 watts of power. I hope that the information gathered inspires the youth of America to take up the banner of Space exploration.

Beer: This is pretty funny with all the trouble that Budweiser is/has gotten in from trying to emphasis the Macro-brewery and the simpleness of what they produce. You might remember that at the Super Bowl they bemoaned the Pumpkin peach ales and other strange flavors at micro-breweries and other craft breweries. I’ve read that many craft breweries made and perhaps will be offering Pumpkin peach beer this fall as a result of the ad. Since it is summer Budweiser is back at it saying on Twitter that “No one cheers the individual who brings a watermelon wheat”. This statement was not taken kindly by the fan of 21th Amendment Brewery’s Hell or High Watermelon.¬† This is great news since there are so many small breweries throughout the US and it would be great if beer drinkers looked at what’s local or regional instead of the big national beers.

DC/NYC: I found this an interesting article and it’s related to another article I read a couple days ago, at Congressional Cemetery they will have goats taking care of the invasive species that are threatening trees.¬† The other article was about sheep grazing at Old St. Patrick’s in NYC. I like these stories about animals being brought back into cities to do things like this that they once did in the same cities. It’s great since it introduces children to farm animals and so many children living in large cities are very disconnected from where food comes from.

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Space: There is going to be one of the coolest space missions in recent year launching. A year long space flight, NASA and Roscosmos will each have a astronaut in space for a whole year they are scheduled to launch on Friday. The goal of the expedition aboard the ISS is to understand better how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space. These results will be used to help plan missions to Mars and perhaps even colonization in the near future. NASA will be sending Scott Kelly into space and conducting a twin study as well. Scott Kelly is twin to Mark Kelly and this will be the first time that the Twin Paradox  will be actually tested, although that aging part is not apart of this experiment. but it will look too see if there are any difference between the two during and after a year in space.

Beer: Stone Brewing Company is at it again, previously I mention that they had released a recipe for the Stone Pale Ale, the first beer that Stone made was being retired from the lineup so they open-sourced the recipe and posted it online for any home brewer to make it. As a result of Stone giving the Pale Ale recipe some people clamored for another recipe that was being retired the Levitation Ale  and once again they have shared the recipe scaled down for home brewing for all to use. This is a smart thing that Stone is doing as it allows fans of those particular beers to continue to be able to have them and individuals at home can change the beer to suit their tastes. I wonder if any other breweries would do such a thing.

Television: James Corden has started up with the Late Late Show and through two episodes it seems decent, I do like how he has all the guests out for a single interview, it kind of reminds me of The Graham Norton Show. The recorded sketches seem to drag on though and it seems like they could get rid of the desk as it is barely used. However it is still too early in the run to actually figure out if it works or not but it’s on at 12:30¬† in the East so whose really watching it.¬† The show is different but it still feel like other late night talk shows. If Corden can continue to get these high quality guests and can stay clear of the reality show stars¬† it may last longer than a couple of months.

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Space: There was a little problem that happened with the Antares Rocket as it lifted off from Wallops lsland. Now this was one of the commercial resupply missions that was going to the International Space Station. This is a shocking event, although no one was killed in the accident it still is a shocking development for American Space travel. Orbital Sciences will be investigating what went wrong and hopefully they can figure it out. This was the first failure that Orbital has experienced.

Movies: Marvel has gone out and has announced Phase three in their grand movie universe. This is nine movies open over three years, we get another Captain America, Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy with the additions of Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, and The Inhumans. These along with a two part Avengers movie, where Thanos will get all 6 infinity stones by the end of the first one and then the second one will have then all fighting against Thanos or something like that. The Captain American movie will be based/adapted from the Civil War story with Steve Rogers and Iron Man fighting about Superhero registration as the government of the world are going to want to control supers after the events of the upcoming Avengers movie.


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Musicals: This is really cool news Playbill reports that the NY Times says that the new musical by Stephen Sondheim and David Ives will be based on two Luis Bunuel films. The films are The Exterminating Angel and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, both films deal with dinner parties. This is really cool since I happen to like the films of Bunuel and have seen both of the films and happen to own Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.  This sound like an interesting musical idea and should make for some great music.

International: This story made me chuckle a bit. Over in Italy the army will be growing marijuana to keep the prices down. In Italy they legalised marijuana uses last year and are trying to keep the price down so the illegal trade doesn’t grow even more as for many people the illegal dealers are cheaper than getting the through legal methods. This seems like something that could also happen in the United States if marijuana were to be legalized. It is a smart plan since controlling the drug will make it easier for the government to tax the goods and hopefully people will have better access.

Space: News from Russia that the Russian Space Program (RKA) is going to focus on landing on the moon and then focusing on exploring the rest of the solar system. This seems like the place where every space program is hoping to send people to once again. Will this start off a new space race that captures the imagination of the people like that with the race to the moon in the 60s? Russia, China, and the US and Europe (NASA/ESA/CSA) are all working independently to reach the moon sometime in the next decade or so sending a manned mission as well. All these plans are a first step to eventually set out and explore other places in the solar system like Mars and asteroids. It seems like the US partnership and China are a bit further along with getting to the moon unless Russia is just going to be using the same program that it sent the Lunokhod  rovers up in the 70s.