Tag Archives: North Korea

Catching Up On a Few Things


Owls in tree
Baby owls in my tree – look closely, there are 5 sets of eyes!

The world really freaks me out – I mean like frightens me, especially for my kids and grandbabies. I heard that North Korea is really incensed about some movie scheduled to come out in October, with Seth Rogen and James Franco. It’s called “The Interview.” The movie is about a plot to assassinate leader Kim Jong Un. He is pissed and feeling completely disrespected and has said if this movie is released it will be considered an “act of war that we will never tolerate.” Seriously, we are going to have a war with North Korea over a movie . . .

This is from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-28014069:

The North Korea [foreign ministry] spokesman was quoted by the state KCNA news agency as saying: “Making and releasing a movie on a plot to hurt our top-level leadership is the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated.”

He added that the “reckless US provocative insanity” of mobilising a “gangster filmmaker” to challenge the North’s leadership was triggering “a gust of hatred and rage” among North Korean people and soldiers.

“If the US administration allows and defends the showing of the film, a merciless counter-measure will be taken,” the spokesman was quoted as saying.

What can you say about that? I certainly believe in free speech, but at what cost? Is this particular movie and article of free speech worth poking this crazy frickin’ bear? What do you think?

And then I heard Iran, Iraq, and Syria want help from the U.S. in the form of air strikes to help them fight against ISIS. The world just keeps getting stranger. Not sure what I think about the request – could be advantageous later, but then again, it seems whenever we get involved in this type of conflict, especially in that part of the world,  those we go to help seem to turn on us later. I don’t know, I just can’t help but think if we ever have another civil war here, the United States would not tolerate any other country stepping in, in any way, shape, or form. I understand about needing a peacekeeper/peacemaker/mediator sometimes, but who appointed the U.S. government in that role?

They still haven’t found the plane and I am beginning to think they never will. I don’t know, maybe aliens did snatch that baby right up, or maybe Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went through an area like the Bermuda Triangle. I remember growing up, we all talked about the Bermuda Triangle and whether it was weather-related, pirate-related, alien-related, or a series of coincidences  – we weren’t savvy enough at the time to think any government might be involved. Now that I am older and with the advent of cable TV and the Internet, I don’t hear much about the infamous triangle anymore. Maybe it’s lost its appeal, with everybody paying attention to Lindsey Lohan, Justin Bieber, that icy blue-eyed criminal and zombies and other useless kind of stuff.

Speaking of that icy blue-eyed criminal  – his mugshot finally hit over 100,000 likes on the Stockton Police Dept.’s Facebook page. The noise on him has definitely quieted down a bit. I can tell you some of the comments are on that page are just stranger than fiction. REALLY!

Russia has hinted they may pull out of the International Space Station (ISS) in 2020, as opposed to getting the full life out of it, manning it until 2024 or 2028. They want to re-allocate Russian ISS funding to work on projects with China and India. It sounds like Russia wants a piece of the moon, if you ask me. Anyone paying attention to NASA lately had to have seen that one coming . . . I did. I see lots more to come on that regard, and I can promise it will be interesting to say the least. NASA has high hopes the amicable international partnership of the ISS will continue. I hope they are right.

There’s a new Planet of the Apes movie coming out – that just scares the shit out of me . . . really LOL!! Like the world isn’t a scary enough place, without thinking about apes being in control 😉

On a joyful note, I did find out there are at least five owl babies!! I don’t believe the nest is in my fig tree, but is in in one the trees in that little corner thicket, maybe in one of the cedar trees. Haven’t seen them in over a week now, so maybe they got big enough to fly away. Sure hope they come back next year!

Just some things I was thinking about . . .

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Russia and Your Space Station


I read an interesting article in the paper a few days back regarding all the upheaval in Ukraine with Russia, and how this is affecting the relationship between Russia and the U.S. when it comes to the International Space Station (ISS). I know a little about NASA and the ISS and its operations, and I can tell you this issue is troubling to me. We have an ISS mission operations control center in Russia, as well as here in the U.S. at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Our astronauts train in Russia for the Soyuz flights that ferry them back and forth to the ISS. The following is an excerpt from an internal NASA memo:

“Given Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, until further notice, the U.S. Government has determined that all NASA contacts with Russian Government representatives are suspended, unless the activity has been specifically excepted. This suspension includes NASA travel to Russia and visits by Russian Government representatives to NASA facilities, bilateral meetings, email, and teleconferences or videoconferences. At the present time, only operational International Space Station activities have been excepted. In addition, multilateral meetings held outside of Russia that may include Russian participation are not precluded under the present guidance.” SOURCE: NASA Watch

From what I know, there are teleconferences at least weekly and emails probably daily. Before each flight of a vehicle to the ISS, Flight Readiness Reviews and Stage Operations Readiness Reviews are typically held and ALL international parties attend in person or via teleconference. Most configuration changes of any kind often require all international partners to agree and sign-off on. I have no idea what exactly has been deemed essential and how this is impacted by the sanctions the U.S. currently has in place with our partner in space.

We are dependent on Russia to get our astronauts to the ISS. We have much invested in the way of funding and are gaining enormous benefits in areas that will not even be realized for years – the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer could possibly change the basic concepts of physics; medical studies regarding cancer, aging, medications, etc.; as well as many other important scientific and technological advances.  When NASA’s Space Shuttle Program ended, with no crew vehicle to take its place, the price of the seats on the Russian Soyuz went up, now costing approximately $70 million. Sometimes two of those seats belong to us, meaning that cost doubles.

I’ve read that Charles Bolden, NASA’s administrator has said Russia’s space agency Roscosmos will continue to cooperate with NASA as far as providing our astronauts a ride to and from the space station. He has assured that Russia depends on us and can’t run the station as we supply many essential power and operating systems. He mentioned in 2008, when there were diplomatic issues involving Georgia, there were no problems. Well at that point the ISS was not completely assembled. I doubt both of the robotic arms were onboard and I’m pretty sure the satellite deployers had not been delivered. The robotic arms are used for so many tasks and operations and the small satellite deployers are a definite advantage in this newer area of technology. In my opinion, the only guarantee we have is that Russia wants our money.

My understanding is that the Russian cosmonauts spend the majority of their time living and working in the Russian modules and predominantly only work on their own science investigations – which if you ever look at a NASA Expedition Press Kit, these science experiments/investigations are written in Russian, so if you do not know the language or have an interpreter, most people have no idea what the Russians are really working on. (Though I am sure someone at NASA does.) They may even use their own communication systems separate of NASA’s, as well.

Also, if I understand correctly, the Russian Zvezda Service Module is the main piece of the station when it comes to powering all other systems and if it goes down – the whole thing can die. Having said all that, the Russians could just shut the parts of the U.S. side of the station down that they didn’t want to use and that would be that. I’d be willing to bet, there’s probably ways to disconnect the U.S. modules and let them deorbit, if so desired.

The space station was conceived as an engineering feat, to result in not only great advances in science and human space exploration, but also as a model for international cooperation – peace, compromise and teamwork. Under the circumstances though, I can’t help but wonder if Russia would try and use their advantage and take over the station.

I don’t know, and I am not an expert on any of these things. I am just thinking about the possibilities of what can happen with operations of the space station and the ramifications of the state of the world and our own affairs in this country presently. WE have a lot at stake here and I don’t think most of us really even know it. It’s not just about who owns, runs, funds the ISS and the science we get from that – it’s about who ultimately owns the skies with satellite technology and just as an aside, human space exploration.

I just realized North Korea has a space agency. North Korea has a space agency and China has landed a rover on and is exploring the moon and Russia is the only way our astronauts can travel back and forth to the space station that we as a nation and as taxpayers own a big part of. Regardless of your opinions of NASA, space exploration, and its funding . . . Is it just me or is this picture disturbing?

Just something I was thinking about . . .