The Senate and the House of Representatives have both passed their own versions of Obama’s proposed budget for NASA. As I’ve mentioned here before, Obama’s plan to abandon the Constellation program and leave American access to low earth orbit in the hands of the private sector was met with a good bit of criticism, both from Republicans and Democrats alike. Though I supported (and still support) his initial plan, I figured we would end up with some sort of compromise in the end. Not surprisingly, that’s where we’re headed now that the Senate and House versions have come out. I don’t have the time nor the willpower to type out the gritty details of the differences, but in a nutshell, the Senate wants to extend the space shuttle by another mission or two, slash funding for commercial space companies in half, accelerate the development of a heavy-lift rocket based on current shuttle booster technology, and slash funding of research into advanced technologies. For a more detailed comparison between Obama’s plan and the Senate plan, check out this article on Universe Today.

The House plan, which was issue by the House Science and Technology Committee (chaired by TN’s own Bart Gordon) is even worse. They want to slash funding for development of commercial access to low earth orbit by MUCH more than the Senate version, and like the Senate they want to speed up development of a heavy-lift rocket. The biggest problem is that the House version essentially brings back Constellation. For more detailed info on the House version, check out this article on Space.com.

I’m by no means a politician or an economics expert, but I’m firm in my belief that if NASA keeps focusing money and effort on access to LEO/the ISS, then we are spinning our wheels and making no progress. NASA cannot keep funding and worrying about getting our astronauts to and from the ISS AND worry about/fund our exploration into the rest of the solar system at the same time.

As expected, today Obama submitted his budget proposal for NASA, which includes cutting the Constellation/Ares rocket program. Under the new plan, he wants to pursue commercial options for getting people to low-earth orbit, and focus NASA’s main efforts on exploring the rest of the solar system. This will no doubt meet some resistance in Congress and the Senate, but overall I think it will go through. I’m starting to agree with it more and more. The biggest reason is that companies like SpaceX will probably be capable of safely transporting our astronauts to the ISS much sooner than NASA’s Ares rockets could have (without a massive and utterly impossible funding boost). Read more details at Space.com and at Discovery news.

Now enjoy these two nice nuggets via yewknee’d:

Unhappy Hipsters

Sky:

Here we go again. I recommend investing in Kroger stock this year, because they’re gonna get a big boost in sales in TN from all these “snowstorms” wherein a meteorologist utters the word “snow” and 75% of the population immediately clears the milk, bread, and egg isles. (Apparently people only eat french toast during snowstorms?) As usual, I’ve been monitoring the progress of the forecast and find it interesting that the NWS hasn’t issued the winter storm warning yet, only a watch. I’m sure the warning will come, but it’s kinda funny that they’re hesitating, no doubt because of the giant snow fail from a few weeks ago. (To be fair, some areas around the midstate did get something close to the forecasted amounts, though no one really got the full 2-3 inches that was initially forecast…) This system is a little different than the last one, however. This one will most definitely have enough moisture to generate the 3-5 inches, unlike the last system which had moisture “issues.” The big limiting factor with this system will instead be temperatures. Nashville will literally be right on the dividing line between having an ice/rain mix and having an all snow event. If this system decides to track just 50 to 100 miles further north than the models think it will, that will cause more warm air to advect farther north, and we’ll end up having mostly rain friday changing to a little snow on the backside fri. night into sat. morning. If it decides to track slightly further south, we’ll have all snow, but much less of it, and areas to the south of us could actually see more snow than Nashville does. This system has a little better chance of “success” in giving us a good ol’ fashioned snowfall than the last one, but I wouldn’t place any bets yet.

Big rumors abound in the blogosphere about Obama’s budget proposal due to land in Congress on Monday. The biggest rumor is that it will completely cutout NASA’s Constellation program, which is the rocket system currently under development to not only replace the Space Shuttle, but also put men back on the Moon. I reported many times on the progress of the Augustine Commission and its recommendations for how NASA should proceed given that its current “trajectory” was financially unsustainable. One of the options they proposed was to eliminate the Constellation program and let commercial spaceflight companies like SpaceX takeover the duties of getting astronauts to the International Space Station and other low-earth orbit missions. I have a feeling that if the budget really does cut the Constellation funds, that’s where we’ll be headed next. Honestly I think it may not be a bad idea, because it would allow NASA to focus more on getting man further out into the solar system, and eventually to Mars. I tend to agree with Dr. Phil Plait’s (the Bad Astronomer) sentiments on the issue (as usual) but I’m not in total agreement with him that we should still go back to the moon. But then again, he’s the astronomer with a Ph.D and I’m not. For even more info, check out Universe Today. Check those blogs again on Monday afternoon, as I’d say they’ll be able to update waaaay sooner than I will once the actual budget info is released.

Brooklyn Vegan reports that a Woodstock 40th anniversary show will go down at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in upstate New York, which is where the original Woodstock festival was held. Among the performers are Woodstock vets Levon Helm and Country Joe McDonald.

As promised here are a couple of mp3s from bands that are playing my 8 off 8th this coming monday. First up is Paper Navy, a relatively new band with my friend Simon Lynn (formerly in The Whole Fantastic World) on drums, and a few other Murfreesboro music veterans. The standout track from their EP “All Grown Up” is the title track. The EP can be downloaded for free at their website.

Paper Navy- All Grown Up

Second comes a track by Codaphonic. This band will not feature its original lineup, but frontman Cody Newman decided to keep the Codaphonic title for whatever he does musically. From what I understand he’s got a lot of new material, but it’s along the same vein as the older material. Here’s “The Most Important Thing” from the Codaphonic album The Ballad of Codaphonic.

Codaphonic- The Most Important Thing

Google will soon be introducing a very useful new service/product called PowerMeter. It will allow you to use Google to monitor your home’s power consumption and see what’s using the most energy and why. Their description says it perfectly:

Google PowerMeter, now in prototype, will receive information from utility smart meters and energy management devices and provide anyone who signs up access to her home electricity consumption right on her iGoogle homepage.

Sign me up! Via Kottke.org.

Finally some encouraging news is coming down the pipe about the state of NASA and its hotly contested Constellation program. In case you’ve been under a rock, the Constellation program is the over-arching name for a system of rockets and modules (Ares I, Ares V, and Orion Crew Vehicle) that will replace the space shuttle as NASA’s means of taking astronauts into space and eventually back to the moon. Since Obama took office, NASA’s lost its administrator and suffered from a “sense of drift.” This article in the Orlando Sentinel reports on a new study by the Obama Administration to see if Constellation is really the right choice to replace the space shuttle. In short, they want to address the engineering problems and budget overruns that the Ares I rocket and Orion Crew Vehicle have experienced. Some studies were done into alternatives to Constellation, but a 2005 study found that Constellation was the best choice. Unfortunately many contractors and rocket companies expressed dissent regarding that study and claimed that it didn’t consult enough of them to have a balanced perspective. I really look forward to seeing the result of this, and I really hope Obama picks a new Chief Administrator for NASA soon. I don’t really care what the results are, just that we’re going in the right direction with this, and that our money isn’t being wasted on lame duck projects. Via Universe Today.

On a completely different and random note, I had a bizarre dream last night that I was in someone’s house and caught a rattlesnake. Then we put it in a bag… I think it was made of cloth. For some reason I then decided that the snake would be scared in the bag, so I dumped it back out, caught it again, and held it behind its head for a really long time. Then the dream ended. WTF?!? At least no one got bitten?

Via dontstaylong

Via dontstaylong

It’s that glorious time of year again. Moustache May is in full swing! If you have a stache, sign up! If you want to grow a stache and document the progess, sign up! *Update: as of ~12:45pm registration is already closed… ya snooze ya looze!* Or just bookmark it and check often for the always clever theme-days. I did it last year and it was fun, but I think I’m gonna lay low on the stache this year… It took at least 2 weeks for mine to grow enough so that I no longer looked like a creepy child molester.

Tonight I’ll be at a party, but a lot of you will probably be seeing Junior Boys & Max Tundra @ Mercy Lounge.
Also, The Rabbit Release party is going down at the Dirty Eye Warehouse (100 Talyor St.) Featuring Caitlin Rose, Heypenny, and others.

Tomorrow is also looking to be a good night for show-going:
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart @ the End w/ Zaza, Mother Father, and Bows & Arrows. Mother Father are locals… I have no clue about the other 2. I’ve blogged about POBPAH on here before. Obviously this is where I’ll be.

Also Saturday- Pico vs. Island Trees/Butterfly Boucher/The Bridges @ the Basement.

Do I really need to mention the Death Cab shows Sunday and Monday at the Ryman? We’ll be there Monday- I got Megan tickets for her birthday.

The world’s fastest camera can take 6.1 million photos per second. Needless to say, this device is only for scientific purposes. I mean, who else would ever want to take that many photos in a second? It also doesn’t use the conventional CCD or CMOS sensors that regular digital cameras use. Those sensors aren’t capable of anything even close to 6 million frames per second. The technology is explained fairly well in the article, so just go read it if you’re interested.

Universe Today has a story that sheds some much needed light on the confusion over the recent buzz about NASA’s plans for the shuttle fleet, the Constellation program, what we’ll be doing on the moon, etc… In a nutshell, congress is prepared to shell over the dough needed to extend the space shuttle program past 2010 (if needed), NASA still doesn’t have an administrator, and nobody’s really sure just what we’ll be doing on the moon in 2020.

Lastly, I give you the iSnort app:

Have a great weekend!

Image via Time.com

Apparently Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber is on the list of TIME magazine’s candidates for the 100 most influential people. You can vote to rank each individual’s influence on a scale of 1 to 100. Seriously? Everyone’s heard of the “Pitchfork effect,” but I think it has become less relevant over the past 2 years or so. It just seems to me that people start regarding over-hyped “blog-buzz” bands as “Pitchfork bands,” and rightfully so, because most of the bands they’ve hyped over the last couple years have had little staying power. Ex.- Vampire Weekend, Deerhunter, TV on the Radio, etc… Hipster Runoff has a take on this issue.

Rapper T.I. has been confirmed as the “other” headliner for this year’s Rites of Spring, and it will probably be one of his last performances before starting his 1-year jail sentence. Kinda weird but kinda cool at the same time?

In other festival news, the 2nd All Points West lineup has been announced, and it includes Nashville/Bowling Green act Cage the Elephant. These guys have a very festival-friendly live show from what I’ve heard, so it’s really no surprise, especially since they’re also playing Coachella and Bamboozle.

It had to be invented eventually… shoes that grow with children’s feet.

President Obama signed a very important environmental bill into law yesterday called the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. This protects wildnerness areas in California, West Virginia, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Michigan, Utah, Virginia and Oregon. It also protects a thousand miles of rivers. This act has been in the works for many years, so one can only credit Obama with the final push to make it law. Still, a big win for our country’s natural beauty. Via the Daily Galaxy.

NASA unveiled a mock-up of the Orion Crew Vehicle yesterday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For some reason I can’t find any photos of this in the public domain, but it basically looks just like the Apollo modules from the 60’s. Technologically, though, it’s vastly more advanced than the Apollo modules. The new Constellation project (of which the Orion Crew Vehicle is a part) will carry astronauts to the ISS beginning around 2015, to the moon in the early 2020’s, and hopefully to Mars in the mid 2030’s. I really hope that I’m still around when that happens.

Finally, the National Weather Service in Nashville has completed their assesment of the storm damage from this past Saturday. As you probably know if you’re from here, a tornado warning was issued for western Davidson and eastern Cheatham Counties around 5:30pm. The storm that prompted this warning did indeed drop an EF1 twister that hit northern Cheatham County. Also, another storm that hit Rutherford County dropped an EF1 twister that hit very near downtown Murfreesboro. This tornado was orginally thought to be and EF0, but further damage assesment prompted the NWS to upgrade it to an EF1. They have very good aerial survey methods that can determine whether damage was caused by straight-line winds or a tornado. The Enhanced-Fujita scale uses damage to estimate the wind speeds in the tornado. There is still no direct way to measure the wind speeds inside the actual funnel, unless the tornado happens to directly hit a wind vane and it somehow miraculously survives. But the chances of that happening are slim to none. If you know me I’m sure you’re wondering whether I chased either of these storms, and the answer is yes, I did attempt to track down the one in Davidson County, but chasing in TN is very difficult, mainly because the roads are not laid out in nice, easy-to-navigate grids like they are in the plains, and also because the storms around here tend to be High-Precipitation Supercells, rather than Low-Precipitiation Supercells which are more common in the plains. This means that most of the tornadoes in TN are shrouded in rain and thus very difficult or impossible to spot from a distance. So no, I was unsuccessful in seeing/documenting this tornado.

A sneak peek from the new season of LOST. I’m officially excited. I might even try to start having LOST viewing parties. I don’t really have people over to my place very much… if at all, so here’s to trying something new.

What does Obama have in mind for NASA’s Constellation program? Ok, I get it, we have budget problems… but we can’t just throw away all the hard work NASA has put into the successor to the space shuttle- the Constellation program. We have to see Ares I, Ares V, and the Orion capsule through to their completion. As quoted in the article, those programs are years ahead of any alternative. Changing course now would only widen the gap between the space shuttle and its successor. Mr. Obama, I love you, but please leave Constellation alone. For that matter, leave NASA’s budget alone… I’m all about your “scalpel” approach to budget cuts, but take the scalpel elsewhere. Too many people see space exploration as “unnecessary” or think “oh, it can wait.” The science that NASA does is VITAL to the progress of the human race. It’s more of a “big picture” mentality, but we’ll never achieve the goals of putting men on Mars, and eventually colonizing other worlds if we keep putting off the first steps toward them. NASA has been put on the backburner with increasing budget cuts ever since the end of the Apollo missions. The nation must get out of the mentality that space exploration and scientific discovery are secondary to the problems we face here on earth, because the scientific breakthroughs/discoveries that come as a result of said exploration will probably help to solve many of those problems- the biggest of which is the energy crisis and global warming. Sorry about the soap box, but I feel like I need to start including more of my own thoughts into this blog rather than just posting lots of links.

I was unaware of the legislation that passed in 2007 to phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2014. I’m glad it passed… but this article points out that the mercury contained in the new compact fluorescent bulbs will pose a major environmental hazard if people don’t dispose of them properly.

In local music, The Features have a special Christmas package deal going at their website. You can get their latest album Some Kind of Salvation and a new Tshirt as a package deal. Get it while it’s hot.