We take no position in the ongoing Taylor Swift versus Kanye West divide.  But as perhaps surprisingly…
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Taylor Swift: Intellectual Property and Anti-Counterfeiting Champion

We take no position in the ongoing Taylor Swift versus Kanye West divide.  But as perhaps surprisingly featured in a Wall Street Journal opinion this week, we do applaud her strong stance in defense of intellectual property (IP) and against the scourge of counterfeiting:

Pop star Taylor Swift has been feuding in recent days with rapper Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian.  The details of the drama are lurid and complicated, but young aficionados of Snapchat and Instagram have been following it all intently.  If only the same were true for other Taylor Swift feuds that have received less attention.  Namely, those the 26-year-old songstress has fought in defense of a principle often scorned by fellow celebrities and the social-media generation generally:  the value of intellectual…[more]

July 22, 2016 • 01:09 pm

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Leaving the Heavens Behind: What the End of the Space Shuttle Program Means for America’s Future Print
By Troy Senik
Wednesday, July 27 2011
One does not have to be a cosmological romantic, however, to lament the passing of the space shuttle. Indeed, it raises many earthbound concerns, not least in the realm of national security.

“This is the way the world ends – not with a bang but with a whimper” – T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
 
What Eliot said of the world we can now say of our quest to journey beyond it. Man’s early endeavors beyond his own atmosphere were nothing if not a series of bangs: the call to arms of the USSR’s Sputnik launch; the redeeming triumph of the American moon landing aboard Apollo 11; the valiant stoicism of the nearly-doomed Apollo 13, and the visceral tragedy of the Challenger disaster.
 
It was, in short, what exploration has always been: bold, dangerous, occasionally impetuous and, more than anything, illuminating – quite literally. After millennia earthbound, man found himself staring at his home planet from a cold and distant satellite for the first time with the moon landing in 1969. Yet just over 40 years later, the country that led the way in one of the greatest breakthroughs in human history left the new age of exploration behind with a whimper.
 
That faint noise issued from the landing pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the space shuttle Atlantis returned to earth in the early morning hours of July 21, never to touch the heavens again. Atlantis’s voyage to the International Space Station marked the final flight of NASA’s space shuttle program and marked a transition from an era in which the agency set out in search of worlds to explore to one in which it searched for budget line items to eliminate.
 
To be sure, many of the reasons for NASA’s decline were homegrown. Since the space agency was first established in 1958, it has held to the trend of nearly all organs in the federal government: watching its achievements decline while its payroll expanded. And in recent years, America’s manned spaceflight has generated little to inspire interest, let alone wonder.  Voyages to the International Space Station to study the effects of zero gravity on insects may be edifying for those who read the footnotes in journals of entomology, but they’re not the stuff of dreams – especially when an unexplored Mars looms in the distance.
 
One does not have to be a cosmological romantic, however, to lament the passing of the space shuttle. Indeed, it raises many earthbound concerns, not least in the realm of national security. With the shuttle grounded, America will now be dependent on the Russia of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev for its cosmic transit. The cost of a ride for American astronauts on the Kremlin’s dilapidated Soyuz spacecraft? $63 million a pop. That’s a hefty price to pay for second-class accommodations from (at best) a fair-weather friend.
 
America’s regression in space also has dire implications when considered in contrast to China’s interstellar adventurism. As the U.S. is mothballing its hardware, China is preparing for the launch of Tiangong I, the first module of its own space station, this fall. If this mission is successful, the Chinese could have a fully operational space station in less than 10 years. 
 
Were Beijing simply joining the U.S. in a quest for greater cosmic understanding, this development would be relatively anodyne. All indications, however, point in the opposite direction. Earlier this year, Gregory Schulte, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, referred to China’s military ambitions for space as a “matter of concern” for the U.S. And this diagnosis isn’t strictly prospective. In 2007, China blew up a weather satellite with a ground-based missile, creating so much space junk that the International Space Station had to change its orbit last year to avoid a collision. An America shorn of its capacity for celestial self-determination is certainly incapable of rising to meet challenges such as these.
 
In the end, perhaps we can take comfort from the fact that a small but growing group of entrepreneurs are looking to make space flight into the preserve of the private sector – a group that includes such luminaries as Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson. These dynamic risk takers create the hope of something bolder than the bureaucratic morass NASA found itself unable to escape in recent years. But on certain issues unresponsive to private sector calculations of profit and loss – protecting America’s national security interests in space, exploring the galaxy for exploration’s sake and scientific understanding – it’s unlikely that they’ll step in to fill the void.
 
In those areas, we still need a governmental role in space. Yet amidst the spending orgy of the Obama Administration, NASA has been virtually the only component of the federal government asked to scale back its mission. And thus did a president who campaigned on promises of transcendence gut the one government agency that has ever offered it. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Question of the Week   
In which one of the following years was Secret Service protection afforded to major candidates for President and Vice President of the United States?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"Disruptive. That's a good word to describe Donald Trump's presidential candidacy, and to describe the sometimes ramshackle Republican National Convention his campaign more or less superintended in Cleveland this past week. ...Over history America has mostly been built by disruption. ... Maybe some disruption from a candidate who says he has 'no tolerance for government incompetence' is in order."…[more]
 
 
—Michael Barone, Principal Co-Author, The Almanac of American Politics and Washington Examiner Senior Political Analyst
— Michael Barone, Principal Co-Author, The Almanac of American Politics and Washington Examiner Senior Political Analyst
 
Liberty Poll   

Following the Republican National Convention, how do you now rate Donald Trump’s chances of winning the presidency?