Time and space

Looking at the stars, space travel’s future, District 2’s race—and beyond!

Nibbles came home from school last Friday excited about “the spaceship” he saw. When the kids heard the engines of the 747 overhead, his whole class made a break for it and ran out to the blacktop in their sock feet to catch a glimpse of the space shuttle Endeavour. Twice it flew by on its piggyback ride around the Capitol and down to Los Angeles.

Bites saw the shuttle that day, too, and felt a little like the kid who got up before dawn on April 12, 1981, to watch the first launch of space shuttle Columbia.

That kid thought something very important was happening. Human exploration of the solar system, at least as far as Mars, was probably next. In fact, human spaceflight would plateau in low Earth orbit for a couple of generations. (Did you know the International Space Station is no farther away than Bakersfield? Not a bad drive if your car drives straight up.)

On the same day Endeavour made its flyby, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation giving qualified immunity to companies like SpaceX and Virgin Atlantic, in case any passengers get injured in future space flights out of California. Something to keep in mind for your next space/Bakersfield vacation.

Last month, after the landing of the Mars rover Curiosity, Brown visited NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and declared August 21 “Space Day” in California. He made a similar proclamation 35 years ago, after the successful test flight of the space shuttle Enterprise.

Yes, during that previous go-round as governor, Brown also proposed establishment of the space academy in California, and launch of the state’s own communication satellite. But if you’re looking for a Governor Moonbeam crack here, forget it.

The rovers are great, they’re amazing. Short flights for rich space tourists are fine, too. But they aren’t really what Bites was expecting back in ’81. Will Bites’ generation, or Nibbles’, ever see a human land on Mars? That kid watching the Columbia take off was pretty sure that we would. The adult, watching Endeavour fly to a museum in Los Angeles, doesn’t have such high hopes.

Last week, SN&R’s front-of-the-book editor Nick Miller did an important story on city council candidate Allen Warren. Warren has baggage: a long list of lawsuits and unpaid property taxes related to his development business. Lawsuits and liens aren’t all that unusual for developers—just ask Kevin Johnson. But the number of legal issues on Warren’s plate raises real questions.

Warren would rather they not be asked. After Miller’s piece came out, he took to SN&R’s comment boards to complain about the story.

I’m disappointed that the News and Review chose to write this article without citing sources, verifying the accuracy of the information, or asking for my comment on the specifics. The reporter provides no documentation and no sources for his allegations,” he wrote.

That’s a little bit of bluster and a little bit of doublethink and a lot untrue.

In fact, Miller’s piece extensively cites court records, and Warren is quoted at length, too. And the whole story is written without a whiff of editorializing.

Still, for having the temerity to report facts in the public record, Miller is accused by Warren supporters of having a “vendetta” against their guy. Two days later, when Sacramento Bee reporter Ryan Lillis weighed in with his own lengthy piece about the District 2 race, the Warren sections also dealt with the candidate’s complicated history of legal troubles. Another vendetta, Bites supposes.

Another Warren supporter wrote: “It is horrifying that a blogger can look up every expense charged to your personal credit card from years ago. Why don’t we get to read about every financial pitfall his opponent has encountered?”

Well, that’s not exactly how it works. But, yes, if you get sued by your creditors, that is in the public record. And Warren’s opponent, Rob Kerth has been named in lawsuits as well—though far fewer than Warren. Don’t take Bites’ word for it. Or Nick Miller’s or Ryan Lillis’. Go to www.saccourt.ca.gov, and punch up the court records for anyone you want. Look at Kerth’s suits and look at Warren’s. You can read them, you can talk about them, you can even write about them. They are all in the public record. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.