There are a couple of items of astronomical interest in the news. The easier story to wrap one's head around is that this weekend will be characterized by a meteor shower which is expected to be spectacular. I'll be working in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow, so I'll find a likely spot and settle in to watch the show with a couple of friends.
The other, more perplexing astronomical story involves U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology hearings on SETI funding. The House of Representatives basically being a jobs-creation program for troglodytes, things didn't go so well during the hearing. The booby prize for this hearing goes to Representative Chris Collins who, to my shame, represents upstate New York. Collins decided that this hearing was a good time to go full Von Däniken (never go full Von Däniken):
"Have you watched Ancient Aliens and what is your comment on the series?"
Yeah, that's a guy who's got his hands on the purse strings.
There has been valid criticism that the Republican-led committee has held more hearings on extraterrestrial life than on climate change, but the GOP has made AGW denialism a facet of the party dogma. The fact that they are at least willing to conduct hearings with a couple of astronomers would suggest that there could be a glimmer of hope... if the congresscritters weren't so damn misinformed.
A few months ago, I yukked it up at a pronouncement by SETI senior astronomer Seth Shostak about evidence for extraterrestrial life being discovered within the next twenty-five years (the joke was inspired by the old saw that workable fusion power is always "twenty years in the future"). I firmly believe that SETI is performing valuable work. I have no doubt that the inhabitants of Earth are not alone in the universe (though I do not believe that extraterrestrials have visited us). Sadly, our current government is unable to walk and chew bubblegum at the same time, and the representatives are blinded by a toxic combination of fossil fuel funds and scientific illiteracy. I hope we can vote in a more competent congress this November, and I would exhort anyone, before you cast your vote, watch these guys.