available for only $5.99 from Mountain Lake Press, the new ebook edition of Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, including a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman. Also available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and all other fine ebook sellers.
"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs." --San Antonio Express-News
Last 5 Essays and Commentaries
Behind The Black Archives
Space Watch column for UPI
Recent And Upcoming Appearances
- Radio: every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:30 pm (EST) the John Batchelor Show, syndicated nationally. The weekday show appearances are sometimes 20 or 30 minutes long. Appearance times and days may vary, depending on events, with these changes shown below.
- Lecture: April 4, 2014, The keynote lecture for the annual AIAA Region V Student Conference, sponsored by the Twin Cities section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
- Radio: April 8, 2014, 7:00-9:00 pm (Pacific), The Space Show with David Livingston, webcast here.
Fascists: A SWAT team in Florida decided to test their new military equipment by breaking into someone’s home on Friday.
After conducting surveillance and gathering information for a judge to sign a search warrant, LPD called in its SWAT team to execute the warrant at a house on Empress Way in the neighborhood near Kelly Recreation Center, Sgt. Mike Lewis said. “We did not know if anyone was inside and we had information that the persons involved were armed,” Lewis said. “It was a safety issue.”
It was an opportunity for police to see how well their newly acquired Lenco BearCat armored vehicle would perform. City commissioners last year approved the purchase of the 22,000-pound bullet-resistant vehicle to replace a 1967 armored vehicle. The BearCat features new technologies, air-conditioning, cameras and seating for 12 officers instead of six.
On Friday, the SWAT team drove the BearCat down Lakeland streets and onto the front lawn of the house. The officers crouched behind and inside the vehicle, unsure of what was inside the house. The officers used tactical maneuvers to blow out the front windows, leaving curtains lying in the yard, and they gained entry into the attached garage.
From the story, it is very unclear whether they found any incriminating evidence at all. Mostly, it sounds like a bunch of stormtroopers getting a chance to play with their toys at the expense of an innocent private citizen.
The Forest Service has seized the property and cattle of a New Mexico rancher.
Read the story. It will remind you of the Bundy fight in Nevada, with the same elements of government overreach to destroy a rancher. The Forest Service might have the law on its side, but it sure sounds like the law is quite unjust in this case.
Some additional details about SpaceX’s effort Friday to bring the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket back to Earth gently.
They have not yet released a full report, but it appears that the company has made progress. They were able to control the stage’s spinning as it descended, and it apparently was still functioning after it hit the water.
Orbital Sciences is considering three different bids to provide the company new engines for its Antares rocket.
The engine presently used is from a stock of refurbished Russian engines first built in the late 1960s for the Soviet Union’s N1 rocket, designed to send humans to the Moon.
No word on the attempt to bring the first stage down to the water under controlled conditions. One announcement during launch said the video was good and that the stage’s first burn was successful.
The competition heats up: SpaceX has successfully completed the first vertical flight of the Falcon 9R landing test rocket.
Reports have been confirmed that SpaceX’s Falcon 9-R development vehicle made its first free flight today at McGregor — taking off, hovering, moving sideways and landing.
Falcon 9R is the successor to Grasshopper, carrying more engines to more accurately simulate a Falcon 9 first stage.
Meanwhile, today’s launch of Dragon and the second attempt to bring the first stage back to Earth in a controlled manner remains iffy because of weather.
We have consensus! When asked if Arizona’s gun laws need changing, 86% chose the answer “We have too many laws, and most of them should be eliminated.”
Only 5% of those polled thought stronger gun laws were necessary.
The irony here is that the story at which this newspaper poll is being taken is about a protest by a Tucson gun control group. They might be noisy, but these gun control protestors are very much in the minority, despite any claims they might make.
What happens to you if you decide you want to control the education your children get in a public school.
In addition to the repeated refusal of school officials to obey your commands, you get approached by police officers who tell you that you are trespassing on school property, even though you are there as per a pre-arranged appointment with the school principal.
Like the 1964 Alaska earthquake, sometimes bad things have to happen to force humans to face a problem and fix it.
Sometimes the shake-up isn’t physical it is mental. In this case, the 1964 Alaska quake forced geologists to finally take serious the theory of continental drift and plate tectonics.
Worlds without end: The existence of a Kepler-found earth-sized planet in the habitable zone has been confirmed.
The newfound planet, called Kepler-186f, was first spotted by NASA’s Kepler space telescope and circles a dim red dwarf star about 490 light-years from Earth. While the host star is dimmer than Earth’s sun and the planet is slightly bigger than Earth, the positioning of the alien world coupled with its size suggests that Kepler-186f could have water on its surface, scientists say.
In this new work, the Keck and Gemini ground-based telescopes confirmed Kepler’s discovery.
Yesterday was a significant day in the IRS abuse scandal. The scandal evolved from being about pesky delays in IRS exemption applications to a government conniving with outside interests to put political opponents in prison.
Emails obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act reveal Lois Lerner cooking up plans with Justice Department officials to talk about ways to criminally charge conservative groups that are insufficiently quiet.
Larry Noble, a law professor now with the Soros-funded Campaign Legal Center, was cited in the emails as someone agitating to jail conservatives who “falsely” report on IRS forms that they are not engaged in political speech. Lerner talked about setting up meetings with Justice Department election lawyers who wanted to talk about making Noble’s dreams a reality — this after Senator Sheldon Whitehouse raised the idea of criminal charges for conservatives who are not sufficiently quiet, charges that they falsely completed an IRS tax exemption form. [emphasis mine]
It might be illegal to claim tax exemption for non-political activities and then use that tax exemption to do politics, but it has to be emphasized that this law was only going to be used against those who disagreed with Obama and the Democrats. In other words, the IRS and the Obama administration weren’t really enforcing the law, they were thinking of using the law to put their opponents in prison.
Finding out what’s in it: Over two dozen widows in Alabama were dropped from their health care plans due to Obamacare.
Hey, no big deal. It’s only some southerners from a red state, and just a handful when you think about it. Moreover, we all know that the Democrats and Obama care about women, while the Republicans are evil haters who want women enslaved and helpless.
Then there’s this: No dentists available under Obamacare for children in California.
And we all know how much the Democrats care about children. It’s always for the children, y’know.
The competition heats up: Russia is accelerating construction of its new spaceport in Vostochny.
The schedule doesn’t appear to have been pushed up, with the first launch still set for 2015, but they are going to initiate a second shift, and will have monthly meeting with the government to monitor progress. Under the top-down Russian way of doing things, this is how they make sure their high priority projects get finished on time and successfully.
The competition heats up: Sierra Nevada is planning additional glide tests in the fall. using its Dream Chaser engineering test vehicle.
This is the same test vehicle that crashed last October during its first glide test when one landing gear failed to deploy properly. The glide test itself was a success however, as the vehicle did a controlled unmanned glide perfectly to the runway, and the failed landing gear was one that the spacecraft will not use once completed.
Note also that these announced flight tests will occur after NASA eliminates one of the companies competing for the final crew ferrying contract to ISS. This suggests that Sierra Nevada plans to continue development of Dream Chaser, regardless of whether they get the contract or not.
Sending scores of armed agents along with helicopters and dogs to confront an elderly Nevada rancher over grazing fees may seem like overkill, but critics say it’s not inconsistent with the federal government’s recent approach to environmental enforcement.
The simmering truce between the Bundys and the Bureau of Land Management comes after high-profile raids last year by armed federal agents on small-time gold miners in tiny Chicken, Alaska, and guitar makers at the Gibson Guitar facilities in Tennessee.
I should also note that this behavior is not exclusive to the Obama administration. Under Bush the federal government was playing these same games, though somewhat less aggressively.
The lack of a road has led to the deaths of 19 people. And why is the Obama administration allowing these people to die? Let me quote Interior Secretary Sally Jewell:
During an August visit to Alaska, Jewell was told that building a road that connects King Cove and Cold Bay was vital. But in December, Jewell rejected the road saying it would jeopardize waterfowl in the refuge. “She stood up in the gymnasium and told those kids, ‘I’ve listened to your stories, now I have to listen to the animals,” Democratic state Rep. Bob Herron told a local television station. “You could have heard a pin drop in that gymnasium.” [emphasis mine]
A trail of wreckage left behind by the BLM in Nevada.
The article describes how the BLM went out of its way to destroy property, well in excess to what was allowed by its court order. Such behavior does not serve to recommend this government agency, and helps to put them even more in the wrong morally.
This article does an excellent job of connecting the dots, both in terms of who and when, based on what we now know, from solid evidence. The author’s conclusion:
We now have a sitting Democrat congressman, Elijah Cummings, a sitting Democrat senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, the Federal Elections Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Internal Revenue Service all implicated in the scandal. Flax’s involvement puts the abuse squarely into the IRS commissioner’s office. But it takes an entity above all of those agencies to coordinate their actions. That entity can only be the White House.
Flax worked for the head of the IRS at the time, proving once again that this harassment was not instigated by “low-level employees in Cincinnati”, as claimed by Lois Lerner.
If only more liberals were this open-minded: What I learned as a liberal talking head on Fox.
Read it all. Her essay gives me hope. The key quote:
But if I want that viewpoint – and those who share it – to get more powerful, so that we can fix these systemic problems once and for all, then demonizing people who disagree with me won’t help. In fact, I need to persuade them. And no one will even listen to your argument, let alone agree with you, if they think you don’t like them.
If only the teachers at Brandeis and the fascists that got the CEO of Mozilla fired understood this.
Working for the Democratic Party: Newly released emails show that former IRS Official Lois Lerner discussed prosecution of conservative tax exempt groups with Eric Holder’s Justice Department even as she was publicly admitting that the harassment of conservatives was improper.
I heard a lot of that kind of talk during my battles with the Canadian ‘human rights’ commissions a few years ago: of course, we all believe in free speech, but it’s a question of how you ‘strike the balance’, where you ‘draw the line’… which all sounds terribly reasonable and Canadian, and apparently Australian, too. But in reality the point of free speech is for the stuff that’s over the line, and strikingly unbalanced. If free speech is only for polite persons of mild temperament within government-policed parameters, it isn’t free at all. So screw that.
But I don’t really think that many people these days are genuinely interested in ‘striking the balance’; they’ve drawn the line and they’re increasingly unashamed about which side of it they stand. What all the above stories have in common, whether nominally about Israel, gay marriage, climate change, Islam, or even freedom of the press, is that one side has cheerfully swapped that apocryphal Voltaire quote about disagreeing with what you say but defending to the death your right to say it for the pithier Ring Lardner line: ‘“Shut up,” he explained.’
Scientists have verified that a large gold nugget is actually a gigantic single crystal, the largest known.
Gold found in the ground will generally have a polycrystalline structure, meaning it is made up of many crystallites, varying in shape and size. Gold of a mono-crystalline structure, where the material is unbroken, are rarer and of significantly higher value.
The nugget is now worth about 100 times more than its typical weight in gold.
Crowd-funding the engineering and money to bring a 1970s NASA space probe back to life.
The idea is brilliant. The probe, ISEE-3, has functioning instruments. It just hasn’t been operated since the 1980s. If they can get the funds to pay for the effort, they will provide scientists a space probe for pennies.
NASA has officially handed control of launchpad 39A to SpaceX, where the company intends to launch its Falcon Heavy.
The agreement turns over control of Launch Complex 39A to the commercial space transportation firm, which plans to use the launch pad for the the initial flights of the Falcon Heavy, a mega-rocket featuring 27 first stage engines generating nearly 4 million pounds of thrust at liftoff.
Pad 39A was the starting point for many historic Apollo and space shuttle missions, including the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969 and the first and last shuttle launches in 1981 and 2011.
“We’ll make great use of this pad, I promise,” said Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, in remarks to the media moments after signing the lease. “We’ve had architects and our launch site engineering [team] working for many months on the sidelines. We will launch the Falcon Heavy from here first — from this pad — early next year.” [emphasis mine]
The highlighted quote reveals a key fact. Until recently SpaceX had been claiming that it will do its first demo launch of Falcon Heavy in 2014. This quote confirms that this schedule is not happening.
The EPA admits that it does not have the data to justify its environmental regulations.
The EPA was subpoenaed by Congress for the data it uses, and they responded to say that what they have doesn’t really provide any proof that their regulations are necessary. But they then add that they are going to continue imposing their regulations anyway.
China’s president calls for the increased military use of that country’s space assets.
The article itself is not very informative, other than noting these comments. In fact, it has some errors that suggest the writer knows very little about China’s space effort, both civilian or military.
Nonetheless, China’s president did make this statement, which tells us that it is definitely Chinese policy. Not good.
The author notes that the Bundy’s don’t have a legal leg to stand on, but then explains why what is happening to them is still unjust. The best quote:
So let’s have some sympathy for Cliven Bundy and his family. They don’t have a chance on the law, because under the Endangered Species Act and many other federal statutes, the agencies are always in the right. And their way of life is one that, frankly, is on the outs. They don’t develop apps. They don’t ask for food stamps. It probably has never occurred to them to bribe a politician. They don’t subsist by virtue of government subsidies or regulations that hamstring competitors. They aren’t illegal immigrants. They have never even gone to law school. So what possible place is there for the Bundys in the Age of Obama?