Monthly Archives: December 2016

The fall of the USSR, as seen by a witness

Link here. The witness, Oleg Atbashian, is also the founder of The People’s Cube, one of the best websites for clever satire making fun of the left. His insights and review of the break-up of the Soviet Union twenty-five years ago is definitely worth reading. It is even more important to read it because of his thoughts on today’s America:

In 1994 I emigrated to America, hoping to raise a family in a country ruled by reason and common sense. But lately I’ve been noticing a shortage of these commodities in the U.S. as well. While the ratio of reasonable people in this country may still be greater than elsewhere in the world, the ignorant passion for Soviet-style politics is very alarming.

Just as it was in the USSR, American media now publishes articles that read like Pravda’s updates on this week’s current truth. American entertainers and moviemakers are consistently pushing the politically correct party line. Social media giants are seriously considering political censorship. Indoctrination in American schools and colleges is worse than what I’ve seen in the Soviet Union, where getting a real education was actually important. And finally, just as it was in the USSR, more and more people begin to resent the “progressive” establishment and mock the lying media.

He is justly worried by the large number of Americans who, for reasons that are inexplicable, have bought into the fantasy that communism and government rule is the best way to get things done, when all of history proves otherwise.

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Prime-time audiences drop by double-digits in 2016

Interesting: The prime-time audiences for all four major networks dropped by double-digits in 2016,

The big four networks’ ratings are all down double-digit percentages for the fall season. Premiere week for new shows in September was down 12 percent compared to last year, and nothing has happened since to reverse the decline. The top-rated prime-time show in November was CBS’ “Big Bang Theory.” The audience size would have made that program the 79th-ranked show 40 years ago, trailing such losers as “Mr. Belvedere.” CBS’ top new offering, “Bull,” opened to moderate success this fall, but since has lost a fourth of its audience. Only “This is Us” on NBC seems to be holding its own among new shows.

Just as the Democratic Party’s obsession with leftwing, identity politics has driven middle America from that party, it appears that the leftwing, urban, coastal culture that dominates both that party and the television business has finally gotten so blatant and heavy-handed that it has driven that same middle America audience away from prime-time. The following quote from the article illustrates this point quite well:

The people producing television programs in Los Angeles and New York are disconnected from the conventional, regular people who live in the rest of the nation. It is increasingly difficult to get traditional people to watch bizarre, trashy and/or violent content that goes over just fine with the snooty, artiste elite in a network programming office. Those network snobs are basically programming shows based on their narrow world view, overlooking the values and interests of millions of people who need to be in the audience if network television is to survive.

Exhibit A for this distorted mindset is ABC’s “The Real O’Neal’s.” The program blatantly ridicules a Catholic family and Catholic practices. The program has attracted small audiences, but that hasn’t kept ABC from forging ahead with its cultural insults. An analysis by the Parents Television Council found the show has an instance of adult content every 43 seconds, more than half involving a 16-year-old character. Sensible Americans don’t consider crudeness and mockery of religion to be entertainment.

The article goes on to describe an additional show under development called “Holy Sh*t,” focused on “a struggling church and their edgy new pastor.” Boy, that’s really gonna resonant with the folks in Peoria.

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The upcoming Israeli response to the UN and Obama attacks

Link here. Essentially, the UN and the Palestinians might have literally shot themselves in the foot with their attempts to declare Israel’s presence in Jerusalem and the West Bank as illegal. The article outlines in great detail the long term negative results of the UN resolution last week, all of which we can now expect. I cannot quote it all, but this one quote will give you a taste:

Regarding the international community, the Security Council opened the door for its members to boycott Israel. As a result, Israel should show the UN and its factotums the door. Israel should work to de-internationalize the Palestinian conflict by expelling UN personnel from its territory.

The same is the case with the EU. Once Britain exits the EU, Israel should end the EU’s illegal operations in Judea and Samaria and declare EU personnel acting illegally persona non grata.

As for the Palestinians, Resolution 2334 obligates Israel to reconsider its recognition of the PLO. Since 1993, Israel has recognized the PLO despite its deep and continuous engagement in terrorism. Israel legitimized the PLO because the terrorist group was ostensibly its partner in peace. Now, after the PLO successfully killed the peace process by getting the Security Council to abrogate 242, Israel’s continued recognition of the PLO makes little sense. Neither PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas nor his deputies in Fatah – convicted, imprisoned mass murderer and terrorism master Marwan Barghouti, and Jibril Rajoub who said he wishes he had a nuclear bomb so he could drop it on Israel and who tried to get Israel expelled from FIFA – has any interest in recognizing Israel, let alone making peace with it. The same of course can be said for the PLO’s coalition partner Hamas.

An Israeli decision to stop recognizing the PLO will also have implications for the Trump administration.

In the aftermath of 2334, calls are steadily mounting in Congress for the US cancel its recognition of the PLO and end US financial support for the Palestinian Authority. If Israel has already ended its recognition of the PLO, chances will rise that the US will follow suit. Such a US move will have positive strategic implications for Israel.

Read it all. There is more, all of which is likely to happen, since the Israelis are faced with survival and will need to fight back.

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EPA moves to regulate key pizza ingredients

We’re here to help you! The EPA has instituted new costly regulations on the manufacture of the yeast used to make pizza dough and bread.

The Environmental Protection Agency is targeting a key ingredient for making pizza and bread in its latest last-minute regulation before President Obama steps down. The proposed regulation published Wednesday would make the emissions standards for industrial yeast makers much more strict. The EPA said beer, champagne and wine makers, all of whom use some form of yeast, are safe for now. The real targets are those who produce high levels of hazardous air pollutants. It’s not the bread, bagel and pizza makers who are targeted under the rules, but the less than a dozen big plants that produce the yeast needed to produce the valuable bread-based products.

The key quote in the article, however, is its very last sentence:

The EPA is issuing the proposed rule because of a lawsuit it lost in federal court brought by the Sierra Club, claiming that the rule from the 1990s needed to be updated under the Clean Air Act.

This is part of the legal game that the EPA plays with various leftwing environmental activist groups to whom it is an ally. The activists sue, the EPA makes sure it loses or settles out of court, and so the regulations are then essentially written by these environmental groups. It is a racket that must end.

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EPA moves to punish Alaskans for burning wood to heat their homes

We’re here to help you! The EPA is about to declare Alaska in violation of the Clean Air Act for burning wood, the only fuel available to them to heat their homes, and thus threaten the state with the loss of all federal funding.

The New York Times reports the Environmental Protection Agency could soon declare the Alaskan cities of Fairbanks and North Pole, which have a combined population of about 100,000, in “serious” noncompliance of the Clean Air Act early next year.

Like most people in Alaska, the residents of those frozen cities are burning wood to keep themselves warm this winter. Smoke from wood-burning stoves increases small-particle pollution, which settles in low-lying areas and can be breathed in. The EPA thinks this is a big problem. Eight years ago, the agency ruled that wide swaths of the most densely populated parts of the region were in “non-attainment” of federal air quality standards.That prompted state and local authorities to look for ways to cut down on pollution from wood-burning stoves, including the possibility of fining residents who burn wood. After all, a declaration of noncompliance from the EPA would have enormous economic implications for the region, like the loss of federal transportation funding.

The problem is, there’s no replacement for wood-burning stoves in Alaska’s interior. Heating oil is too expensive for a lot of people, and natural gas isn’t available. So they’ve got to burn something. The average low temperature in Fairbanks in December is 13 degrees below zero. In January, it’s 17 below. During the coldest days of winter, the high temperature averages -2 degrees, and it can get as cold as -60. This is not a place where you play games with the cold. If you don’t keep the fire lit, you die. For people of modest means, and especially for the poor, that means you burn wood in a stove—and you keep that fire lit around the clock.

The level of stupidity here by EPA’s Washington bureaucrats is almost beyond measure. Worse, they and their liberal supporters still have no idea why it appears a Trump administration might be dismantling much of that EPA bureaucracy.

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SpaceX preps for next launch

SpaceX has begun placing the ten Iridium satellites inside their Falcon 9 housing in preparation for its next launch, now planned for no earlier than January 7.

The first 10 satellites for Iridium’s next-generation mobile voice and data relay network have been fueled, joined with their deployment module and encapsulated inside the clamshell-like nose cone of a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster for launch as soon as next week from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. SpaceX and Iridium have not announced a target launch date, but engineers are aiming to have the mission ready for liftoff by Jan. 7. That schedule is still very preliminary.

An official target launch date is pending the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of the SpaceX-led investigation into the explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral on Sept. 1, which destroyed the Israeli-owned Amos 6 communications satellite awaiting liftoff a few days later.

The article also has this interesting tidbit:

After the Falcon 9 rocket completes its pre-flight “static fire” test on the launch pad — the same test that resulted in the explosion in Florida on Sept. 1 — the 10 Iridium Next satellites will be mated with the booster for liftoff.

This suggests that SpaceX is changing its launch procedures, whereby before it would do the static fire dress rehearsal with the payload already loaded on the rocket. For this launch at least they are going to do that dress rehearsal before installing the payload on the rocket.

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Robot lie detector being tested by Canada

What could possibly go wrong? Canada’s border police are currently testing a robot lie-detector that would be used to screen travelers and flag those whose answers it doesn’t like.

AVATAR is a kiosk, much like an airport check-in or grocery store self-checkout kiosk,” said San Diego State University management information systems professor Aaron Elkins. “However, this kiosk has a face on the screen that asks questions of travelers and can detect changes in physiology and behavior during the interview. The system can detect changes in the eyes, voice, gestures and posture to determine potential risk. It can even tell when you’re curling your toes.”

Here’s how it would work: Passengers would step up to the kiosk and be asked a series of questions such as, “Do you have fruits or vegetables in your luggage?” or “Are you carrying any weapons with you?” Eye-detection software and motion and pressure sensors would monitor the passengers as they answer the questions, looking for tell-tale physiological signs of lying or discomfort. The kiosk would also ask a series of innocuous questions to establish baseline measurements so people are just nervous about flying, for example, wouldn’t be unduly singled out.

Once the kiosk detected deception, they would flag those passengers for further scrutiny from human agents.

This Elkins guy fits perfectly the 1960s stereotype of the scientist who is so caught up with the coolness of his invention that he is completely oblivious to its moral and ethical short-comings. Sadly, he appears to be finding lots of governments interested in buying his product.

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California Democrats legalize child prostitution

Yes you read that right: The Democratically controlled California legislature has passed a law, signed by Democrat Governor Jerry Brown, that legalizes child prostitution beginning on January 1, 2016.

SB 1322 bars law enforcement from arresting sex workers who are under the age of 18 for soliciting or engaging in prostitution, or loitering with the intent to do so. So teenage girls (and boys) in California will soon be free to have sex in exchange for money without fear of arrest or prosecution.

Obviously, we don’t have the right to stop underage children from working the streets to make money, do we? We mustn’t be judgmental, or deny them their freedom. That would make us racist, tyrannical conservatives!

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Colleges in California and New York ranked #1 and #2 as the most anti-Semitic

A new study has found that California and New York college campuses rank one and two as having the most anti-Semitic incidents.

Nine colleges in California have made the list for the 40 worst college campuses for Jewish students in the nation, beating out every other state in the country. The Algemeiner, a Jewish newspaper, compiled the list based on the number of “anti-Semitic incidents on each campus” as well as “the number of anti-Israel groups, and the extent to which they are active” at their respective colleges Additionally, The Algemeiner looked at “the Jewish student population, and the number of Jewish or pro-Israel groups” and “the availability of Jewish resources on campus,” also taking into account “the success or lack thereof of Israel boycott efforts” and “the public positions of faculty members with respect to BDS.”

The Algemeiner determined, based on the aforementioned criteria, that nine California colleges fit the bill and were found to be demonstrably anti-Semitic, including prestigious institutions like the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University. New York came in at a close second, following California by only three schools, with esteemed universities like Columbia topping the list. In fact, The Algemeiner determined that Columbia was the most anti-Semitic college in the country.

Isn’t it interesting that two of the most liberal states in the country also happen to also be homes to the most anti-Semitic college campuses? I am not surprised, having worked for several different universities in New York. Then, you didn’t dare express a conservative perspective or you risked getting blackballed (which did happen to me).

Now, that liberal hate is beginning to morph into a bigoted hate of Jews. The future of freedom at these universities does not look good.

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Debris inside Curiosity drill might be cause of problem

Engineers now suspect that a piece of debris inside Curiosity’s drill might be the cause of the recent intermittent problems with the drill’s feed motor, the equipment that extends the drill for drilling.

Experts believe they found a pattern in the way the drill feed motor behaves over time, Eriskson said, and the pattern observed so far matches what engineers would expect to see if a piece of foreign object debris, or FOD, was embedded somewhere inside the drill.

Erickson said the ground team is not sure of the source of the potential debris. It could be a piece of Martian soil or a pebble that somehow got into the mechanism and is gumming up the drill feed motor, or it might be something carried from Earth. “It some sense, it probably doesn’t matter,” Erickson said, detailing how engineers are focused, for now, on recovering use of the drill, one of the rover’s primary tools.

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Republicans consider delaying Obamacare repeal

Failure theater: The Republican leadership is considering a whole range of delays in their so-called effort to repeal Obamacare.

Republicans are debating how long to delay implementing the repeal. Aides involved in the deliberations said some parts of the law may be ended quickly, such as its regulations affecting insurer health plans and businesses. Other pieces may be maintained for up to three or four years, such as insurance subsidies and the Medicaid expansion. Some parts of the law may never be repealed, such as the provision letting people under age 26 remain on a parent’s plan.

House conservatives want a two-year fuse for the repeal. Republican leaders prefer at least three years, and there has been discussion of putting it off until after the 2020 elections, staffers said.

When are these idiots finally going to realize that the voters who put them in office are not Democratic liberals, and specifically want Obamacare repealed, now?

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Obama and the UN vs Israel and the Free World

I think the following list of stories sums up the situation:

The Obama administration position:

Next some of the response, from Israel, from conservatives, from Congress:

This story list is hardly complete but it does encapsulate the Obama/Israel/UN events of the past week. Make sure you read the stories at the links to really understand what is happening. Based on this information all I can conclude is that Obama and his administration decided in the past week to go public with their hatred of Israel. I call it hatred because I don’t know what else to call it. To them, the building of houses for Israelis to live in is more evil that Palestinian and Islamic terrorist bombings, murders, hijackings, and rocket firings.

As for the response, I have my doubts whether Congress will really do the right thing and dump the UN. In all my life only once have I seen real leadership in these matters, and that was during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, when he decided to withdraw from UNESCO because, as his administration noted at the time, ”Unesco has extraneously politicized virtually every subject it deals with, has exhibited hostility toward the basic institutions of a free society, especially a free market and a free press, and has demonstrated unrestrained budgetary expansion.”

Right now I suspect that the cowardly Republican leadership is scheming for ways they can participate in some form of “failure theater,” something to which they are very practiced, where they pass some meaningless resolutions condemning the UN while allowing its funding and its support to continue unhindered. We shall see if my cynicism here is justified. The one aspect of these events that suggests I might be too pessimistic is the number of Democrats publicly condemning the President. Democratic support these days is very confined to the big urban coastal cities, which also happens to be where their Jewish support is centered. Obama’s actions this week fire a bullet into that support, and very clearly threaten to damage it badly. They have already lost middle Ameica. If they lose the urban Jewish voter their chances of winning elections in the future will become even more difficult.

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California history professor wants to bar climate skeptics from internet

Fascist: Joseph A. Palermo, a history professor from California, wants to bar Presidient-elect Trump and all climate skeptics from using the internet or any technology. As he wrote,

“Through his public statements and personnel choices Trump has made it clear that he rejects the science of climate change. I’ve always believed that people who dismiss science in one area shouldn’t be able to benefit from science in others. If Trump and his cohort believe the science of global warming is bogus then they shouldn’t be allowed to use the science of the Internet for their Twitter accounts, the science of global positioning for their drones, or the science of nuclear power for their weaponry.”

First, I don’t notice any evidence of Palermo abandoning the use of fossil fuels in order to prevent the certain destruction of humanity and the Earth because of his religious belief in global warming.

Second, notice how his first instinct, like the good liberal that he is, is call for the use of force to restrict, bar, condemn, and oppress his opponents. He doesn’t wish to debate them, he wishes to grind his boot into their face for all time for daring to challenge his beliefs.

By the way, I am not debating the issue of global warming, I am noting the fascist outlook of the modern left and of the global warming activist community.

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Trump interested in lunar manned mission?

After meeting with Donald Trump a historian now says the president-elect appears very interested in the idea of sending a man to the Moon.

All of these stories continue to be speculation, but I strongly suspect that much of it also consists of trial balloons pushed by the various supporters of SLS/Orion in their effort to give that very expensive and so-far completely unproductive boondoggle a mission it can actually achieve. Right now, SLS/Orion has no mission. It is only funded through the first manned test flight in 2021 (likely to be delayed until 2023). Since it has been a pork barrel favorite of a number of Senators and Congressmen, I would not be surprised if they are trying to convince Trump to fund it by giving it a new Kennedy-like mission.

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Chinese rocket fails to put two satellites into correct orbits

Tracking data suggests that two Earth-observation satellites launched today by China’s Long March 2D rocket were placed in the wrong orbits.

The two SuperView 1, or Gaojing 1, satellites are flying in egg-shaped orbits ranging from 133 miles (214 kilometers) to 325 miles (524 kilometers) in altitude at an inclination of 97.6 degrees. The satellites would likely re-enter Earth’s atmosphere within months in such a low orbit, and it was unclear late Wednesday whether the craft had enough propellant to raise their altitudes.

The high-resolution Earth-observing platforms were supposed to go into a near-circular orbit around 300 miles (500 kilometers) above the planet to begin their eight-year missions collecting imagery for Siwei Star Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., a government-owned entity.

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Venezuela: the bankruptcy of socialism and modern intellectualism

The editorial board of the Washington Post today decided it was time to speak up about the disaster of Venezuela and the totalitarian rule of that country’s socialist leader, President Nicolás Maduro.

Venezuela, which was once Latin America’s richest country, has become an unwilling test site for how much economic and social stress a modern nation can tolerate before it descends into pure anarchy. This month its 31 million people lurched a big step closer to that breaking point, thanks to another senseless decree by its autocratic populist government.

For years Venezuelans have struggled with mounting shortages of food, medicine and other consumer goods, as well as triple-digit inflation that has rendered the national currency, the bolivar, worthless. By this month the 100-bolivar bill, the largest note in circulation, was worth only 2 cents, forcing people to carry piles of them in order to make the most rudimentary purchases. Then came this coup: On Dec. 11, President Nicolás Maduro, an economically illiterate former bus driver, announced that all 6 billion 100-bolivar notes would cease to be legal tender in just 72 hours. He also closed Venezuela’s borders with Colombia and Brazil, on the theory that traders were hoarding currency in those countries.

Almost overnight, millions of Venezuelans — about 40 percent of whom do not have bank accounts in which the currency could be deposited — lost the ability to purchase even those goods still available on the market. The result was predictable: looting and riots in at least eight cities. In the eastern town of Ciudad Bolivar, with a population of some 400,000, hundreds of stores were looted and at least three people were killed in three days of mayhem. [emphasis mine]

To the Washington Post’s editorial board, made up of east coast liberals, Maduro’s government has never been socialist. Instead, it is an “autocratic populist government.” In fact, nowhere in their entire editorial do the words “socialism,” “communism,” or “Marxism” appear, even though it has been those exact ideologies that has shaped the decisions of Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. In fact, until recently the liberals on the Washington Post editorial board would have likely celebrated the socialist revolution in Venezuela, begun by Chavez. Their leftwing comrades throughout modern intellectual circles surely did.

With petrodollars pouring in, Chavez had free rein to put his statist prescriptions into effect. The so-called Bolivarian revolution over which he — and later his handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro — presided, was an unfettered, real-world example of anticapitalist socialism in action. Venezuela since at least the 1970s had been Latin America’s most affluent nation. Now it was a showpiece for command-and-control economics: price and currency controls, wealth redistribution, ramped-up government spending, expropriation of land, and the nationalization of private banks, mines, and oil companies.

And the useful idiots ate it up.

In a Salon piece titled “Hugo Chavez’s economic miracle,” David Sirota declared that the Venezuelan ruler, with his “full-throated advocacy of socialism,” had “racked up an economic record that . . . American president[s] could only dream of achieving.” The Guardian offered “Three cheers for Chavez.” Moviemaker Oliver Stone filmed a documentary gushing over “the positive changes that have happened economically in all of South America” because of Venezuela’s socialist government. And when Chavez died in 2013, Jimmy Carter extolled the strongman for “improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.”

Now that this socialist “economic miracle” has failed, as socialist economic miracles always do, the useful idiots on the Washington Post’s editorial board have suddenly realized that it was never Marxist ideology that moved Chavez and Maduro, but an “autocratic populist government.” The intellectual dishonesty here is amazing. Worse, however, is how typical it has become. Western intellectuals, the so-called elites of our society, have developed an uncanny ability to fool themselves. They are never wrong. Instead, they simply change the facts to protect their shallow leftist beliefs.

Nonetheless, Marxist leftwing ideology did destroy Venezuela, just as it destroyed Russia and Eastern Europe, and just as it is destroying the big urban cities of the United States, all ruled by increasingly leftist Democratic politicians whose only goal is to emulate Hugo Chavez and bring his “economic miracle” to their cities.

The great tragedy is that these leftist Democratic politicians in America’s big cities will likely succeed, because our so-called intellectual community, like those on the Washington Post’s editorial board, are willing to blind themselves to the truth.

Remember this the next time they try to tell you how evil Trump and the Republicans in Congress are. They are lying, not just to you, but to themselves.

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China outlines its next five years in space

A white paper published by China’s State Council Information Office today both summarized the state that nation’s present space program as well as outlining its goals for the next five years.

In addition to outlining their future manned and unmanned missions (such asa landing a probe on the far side of the Moon, as well as sending a lunar sample return mission there), the overall plan includes developing their entire space infrastructure, from communication satellites to ground-based radar to space telescopes to missions to Mars. It is well thought out, and quite comprehensive. Possibly the most important part however is the white paper’s discussion of how they intend to enhance future industrial development.

The mechanism for market access and withdrawal has been improved. A list of investment projects in the space industry has been introduced for better management in this regard. Non-governmental capital and other social sectors are encouraged to participate in space-related activities, including scientific research and production, space infrastructure, space information products and services, and use of satellites to increase the level of commercialization of the space industry.

The government has increased its cooperation with private investors, and the mechanism for government procurement of astronautic products and services has been improved.

The Chinese government, communist now in name only, intends to fuel their space program with private investment and private enterprise. The overall program will be managed and run by the central government, but that government is going to make it a policy to encourage the private sector to compete and innovate in this effort.

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Vera Rubin R.I.P.

Vera Rubin, whose work helped confirm the existence of dark matter, passed away December 25 at the age of 88.

In the 1960s, Rubin’s interest in how stars orbit their galactic centers led her and colleague Kent Ford to study the Andromeda galaxy, M31, a nearby spiral. The two scientists wanted to determine the distribution of mass in M31 by looking at the orbital speeds of stars and gas at varying distances from the galactic center. They expected the speeds to conform to Newtonian gravitational theory, whereby an object farther from its central mass orbits slower than those closer in. To their surprise, the scientists found that stars far from the center traveled as fast as those near the center.

After observing dozens more galaxies by the 1970s, Rubin and colleagues found that something other than the visible mass was responsible for the stars’ motions. Each spiral galaxy is embedded in a “halo” of dark matter—material that does not emit light and extends beyond the optical galaxy. They found it contains 5 to 10 times as much mass as the luminous galaxy. As a result of Rubin’s groundbreaking work, it has become apparent that more than 90% of the universe is composed of this invisible material. The first inkling that dark matter existed came in 1933 when Swiss astrophysicist Fritz Zwicky of Caltech proposed it. But it was not until Rubin’s work that dark matter was confirmed.

Rubin was a top notch astronomer, which is why she was part of this important discovery. She was also an exception, as at the time relatively few women were interested in becoming astronomers. Be prepared, however, for a slew of articles in the next few days focused not about her work and her contributions to science, but focused instead almost entirely on the sexist oppression she had to overcome in the evil sexist male chauvinist society of mid-twentieth-century America.

All those articles will be wrong. While there were certainly obstacles in Rubin’s way because of her sex, they were hardly as bad as it will be made out to be. Worse, this focus on gender and oppression will distract from honoring the passing of a great astronomer. It will also distract from the significance of her discovery, which continues to baffle astronomers a half century later.

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Adam Shugar – Hanukkah Overture for String Orchestra and Clarinet

An evening pause: A fitting musical piece in the middle of Hannukkah. Performed by the Orchestre Nouvelle Génération.

Normally I don’t post orchestra performances filmed in their entirety from only one wide shot, as this is. I make an exception here for three reasons: 1. The music is good. 2. It is not well known, and should be. 3. Unlike most orchestras, this string orchestra performs while standing, and the high angle looking down allows you to see them all as they play together, almost like a choreographed dance. It works.

Hat tip Danae.

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NASA estimates one month to address Webb vibration issues

NASA now expects it will take a month to assess and fix the issues uncovered during vibration testing of the James Webb Space Telescope.

Thomas Zurbuchen, the new head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD), told SpacePolicyOnline.com that dealing with the problem likely will consume one of the remaining six months of schedule reserve.

No one at NASA has as yet explained exactly what the “anomalous readings” were during vibration testing. Nor did Zurbuchen indicate what the fix would be.

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A Christmas Carol

A daytime pause: For Christmas Day, what better than to watch Alastair Sim’s incredible performance in the 1951 adaption of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

I watched this again and felt like weeping, not because of the sentimentality of the story itself but because it is so seeped in a civilized world that increasingly no longer exists. There was a time when this was our culture. I fear it is no longer so. As noted by the Spirit of Christmas Present, “This boy is ignorance, this girl is want. Beware them both, but most of all beware this boy.”

Enjoy, and I hope you all have a Merry Christmas Day.

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December 23, 2016 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast

Embedded below the fold. This was a short 10 minute podcast, something we haven’t done in more than a year. We focused mostly on two topics, the lobbying going on in the press to influence future Trump space policy and a review of my most recent Mars rover update.

This will also be the last podcast this year. Batchelor is off next week, but he will be replaying many of the podcasts I’ve done with him during the week.
» Read more

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Russia once again postpones next Proton launch

Russia has once again postponed the next launch of the Proton rocket, the first since the June 9 launch where the 2nd stage engine cut off prematurely.

The launch of a Proton-M carrier rocket with an EchoStar 21 satellite from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan has been delayed over the need to hold additional checks of the rocket’s systems and acceleration unit, Russia’s Khrunichev Space Center reported on Friday. The Khrunichev Space Center is the producer of Proton carrier rockets.

I wonder if International Launch Services (ILS), the Russian company that handles Russia’s international commercial launches, is going to lose a customer now, as SpaceX did when it delayed its next launch until 2017.

According to Russianspaceweb, they have figured out what went wrong on June 9, and have been taking corrective actions. The cause of the new delay however, as well as its the fix, appear to be very unclear.

By December 23, the satellite had already been integrated with the launch vehicle, when an unspecified technical program required to postpone the mission until January 2017, at the earliest. Independent sources said that the launch vehicle would have to be disassembled and one of its stages returned to Moscow, but representatives of the International Launch Services, ILS, which manages the mission, said that no such action would be required and the launch had been postponed by a “logistical” issue.

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