Category Archives: Points of Information

The media’s fraud and dishonest bias documented

Working for the Democratic Party: A detailed list of documented cases since 1992 where mainstream media sources were caught deliberately falsifying facts in order to slander conservatives or to promote the leftwing agenda.

None of these 48 examples are opinion pieces. In every case, false information or opinions were reported as facts, only to be found to be fabricated or completely counter to the facts as later documented. And as the author notes, the number of these faked stories has increased in recent years, partly because of the existence of alternative news sources on the web which point them out, but mostly because the mainstream media has become more blatantly partisan and dishonest in recent years.

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House Appropriations reveals its proposed NASA budget

Details here.

As usual, the pork of SLS gets a boost while commercial space gets squeezed. The squeeze however continues to get less with each budget, and as I’ve said before, better a slight squeeze than a blank check. That way the commercial companies will have to stay lean and mean and will avoid getting bloated, like SLS.

Celebrating the death of the mainstream media

The rage builds.

[M]embers of the mainstream media are presumptively hacks, and the pain and misery they endure as their organizations convulse and die should inspire laughter and joy. Sure, there are honest reporters out there, but that’s only a fluke of statistics. There have to be some, if only because of the random vagaries of chance. They can get real jobs with the new media. But in general, MSM members’ pain is our gain.

Remember, they hate us. Hate us. They don’t merely not care about us. They don’t simply misunderstand us. They hate what we think. They hate how we live. They hate what we believe. They hate us.

And it shouldn’t come as a shock if we hate them right back. We normals have already started an unofficial, uncoordinated boycott of the mainstream media.

Read it all, and remind yourself that ABC News considers it perfectly acceptable for their lead anchor to contribute big bucks to the Democratic Party. This is also the same network that is working hand-in-glove with the communist dictatorship in Cuba to spread their propaganda.

Broken arm

My posts for the next week or so are going to be shorter than I would prefer. This weekend I had a minor fall during a cave trip and broke one bone in my lower left arm. We were about two hours from the entrance, so the trip out was somewhat entertaining, though it did go smoothly without any significant difficulties. taking about three hours to get back to the surface.

Nonetheless, I am a lefty, so writing is now difficult, and with the cast on my arm touch typing is a challenge as well. I can manage posts, but writing long commentaries will likely not happen for the next week or so while the arm heals or I get a smaller cast.

Update on Saturday’s Proton launch failure

Link here. The failure was in the third stage, which was the cause of a previous Proton failure last May.

Note that the Proton also put a commercial satellite in the wrong orbit in October when the upper stage underperformed.

Overall, the Russians are doing a very poor job in eliminating the serious quality control problems that have plagued their aerospace industry in recent years. If anything, the problems appear to be worsening.

Balanced rock on Comet 67P/C-G

balanced rock on Comet 67P/C-G

Cool image time! Rosetta’s high resolution camera has discovered a group of balancing rocks on the surface of Comet 67P/C-G.

The image on the right, cropped and brightened by me, shows the most dramatic of these rocks. The scientists are as yet uncertain on how these rocks got to where they are.

“How this apparent balancing rock on Comet 67P/C-G was formed is not clear at this point,” says OSIRIS Principal Investigator Holger Sierks from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany. One possibility is that transport processes related to cometary activity played a role, causing such boulders to move from their original site and reach a new location.

It is also possible that the rocks were sitting on a base of ice that simply evaporated away over time.

Another Proton launch failure

Eight minutes into Saturday’s Proton launch, intended to place a commercial Mexican communications satellite in orbit, the Russian rocket failed and broke up.

The Russian launch failures just continue to add up. At this rate their ability to hang on to their commercial customers is becoming increasingly difficult.

The rage builds, even in a posh DC suburb

A stealth write-in campaign defeated a long-time incumbent on the town council for Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Read it. Everything about this story — the reaction to the election by incumbents and their supporters, the reasons the challenger kept his campaign quiet, why he ran in the first place — illustrates the growing fury that ordinary Americans are feeling toward the people presently in power, even at the lowest levels of government. There is contempt for the general population by those in charge, and that general population is becoming increasingly rebellious about it.

Stephanopoulos admits he is a Democratic stooge

Why I consider television news a Democratic Party cesspool: George Stephanopoulos admits that he had donated $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation, even as he conducted interviews condemning critics of that foundation, without disclosing his donations.

Meanwhile, ABC News has absolved Stephanopoulos of any wrong-doing, which is not a surprise, since from the perspective of television news Stephanopoulos didn’t do anything wrong. He supported the Clintons and the Democratic Party, both by how he reported the news and conducted his interviews, and now with money itself. This is exactly what a television news anchor is supposed to do in today’s modern television propaganda machine: Help Democrats get elected.

If you get your news information from this news source, you either are incredibly naive, or are a Democratic stooge yourself.

Update: The amount of money Stephanopoulos donated to the Clintons is actually $75K, not $50K as first reported.

House Science Committee approves changes to space law

In a series of party line votes, the House Science Committee has approved a number of changes to the laws that govern the private commercial space industry.

Almost all of the changes were advocated by the industry itself, so in general they move to ease the regulatory and liability burdens that has been hampering the industry since the 2004 revisions to space law. While it is very unlikely commercial space can ever get free of strong federal regulation, these changes indicate that they can eventually get some of the worst regulations eased.

I should note also that, as expected, the Democrats opposed any easing of federal power. To them, all things must be controlled by the government, and to ease any regulations is to commit the most horrific of crimes. Note also that the Democratic lead in this opposition came mostly from Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-Maryland), who has announced her intention to run for the Barbara Mikulski’s senate seat. This mark-up hearing thus gives us an idea of the future impact of Edwards should she win.

Arianespace admits it is in a head-to-head competition with SpaceX

In testimony at a hearing in the French parliament the head of Arianespace admitted that the company has been in a head-to-head competition with SpaceX for the past two years, with SpaceX grabbing half the business.

He also claimed that they think they will be able to compete with SpaceX, even if it succeeds in recovering and reusing its first stage.

Israel said Arianespace fully expects SpaceX to succeed in its attempt to recover its Falcon 9 first stage.

But that’s just the start of the challenge, he said. It remains unknown what the refurbishment costs will be compared to the cost of churning out a fresh stage from an existing production line. He said it is also unclear whether commercial fleet operators will immediately accept placing $200 million telecommunications satellites on a rocket with a refurbished stage.

Finally, he said, flying a reusable stage means sacrificing first-stage performance so that enough energy is available to power it back to its recovery point. That power is thus unavailable for the mission, which is one reason why Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX thus far has attempted to recover its stages only on low-orbit missions, not for missions to geostationary transfer orbit, where most commercial satellites operate.

All true, but if Arianespace sits on its hands because of these facts it will eventually lose. It needs to rise to the challenge that SpaceX poses, not poo-poo the challenge.

Sarah Brightman pulls out of her flight to ISS later this year

Citing family issues, Sarah Brightman has suddenly canceled her plans to fly to ISS later this year as a space tourist.

All the press announcements of this decision emphasize that she was doing quite well in the training program, but one wonders. There had been rumors of being replaced in recent weeks, and the “family issues” cited in today’s announcement could be a cover for anything.

Either way, this is unfortunate, because her flight would have been quite entertaining and would have done a great deal to promote the space tourism industry.

What caused the failed separation of the Soyuz and Progress?

A good translation of this week’s press release from the investigation into the April 28 Progress failure indicates that the failure occurred because of an abnormal separation of the freighter from the upper stage.

After reviewing all the materials, members of the State Commission came to a preliminary conclusion that a version of the abnormal separation had been objectively confirmed, which includes two subsequent events related to the depressurization (disintegration after the cutoff of the third-stage engine) first of the oxidizer tank and then of the fuel tank, Roskosmos said.

In other words, the separation was so abnormal it put both the freighter and the upper stages in the wrong orbits, with the Progress tumbling and damaged, and with the upper stage almost immediately disintegrating.

They are now studying the data to try to figure out what caused the bad separation so they can inspect other Soyuz upper stages for the same problem and fix them before launch.

New Horizons spots all of Pluto’s 5 known moons

New Horizons has now been able to image all of Pluto’s known moons.

Pluto’s five known satellites are Charon, Hydra, Nix, Kerberos and Styx. At 648 miles (1,043 km) in diameter, Charon is nearly half as wide as Pluto itself, but the other four moons are minuscule. Kerberos and Styx, for example, are thought to be just 4 to 13 miles (7 to 21 km) and 6 to 20 miles (10 to 32 km) wide, respectively.

That the spacecraft has been able to spot them all this soon bodes well for what it will see when if flies past Pluto in July.

NASA announces bold plan to still exist by 2045

Heh.

“It may seem impossible now, but we hope to realize the vision of establishing a human presence in NASA deeper into the century than ever before imagined,” Bolden added.

When questioned about the plan’s viability, Bolden told reporters that while certain doubts remain, the project was nonetheless an absolutely crucial undertaking for NASA. Bolden further emphasized that the Fortuna Program’s goal was technically achievable on paper, and could feasibly be accomplished in a real-world scenario so long as everything “goes perfectly” for the space agency.

“The first critical step toward reaching our goal is to still be here by the year 2020,” said Bolden, adding that the plan allowed absolutely no room for error. “From there, we will move on to the next phase of the mission, which is to implement an intensive 10-year plan to remain operational. If we meet that goal in 2030, then there’s no reason to believe NASA won’t make it to 2045.”

Read it all. As far as I can tell, there really hasn’t been much difference between NASA’s past two decades and what this Onion piece proposes for NASA’s next three decades.

In fact, after you read the Onion piece above, then read this Orbital ATK press release about the successful results from the solid rocket booster test firing in March. As successful and as legitimate as the engineering was for the booster test, why does the press release sound so much like the Onion article?

Russians confirm flip of Progress and Soyuz launches

It’s official: The launch of the next crew to ISS will be delayed until late July to allow both a Progress freighter to launch first as well as give investigators more time to figure out what went wrong with the Soyuz upper stage during last month’s Progress launch.

In addition, the crew that had been slated to return to Earth this week will remain on board for another month to reduce the amount of time the station is manned with only 3 astronauts.

It appears that investigation is zeroing in on the upper stage of the Soyuz rocket, whose tanks apparently depressurized prematurely, causing the freighter to separate early and end up in an incorrect orbit.

Is the dark material along Europa’s long surface fissures sea salt?

The uncertainty of science: By creating what they call “Europa in a can” here on Earth, scientists have determined that the dark material that appears to have seeped out of Europa’s long linear fractures might be sea salt from the underground ocean, turned brown by the harsh radiation hitting the moon’s surface.

This result is quite intriguing, but the only thing certain about it is its uncertainty. The only way we will know what this brown material really is will be to go there again with much better equipment and study the material itself

Prototype variable star has a previously unknown companion

The uncertainty of science: The star that gave its name to the class of variable stars called Cepheid variables — used by astronomers to measure distances to nearby galaxies — has after more than 200 years of study been suddenly found to be a binary system.

Delta Cephei, prototype of the cepheids, which has given its name to all similar variable stars, was discovered 230 years ago by the English astronomer John Goodricke. Since the early 20th century, scientists have been interested in measuring cosmic distances using a relationship between these stars’ periods of pulsation and their luminosities (intrinsic brightness), discovered by the American Henrietta Leavitt. Today, researchers from the Astronomical Observatory of UNIGE, Johns Hopkins University and the ESA show that Delta Cephei is, in fact, a double star, made up of a cepheid-type variable star and a companion that had thus far escaped detection, probably because of its low luminosity. Yet, pairs of stars, called binaries, complicate the calibration of the period-luminosity relationship, and can bias the measurement of distances. This is a surprising discovery, since Delta Cephei is one of the most studied stars, of which scientists thought they knew almost everything. [emphasis mine]

This discovery illustrates the shaky foundation of a great deal of astronomical research. The presence of a companion is an additional variable that could very significantly skew the relationship between the stars’ pulses and its luminosity, thus making the use of this data to determine distance much less reliable. This in turn could have a significant effect on the present estimate of the expansion rate of the universe, which in turn could have a significant effect on the theories of dark energy. Moreover, if the past distance estimates to many objects are wrong than what we know about those objects is far less certain.

Ted Cruz’s finest moment

As Rothman correctly notes at the link, “This is how well-adjusted citizens who do not have a vested interest in destroying another’s prospects behave.”

Read it. It describes how Cruz could have used the crude behavior of a reporter to pump up the modern political outrage machine, this time from the right. Instead he shrugged his shoulders and told everyone this wasn’t something mature people waste time on.

If only more politicians and pundits, on both the right and left, took this attitude. I read these stories and their effort to produce outrage theater by partisan hacks on both sides of the political spectrum, and all I ever think is, “Boy, what a bunch of childish brats. Why do I waste my time reading this stuff?”

This doesn’t mean I don’t use the information. In the future, any story by the reporter in question, as well as the news organization that still employs him, will be instantly dismissed by me as a poor source of information, and not worth reading. I just don’t plan on obsessing on the whole sad tale for very long.

Speak free or die

The rage builds:

Oh, you came so close. For so long, we wrongly imagined that your lies about racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and all the rest were just part of some big misunderstanding. Sure, we knew you were wrong, that we were being falsely accused, but we thought you were at least sincere, if misguided. Except now the mask is off.

Racism? You don’t care. Ask Clarence Thomas about your love of minorities who don’t toe your line.

Sexism? You don’t care. Ask any of Bill Clinton’s victims, who you eagerly sacrificed to save your progressive knight.

Homophobia? Poverty? Corporate abuses? Civil rights? You care nothing about any of them. You leftists just want control. You trash gays who get between you and power, and ignore the gays being murdered in the Middle East because that oppression isn’t useful to you. You keep the poor poor and addicted to your paltry handouts so you can maintain a docile voting bloc. Corporate abuses are terrible right up until the big companies start paying off your candidates. And civil rights? Gimme a break. The First Amendment stopped being useful back in January 2009, so now you’re eager to drown it like Mary Jo Kopechne.

We’re done. You fascists, whether Islamo- or liberal, want to shut us up? Then you better be ready to rumble, because submission isn’t one of the options. We will speak free or die.

Read it all. It illustrates how alike the Islamic fanatics and the liberal fascists have become. There really is no difference, and if freedom-loving Americans bow to either or both they will then turn on themselves in a new war of hate.

Construction at SpaceX’s new spaceport about to begin

The competition heats up: SpaceX has begun prepping the construction sites at its private spaceport in Brownsville, Texas.

The county has begun work on a road to where the spaceport command center will be, and SpaceX has established its construction headquarters in a double-wide trailer there. It is expected that actual construction of the command center will begin in August, with the launchpad construction to follow.

The expected cost for building the entire spaceport: $100 million. Compare that to the billions the Russians are spending for Vostochny, or the billions that NASA spends on comparable facilities.

Sunset on Mars

sunset on Mars

Cool image time! The image above is not a sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee. It is a beautiful blue sunset on Mars, taken by Curiosity from Gale Crater.

The image is the first sunset imaged by Curiosity in color, and is calibrated to match what the human eye would see.

Meanwhile, the rover’s journey continues, with a slight detour to check out an interesting hillside.

New images of Dawn’s double bright spot

The double spot on Ceres

Cool image time! Dawn has released a new animation made from images taken in early May, showing more details of the dwarf planet’s double bright spot.

As they note at the link, the double spot is now “revealed to be composed of many smaller spots.” As they also add, “Their exact nature remains unknown.”

Dawn’s engineers are now beginning to ease the spacecraft down to its survey orbit, about 2,700 miles above the surface.

Tory victory in UK even better than predicted just yesterday

The final tallies of the election in Great Britain have given the conservatives an outright majority.

They don’t have to form a coalition with anyone to form a government. Moreover, this is after months of listening to pollsters and pundits insisting they would at best achieve a tie with the left, and most likely get kicked out of office.

Read it all. The results strongly suggest that, except for the separatist movement in Scotland, conservatives rule Britannia.

Obama administration admits it defied a judge’s injunction

The law is such an inconvenient thing: Lawyers for the Obama administration admitted yesterday that Homeland Security had continued to issue work permits to illegal aliens even after a judge’s injunction had specifically ordered them to stop.

The Justice Department lawyers said Homeland Security, which is the defendant in the case, told them Wednesday that an immigration agency had approved about 2,000 applications for three-year work permits, which was part of Mr. Obama’s new amnesty, even after Judge Hanen issued his Feb. 16 injunction halting the entire program.

Top Obama officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, had repeatedly assured Congress they had fully halted the program and were complying with the order.

The judge has been considering sanctions against the lawyers for previously misleading them on a related matter. To my mind, he is being remarkably kind. The Obama administrations actions here are a direct violation of the law. He is within his rights to charge these lawyers and a number of high officials in Homeland Security with contempt, and have them serve time in prison.

In fact, this contempt for the law by the Obama administration is not going to stop until someone is put into jail for a bit. That would make a lot of people think twice before they followed orders from above that were blatantly illegal, as these orders clearly were.

XCOR progress report in construction of Lynx

The competition heats up: In a press release today XCOR announced new progress in the assembly of its Lynx suborbital space plane.

They revealed that they have “bonded the XCOR Lynx Mark I strakes to the Lynx spacecraft fuselage.”

To be honest, my impression of the work at XCOR from the photo at the link is that of one or two guys working in their spare time in their garage on restoring a classic car. Though I wish them well, the progress seems very slow, and piecemeal. In fact, it reminds me much of Richard Branson’s many false promises at Virgin Galactic. For example, back in 2012 XCOR announced a test flight schedule for 2013. None of those flights ever happened. Then in 2014 they said they hoped to begin flight tests before the end of that year. Again, nothing happened.

At least with this most recent release they aren’t saying when they plan to fly, since from the picture it appears they are quite a long ways from doing so. It is far better to make real promises that false ones, and XCOR might have learned that lesson watching the public relations problems Richard Branson has had in recent years.

Even so, I have been consistently very skeptical of this project. In fact, back in October 2013, in describing the effort of Blue Origin in the suborbital tourism trade, I predicted the following:

That the present ship [Blue Origin’s New Shepard] is being designed for suborbital tourist flights makes it a direct competitor of Virgin Galactic and XCOR. And considering the problems that Virgin Galactic has with SpaceShipTwo [written one year before its crash], and that XCOR doesn’t have the big bucks of Bezos, Blue Origin might actually be in the lead in the race to put the first tourists in space.

It appears now that this prediction was right on the money.

Russian sources confirm their plan to flip launches to ISS

Though not yet officially decided, managers in the Russian space agency are definitely considering switching the launch dates of the next Soyuz and Progress missions to ISS, so that the unmanned cargo flight flies first.

Both spacecraft use the Soyuz rocket, and it now appears that the cause of last week’s Progress failure was a problem in the Soyuz third stage. They want to check out all Soyuz third stages before they put any humans on one. Switching the flights gives them time to do it. It also gets needed cargo to ISS sooner.

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