Tag Archives: freedom

Hollywood’s worst summer box office in 25 years

Link here. The numbers and details are truly horrifying:

Even before this catastrophic Labor Day weekend is factored in (more on this below), the domestic 2017 box office is in hideous shape. This year is –6.3% behind 2016 and continues to fall behind 2015, 2013, and 2012.

If you figure in inflation, those numbers are even worse. For example, in 2012 the average ticket cost $7.96. Today it is almost a full dollar more at $8.89. Yeah, things are that bad and will look even worse on Tuesday.

With no apparent faith in their own product, this is the first Labor Day in 25 years where a new title has not been released on more than 1,000 screens. Over this weekend last year, the box office hauled in nearly $130 million. This year will do about a third of that. Summer attendance is at a 25-year low. The summer box office is down a whopping –16% compared to 2016.

The author provides some cogent analysis, all of which suggests things are going to get far worse for Hollywood in the coming years. The essence of the problem comes back to the same intellectual bubble that the elitists in Washington remain trapped in: A refusal to cater to the interests of their customers.

Unfortunately, this is the times in which we live. The dominate intellectual culture today is intellectually dishonest. The public has been making choices it disagrees with, and it continues to show an utter unwillingness to honestly assess those choices and figure out why. Instead, that culture, almost entirely leftwing and liberal in make-up, has decided that such dissent can only be the work of evil racists, an absurd conclusion that only serves to alienate that bankrupt intellectual culture more from the general public that is rejecting it.

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Action in House to limit use of civil forfeiture by Sessions

Several congressmen have submitted amendments to the appropriations bill that funds the Justice Department that would nullify the effort by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to increase the use of civil forfeiture.

[F]our amendments have been submitted to the House Rules Committee for consideration that would defund Sessions’ directive. It’s not clear which amendment if any will be considered when the consolidated appropriations bill, H.R. 3354, reaches the House floor likely late next week.

Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) have submitted separate amendments that would prohibit the Department of Justice from using funds for adoptive seizures. Two bipartisan amendments, one submitted by Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and another by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), would prevent funding from being used to implement Sessions’ directive.

The Amash and Davidson amendments are more comprehensive and are not limited to Sessions’ directive. In fact, these amendments would leave the minor safeguards provided under Sessions’ changes in place. The bipartisan amendments aren’t as comprehensive, although they’re still better than the status quo. [emphasis mine]

As is typical of this Republican Congress, there appears to be no strong support by the party’s leadership for these amendments, as indicated by the highlighted words. This lack of support is further indicated by this quote:

Legislation has been introduced to increase the standard at the federal level to clear and convincing evidence and provide more protections for property owners who contest a seizure in federal court. Unfortunately, these bills — Rep. Walberg and Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act and Rep. Sensenbrenner’s DUE PROCESS Act — are awaiting action in their respective committees, and there’s no guarantee of action. [emphasis mine]

What I find encouraging is that the weak Republican leadership is increasingly under pressure from its rank and file to move rightward. They might not want to, or they might be afraid to (being political cowards), but the trend continues in the right direction. And I believe that this conservative trend will accelerate, after there are more Republican victories in the 2018 elections.

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SpaceX completes static fire tests of Falcon Heavy first stages

Capitalism in space: SpaceX announced today that they have completed static fire testing of the three first stages that will be used on the first Falcon Heavy test flight, tentatively scheduled for sometime in November.

That November launch remains very tentative. The launchpad still needs to be prepped, and these stages still have to be shipped to Florida, assembled, and then undergo at least one static fire test, as a unit. Despite these caveats, it is clear that that SpaceX is getting closer to that first Falcon Heavy launch.

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Trump nominates James Bridenstine as NASA administrator

As expected for months, Trump late yesterday nominated Congressman James Bridenstine (R-Oklahoma) as the new administrator of NASA.

He will still have to be confirmed by the Senate. Interestingly, both Florida senators, a Democrat and a Republican, have announced their opposition to the nomination.

Bridenstine is somewhat in favor of private space, but previous analysis of his past proposals by myself and others has not been encouraging. What he will do as head of NASA however remains unknown. Based on his past statements, I would be surprised if he cut back on either commercial space or SLS.

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Dream Chaser engineering vehicle completes tow tests

Capitalism in space: Sierra Nevada’s engineering test vehicle for testing its Dream Chaser design has completed tow tests at Edward Air Force Base in California and is now being prepared for flight tests.

Posted on the back roads of Montana during our drive from Glacier to Capital Reef.

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Firefly emerges from bankruptcy

Capitalism in space: Firefly Aerospace, the company that was forced into bankruptcy when it lost a Virgin Galactic lawsuit for stealing their proprietary engineering, has emerged from bankruptcy.

The full article is behind a paywall, but it appears that the company includes its same management staff under a new owner.

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Private Japanese company to test fly again by December

Capitalism in space: Interstellar Technologies, the private Japanese rocket company attempting to enter the launch market with a low cost suborbital rocket, will attempt a second test flight before the end of the year.

Their first test flight failed to reach space when they had a communications problem and had to terminate the mission early.

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SpaceX’s flight suit for manned trips to ISS

Capitalism in space: SpaceX this week unveiled the flight suit that passengers will wear during their Dragon flights to and from ISS.

This is not strictly a spacesuit. It has limited capabilities, and can essentially only be used during the ferry flights. Nonetheless, I guarantee it as well as Boeing’s were developed for far less and much quicker than anything NASA could have come up with.

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SpaceX launches commercial satellite, lands 1st stage

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched Taiwan’s first homemade commercial satellite.

They also landed the first stage successfully on their barge.d

After a short hike this morning Diane and I decided to relax the rest of the day. Time to catch up on other stuff.

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How To Know You’re In a Mass Hysteria Bubble

Link here. Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, provides a very cogent analysis of the insanity of the liberal Democratic mindset today. His description of the event that triggered this hysteria is right on the money

On November 8th of 2016, half the country learned that everything they believed to be both true and obvious turned out to be wrong. The people who thought Trump had no chance of winning were under the impression they were smart people who understood their country, and politics, and how things work in general. When Trump won, they learned they were wrong. They were so very wrong that they reflexively (because this is how all brains work) rewrote the scripts they were seeing in their minds until it all made sense again. The wrong-about-everything crowd decided that the only way their world made sense, with their egos intact, is that either the Russians helped Trump win or there are far more racists in the country than they imagined, and he is their king. Those were the seeds of the two mass hysterias we witness today.

Trump supporters experienced no trigger event for cognitive dissonance when Trump won. Their worldview was confirmed by observed events.

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Read it all to find out if you are in the bubble or not.

Posted north of Phoenix.

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ULA’s Atlas 5 successfully launches NASA communications satellite

Capitalism in space: ULA this morning successfully launched NASA TDRS-M communications satellite, following a several week delay caused by an accident during satellite preparation that forced the replacement of the satellite’s antenna.

This was ULA’s fifth launch for 2017, which is behind the once-a-month pace they have maintained for the previous five years.

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ISIS files “cultural appropriation” complaint against ANTIFA with UN

Link here. The complaint, from ISIS High Command (“somewhere along the Syria-Iraq border”), begins as follows:

As you may know, there is a new category of outrage that “social justice warriors” the world over are fighting to stop: “cultural appropriation.” Loosely defined, this outrage occurs whenever a person, group or organization begins adopting the habits and mannerisms that originate elsewhere…. In this vein, we are writing to file a formal complaint with the UNHRC’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, regarding a matter that we consider most serious: the fact that the recently-organized, global “ANTIFA” movement has:

(1) Culturally appropriated what is clearly ISIS’s trademark black uniforms

(2) Culturally appropriated the terror-tactics we employ while wearing these uniforms

They then provide documented evidence, including photos, and then note, “Now, if you were to see one or the other of these groups marching down your street, would you be able to determine, at a glance, if they are with ISIS, or ANTIFA?”

Their solution?

You might mention to the ANTIFA punks that in quite a few aspects, we are at war with the very same people, organizations and ideas, and, in fact, Western civilization itself. So, if you could arrange a sit-down over tea with us, and them, it might serve all of our interests, and provide a holistic, inclusive resolution to our complaint. Thanks!

Makes perfect sense to me. I mean, really, these guys all seem to have the same goals.

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Japan’s beginning shift to commercial space

Link here. The article provides a good sense of the state of Japan’s private space industry, which at this moment is generally restricted one company, Interstellar Technologies, and its as yet unsuccessful effort to launch a suborbital rocket. The following quote however helps explain why Japan has been unable to interest anyone in buying its H-2A rocket for commercial launches.

Launch costs associated with Japan’s main H-2A rocket are about ¥10 billion per launch (about $90 million), so miniature satellites often ride together with bigger satellites. A period of 50 days is required between launches, meaning the number of launches is low in Japan compared to countries including the United States, Europe, Russia, China and India. Large satellites are given priority in the launch schedule, so it is often difficult to choose a launch window for miniature satellites. [emphasis mine]

I think the $90 million price is a significant reduction from what JAXA used to charge. Fifty days to prep for launch however is ungodly slow.

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UC-Davis establishes rules to allow free speech

This could be a victory: A working group established by the administration of the University of California in Davis (UC-Davis) has recommended rules that will punish students who disrupt speakers and prevent them from speaking.

[T]he working group recommended the implementation of an “anti-disruption disciplinary rule” that would punish student who disrupt speakers, as was the case during Yiannopoulos’ visit to campus.“Although the determination of what constitutes disruption may be fact-specific and contextual in some cases and require the exercise of official discretion, the campus should clearly delineate disruptive behavior it deems presumptively unacceptable and provide clear notice to students engaging in such behavior that their conduct warrants a disciplinary response,” the working group explains.

Additionally, the report recommends regular “freedom of expression education events” to highlight the “values served by freedom of expression on a university campus.” Among such events, the working group suggests “interactive town halls and workshops” that would include discussion on the “theory of creative political expression to provide compelling examples of other, constructive and expressive options students have to respond to controversial speakers.”

This sounds good, but we will only find out if the administration means it when a conservative speaker decides to come to UC-Davis to speak. The article includes many comments from students who participated in the working group that opposed these recommendations and were hostile to allowing any dissenting voices on campus.

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A celebration of hate and ignorance

The last few days have not been good ones for American free speech and freedom. Not only have we seen violence perpetrated to silence the free expression of dissent, we have seen an effort after the fact to use that violence as a club for destroying any opposition to the liberal and leftist dogma that dominates the American political and academic community.

The following links will provide a nice overview of how our cultural elites, especially on the left, have responded to this weekend’s terrible events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one person was killed and almost twenty injured when a car rammed into a crowd of competing racist demonstrators.

That is how our elites responded, not with conciliatory remarks aimed at bringing people together, but with anger and hate, hate of Trump, hate of the Republican Party, hate of the NRA, hate of whites, hate for anyone that dared disagree with their leftist agenda. Then, when Trump issued a statement condemning all violence in the name of bigotry, the response was equally hateful:
» Read more

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Rocket Lab looks to second test flight of Electron

Capitalism in space: Having completed its review of its first May test flight of its Electron rocket, Rocket Lab now looks to the second test flight.

The article gives a good overview of the results from the first test flight. It also has this tidbit:

The second of Rocket Lab’s three planned test flights is scheduled later this year. If that launch goes well, the company will likely delete the third demonstration mission, and the first commercial Electron flight could be ready for takeoff by the end of December, Beck said last week.

“We’ve got the next test flight rolling out out to the pad in about eight weeks’ time,” Beck said. “If it’s a really good clean flight, we’ll probably accelerate into commercial operations.”

If they follow this schedule, then the next flight will be in mid-October, and the Moon Express launch of its lunar rover will occur in mid-December, just in time to win the Google Lunar X-Prize.

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SpaceX launch today

SpaceX is scheduled to resume launches at Kennedy, after a month of range upgrades by the Air Force. You can watch it live here, or here.

Launch is presently scheduled for 12:31 Eastern time to send a Dragon capsule to ISS. At the moment all looks good for an on-time launch.

The launch was a complete success, including a picture-perfect first stage landing at Kennedy.

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Virgin Orbit gets another launch contract

Capitalism in space: Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket has gained another launch contract, this time from an Italian smallsat company.

Italian small satellite builder Sitael has signed Virgin Orbit to send a technology demonstration satellite into low-Earth orbit next year. Sitael’s µHETsat, a demonstrator for a new electric propulsion system built with the European and Italian space agencies, will fly on LauncherOne “mid-next year,” Dan Hart, Virgin Orbit Chief Executive, told SpaceNews Aug. 11.

Virgin Orbit is preparing to begin commercial services with LauncherOne, its air-launched small satellite orbital vehicle, in 2018. Other customers for the launch system, which can carry 500 kilograms to LEO, include NASA, OneWeb, and Sky and Space Global.

This story further strengthens my prediction that LauncherOne (in development for 5 years) will fly in space long before SpaceShipTwo (in development for 13 years).

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White nationalist protest in Virginia

Racism goes all around: A demonstration of white nationalists gathered today at the University of Virginia, holding torches and shouting pro-white chants.

Sharing a photo of the torch-bearing march on Friday, Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler wrote on Twitter, “Incredible moment for white people who’ve had it up to here & aren’t going to take it anymore. Tomorrow we #Unitethe Right #Charlottesville.”

Prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer, who led a similar march in Charlottesville in May, was also at the rally on Friday night.

You hate people merely because they are white, and what you will get is alliances forming to defend whites, focused entirely on their race. The result is that everyone becomes bigoted and racist.

It is important to remind everyone that no one has been a slave in the United states in more than 150 years, and discrimination solely because of race ended pretty much a half century ago. The nation, which is dominated by whites, elected a black president twice in the past decade. For minorities to hate whites today is absurd, and can only be founded on the basis of race hatred. For white leftists to do it is even more absurd, and is the epitome of self-hatred.

As always, the battle here is between those who treat each person as an individual, and those who can only see them as members of a group. The former believes in individual freedom and personal responsibility. The latter believes in bigotry and racism. I proudly rank myself in the former group. To which group do you belong?

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A memo from Google advising employees on correct thought

Link here. This memo clarifies for everyone what is expected of Google employees. I especially find this quote informative:

Please remember, as you no doubt read in the Employee Handbook, Google’s commitment to diversity is complete and unequivocal. Any variance from diversity is not permitted and will be dealt with immediately. It is only when all of us think exactly the same thoughts that we can achieve perfect diversity.

Of course, Google is also completely committed to the advancement of science and human knowledge. If history has taught us anything, it is that science can only flourish where the allowable topics of discussion are highly circumscribed. Approved subjects of conversation are posted throughout the campus, so please look before you speak.

I believe some of the problem lately has been a simple misunderstanding of my last memo. Unfortunately, I mistyped that Google “approves of free speech.” I meant to write that Google must “approve free speech.” I want all of our employees to feel perfectly free to express themselves however their political, moral, or religious beliefs impel them; provided of course that they receive prior written authorization.

Read it all. It really explains everything.

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University backs down, will allow 9/11 memorial as planned

This is a victory: Southern Methodist University (SMU) has backed down from a decision to shift its annual 9/11 memorial to a remote place on campus so that it might not offend some students.

[In its original decision] the campus administration cited a new “lawn display” policy which, it claimed, tries to balance “the right of all members of the SMU community to express their opinions” and the right to “avoid messages that are triggering, harmful, or harassing.”

A bipartisan coalition of students blasted the policy, including the SMU College Democrats whose co-vice president said “If expression is banned from a part of this campus, that is detrimental to the education of the students.” Fox News reports SMU donors, alumni and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined the criticism, as well.

The school changed its mind late Wednesday. “I thank the students from across campus who came together in the spirit of mutual respect and civil discourse to achieve this outcome,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said in a prepared statement. “Throughout these discussions, students have expressed their commitment to freedom of expression – a value the University shares.”

Conservatives on campus expressed guarded caution, noting that though the university has backed down here, it has also not yet revised its new more restrictive speech policies.

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Cell towers to the Moon!

Capitalism in space: A startup that intends to land two privately built rovers near the Apollo 17 landing site in 2018 also plans to use basic cell tower technology to relay what the rovers find back to Earth.

Part Time Scientists has a launch contract for late 2018 with Space X as a secondary payload on the Falcon 9 rocket. Becker said the company believes it will be the first private entity to reach the surface of the moon, suggesting that none of the Google Lunar X Prize participants are likely to meet the December 2017 deadline for the competition. (Part Time Scientists itself withdrew from the Google Lunar X Prize earlier this year due to the time constraints of the competition.)

The Falcon 9 will carry the team’s spacecraft, Alina, to the geostationary transfer orbit, a highly elliptical Earth orbit whose highest point is 26,000 miles (42,000 kilometers). From there, Alina will continue on its own to the moon. “We will soft-land on the moon and disembark our two rovers, the Audi Lunar Quatro rovers, with which we are going to drive up to Apollo 17,” Becker said. “The two rovers are essentially mobile phones that will communicate our video stream to Alina, which serves as an LTE base station, and Alina will communicate the data to us,” he said.

What is most significant about this is that even if no one wins the Google Lunar X-Prize this year, it appears that the contest succeeded nonetheless. At least two if not five different companies appear funded and about to launch private rovers to the Moon. Once they demonstrate this capability, they will certainly be positioned to make money offering it to nations and scientists worldwide. For example, NASA and China both want to place probes in remote places on the Moon, near the poles or on the Moon’s far side. If this mission by Part Time Scientists is a success, they will then be able to offer a cheap method for relaying communications from those locations.

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Palin wins first battle with NYTimes in her libel lawsuit

This should be entertaining: A federal judge has ruled that the New York Times editorial writer who smeared Sarah Palin in an editorial will have to testify under oath about that editorial.

The editorial tried to blame Palin for the 2011 Tucson mass shooting by an insane man, even though the New York Times’ own reporting had previously shown without doubt that no such link existed. In order to avoid losing their case, the editorial writer is going to have to claim that he doesn’t read his own newspaper, and thus did not know about the Times own reporting on this story. Otherwise, it will appear that the editorial was malicious and a lie, and thus libelous.

Like I said, this should be entertaining. Either Palin wins the lawsuit hands down, or the New York Times will have to make itself look like a piece of junk. Which, by the way, it has mostly been for the past three decades.

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Development of argon plasma rocket engine continues

Capitalism in space: The argon-fueled plasma rocket engine being developed by the Ad Astra Rocket Company has advanced its test engine firings from 30 seconds long to five minutes long.

Their $9 million contract with NASA calls for a 100-hour-long engine firing by 2018. At the moment the company says they are on schedule to meet that goal.

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SpaceX completes static fire for next launch, advances its Falcon Heavy prep

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully completed its routine dress rehearsal static fire in preparation for a Monday launch of a Dragon cargo capsule to ISS.

Two items of note regarding this launch. First, it will be the last cargo capsule launched by SpaceX that has not been used before. From now on they plan on recycling all cargo ships, and have actually shut down the production line building new cargo capsules. Instead, they want to focus on building new upgraded manned Dragon capsules.

Second, even as this launch goes forward, with the first stage expected to land at Kennedy on their landing pad there, they are building the second landing pad at this same site to accommodate the planned November first launch of Falcon Heavy. For that launch, the two side mounted first stages will return to Kennedy, while the core stage will land on a barge in the ocean.

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The fifteen most popular search engines

Link here. Considering the increasingly fascist attitude of Google towards its employees and its users, I thought it worthwhile to provide this list of alternatives. I use Startpage, which isn’t listed because it is actually a slightly different version of Ixquick.

There is no reason to blindly and mindlessly depend on Google. There are many choices out there. Use your freedom and choose. It is our own personal responsibility to do so.

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The Google Gulag

Link here. The essay contains a nice collection of links documenting Google’s increasing leftwing fascist bent. The key quote however is this:

Damore [the man Google fired] was working on Google’s search infrastructure. And there’s little doubt that he was wasted there. Google’s search has grown more useless even as the company’s search revenues have grown. Google’s goal is to streamline and shape search results for a mobile environment by giving users what it thinks they want rather than what they are actually searching for. Google isn’t just politically left-wing, its product mindset has become all about forcing users to do what it thinks they should be doing. [emphasis mine]

In other words, Google’s approach to providing a search engine is now aimed at shaping all searches to go where they want them to.

If you use Google, it is time to find another search engine.

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Google unveils new slogan

News you can use! Google unveils new slogan. Trust me, it is worth it to click on the link.

And this also: New Google technology autocorrects users’ thoughts

At a special press conference held at the technology giant’s sprawling campus Tuesday, Google engineers revealed exciting new technology that autocorrects any errant thoughts its users are having, replacing them with positions approved by the company.

Utilizing advanced retinal scan and proprietary telepathic scanning technology, the new automatic thought correction algorithm is now live for users of Google’s search engine, Android operating system, Chrome OS, and the hundreds of other apps and services the company provides. “Let’s say you start thinking there may be some kind of inherent biological difference between men and women,” Google employee Ryan Vo said in a live demo of the new tech. “Immediately, the thought suggestion program in any nearby Google device, app, or service will scrub the idea of inherent gender differences and replace them with the sure knowledge that there are at least three hundred different genders in existence, and always has been.”

For the background see this story.

And people wonder why I do not use Google, got rid of gmail years ago, and wiped my history at both as soon as I could.

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