Tag Archives: government

The American city-rural political divide

Though the article at the link focuses on how in this year’s election the Democratic Party has lost its traditional support from white blue collar Democrats, I think it illustrates quite forcefully the increasing political polarization between the cities and the rural parts of the country.

“There are 490 counties in Appalachia technically, which is defined by federal law. Hillary Clinton won 21 counties in that region,” he said. And that is it. She did not win a single county in Appalachia that is mostly white, non-college-educated and has a population of under 100,000 people.

Not one county.

Looking at the map, the 21 counties she won were either college campuses like Virginia Tech, Cornell, Penn State and Mississippi State or counties in major metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Birmingham, Ala., Winston-Salem, N.C., Youngstown, Ohio, and Pittsburgh. And she also won five counties in Mississippi that are nearly majority black. “I went back and looked at the home precinct in Tennessee where I grew up and Bill Clinton wins it, Al Gore gets forty percent, Obama gets 28 percent and she got 18 percent. In short, Donald Trump got 80 percent of that vote,” he said, astounded at the cultural shift among Appalachians.

What does all of this data tell you about America? Todd says it is simple, “There are absolutely no more blue-collar whites in the Democratic Party. They just don’t exist, even the ones who want there to be have recognized there is no room for them,” he said. These voters had stayed with the Democrats forever and now 80 percent of them in Appalachia have voted Republican. “That means they don’t know anyone who voted for her,” he said.

This polarization also explains why it is becoming more common for the choice of the electoral college to not match the popular vote. Democratic voters are increasingly packed into big cities that cover very small amounts of area. The electoral college as well as Congress were specifically designed to prevent such concentrations from dominating elections.

These results also show that the Democrats are not doing a very good job convincing anyone to vote for them outside of their reliable core constituencies. In fact, if anything the policies of the Democratic Party has been repelling everyone away from it, except in those big cities where a large percentage of the voters are their direct welfare clients, dependent on government aid.

Nebraska bans civil forfeiture without a criminal conviction

Good news: A Nebraska law passed and signed in April has banned the police from confiscating any private property prior to a criminal conviction.

Now that the Nebraska bill has been signed into law, innocent property owners will have some rather significant new protections, the most significant of which is the requirement for a criminal conviction. Believe it or not, under civil forfeiture laws, no convictions need to be obtained—nor even any charge filed—to permanently forfeit property. Nebraska’s decision to require a conviction essentially eliminates civil forfeiture in the state.

The state may still forfeit property, but only after obtaining a conviction on drug, child pornography, or illegal gambling charges, and then only after demonstrating by clear and convincing evidence that the property in question was used or intended to be used in the commission of the crime, or that it represented the illicit “fruits” of the criminal activity.

The law was passed back in April but I missed the story. Hat tip to reader Tim Vogel for letting me know.

Problems with Russia force private company to deemphasize ISS cameras

UrtheCast has been forced to write off almost $8 million because it has not been able fully use its two cameras installed on the Russian half of ISS.

The Vancouver-based company said its was writing off some of the cameras’ value because of strained relations with their Russian hosts, who recently approached UrtheCast with a request to renegotiate their deal. Russian cosmonauts installed two UrtheCast cameras on the exterior of space station in 2014. The medium-resolution camera, called Theia, captures 50-kilometer swaths of multispectral imagery sharp enough to discern features 5-meters across. The high-resolution camera, called Iris, records ultra-high-def-quality, full-color video of the Earth and still images at a resolution of one meter per pixel. Iris entered service only last year due to technical issues.

Wade Larson, UrtheCast’s co-founder and chief executive, told investors during a Nov. 10 conference call that tensions between Russia and the U.S. and its allies are spilling over into UrtheCast’s agreement with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, and Russia’s lead space station contractor RSC Energia. “There’s been some geopolitical challenges that have influenced this relationship and candidly … that has impacted our ability to task these cameras operationally,” Larson said.

In the long run, this is very bad for the Russians. It shows them to be an unreliable business partner, which will increasingly limit their ability to attract business from outside Russia.

TMT legal case in Hawaii gets messier

The permit process in Hawaii for the Thirty Meter Telescope has gotten far messier, with the telescope’s opponents appealing to the state’s Supreme Court, complaining about witness procedures and the lawyers who are working for the state, while the land board running the procedures has asked the court to dismiss this appeal.

Essentially, the opponents are using every trick in the book to delay the permit process, and it appears that the law in Hawaii, including one just passed in August, is designed to aid them in this tactic.

TMT will not be built in Hawaii.The consortium that is building it needs a decision by early next year at the latest. They ain’t gonna get it. The luddites going to win, and Hawaii will be far poorer because of it.

Three things Trump can do to strengthen the 2nd amendment

Link here. The three things are, first appoint Supreme Court judges who support the individual’s right to bear arms; second pass a law forcing states to recognize the gun permits issued by other states, as they do with driver’s licenses; three eliminate the absurd gun-free regulations imposed on the military at military bases.

It is very likely that all three of these things will happen, which at a minimum will make a Trump administration a success, at least in terms of the second amendment.

DARPA tests anti-terrorist radiation detection network

In an experiment testing a technology designed to detect the radiation from a terrorist-deployed small nuclear bomb, DARPA in October deployed more than a thousand volunteers in Washington DC to test a detector that can be carried in a backpack.

Recently, a geneticist was mysteriously abducted in Washington DC, leading to the US government deploying a small army of detectives to foil a dirty bomb plot. At least, that was the fictional scenario of a DARPA field test that saw a thousand volunteers equipped with smartphone-sized radiation detectors fan out over the National Mall in a radioactive scavenger hunt to test the progress of the agency’s SIGMA project, which is tasked with developing technology to combat nuclear terrorism.

Nuclear terrorism is one of the top nightmares of security services. Not only is the prospect of a dirty bomb involving radioactive materials dispersed by conventional explosives alarming, but tracking down illegal nuclear materials in an urban setting requires covering far too large an area for fixed sensors. Since 2014, DARPA has been working on how to produce a portable sensor array based on low-cost, high-efficiency, radiation sensors networked by smartphone networks to detect gamma and neutron radiation and evaluate the information in real time

According to DARPA, the SIGMA array was first tested in New York and New Jersey using 100 sensors. For the Washington test, 1,000 sensors were carried in backpacks by hundreds of ROTC cadets from the universities in the National Capital Region, midshipmen from the US Naval Academy, and DARPA personnel coordinated by the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).

Developing technology that can find and catch a terrorist who is trying to deploy a nuclear bomb in an urban area is certainly a good thing. I can’t help worry, however, about some larger philosophical concerns. Putting aside the specific technology being tested, the infrastructure being developed here that will make it easy for the government to deploy thousands of volunteers to hunt down an individual makes me a bit uncomfortable.

Luxembourg establishes its own legal framework for asteroid mining

The competition heats up: Luxembourg on November 11 announced that it is establishing its own legal framework to protect the profits of any private asteroid mining effort.

Because the UN Outer Space Treaty forbids them from claiming any territory in space, this new law essentially says that Luxembourg law will instead be applied specifically to the resources mined. Or to put it in more colloquial terms, “Finders, Keepers,” though it comes with a lot of complex further regulation required to satisfy that treaty.

The draft law also lays down the regulations for the authorization and the supervision of space resources utilization missions, including both the exploration and use of such resources. Whoever intends to undertake a space resources utilization mission will be required to obtain an authorization to do so, for each specific and determined mission. The text sets forth the necessity for a book of obligations for any mission, such as activities to be carried in or out of Luxembourg, to allow government supervision of the activities of operators and regulating their rights and obligations. The legislation is expected to enter into effect in early 2017.

This complexity will cost money unnecessarily, and also require an unnecessary bureaucracy with a great deal of power over the actions of space companies. It illustrates again how really bad the Outer Space Treaty is, and how it will oppress future spacefarers. The sooner the treaty is dumped the better. If we don’t do it here on Earth, I guarantee that the people of space will do it, as soon as they become self-sufficient enough to thumb their noses at the ground-pounders on the mother planet.

IRS denies tea party groups tax-exempt status

Still working for the Democratic Party: After almost seven years of delays and harassment, the IRS today denied several tea party groups their requested tax-exempt status.

The tax agency, under orders from a federal judge, is belatedly tackling the remaining tea party cases that it delayed for years, and so far the tea party isn’t doing well. Only one of the three groups in the case was approved, and the other two, including Albuquerque, got notices of proposed denials last week. The applicants will have a chance to appeal, but the denials aren’t sitting well with the groups, whose attorney said it’s more evidence that the IRS continues to single out the tea party for abuse. “It is clear that we still have an IRS that is corrupt and incapable of self-correction,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, which represented a number of tea party groups in a case against the tax agency.

The one group that was approved was Unite in Action, a Michigan-based organization that first applied for tax-exempt status more than six years ago. The Albuquerque Tea Party and Tri Cities Tea Party from Washington state were notified of proposed denials.

It seems pretty clear that these denials are finally being issued now because the IRS realizes that in only two months a Republican president will take power and they fear what that president might do. I say good. Every single one of the officials who run the IRS should be fired, as quickly as possible. If Trump is the outsider he claims, he will sweep this very corrupt and partisan agency of all its management.

In fact, this one issue will tell us more about Trump’s real goals than practically anything. If he doesn’t fire the entire management at the IRS, we will know that nothing is really going to change in Washington.

Oregon official who destroyed Christian bakery loses election

Good news: The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries commissioner who put a Christian bakery out of business because the owners did not wish to participate in a homosexual wedding by providing the cake has lost his election attempt to become the state’s secretary of state.

In 2013, Oregon Democrat Brad Avakian, as commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, put a Christian bakery out of business because its owners stood up for their religious convictions. Fast forward to 2016 and Avakian, not unlike many of his fellow Democrats, got served a big slice of sweet justice. Sweetcakes by Melissa, owned by Melissa and Aaron Klein, was forced out of business by Avakian and the BOLI in 2013. Klein told Independent Journal Review that they were fined $135,000 and the state garnished their bank accounts to cover it. When all was said and done, Klein said that the state took $144,000 from them.

Avakian put these Christian bakers out of business, but in 2016, the people of Oregon ended his run for Oregon secretary of state in favor of Republican Dennis Richardson, which is the first time in 14 years the solidly blue state elected a Republican for state office.

What is interesting here is that he lost in the same state that right now is seeing some of the most violent protests against Trump’s election victory. This suggests to me that the state’s voting populace does not necessarily agree with those protesters, and in fact the protests might actually be doing the left harm politically.

“Kill the police!”

Fascists: Anti-Trump protesters chant death threats to cops in Indianapolis while protests in Portland go violent.

I seem to remember the press and the Democrats (but I repeat myself) making a big deal prior to the election about how Donald Trump and the Republicans had to accept the election results if they lost to show that they respected the Constitution and our democracy. We now see that such demands only applied to the right. The left however is under no requirement, and in fact only considers an election valid if it wins.

And before anyone whines to me about how mean I am for calling these protesters fascists, I think they first must explain to me how this violent behavior differs from that of the Nazi brownshirts who made it party policy to riot when they lost and to violently attack anyone who opposed them. As far as I can tell, there is no difference. And here are a few more stories to illustrate the point:

NASA considers alternatives to Orion

The competition heats up: Faced with long delays and an ungodly budget, NASA is now considering alternatives to replace the Orion capsule.

NASA has initiated a process that raises questions about the future of its Orion spacecraft. So far, this procedural effort has flown largely under the radar, because it came in the form of a subtle Request for Information (RFI) that nominally seeks to extend NASA’s contract to acquire future Orion vehicles after Exploration Mission-2, which likely will fly sometime between 2021 and 2023.

Nevertheless, three sources familiar with the RFI, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, told Ars there is more to the request than a simple extension for Orion’s primary contractor, Lockheed Martin. Perhaps most radically, the RFI may even open the way for a competitor, such as Boeing or SpaceX, to substitute its own upgraded capsule for Orion in the mid-2020s.

The article also has this juicy quote:

The new RFI states that Lockheed will continue with development of Orion through a second uncrewed flight set for late 2018 and Exploration Mission-2, the first crewed mission, as early as 2021. However, once this “base vehicle” configuration is established, the RFI signals NASA’s intent to find a less expensive path forward. “This RFI serves as an examination of the market, which is an initial step in pursuing any of the available acquisition strategies, including the exercising of existing options,” the document states.

The end of SLS and Orion is beginning.

““Die whites die”

The hate is real: An anti-Trump protest turned into a riot in New Orleans yesterday, with broken windows and defaced monuments.

Lee Circle was fully covered in graffiti with phrases like “Black Power” and “Dismantle White Supremacy”. Later, an effigy of Trump was burned while glass windows at a nearby bank were shattered. Other phrases like “No Trump, no KKK” were used to vandalize surrounding areas, as well as the threatening phrase “Die whites die” and “F*ck Trump”.

So tell me please, who is exhibiting the most race hatred here?

A list of potential Trump cabinet picks

Link here.

As is usual, the bankrupt press didn’t do this work before the election, when it might have helped voters make their decisions. I tried to dig out some of this beforehand, and was somewhat successful, but I wish I could have seen lists like this prior to election day.

The list is interesting in that it includes an incredible range of political positions. For example, the three names touted for Secretary of State, John Bolton, Senator Bob Corker, and Newt Gingrich, cover the full political range. Bolton would be a solid conservative hawk, as would Gingrich. Corker however was instrumental in making Obama’s bad Iran nuclear deal possible, and would end up more or less continuing Obama’s foreign policy at State. All three, however, have previously been mentioned as possible choices, so as of this moment we still do not know where Trump will be going in this area.

I see the same political range in other positions as well. Even though the list leans heavily to the right, until Trump announces some appointments, we will not really know the direction his administration will take.

Will Republicans and Trump reduce the budget? Maybe not!

Hypocrites and liars: Less than two days after winning the Presidency and retaining control of both houses of Congress, Republican budget cutters are already signaling that they are now more willing to considering big spending projects, now that they are no longer opposing a Democratic president.

Sen. David Perdue (R-.Ga) stood on the Senate floor a little more than one month ago and declared that “we have a budget crisis. We have a debt crisis.” Two weeks ago, he wrote in an op-ed that “President Obama’s budgets ignored fiscally responsible principles, instead leaving an ever-growing mountain of debt for taxpayers down the road,” and he urged the United States to pass a balanced-budget amendment ensuring that the government can’t spend more than it takes in.

But asked about President-elect Donald Trump’s fiscal plans on Wednesday morning, Perdue sounded much less of an urgent note. “Well, I think there’s a short-term view and a long-term view. What we need is a long-term strategy, and by long-term, I’m talking, you’re going to say, 30 to 40 years to solve this debt crisis eventually,” Perdue said in an interview on CNBC.

,,,Perdue’s comments on CNBC could be one sign of how the politics of debt in Washington may shift when Trump takes office Jan. 20. Under George W. Bush, the nation’s debt exploded with federal spending and tax cuts, often with the consent of Republicans in Congress. But over the past eight years, the Republican establishment has repeatedly excoriated President Obama for plans that don’t immediately balance the budget.

Trump’s liberal roots had him immediately propose a variety of big government spending projects in his acceptance speech, and it appears that the Republican leadership is eager to go along, as they did with Obama, to put those big spending plans in place. Unfortunately, it also appears that that leadership might not get much resistance for bigger spending from its rank and file, who will no longer be fighting a Democratic administration and thus can jump on the bandwagon for more pork in their districts.

The pushback against Trump begins

Articles today in the science journals Science and Nature give us a taste of the upcoming resistance by the science community to any policy changes put forth by the new Trump administration.

Both articles assume that the Paris climate agreement is already the law of the land, despite the basic fact that the Senate has not approved it. In fact, if Trump and Congress decide to cut all American ties with it, they can. Right now it is merely something that Obama has agreed to, and under our Constitution, the legalities binding us to that agreement are weak, at best.

This quote from the Science article outlines how the science community plans to structure its resistance:

With oilmen like Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, and Forrest Lucas, the founder of Lucas Oil, named as potential candidates to lead the Departments of Energy and the Interior, respectively, in a Trump administration, the mostly likely historical analogue for the next few years could be the start of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, when he appointed senior officials who were often hostile to the policies of their own agencies. For example, Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, wanted to sell off public lands and reduce forest protections, and his EPA head, Anne Gorsuch, moved to soften clear air and water rules. Some agency staff fought back, and there were frequent leaks, resignations, and lawsuits. Both Watt and Gorsuch ultimately resigned amidst political chaos, and were replaced by less polarizing appointments. If Trump follows a similar path, “there could be a whole lot of churn,” Victor predicts.

Indeed, Trump may quickly learn the limits of the presidency, Victor adds. “The Oval Office will be a lonely place,” he says, if the White House attempts to make radical changes that agency professional staff fiercely opposes. [emphasis mine]

And then there is this quote from the Nature article:

“Trump will be the first anti-science president we have ever had,” says Michael Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society in Washington DC. “The consequences are going to be very, very severe.”

Calling Trump “the first anti-science president” is the kind of name-calling that is typical of the left and the Democratic Party. Not only is it a silly statement, based merely on the partisan hatred of Republicans by scientists, almost all of whom are Democratic Party loyalists, it has nothing to do with reality. Scientists have no more right to a blank check from the government than anyone else. They need to justify their research, and show that it is worthwhile. Since the 1990s they have not had to do this, which has resulted in blooming budgets and a lot of questionable results. And I say this as a science guy. Unlike these partisans, however, I also recognize that there is a gigantic amount of needless spending in the science budgets of numerous government agencies. Their budgets have grown significantly since 2000, with little to show for it. It is time to bring that spending under some control.

This is only the first shot across the bow. I have no doubt that the science community plans to link up with the partisan mainstream press to create a full-court press against any policy changes or budget cuts that either Trump or Congress may propose. These people do not respect the concept of democracy, and will resist the will of the public in every way they can.

Russians to put first centrifuge on ISS

Russia today announced that they are developing and plan to launch the first small centrifuge ever to fly in space.

The centrifuge would be installed on an inflatable module that Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems, which specializes in studying the medical problems of space travel, is building, and would be used to study the effects of artificial gravity in weightlessness.

Unfortunately, the announcement doesn’t tell us much more than this. Based on previous such announcements from Russia, I would not be surprised if this project never flies.

Colorado voters reject single payer Obamacare clone by 80%

Knowing what’s in it: Eighty percent of Colorado voters yesterday soundly rejected a single payer Obamacare clone government health system that would have been funded by a 10% payroll tax.

As the author at the link so nicely puts it:

Allow me to read the tea leaves on this one for a moment. Even the pot smoking, Clinton loving Coloradans can read the writing on the wall if the letters are large enough. The first thing they no doubt noticed was that “free health care” isn’t free at all. It was going to be paid for with a whopping ten percent cut out of all their paychecks. Unless you’re quite well to do, most of you would probably at least notice 10% suddenly disappearing from your income if not winding up crippled by it. So there’s that.

But on a broader palate, this proposal can be easily viewed as the next natural progression beyond Obamacare. The people in Colorado must have access to newspapers or cable news networks is all I can figure. They might have caught wind of how people were losing their doctors, losing their number of available choices in providers, the exchanges around the country were breaking down and their rates were about to go up massively yet again. Having had a taste of all that government medicine goodness might just have put them off their feed when offered an even more government centered plan.

When the Democrats forced Obamacare down our throats in 2010, I said that it more than anything else the left has done in the past century was going discredit their government-run philosophy. It sure appears to be doing exactly that.

Clinton supporters issue death threats and riot

The hate is real: In response to Donald Trump’s victory, Clinton supporters in California and Oregon rioted, with others issuing death threats on social media.

I could also list several dozen stories detailing the horror and disbelief of the intellectual community, in Washington, in the major cities, and across academia. They will not accept this election, and are right this second starting to plan their resistance to any policy Trump or the Republicans may put forth.

The moderate Democrat wins

It appears that Donald Trump has won what I have been calling the November Democratic primary, and will take the office of President of the United States this coming January.

Will this make much difference? I am very guardedly optimistic. Trump remains at heart a moderate Democrat with mixed leanings. His experience during this campaign however has also clearly pushed him rightward, as he suddenly found himself the target of liberal hate. Moreover, the people he has been listing as possible cabinet and administration appointees during his term in office suggest a slightly right-of-center rule.

At the same time, the entrenched and corrupt culture that rules Washington and intellectual society will not accept a Trump administration meekly. They will fight any effort by him or his supporters to change that culture, or to wrest any power from it. This will be the ultimate test of Trump’s beliefs. If he truly has shifted rightward, he will fight back, and “drain the swamp” as he promised during the campaign. If however he allows his past moderate Democrat roots to take over he will back off and do what the Republican leadership has been doing for the past two decades: retreat in the face of the slightest opposition.

What makes me most hopeful that Trump will actually “drain the swamp” is that he will enter office with a solid Republican congress, made up of more true conservatives then we have ever seen. This more than anything will help keep him from wavering from his promises.

One other thought for the moment: The closeness of this election is still disturbing. Trump was not a great candidate, but Clinton was a truly corrupt one. That so many Americans were willing to look the other way even after almost three decades of documented dishonesty and lying and still give her their votes does not speak well of them. Until that basic fact changes, the American system of government remains very fragile and exposed to destruction from within.

Orion faces more delays

Faced with looming schedule problems for Europe’s effort to build the service module for the Orion capsule, NASA has created a working group to attack the problem.

The European Service Module (ESM) element of Orion has been classed as a major schedule driver for the program for some time. The Service Module for Orion was originally going to be an all-American system, under the control of Lockheed Martin. However, a deal back in 2012 resulted in an alliance with the European Space Agency (ESA) to utilize hardware associated with its Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).

The deal made sense. NASA’s goal of international collaboration is deemed to be an essential formula for spreading the costs and increasing the viability of NASA’s exploration goals, building on the success of the partnerships that built the International Space Station. Also, the ATV is proven technology, having already proved its worth via a string of successful resupply missions to the orbital outpost.

However, the challenge of combining the technology into what is essentially an American vehicle has resulted in schedule pressures.

Let me once again point out that Orion was first proposed by President George Bush in 2004. Its first official flight, with service module, is now scheduled for 2018. That means it took NASA 14 years to build and launch a unmanned single complete capsule, assuming they can get the service module built in time. That it took that long to build this is shameful. That there is even the slightest possibility that 14 years won’t be enough time to build the service module is downright disgusting, and is another illustration of the complete failure of the federal government.

Note that the previous unmanned Orion test flight in 2014 really doesn’t count. That capsule was a engineering test capsule, designed to test the capsule’s heat shield, even though NASA had already decided before the flight to abandon that heat shield design. In other words, it was a complete waste of money.

IRS harassment of conservatives continues

Working for the Democratic Party: The IRS harassment of conservatives and any opponents of the Democratic Party continues, despite assurances by the Obama administration and IRS head John Koskinen that it has ceased.

The key here is that absolutely no one at the IRS has been punished for this behavior, and in fact, the Obama administration has made it clear that they will reward people for stonewalling the investigations as well as continuing the harassment. The result, which this article details, has been blatant obstruction of justice at all levels at the IRS. Moreover, the harassment tactics have now spread to other government agencies, all dominated by partisan Democrat employees eager to help their party politically.

If Clinton wins the election expect this brutal abuse of power by the federal government to accelerate. And even if she should lose, do not get your hopes up that the abuses will be dealt with by Trump. They are deep, entrenched, and would require a mass clean-out that I doubt Trump would be willing to do.

Luxembourg invests $28 million into asteroid mining company

The competition heats up: In its continuing effort to make money from space, the government of Luxembourg has invested $28 million in the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources.

As part of the deal, Planetary Resources is establishing a European headquarters in Luxembourg that will conduct research and development activities. Georges Schmit, a member of the Space Resources advisory board to the Government of Luxembourg, wil join Planetary’s board. “We plan to launch the first commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020 and look forward to collaborating with our European partner in this pivotal new industry,” said Chris Lewicki, Planetary Resources chief executive.

As with Luxembourg’s other deals, the investment has required the company to shift many of its operations from the U.S. to Luxembourg.

The Origins of Slavery in Virginia in the Seventeenth Century

During the thread of comments on Behind the Black in response to the recent story about how modern college students ignorantly think that slavery was invented in America, the subject of the origins of slavery in America came up.

This subject happened to be the entire focus of the thesis for my master of arts degree at New York University in 1995. The research I did produced a 338 page thesis, far larger than what professors usually see, and containing a gigantic amount of original research about the specific individuals who ran the Virginia colony during its first seventy years. The abstract sums up my conclusions somewhat succinctly:

Throughout Virginia’s first hundred years, moral issues and the establishment of community always took a subordinate place to the acquisition of wealth and profit. Unlike the religious colonies in New England, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, Virginia had been founded for purely financial reasons. In the pursuit of that financial gain, the leadership of the colony, formed from British Royalist refugees from the English Civil War as well as an uneducated Virginia-bred elite, took advantage of their position of power to create a system of institutionalized racism.

British political ideas, specifically the Royalist positions from the English Civil War, directly influenced the institutionalization of this race-based slave system. These ideas included a strong belief in birthright and caste combined with deference to leaders and an expectation that all social customs, including religious belief, should be dictated by the aristocracy wielding power. According to Royalist doctrine, the common folk of society should have no say in how society should be ruled.

These ideas became corrupted into outright racism by the unnatural and incomplete nature of Virginian society. Family life was generally disrupted by disease, with at least one in nine immigrants dying within a year of arrival. This disruption was magnified by the colony’s unbalanced sex ratio due to immigrant patterns that had three men arriving for every woman. And because the colony’s economy was so completely centered on the growth of a single money crop (tobacco), settlement patterns were widely dispersed. Virginia’s settlers lived isolated on scattered large farms, lacking towns or villages of any kind.

Furthermore, Royalist ideas of rule from above and birthright became distorted because Virginia lacked religious institutions as well as schools for providing moral instruction to the colony’s children. The focus on profit meant that the establishment of functioning churches or schools never took priority within the colony. And when dissenting religious practitioners attempted to preach within the colony, Virginia’s leadership outlawed such dissent under the Royalist doctrine of church government and rule from above.

The colony’s leaders, more and more of whom had been raised in this unhealthy and incomplete society, increasingly perverted Royalist doctrines for their own personal benefit. By the 1660s, these leaders had no reluctance about passing laws to enslave the few blacks in the colony, especially if such laws directly increased their wealth, power, and status.

Essentially, Virginia’s isolated culture of broken homes and poor education, based initially on Royalist concepts of caste and rule-from-above, were slowly corrupted as the colony’s population evolved through several generations from its founding in 1608 to the 1670s. This, combined with the corruption of the practice of indentured servitude (which in England was generally used as a tool to educate the young but in Virginia became a tool by which wealthy landowners could get seven years of free labor from poor immigrants) resulted in an acceptance by the culture of the idea that some humans had the right to own other humans. From this, it was an easy step to enslaving blacks, so that by the Revolutionary War, half the population of Virginia were black slaves.

Meanwhile, the northern colonies, mostly founded by the Pilgrims, Puritans, and Quakers, followed a very different path, focused on family, education, religion, and a rule-from-below approach to government. This different path remained much more closely connected to its British roots, which abhorred slavery. Thus, though some tried to introduce slavery into the northern colonies, the practice never took hold, and by the 1700s had just about completely disappeared. In fact, slavery was not only rejected in the north, it was here, in the Quaker communities in Pennsylvania, that the abolitionist movement was first born, an idea that was entirely new to human history.

In digging out my thesis to upload this post, I rediscovered it, and have decided that it needs to be published. Right now it is only gathering dust in the thesis archives of New York University, where no one can read it. I am going to put it together as an ebook, and have it out for purchase, hopefully by the end of the year.

China’s smallsat rocket scheduled for first launch in December

The competition heats up: Even as they prepare for the first launch of their largest rocket tomorrow, China today also announced that the first test launch of its low cost smallsat rocket, Kuaizhou-1, as now been scheduled for December.

Kuaizhou (speedy vessel) is a low-cost solid-fuelled carrier rocket with high reliability and short preparation period. It was designed to launch low-orbit satellites weighing under 300 kg. The rocket is launched via a mobile launch vehicle and will primarily launch satellites to monitor natural disasters and provide disaster-relief information.

Though this is obviously being touted as a competitor in the new smallsat launch industry, the military advantages of this kind of ballistic missile cannot be ignored. Essentially what China has here is an ICBM that can be launched from a moving vehicle, which means tracking it will be very difficult.

China’s new big rocket set for launch Thursday

The competition heats up: The first launch of China’s new big rocket, Long March 5, is now scheduled for Thursday morning at 10 universal time, 5:30 am Eastern.

The Long March 5 is comparable to the most powerful active rockets in the world such as the Delta-IV Heavy, Atlas V and Ariane 5, and will launch the technology experiment satellite Shijian-17 high into to geosynchronous. At more than 800 tonnes, 53 metres in height and with a 5 metre diameter core, the Long March 5 has been designed to launch the 20-tonne modules of China’s planned space station into low Earth orbit, starting with the core module in 2018.

The countdown and fueling have begun.

China company to launch suborbital tourists by 2020

The competition heats up: A Chinese company has announced that it is building a reusable suborbital spaceship to fly suborbital tourists by 2020.

Han Qingping, president of ChinaRocket Co Ltd in Beijing, said the company first will develop a 10-metric-ton reusable spacecraft and use it to ferry three to five travelers to a height of 80 km for a new perspective on the mother planet and experience weightlessness. That is the upper part of the mesosphere, higher than jets and balloons can travel, but just below the height where satellites fly.

No prices were given. “By 2025, a 100-ton reusable spacecraft will be produced to send up to 20 passengers to an orbit as high as 140 km above the ground,” he said. That’s into the thermosphere, and is high enough to be considered space. “Furthermore, we will begin to use the 100-ton vehicle to perform intercontinental scheduled flight and long commercial spaceflight around 2030.”

The proposal is audacious, especially its promised launch date of the suborbital craft in 2020 and an orbital craft in 2025. Nonetheless, the announcement illustrates the direction that rocketry appears to be heading, reusable vehicles capable of frequent reuse at less cost.

TMT consortium picks Canary Islands as alternative site to Hawaii

Faced with delays from protesters and an Hawaiian government slow-walking its permit process, the consortium building the Thirty Meter Telescope has announced that it will build the telescope on the Canary Islands if it continues to be blocked in Hawaii.

The article does not say when they will make this decision, but based on previous reports, they have to make their decision soon in order to begin construction no later than April 2018.

I fully expect them to abandon Hawaii, since I see no desire by the Hawaiian government to play fair during the new permit hearings. Instead, it seems to me that they are rigging this process so that it will never end.

Posted from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, where Diane and I plan a nice day hike tomorrow down the Hermit Trail.

Commercial space industry meets to set its own safety standards

Because of legal restrictions that prevent the FAA from imposing its own safety regulations on the commercial space industry, the industry itself is forming its own committee to work out its own standards.

At a meeting here Oct. 24, ASTM International, an organization founded in 1898 that develops voluntary consensus standards for a wide range of industries, agreed to move ahead with the creation of a committee that will work on creating such standards for commercial launch vehicles, spacecraft and spaceports. “It will allow industry to use a 110-year-old process to produce consensus standards,” said Oscar Garcia, chairman of the standards working group of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC), during a meeting of that working group here Oct. 25. The new committee, he said, “will develop standards and related roadmaps to address activities such as human spaceflight occupant safety standards, spaceports and space traffic management.”

A total of 53 people representing 29 companies and organizations attended that kickoff meeting, said Christine DeJong, director of business development for ASTM International, at the COMSTAC working group meeting. The committee won’t be formally created until after the completion an internal ASTM review process.

This is excellent news. It is far better that the industry voluntarily puts together and imposes its own safety standards than if the federal government imposes those rules. The government can’t possibly know the situation as well as the industry. This will guarantee that those rules will be not only work, but they will be cost effective and will not act to squelch innovation and experimentation.

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