The bigots in academia

Two stories today that only confirm what many other previous stories have shown: Modern academia is very bigoted, but instead of favoring white supremacy their focus is promoting black and minority rule.

The second story outlines efforts to create segregated housing and classrooms for the benefit of minorities at a number of different colleges.

It is important to remember that each one of these proposals is being put forth by leftwing academics, all of which I guarantee are partisan Democrats. All they can see is race, which is why they call anyone that disagrees with them a racist. Or to quote the Bible, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

Unknown new British company will fly space tourists in five years

Private vaporware: A new and previously completely unknown British rocket company, Starchaser, has claimed today that it will be flying tourists into space within three to five years.

How do I know this is vaporware and won’t happen? Besides the fact that I’ve never heard of this company before and that the story above includes a lot of fishy details (such as the head of the company has apparently most spent his time building large model rockets), there was this one quote:

The flight will only take an hour and will see the rocket reach around 330,000ft – ten times the average cruising altitude for an aeroplane flight.

An hour is too short for an orbital flight, and is much too long for a suborbital flight at 330,000 feet. In other words, something here is just not right. Regardless, I hope my cynicism here turns out to be wrong, and this company joins the new competition to lower costs into space.

Russia reveals its proposed new cargo spacecraft

Government vaporware: In an effort to save money Russian engineers have designed a new cargo spacecraft to replace the Progress freighter.

Faced with latest economic problems, and the need to reduce the number of Progress cargo launches, Russia’s space agency Roskosmos made plans to cut the permanent crew of ISS cosmonauts from three to two people. However the full international crew on the ISS is supposed to include six people with half of it reserved for Russia.

To resolve this supply problem, Roskosmos ordered RKK Energia, its key contractor responsible for human spaceflight, to prepare a preliminary design of a bigger cargo ship by the end of this month. Engineers quickly put together this proposal that would combine off-the-shelf hardware with new technology. … The most important new feature of the proposed cargo ship will be the six-tank cluster to carry more than 1.8 tons of propellant to the station. It will simultaneously serve as a tanker for the space station while also feeding the ship’s own propulsion system. As a result, the new design provides significant mass savings in comparison to the current Progress ships, which need two separate sets of tanks for refueling and maneuvering.

The main engine for the new cargo ship will be borrowed from an existing satellite. Meanwhile, 28 small thrusters for orbit correction and maneuvering will be copied practically unchanged from the Progress.

They hope to fly this new freighter by 2020. I’m willing to bet anyone that this won’t happen.

Lawsuit against Tucson and balloon company to proceed

A judge has ruled that 3 of 4 counts in a lawsuit against the deal between Tucson and the space balloon company World View can go forward.

The judge has also said that she will rule on the fourth count soon.

While the deal itself might be a great idea for Tucson, it does appear from the lawsuit that the city violated state laws in negotiating it. I suspect this suit to win eventually.

Pink Floyd – If

An evening pause: Animated in a very strange manner, with an unusual mix of artistic styles.

Hat tip Wayne DeVette.

By the way, I am as always looking for more evening pause suggestions. If you’ve suggested before, you know the routine. If not, place a comment here saying you’ve got something (but don’t include the link), and I’ll email you for it.

Contact re-established with dead solar satellite

Good news! After almost two years since contact was lost, NASA has re-established communications with Stereo-B, one of two solar research satellites designed to study the hemisphere of the Sun that does not face the Earth.

NASA re-established contact with a wayward sun-watching science satellite Sunday nearly two years after the spacecraft suddenly dropped off line during a test, the agency said in a statement Monday. NASA’s Deep Space Network, or DSN, “established a lock on the STEREO-B (spacecraft’s) downlink carrier at 6:27 p.m. EDT,” NASA said in a statement. “The downlink signal was monitored by the Mission Operations team over several hours to characterize the attitude of the spacecraft and then transmitter high voltage was powered down to save battery power. “The STEREO Missions Operations team plans further recovery processes to assess observatory health, re-establish attitude control and evaluate all subsystems and instruments.”

This is a big deal. Not only is it a testament to the spacecraft’s good design, it demonstrates the skill of the engineers at NASA who have regained contact.

Mars’ wet streaks might not be wet

The uncertainty of science: An analysis of five years of data from Mars Odyssey suggests that the dark streaks flowing down Martian slopes might contain very little and possibly no water at all.

This year, planetary scientists Christopher Edwards and Sylvain Piqueux took a closer look at the feature using a thermal imaging instrument on board Mars Odyssey, another orbiter. They found no temperature differences between the dark RSL streaks and surrounding terrain — which suggests that the streaks aren’t really patches of wet sand streaming down a slope. At best, they say, the RSLs could contain no more than 3 percent liquid water — making them more like mildly damp, slightly salty dirt. And that’s an optimistic interpretation, Edwards said; it’s possible the RSLs contain no water at all. “Why this process is happening in this area, or what is causing this darkening, I don’t think is exactly obvious at this point,” he continued. “But to say it’s flowing liquid water, I don’t think it’s the whole story. It’s not necessarily even the right story.”

This data once again illustrates why we must be very careful with our conclusions when looking at features on an alien world that seem to resemble things we are familiar with here on Earth. Just because they might look alike is not evidence that they are the same. Mars has a very different gravitational field (one-third of Earth’s) and a significantly different make-up. We might be witnessing processes we’ve never seen before that produce features that mimic Earthlike forms.

Beyond Murray Buttes

Panorama ahead for Curiosity, Sol 1438

Time for a Curiosity update. Above is a panorama I’ve created from raw images released today from the rover’s left navigation camera of the mesa filled terrain within which Curiosity now sits. Since my last update they have traveled about 200 feet south, moving away from the mesa with the balanced rock

Below the fold is a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image with Curiosity’s path indicated. I have marked the balanced rock with an X, and have indicated with the yellow lines the area covered by the panorama above.

They appear to be aiming due south for the narrow gap between the long ridge-like mesas. This will bring Curiosity out into the open and sloping terrain that can be seen in the distance in the last image of my last update. I suspect they want to get a closer look at those parallel grooves, even if it means the journey will be a little rougher.
» Read more

By 2017 one-third of U.S will have no Obamacare insurance choices

Finding out what’s in it: Due to the collapse of the Obamacare exchanges, by 2017 one-third of U.S will have no health insurance choices.

Seven entire states are projected to have just one carrier in 2017: Alaska, Alabama, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming, according to research by the Avalere consultancy. And more than half of the country, 55 percent, may end up having two or fewer insurers to choose from on those government-run exchanges, Avalere said. “And there may be some sub-region counties where no plans are available,” a report by Avalere on its analysis found.

I must remind people once again that Obamacare was a law written and pushed through entirely by the Democratic Party and President Obama. The Republican Party, even its generally pro-government leadership, refused to have anything to do with it, noting repeatedly that the law, as written, made no sense and was guaranteed to cause the collapse of the health insurance industry. We are now seeing that happen.

Of course, this means we must all vote Democratic, because their desire to fix the problem by turning the health industry into a nationalized government-run operation, not dissimilar to the Motor Vehicle Department of your state, is obviously the only solution. And you are obviously a racist for disagreeing!

Dione’s global geology

Dione

Cool image time! The picture of Saturn’s moon Dione, taken by Cassini in April 2015 and reduced in size to show here, shows a range of global tectonic geological features. The impact craters we of course understand, but the white linear features are more puzzling. They are probably related to a heating and cooling process, but the full nature of that process is at present not fully understood. Tidal effects and the planet’s cooling over time both contributed, but to what extent is not yet known. Add on top of that the violent effect of impact and the process gets even more complicated. Moreover, do the linear features suggest present geological activity, or are they evidence of past events? Your guess is as good as mine.

The world’s longest and highest glass-bottomed bridge

Link here. Lots of great pictures of this new pedestrian bridge in China, including one of a reporter trying (and failing) to use a sledge hammer to break the glass.

China’s economy might have a lot of holes and might face collapse, as many experts have been telling me for years, but at the same time they seem to be successfully harnessing the success they’ve had in the past few decades to get very creative. That creativity suggests to me the collapse is not guaranteed, and will not be as severe as predicted.

More reasons why I don’t use Windows

A close look at Microsoft’s track record in rolling out Windows 10 suggests the company “blatently disregards user choice and privacy.”

After describing the numerous horror stories of how Microsoft forced Windows 10 updates on people against their will, there was this:

The trouble with Windows 10 doesn’t end with forcing users to download the operating system. Windows 10 sends an unprecedented amount of usage data back to Microsoft, particularly if users opt in to “personalize” the software using the OS assistant called Cortana. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of data sent back: location data, text input, voice input, touch input, webpages you visit, and telemetry data regarding your general usage of your computer, including which programs you run and for how long.

You do have to opt-in to Cortana, but even if you don’t, your privacy is still not secure:

And while users can disable some of these settings, it is not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft’s servers. A significant issue is the telemetry data the company receives. While Microsoft insists that it aggregates and anonymizes this data, it hasn’t explained just how it does so. Microsoft also won’t say how long this data is retained, instead providing only general timeframes. Worse yet, unless you’re an enterprise user, no matter what, you have to share at least some of this telemetry data with Microsoft and there’s no way to opt-out of it. [emphasis in original]

It is once again time for people to consider alternatives. Here again are the links to James Stephens’ series on Behind the Black for Getting and Installing Linux:

Murray Buttes panorama by Curiosity released

The Curiosity science team has released a full panorama taken by Curiosity of Murray Buttes prior to its journey through them.

The reason I am not posting this new panorama here on Behind the Black is because I had already posted an almost identical panorama more than a week ago, and my assembled panorama used higher resolution images from Curiosity and was not partly obscured by Curiosity itself. Moreover, I provided better context for that panorama, placing it within Curiosity’s overall travels, something NASA in today’s press release fails to do.

So, if you want to see the best cool images from space and see them sooner than everyone else, why bother reading NASA press releases? Read Behind the Black instead! :)

EPA never did ethanol studies required by law

The law is such an inconvenient thing: Despite a legal mandate from Congress to conduct studies on the use of ethanol in vehicles the EPA has admitted that it simply ignored the law and never did any.

The Obama administration has failed to study as legally required the impact of requiring ethanol in gasoline and ensuring that new regulations intended to address one problem do not actually make other problems worse, the Environmental Protection Agency inspector general said Thursday. The conclusion in the new audit confirmed findings of an Associated Press investigation in November 2013. The AP said the administration never conducted studies to determine whether air and water quality benefits from adding corn-based ethanol to gasoline. Such reports to Congress were required every three years under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Instead, they have been pushing to increase the amount of ethanol used in gasoline, even though they have no idea whether this helps or hurts the environment, and have been told by practically every automotive industry expert that increased ethanol will damage car engines.

But then, who cares what the law says? Who cares what other experts say? The EPA is made up of righteous perfect liberal individuals who simply know better. How dare Congress, or anyone for that matter, tell them what to do!

Another establishment Republican endorses Clinton

Today a former Romney official, one of many similar establishment Republicans from the Romney campaign as well as the Bush administration, announced in an op-ed that he is voting for Hillary Clinton in the general election.

I haven’t reported on this stream of Clinton endorsements by Republican politicos, as I generally consider most such endorsements to be meaningless. However, I think it important to make one comment. It is perfectly understandable if a conservative decides that he or she cannot support Donald Trump for president. Trump’s past history as a liberal Democrat certainly makes him a poor choice if you happen to be a sincere conservative who believes in the Constitution and small and limited government.

At the same time, if you are a sincere conservative you don’t then announce that you are endorsing Hillary Clinton and will vote for her instead. You either don’t vote for anyone for president, or you pick the Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, who has his own problems but at least has a past conservative track record. By throwing their support to Hillary Clinton, these establishment Republicans are finally revealing to the world that they really never had any interest in conservative values and have always been lying when they said so. Instead, they are simply more interested in the power they gain in Washington, and will do whatever it takes to obtain that power, including supporting the most socialist, corrupt, and dishonest Democratic Party candidate presented to us in the past century.

Thus, these endorsements are actually very useful information. They finally tell us who the fake conservatives in the Republican Party are and, should Donald Trump win in November, will allow him to finally purge the party of these liars and backstabbers, so that we might be able to finally make real some progress in gaining some control over our presently very oppressive and destructive federal government.

Lots of launches

The competition heats up: The next few weeks will be a busy period for rocket launches:

SpaceX’s September 3 launch is part of their effort to ramp up their launch rate and get 18 Falcon 9 launches in 2016. So far they have completed 8 launches.

The September 8 launch will be the United States first sample return mission to an asteroid, Bennu, which also happens to be an asteroid that could possibly impact the Earth at some time in the future.

The September 10 launch will be another test flight of India’s more powerful Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, aimed at competing for launch business against SpaceX, ULA, and Arianespace.

There’s more beyond this. A lot is scheduled for this fall.

SpaceX to up its purchase of carbon fiber?

The competition heats up: A Japanese supplier of carbon fiber materials has announced that it and SpaceX are negotiating a multi-year deal worth possibly as much as $3 billion.

The multiyear deal with Tesla founder Elon Musk’s 14-year-old venture is estimated to be worth 200 billion yen to 300 billion yen ($1.99 billion to $2.98 billion) in total. The two sides are aiming to finalize the agreement this fall after hammering out prices, time frames and other terms. SpaceX aims to hold down expenses by re-using rockets and spacecraft. Originally, the company made rockets mostly out of aluminum to keep costs low, using carbon fiber only for a few parts, such as connecting joints.

The U.S. company said in a statement, “Toray is one of a number of suppliers we work with to meet our carbon fiber needs for Falcon rocket and Dragon spacecraft production, and we haven’t announced any new agreements at this time. As our business continues to grow, the amount of carbon fiber we use may continue to grow.”[emphasis mine]

The deal is not yet final, but the highlighted language above suggests to me that, based on SpaceX’s engineering tests of its recovered first stages, it has decided it is worthwhile replacing aluminum with carbon fiber for many more of its rocket parts. The fiber might cost more, but if the first stage is going to be reused, the cost can be distributed over several launches. And because carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum, it will allow their rockets to launch a larger payload.

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