From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.
Faced with a gigantic $1.6 billion budget deficit, last month Alaska’s Republican governor, Mike Dunleavy, used his line item power to veto about $444 million from the state’s total budget of $8.3 billion. Among those cuts included an unprecedented almost 41% cut in the state’s university system.
Understanding the background for these cuts is not something easy to pin down in today’s partisan press. I first came across the story today in this Nature article, clearly written to lament the cuts and the harm they will do to education and science. This quote will give you the flavor:
Researchers are waitivng anxiously to see how university administrators will apply the cuts, which could fundamentally reshape science in the state — including UA’s world-class Arctic and climate research programmes. The first hint came on 30 July, when the university’s governing board voted to consolidate the system’s three main branches — in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.
“It’s awful,” says Milligan-Myhre. “I had to turn away a student planning on starting in the fall because I just don’t know what the department or his degree would look like in a year or two.” She’s also encouraging her current students to graduate as soon as possible.
The problem with the article is that it gave literally no background into the cuts, and Dunleavy’s reasoning for doing them, a example of today’s typically bad journalism. We might justly oppose these education cuts, but before we as sane citizens can do that we must at least understand why they are being made. Nature failed to give us that information, and instead spent its time propagandizing for the blind spending of money for education.
I started doing searches on the internet to find out some background information. (More on that experience later.) Most of the articles were very superficial, though this article at least outlined the difficult budget situation faced by Dunleavy.
After a lot of searches on two different search engines requiring me to dig down several pages on both, I finally found this article at U.S. News & World Report that outlined in a very non-partisan way the issues.
Non-partisan is important here, because this battle isn’t a typical big-spending Democrat vs fiscally conservative Republican story. In fact, practically everyone here is being driven by irresponsible greed, including the voters.
It seems that since the 1980s the state government has used the money it was getting from the state’s oil revenues to give every citizen a yearly check, called the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). In recent years however that oil revenue has plummeted. Alaskan politicians were thus faced with a choice of either reducing/ending the PFD, raising taxes, or cutting services. In 2014 Governor Bill Walker, an independent, choice the first option.
Most notably, Walker reduced the amount Alaskans received from the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend in 2016, 2017 and 2018, enraging many Alaskans and inviting a state Supreme Court challenge from a Democratic state senator. That challenge failed, leading to the backlash that brought Dunleavy to office in November 2018.
And it’s the PFD that is driving Gov. Dunleavy now. He campaigned on a promise to restore the full PFD and pay $3,000 this year. That’s an appealing promise to Alaskans who feel as if they have been deprived of their rightful dividend for three years in a row.
The problem is that by paying a dividend of $3,000 to Alaskans, major spending reductions or eliminations to basic services must be imposed, despite rebounding oil prices and a $65 billion savings account. [emphasis mine]
So, the situation is actually being driven by the greedy desire of Alaskans to keep getting paid off by their government, even if the government can’t afford it. And they are being encouraged in this by the newly elected Republican governor.
It would be a mistake to blame the Republicans entirely, however. Many Republicans oppose Dunleavy. The bottom line remains however that it is the public that has chosen this short-sighted position. Moreover, they want their cake and eat it too. The protests and demands right now appear to want both education spending and that yearly government check, a clearly unsustainable option that will bankrupt the state.
If this isn’t another sign of what I call the coming dark age I don’t know what is. It also acts as a perfect mirror of the entire country, as Americans nationwide have been making this same choice now for decades. Give us big spending government programs that give us lots of money, but don’t cut the spending on anything!
As I say, the coming dark age.
In both cases, the only news stories I could find on the first few search pages were from mainstream and generally liberal sources. Though I know that the conservative press had covered this last month (I had seen the articles but at the time did not follow up and read them), none of those articles appeared in my searches. The search engine results had been very clearly tilted to favor mainstream leftist outlets.
Since Startpage uses Google’s search algorithms, imposing itself between the user and Google to protect the user, I can understand why this leftwing bias might have happened there. The evidence that Google is working to cut off access to conservative websites is extensive and continues to build.
Why DuckDuckGo however would show the same results is more disturbing, and suggests that this effort is more widespread, and is based on deep cultural forces that cannot be stopped. The modern liberal culture is very intolerant, is very dominant, and it wants to squelch conservative thought, by any means necessary.
More evidence I’d say of that coming dark age. Intolerance is the watchword of today’s generation. Oppression is certain to follow.
Every July, to celebrate the anniversary of the start of Behind the Black in 2010, I hold a month-long fund-raising campaign to make it possible for me to continue my work here for another year.
This year's fund-raising drive however is more significant in that it is also the 10th anniversary of this website's founding. It is hard to believe, but I have been doing this for a full decade, during which I have written more than 22,000 posts, of which more than 1,000 were essays and almost 2,600 were evening pauses.
This year's fund drive is also more important because of the growing intolerance of free speech and dissent in American culture. Increasingly people who don't like what they read are blatantly acting to blackball sites like mine. I have tried to insulate myself from this tyrannical effort by not depending on Google advertising or cross-posts Facebook or Twitter. Though this prevents them from having a hold on me, it also acts to limit my exposure.
Therefore, I hope you will please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:
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