Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

ESA delays Webb launch one day due to weather

The European Space Agency (ESA) announced late yesterday that, due to “adverse weather conditions” in French Guiana, it has delayed the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope on an Ariane 5 rocket one day to December 25th.

The announcement also stated that the final launch readiness review also approved the launch, though no update has yet been issued on the ground control communications problem that had caused a two day delay last week.

Meanwhile, this story and its headline encapsulates the terror I think many astronomers presently feel about this telescope:

Why Astronomers Are “Crying and Throwing Up Everywhere” Over the Upcoming Telescope Launch

The sense is one of helpless panic among astronomers who want to use Webb. They know it will do really cutting edge science, but they also know that many things can go wrong, and the history of the telescope (ten years late and 20x overbudget) will likely make replacing it impossible.

And many things can go wrong. Below is NASA’s video showing the telescope’s complex unfolding, step-by-step, after launch.


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  • Col Beausabre

    Oh, man, it is so jimxed!

  • Col Beausabre

    sorry, meant “jinxed”

  • Mitch S.

    Not so much whether it’s jinxed, it’s a question of how much is it blessed.
    At the successful conclusion of a complex undertaking you’ll often hear “It went great – almost flawless”.
    Problem with JWST is “almost flawless” may be a complete failure.
    If 99% of the shield latches deploy perfectly the telescope may be crippled.

    I hope it’s very blessed!

  • Andi

    Who was the lead designer on this thing, Rube Goldberg?

  • “adverse weather conditions”

    Cover for “we don’t want to take a chance on hitting Santa” ???

  • Jeff Wright

    Christmas…hmm….we will see a miracle…or Krampus on the campus.

  • Edward

    From the second link, Planetary scientist Peter Gao wrote: “my entire career hinges on this bucket of single point failures I’m so nervous I’m crying and throwing up everywhere.

    Gao has reason to be worried sick (apparently, literally). According to the article, “that ‘bucket of single-point failures’ contains more than 300 individual things that could each fail and bring the whole $10 billion, 13,700 pound, 30-years-in-development mission down with them.” Considering the problems that have plagued Webb for the past decade, how many of us are completely confident of success? The mirror doesn’t have so many moving parts to fail to latch in place, but that sunshade is a nightmare.

    Add to this the recent problem that Lucy had with its solar power panels getting hung up, and that was an easy mechanism.

    My career does not hinge on Webb’s success or failure, so I am not this emotional nor this sick, but I have scores of dollars of tax money tied up in this thing, so if it fails I will be thinking of the six or so lunches that I could have bought or the few dozen space telescopes we all could have had for the money that we overspent on Webb. Even if Webb works perfectly for longer than its expected lifetime, will we get our money’s worth or would we have been better off with those other telescopes?

    Uh oh. Now I am crying, and now I am feeling nauseated.

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