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.


Former Blue Origin employee blasts company for sexism and safety issues

Food fight! While the past two days have been filled with silly back-and-forth barbs between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, none of which really matters (which is why I haven’t posted anything about it here), today came the publication of a long scree by a former Blue Origin employee blasting the company for sexism and safety issues.

The rant by Alexandra Abrams, former head of Blue Origin Employee Communications, claims it is co-signed by twenty other present and former Blue Origin employees, but provides no information as who those individuals are. The accusations themselves are all hearsay, since Abrams simply recounts experiences of unnamed others, without any documentation.

Could there be management problems at Blue Origin? Certainly. The real evidence in the past five years suggests that CEO Bob Smith has not done well to get the company off the ground. Not only has Blue Origin accomplished little under his tenure, employees are apparently not happy there, with many fleeing the company.

Abrams’ rant however comes off more like she is a disgruntled former employee who was let go because she was pushing social justice issues rather than focusing on getting her job done. Her use of worn leftist phrases like “climate justice” and “gender gaps” suggests this strongly. The response from Blue Origin to her essay reinforces that impression, noting that she was fired for doing things that could have gotten Blue Origin shut down by the federal government:

Ms. Abrams was dismissed for cause two years ago after repeated warnings for issues involving federal export control regulations.

If so, and Blue Origin would not say this publicly if it wasn’t true, Abrams misconduct could have been very serious indeed. Moreover, as noted at this last link, she was the head of the company’s employee communications department, a division that shouldn’t really be involved in such issues anyway.

This whole kerfuffle reminds me of a similar affair at SpaceX several years ago. A disgruntled former employee made all sorts of similar charges, sued, and lost. I expect a similar result here.

Both companies are in the business of building rockets. Their goal is not “gender equality” or “climate justice”. If that becomes any employee’s first priority, as it appears might have been the case with Abrams, that employee has got to be culled from the company, as that person will only become a cancer that will destroy what everyone else there is trying to accomplish.

Readers!
 

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.


Your support is even more essential to me because I keep this site free from advertisements and do not participate in corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.


You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:
 


 

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


 

If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

16 comments

  • Doubting Thomas

    Robert has it right about the “scree” part. From her articles concluding 2 paragraph’s:

    “The artistic renderings of Bezos’s orbiting colonies have a utopian flair. But what will these colonies actually be like….In our experience, Blue Origin’s culture sits on a foundation that ignores the plight of our planet, turns a blind eye to sexism, is not sufficiently attuned to safety concerns, and silences those who seek to correct wrongs. That’s not the world we should be creating here on Earth, and certainly not as our springboard to a better one.

    At a minimum, Jeff Bezos and the rest of the leadership at Blue Origin must be held to account, and must learn how to run a respectful, responsible company before they can be permitted to arbitrarily use their wealth and resulting power to create a blueprint for humanity’s future.”

    An increasing number of speeches like this at company townhalls and on their websites is a large reason why I retired from aerospace.

  • Mark

    Speaking of Food Fights, While watching the movie Animal House, we all enjoyed that the kids at the popular table were on the receiving end of that food fight scene. Since I’m nursing a non-COVID virus and somewhat medicated, I’m free associating that food fight to National Lampoon and the comic genius behind it Doug Kenney. There is a book and a NetFlix biopic called, “A Futile and Stupid Gesture” which retraces the true story of how he and a friend at Harvard started that dangerous magazine that became ground zero for a generation of comics. What comes after the Bronze Age of the 1970s and early 1980s? Not sure but I bet that today’s comics are the feet of clay in our culture’s Colossus statue that is on the verge of Collapse.
    On a lighter note, and more directIy connected to this site’s focus on Space, I remember as a kid being intrigued by a National Lampoon Magazine from the summer of 1971 because it’s cover had an Apollo Astronaut and a scantily clad space girl who seemed up to party. But I was too young to buy it. Oh well, Got to go now, the microwave is beeping with my warmed up chicken soup.

  • Tom D

    I agree that this appears to be a disgruntled former employee who wanted to focus on social issues instead of doing productive work for the company. I feel sorry for her in some ways, but a private company should not be a social justice battleground.

    I came very close recently to going to work at Blue Origin at the recommendation of female friend and former coworker who used to work there. Though she has since moved on from Blue, she loved it and spoke quite highly of the company. What was the difference? I think it was that my friend is a very capable engineer and manager, not a social justice warrior.

    It seems like we are going through the social chaos of the 60s and 70s all over again. As a gen-X-er, I didn’t experience much of the chaos, but I vividly recall many gloomy and dystopian movies and books from the 70s. The 80s and 90s were way, way more cheerful in my opinion. .

  • commodude

    This smacks of sour grapes, a SJW who wasn’t allowed to poison the workplace with
    “woke.”
    While not completely analogous, This section:

    In 2019, the team assigned to operate and maintain one of New Shepard’s subsystems included only a few engineers working long hours. Their responsibilities, in some of our opinions, went far beyond what would be manageable for a team double the size, ranging from investigating the root cause of failures to conducting regular preventative maintenance on the rocket’s systems.

    reminds me of some of the teams I’ve had working for me. While not rocket science, a few extremely skilled people doing work that’s in their wheelhouse need to be left alone to work as they see fit, not harassed by others. Additions of more personnel are rarely positive, particularly if you have a smooth, functioning work unit. More people merely mean more interference. A few motivated people can accomplish more without the input of others who don’t share their drive. More bodies don’t mean fewer hazards, particularly in technically demanding areas. 1000 monkeys working at 1000 typewriters may put more characters on paper than one skilled wordsmith, but the results are hardly comparable.

  • William

    I didn’t realize that people need permission to use their wealth. What committee determines whether Lex Luthor is permitted to spend his money? I fear for our future.

  • Jeff Wright

    I think this is wonderful myself. If all BO is…is a legal dept….then I hope the woke mob descends upon BO.

    I am at other boards saying that there are liberal reasons why Musk should pay no taxes. About half our tax dollars go to those evil warmongers in defence, right? And the other half goes to entitlements…i.e. retired Trumpers. Much better to put a 99 percent tax on Bezos and give it away as vouchers the poor use to buy Teslas….oh, yeah, power to the people.

    Bezos’ lawyers will go back to chasing ambulances instead of harrassing spacelift.

    Now to convince Shotwell to shave off half her hair and dye the rest blue,..and wink at Sinema.
    Insert Frank Gorshin laugh here.

  • Doubting Thomas

    So far the award for the most entertaining post of this item goes to Jeff Wright.

    In the category, Stream of Consciousness Posting associated with microwaves, Mark’s post takes the category.

  • Mark

    I was expecting Wayne to put in his usual interesting and relevant YouTube link, but since he hasn’t I’ll take a shot at it. Come On Man – how often is Bob going to start a post with the phrase “Food Fight!”? Before that scene in Animal House, Bluto taunts the college elitists, who for some reason remind me of the Blue Origin legal dept., and as he stuffs a boiled egg into his mouth Bluto says to those dwebes “See if you can guess what I am now”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZN4r8p6KbU

    By the way Doubting Thomas the chicken soup was homemade and so tasty it reminded me of my grandmother’s cooking, which now because I have a sweet tooth made me think of her strawberry rhubarb pie. Oh heck I didn’t plan on free associating again, and I’m sure readers would prefer Wayne’s YouTube link posts which are so concise. My only excuse is that this virus has been kicking my butt.

  • pawn

    Some fine writing here.

    One of the reasons I didn’t go to work for BO was I was afraid I would trip over someone’s dog.

    BO is a creature of the progressive NW. The fact that their leader is no longer peddling castles in the sky space fantasy and has descended into the cult of personal destruction is a reflection of the times. The technical revolution has been degenerating into the social revolution. Musk vs. Bezos is right out of the comic books turning into Hollywood.

  • Jay

    I read the rant and I saw the “Ms. Abrams was dismissed for cause two years ago after repeated warnings for issues involving federal export control regulations.” At first I thought she got a black mark for violating ITAR, no one would hire her, and was looking for payback. After reading the posts, I am wrong. You are right Pawn, it sounds like the place has become a cult of personality.

  • Jeff Wright

    At least the Theranos woman was easy on the eyes.

  • Col Beausabre

    Musk takes on Biden over Unions.

    https://news.yahoo.com/elon-musk-claims-joe-biden-192800435.html

    “He’s still sleeping”

    Get out the popcorn, this looks entertaining. Especially when a Wingnut like Elon Musk gets his ox gored by the Federal government that Silicon Valley loves so much

  • Miss Grundy

    Miss Grundy speaks.

    That’s “screed,” not “scree.”

    Scree is loose rock debris covering a slope. A “screed” is a long monotonous speech or piece of writing, or a harangue.

    Somehow, I don’t thing a former Blue Origin employee published a pile of rocks.

    That is, after all, Jeff Bezo’s job.

  • Edward

    I finally read the opinion paper and agree with many here. Alexandra Abrams is not someone who can be taken seriously. She has a huge chip resting on her shoulder, and her concerns are at odds with everyone around her. The person making a difficult work environment is her, not her former colleagues.

    Abrams is pointing the wrong direction at the sexists. She sounds much more sexist than the examples that she uses, especially since her examples clearly leave out very important facts. No one is walked out off the premises without time to pack her desk just for being a girl. The poor girl, Ms. Abrams (chronologically she may be old enough to be legally employed, but emotionally she still wears diapers), demonstrates through her temper tantrum that she must have flunked out of kindergarten, because she clearly has no idea how to get along with others.
    From her essay:

    One senior program leader with decades in the aerospace and defense industry said working at Blue Origin was the worst experience of her life.

    I have decades in the aerospace and defense industry, and the worst experience for me, too, would have been taking six years between first successful unmanned launch and first manned launch. Who wants to work someplace where there is no progress? You don’t get to brag to your friends what a great whizbang you built, but your friends are bragging that they already have two fantastic doohickeys under their belts. (Can I say that about girls, or is “under one’s belt” sexist?)

    Aerospace, like many professions, has never been a nine-to-five profession. Most engineers and technicians like to brag about how man days in a row they have worked, or how many hours they have stayed awake. (For me, thirty-six days, and once slept only eleven hours out of one hundred eleven hours. This claim is an early loser in any bragging-rights competition.) Abrams clearly expected a nine-to-five environment, but that is not in launch, not in test, and not in development in any industry that I know.

    This suppression of dissent brings us to the matter of safety, which for many of us is the driving force for coming forward with this essay.

    Abrams is half way through her essay and only now is mentioning the important part? She failed all the writing classes that I took. Open by stating the point you’re going to make, make the point in the body of the essay, and close by recapping the point. Instead, she distracted herself and us with Social Justice Warrior nonsense, which is a higher priority for her than safety, the last priority in her essay.

    She fails to make any reference to anything that might be unsafe, instead insisting that a desire to, at some point, begin revenue operations necessarily creates an environment in which safety must be low on the priority list. And all this time I thought that Blue Origin was working out safety issues that they discovered during testing, but Ms. Abrams informs us that management, rather than working on safety issues, had merely been spending all their time lamenting that New Shepard isn’t flying right away. One would think that if safety were not a concern then they would have launched people five or six years ago, but Abrams has insisted that a delay in operations is a sign of lack of safety concerns.

    She is concerned that Blue Origin’s management is comparing their progress with SpaceX’s? Why not make the comparison? BO was founded two years earlier and with more available billionaire funds, yet SpaceX has more orbital launches than BO has suborbital launches, has more manned orbital flights than BO has manned suborbital flights, and is working on a launch vehicle two generations farther along than New Shepard and one generation farther than New Glenn — which has yet to fly. These managers have a lot to worry about, and that worry may be employees like Ms. Abrams.

    This woman is clearly the wrong person for any workplace that is trying to accomplish any real-world task. With workers like her, now we know why it tool six years between first unmanned flight and first manned flight. Those who thought it was Smith’s fault were wrong. Getting rid of Abrams was obviously the move they needed in order to fly manned in the first place.

  • pawn

    Edward,

    I agree on your second point. The letter is very poorly written. and it’s authoress (see what I did?) was the person in charge of employee communications. It reads like a verbal transcription of some “woke” rant, someone raging against the machine, not a professional communicator.

    Everything I have heard recently is that since the old guard left or has been cleaned out, BO has been hiring every warm body who wants to work there and they are paying very well. Open borders, corporate style.

  • Edward

    pawn,
    It isn’t just that she has poor communication skills, it is that her priorities are not straight. She prioritizes employee feelings above customer lives, and she gives poor examples of either case.

Readers: the rules for commenting!

 

No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.

 

However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.

 

Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *