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.


Jeff Bezos sells $3 billion more in Amazon stock

Jeff Bezos this week sold another $3 billion in his Amazon stock, bringing the sales this year along to more than $7 billion.

Amazon stock has soared since mid-March as millions of customers rely on the e-commerce giant amid the pandemic for online shopping, cloud computing, and more. Last week the company posted $88.9 billion in revenue, up 40% from the year-ago quarter, with profits far ahead of Wall Street expectations at $5.2 billion.

Bezos said in 2017 that he was selling $1 billion a year to fund his Blue Origin space venture, but he has been increasing the size and frequency of the stock sales. He sold $2.8 billion worth of Amazon stock a year ago, and around $4 billion earlier this year.

Since 2017 Bezos has now raised more than $11 billion from sales of his Amazon stock. Initially he had said such sales were to finance his space company Blue Origin, but more recently he has indicated he wants to use the bulk of this cash to fight climate change, with portions also devoted services for the homeless and early childhood education.

In fact, it appears that Blue Origin is likely getting only a very small portion of this money, though at several billion this isn’t chicken-feed. At a minimum it likely matches what SpaceX has raised through private investment capital for its Starship/Starlink projects, and more likely exceeds it.

Yet, SpaceX continues to outpace Blue Origin, several times over. If anything, as the cash from Bezos has rolled in Blue Origin’s pace of test flights with New Shepard as well as the development of its BE-4 rocket engine and New Glenn orbital rocket seemed have slowed. Initially New Glenn was going to make its first orbital launch this year. Now they say it will launch next year but we hear little about any development progress. And the company only delivered a test engine of the BE-4 (not flight worthy) to ULA only about a month ago, far later than first promised.

Though the lack of news could simply be Blue Origin’s more secretive way of doing things, compared to SpaceX, I have my doubts. Rockets are big things, and building and testing them is not something easily kept under wraps, especially by private companies. The lack of news from Blue Origin continues to suggest that simply having lots of money does not necessarily guarantee success.

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4 comments

  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “Though the lack of news could simply be Blue Origin’s more secretive way of doing things, compared to SpaceX, I have my doubts.

    It seems that Blue Origin is not yet far enough along to test New Glenn’s landing system, otherwise we would have heard about such a hop.

    I think that one reason for so many SpaceX fans, and the excitement among them, is that so much work being done at Boca Chica can be seen from public roadways, increasing the news coming from there and tantalizing people into greater excitement and fandom. A more obvious reason is that SpaceX has been innovating and producing results. Boeing’s Starliner Demonstration 1 failure highlighted the complacency that the space industry currently has. Boeing thought it knew how to do software right, and NASA trusted them, too.

    I’ve mentioned it before, but I believe that SpaceX’s rapid, inexpensive development policy comes from its early days, when Musk did not have a trillion dollars to spend on rockets (or even a billion dollars, for that matter), so he had to encourage his employees to be highly productive, produce quickly, keep focused, and keep costs low. SpaceX searches for design solutions that can be developed quickly, changing directions when a current solution looks too slow. Changing from composites to stainless steel on Starship seems inefficient, and perhaps it is, but it is allowing them to keep up a rapid development schedule, complete with other innovations and failed tests.

    SpaceX does not seem to insist upon perfection on the first launch. The current Falcon 9 version is the fifth major iteration, and one complaint about the early Falcons was that, for the first few dozen, no two were exactly alike, each incorporating minor improvements or performing flight experiments.

    SpaceX’s inefficiencies on Starship can give competing companies some room for improvement over SpaceX, forcing everyone to continue improving and innovating.

    With luck, Blue Origin has learned lessons from Boeing and already sees ways to do better than SpaceX, but I agree that Blue Origin needs to pick up the pace in development. At the very least, development costs could be reduced and products can reach market in a more timely manner.

    Is secretive development better than SpaceX’s more open development? It could be, but despite the competition knowing much of what SpaceX is doing and how far along it is, no one else seems to be keeping up.

    Unless that is the secret.

  • Mike Borgelt

    Edward, “efficiency” on Starship is much more than structural efficiency of the basic structure. Speed of development, speed of production, toughness, robustness, inspection and repair of damage, lower heat shield mass. You make the trades and maybe lose efficiency in some areas but overall get a better result.

  • Edward

    Mike Borgelt,
    But the tradeoffs are the major areas that give room for the competition to find their own better efficiencies for an even better result. This is why competition is so wonderful.

  • Edward

    From the article:

    Bezos has stepped up his philanthropy in recent years, including a $10 billion climate change initiative and the $2 billion Day 1 Fund, which supports homeless services and early childhood education.

    It is hard to figure out what Bezos thinks his $10 billion is going to do against climate change when entire governments think they have not made any headway with their far more effective laws, rules, and regulations.

    Of course, the climate reference network shows little or no trending temperature change in the past decade and a half, but apparently a stable temperature still constitutes a changing climate, even if previous efforts have succeeded in stopping global warming.

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