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.

NASA names acting administrator

NASA yesterday named Robert Lightfoot as the Acting NASA administrator, taking over from Charles Bolden when he leaves on January 20, 2017 at the start of the Trump administration.

Lightfoot is a former Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, having begun his NASA career there in 1989. He transferred to NASA Headquarters in 2012 to serve as Associate Administrator, the highest ranking civil service position in the agency. It is traditional for the highest ranking NASA civil servant to take over as acting administrator during changes in presidential administrations. The Trump transition has not always followed traditional paths so today’s announcement provided some degree of reassurance. Bolden said the Trump transition team officially told NASA yesterday that Lightfoot will serve in that job. A mechanical engineer, he has served in many capacities at Marshall, Stennis Space Center and Headquarters, including assistant associate administrator for the space shuttle program (2003-2005) at headquarters and manager of the space shuttle propulsion office at MSFC (2005-2007). He was named MSFC Deputy Director in 2007 and Director in 2009.

Essentially Lightfoot will act as a placeholder until the new administration names its pick for the position.


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


  • If they need a placeholder, why not Gordon Lightfoot?

  • wayne

    can’t resist…

    The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
    –some good archival footage–

  • LocalFluff

    Could the explanation for this non-move is that the transition team is uninterested, or divided? Sounds like this step-in would happen if the administrator would resign for any reason any time. Not like a deliberate decision made by the new White House. Maybe he’ll stay there for 8 years.

  • Frank

    I hope the Obama administration’s Muslim outreach program will end.

  • LocalFluff: This appointment of an acting administrator is a normal transition procedure. The political appointee resigns, and in the time period before a new one is chosen the second in command takes over temporarily. There is nothing strange here. And there is zero chance the Trump administration will not appoint someone.

  • wayne

    Right with you on that thought.

  • LocalFluff

    Speculations here and there on twitter and forums say that Jim Bridenstine has publically positioned himself for the post as NASA administrator rather than competing for heading the Air Force.

    He seems to be a Moon-man, which could give the clear priority that NASA now desperately needs. But he has spoken about producing fuel on the Moon to supply space crafts orbiting earth. That doesn’t add up. I hope he finds his pocket calculator and doesn’t get fooled by even crazier ideas. Another ARM kind of fantasy mission would be the termination of NASA.

  • Edward

    LocalFluff wrote: “producing fuel on the Moon to supply space crafts orbiting earth. That doesn’t add up.

    Actually, it does add up.

    There are a large number of ideas for refueling satellites on orbit, and there are at least two companies working on doing it. The Russians have a method for refueling space stations, which they used on MIR and occasionally use on the ISS. Extending the lives of certain satellites makes a great deal of sense. There was one satellite operator, decades ago, who compared the lifetime of a satellite to throwing away a car once the ashtray filled up.

    ULA understands that getting material off the moon and into Earth orbit is easier (less fuel and expense) than sending it up from the Earth. I have linked to this CisLunar-1000 video before, but it describes this concept and other concepts, as well as their expectation of an increase in humans in space over the course of the next three decades: (7 minutes)

    For those who think we should develop the Moon before developing Mars, it looks like there are plenty of companies and people who have their eyes on the Moon. Since it is closer, easier, and faster to reach, I think we can be confident that more will be done on the Moon sooner than things get done on Mars.

    The next NASA administrator is likely to oversee a very exciting time for Earth’s space programs. With luck and good leadership, he and NASA will once again become leaders, partners, resources, and inspirations for these efforts.

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 *