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.

Second camera on Hubble returned to science operations

Engineers working to reactivate the instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope have successfully brought a second camera out of safe mode.

NASA continues bringing the Hubble Space Telescope back to normal science operations, most recently recovering the Wide Field Camera 3 instrument Sunday, Nov. 21. This camera will be the second of Hubble’s instruments, after the Advanced Camera for Surveys, to resume science after suspending the spacecraft’s observations Oct. 25. The Wide Field Camera 3’s first science observation since the anomaly will be Nov. 23.

The team chose to restore the most heavily used Hubble instrument, the Wide Field Camera 3, which represents more than a third of the spacecraft’s observing time. Engineers also began preparing changes to the instrument parameters, while testing the changes on ground simulators. These changes would allow the instruments to handle several missed synchronization messages while continuing to operate normally if they occur in the future. These changes will first be applied to another instrument, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, to further protect its sensitive far-ultraviolet detector. It will take the team several weeks to complete the testing and upload the changes to the spacecraft.

The telescope’s other instruments remain in safe mode as the engineers continue to investigate the problem that caused the shut down on October 25th.


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  • Bob

    It is interesting to try to debug by reading between the lines. The article says that the crash was caused by “missed synchronization messages”. The immediate fix was to modify the software to tolerate them. But why are the messages being missed or not sent in the first place?

  • Bob: I think what is really happening here is the result of the continuing decline of Hubble’s hardware, specifically his computer hardware.

    They have no backups anymore, so any failures must be overcome with work-arounds.

  • Andi

    “Modify the software to tolerate [the messages]”

    Sounds like Click & Clack’s “black tape” solution to the Check Engine light.

    Kinda makes one wonder why the messages are there if the system will work without them.

  • wayne

    “Radiation Effects on Semiconductors and IC Design and Fabrication Hardening Techniques”
    Jordan Thorpe 2018

  • This is embarrassing. The instrument has been aloft for 30+ years, double it’s expected service. Americans are really good at building spacecraft that far exceed expectations, but no replacement for Hubble, and none in the offing?

    May as well contract with SpaceX to de-orbit and put it in the Smithsonian; it will be about as effective.

  • Edward

    Andi noted: “Sounds like Click & Clack’s ‘black tape’ solution to the Check Engine light.

    That’s pretty much what it is.

    Kinda makes one wonder why the messages are there if the system will work without them.

    The messages (and the check engine light) are there to let the operators know that there is a need for inspection or repair, but because we can no longer take it to the shop for inspection and repair, the messages only remind us that it is closer than ever to finally failing completely.

  • wayne

    the Interweb tells me the Hubble is controlled by a Model of the “NASA Standard Spacecraft Computer-1 (NSSC-1).” (Imagery is apparently controlled by the “DF-224.”)
    Is this true? And can I assume if I search the nasa hubble site I should be able to find the specs?

    Edward / Blair —
    Totally off-topic;
    How much is gasoline in your respective area’s?
    ($3.309 the gallon in SW Michigan)
    On the upside– store-brand regionally grown Turkey– 33 cents/ lb.

    Do you folks really have to wear masks, outside, in Portland?

  • wayne

    The Andromeda Strain (1971) —
    “The machine that goes Ding-a-Ling…”

  • Edward

    wayne asked: “How much is gasoline in your respective area’s?

    I’m on vacation in Orange County, California (sorry, it may be pronounced “The Orange County;” they are weird down here), and last night we passed a refueling station promising unleaded, low octane at less than $5, cash price (memory is $4.689). We are hoping to buy at this low price, today, on our way to the La Brea Tar Pits, where masks are required indoors (I’m trying — but failing — to avoid Los Angeles County — oops, “The” Los Angeles County). We also plan to visit the observatory atop Mt. Wilson (“The” Mount Wilson) this week, where we are also required to show the staff our medical papers, but I don’t see on the website any requirement that the staff show us theirs. Fortunately, The Orange County is a free state, where we can freely go to the beach and admire the cargo ships that are lined up 80 or more deep (it’s hard to count, as the line stretches for miles and miles to the south), awaiting entry to Los Angeles and Long Beach (oops, “The”) harbors.

  • Wayne asked: “Do you folks really have to wear masks, outside, in Portland?”

    By Mandate, yes; practically speaking, no. Some do; most don’t. There is no practical way to enforce, so the Mandate is largely ignored. I’ve talked about this, and how unenforceable laws lead to a general disrespect for societal norms. Nobody cares about masking except Government, and it’s too-willing supporters. Me; I’m as maskadaisical as I can get away with.

  • Edward: I believe that is ‘The’ gasoline, in The Orange County.

  • Alton


    According to over 100 ships are waiting with another 45 due to arrive by Turkey 🦃 Day.

  • Edward

    Trip Report:
    La Brea Tar Pits also wanted medical papers, so I only looked at their outdoor displays and sites, including their active dig, which is not active at this time. My relatives were only too happy to show their papers to see the indoor displays. I also learned that we are not going to go past SpaceX’s Hawthorn (small) rocket garden, so what was the point of coming to Southern California? Different people; different priorities.

    Blair Ivey,
    Good point. There is an overuse of the articles around here.

    It is believable that the line just gets longer and longer. When we finally came to the end of the queue of ships, I expressed amazement, but someone pointed out that most of the ships are 100 miles out at sea, waiting their turn to get in line, so that they can wait their turn to get into the harbor.

    What a cluster Brandon.

  • Edward

    So, with the La Brea Tar Pits requiring the faux vaccine, why also require masks? If the faux vaccine works then why wear the masks when there are no unvaxxed people in the building? If the masks work then why require the faux vaccine? The requirement for both means that neither works, and everyone who plays along with it knows it. Those who don’t play along also know it, but that goes without saying. It certainly explains why so many people who wear masks still spread the Wuhan flu and why they become infected, and it explains why so many people who are vaxxed still spread the Wuhan flu and why they continue to become infected.

  • “There is an overuse of the articles around here”

    But not, I fear, of the Articles of the Constitution.

  • Andi

    Re “The Orange County”

    Was watching an episode of NCIS some time ago. It’s supposed to be set in DC. At one point during the show, one of the characters referred to the suspect driving on “the 270” (Interstate 270 is a major artery).

    NO ONE in the DC area calls it that, making obvious that the show is not shot on location.

  • wayne


    Ref NCIS–

    “What Did Ducky Look Like When He Was Younger?”

  • Andi

    I remember Ducky as Ilya!

  • “NO ONE in the DC area calls it that, . . .”

    OK, what do they call it?

  • Andi

    It’s mostly called just “270”, but during rush hour a lot of what it’s called would be unprintable here.

  • Blair Ivey: They call it the Beltway, with the outer and inner beltway names also given to the different directions. (Outer beltway goes counter clockwise, inner beltway goes clockwise).

    When I first moved to DC I was confused by this. I imagined there were two major beltways until I realized they were only referring to the single road’s different directions.

  • Andi

    Pedantry alert—-

    270 is the artery that goes from the Beltway northwest some 35 miles to Frederick MD

    The Beltway (nee Washington Circumferential Highway is 495. The counterclockwise lanes are termed the “outer loop” and the clockwise, the “inner loop”, at least by traffic reporters.

    The Outer Beltway originally referred to a proposed circumferential highway some 10 miles farther out, but which was never built.

  • Andi: You are correct. My memory was wrong. The outer loop and inner loop are the terms that helicopter traffic guys use.

  • Andi

    Robert, sorry about that – I’m kind of a road nerd, having been “of that age” when the interstate system was being built out.

    Hope you’re well on your way to recovery from “the plague”, and glad you’re able to keep posting while doing so!

  • Edward

    Trip report:
    The tour season at the Mt. Wilson observatory came to an end the weekend before Thanksgiving, but my father had, months ago, arranged for a special tour for our family gathering.

    The Mt. Wilson observatory has a couple of telescopes that perform solar astrophysics observations, which was an interest of the observatory’s founder, George Hale. A telescope operator was our volunteer tour guide. We got a brief discussion with Steve, who showed us sunspot drawings from that day and the previous two days. Steve draws daily sunspot maps, including the size and shape and identification markings so that he can track each sunspot as it transits the face of the sun.

    Two solar telescopes had difficulty with distortion due to the heating of the ground in the daytime. “Heat waves” made for poor seeing, so they put two telescopes higher in the air (60 feet and 150 feet) in order to get out of the distortion region for daytime viewing of the sun.

    Mt. Wilson is also where they used spectroscopy to find the makeup of the sun and is where Hubble proved that there are galaxies external to the Milky Way as well as discovered that the universe is expanding. Famous visitors include Albert Einstein and Steven Hawking.

    They have a 100 inch telescope and a 60 inch telescope. They currently have an array of six telescopes, called the CHARA array (Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy), in which they use interferometry to increase their resolution of various astronomical objects. The building housing the interferometers was not part of our tour (aw), but there was a small visitor-center room that had a couple of photographs of several interferometers on their optical-flat tables.

    On a personal note: California’s poor forestry policies have threatened the observatory twice, once in 2009 and again last year, when the observatory had to be evacuated and flames came within 150 feet of one structure. During last year’s fire, a friend of mine was very worried about the observatory and kept sending me updates about the fire. The braindead idiots in Sacramento may lose us this valuable and historic resource just as they lost us Paradise in California.

  • wayne

    thanks for the trip-report!

    {The} Road to Mt. Wilson

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