Today’s blacklisted American: Whites at Cornell University

The Civil Rights Act of 1964: repealed by Cornell
The Civil Rights Act of 1964: repealed by Cornell

Continuing my weeklong series documenting the modern bigotry of our culture, today’s bigot is Cornell University, who recently offered a segregated rock-climbing course that whites were forbidden to attend. From the course’s original description:

This class is for people who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or other people of color.

Moreover, that original course description made it very clear that the course was limited to such students only.

The original description gave no indication that BIPOC [Black, Indigenous People, Others of Color] students were the “special focus” of the course, instead of the only eligible category for enrollment. While [that original version] said students “will also talk about BIPOC individuals and groups in rock climbing,” that sentence was immediately followed by the restriction to “people who identify as” BIPOC.

Such a class would be illegal under both federal and New York state law.
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Today’s blacklisted Americans: Coca-Cola’s racist policies that discriminate against whites

Coca-Cola's bigoted company policy
Examples of the bigoted educational material
being pushed by Coca-Cola

This week is going to be racism week for my daily posts on blacklisting in today’s fascist culture. Each day I will highlight another example of modern racism by companies and governments against innocent people simply because they were born with the wrong skin color. And that skin color will be white, which is now the one kind of racism that the left now honors and demands, from everyone.

Our first bigot this week is the multi-national soda company Coca-Cola. Most of the news this past week or so has been focused on this company’s mindless decision to condemn Georgia’s new election law, based on Democratic Party lies and a refusal to even read the law.

However, let’s take a closer look at Coke’s bigoted policies, which are expressly designed to create a hostile work environment for anyone who happens to be white, solely based not on their performance but their skin color. The image above shows screen captures of just four slides from a Coke-Cola critical race theory training class, provided by a whistle-blower but later confirmed by the company as accurate.
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Sunspot update: Higher than predicted activity continues

The uncertainty of science: Time for our monthly update of the Sun’s on-going sunspot cycle. Below is NOAA’s April 1, 2021 monthly graph, showing the Sun’s sunspot activity through the end of March 2021. I have annotated it as always to show the previous solar cycle predictions.

The higher than expected sunspot activity that has been occurring almost from the moment the ramp up to solar maximum began in 2020 continued in March. The numbers weren’t as high as they were in December and January, but they were still higher than the predicted sunspot number.

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A data-based broad look at the entire COVID epidemic, one year later

The Scream by Edvard Munch
The Scream by Edvard Munch

One year ago I posted an essay entitled COVID-19: the unwarranted panic. At that time we had just begun a “15-day-lockdown” to slow the spread of the virus, a lockdown that has ended up lasting a year with literally no signs of ending, even though vaccines for the coronavirus are now available and are being administrated widely to millions.

In that essay I reviewed four early science studies that provided some solid initial data about the coronavirus, all of which strongly suggested that it was not the plague many government healthy officials at that time were proclaiming it to be. Instead, these studies showed that it was only a threat to the elderly sick, that it was relatively harmless to a young population, and that the death rate was low, likely well below 1% and possibly very comparable to the flu.

These data strongly suggested to me that lockdowns, social distancing, masks, and restrictions on the freedom of the healthy and young were all a bad idea. Better to follow the traditional response to past such epidemics in which you quarantine the sick, protect the vulnerable (the elderly), and allow everyone else to go about their lives as normal.

We did not do this, however. Instead, as a society we chose in the past year to do the exact oppose, imposing strict lockdowns, mandating social distancing and mask use everywhere, while quarantining the healthy. We did this based on the worst scenarios and models put forth by health officials, who firmly believed COVID-19 was far worse than any past epidemic, and required a new, radical, and much harsher response.

I now want to ask, one year later: Whose conclusions about the seriousness of COVID-19 were more accurate? Was it just another type of flu, though maybe somewhat worse, as I posited, or was it the deadly pestilence predicted by the world’s health authorities?
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SpaceX narrows Mars landing site for Starship to four prime locations

The prime and secondary Martian landing sites for Starship

Capitalism in space: During this week’s 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, one poster [pdf] caught my eye as something significant. It was titled “SpaceX Starship Landing Sites on Mars.” The map to the right is figure 1 from that poster, annotated slightly by me based my earlier stories about SpaceX’s use of the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to research potential Martian landing sites for its Starship spacecraft. The stars indicate MRO images, most of which were described and linked to in my last major post about this SpaceX effort in November 2019.

The red spots covering some stars are the big story: SpaceX has narrowed its choice for its Starship landing site to four prime locations (indicated by the bright red spots) and three backup locations (indicated by the dark red spots). The images under the red spots numbered 2, 4, and 6 were linked to in my November 2019 post. The images under red spots marked by a “D” are earlier images taken by MRO when SpaceX was researching a potential Dragon landing site. The images under red spots labeled 1P and MRO are subsequent images taken by MRO since November 2019, with the 1P image previously linked to in a post in April 2020 entitled “The icy Phlegra Mountains: Mars’ future second city.”

The poster outlined why the prime candidate sites — PM1, EM16, AP1, and AP9 — were favored. For example, PM-1 in the Phlegra Mountains “…has the lowest latitude and elevation of the group, a clear association with LDAs [lobate debris aprons that resemble glacial features], well developed polygons, and has the highest SWIM [Subsurface Water Ice Mapping] score for geomorphic indicators of ice.”

EM 16 “…has a clear association with an LDA with nearby brain terrain and the strongest radar return for shallow ice and the highest combined SWIM score.”

AP1 “…appears to be the safest site and has a moderate combined SWIM score for ice.”

AP9 “…has the thickest ice from radar returns and geomorphology indicating shallow ice. It has the highest combined SWIM score for ice, but appears slightly rocky and rough.”

Below the fold are images, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, of the four primary landing sites, as well as links to the full images of all four plus the three back-up sites (AP8, EM15, and PM7).
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Today’s blacklisted great literature: Shakespeare, Dr. Seuss, and Western Civilization itself

They’re coming for you next: In the past few days there has been a big uproar concerning the decision by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the publisher of all of Dr. Seuss’s books, to cease publication of six of Seuss’s books — “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”, “If I Ran the Zoo”, “McElligot’s Pool”, “On Beyond Zebra!”, “Scrambled Eggs Super!”, and “The Cat’s Quizzer” — because of imagined “racist and insensitive imagery.”

On its face this decision is ridiculous, especially because Dr. Suess, whose real name was Theodor Geisel, was an ardent defender of liberty who aggressively fought against bigots and Nazis and fascists his entire life.. As recently as a year ago the company that now manages his writing would have been laughed at and shamed so loudly and completely for this decision that it would have very quickly backed down.

No more. Rather than defy stupidity the world now embraces it, as indicated by Ebay’s decision only two days later to ban the sale of any used copies of these books on its auction website.

Nor is this attack on great literature the only example. There are others that are not getting the same coverage that are as bad if not more egregious.
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Mars: Planet of many glaciers

Moraines on Mars
Click for full image.

Today’s cool image more than simply cool, it reveals a wider picture of Mars that should be quite exciting to future colonists. The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, was taken on January 30, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). What drew my attention to it was the title given to this uncaptioned photo: “Moraine-Like Ridges in Nereidum Montes.”

Moraines are the debris pile pushed ahead of any glacier. The picture shows what appear to be a series of moraines, likely caused by different periods of glacier activity when the glacier was growing. It also suggests that past active periods were more active than later ones, as with each active period the moraine did not get pushed out quite as far.

The location, Nereidum Montes, intrigued me, as I am not that familiar with it. I emailed the scientist who requested the image, Dan Berman, senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, and asked him for more information. He suggested I read a very recent paper he co-wrote entitled “Ice-rich landforms of the southern mid-latitudes of Mars: A case study in Nereidum Montes.” From that paper I was able to produce the map of Mars below that shows the regions on the planet where scientists now think hold the greatest concentrations of glaciers.
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February Birthday fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black: THANK YOU

Readers!

My annual February birthday month fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black is now over. It was the best February campaign ever, and the second best of all of my month-long fund-raising campaigns.

There were too many people who contributed to thank you all personally. If I did so I would not have time for the next day or so to actually do any further posts, and I suspect my supporters would prefer me posting on space and culture over getting individual thank you notes.

Let this public thank suffice. I say this often, but I must tell you all that you cannot imagine how much your support means to me. I’ve spent my life fighting a culture hostile to my perspective, a hostility that has often served to squelch my success. Your donations have now allowed me to bypass that hostility to reach a large audience.

Even though the February campaign is over, if you still wish to donate or subscribe you still can do so, by either clicking on the tip jar at the top of the column to the right (on desktops) or near the bottom of the page (on mobile phones), or mailing a check to the address shown in that tip jar.

This thank you post will remain at the top of the page for the next few days.

Yours sincerely,
Robert Zimmerman

Scroll down for new updates.

Rover update: Panorama from Curiosity; Perseverance unwinds

Summary: Curiosity has crept to the foot of Mt Sharp at last, while Perseverance checks out its equipment.

Curiosity

Curiosity panorama Sol 3049
Click for full resolution.

Overview map

This rover update will be short but very sweet. While the press and public has been oo’ing and ah’ing over the first panorama from Perseverance, Curiosity yesterday produced its own panorama above showing the looming cliffs of Mt. Sharp, now only a short distance away. The original images can be found here, here, here, and here.

The overview map to the right, from the “Where is Curiosity?” webpage, shows the rover’s location, with the yellow lines roughly indicating the view afforded by the panorama above. If you compare this panorama with the one I posted in my previous rover update on February 12, 2021, you can get a sense of how far the rover has traveled in just the past two weeks. It now sits near the end of the red dotted line pointing at the mountain, right next to what had been a distant cliff and now is only a short distance to the rover’s right.

Somewhere on the mountain slopes ahead scientists have spotted in orbiter images recurring slope lineae, seasonal streaks on slopes that appear in the spring and fade as they year passes. As Curiosity arrives at the next geological layer a short distance ahead at the base of these cliffs (dubbed the sulfate unit), it will spend probably several months studying both that sulfate unit as well as those lineae. Expect the rover to drill a few holes for samples as it watches to see any changes that might occur on that lineae.

Now, on to Perseverance!
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After a year there is zero evidence government edicts slowed the spread of COVID-19

It never was about the virus: After a year of job-destroying lockdowns and the inhuman muzzling of every citizen in a panicked effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, a careful review of the data continues to show what was obvious as early as September 2020: Those authoritarian government edicts did nothing to stop or even slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The article at the link first compares Florida (where the government edicts were few) and California (which was turned into a fascist state by the edicts of its Democratic Party governor) and found that after a year, Florida was actually impacted less by the virus.

In light of everything our officials have taught us about how this virus spreads, it defies reality that Florida, a fully open and popular travel destination with one of the oldest populations in the country, currently has lower hospitalizations and deaths per million than California, a state with much heavier restrictions and one of the youngest populations in the country. While it is true that, overall, California does slightly better than Florida in deaths per million, simply accounting for California’s much younger population tips the scales in Florida’s favor.

Florida has zero restrictions on bars, breweries, indoor dining, gyms, places of worship, gathering sizes, and almost all schools are offering in-person instruction. California, on the other hand, retains heavy restrictions in each of these areas. At the very least, Florida’s hospitalizations and deaths per million should be substantially worse than California’s. Those who predicted death and destruction as a consequence of Florida’s September reopening simply cannot see these results as anything other than utterly remarkable. Even White House covid advisor Andy Slavitt, much to the establishment’s embarrassment, had no explanation for Florida’s success relative to California. Slavitt was reduced to parroting establishment talking points after admitting that Florida’s surprisingly great numbers were “just a little beyond our explanation.”

The article then goes on to look at national trends, and finds similar results. Overall there is absolute no correlation between harsh restrictions and fewer COVID deaths or hospitalizations. Instead, the biggest factor appears to be local climate.
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The COVID epidemic really IS ending

CDC infection detections of COVID
CDC graph

Though we all know that our fear-driven society and its power-hungry leaders will refuse to recognize this reality in order to permit life to return to a sane normality, the evidence now shows that the ’20-’21 winter season of COVID is now ending.

The big news is that there has been a drastic decline in reported infections since the beginning of the year.

According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, there were 283,640 new cases on January 2, 2021. As of February 17, there were 69,165 cases. That represents a drop of 75.05 percent in six weeks — for all you fact-checkers out there.

First, we must recognize that the high numbers this season that seem to dwarf last year are caused largely by the increased effort to test everyone. The numbers also do not indicate COVID cases (where someone is sick from the disease) but include everyone who was tested and found positive, even if they were not sick at all. To call all positive detections as COVID cases is dishonest, and would have never been done in the past. Sadly, the idea of honest reporting has long disappeared.

Second, we must remember that these numbers are likely also inflated because it is financially advantageous for medical officials to report a coronavirus detection, even if it has not been clearly established. There has also been an effort to distort the numbers to make them seem worse than they are.

Finally, most news sources have been combining the statistics from last year’s COVID season with this year’s in order to inflate the numbers. This is bad reporting. The proper thing to do is to report them as separate seasons. If you did this you find that the numbers make the coronavirus not much different than the Hong Kong flu, when adjusted for population. It might be worse, but not unduly so.

For COVID, separating its annual seasons has been made more little difficult because the lockdowns and the insistence that everyone wear masks (almost all of which were worn improperly) I think caused a second unprecedented COVID summer season. That summer rise would likely not have happened if we had allowed people to behave normally in the summer weather, when such respiratory illnesses fade. Instead, everyone wore unsanitary masks that they touched constantly (increasing the changes they were exposed to the pathogen) while confining them indoors where such viruses prosper.

Regardless, the data strongly suggests this year’s coronavirus season is waning, as always happens with such respiratory diseases with the coming of spring. And certainly the arrival of vaccines against COVID is contributing to this decline as well.

All good news. Are you ready to cheer, or will you find ways to see only the half-filled part of the glass?

Nor is this news all. Two more stories in the past few weeks now give us a far better and hopeful sense of the disease’s scope and future.
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A historian’s memorial to Rush Limbaugh

I originally posted the essay below a year ago when we first learned that Rush Limbaugh was seriously ill with lung cancer. With his passing today, I think it needs to be reread, with an addendum at the end.

A historian’s memorial to Rush Limbaugh (February 4, 2020)

It was very strange to me to hear yesterday’s sad announcement by Rush Limbaugh that he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. In the last six months or so my mind had actually been contemplating the fact that Limbaugh had been doing his show for more than three decades, was in his late sixties, and was not immortal. I had been trying to imagine what it would be like when he was no longer a fixture in the daily news reporting cycle, and I had been failing. I couldn’t imagine it.

Now it appears we might all be finally facing it. As they say, reality bites.

For those who have listened to him regularly these past three decades, the loss will be immeasurable. Without question Rush Limbaugh has been the best political analyst, from a conservative perspective, for the past half century. You might disagree with his opinions, but no one has been as correct and as pertinent and as thoughtful, consistently getting to the heart of every political battle, and doing it in an amazingly entertaining manner.

I first heard Rush Limbaugh back in 1988, when I lived in New York and was starving for a different and refreshing perpective on the news.
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An update on coronavirus from an Arizona doctor

My personal GP doctor in Arizona, Robert Lending, has for the last year sent out weekly detailed updates to his patients on the on-going COVID-19 epidemic. I thought I provide my readers his carefully researched doctor’s perspective, with his permission of course.

First he updates us on the state of the epidemic in Arizona:

The surge in AZ and in Pima County is over; with dramatic decreases in Cases, Case Fatality Rates (CFR), and Case Hospitalization Rates (CHR). The hospitalization utilizations including beds and ventilators, etc. are markedly decreased. {{{Tucson Medical Center is down to 10.5% Inpatient Covid-19, and they will resume elective surgeries.}}} The initial reductions began before vaccinations, but now may have been helped by the vaccinations. On the other hand, the virus acts as it will; independent of most of society’s attempts to control or modify it, no matter what the politicians and health department officials state. [emphasis mine]

The highlighted text matches what I have been saying for the past year, that the panicky effort to “stop the spread of COVID-19” was foolish, counterproductive, and entirely useless. And the evidence now a year later supports that conclusion. Nothing done by any government anywhere in the world has stopped the virus from spreading, whether it be lockdowns, masks, or quarantines. In the U.S. and Europe especially places that imposed fewer restrictions on their citizens seemed to fare about the same as places where the government stamped down hard. And those former places also had less negative consequences for their economies and for the freedoms of their citizens.

Meanwhile, the evidence is that the epidemic in Arizona is fading. And as far as I can see, during its height it affected almost no one in the general population. Like the flu it impacted the elderly sick the most, but everyone else either didn’t see it at all, or if they got sick they almost always recovered.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter that the epidemic is fading and that a vaccine is now available. The unreasonable rules imposed during the panic remain in force, and likely will never go away. And I speak from experience. For example, in trying to schedule an appointment with another doctor, I was told by his office that even if I had tested negative for COVID, received the vaccine, and quarantined myself between its receipt and my appearance at the office, I would still be required to wear a mask.

Think about that. I would be totally healthy and have no symptoms and could in no way transmit the virus, and yet the mask would still be required. We are now a society that irrationally sees all other humans as a threat to be avoided, at all times.

As for the flu, Lending noted some very intriguing data.
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Rover update: The rovers are coming! The rovers are coming!

With the imminent landing on Mars of both the American rover Perseverance only days away on February 18th followed by China’s rover in April, I think it time for a new rover update, not only providing my readers a review of the new landing sites but a look at the most recent travels of Curiosity on Mars and Yutu-2 on the Moon.

Curiosity

Curiosity's view of the base of Mount Sharp, February 12, 2021
Click for full resolution image.

Overview map of Curiosity's most recent and future travels

The panorama above, made from four images taken by Curiosity’s right navigation camera on February 12, 2021 (found here, here, here, and here), looks south to the base of Mount Sharp, now only a short distance away. The yellow lines on the overview map to the right show the area this panorama covers. The white line indicates Curiosity’s previous travels. The dotted red line in both images shows Curiosity’s planned route.

The two white dots on the overview map are the locations of the two recurring slope lineae along Curiosity’s route, with the plan to get reasonable close to the first and spend some time there studying it. These lineae are one of Mars’ most intriguing phenomenon, seasonal dark streaks that appear on slopes in the spring and fade by the fall. There are several theories attempting to explain their formation, most proposing the seepage of a brine from below ground, but none has been accepted yet with any enthusiasm.
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The coming death of NASA’s Space Launch System

SLS about to be cancelled?

In the past week there have been a slew of stories that all suggest strongly that the political support for the NASA-built rocket dubbed the Space Launch System (SLS) is fading very quickly, and might soon be weak enough that the political class in Washington might finally have the courage to cancel it.

First, a group of eleven Democratic Party senators on February 3rd wrote a letter [pdf] to the Biden administration, begging it to continue the manned lunar program dubbed Artemis that the Trump administration had instigated.

What made that letter remarkable was that it made no mention of SLS at all. Instead, its focus was to encourage Biden to not abandon construction of the Artemis manned lunar lander, what NASA dubs the Human Landing System (HLS).

Until that moment it had always been assumed in political circles that if you continue Artemis it means you continue SLS. Artemis itself was conceived as a program to give that heavy-lift rocket a purpose. SLS had been mandated by Congress a decade ago when Obama cancelled Bush’s Ares heavy-lift rocket. The problem was that Congress had not proposed any mission for SLS, and thus Artemis was born to give it that mission.

That these Democrats were pushing Artemis but not SLS was politically significant. It meant that they no longer considered Artemis synonymous with SLS. The former could exist without the latter.
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The lie that was COVID

This humor story at the Babylon Bee on February 8th is sadly 100% accurate and illustrates the utter lie that is at the foundation of everything we have been told about COVID-19:

Nation Prepares To Celebrate 1st Anniversary Of Two Weeks To Flatten The Curve

“This time of year we like to come together to remember the historic day one year ago when we put on masks and locked ourselves down, trusting that the lockdown would be over in just two weeks,” said local man Paul Christof as he stared out his window longingly, his three masks securely in place. “This year, I’m going all out with a Zoom party with no more than five of my closest friends — I mean, closest, figuratively speaking, of course. We’ll be literally far apart, because I want to stay home and stay safe, and I don’t want grandma to die.”

From day one, nothing we have been told by government health officials has been reliable or trustworthy. First we were only to lock-down for two weeks in order to slow the spread of the virus slightly so that hospitals would not be overwhelmed. We were also told that we shouldn’t wear masks, because a century of research clearly showed them useless and possibly counter-productive if used improperly, and proper use was unlikely if used all the time.

Then we were told we needed to lockdown for months, because we wanted to stop the spread, a goal that was utterly impossible to meet. At that same time, suddenly health officials decided that the previous half century of research about masks was all wrong, and that we must wear them all the time.

These new rules were only going to be necessary until a vaccine was available.

Now, a year later, a vaccine is suddenly not enough to allow us to be free humans again. We must wear masks, with two masks being even better, and normal activities such as attending parties, sports events, shows, and concerts must still be forbidden.

Along the way, a lot of evidence raised legitimate questions about the way coronavirus deaths and cases were tracked, with much of it suggesting the numbers were being manipulated for political purposes.

The result today is that a very very large percentage of the population no longer trusts anything said by these health officials. And for good reason. They have lied, repeatedly, and liars should never be trusted, ever.

Not that it makes much different. These liars are firmly ensconced in power, and can say and do anything, including fines and punishments for not obeying their commands.

America is no longer a nation dedicated to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It is now a place of lies, edicts, petty dictators, blacklists, and increasing oppression. All largely prompted by an irrational over-reaction to a virus that is really nothing more than a variation of the flu.

Today’s blacklisted Americans: All Republicans who questioned the November election count

The dead Bill of Rights
The now cancelled Bill of Rights.

They’re coming for you next: The list of Americans whom the left and Democratic Party wish to blacklist just keeps getting longer. Now, in league with its chief slander organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), any Republican politician who wanted an investigation into the numerous and often very credible allegations of fraud and vote tampering in the November presidential election has been slated for cancelling and the destruction of their lives.

The SPLC, which has routinely slandered ordinary conservatives and organizations by falsely labeling them as a racists and hate groups merely because they believe in certain entirely mainstream positions, such as being against abortions and in favor of family rights, is now demanding the removal and deplatforming of more than half the Republicans in Congress, because they questioned that election.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has an answer, and it amounts to blacklisting more than half of the Republicans in Congress — if not expelling them altogether. For good measure, the SPLC also calls for the permanent social media “deplatforming” of every “public figure” who questioned the 2020 election results.

The SPLC’s annual “Year in Hate and Extremism” report presented this cancel culture overdrive as the solution to “far-right and racist narratives.” While the SPLC has long branded mainstream conservative and Christian organizations “hate groups,” listing them alongside the Ku Klux Klan, and urging Big Tech to blacklist them, this latest cancel culture demand seems extreme, even for the SPLC.

To quote the report itself:
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The Icy Surface of Mars

The extent of ice on Mars

Two newly published science papers in the past few days have once again reinforced the growing evidence that much of Mars from 30 degrees latitude to its poles is very icy, with much of that ice found close to the surface.

The map above, adapted and annotated by me from figures 4 and 12 of one of those papers (“Widespread Exposures of Extensive Clean Shallow Ice in the Mid‐Latitudes of Mars”), show the areas on Mars where the evidence suggests ample and easily accessible ice, underground but close to the surface.

The red dots and diamonds indicate recent impact craters that temporarily exposed the underground ice layer that would normally not be visible. The white dots and diamonds indicate ice scarps with visible ice layers in their cliff faces. The size of these locations is greatly exaggerated.

The two hatched lines at 30 degrees latitude, north and south, indicate the closest to the equator that scientists have detected evidence of glacial ice. It is also the closest to the equator that the second new paper, “Water Ice Resources Identified in Martian Northern Hemisphere “, has found evidence of underground ice in the north. From the abstract of this second paper:
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Today’s blacklisted American: Journalist Andy Ngo

They’re coming for you next: Journalist Andy Ngo has spent the last two years being pretty much one of the few real journalists covering the violent, fascist, storm-trooper tactics of the leftist Antifa and Black Lives Matter movements, carefully documenting in both print and visuals their riots and attacks of innocent citizens.

His reporting has been so effective that Antifa thugs attacked him in 2019, sending him to the emergency room in Portland.

Furthermore, those same Portland brownshirts stormed a local bookstore, causing its evacuation and early closure, because it happened to be selling Ngo’s book on Antifa activities in Portland, Unmasked. The protests eventually forced the bookstore to remove the book from its shelves, though it still sells it online.

Nor has that been the sum total of Antifa’s effort to blacklist Ngo. They have been issuing him death threats, and even though Ngo told the Portland police, even naming some names, the police did nothing.

Ngo was thus forced to flee Portland temporarily, moving to London. The irony is that his parents were refugees who came to the United States to gain freedom and the right to speak freely. Now their son has fled the U.S. for the same reasons.

When asked how he would describe Antifa in one sentence, he said, “For their world to live and thrive, America has to die.”

The worst part of these attacks has been the shallow willingness of the mainstream media to go along with the false slanders and lies against Ngo and to spread them.

National publications, such as Rolling Stone and Salon used a local alternative weekly “blog,” as Ngo puts it, to smear him using epithets with which we’re only all too familiar: racist extremist. “And then so whenever you google me now and [view] my Wikipedia page, all you see are these false accusations,” he explained. “All of this has been an attempt to get me canceled; to make me out to be someone I’m not, make me out to be a far-right extremist.”

It is all part of Obama’s legacy of hate, where slanders and libels by the left are now their first go-to argument in any debate.

Ngo deserves great kudos and support, however. Unlike many who fold to this fascist pressure, he has stood strong, and continued his reporting, honestly and in detail. Furthermore, the attacks have actually helped sales of Unmasked, making it a major bestseller. For a short while was number one on Amazon, and is still #37 as of today.

His fearless willingness to fight is of course the right response. Buying his book is another. We must not bow to these bullies and tyrants. We must look them in the eye and defy them. Only then will we ever have the chance to once again become free.

Biden administration endorses Artemis program

During a press conference yesterday Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki stated that the Biden administration plans to continue the Artemis manned lunar program that was initiated by the Trump administration.

“Through the Artemis program, the United States government will work with industry and international partners to send astronauts to the surface of the moon — another man and a woman to the moon,” Psaki told reporters in a White House press briefing Thursday. “Certainly, we support this effort and endeavor,” she added.

The Biden administration was under pressure to endorse Artemis, coming from its own party. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress want the pork it represents to them. This statement now aligns Biden with Congress. The American effort to return to the Moon, established by Trump, is now practically engraved in stone.

What the statement that Psaki read did not detail is whether that support will include the SLS rocket or the Orion capsule. Nor did her statement indicate any time schedule for a landing, which adds weight to the supposition that they are going to abandon the Trump’s effort to push for a 2024 manned landing on the Moon.

Moreover, the letter sent to the White House on February 3rd by eleven Democrats endorsing Artemis (available here [pdf]), also said nothing about SLS or Orion. Instead, it was more intent on encouraging the White House to award contracts to the private sector to build the manned lunar lander. NASA had announced on February 1st that it was delaying its decision on who should build it, and those Democrats did not want that delay to result in the contracts getting killed.

Both statements tell us is that SLS itself is presently on very thin ice. Congress wants Artemis, but Artemis is no longer synonymous with SLS. For the past two years the Trump administration had been awarding contracts to numerous private companies to design and build many components of Artemis, rather than have NASA do the designing and building (as it had with SLS). Those contracts have created a cohort of new vested interests that rely on Artemis, all of which I am sure are screaming at their representatives in Congress to keep their work funded.

Furthermore, SpaceX’s development of Starship is clearly showing everyone that an alternative to SLS does exist, and could be operational for much less and much sooner.

To my mind, all this evidence suggests that the Washington political world is getting itself ready for the possibility of abandoning SLS. They don’t want to, but if alternatives to its pork are available that are also more productive, they are steeling themselves for making the difficult political decision of switching.

This evidence also suggests that the Biden administration will continue the policies I outlined in my 2017 policy paper Capitalism in Space (available as a free download here [pdf]) and adopted by the Trump administration. I had recommended that all design and construction should be taken from NASA and given to many different private companies, with that private sector also owning what they build while competing for those government dollars. NASA would outline the project’s goals and concept, and then act merely as a customer which would find others to execute those goals and concepts, as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

If the Biden administration is embracing these recommendations, this is very good news. While the motives of these corrupt politicians might be bad, the result could be very good for the U.S. Allowing the private sector to do the job means it might actually get done, rapidly and for much less. It will also help fuel the growth of a very robust American space industry, which once established will soon no longer depend solely on the government for its business. The lower cost required by the competition to get NASA business will encourage others to buy the products, and soon thereafter the government will become irrelevant to this industry’s success.

This is the model used in the early 20th century to jump start the airline industry. It worked. It now looks like NASA and the govenment will do it in space.

More weird features and changes on Mars

Some strange stuff on Mars
Click for full 2020 photo.

Overview map

Cool image time! The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, reduced, and annotated to post here, was taken on September 28, 2020 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Uncaptioned and labeled “Reticulate Bedform Change Detection on Arsia Mons West Flank,” it shows a whole bunch of strange features in addition to a change that occurred sometime in the past two years.

I think it also well illustrates in one image how alien Mars is.

The main features in this photo are what scientists have dubbed reticulate bedforms. These features, found mostly in the high elevations on the flanks of the giant volcanoes in the Tharsis Bulge to the west of Valles Marineris, are thought to be ancient dunes made of volcanic dust and debris that has solidified into an aggregate. These dunes are found with a variety of patterns.

Aggregates on the flanks are transported downslope by katabatic winds and form linear and “accordion” morphologies. Materials within the calderas and other depressions remain trapped and are subjected to multidirectional winds, forming an interlinked “honeycomb” texture. In many places on and near the volcanoes, light-toned, low thermal inertia yardangs and indurated surfaces are present.

The photo to the right appears to show all three patterns, even though it is located on the northwestern slopes of of Arsia Mons, the southernmost of the string of three giant volcanoes in the Tharsis Bulge. On the overview map to the right, this photo’s location is indicated by the white box. The black boxes indicate the location of all the pits caves that surround Arsia Mons which I have previously posted about on Behind the Black.

It is intriguing that, at least at this point, these particular reticulate bedforms on the slopes of Arsia Mons happen to be in a region where few cave pits have so far been identified. It could be that the conditions that form each are mutually exclusive. If you get pits on the slopes of Martian volcano you can’t have reticulate bedforms. Or maybe not all the pits have yet been located, or the flanks of the volcano has many more reticulate bedforms that I simply have not documented.

Either way, this particular cool image has two areas of interest, as noted by the white boxes above.
» Read more

Today’s blacklisted Americans: Anyone who worked in the Trump administration

Death to the Bill of Rights!

They’re coming for you next: Today’s post about the new effort by leftists and Democrats to blacklist all their opponents does not concern any single individual (as has been the focus of my previous posts), but instead will focus on the all-encompassing effort by the Democratic Party and its leftist supporters to blacklist anyone who worked in Trump administration, so they can never get work again.

Thus, today have three stories illustrating the left’s oppressive and intolerant effort to destroy any who oppose them.

First, there is a bill introduced in Congress by a congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D-Florida) that would ban any person from federal employment or military service who might have attended any protest rally that claimed the November 3rd election was stolen, or even suggested that there was voter fraud.

This level of attempted government repression is breathtaking in its scope. As a rule, anyone who is convicted (and that’s a key word) of having breached the Capitol building on January 6th and committing acts of vandalism or attacks on law enforcement officers will likely disqualify themselves from obtaining a security clearance. (And hence, a federal job in most cases.) The same is true for all serious offenses, though you can generally receive a waiver for misdemeanors and minor violations. No new legislation would be needed to make that happen.

But this bill is something entirely different. It would effectively criminalize every person who showed up for the rally and remained out in the streets protesting. The same would go for the hundreds of other rallies held across the nation in the preceding months. Further, depending on how the legislation is interpreted, if you ever engaged with Q-anon believers on social media or other discussion groups, you could be similarly canceled from working in the public sphere.

In other words, Democrat Murphy is aiming to make second class citizens of anyone who dared protest the election of Joe Biden. While it is doubtful her legislation will pass as is, do not be surprised if it gets slipped into a larger omnibus bill somewhere, when no one can spot it. And don’t be surprised when the Democrats controlling Congress help her get this done.

Next we have an effort by leftist activists to develop a real blacklist and use it to prevent anyone who worked for the Trump administration from getting a job in the private sector.
» Read more

The strange moated mesas of the Kasei Valley on Mars

Overview map

In showing my readers today’s cool image, I want to present it as it is seen by scientists, first from a far distance that with time increasingly zooms in to reveal mysteries on a very human scale.

The overview map to the right essentially gives us the view of Mars as seen by scientists following the Mariner 9 orbiter mission that began mapping the Martian surface in late 1971 after the conclusion of a global dust storm that had hidden its surface initially. As the first high resolution map of Mars, the orbiter revealed numerous puzzling and surprising features, including the largest volcanoes and canyons in the solar system. The orbiter also found that the red planet’s surface was comprised of two very different regions, the northern lowland plains and the southern cratered highlands.

The overview map, covering from about 13 degrees south latitude to about 34 degrees north latitude, shows us all but the southern cratered highlands. The white box in Kasei Valles is where today’s cool image is located. Both Kasai and Valles Marineris represent those giant canyons, all invoking to Earth eyes the possibility of catastrophic floods of liquid water sometime in the past.

Ascraeus Mons is the northernmost of the three giant volcanoes east of the biggest volcano of all, Olympus Mons. All sit on what scientists now call the Tharsis Bulge.

Chryse Planitia, where Viking-1 landed in 1976, is part of those northern lowlands that some scientists believe might have been once had an intermittent ocean sometime in the past. Today’s image is about 600 miles from the outlet into Chryse Planitia.

The geological mystery of all these features demands a closer look, something that scientists have been pursuing now for more than a half century.
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The pit caves of Mars: Can humans someday live in them?

Four more pits in the Tharsis Bulge on Mars

It has been more than four months since my last report on the pits of Mars. Time to do another.

The collage to the right shows the four different pits photographed by the high resolution camera of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) since October. The links to each image are:

Like almost all the cave pits so far found on Mars, all are in the Tharsis Bulge of giant volcanoes to west of Valles Marineris. The overview map below shows these pits in the context of every other pit in this region that I have featured on Behind the Black.
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An empty Biden inauguration for a false victory

Comparing crowds at presidential inaugurations
Photos from here.

For those who still think Joe Biden won his election legitimately and with popular support, you need only look at the two screen captures to the right, comparing the crowds at the previous presidential inauguration (at the top) and the crowd today at Biden’s inauguration.

It is also important to note that the Trump crowd in 2017 was totally normal, comparable to every past public inauguration since such events became occasions of grand splendor.

For Democrat Joe Biden, however, the lack of a crowd is essentially unprecedented. While past inaugurations were greeted with large enthusiastic crowds of citizens coming to celebrate the democratic and peaceful transition of power, today’s event was heralded by wartime security, barbed wire fences, military checkpoints, and a military police guard of 25,000 troops. Biden officials claimed this tight security was necessary because of the threat of violence.

I ask however: If 80 million voters swarmed the polls on November 3rd to elect Joe Biden, why does his new administration feel so afraid of the American people? No president in the past was this terrified of taking his oath of office in front of a gigantic crowd. Even Abraham Lincoln did so before a huge crowd in 1865, even as the Civil War still raged, as the photo below shows most emphatically.
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Pioneers and the future

The asteroid mining ship Dream Watcher docked on the Mars space station.
From Pioneer: The asteroid mining ship Dream Watcher docked
on the Mars space station Landville, c2183.

When I first wrote my sole science fiction book, Pioneer, back in the mid-1980s, I strongly believed (and still do) that for the human race to prosper in space and truly build new civilizations on other worlds, freedom, private enterprise, and courage would be required.

It was for this reason there is absolute no mention of NASA in the book. Unlike most modern movies that idolize this mostly dysfunctional government agency and see it as the only solution for accomplishing anything in space (watch The Martian again to see what I mean), I knew that while government will be strongly involved in space exploration for the foreseeable future, for anything to get done quickly those governments will best step aside and figure out how to let their citizens both freely do it and also own what they do.

This weekend’s aborted SLS static fire test illustrates my point perfectly. Rather than depend on private enterprise to get this rocket built, both George Bush Jr. and Congress decided to give the job to their government bureaucrats. The result has been nothing for now over a decade.
» Read more

Blacklists are back and the Democrats have got ’em

The Bill of Rights, cancelled

They’re coming for you next: Oh boy, it’s the 1950s again and its time for witchhunts from Congress and big corporations.

Unlike the 1950s, however, the question will not be whether you have ever been a member of the Communist Party. No, now the question will be much more effective and to the point. It will be “Have you ever been conservative or a member of the Republican Party?”

And as always, today’s progressive Democratic Party is on the ball! Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has revealed members of the House are planning to form a commission to “rein in” conservative media, to prevent them from “spewing disinformation and misinformation.”

During a lengthy Instagram Live on Tuesday evening where she revealed that she feared for her life during the siege, the “Squad” member accused the mainstream media of “spewing disinformation” ahead of the deadly riot in which five people died.

“There’s absolutely a commission that’s being discussed but it seems to be more investigating in style rather than truth and reconciliation,” she said. “I do think that several members of Congress in some of my discussions have brought up media literacy because that is part of what happened here,” Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) went on. “We’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation,” she said.

Hey, Alexandria, I’ve got the perfect name for your congressional commission. Why not call it the House Un-American Activities Committee? You could subpoena right-wing writers and journalists to testify against their will in Congress, demanding to know their party affiliations. You could also set up lists of these proven conservatives so that businesses nationwide can blacklist them and keep them from working.

In fact, many of big corporations, their boards dominated by Democrats, are already ahead of the curve, cutting off all donations to all Republicans who simply wanted to find out if there was election fraud in the 2020 election. Other businesses in turn have begun firing anyone who worked for Trump.

It is obvious, Alexandra, that the work will be rewarding and productive. Get that committee going. Send out those subpoenas. Harass those witnesses.

We can’t have those evil Republicans poisoning our glorious socialist paradise, can we?

We are about to find out who our real friends are

Sergei Krikalev on the space shuttle
Russian Sergei Krikalev on the space shuttle, February 1994.

When in 2002 I was writing my space history, Leaving Earth, I spent more than a month interviewing Russian astronauts in Moscow. Many of those individuals had also flown on the American space shuttle during the initial Mir-Shuttle joint missions followed by the start of the assembly of ISS, which had given them a unique opportunity to get an outsider’s perspective on American culture.

One man Sergei Krikalov, was especially unique. He not only was the first Russian to train at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, he was the first Russian to fly on the space shuttle, and the first to enter ISS’s first module after launch. Because of that experience, he also spoke excellent English, which meant he could describe his experiences to me directly, and not through an interpreter.

When it came to American culture, he noted how as a Russian, he was appalled at the empty nature of American friendships.
» Read more

The new dark age of silencing

Screen capture of Rantingly on January 8, 2021
Click for most recent page.

The dark age has arrived! The screen capture on the right, cropped, rearranged, and color adjusted slightly to fit here, comes from the front page of the conservative news aggregate site Rantingly from tonight, the evening of January 8, 2021, only two days after Congress certified Joe Biden as president-elect and only three days after the Democrats had confirmed that they will have majority control of the both the House and Senate in Congress.

I have highlighted in red the pertinent stories. Very quickly, the Democratic Party’s allies in at Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Apple have moved to shut down many legitimate and popular conservative and Republican news outlets, including the Twitter feed of the President of the United States. With the Democrats in control of the government, these leftist internet platforms know they have nothing to fear by doing this, that if anything the Democrats controlling Congress will applaud them and encourage them to censor more conservative and Republican outlets, to shut them all down if possible.

Beforehand, these social media platforms had held their fire somewhat out of fear that the Republicans would change their special tax status exemptions that define them as open platforms, not publishers. No longer. Their desire to silence their opponents can now swing into high gear, and they are pushing it for all it is worth, including attempting to silence their direct competitors, such as Parler, a twitter-like platform that prides itself on censoring no one.

It is also very important to recognize that this isn’t being done only by the big corporate bosses. No, sirree, this censorship of conservatives and Republicans is fully endorsed by the workforce at these companies. Today’s young generation, properly indoctrinated in leftist-controlled universities to hate conservatives and view them all as white supremacists, have been eager to do this for the last two years, and have actually been held back by their corporate bosses. The reins are now off, and their modern culture of oppression and intolerance has moved to the forefront. Persecution is now cool!

This is only the beginning. Even as I wrote this post more links appeared at Rantingly of more examples of censorship.

For myself, because I for years refused to do business with corrupt companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter, there is not much they can do right now to hurt me. But these actions today point to the future, and I am not confident my immunity will last very long. The leftists doing this have the power and the willing support of a large percentage of the population. They will use that power and support to jam their boot into every one of their opponent’s faces, given time.

The worst part of this horror is that the people who should read it and learn from it, the low information Democratic Party supporters who really don’t understand how evil that party has become, will never see it. My readers generally agree with me. Those that do not generally fall into two categories, those who are strongly partisan and will deny these facts whole-heartedly, or hacks working for the Democratic Party who come here merely to spread misinformation and lies.

The decent and moderate people who are knee-jerk Democrats and who desperately need to read this and to see the intolerance spreading across America from the party they support are just not interested. They will turn away, dismissing what I write with a wave of the hand. This can’t be true! It must be some mad conspiracy claims of the racist alt-right! And maybe those sites are bad and should be silenced!

And I write this from direct knowledge. I have been surrounded by these people my entire life, being a secular Jew who has also been a college teacher, a film maker, and a science journalist. All these communities are dominated by low information Democrats. I have known them all and have I spent my life trying to get them to wake up, all to no avail.

They will not see. They will not hear. And they will not speak up. And so, worse is coming. We no longer live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Soon, it will be a land of oppression and murder and genocide, all because too many Americans decided to close their minds and do nothing.

Rover update: Curiosity on the shore of a sand sea

Curiosity stops on the shore of a sand sea, while Yutu-2 continues its journey west away from Chang’e-2. On the way: Perseverance and China’s first Mars rover on Tianwen-1.

A sand sea on Mars
Click for full image.

Curiosity

The photo on the right, taken in late December, shows the large sand lake the science team has labeled “the Sands of Forvie” that the rover has been working its way uphill to reach since it left the Mary Anning drill site back in November.

Since they arrived there, they have used the rover to roll across the sand, cutting into a ripple to expose its interior, followed by high resolution close-up images. They have also used the rover to analyze the chemical composition of the sand’s grains, from that interior section, from the top of several ripples, and from the troughs in between.

Once finished here, the rover will be turned east again to continue its journey around this sand sea to the very base of Mount Sharp. The overview map below shows the planned route.
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