Today’s blacklisted American: Blackballed professor at NC State sues

The Bill of Rights cancelled at North Carolina State University
Freedom of speech cancelled at
North Carolina State University.

Fighting back: Stephen Porter, a tenured professor at North Carolina State University, has just filed a lawsuit against the university and several of its faculty for blackballing him for simply disagreeing with them on issues of politics and policy.

The introduction of the legal filing [pdf] outlines clearly the actions of the university’s faculty, designed to destroy Porter’s academic career:

[I]n retaliation for Professor Stephen Porter’s protected expressions of opinion on important societal issues, Defendants have intentionally and systematically excluded him from departmental programs and activities that are necessary for him to fulfill his job requirements, effectively hollowing his job out from the inside. They have done this in a deliberate effort to set the stage for his eventual termination. … Defendants are gradually forcing Plaintiff into what is effectively a “rubber room” in retaliation for his criticisms of the so-called “social-justice” ideology that now prevails both in his department and in academia more broadly.

Read the whole complaint. It describes in ugly detail the efforts by his supervisors to isolate and ostracize him so it would be impossible for him to teach and maintain his job.

So, what exactly did Porter do to bring the wrath of these petty dictators down upon him? » Read more

The real human exploration of the solar system began on September 15, 2021

Falcon 9 at T+13 seconds

Capitalism in space: First the news: On September 15, 2021 SpaceX successfully placed four civilians into orbit using its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule.

Thus began the first private manned orbital mission in space, planned to last three days and reach an altitude of 595 kilometers or 370 miles, the highest any person has flown in space in decades.

The first stage, on its third flight, successfully landed for reuse. The Dragon capsule, Resilience, was on its second manned flight. The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

31 China
23 SpaceX
15 Russia
4 Northrop Grumman

The U.S. now leads China 34 to 31 in the national rankings.

Now the significance: There was one moment about five minutes after lift off that revealed the fundamental difference between this real flight into space and the short suborbital hops that Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic did in July.

The three most critical moments of any launch had just been completed. The first stage engines had cut off, the first stage had separated successfully, and the single upper stage engine had ignited. It was now lifting the capsule towards orbit, with the only major technical task left were its engine cut off and the separation of the Dragon capsule.

At that moment John Insprucker, principal integretion engineer for SpaceX and frequent host during its launch live streams, made a quick comment that was clearly meant to illustrate the vast difference in achievement between this flight and those two July suborbital flights. He said,
» Read more

Watching the first all-private commercial manned orbital spaceflight

Liberty and freedom enlightening the world
Liberty and freedom enlightening not only the world,
but the entire solar system.

Bumped: I will be out on a cave trip for most of today, September 15, 2021, so I’ve moved this post to the top of the page, as it clearly will be the most important space news today. I should be back before launch, but if not, enjoy!

Original post:
————————
Capitalism in space: Let’s begin by underlining one fundamental fact about the Inspiration4 manned Dragon orbital space mission, targeted for a September 15th launch tomorrow evening, that makes it different from every other orbital space mission ever flown since Yuri Gagarin completed the first manned mission in 1961:

The government has nothing to do with it.

The launch facilities, the rocket, the capsule, the drone ship where the rocket’s first stage will land, and the entire recovery operation in the ocean are all controlled and owned by SpaceX. The passengers are private citizens, one of whom purchased the flight directly from SpaceX.

It is was organized by 38-year-old billionaire and entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, who is also a highly-capable jet warbird aircraft pilot. When he found out from SpaceX he could be the first to fly an all-commercial mission in Crew Dragon, he fronted $100 million to $200 million required and partnered with St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in a campaign to give away two of the missions seats and raise $200 Million for children’s cancer research.

Every person you will see in mission control, at the launchpad, and on the recovery ships are also private citizens, working for a private company that just happens to be in the business of flying rockets, spaceships, and humans into space. None are government employees, and I would suspect that most don’t want to be.

Not only is this mission privately run, its goals are completely different. While all past space launches were flown for purposes decided by the government, this mission’s goals have been determined by the free participants themselves. SpaceX is making money on the flight, Isaacman and his passengers are getting the chance to fulfill their long-held personal dream of going into space, and Isaacman is also using this flight to raise money for cancer research, a personal passion of his.

The flight itself will be unusual. It will be the first manned mission in more than a decade, since the last shuttle repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, to not go to an orbiting space station. Instead, the capsule will spend three days free-flying in orbit around the Earth. To enhance the flight for the passengers, SpaceX removed the docking port on Resilience (the capsule) and replaced it with a viewing port with large windows.

The orbit itself will in a sense push the envelope, as SpaceX plans to loft the capsule to an altitude of about 370 miles, considerably higher than ISS’s orbit of about 260 miles and about 35 miles higher than the mission to Hubble. In fact, the Inspiration4 crew will be the farthest from the Earth’s surface than any human in decades, possibly going back as far as the Apollo era.

For watching this flight I have embedded SpaceX’s live stream below, which you can also find here. You will also be able to find that stream at SpaceX’s YouTube page, where the company is also airing preflight videos.

This mission illustrates the fundamentals that built the United States of America. Give humans freedom, don’t try to tell them what to do, and they will do astonishing and magnificent things, on their own.
» Read more

The boom in commercial space continues

Starship on an early test flight
Modern rocketry soaring under freedom

Capitalism in space: In the last two days there have been so many stories about different space companies winning new contracts I think it is important to illustrate this in one essay, rather than in multiple posts. Below is the list:

The last two stories are possibly the most significant, because both show that the shift in space from government-built to privately-built, as I advocated in my 2017 policy paper, Capitalism in Space, is spreading to other countries. » Read more

Flight anomalies occurred during Branson’s suborbital flight in July

Capitalism in space: According to a New Yorker story today, the suborbital flight of Richard Branson in July experienced several flight anomalies that the article suggests should have caused it to end early before reaching space.

The rocket motor on Virgin Galactic’s ship is programmed to burn for a minute. On July 11th, it had a few more seconds to go when a red light also appeared on the console: an entry glide-cone warning. This was a big deal. I once sat in on a meeting, in 2015, during which the pilots on the July 11th mission—Dave Mackay, a former Virgin Atlantic pilot and veteran of the U.K.’s Royal Air Force, and Mike Masucci, a retired Air Force pilot—and others discussed procedures for responding to an entry glide-cone warning. C. J. Sturckow, a former marine and nasa astronaut, said that a yellow light should “scare the [“#$%#] out of you,” because “when it turns red it’s gonna be too late”; Masucci was less concerned about the yellow light but said, “Red should scare the crap out of you.” Based on pilot procedures, Mackay and Masucci had basically two options: implement immediate corrective action, or abort the rocket motor. According to multiple sources in the company, the safest way to respond to the warning would have been to abort. (A Virgin Galactic spokesperson disputed this contention.)

Aborting at that moment, however, would have dashed Branson’s hopes of beating his rival Bezos, whose flight was scheduled for later in the month, into space. Mackay and Masucci did not abort.

Virgin Galactic’s response, including the FAA’s statement, can be found here. The company noted that the flight deviation occurred because of unexpected high altitude winds. The FAA’s comment I think provides some reasonably perspective:
» Read more

Why only NOW is there mounting concern over President Biden’s mental health?


Biden as he forgets what truths we hold as self-evident in March 2020.

A Daily Mail story from last week reported on the growing concern of doctors and other health experts about the mental state of Joe Biden, the oldest American president ever.

Questions have been raised about US President Joe Biden’s cognitive wellbeing after a car crash interview over his handling of the unfolding Afghanistan crisis. America’s oldest president provided jumbled responses to questions and mixed up details about his son in an interview with ABC. The stumbles did not make the broadcasted version but were revealed when a full transcript of the interview was published overnight.

It revealed the President incorrectly stated his late son Beau Biden worked for the Navy in Afghanistan, before correcting himself that he served for the Army in Iraq. It follows a spate of gaffes and slips of the tongue since the 78-year-old ran his successful presidential campaign in 2019.

This story only highlights a growing slew of news stories and op-eds that have appeared recently during the ongoing debacle in Afghanistan, in both the right and leftwing press, that have noticed how President Biden appears repeatedly confused in interviews while showing signs that he does not quite understand what is going on around him.

Of course, for the press and the political class to recognize these facts now, after Biden has become president, is equivalent to closing the barn door after the animals have escaped. As I noted in October 2020, before the election, these cognitive issues have been obvious for the last two years, and had been getting steadily worse throughout 2020 during the election campaign. As I wrote then,
» Read more

Curiosity’s coming mountainous target

Curiosity's upcoming mountainous target
Click for full image.

Overview map


Click for interactive map.

Cool image time! The photo above, taken on August 22, 2021 by Curiosity’s left navigation camera and reduced to post here, looks ahead at the rover’s upcoming mountainous goals. The overview map to the right shows the area covered by this image by the yellow lines. The dotted red line indicates the rover’s original planned route, with the white dotted line its actual path of travel.

The cliff ahead is about 400-500 feet away. The top of this cliff is the Greenheugh Pediment, its blocky top geological layer visible as the dark cap at the top of the cliff face. Back in March 2020 Curiosity had climbed up to view across this pediment, from a point to the northwest and off the overview map to the left. (Go to this link to see what the view was like from there.) Since then the science team has had the rover travel quite a distance, to circle around to now approach the pediment from the east.

The white box marks the area covered by a close-up high resolution mast camera image, shown below.
» Read more

The knives aimed at SpaceX are getting sharpened

Starship must be banned!
Banning Starship: The new goal of our leftist masters.

Two stories today mark what appears to be a growing political campaign focused on squelching by any means possible the continued unparalleled success of the company SpaceX. And the simultaneous publication of both stories on the same day also suggests that this campaign is deliberately timed to force the FAA to shut down SpaceX at Boca Chica.

First we have a story at Space.com aimed at SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, making it the big villain in the growing threat of satellite collisions.

SpaceX’s Starlink satellites alone are involved in about 1,600 close encounters between two spacecraft every week, that’s about 50 % of all such incidents, according to Hugh Lewis, the head of the Astronautics Research Group at the University of Southampton, U.K. These encounters include situations when two spacecraft pass within a distance of 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) from each other.

Lewis, Europe’s leading expert on space debris, makes regular estimates of the situation in orbit based on data from the Socrates (Satellite Orbital Conjunction Reports Assessing Threatening Encounters in Space ) database. This tool, managed by Celestrack, provides information about satellite orbits and models their trajectories into the future to assess collision risk.

Though his data appears accurate and the growing risk of collisions is real, it appears from the story that Lewis, one of only two experts interviewed, has a strong hostility to SpaceX. He doesn’t like the fact that SpaceX is so successful in such a short time, and appears to want something done to control it.

The article also nonchalantly sloughs off one very significant fact: Very few satellite collisions have actually occurred. While the risk is certainly going to increase, that increase is not going to be fueled just by SpaceX. At least four large constellations are presently in the works, all comparable to Starlink in some manner. To focus on SpaceX in particular makes this article appear like a hatchet job.

Then we have a news story from CBS and its very partisan and leftist news show, Sixty Minutes+, providing a loud soapbox for the very small number of anti-development environmentalists fighting to block SpaceX’s operations in Boca Chica, Texas.
» Read more

Today’s blacklisted American: For too many, it ain’t my problem

Rick, stating the truth in Casablanca
Still asleep, and tragically, they refuse to wake up.

Last week I took a break from publishing my daily “Today’s blacklisted American” column. It is without doubt a depressing chore to detail day after day examples where power-hungry thugs smash their jackboots on the faces of innocent people, merely because those innocent people committed the horrible crime of disagreeing with thugs.

I found I needed that break. I also had sensed — from the overall decreasing interest by news aggregate sites in my column — that the news business, even the conservative news business, was becoming bored with these stories.

Worse, I sensed that many readers found these stories distasteful and wished to avoid them. Though I don’t give a rat’s ass that these ostriches (with their heads in the sand) were bothered, it was nonetheless depressing to sense such people existed, and nothing I did could ever penetrate their close-minded brains.

My post announcing this break sadly confirmed my worse fears.
» Read more

As thousands of teachers endorse critical race theory, home schooling surges

What apparently Critical Race Theory sees as for education for elementary school kids.
What apparently Critical Race Theory sees as for education
for elementary school kids.

In the past few months state legislatures across the country have passed resolutions that ban schools from teaching the Marxist and bigoted program dubbed Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Not surprisingly, the leftists who dominate our school systems have fought back. The very leftist Zinn Education Project immediately created a petition calling for teachers to defy such laws and to continue to teach CRT, which teaches children to hate whites and to give minorities privileged status.

In the two months this petition has been on line almost 6,000 teachers have signed it, with many adding comments of defiance. This one is typical:
» Read more

The annual July fund-raising campaign: Thank you!

This post will remain at the top of the page for the next few days. Scroll down for news updates and commentaries.

My July fund-raising campaign for 2021 has now ended. Thank you all for your donations and subscriptions. While this year’s campaign was not as spectacular as last year’s, it was the second best July campaign since I began this website. My gratitude cannot be expressed adequately.

As already mentioned, a handful of people have donated enough for a free ebook, but have not responded to my requests for which book they wish and in what format. I can’t give you this gift if you don’t tell me what you want. Will those individuals please email me the book and the format (epup or pdf) they desire?

I once again must express my gratitude to everyone for their support. No one is obliged to pay anything to read my website. That so many people are willing to give freely warms my heart, and gives me hope that I am not the only person left who believes in fearless exploration and freedom.

Apollo: When Americans last did some real exploring

The journey of Apollo 15 on the Moon
Click for full image.

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the landing of Apollo 15 on the Moon. To commemorate that event the science team for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) today published some orbital images that capture the astronauts’ travels while on the Moon. The picture to the right, reduced to post here, outlines in oblique view their various excusions to the edge of Hadley Rille and the foot of a mountain dubbed Hadley Delta. As they note,

While Apollo 15 was the fourth mission to land a crew successfully on the lunar surface, it still pioneered many new technologies and had many firsts.

Some of the technologies developed for Apollo 15 included new suits, which were more flexible and had longer life support capabilities, as well as the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), a rover capable of speeds up to 15 km / hour. With these advancements, astronauts Commander David (Dave) Scott and Lunar Module Pilot James (Jim) Irwin were able to travel more than eight times the distance traveled during the previous mission, for a total of over 25 km.

All told, astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin spent more than 18 hours exploring the lunar surface on three scouting trips, covering 15.5 miles. During all those excursions their only protection from the harsh lunar environment was that thin spacesuit. In addition, if their rover broke down a walk back to the lunar module would become a race against suffocation.

And even then, they still had to get that lunar module off the ground, rendezvous and dock with the Apollo 15 command module, and then get that module back to Earth safely.
» Read more

New studies show that the biggest risk to kids from COVID are the policies of governments

New studies about COVID-19 and its effect on children continue to show that the strigent health policies being demanded by government agencies like the CDC and WHO and many Democrats are actually the biggest health threat for children than the virus itself.

First, a major survey of 48,000 children who had become infected with COVID-19 has found that absolutely no healthy children died from the disease.

Dr. Marty Makary is a medical expert and professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Carey Business School. His research team “worked with the nonprofit FAIR Health to analyze approximately 48,000 children under 18 diagnosed with Covid in health-insurance data from April to August 2020.”

After studying comprehensive data on thousands of children, the team “found a mortality rate of zero among children without a pre-existing medical condition such as leukemia.”

Let me repeat that. They looked at tens of thousands of kids under the age of 18 and could not find one case where a healthy child died. All recovered. None needed a vaccine, as their young and very strong immune systems did what those immune systems have always done, fought off a sickness to give them an immunity for the rest of their lives.

So kids are safe from COVID, even if they are not vaccined and actually catch the virus and get sick.

At the same time, other studies have found that both masks and the vaccines are actually a greater health threat to children than the virus itself.
» Read more

Blue Origin completes first commercial suborbital flight

New Shepard just prior to landing
New Shepard just prior to landing.

Capitalism in space: Blue Origin this morning successfully flew its first commercial suborbital flight using its New Shepard spacecraft, taking Jeff Bezos and four other passengers, one paying, to an altitude of 66.5 miles.

The flight lasted just over ten minutes.

I have embedded the video of the flight, cued to just before launch, below the fold. Try to ignore the blather of Blue Origin’s announcer, which fortunately mostly stops once the spacecraft passes 62 miles and enters space. At that point microphones from inside the capsule take over, and you get to hear the reaction of the passengers themselves.

A grand success for Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos. And another grand success for freedom and private enterprise.

Next up, the beginning of regular commercial orbital manned tourist flights, starting in September. Here is the present flight manifest:

  • September 2021: SpaceX’s Dragon capsule flies four private citizens on a three day orbital flight
  • October 2021: The Russians will fly two passengers to ISS to shoot a movie
  • December 2021: The Russians will fly billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant to ISS for 12 days
  • cDecember 2021: Space Adventures, using a Dragon capsule, will fly four in orbit for five days
  • January 2022: Axiom, using a Dragon capsule, will fly four tourists to ISS
  • 2022-2024: Three more Axiom tourist flights on Dragon to ISS
  • 2024: Axiom begins launching its own modules to ISS, starting construction of its own private space station
  • c2024: SpaceX’s Starship takes Yusaku Maezawa and several others on a journey around the Moon.

» Read more

FAA threatens shutdown of SpaceX’s Starship program at Boca Chica

Banned by the FAA?
Starship banned by the FAA?

They’re coming for you next: An FAA official revealed yesterday that the agency has not approved the launch tower that SpaceX is building for its Starship/Superheavy rocket in Boca Chica, Texas, and threatened that if disapproved the government would force the company to tear it down.

The Federal Aviation Administration warned Elon Musk’s SpaceX in a letter two months ago that the company’s work on a launch tower for future Starship rocket launches is yet unapproved, and will be included in the agency’s ongoing environmental review of the facility in Boca Chica, Texas. “The company is building the tower at its own risk,” an FAA spokesperson told CNBC on Wednesday, noting that the environmental review could recommend taking down the launch tower.

The FAA last year began an environmental review of SpaceX’s Starship development facility, as Musk’s company said it planned to apply for licenses to launch the next-generation rocket prototypes from Boca Chica. While the FAA completed an environmental assessment of the area in 2014, that review was specific to SpaceX’s much-smaller Falcon series of rockets.

This revelation from FAA officials is most interestingly timed, coming on the same day as this garbage article about the terrible environmental damages some activists imagine SpaceX’s launch facility might someday cause. As is usual for a mainstream news source, the article makes no reference to the wildlife preserve that surrounds the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where we have empirical proof for more than a half century that a spaceport does no harm to the environment and actually acts to protect it from development.

Nor was this the only such attack article in the past two days. Here is just a sampling:
» Read more

The bell of freedom rings in space

The Liberty Bell
“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and the
inhabitants thereof.” Photo credit: William Zhang

Not surprisingly the mainstream press today was agog with hundreds of stories about Richard Branson’s suborbital space flight yesterday on Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spaceplane.

The excitement and joy over this success is certainly warranted. Back in 2004 Branson set himself the task of creating a reusable suborbital space plane he dubbed SpaceShipTwo, modeled after the suborbital plane that had won the Ansari X-Prize and intended to sell tickets so that private citizens would have the ability to go into space.

His flight yesterday completed that journey. The company he founded and is slowly selling off so that he is only a minority owner now has a vehicle that for a fee can take anyone up to heights ranging from 50 to 60 miles, well within the U.S. definition of space.

Nonetheless, if you rely on the media frenzy about this particular flight to inform you about the state of commercial space you end up having a very distorted picture of this new blossoming industry. Branson’s achievement, as great as it is, has come far too late. Had he done it a decade ago, as he had promised, he would have achieved something historic, proving what was then considered impossible, that private enterprise, using no government resources, could make space travel easy and common.

Now, however, he merely joins the many other private enterprises that are about to fly into space, with most doing it more frequently and with far greater skill and at a much grander scale than Virgin Galactic. His flight is no longer historic. It is merely one of many that is about to reshape space exploration forever.

Consider the upcoming schedule of already paid for commercial manned flights:
» Read more

Today’s blacklisted American: What the last six months has revealed

Today's modern witch hunt
Reporting daily the modern witch hunt against freedom and
independent thought.

It is just about six months since I decided to do a daily column entitled “Today’s Blacklisted American.” In that time I have documented more than 120 examples where one group of Americans thought it okay and proper to destroy the livelihood and freedom of other Americans, all because the latter said something the former did not like.

The link will take you to the full list of columns since mid-January. After six months I think it is time to assess what these columns have revealed. And that revelation is quite ugly.
» Read more

Curiosity’s mountainous view

Curiosity's view uphill on June 23, 2021
Click for full resolution panorama. Note: Navarro Mt is about 450 feet high.

The travels of Curiosity at the base of Mount Sharp continue. In the past week, since my last update on June 16th, the rover has moved west past the entrance to Gediz Vallis to now sit at the base of Raphael Navarro Mountain, as shown by the panorama above. To get a sense of how far the rover has traveled in the past week, compare this panorama with the one posted then. It is also clear now that they are slowly returning to their planned route, and will not push up into Gediz Vallis as I speculated in that post.

The panorama is created from three photos taken by Curiosity’s navigation camera, found here, here, and here.

The map below the fold gives the context.
» Read more

New studies: Plexiglass does nothing; masks carry diseases; lockdowns destroyed 40% of all small businesses

Modern science!
How modern politicians apply science!

Three new studies have once again confirmed what common sense and a hundred-plus years of medical research has consistently shown, that the measures mandated by foolish governments and health officials last year to supposedly “stop” or “slow” the spread of COVID-19 did nothing of the sort, and instead likely accomplished the exact opposite.

The studies specifically looked at three of the most popular and imposing actions mandated by either governments or corporations, the installation of plexiglass everywhere, the mandating of mask use, and the draconian lockdowns that shut down whole states for almost a year. In all three cases, the studies found them worse than useless.

First, the plexiglass barriers: Not only has there never been any research documenting the usefulness of the plexiglass barriers that restaurants, convenience stores, and almost all businesses have installed to isolate their workers and customers from each other and thus supposedly prevent the spread of COVID-19, a new study from Boston found that the plexiglass barriers likely increased the risk of infection, because it hampered the flow of air circulation.
» Read more

The Mountains of Mars

The mountains of Mars
Click for full resolution. The highest mountain on the right is about 450 feet high.

Even as the rover Perseverance is beginning its first science campaign on the floor of Jezero Crater, the rover Curiosity about 3,000 miles to the east has begun its climb into the mountains of Mars that surround the central peak of Gale Crater, Mount Sharp.

The mosaic above, made from two images taken by the rover’s right navigation camera (here and here), shows what Curiosity sees ahead. Since my last update on June 4th describing Curiosity’s future travels, the rover’s science team has pushed forward directly uphill towards the entrance to the canyon Gediz Vallis, visible as the gap between the mountains to the right and left in the above mosaic.

The overview map below shows the rover’s approximate present position, with the yellow lines indicating what the above photo is looking at.
» Read more

More evidence the COVID-19 panic was just that: an unwarranted panic

The Scream by Edvard Munch
The Scream by Edvard Munch, the absolute wrong response
to any emergency, and sadly the very response Americans adopted
against COVID-19.

Three more stories in the past few weeks have proven once again what I and many others saw unequivocally more than a year ago: The panicky response to COVID was unwarranted and not based on the actual facts on the ground but on manipulated and unproven assumptions.

Those assumptions were touted for purely political reasons. Worse, too many Americans meekly accepted those assumptions without any of the kind of mature skepticism that is required of adult citizens in a democratic republic. The result: Our rights were violated and false and corrupt politicians gained power, power they eagerly abused.

First, officials in Alameda County in California revealed on June 4th that they have reduced the number of COVID deaths in that county for the past year by about 25%, from 1,634 to 1,223.

“There are definitely people who died from reasons that were clearly not caused by COVID,”said Neetu Balram, a spokesperson for the Alameda County Public Health Department. Balram couldn’t give specifics about the true cause of death for the 411 people removed from the COVID-19 data, but she said the cases were identified after reviewing codes entered by county coroners into CalREDIE, the state’s database for disease reporting and surveillance.

None of this is a surprise to anyone who was open-minded enough to pay attention. The federal government provided hospitals and doctors a bonus for claiming as many deaths as possible as caused by COVID. They thus inflated the numbers grossly. Moreover, encouraging a panic in 2020 over the Wuhan flu served the political ends of the Democratic Party (to which almost all health officials belong) because it then justified the illegal easing of election laws so that Democrats could commit election fraud in November with ease.

Thus, doctors had both financial and political incentives to inflate the COVID numbers, which apparently they did with glee.

Two research papers published in mid-May added further weight to these conclusions:
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Today’s blacklisted American: Doctors fired and blackballed for calling for race-neutral policies in medicine

Lysenko with Stalin
Trofim Lysenko preaching to Stalin. His policies destroyed
Soviet plant research, persecuted anyone who disagreed
with him, and caused famines that killed millions. And they are
all policies now being adopted by the American medical field.

Persecution is now cool! Last year, the University of Pittsburgh fired cardiologist Norman Wang because he wrote and published a peer-reviewed paper calling for race-neutral policies in medicine.

In addition, he was publicly denounced by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the journal retracted his paper, even though no one could cite any errors in his work.

As the criticism mounted, Wang was removed from his position as the director of a fellowship program in clinical cardiac electrophysiology at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and was prohibited from making any contact with students. His boss reportedly told him that his classroom was “inherently unsafe” due to the views he expressed.

Unsafe, eh? Can’t have those students hear any opinions or facts that might contradict the modern “woke” narrative!

Wang is suing both the AHA and the University of Pittsburgh for defamation and violating his first amendment rights. Whether he wins or not remains quite unknown, especially considering the increasingly intolerant nature of today’s society.

The article at the link however goes far beyond simply telling Wang’s story. First, it describes the cases of two other doctors who were forced to resign for similar reasons: they questioned the modern obsession with race and suggested that things would be far better if “race was taken out of the conversation.” The mob immediately rose up against both, and their medical organization, the American Medical Association (AMA), then moved to get them fired or removed.

The article then however goes even farther, outlining how this evil oppressive blacklisting culture is beginning to have a much wider and very negative impact on the practice of medicine and the treatment of patients.
» Read more

Curiosity’s dramatic path forward

Curiosity's future travels
Click for full image.

Cool image time! In the coming weeks and months the view from Curiosity is going to give us the most spectacular views of another world since the Apollo astronauts walked on the Moon.

In today’s download of new images from the Mars rover Curiosity was the photo above, reduced to post here. Taken by rover’s right navigation camera, it looks west directly in line with Curiosity’s future travels, and shows that it is now finally entering mountain country.

The overview map below provides the context.
» Read more

New investment capital pours into commercial space

Launcher's E2 engine
Launcher’s 3D printed E2 engine, claimed by the company
to be the highest performance engine for small rockets.

Capitalism in space: Three stories today underlined superbly the robust and steadily growing state of the commercial space industry. Moreover, these stories suggest that this growth will be permanent with almost no limit to its possibilities.

To begin, we have the public appearance of another startup smallsat rocket company, dubbed Launcher.

Small launch vehicle developer Launcher has raised $11.7 million in a Series A funding round, which the company says puts it on a path to reaching orbit with a fraction of the total investment of other launch startups. Launcher said June 2 that the Series A round was co-led by Boost.VC and the company’s founder, Max Haot, both of whom earlier provided seed funding to the startup. Haot invested $5 million using proceeds of a camera company, Mevo.com, that he sold earlier this year to Logitech. Other existing and new investors also participated in the round, which Haot told SpaceNews was oversubscribed.

…Launcher is working on a small launch vehicle called Launcher Light, intended to be similar in performance to Rocket Lab’s Electron, which can place up to 300 kilograms into low Earth orbit. Launcher Light is a smaller version of Rocket-1, the company’s original vehicle, which Haot said in March should speed up development since it will require fewer engines.

The company hopes to launch by ’24, and is also planning another fund-raising round next year to raise an additional $40 million.

Considering the large number of new rocket companies raising capital, who knows if this company will make it. Certainly some will grab market share and survive, but more likely in the coming decade there will be a shake-out where many will either consolidate or disappear, similar to what happened in the early days of the automobile industry.

That so many similar new rocket companies are attracting so many investors however shows that people with money are now convinced that space is the place, and the future there is very bright for profit. And what lends weight to this sentiment are the other two stories today, both of which involve new space startups that are not rocket companies but the kind of ground facilities required by the satellites those rockets launch.
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SpaceX barrelling like a juggernaut toward first Starship/Superheavy orbital flight this year

Starship #15 about to land
Starship prototype #15 about to land, May 5, 2021

A series of articles at Teslarati in the past two days suggest strongly that the next Starship flight will be on top of a Superheavy first stage, and will likely be the first near orbital flight from Texas around the globe to splashdown softly in the Pacific Ocean northeast of Hawaii.

And it will likely happen this year!

First there was the report from locals in the McGregor, Texas, area indicating that SpaceX has completed a full duration launch burn of a Raptor engine.

A local resident and unofficial SpaceX observer has reported hearing a test of one of Starship’s Raptor engines that lasted more than five minutes at the company’s McGregor, Texas development facilities.

If accurate, it could be the longest static fire of a Starship engine that SpaceX has ever completed in the two years since full-scale Raptor testing first began. Whether it was successful or not, a five or six-minute static fire would also confirm that SpaceX is well into the process of qualifying Raptor for Starship’s first orbital launch attempts.

This burn is somewhat longer than the engine burns during the Starship test hops, and approaches the burn time required for Superheavy during a launch.

Next there was the report describing the newest known engine configurations SpaceX is planning for Superheavy itself, with the first version possibly having 29 engines and a future more powerful version sporting 32.
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Flash! SpaceX to use a NEW Falcon 9 1st stage!

Both side boosters landing during the 1st Falcon Heavy launch
Both side boosters landing during
the 1st Falcon Heavy launch

Capitalism in space: For the first time in since September 2020, SpaceX has delivered a new Falcon 9 1st stage to its Florida launch site in preparation for launch.

This new stage will be used on the June 3rd launch of a cargo Dragon freighter to ISS.

What is remarkable about this story is that it is news that SpaceX is using a new first stage. Not only have all of their fifteen launches in 2021 lifted off with used boosters, since November 2020 they have completed nineteen launches using only used boosters.

That’s 19 launches in only six months, all with previously flown boosters!

During that time the company’s Falcon rocket division has apparently dedicated its time in upgrading and building new Falcon Heavy 1st stage boosters, in preparation for the first Falcon Heavy launches since June 2019, set for July and October later this year. I suspect the focus has been an effort to upgrade the core booster so that it will be successfully recovered this time, something that did not occur on two of the first three Falcon Heavy launches in 2018 and 2019..
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Today’s blacklisted American: You are supporting the blacklisting of someone, no matter what you do

Rick, stating the truth in Casablanca
Click for video.

Today’s column on blacklisting won’t point out any particular person or group being blacklisted. Instead, I want to make it clear to my readers how completely dominate the intolerant culture of blackballing and censorship has become in America.

This intolerance has been well documented for years in the political, academic, and artistic communities. If you dare to be an outspoken conservative or Republican you will quickly find yourself an outcast, your job threatened and your future squashed. I know. I have been both a filmmaker and a film teacher, and am now a journalist writing often about political matters, and have had to face blacklisting myself more than a few times.

It is only in the last year that it has become evident that the the business community wishes to join in.

To fight this, many open-minded and tolerant Americans try to avoid companies that oppress people for their political views or ethnicity, in the hope that the loss of income will force these companies to change their behavior. In fact, there is now even a webpage, Cancel This Company, that tries to provide a complete list of the worst and most oppressive companies, while also carefully documenting that bad behavior so you know your decision is based on fact.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well it ain’t that easy.
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Starship #15 launches AND lands successfully

Starship #15 about to land

Starship #15 after landing

Capitalism in space: On the 60th anniversary of Alan Shepard’s suborbital flight, making him the first American to fly in space, SpaceX has successfully launched and landed its fifteenth Starship prototype.

The flight appeared remarkably smooth, except for the cameras on board which dropped out for much of the flight. The first image shows the rocket coming down just before touch down. At this moment it was dropping very smoothly, and landed very gently on the landing pad.

The second image was taken about thirty seconds after landing. There was a fire at the rocket’s base being extinguished by the water fire control system. Other than that, the rocket appears whole and undamaged.

As I write this, it is about ten minutes after landing, the fires at the rocket’s base have been put out, and all seems under control. I expect that SpaceX engineers will finally have a fully intact prototype that they can inspect for future design revisions. For example, the skin of this prototype has many thermal tiles attached. They can now see if their attachment system works.

I have embedded the 16 minute live stream of the flight below the fold. Enjoy!
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Today’s blacklisted American: Any conservative on Twitter

Twitter's idea of debate
Show trials: Debate as Twitter sees it.

Blacklists are back and Twitter’s got ’em: Rather than write today about a single specific individual being blacklisted and destroyed by today’s intolerant left, let’s take a look at one of that left’s most intolerant and oppressive blacklister, Twitter.

Like all the big tech social media companies such as Google and Facebook, Twitter is essentially run like a leftwing fiefdom. Though it allows conservative writers to post there, it makes it very clear that they are always under a probation that can be withdrawn immediately if someone in company’s workforce finds itself offended or disagreeing with something that conservative posted.

For example, in January religious radio host Michael Brown got banned from Twitter for twelve hours for simply posting a tweet where he asked this simple question: “Will I get punished by Twitter for saying that, in God’s sight, ‘Rachel’ Levine (nominated by Biden to be his assistant secretary for HHS) is a man?”
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The devastating epidemic that simply wasn’t devastating

It is now more than a year since the arrival of the coronavirus in the United States and the panicky wave of fear it brought to our governments and many of our citizens, shutting down whole states, bankrupting millions of businesses, and shuttering schools for practically a whole year. In the process our governments have demanded we change how we live in fundamental ways, from no longer gathering together in any social setting to wearing masks wherever we go, inside or out.

Was that reaction correct? Readers of my website know that I never believed it rational, and that it was an entirely out-of-proportion response to what was really nothing more than a new variation of the flu.

Well, we now have some data that reveals the actual scale of the COVID-19 epidemic, as shown by the CDC graph below:
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