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.
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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.
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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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Sunspot update: December sunspot activity once again higher than predicted

The uncertainty of science: It is time to once again take a look at the state of the Sun’s on-going sunspot cycle. Below is NOAA’s January 1, 2020 monthly graph, documenting the Sun’s monthly sunspot activity and annotated by me to show previous solar cycle predictions.

The ramp up to solar maximum continued in December. Though there was a drop from the very high activity seen in November, the number of sunspots in December still far exceeded the prediction as indicated by the red curve.

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Is the ultimate Republican Party failure theater about to happen?

The dead Constitution

For the past thirty years the Republican Party has been amazingly consistent in almost every political battle put before it by the increasingly leftist and radical Democratic Party. Almost every single time, the leaders of this so-called conservative political party have put on a big show of resisting the leftist and radical proposals put forth by Democrats, only in the end to back down, making a deal that allows those policies to take effect in some manner or another.

I am not sure who originally coined the term, but in recent years this incompetence has often been called “failure theater.” The Republican Party justifies its failures by citing the big theatrical fight they put on. They then promise they will fight harder next time, only to fail again. And again. And again.

This failure theater has been going on repeatedly for decades, since Ronald Reagan was president. Then Donald Trump came along. Unlike the establishment Republicans who ran for president since Reagan (Bush Sr., Dole, Bush Jr., McCain, Romney), Trump generally does not back down easily. He does not participate in failure theater. When he fights he fights to win, which has made the corrupt leadership in the Republican Party very uncomfortable for the past four years.
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The state of the global rocket industry in the 21st century

With the year of 2020 coming to an end, it is time to look back to see how the world’s rocket industry fared in what was a truly difficult year for most. And with the 21st century now one fifth over, it is also time to take a wider view, to see what the trends have been for space exploration during this new century, and to see where those trends might lead.

Below is my annual updated table showing all successful orbital launches by every nation and company, beginning in 2000. While the table in my 2019 report last year had gone back to 1990, I decided to shorten the graph to just the 21st Century, in order to better focus on that century in particular.

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Antrim County election audit: Dominion machines unreliable, evidence suggests vote tampering

The computer audit of the Atrim County election Dominion tabulator machines has found [pdf] irrevocable evidence that these machines and their software is unreliable, that the evidence suggests significant vote tampering, and also suggests criminal activity to do it.

The preliminary findings including 24 points, all of which are shocking. The second sums it up:

We conclude that the Dominion Voting System is intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results. The system intentionally generates an enormously high number of ballot errors. The electronic ballots are then transferred for adjudication. The intentional errors lead to bulk adjudication of ballots with no oversight, no transparency, and no audit trail. This leads to voter or election fraud. Based on our study, we conclude that The Dominion Voting System should not be used in Michigan. We further conclude that the results of Antrim County should not have been certified.

The audit also included data from two other counties as well, all of which confirmed the results from Antrim.
The audit found that the software for this election somehow failed to properly scan a “staggering” number of ballots, up to 81% in one case, requiring a manual unsupervised adjudication of the scan in order to record the vote. This failure rate — averaging 68.05% — was completely different than past election records, and exceeded the allowable election error rate established by the Federal Election Commission guidelines, 1 in 250,000 ballots (.0008%), by many orders of magnitude.

They also found evidence of willful obstruction of justice to hide these facts. The files and adjudication logs are missing. There was also an attempt to zero out the machines before the audit could obtain its data. Finally, the software was updated just before the election, and then just afterward.

The only reason to change software after the election would be to obfuscate evidence of fraud and/or to correct program errors that would de-certify the election. Our findings show that the Central Lake Township tabulator tape totals were significantly altered by utilizing two different program versions (10/232020 and 11/05/2020), both of which were software changes during an election which violates election law, and not just human error associated with the Dominion Election Management System. This is clear evidence of software generated movement of votes. The claims made on the Office of the Secretary of State website are false.

Read it for yourself. More important, download it immediately and pass it to friends. I predict that many of your Democratic Party friends will dismiss it as fake. Some however will not. If just ten percent recognize these facts the election will likely get invalidated.

And make sure you pass it to your legislators. Any state that used these machines needs to review the results, and most likely must invalidate them. We need a new election.

Starship: Old-fashioned American know-how

Starship about 2 minutes into its flight

Yesterday’s truly epic first flight of SpaceX’s giant Starship rocket illustrated several truths that bear repeating, in clear and forceful language.

SpaceX succeeded because its company philosophy is open-minded, fearless, and thus free.

The open-mindedness culture comes from Elon Musk’s insistence that they never settle on any design if they can find a better way to do it. It is this approach that drives the company’s developmental process. The first Falcon 1 rocket made orbit, but despite that triumph Musk quickly abandoned it for the Falcon 9 when it was clear that it wasn’t powerful enough to garner enough satellite business.

The Falcon 9 that first launched in 2008 was a very different rocket from the Falcon 9 that launches today, as shown by the two pictures below. In the 2008 Falcon 9 the engines were configured differently and it had no legs. The modern Falcon 9 has landing legs, a different engine arrangement, and much of the innards have been redesigned to give the rocket more oomph.
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Starship flies!

Starship about 2 minutes into its flight

Capitalism in space: In a spectacular achievement, SpaceX’s eighth Starship prototype today completed 6:42 minute flight that appeared to go practically perfectly, until landing.

At that point it appeared the spacecraft’s last landing burn was insufficient to slow it down enough for landing, and it crashed. However, it crashed on its landing pad, meaning it had maneuvered its way back through the atmosphere exactly as planned.

Below the fold are screen captures from the flight, in sequence.

The flight left several impressions. First, this design is viable. Though we are still looking at a prototype, it is one that works.

Second, the ship appeared to lumber into space, almost slowly. This was partly an illusion because of its size. Nonetheless, it reminded me of the 747, which always flew magnificently but with what seemed like a measured attitude. Starship appeared similar.

Third, the systems for controlling the ship on its return through the atmosphere appeared to work as intended. Though SpaceX obviously has a lot more work to do to achieve an orbital return, they have made a magnificent start.

And they have gotten this far in only two years, for less than $2 billion. Compare that to NASA and Boeing and their SLS, which is half a decade behind schedule and will likely cost $30 billion once launched.

We should expect the ninth prototype to be on the launchpad within days, and the next test flight in no more than few weeks.
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Sunspot update: November most active sunspot month since 2017

My monthly sunspot for December is late this month because I simply forgot to do it. (Thanks to reader Phill Oltmann for prodding my memory.)

Below is NOAA’s monthly graph for tracking the Sun’s monthly sunspot activity, annotated by me to show the past solar cycle predictions.

The increasing sunspot activity we saw in October continued spectacularly in November. In fact, the amount of activity was the most seen since the summer of 2017, when the last solar maximum gave us its last big outburst.

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“It’s a slap in my face!”

The fascist Democratic Party mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, issued an edict last month shutting down all restaurants, including all outdoor dining. Yet, he allowed a movie company to set up its outdoor catering services that offer the same service, in the parking lot in front of the shuttered restaurant, about-to-become bankrupt because of his edict.

But according to Angela Marsden, owner of Pineapple Hill Saloon & Grill in Sherman Oaks, local officials permitted a TV production to skirt the rules. Shockingly, the Hollywood crew had set up outdoor eating areas just feet from Marsden’s restaurant.

In her blistering rant, Marsden blasted Garcetti and Newsom for prioritizing Hollywood over small businesses like hers. “So this is my place, the Pineapple Hill Grill & Saloon. If you go to my page you can see all the work I did for outdoor dining, for tables being seven feet apart,” Marsden said. “And I come in today because I’m organizing a protest and I came in to get stuff for that.”

“And I walk into my parking lot — and obviously Mayor Garcetti has approved … this,” she continued, pointing to the production setup, including tables for outdoor dining to be used by the production crew, “has approved this being set up for…this being set up for…for a movie company.”

You must watch her video here. As she says in tears, pointing at her patio, “This is dangerous!” She then points to the movie catering area, which looks exactly the same, if not larger, less than thirty feet away. “And that is safe?” As she notes, “It’s a slap in my face!”

Remember too that this is all part of a lockdown in March that was only supposed to last 15 days, in order “to flatten the curve.” A lie, of course, as have been almost everything coming out of the mouths of government health officials since day one of this epidemic. But then, lying has become standard practice from almost every establishment official in Washington, elected or not, for the last four years, on almost every subject. Trump was colluding with Russia! He colluded with Ukraine! No one in the Obama administration ever spied on him! Trump put kids in cages (built by Obama based on Obama’s policy)! And of course, endlessly: Trump is a racist!

I could go on. They lie, and they lie again, and then they top it off with more lies.

And we are supposed to believe them when they say the vote wasn’t rigged? By this time only fools and children should accept the words out of anyone in government.

If the petty dictators in state governments don’t reconsider and stop destroying so many people’s lives, they shall soon see a lot of blood, and it will be their blood, because those same people will have no choice but to shed it in desperation. Politicians be warned.

I don’t wish it. I only know, as a historian, that this is what will happen if things don’t change soon. And if you don’t believe me you need only read a little bit of history.

Let me add that Julie Kelly says much the same in this essay: Shut up and take it. And I think she says it more thoroughly.

The muzzle of oppression

WHO's do's and don't's for mask use
For the full images, go here and here.

Previously I had labeled the masks that our control-freak society is demanding everyone wear, wherever they go and whatever they do, as a mask of ignorance. While the evidence is still uncertain on whether high quality masks, used properly, can stop the spread of COVID-19, the improper use of masks guarantees that they will contribute to the virus’s spread.

Take a look at the WHO graph to the right. Do you use the mask as they advise? I guarantee you do not. Masks are routinely handled all the time, are reused, are not kept antiseptic, and are not made of the right materials. Rather than blocking the virus, people are instead wearing a pathogen gatherer on their face, exactly where they breath.

No wonder the number of cases have been skyrocketing worldwide. I would not be surprised at all if the widespread improper use of unsanitary masks since the early summer has contributed to that rise.

I however no longer see masks as simply a symbol of ignorance. I now see masks as a symbol of oppression, and the willingness of Americans to submit to that oppression, without a whimper. In fact, the mask will prevent anyone from really hearing that whimper. It tells everyone you are willing to be silenced and subjugated, like a dog..
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The election has been stolen

The dead Constitution

Today the Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania state legislative rejected a resolution by 26 members of their caucus to open an investigation into the questions of election fraud in their state, claiming that they simply do not have time to address their resolution based on the state’s laws.

Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster County, and Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre County, said in a statement issued as the caucus broke that they agreed the state’s elections processes and procedures need a top-to-bottom review for consistency and fairness, but they said there is no time to take legislative action on this year’s results and they will not be calling the House back into session. Their joint statement read, in part:

“We are physically unable to consider any new legislation before the end of session. A simple resolution takes three legislative days for consideration and a concurrent resolution takes five legislative days to move through both chambers, which means we do not have the time needed to address any new resolutions in our current session,” which expires Monday as per the state constitution.

The Republican leaders made it clear they will address the election irregularities in their next session. Whoopie! By then it will be too late. I expect the same thing to now happen in Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Republican-controlled statehouses are going to acquiesce to these results, despite amply evidence that demands a thorough review. (And I say this even though my own Republican state representative, Mark Finchem, today called for Arizona to withhold its electoral votes. He might be fighting the good fight, but he is also fighting his own party leadership.)

Let me make several predictions:
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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving, a truly American holiday, as unique to history as the United States. No nation before this one ever tried to establish by law a nation dedicated to “the pursuit of happiness” and the premise that sovereignty resides solely in the people, not in an elitist upper class of rulers. This holiday was established to celebrate and give thanks for these ideals, and the blessings of liberty they bestow to Americans.

Those ideals are now threatened by the progressives who dominate the Democratic Party and the weasels in the Republican Party too cowardly to resist. It therefore becomes imperative that, as we American citizens celebrate this holiday today with family gatherings often in defiance of the edicts of these petty dictators, we resolve to defy them in all ways, and to reclaim with courage our heritage of freedom and the individual sovereignty it gives to us.

No one has the right to give us orders. Give thanks for that, and tell those who try they risk terrible things for themselves by doing so.

The coming purge

Hitler's purge in 1934, the night of long knives
Hitler’s violent purge of his opponents in 1934: The Night of Long Knives.

I have just finished reading The Memo: 20 years inside the deep state fighting for America first. Written by military intelligence and national security expert Richard Higgins, it described his long and mostly fruitless effort in Washington to make our foreign military policy more effective.

In 2016, in desperation, he allied himself with Donald Trump, hoping that a victory by this very unconventional outsider might finally put Higgins in a position of some control.

It did not work out that way. At first the established players in Washington blocked his appointment. Eventually he managed to get an assignment at the National Security Council (NSC), but at a lower ranking than initially promised. Worse, the make-up of that council remained largely controlled by Democratic Party holdovers. As Higgins described things at the NSC in the first year after Trump’s inauguration:
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SpaceX sets numerous launch records in placing 60 more Starlink satellites in orbit

Falcon 9 booster landing for a record 7th time

Capitalism in space: SpaceX tonight broke a whole bunch of new launch records in launching another sixty Starlink satellites into orbit using its Falcon 9 rocket.

First, the leaders in the 2020 launch race:

31 China
22 SpaceX
12 Russia
5 ULA
5 Rocket Lab

The US now leads China 35 to 31 in the national rankings.

For SpaceX, this launch established the following landmarks for the company:
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New York: Oppression imposed because of almost no COVID-19 deaths

In the last few weeks the Democratic Party governments that control the state and city of New York imposed new and incredibly oppressive new rules, clamping down hard on the freedoms of their citizens, as well as the ability of visitors and tourists to come there.

The justification used by Democrats Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio for these new edicts against freedom? Both claimed that an increase to 3% of what they called “the positivity rate” required more restrictions. This increase comes from increased detection of COVID-19 due to increased tests, but it does not mean there has been a significant rise in actual illness.

You need only look at the graph below to understand how unnecessary these new restrictions are.
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Study: Asymptomatic and secondary infected individuals do not infect others

A new study published in the journal Nature has found that people who are either asymptomatic or undergoing a secondary illness of COVID-19 are simply not infectious, and don’t give the virus to others.

In other words, it appears that the only time people can infect others is when they have the virus for the first time, and only when they are symptomatic. Lock downs and the use of masks by the healthy accomplish nothing. All you need to do is quarantine the symptomatic patient, as human societies have been doing for centuries and centuries.

To once again emphasize this point, wearing masks if you are healthy and not sick protects no one. Social distancing if you are not sick protects no one. Shutting down businesses, such as reducing capacities at restaurants so they can’t make a profit, protects no one. Curfews protect no one.

When you see someone on a hiking trail, it is not necessary to run ten feet off the trail, put a mask on, and bow your head away in fear and terror of that other person. That they are on the trail guarantees they are not sick. They can’t infect you. And that you are there also means you can’t infect them.

Burn the mask. Smile. Live like a human again. And most of all, stop being afraid all the time.

This very long quote from the study’s discussion section, with the important points highlighted, makes these conclusions very clear:
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The left is now reaping what it sowed

A Democrat literally responds to Trump's 2016 victory
This is an actual Democrat’s
respond to Trump’s 2016 victory

For four years, since his election, Donald Trump has been met with a never-ending wave of hatred, hostility, and downright total opposition by the Democratic Party and its many very partisan supporters in the mainstream press, the academic community, and in the general public.

If you are conservative, I am sure you’ve all seen it. Not only has it been impossible these past four years to have a reasonable conversation with Democrats about Donald Trump, your opinions and thoughts are routinely treated with insulting contempt and scorn when you tried. Trump was a racist and evil, despite there being no credible evidence to that effect, and if you tried to find out what the evidence was for such a slander you were immediately slandered and called the same.

Trump himself has faced this same level of irrational hate continuously since his election. And it is irrelevant that he often descends to the same tactics. In the climate created by the left since the Obama administration legitimized the use of slander in political discourse, what other choice did he have if he wished to survive?

Lies in fact has too often comprised the only tactic used by the Democratic Party and the left since Trump’s arrival. » Read more

The SpaceX fleet of Dragons

The first manned Dragon capsule on the launchpad
The first manned Dragon capsule, on the launchpad

Capitalism in space: During the post-launch press briefing after launch of its second manned Dragon mission on November 15, SpaceX CEO Gwynne Shotwell revealed the company’s plans to build and fly a fleet of Dragon cargo and crew capsules, and reuse them repeatedly over the coming years..

Specifically, Shotwell revealed that SpaceX intends to build three reusable Cargo Dragon 2 capsules, one of which is already completed and in Florida preparing for its December 2nd CRS-21 launch debut. On the crew side of things, SpaceX will build “three more” Crew Dragon capsules on top of the flight-proven Demo-2 and currently orbital Crew-1 capsules. It’s unclear if this means that the new Crew Dragon capsule flown on SpaceX’s January 2020 In-Flight Abort (IFA) test will be refurbished for additional flights.

Excluding IFA Crew Dragon capsule C205, SpaceX thus intends to operate a fleet of at least three Cargo Dragon 2 and five Crew Dragon capsules, representing eight reusable spacecraft each capable of at least five orbital missions.

She also hinted that the company has plans to fly its own missions, using these spacecraft, in addition to its contracted flights for NASA and the private company Axiom.

This private capability, which far exceeds anything ever built by NASA or any government worldwide, is entirely because Elon Musk had the freedom and the will to push for his particular vision. He had a bold idea, and with courage he pursued it.
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If election issues are not fixed, elected state Republicans must refuse to certify

The Preamble to the Constitution

The Constitution is very clear: The actual decision on who should be elected President of the United States every four years is actually made by the state legislatures.

Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 2: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled to the Congress.

12th Amendment: The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President. … The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed.

In other words, the state legislatures choose the Electors, and only when they are chosen can they vote for President. Furthermore, the winner must win a majority from the expected number of total Electors from all the states, which is presently 270. If not, the vote then goes to the House of Representatives in Congress, which votes not by each representative but by state, with each state’s caucus voting separately to determine the state’s vote (as per the 12th Amendment).

American tradition however for almost two centuries has been for these legislatures to let the popular vote of the state guide them on who to pick as Electors. If their citizens choose the Republican candidate, they picked Republican Electors so their states Electoral votes go to that candidate. If the citizens choose a Democrat, they did the same.

It is because of this tradition that we all assume the popular vote makes the choice. It really does not.

For two centuries, this system worked because everyone trusted the election process. While some fraud has always occurred at some level, at the federal level the counts have generally been carefully done and reliably tabulated. Even in the difficult election battle in 2000 it was clear that the effort was to get the actual count right, by both sides.

This trust is now gone. The number of errors, suspicious actions, and indications of fraud, all designed to steal votes from Donald Trump and give extra votes to Joe Biden, makes every single one of the contested elections in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin unreliable. Let’s take a look a just a small sampling of recent stories from each state, detailing rampant election fraud.
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The disputed elections must recounted properly, or the states should refuse to certify the results

Signing the Constitution in 1787
The signing of the Constitution in 1787.

The amount of evidence that there was clear election fraud in the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, and Wisconsin continues to build.

For example, in Pennsylvania a review of absentee ballots found that 100,000 had suspicious postmarks, with 23,000 apparently postmarked one day but then marked by the election authorities as having arrived the day before, an impossibility. Tens of thousands of other absentee ballots had similar problems.

In Michigan numerous residents and poll workers have signed affidavits describing blatant violations of election law and suspicious behavior. In addition, one contractor witnessed poll workers rescanning the same votes repeatedly, essentially double counting those votes.

In Wisconsin thousands of absentee votes were submitted in a manner that required no voter identification.

In Georgia there is evidence that the software used to count the ballots is corrupted, or was corrupted, ending up switching many votes from Trump to Biden in what they innocently claim was merely a “glitch.” Worse, this “glitch” in election software has now been found to be exist in other states as well.

The list above is only a small sampling of the numerous stories in the past week of suspicious and well documented incidents of voter fraud. The problems in these states appears widespread and systemic. The election results are thus suspect.

According to the Constitution, the real arbiters of the election are the state legislatures. » Read more

Rover update: Curiosity on the move again

After spending more than three months at a single site, drilling three different holes in the same rock, Curiosity is finally on the move again, heading east and uphill toward Mt. Sharp. Yutu-2 meanwhile continues its very slow journey on the far side of the Moon. And the new rovers are halfway to Mars.

Drill holes at Mary Anning site in Gale Crater
Click for full image.

Curiosity

The image to the right, cropped and annotated to post here, shows the three drill holes that scientists had Curiosity drill in this one pavement rock, dubbed Mary Anning and located in the clay unit within Gale Crater on Mars. As I noted in my last update on July 22, 2020, the rover’s science team had made a specific detour in their planned route up Mt. Sharp in order to find this one last place to drill in this geological unit.

Though they have been very quiet about their results, apparently what they found in this one pavement rock was important enough that it required three drill holes. In addition, samples from the second hole were subjected to two of Curiosity’s limited supply of wet chemistry experiments. From the science team’s August 28, 2020 update:
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Leftist election theft must lead to war, if only so freedom can survive

Clinton supporter going insane after Trump victory
A Clinton supporter after realizing Trump has won

When Donald Trump won the election in 2016, entirely legally with no indication of any election fraud or errors, the Democratic Party, aided by its boot-licking minions in the press and its most radical supporters, all declared that they were now “The Resistance” and would devote their full effort to denying the result of that election. To them, Trump’s victory was illegitimate and invalid, simply because it was not the result they wanted.

And that has been what these Democrat partisans have done, for every moment of the past four years. They culled up fake scandals, the most blatant of which was their accusation that Trump was a Russian agent, a ridiculous accusation that has been proven false by their own hand-picked investigators. It was a lie, and even those willing to give it some credence for awhile know that now.

They then tried to impeach Trump, merely because he rightly called for a more thorough investigation into what appeared to be illegal payoffs from the Ukrainian government to the Biden family. We now know Trump’s concerns were entirely justified. Rather than impeach him, Congress should have been looking into investigating Joe Biden.

For four years the attacks were never-ending. While some criticisms of Trump were certainly valid, as they always are for any elected official, the stupidity, shallowness, and repeatedly proven falsehood of almost all of these attacks demonstrated the unwillingness of the left to simply accept an honest election result.

To them, the only election result that was acceptable was one in which they won.
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Apophis: the asteroid that may someday hit the Earth

Apophis' path past the Earth in 2029
From the conference’s logo.

Last week planetary scientists held a three-day virtual conference focused on the asteroid Apophis, whose orbit regularly places it close to the Earth with a real possibility that it might someday hit the Earth.

When Apophis was originally discovered early in 2004, it wasn’t at first seen as an out-of-the-ordinary asteroid. Not much was known about it other than its albedo and that it was not trivial in size, probably around 1,000 feet in diameter. All this changed in December 2004, when further observations suggested that it had a 2.7% chance of impacting the Earth in 2029, making it the most dangerous asteroid ever discovered.

Fortunately, all subsequent observations of the asteroid have since eliminated any possibility of an impact, at least through the year 2068. Depending on what happens during the 2029 and 2036 fly-bys of Earth, there is a very small chance that it could hit the Earth in 2068, though the data says the chances of that happening are quite small (1 in 150,000).

On April 13, 2029 however Apophis will still zip past the Earth less than 20,000 miles above its surface, well within the orbit of all geosynchronous satellites. For viewers in Europe and Africa it will be a naked eye object, with a magnitude of -3.

Because the date of that close fly-by is so well known, and because this asteroid still poses a threat to the Earth, the planetary science community is very much interested in taking advantage of that close approach. From the conference’s webpage:

Knowledge is the first line of planetary defense, and the 2029 Apophis encounter is a once-per-thousand-year opportunity for investigating an asteroid as large as 350 meters passing within 6 Earth-radii. Time is of the essence as we have less than a decade to plan Earth-based and possible in-situ missions whose measurements can deliver unprecedented detailed knowledge on the physical nature of Apophis as the prototype example (poster child) of potentially hazardous asteroids.

I attended that conference, and am here now to give a summary.
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