Birthday fund-raising time again!

As I do every year during my February birthday month, I ask my readers to please consider donating to Behind the Black.

I admit that I really find it distasteful begging like this, but I really have no choice if I am to continue doing what I love. Moreover, it seems that your direct contribution is sorely needed. In the past year I have discovered that Facebook apparently does not want its users to plug my writing. Every time the number of hits from Facebook begins to rise to a large number, they are suddenly cut off, dropping instantly to zero.

If the drop was smooth and gradual, it could be argued that it is natural, the result of a short decline of interest until I post something new that sparks another wave of hits. This is not what happens. The hits rise steadily, for months, and then suddenly, they vanish, as if someone at Facebook has blocked any reference to past posts at Behind the Black. As new posts appear, however, and ordinary Facebook readers begin to see and pass them along, the hits slowly begin to rise again, until after several months they are once again suddenly cut off.

This pattern could be entirely innocent, but the track record of large corporate and liberally-dominated sites like Facebook suggests otherwise.

So, I am compelled to ask again for your help and support, either by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar above and to the right. Or you could consider buying one of my books, something I heartily recommend. All deal with the first half century of the history of space exploration, and all provide a clear window into why we are where we are today in this epic story.

In either case, your continuing support will make it possible for me to continue to do what I have done for the past twenty-five years, freely writing about science and culture, uninfluenced by outside pressure and able to say exactly what I think must be said, at the exact moment such words are most necessary.

Off to Israel

For the next week my posting might be lighter than usual. Today I am heading to Israel to visit family and do a bit of sightseeing. Whether I have sufficient access to the internet to keep up with events as well as continue to post will not be clear until I get there and get settled in.

In the meantime, I will also be celebrating my sixtieth birthday while in Israel. If you have been a regular reader of Behind the Black and would like to help me celebrate this milestone with a donation to the website, I would be most grateful. The tip jar is located at the bottom of the right column, just below the search box.

Happy birthday Milton Friedman

Happy 100th birthday to Milton Friedman!

Go to the link to watch some wonderful video clips of Friedman clearly and with good humor explaining the benefits of freedom and capitalism. However, for me my favorite Milton Friedman quote is without question this one, on the real way to change Congress:

I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.

Actual video below the fold.
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Birthday bleg

Behind the Black officially premiered July 1, 2010, and has been up and running now for twenty months. I make it a point to post often and regularly on issues of space, science, technology, politics, and history, subjects that interest me personally. Except for one short period a year ago when family matters kept me away from the computer for several days, I have managed to update the webpage frequently every day during that entire time.

Because of this, traffic to the site has steadily grown. For this I thank you, my readers, especially those who love to add their own two cents to the webpage in the comments. While I certainly do not agree with all those who comment, I very much appreciate the open and intelligent nature of the discussion.

During that time I have resisted begging for contributions. Though I added a tip jar link to the webpage about three months ago (located in the right column below the search box), I have made very little note of it because shilling for dollars seems crass, and I feel that if I am doing a good job people will naturally look for it in order to donate to the webpage to keep it going.

However, today is my birthday, so I feel I have the right to do some self-promotion. Moreover, for the past fifteen years I have made my living as a freelance science writer. The business, however, is changing, and I am finding that I am becoming increasingly reliant on the income I make from at my own website over that earned by selling articles to magazines.

Thus, if you are a regular reader of Behind the Black, please consider giving the website a donation, no matter how small. Not only would I appreciate it greatly, it will help make it possible for this website to continue and grow.