Tag Archives: freedom

Off to Grand Canyon again

Diane heading down in 2016

Diane and I are now on our way north to do an overnight hike to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, hiking down tomorrow. We were unable to go together to the Canyon last year for a number of reasons, so this trip will be an especially nice treat. And since we live in Arizona, we have the advantage of being able to simply jump in the car and go. It would be a mistake not to do it.

The photo to the right was taken by me during our 2016 trip. Diane, the tiny blue speak near the bottom of the image, is hiking ahead of me on the South Kaibad trail, the traditional route down for those doing an overnight down and up trip. We shall do the same this weekend.

I will likely do some posting today, while I remain above the rim. I have also scheduled a bunch of posts for the next few days, so the website will not go dark.

Posted heading north from Tucson.

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CNN panel of Republican women back Trump unequivocally

Pushback: A CNN panel of Republican women, when asked about Trump’s tweets attacking the Democratic congresswomen who have been pushing for communist policies, backed Trump unequivocally.

Furthermore, when the CNN reporter kept trying to slander Trump by claiming his tweets were “racist”, these women quickly challenged that false and slanderous description.

“Isn’t that what the president does with some of his own comments? His own racist comments?” the CNN reporter wondered.

“He didn’t say anything about color,” O’Briant responded.

“We know the president is not racist, he loves people from Hispanics, and black people, all across the board,” said Cami Dean, another of the eight women.

Video of this panel is below the fold. Watch it all. The panelists take the CNN reporter to task for claiming what Trump said was racist, quickly pointing out both the reporter’s bias and ignorance.

And just in case you have been living in a cave and missed it, this is what Trump tweeted:

So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.

Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. [emphasis mine]

There is nothing in this statement that has anything to do with race. What Trump is criticizing is the anti-American, bigoted, and communist agendas of congresswomen Omar (D-Minnesota), Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Pressley (D-Massachusetts), and Tlaib (D-Michigan).

Granted, Trump is crude. He also is wrong to suggest all of these women came from elsewhere (only one did). Nonetheless, he is bluntly noting that these congresswomen have expressed nothing but hate and hostility to America, and should be called out on it (something that the Democratic Party seems unwilling to do).

The CNN panel shows that, for at least these women, the effort by the Democrats and their agents in the mainstream press to slander Trump is not working. They can read what both Trump and these Democrats have said, and recognize who the real racists in this battle are.
» Read more

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Starhopper static engine test engulfs vehicle in flames

Capitalism in space: A Starhopper static engine test yesterday testing the newly installed Raptor engine resulted in the vehicle being engulfed in flames.

While the test itself appeared to fire for its full duration, events relating to this test appeared to cause some issues with Hopper, later seen when a secondary fire rose up to engulf the test vehicle. This is understood to have been related to two small fires – one on the vehicle and one on the pad.

A discharge of methane – during the safing of the vehicle, which involved a fire hose being directed at the small fires – ignited and caused a fireball to rise from the aft of the vehicle.

However, the vehicle survived and photos show it is suffering from no obvious damage from external views. This was backed up by a successful detanking and power down overnight.

I have embedded a slow motion video of the test below the fold, with that secondary fire occurring at about 50 seconds in, at about the moment it appears a stream of water hits a smaller fire.

Their plans had been to follow this static test with a 20 meter vertical flight of Starhopper, unattached. When this will occur is now unclear.
» Read more

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Apollo 11 in real time

Link here. I should have posted this link earlier. As I post this the Saturn 5 has just launched.

Pick your moment. They will be showing the mission in real time over the next week.

Hat tip Steve Golson for prompting me.

Correction: If you go to the link you can either choose to watch from one minute before launch, or click on the “Now” button to see the status at this moment fifty years ago.

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SpaceX pinpoints cause of Dragon explosion during test

SpaceX today revealed that it has pinpointed the cause of the explosion that destroyed a Dragon manned capsule during an engine test in April.

The company believes that the problem originated with the Crew Dragon’s emergency abort system, which consists of a series of small thrusters embedded within the capsule. If all goes well during a mission, these tiny thrusters are never really meant to be used. But if there is some kind of failure during a future launch, the thrusters can ignite and carry the Crew Dragon safely away from a disintegrating rocket.

SpaceX says that a leaky valve caused the propellant needed for these thrusters to cross into another system — one of really high pressure. When this contamination occurred, the high forces slammed the liquid around, causing valuable components to fail and leading to the ultimate loss of the capsule.

Koenigsman said that this contamination definitely was not anticipated, though the kind of valve that leaked has been known to have some internal leakage problem. Ultimately, he acknowledged that, to some extent, this was a design issue. “It’s something that the components should not have done,” Koenigsman said. “But at the same time, we learned a very valuable lesson on something going forward, one that makes the Crew Dragon a safer vehicle.”
““it was a huge gift for us.” ”

SpaceX will replace all of these types of valves with another component known as a burst disk, which is supposed to be much more reliable, according to Koenigsman.

The company is still hoping to fly before the end of the year, but admits that this may not be possible. Right now they have a tentative launch date in November.

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Two new science papers strongly question theory of man-made global warming

The uncertainty of science: Two new science papers, from researchers in Finland and Japan respectively, both strongly question the theory that human activity and the increase of carbon dioxide are causing global warming.

From the Finnish paper’s [pdf] conclusion:

We have proven that the [climate]-models used in IPCC report AR5 cannot compute correctly the natural component included in the observed global temperature. The reason is that the models fail to derive the influences of low cloud cover fraction on the global temperature. A too small natural component results in a too large portion for the contribution of the greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. That is why 6 J. KAUPPINEN AND P. MALMI IPCC represents the climate sensitivity more than one order of magnitude larger than our sensitivity 0.24°C. Because the anthropogenic portion in the increased CO2 is less than 10 %, we have practically no anthropogenic climate change. The low clouds control mainly the global temperature. [emphasis mine]

From the Japanese paper:

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has discussed the impact of cloud cover on climate in their evaluations, but this phenomenon has never been considered in climate predictions due to the insufficient physical understanding of it,” comments Professor Hyodo. “This study provides an opportunity to rethink the impact of clouds on climate. When galactic cosmic rays increase, so do low clouds, and when cosmic rays decrease clouds do as well, so climate warming may be caused by an opposite-umbrella effect. The umbrella effect caused by galactic cosmic rays is important when thinking about current global warming as well as the warm period of the medieval era.”

Essentially, both criticize the climate models for not considering changes in cloud cover and how those effect the global climate. The first paper looks back at the known climate data and compares it with known changes in cloud cover, and finds that cloud cover is a major factor in temperature changes.

The second paper looks at the causes for some of the changes in cloud cover, noting how the increase in galactic cosmic rays during the solar minimum can be tied to an increase in cloud cover, and thus colder temperatures.

Do these papers disprove man-made global warming caused by the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Of course not. They just demonstrate again that the science here is very unsettled, that there are many large gaps in our knowledge, and that it would be foolish now to abandon western civilization and replace it with socialist totalitarian rule in order to prevent a disaster that either might not be happening, or if it is we may have no power to control.

I want to also point out that this post talks about scientists challenging the theory of man-made global warming. Attention must be paid to their conclusions. As for the ignorant opinions of politicians on this subject, who cares?

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Satire website bluntly but correctly summarizes Democratic Party policy

That website is the Babylon Bee, and the satirical article that does this is headlined: “California Governor Clarifies That Free Healthcare Only Offered To Illegal Immigrants Who’ve Made It Safely Out Of The Womb.”

The article opens with this quote:

California is offering free healthcare to illegal immigrants, once again becoming the first state in the nation to enact a wacky proposal that sounds like the right’s satire of the left and not an actual policy.

While satire, the article then goes on to describe quite accurately, though with an over-the-top bluntness, actual policy decisions in California that clearly represent modern Democratic policy, whereby the party puts first priority on giving free healthcare to illegal immigrants, people who broke the law to enter the country but are not U.S. citizens, while telling legal U.S. citizens that they will have to wait.

At the same time, the Democratic Party has become so radicalized on the issue of abortion that it now supports killing anything that is in the womb, right up until birth, and has also even advocated murder just after birth, which means, as noted by this satirical but accurate article, that illegal immigrants only get treated with compassion by Democrats after they are born.

The insanity and lack of intelligent thought illustrated here by the modern politicians of the Democratic Party should make every normal and sane registered Democrat rethink their support for this party. It has very much lost its way, and is now traveling down a very dangerous and evil path. A house-cleaning is desperately needed, so that it can maybe right itself and provide a reasonable alternative to the Republican Party.

The responsibility for that house-cleaning lies with the voters, especially Democrats. The question is whether they will do it. I pray that they will. I unfortunately do not see much solid evidence yet of that happening.

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Virgin Orbit successfully completes rocket drop from 747

Capitalism in space: Virgin Orbit today successfully completed a drop of a dummy rocket from the fuselage of its 747.

Although the rocket was “fully loaded,” as the company put it, its engines never fired—nor were they meant to. Instead, the rocket fell freely to Earth so the company could see how it performed during its first few seconds of freefall. This was the last major test for Virgin Orbit’s air-launch system, which will launch rockets from a gutted jumbo jet, known as Cosmic Girl, to boost small satellites into orbit. It’s a complicated maneuver, but it could significantly reduce the costs of getting to space.

The article says they plan their first orbital test flight in the fall. Whether today’s success and that launch can get the company back on track after OneWeb cancelled the bulk of its contract remains to be seen. If they succeed in launching to orbit this year that will make them the only operational competitor to Rocket Lab in the smallsat market, with a system that might be cheaper.

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Battle over ownership of dinosaur fossils could upend paleontology research

A dispute over the land rights on a property where several significant and valuable dinosaur fossils have been discovered could completely change how future fossil digs are run.

The fight is between the ranchers who own the surface rights to the property in question, and the owners who possess the mineral rights. The latter are claiming, and have won in federal court, that fossils are minerals and thus belong to them.

That court decision however upturned more than a century of practice, where fossils were always considered part of the surface rights only.

The ruling sent shock waves through the paleontology world, threatening to upend the way fossil hunters have operated for decades.

It would make searching for fossils extremely complicated, said David Polly, a former president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, based in Bethesda, Maryland, because paleontologists would need to navigate both surface ownership—to get to the dig location—and mineral ownership of a parcel. Often, mineral rights are hard to find and frequently change hands between large corporations.

The article says this decision could threaten previous finds, but I think that is hyperbole. On issues like this the statue of limitations would apply, and would make almost all challenges on earlier fossil finds moot.

Nonetheless, the issue is still before the courts. The federal court has decided to vacate its decision and has instead let the case shift to the state supreme court in Montana, which is expected to take up the case later this year.

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White House objects to House language on military space

The White House today released a detailed statement listing its objections to the House language on the upcoming military space authorization bill and threatening a veto if the Senate version is not passed.

Their objection seem to center on two issues. First, while the administration has accepted the idea of a space corp within the Air Force rather than a separate new military branch, they appear prefer the Senate language for this change. This disagreement appears relatively minor in the entire scheme of things.

Second, and more significantly, the White House has objections to the planned launch contract set up the Air Force has been pushing that would have them pick two launch providers now for all their launches through 2024, rather than allow all comers to bid on those launches as they came up.

On the National Security Space Launch program, the administration “strongly objects” to HASC [House Armed Services Committee] Chairman Adam Smith’s Section 1601 language “as it would increase mission risk for the nation’s national security satellites.”

Section 1601 would mandate that the Air Force compete contracts for any launches beyond 29 launches during the period from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2024. This section would also mandate that the Air Force provide up to $500 million to launch companies that either win a Phase 2 contract after fiscal year 2022 or win a Phase 2 contract but are not part of a Launch Service Agreement, in order to meet national security-unique infrastructure and certification requirements for a Phase 2 contract. This section also require a notification of the selection in fiscal year 2020 of the two providers for Phase 2 launches.

The administration opposes these provisions. “After careful and considered study, DoD determined that a contract for national security space launch requirements over the course of five years would optimize warfighter flexibility, minimizes mission risk, and provides exceptional value to the taxpayer,” says the White House statement. “Confining Phase 2 to fewer missions would increase per-launch cost while simultaneously introducing risk and costs for some intelligence payloads. Finally, notifying Congress prior to a contract would be a departure from long-standing tradition and might put DoD at a greater risk of a protest.”

To put this in simple terms, the House language was an attempt to open up the bidding, while also offering $500 million development money to any company who missed out initially. The White House, and the Air Force, wish to restrict the bidding process, and don’t want to pay that extra $500 million.

All of this I think will become irrelevant the first time the Air Force issues a bid offer for a launch contract but restricts bidding to only two launch companies, even if a third or fourth is available and capable of fulfilling the contract. The excluded launch companies will sue for the right to bid, and they will win.

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Beresheet design adopted by Firefly & Israeli private partnership

Capitalism in space: The American smallsat launch company Firefly Aerospace announced today that they will be partnering with a private Israeli company to use the design of Beresheet to build their own lunar lander for NASA.

Firefly Aerospace announced that it is partnering with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to create a new lunar vehicle based on the crashed spacecraft’s blueprints. Firefly says this lander will build upon “lessons learned” from the accident to ensure that the new lander does not meet the same fate.

…If Firefly does mount a lunar mission, the company’s lander, called Genesis, will leverage much of the Beresheet design as well as the IAI team’s flight experience. “Firefly Aerospace is excited to partner with Israel Aerospace Industries to provide the only NASA CLPS program flight-proven lander design,” Shea Ferring, Firefly’s vice president of mission assurance, said in a statement. The name of the lander is also a nod to Beresheet, which means “Genesis” in Hebrew.

It appears that a group of engineers from the non-profit SpaceIL, that built Beresheet, have teamed up to form their own company. It also appears that they have some rights to the spacecraft’s design, and could take them with them.

Firefly is competing for a NASA contract to land on the Moon. This deal strengthens their bid considerably.

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Private lunar lander company files for bankruptcy

Capitalism in space: Former Google Lunar X-Prize competitor Part Time Scientists has now filed for bankruptcy.

The company, with about 60 employees, has emphasized a number of partnerships with major corporations, such as Audi, Vodafone and Red Bull Media House, a subsidiary of beverage company Red Bull. The company is also teamed with ArianeGroup to study development of a lunar lander mission for ESA.

PTScientists, though, had suffered delays in the development of its lunar lander. The company said last November its lander could launch as soon as late 2019, a date it revised in January to no earlier than the first quarter of 2020. However, at a conference in early June, a company official said that lander mission would now launch no earlier than the second half of 2021 as it continues to work on the lander’s design.

It appears to me that they simply were never able to raise the capital necessary to build their lander, despite these partnership deals.

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Light Sail 2 beams back first images

Capitalism in space: The Planetary Society’s privately funded spacecraft Light Sail 2, launched June 25 on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, sent back its first images from orbit on July 7.

The images are not very interesting to look at, mostly because their purpose is engineering. Two cameras took pictures of the light sail’s deployment equipment inside the spacecraft to show that it is still in good shape. Another picture showed the Earth, demonstrating that the camera will be able to image the deployment of the solar sail, which might occur as early as today. UPDATE: They have announced that the deployment will not occur prior to July 21.

Once deployed from a cubesat about the size of a loaf of bread, the sail will be about the size of a boxing ring. They will then attempt to use the sunlight bouncing off it to sail in space, changing the sail’s orbit.

The science team also announced the debut of a mission control website, where the public can see live updates whenever the spacecraft sends back new information. As I write this the solar sail is still listed as “stowed,” but that status will change once they attempt the deployment.

For the public this website will be especially useful once the sail deploys, because it will be very bright to observers on the ground. The site shows Light Sail 2’s present position, making it possible for viewers to better anticipate when they will be able to see it fly overhead.

Update: This post has been revised slightly to make it more accurate, as per a comment by reader Rex Ridenoure.

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Amazon releases more details about proposed Kuiper satellite constellation

Capitalism in space: Amazon on July 4 submitted to federal regulators a more detailed description of its proposed 3,000+ Kuiper satellite constellation.

Amazon’s Kuiper System satellites will have a design life seven years — less than half that of a traditional geostationary communications satellite — and will be launched in five waves, according to a July 4 filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The first wave consists of 578 satellites that would provide internet service in two horizontal coverage bands, one between 39 degrees north and 56 degrees north (roughly from Philadelphia north to Moscow) and another from 39 degrees south down to 56 degrees south (roughly from Hastings, New Zealand, to the top of Great Britain’s South Sandwich Islands in the Atlantic Ocean). The subsequent four waves would fill in coverage to the equator.

Amazon didn’t say when those satellites would launch or what launch vehicle they would use to reach orbit. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, also owns launch company Blue Origin, whose New Glenn orbital rocket is slated for a first launch in 2021.

If Amazon intends to use Bezos’ New Glenn rocket, this system cannot launch prior to 2021, at the earliest, and that means it will likely enter the internet competition with SpaceX and OneWeb late. This is not fatal for Amazon, but it will require them to offer something to their customers that will draw them away from the earlier constellations.

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Fire at SpaceX Starhopper facility in Florida

A fire in SpaceX’s Florida facility yesterday, where it is building a Starship prototype, caused between $50,000 to $100,000 damages.

City spokesperson Yvonne Martinez confirmed a small fire broke out at the facility on Cidco Road around noon and that the Cocoa Fire Department was able to quickly extinguish it. She said crews suspected an electrical fault as the source of the fire.

“This afternoon, a small fire occurred at a SpaceX facility in Cocoa,” SpaceX spokesperson James Gleeson told FLORIDA TODAY. “The fire was contained to a sea van on site and extinguished thanks to the Cocoa Fire Department, which responded within minutes.”

“There were no injuries as a result of the fire, and the cause is under investigation,” he said.

Martinez said the fire department estimates about $50,000 to $100,000 in damages were sustained by the shipping container and equipment inside, as well as the adjacent building.

This will be a blow to the Florida SpaceX unit that is competing with the Boca Chica unit on the construction of Starship.

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Branson sells 49% of Virgin Galactic, stock to be publicly listed

Capitalism in space: Richard Branson has sold 49% of Virgin Galactic in a deal that will have the company’s stock publicly listed by the end of 2019.

The firm will list its shares as part of a merger deal with Social Capital Hedosophia, a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) created by venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya. Social Capital Hedosophia, formed by Palihapitiya’s Social Capital and venture capital firm Hedosophia in 2017, will invest $800 million for a 49% stake in the combined company. The firm will have an enterprise value of $1.5 billion, Virgin Galactic said.

…Branson’s space venture would be the first publicly-listed human spaceflight firm, with the stock market listing slated to take place in the second half of 2019.

Branson had been in talks with Palihapitiya since he suspended talks over a Saudi investment in his space companies last year. Riyadh had planned to invest a total of $1 billion into Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit, which focuses on small satellites, but the deal fell through over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Branson was the person who said the Saudis backed out because of Khashoggi, but I personally do not believe that story. What I think happened was that, after 15 years of empty promises and no tourist flights, the Saudis suddenly realized that Virgin Galactic was a bad investment, and backed out. Branson now needs cash to keep the company afloat.

I am honestly unfamiliar with the ways of Wall Street. I do not know whether being “publicly listed” means the stock will be available for trade. If so, I expect the stock value to quickly plunge.

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Man who wanted to be the first African in space killed in road accident

A South African man who had won a competition to fly on a suborbital tourist flight has been killed in a motorcycle accident.

Mandla Maseko, 30, was killed on Saturday, a family statement says.

In 2013, the South African Air Force member beat one million entrants to win one of 23 places at a space academy in the US. Nicknamed Afronaut and Spaceboy, Maseko described himself as a typical township boy from Pretoria.

…He had spent a week at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida doing tests in preparation for an hour-long sub-orbital flight, originally scheduled for 2015. Challenges included skydiving to earth from 10,000 feet and a test charmingly known as the “vomit comet”.

But the chance never came to go into space. The company organising the flight, XCOR Aerospace, went bankrupt in 2017, news site Space.com reported.

All around a terrible tragedy.

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Frank Sinatra – The House I Live In

An evening pause: Since it is July 4th, and the news is filled with depressing outrages from ignorant social justice warriors who have no knowledge at all about the just and noble roots that founded the United States, I think it necessary to post this magnificent song performed by Frank Sinatra.

Written and produced in 1945, as World War II was ending, the short film tried to encapsulate in one short song the true meaning of the American experiment. This version below includes the lead-in scene to show the context for the song, as sung in the film. Some might find that opening overly preachy, but in the context of World War II and the recent discovery then of the Nazi death camps, it is heartfelt, real, and quite accurate. Please watch it all, and recognize this is what the United States — now being condemned routinely by leftist hate-mongers — is really about.

The song begins by asking, “What is America to me?” It answers it clearly in the final verse:

The town I live in
The street, the house, the room
The pavement of the city
Or a garden all in bloom
The church, the school, the clubhouse
The million lights I see
But especially the people
that’s American to me. [emphasis mine]

And that means all the people, not just those who agree with you.

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An inteview with George Zimmerman

Link here. Read it all if you have any interest at all in finding out the truth. The key part of this story, which was confirmed by a not-guilty jury decision, is this:

Headed in the direction that the lights came from coming around the side of one of the townhouses to the “T” in the sidewalks [Zimmeran] was, without notice, punched in the face by Trayvon, instantly breaking his nose. Trayvon then grabbed George and tried to throw him to the ground multiple times. George held his own for a little bit but eventually was thrown to the ground. Once again George referred to the sketch showing me where they were by this time, which was a little further up the sidewalk from the initial attack. He said that the ground sloped down on one side of the sidewalk and his legs were down the hill while his head was on the sidewalk. Trayvon was now on top of George punching him repeatedly in the face, MMA style, as George described. Every time George tried to sit up Trayvon would slam him back down to the ground and in-turn his head would bounce off the sidewalk, causing him excruciating pain.

To get away from the pain being inflicted on his head, George tried sliding down the hill out from underneath Trayvon. This caused George’s red windbreaker to slide up revealing his Kel- Tec PF-9 9mm handgun holstered on his hip.

Trayvon noticed the gun and said, “You’re gonna die tonight!” At that point, George realized that it wasn’t his gun or Trayvon’s gun, it was “the” gun in the fight!

Without any prior experience of drawing and shooting from the holster, George knew it was either now or never. He unholstered the firearm and fired one shot at the man who he felt was trying to take his life. The response from Trayvon was like that of an old Western movie. He said, “Ya got me!” At that second George thought his shot missed. To him, it seemed as if Trayvon was making a statement to concede defeat and not that he actually was hit by the bullet.

In that instance George wasn’t worried about his safety or that somebody was trying to kill him, he was more concerned that he missed Trayvon and might have hurt somebody else in a nearby house. To me, this was one of many enlightening times in our meeting. More concerned for the life of his neighbors than his own life.

All Zimmerman was doing at that moment was trying to save his own life. All of this was obvious at the time, for all those who were willing to do any research into the facts. Yet, as punishment for not allowing himself to be killed by a street thug, our bigoted and political cultural elites decided to destroy this poor man’s life anyway, because it gave them a great vehicle for ramping up race hatred and anti-American propaganda.

This says far more about them than it does about Zimmerman, or Trayvon Martin.

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Far right radicals make declaration

A group of far right radicals, some of which had been accused of many crimes against the legal government, today made a declaration that clearly required their arrest for daring to defy the powers-that-be.

From the first two paragraphs:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Without a doubt our country’s corrupt ruling class in Washington finds these words appalling and unacceptable. Some, mostly leftists and Democrats, consider the man who wrote these words evil, and the men who signed it worse.

But then, these fools have never read these words or anything thing else Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers wrote. Or if they have, they weren’t smart enough to understand them.

Happy Fourth of July! And as it says on the Liberty Bell, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

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Want to get off gmail? Behind the Black might provide an option

I am exploring the possibility of offering email services through my server for those who want to get off of gmail and google. However, before such a service can be offered, we need to know the amount of interest there might be. The demand will effect the cost, which means I can’t even give you an idea of what we might charge.

Regardless, if you are interested in having “your.name@behindtheblack.com” as your email address, please say so in the comments. There will be no obligations, by you or me or my server, but the response however will help us decide if we can do it.

And if we can do it, and many people sign on, we will then be taking the proper free enterprise approach for combating the corrupt business practices of giants like Google. Our federal government might still act to break Google up, but I think it would be far better if the free market did the job instead.

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Apollo landing tapes for sale

An intern who in 1976 purchased more than a thousand surplus 2-inch videotapes from NASA for $218 is now going to auction off three of those reels that show the Apollo 11 moon walk.

Back in 1976, NASA gave 1,150 reels of 2-inch Quadruplex videotape to a government surplus auction. Gary George, a former intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, snapped up the lot of them for $218, in the hopes of selling them to news stations to record over for $50 a pop. He never watched them, but because his dad was a space buff, kept three of the tapes marked as “Apollo 11 EVA” (aka Extravehicular Activity, better known as a spacewalk). When he eventually watched the tapes, he realized that he had one of three surviving copies of one of the greatest feats of human ingenuity, the July 20, 1969 Moon landing. Now, those videotapes will be auctioned off to the highest bidder when Sotheby’s will mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by putting the tapes up for sale on July 20th, at a starting bid of $700,000.

“I had no idea there was anything of value on them,” George said in an interview with Reuters. He started to get suspicious in 2006, after NASA admitted they had lost the tapes, and believed they could have been in the 2,614 boxes of Apollo mission tapes that were sent to a storage facility in late 1969. George got in touch with video archivist David Crosthwait in California, who had the necessary equipment to view the vintage tapes. In December 2008, George played the reels and quickly realized what he had been storing over the last few decades. He contacted NASA about the reels but “an agreement could not be reached,” according to the auction listing, and off to the auction block they go as part of an auction dedicated to Space Exploration.

The saddest part of this story are the tapes George sold to television stations to use to back-up their daily broadcasts. Some of those tapes probably contained historical recordings of the Apollo missions. While I suspect these tapes were not NASA’s only copies, I cannot be sure, which means some of the source material for the Apollo missions was likely lost.

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Strike on July 4-5 against censorship on Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc

A strike protesting the censorship of conservatives on social media giants Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc, is being organized for July 4 and 5.

According to organizer Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia (who has since split with the project), “This means we will not use social media on those days, except to post notices that we are on strike. We’re going to make a lot of noise. Nobody will be able to ignore what’s happening. We’re going to flex our collective muscles and demand that giant, manipulative corporations give us back control over our data, privacy, and user experience.”

More details at the link.

I would love to join them, but since I do not use any of these corrupt social media, essentially striking against them continuously, there isn’t much I can do. However, if you use Facebook for example you might be able to have an impact.

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Comparing today’s modern rocket engines

For the geeks among us, below the fold is a really really good video describing the engineering designs and considerations that have gone into the launch industry’s most important rocket engines, both now and in the future, with the goal of understanding the design choices SpaceX made for its Raptor engine.

The video is almost 50 minutes long, but if you set the speed at 1.25 you can still understand it and save some time.

Hat tip reader Michael Nelson.
» Read more

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Exos suborbital reusable rocket aborts prematurely during third launch

Capitalism in space: The third flight of Exos Aerospace’s reusable suborbital rocket SARGE was cut short today shortly after launch when the rocket had attitude control problems.

A reusable suborbital rocket developed by Exos Aerospace suffered a loss of attitude control seconds after liftoff on a test flight June 29, but the rocket was still able to glide safely back to Earth.

Exos’ Suborbital Autonomous Rocket with GuidancE, or SARGE, rocket lifted off from Spaceport America in New Mexico at about 2 p.m. Eastern. In the company’s webcast, the rocket started gyrating seconds after liftoff before disappearing from view.

Controllers were able to reestablish some control of the rocket, aborting the flight. The rocket deployed a drogue parachute and parafoil while venting unused propellant. The rocket slowly descended under that parafoil, landing within view of the launch pad 14 minutes after liftoff.

That it appears they were able to safely recover the rocket and its payloads is significant, even though this failure is a setback for the company.

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Seminar at Cornell will question use of “reason” and “rationality”

The coming dark age: A six-week seminar this summer at Ivy League Cornell University will question the use of either “reason” and “rationality.”

The goal of the entire seminar is to demonstrate that knowledge, and truth, is always tied to power, which means that all knowledge, and truth, is entirely subjective, and if discovered by some ethnic groups in power (whites or Christians or Jews), other ethnic groups out of power have the right, the obligation, to reject that knowledge, and truth, in order to establish their own power base.

So, if an leftist Antifa fascist thug hits me, a white Jew, over the head with a rock and kills me, I can declare I am still alive because my interpretation of knowledge and truth is different than that leftist Antifa fascist thug.

Even more important, that leftist Antifa fascist thug will be justified in claiming he or she did nothing wrong, because from his or her perspective of knowledge and truth they did not kill me, but merely stopped me from oppressing them unjustly.

That dark age is coming on very fast. Be warned.

Hat tip Robert Pratt of Pratt on Texas.

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Court reduces Oberlin total judgment by smallest amount

The court in Ohio has reduced the total jury award in the Oberlin slander case against Gibson’s Bakery to $25 million total, but by what looks like the smallest amount possible based on its interpretation of the law.

The jury originally returned a total compensatory verdict of $11 million and punitive verdict of $33 million. In these posts we detailed the arguments of the parties as to how to Ohio’s tort reform caps applied to the calculation:

The key disputes as to how to apply Ohio tort reform caps on noneconomic compensatory damages centered on whether each claim for each plaintiff was separately subject to the cap, or did the cap apply to all claims of each plaintiff. The court appears to have ruled, as plaintiffs argued, that the cap was per claim.

More significantly, the tort reform law limits punitive damages to 2X compensatory, but the issue was whether that applied to pre-cap compensatory damages or post-cap compensatory damages. That was about a $10 million swing. The court appears to have agreed with the plaintiffs argument that under the plain reading of the statute, the 2X cap applied to pre-cap compensatory damages.

Another way to put it is the court has awarded Gibson’s the maximum award possible based on its legal interpretation. To me, this suggests that the court is as offended as everyone else by Oberlin’s refusal to accept the decision while spreading falsehoods about the case and maligning the jury.

They will have a hearing on how much Oberlin will have to pay for Gibson’s attorney’s fees on July 10.

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SpaceX seeking more investment capital

Capitalism in space: SpaceX has begun its third round of private fund-raising this year, this time seeking more than $300 million.

The latest round, filed on Monday, seeks to raise $314.2 million at a price of $214 a share, according to a document seen by CNBC. The new equity would bring SpaceX’s total 2019 fundraising to $1.33 billion once completed.

The block of this new round appears to already be funded from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

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Supreme Court rules federal judges have no right to overturn gerrymandering

A victory for democracy: Supreme Court has ruled that federal judges have no authority to overturn congressional districts created by state legislatures.

The 5-4 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the court’s other conservatives said partisan election maps drawn by North Carolina Republicans and Maryland Democrats are constitutional despite their one-sided nature.

It was a dramatic withdrawal by the nation’s highest court from the political battles that have consumed states for decades, and it was loudly denounced by the court’s liberal justices.

“How do you decide where the line is between acceptable partisanship and too much partisanship?” Roberts said from the bench in announcing his ruling on the last day of the term. “At some point, it should occur to you that what you’ve been asked to do is not judging at all.” The chief justice said the challengers from North Carolina and Maryland asked for “an unprecedented expansion of judicial power” that would have broad consequences. “There will be no end to the litigation,” he said.

While this decision ends the use of the federal courts to override the decisions of elected state legislatures, the court has let stand state court actions that overrode gerrymandering. In the end, however, the essence here will shift political power back to the states and their legislatures.

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