David Bull – David’s Choice

An evening pause: Hat tip Cotour, who admits “This is a bit different.” I agree, but it gives you a flavor from the past when a new technology first met art, to produce something beautiful but new. From the youtube webpage:

The next in our ‘David’s Choice’ series, where Tokyo-based woodblock printmaker David Bull introduces some of his favourite prints. This time, the print(s) being featured are from the old Doi Hanga Company, and are two different scenes of the Kagurazaka district of Tokyo. The designers were Tsuchiya Koitsu, and Noel Nouet, and the prints were originally published in the late 1930s.

Mister Rogers – Garden of Your Mind

An evening pause: As a kid, I could never stomach Mister Rogers. The most I could ever watch him was about ten seconds before becoming totally bored. Thus, I was initially very doubtful about scheduling this video — until I watched it. It takes the things Rogers said and did and turns it into a really good rap video!

Hat tip Tom Wilson, aka t-dub.

DNA tests of 800-year-old gravesite in Kyrgyzstan suggest that region was source of Black Death

Based on DNA tests of several 800-year-old graves in northern Kyrgyzstan near Lake Issyk Kul, it appears that the Black Death that first appeared in Europe in the 1300s and killed as much as half its population came from this region initially.

Working with Slavin and Russian collaborators including Valeri Khartanovich of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, where the Issyk Kul skulls were stored, Spyrou extracted DNA from the pulp of seven individuals’ teeth and found three were infected with Y. pestis. She was able to reconstruct a high-quality genome of the ancient strain that killed them. That strain “fell exactly on the origin point of that big bang event” in the evolution of Y. pestis, Spyrou says. “That was incredibly exciting.”

The strain was closely related to ones found in rodents near Issyk Kul today. The authors suggest it spilled over to humans, perhaps from a marmot, which are abundant in the Tian Shan mountain region of northern Kyrgyzstan, southern Kazakhstan, and northwestern China.

What is fascinating most about this discovery is that we actually have the names of some of the Black Death’s first victims, read from their tombstones: ““This is the tomb of the believer Sanmaq. [He] died of pestilence.”

Puzzling telemetry from Voyager-1 suggests problem

Engineers are puzzling over strange operational data coming from Voyager-1, launched in 1977 and now in interstellar space more than 14 billion miles away, that suggests a technical problem but also makes no sense.

The engineering team with NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is trying to solve a mystery: The interstellar explorer is operating normally, receiving and executing commands from Earth, along with gathering and returning science data. But readouts from the probe’s attitude articulation and control system (AACS) don’t reflect what’s actually happening onboard.

The AACS controls the 45-year-old spacecraft’s orientation. Among other tasks, it keeps Voyager 1’s high-gain antenna pointed precisely at Earth, enabling it to send data home. All signs suggest the AACS is still working, but the telemetry data it’s returning is invalid. For instance, the data may appear to be randomly generated, or does not reflect any possible state the AACS could be in.

The issue hasn’t triggered any onboard fault protection systems, which are designed to put the spacecraft into “safe mode” – a state where only essential operations are carried out, giving engineers time to diagnose an issue. Voyager 1’s signal hasn’t weakened, either, which suggests the high-gain antenna remains in its prescribed orientation with Earth.

Figuring out what has happened is made more difficult by distance. It takes about 20 hours for signals to get from Voyager-1 to Earth, even at the speed of light. Thus, any attempted fix will arrive almost two days after it first occurred, at the soonest.

Both Voyager-1 and Voyager-2 are still operating, though at significantly reduced power. It is expected that sometime in the next few years their nuclear power sources will finally be unable to produce enough power to keep them functioning. If so, both spacecraft will have survived the maximum time predicted when launched.

Mahma Comparisons – Biggest volcano eruptions known

An evening pause: I run this at 2x speed, but if you aren’t impatient enjoy it as it is. The size difference between the smallest and largest is quite daunting. Note too that this video only lists the known giant eruptions, explosive events that happened suddenly. It does not include some of the Earth’s largest long term volcanic events, such as the Deccan Traps, that happened repeatedly lasting millions of years that is thought to have possibly contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Hat tip Alton Blevins.

Bobby Troup – Route 66

An evening pause: The animation created to go with Troup’s jazzy version of this song is utter fantasy, imagining America as portrayed in culture, not reality. No matter. Sometimes the myth is better.

This also makes a nice pause to usher in the weekend.

Hat tip Mike Nelson.

Apollo 16 on Moon, as visualized by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

In celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 16 mission to the Moon in April 1972, scientists using images from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) have created a short digital visualization of the lunar surface where astronauts John Young and Charles Duke completed three different excursions across the lunar surface.

I have embedded that video below. The audio is the discussion between John Young and the capcom at mission control during the last excursion. The key moment is when John Young reaches the rim of North Ray crater, and realizes he cannot see its floor because the interior slopes are so steep.
» Read more

The seeds of today’s madness were planted decades ago

Political journalist Doug Ross yesterday re-posted an essay he had written a decade ago, which had successfully predicted the crime wave we are undergoing today.

In it, he outlined how the growth in 2011 in government anti-poverty and welfare programs — which acted to further tear apart families — was going to lead to what he called “a true Obama Crime Wave” sometime in the early 2020s.

  • Fact: There are a record number of Americans dependent upon government anti-poverty programs thanks to the Obama Democrats
  • Fact: Expanded access to welfare and food stamps greatly increases the number of children born to unwed mothers
  • Fact: Single-parent families correlate to higher crime rates
  • Conclusion: with the unprecedented increase in welfare, food stamps and unemployment, we will also see an unparalleled increase in violent crime within the next dozen or so years.

Obama and his Democrat sycophants in Congress will have created hundreds of thousands of single-parent families. These kids, born out-of-wedlock, will find themselves trapped in lives of criminality at far higher rates than kids from two-parent families.

Fast forward a dozen years, give or take a couple, and we will see a true Obama Crime Wave. I predict that we will see an unprecedented increase in crime. In fact, you could call it historic.

And the question is not whether it will happen. The question is just how bad it will be.

Ross’s prediction in 2011 was of course guaranteed to be right, as good social science research since the early and mid-twentieth century had shown that if you raise children in broken homes, chaos ensues when they reach adulthood.

I think however that Ross and most previous researchers have missed half the equation. Broken homes certainly produce adults who don’t know right from wrong, and thus become hardened and violent criminals.
» Read more

Viet View – In The Year 2525

An evening pause: This is a cover of the classic Zager and Evans 1960s song. It also cleverly uses material from numerous post-1980s sci-fi movies to match the words. Overall, those movies portray a brave new world future (as Huxley saw it), humorless, soulless, and inhumane — as does the song.

Hat tip Bob Robert.

A thumbnail bio of George Washington

An evening pause: This day, February 22nd and the birthday of George Washington, was once celebrated yearly by Americans to honor the leader of the American army in the Revolutionary War, the leader in the effort to write the Constitution, and the country’s first president who had the humbleness to step down after two terms in office.

Congress in 1971 turned that celebration into the empty “Presidents Day” holiday, that means nothing and devalues the profound importance of Washington, especially when compared to the generally mediocre individuals — with the except possibly of Lincoln alone — who followed him in that office.

I choose to celebrate Washington instead, on this the actual anniversary of this birth. The video below is a short but succinct and accurate outline of his life. It only touches the surface of the man’s unfathomable importance to American history, but it is start.

History Unplugged – The Age of Discovery 2.0: Episode 6

Episode six of the six part series, The Age of Discovery 2.0, from the podcast, History Unplugged, is now available here.

On this episode Scott Rank interviews Ram Jakhu, an associate professor at McGill University and a researcher on international space law. From the show summary:

The British East India Company is perhaps the most powerful corporation in history. It was larger than several nations and acted as emperor of the Indian subcontinent, commanding a private army of 260,000 soldiers (twice the size of the British Army at the time). The East India Company controlled trade between Britain and India, China, and Persia, reaping enormous profits, flooding Europe with tea, cotton, and spices. Investors earned returns of 30 percent or more.

With SpaceX building reusable rockets and drawing up plans to colonize Mars, could we be seeing a new British East India Company for the 21st century? The idea isn’t that far-fetched. In the terms of service for its Starlink satellite internet, one clause reads the following: “For Services provided on Mars, or in transit to Mars via Starship or other colonization spacecraft, the parties recognize Mars as a free planet and that no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities. Accordingly, Disputes will be settled through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of Martian settlement.”

History Unplugged – The Age of Discovery 2.0: Episode 5

Episode five of the six part series, The Age of Discovery 2.0, from the podcast, History Unplugged, is now available here.

On this episode Scott Rank interviews Rand Simberg. From the show summary:

The history of exploration and establishment of new lands, science and technologies has always entailed risk to the health and lives of the explorers. Yet, when it comes to exploring and developing the high frontier of space, the harshest frontier ever, the highest value is apparently not the accomplishment of those goals, but of minimizing, if not eliminating, the possibility of injury or death of the humans carrying them out.

To talk about the need for accepting risk in the name of discovery – whether during Magellan’s voyage in which 90 percent of the crew died or in the colonization of Mars – is aerospace engineer and science writer Rand Simberg, author of Safe Is Not An Option: Overcoming The Futile Obsession With Getting Everyone Back Alive That Is Killing Our Expansion Into Space.

For decades since the end of Apollo, human spaceflight has been very expensive and relatively rare (about 500 people total, with a death rate of about 4%), largely because of this risk aversion on the part of the federal government and culture. From the Space Shuttle, to the International Space Station, the new commercial crew program to deliver astronauts to it, and the regulatory approach for commercial spaceflight providers, our attitude toward safety has been fundamentally irrational, expensive and even dangerous, while generating minimal accomplishment for maximal cost.

Rand explains why this means that we must regulate passenger safety in the new commercial spaceflight industry with a lighter hand than many might instinctively prefer, that NASA must more carefully evaluate rewards from a planned mission to rationally determine how much should be spent to avoid the loss of participants, and that Congress must stop insisting that safety is the highest priority, for such insistence is an eloquent testament to how unimportant they and the nation consider the opening of this new frontier.

Definitely worth a listen, especially considering our society’s panic over COVID. Our society appears incapable of accepting any risk at all, even though risk cannot be avoided, and to do great things you must embrace it in some manner.

Corporal Matthew Creek – The Last Post

An evening pause: Played at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. From the youtube page:

In military tradition, the Last Post is the bugle call that signifies the end of the day’s activities. It is also sounded at military funerals to indicate that the soldier has gone to his final rest and at commemorative services

In honor of this Armistice Day, the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and those who gave their lives for freedom, something that appears at this moment sadly lost in Australia.

History Unplugged – The Age of Discovery 2.0

The podcast, History Unplugged, created by Scott Rank from the History on the Web webpage, has put together a six part podcast called The Age of Discovery 2.0 with the goal of exploring how today’s new effort to colonize the solar system can learn from the first age of discovery that began when Columbus discovered the New World in 1492. From the announcement:

No era transformed Western Civilization like the Age of Discovery. Before then, Europe was an economic and military weakling that had suffered centuries of defeat from Islamic empires. Constantinople, Greece, Serbia, and the Crimea had all fallen to the Ottomans in the 15th century. Compared to its richer, more educated, and far more powerful rivals in the East, Europe was the Third World of the late medieval era. Chroniclers saw it as living in a long twilight, far removed from its golden age. It had nothing to look forward to but Judgment Day.

But with Columbus’s discovery of the New World, the West was reborn. Trade routes to Africa, India, and China opened. Ship building began at a furious pace. New wealth flowed into European capitals. At the same time, printing presses spread new ideas about science, religion, and technology. Literacy rates exploded. Above all, anyone willing to brave the dangers of traveling and settling in the New World could seek their fortune, bypassing whatever their birth status was in Europe’s rigid social hierarchy. Because of the Age of Discovery, for the first time in generations, Western Civilization had hope in the future.

Today, an Age of Discovery 2.0 is upon us. With Elon Musk promising rocket launch costs at $200/kilo (one percent of the Space Shuttle’s launch costs, with much lower costs to come), the price of sending explorers to space will soon match the cost of a ticket on the Mayflower in 1620. In a few decades, the Moon, Mars, and other planetary bodies will be as accessible to humans as the New World was in the Age of Sail.

How will the Age of Discovery 2.0 change our civilization the way the first one did five centuries ago?

To find the answer, History Unplugged is interviewing historians, scientists, and futurists who have spent decades researching this question by looking at the past to understand the future. It will explore how:

Scott asked me to be one of his guests, which also include Robert Zubrin, Glenn Reynolds, Rand Simberg. Episode #4 will focus on the history I outline in my new book, Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space. The topic fit perfectly with his series.

The series begins airing tonight, and will continue for the next two weeks.

Today’s blacklisted American: The massacred Alamo defenders were a myth, because they were white!

The Alamo, censored

Today’s blacklist story really begins with with 70-year-old Phil Collins from the rock band Genesis. Though born and raised in England, Collins has been for most of his life a passionate aficionado of all things related to the battle of the Alamo in Texas in 1836. That passion caused him to accumulate in his life a gigantic collection of Alamo memorabilia worth 10 million pounds, including the rifle that belonged to Davy Crockett and the sword that belonged to Mexican general Santa Anna.

In 2014 Collins, who is in poor health, donated that entire 430-piece collection to the state of Texas, on the condition the state build a museum at the Alamo to exhibit it. That museum is scheduled to open next summer, and is expected to attract millions to the site.

So, who is being blacklisted? Well, it appears it is the Alamo itself, or at least the true history of that battle, where a Mexican army of 6,000 overwhelmed a small outpost manned by only 200 Texan volunteers. No prisoners were taken, all were killed. That butchery became the rallying cry for Texas independence from Mexico.

It appears that this story must no longer be told, even though true, because it celebrates the unwavering courage of the settlers from the United States who created Texas, while illustrating the cruel dictatorship of Mexico at that time.
» Read more

Michael Knowles – Celebrating Columbus

An evening pause: On this day when all should be celebrating Christopher Columbus and his willingness “sail beyond the sunset,” to use a phrase from Tennyson, this short video give us an accurate picture of the man, his times, and his achievements. It also puts the lie to the bigoted, hateful, leftist slanders that have been used in recent years to poison his legacy.

Note that I got this video from Rumble. I ask all who wish to suggest evening pauses to consider searching on Rumble and Vimeo, so that we are less dependent on YouTube. The Google company needs to feel some competitive pressure.

A Martian sunset in Jezero Crater

Sunset on Mars
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, reduced slightly to post here, was taken by the left navigation camera on the Mars rover Perseverance. Looking west to the rim of Jezero Crater, it catches the Sun as it sets behind that rim.

The image was taken on July 20, 2021, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon. Seems somehow fitting to catch a sunset on Mars on this date, to illustrate how far we have come in that half century.

To my mind, not enough. Our ability to send robots to other worlds has certainly improved, but in 1969 we were able to put a human on another world. Since 1972 we no longer have had that capability, so that in 2021 all we can do is fly robots elsewhere.

It is time for this to change. I’d much prefer to make believe this photo was a sunrise suggesting a bright future, than the sunset it actually is, indicating a coming dark age.

George C. Scott’s Patton speech

An evening pause: The opening speech from the 1970 movie Patton that captured the character of one of America’s most unique and successful generals.

Patton was a difficult man with little diplomacy, but then, soldiers are not hired to be diplomats. (At least we didn’t when America was the sane country of courageous fighters, as described in this speech.) Yet, as difficult as he was, his philosophy of war was a direct descendant of the war strategy and tactics of Ulysses S. Grant. As Patton is believed to have actually said,

“Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy. We are going to go through him like crap through a goose!”

This was how Grant won the Civil War. It was how Americans fought every war that followed through World War II. Sadly, that philosophy was lost by the bureaucratic military that developed during the Cold War.

If only we had generals and political leaders today who understand this utterly essential approach for winning wars.

One note: The speech’s language at times violates my rules about obscenities. In the context of war and death however I think the use of such language wholly appropriate.

Hat tip Daniel Morris.

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