Interesting Items 09/18

Howdy all, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –

In this issue:

  1. Blog
  2. DACA
  3. Goolag
  4. Punish
  5. Cassini
  6. Pournelle

  1. Blog. The Items Blog is reserved for articles and other things I find that are of a more permanent nature as compared with my weekly.  I posted a couple new entries there over the weekend.  One was a fabulous photo of the eclipse last month.  It is entitled the Great Gig in the Sky, after the Pink Floyd song of the same name.  There are three links that follow the photo.  The first is the actual APOD page with the photo.  The second is the story behind the photo (no, it wasn’t staged).  The third is a link to a narrative by Willis Eschenback, one of the great writers on the WUWT blog who talked about his experience chasing the eclipse.  All are worth your time to read.   The second new entry in the Items Blog contains a video released by SpaceX late last week how to learn to land a rocket.  It is called a blooper video.  It isn’t.  Rather it documents the fact that to learn how to do hard things, especially in aerospace, you have to break things, perhaps even a lot of things while you learn the new task.  Aerospace is highly unforgiving of screw ups, so once you learn your new skill, how to build and operate your new equipment, you can’t let up even a little bit, for once you slip below the level of excellence necessary to operate it safely and successfully, you start blowing things up again and hurting people.


  1. DACA. And the Trump DACA / DREAMER beat went on last week as congress got itself engaged.  The two most interesting stories during the week were a dinner with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.  No Republicans were invited leading to the expected consternation out of Beltway Republicans and some movement conservatives waiting for Trump to roll over on his base like Bush 41 did.  Both democrats came out of the dinner announcing that Trump was going to sign their version of legalization for DREAMERs and oh by the way, the border wall was not going to be part of the discussion.  This triggered the expected anti-Trump media firestorm.  He and his press people both forcefully said that whatever congress comes up with, the wall is going to be part of it, the first part of it.  One of the main jobs by the media is to separate Trump’s base from him.  They figure that he does not have any real friends in congress, or anywhere else in the political world outside his base, for that matter.  And if they can separate them from one another, he will be sunk politically and much, much easier to deal with.  And the media has been trying it ever since he announced he was running for president.  That’s what the Billy Bush ladyparts video leaked a couple of days before a debate was all about.  That was supposed to kill him.  And it didn’t.  This week’s lies about Trump and DACA are another ploy in the same game.  Even the false WSJ story this weekend claiming that Trump was reconsidering withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Treaty was intended to separate Trump from his base.  Their problem is that Trump’s base trusts Trump much more than they do the media.  They also trust him much more than our elected idiots in congress.  The media managed to do it with Bush 41 after 10 years of Reagan – Bush successes as Bush 41 squished out on taxes and the ADA.  While that trust can most certainly be trashed, for the time being, Trump’s base is giving him an awful lot of rope, helped in no small way by the veniality of the Beltway Party and their enablers in the media.


  1. Goolag. I am going to quit referring to the search engine by its given name, opting instead for one that more accurately describes its current worldview and actions to suppress conservative web sites and their content.  WUWT ran a post last weekend that quantified the suppression of conservative web site and climate skeptic hits to what the author believes is a 95% confidence level.  Conversely, Goolag also pumps up hit and traffic results for hard-left domains to the extent that they appear to be hand-picked for prominent placement.  There are several respected conservative domains that are for all intents and purposes blacklisted by Goolag.  Its bias has been known for years, especially in the climate change debate on the skeptic side.  Here’s how they do it.  Google Search generally provides 25 – 30% of a user’s traffic to an average web site.  They collect an enormous amount of information via its Chrome browser, other Google applications, services, analytics, domain registrar status, etc.  This information includes domain popularity and ownership, frequency of clicks on search results, bounce rate, frequency of repeated searches with modified terms.  It is used to optimize search results (and here’s the critical weasel word) fairly.  Goolag is very good at its optimization job.  The paper took a sample of web search traffic and identified significant differences in traffic due to Google Search back end programming.  Below 12%, the site has been defacto blacklisted.  A grey area has 12 – 20% traffic.  A whitelist / green light (unusual favoritism) is anything above 36%.  So, who sits where?  For the climate world, so called fact checkers are the most favored by Goolag’s algorithms.  Snopes sits at 48%; Sourcewatch at 52%, demosgblog at 38%; EPA at 42%, netroots at 45%.  On the other hand, WUWT is at 10%, climate depot at 8%, as is judithcurry.  In the political world, conservative domains black listed include gatewaypundit, pjmedia, americanthinker, redstate, powerline, drudgereport.  It is about time to unleash the trust-busting powers of DC on Silicon Valley.  Treating these guys as a public utility might be another approach.  Either way, if they are using their corporate power politically, it is time to cut that power off politically.  What better time than today?


  1. Punish. One of my guilty pleasures are the two Adams Family movies with the sadly departed Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, and Christopher Lloyd made in 1991 – 1993.  The second movie has a scene where the kids are attempting to break out of a cloyingly sweet summer camp in the middle of the night.  They get caught and confronted, and the campers break into a chant of “punish, punish, punish” demanding they be punished.   Fast forward 24 years and it is the totalitarian left demanding punishment for those of us who believe that mankind doesn’t have a bloody thing to do with the weather.  The chant of “punish, punish, punish” broke out last week in response to the arrival of a pair of hurricanes on American soil for the first time in 12 years.  So drunk with hatred and their thirst for violence are the left that they are now calling for those who were struck by the storms to take out their rage and loss on “climate deniers like (EPA head) Scott Pruitt”.  In other words, ‘punish, punish, punish.”  And somehow this is just ducky with the media, democrats, and their sycophants.  The actor who called for this is one Mark Ruffalo, who plays Bruce Banner / The Incredible Hulk in Marvel’s Avengers movies.  He has a Twitter following of 3.4 million people.  He goes on to blame Republicans for future storms in subsequent tweets.  Mark Hertsgaard, a writer for the Nation wants climate deniers treated like murderers for “crimes against humanity.”  He goes on to blame those of us who disagree for deaths as a result of the storms.  In another place and time, this sort of gum flapping might carry precisely that sort of weight. The problem today is that it doesn’t, as some of those on the left have already acted on the call to violence (Bernie supporters who attempt to assassinate congressional Republicans at baseball practice).  We’ve seen a BLM true believer assassinate 5 Dallas policemen standing security detail at a BLM protest in Dallas.  When the government becomes your religion, it is right, meet, and proper to react violently against heretics.  It is why the left and Islam get along so well.  It won’t last, but for now it is a sadly predictable marriage of convenience.  When you don’t believe in the right stuff, anything and everything else is possible, especially when your so-call leadership is calling for it, giving you moral authority.  The people who claim to hate fascism so fervently appear to be well on their way to becoming that what they most despise.  And they are preparing to take it out on the rest of us.  Be prepared.


  1. Cassini. NASA ended the Cassini mission to Saturn early Friday morning directing an impact on the planet itself.  After 13 years orbiting through the Saturn system of 62 moons and rings, the spacecraft was about out of fuel.  Eventually it would have impacted one of the moons.  As two of the moons, Titan and Enceladus, have subsurface oceans and appear to be able to host life, NASA made the decision to make sure they didn’t contaminate those moons with a wayward spacecraft.  The probe was launched in 1997 on a Titan-IVB, did multiple gravity assist flybys of Earth and Venus before being sent on its way to the outer system.  It did a flyby of Asteroid 2685 Masursky, and a gravity assist flyby of Jupiter in 2000.  After 7 years, it arrived in the Saturn system and entered orbit in 2004.  It carried an ESA probe called Huygens that landed on the largest moon in the solar system, Titan.  Huygens took photos all the way down, though half of them were lost with a data malfunction.  The mission was originally planned for 4 years, and extended eventually to 13 years.  People who worked on this mission did so for 20 years.  What did we learn?  An incredible amount of new information, much of it overturning previous theories and assumptions.  For instance, we have a 500 km icy moon called Enceladus, with active geysers of salty, organic-rich water.  A moon that small ought not to be active.  Warm, salty water spouting into space means there is a warm subsurface ocean.  Completely unexpected.  Titan is the only moon with an atmosphere.  It also has a subsurface ocean and lakes on the surface.  It has significant organic compounds, and is another location with precursors for life.  The system of moons and rings may be very young, arising out of catastrophic events around the time the dinosaurs were killed off.  There is a hexagonal structure in the atmosphere above the North Pole.  It is shaped by the pattern of wind flow (jet streams) around the north flow.  Why it is a stable hexagonal is anybody’s guess.  And the rings, the glorious rings.  JPL’s Cassini page is probably as good a place to start looking at what we found as anywhere else.  Congratulations to the mission team for a job well done.


  1. Pournelle. Lost one of my favorite authors last week when Jerry Pournelle passed away.  He was involved in military strategy, science fiction, newSpace, and the early days of computing.  He collaborated with Larry Niven on a variety of projects, two of which made it to and near the top of the best seller list – Lucifer’s Hammer and Footfall.  He was an early columnist in Byte magazine and did much to put to words what was going on in the fledgling industry.  He was involved in starting an early reusable rocket project – the DC-X.  And he blogged for years on his personal blog The View from Chaos Manor.  I first ran across him via his collaborations with Larry Niven.  Found his 1979 A Step Farther Out shortly after it was published.  It gave a hopeful view of the future, something that was difficult to see during the dark years of the late 1970s.  And he always kept that sense of hope and wonder in his writings.  In the Science Fiction community, he helped new writers and provided suggestions and reviews of their work, as far as I can tell, always helpful.  Politically, he was tied in fairly tightly with the Reagan – Gingrich team, and reportedly authored the SDI section of the 1983 State of the Union speech, something he denied, correctly attributing it to WH speech writers.  Throughout his career, he was pro-military, pro-technology, and most importantly hopeful of the future.  He authored a number of Laws, the most famous (at least to me) the Iron Law of Bureaucracy which states:


Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:

First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

It was great fun while it lasted.  Godspeed.

More later –

– AG


6 thoughts on “Interesting Items 09/18”

  1. Please do not further the left’s agenda by using one ancient method of criminalizing commerce. No, what we should do is create alternatives. Let the people vote with their trust and their wallets. Promote infogalactic, and duckduckgo and more. A problem for me, though, will be ‘free’ throwaway email addresses. I’ve used them for over a decade now. I keep them even when I don’t do much with them. I have a yahoo one that is a spam trap. I have hotmail accounts, a msn one, a few gmail accounts. I have my ISP’s email accounts, too; though not at the free account limit. I’ll look into anyone else’s free throwaways, if I can trust them at least as well as I can trust the ones that I have right now. As far as ‘privacy’ goes. I don’t expect that at all. The internet is a packet switched store-and-forward network, akin the the cellular radio-telephone network. I don’t expect ‘privacy’ when in public; and broadcasting, even if in a limited fashion, is still acting in public.

    1. I was channeling my inner Kurt Schlichter, who has called for using the trust busting powers of government on Silicon Valley.

      The conundrum at least for me is this: Given that the Big Guys are using their power in the political world not only to crush competition but political speech itself, why do we on our side of the discussion unilaterally disarm and refuse to use those very same weapons in response?

      Many thanks for the other options. Time to explore them a bit. Best to you and yours. Cheers –

      1. Good question, but in my mind, two wrongs don’t make it right. If we are for the maximum use of the power of free peoples and free markets, we should eschew the Left’s premises.

  2. About that hexagonal pattern seen in the polar clouds of Saturn, the Earth has the same thing and likely for the same reason. Baroclinic circumpolar jet stream, aka the ‘polar vortex’.

    1. Thanks., CDQ. The weirdness for me is the hexagonal shape. Didn’t know ours presented that way. Time to do some more research. Best to you and yours. Cheers –

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