Interesting Items 02/12

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

In this issue:

  1. Falcon Heavy
  2. FISA
  3. Mentors
  4. Grant
  5. Lost Decade
  6. Wood
  7. DUI

  1. Falcon Heavy. Best news of the last week was the successful launch of Elon Musk’s SpaceX newest booster, the Falcon heavy.  This booster uses three Falcon 9 first stage units, with the middle one called the core, and the outer two as strap-ons.  Lift capability is in the range of the Delta-IV, Atlas V or the old Saturn-IB.  Given that SpaceX pioneered the ability to recover and reuse boosters after launch, they attempted to recover all three, with the strap-ons back at the Cape and the core on their drone ship in the Atlantic.  Viewers were treated to a spectacular view of a pair of strap-ons doing a simultaneous powered landing at the Cape.  Both strap-ons previously flew and were successfully recovered.  The core was not so successful, losing two of the three rocket engines used to control reentry, slowdown and landing.  The core hit the ocean next to the drone target ship and was destroyed.  Payload for this test was Bezos’ personal red Tesla roadster complete with a mannequin in a space suit.  They played David Bowie’s Starman during video from the payload in space.  After orbital insertion and a six-hour period in orbit, the payload was launched into an elliptical solar orbit that crosses those of both Earth and Mars.  Essentially, Bezos sent his Tesla to Mars.  The fun part comes with costs, government vs commercial sector.  Even though SpaceX developed its equipment under government contract, the terms of those contracts allowed them to innovate in ways not seen since the 1960s in the space business.  The new booster has the capability to launch perhaps 64 tons into low earth orbit for $90 million, which significantly beats competing large boosters from the US (Delta and Atlas), Russia (Proton), ESA (Arianne 5) and China.  While cool as all get out, the event triggered significant wo0rldwide interest, all but crashing YouTube where the SpaceX video of the event was posted.



It also triggered the perennial “we can’t go to space until we solve all the problems on Earth argument”, the functional equivalent of what we heard from our parents while growing up “you can’t have desert until you eat your vegetables” or “no nice things until you clean up your room.”  The problem with this reaction is that we humans can and will do both.  And we should.  Those that look inwards and backwards are just as important as those that look outwards and forwards.  They are two sides to the same coin and their achievements incrementally make things better for humanity on this planet over time.  Both should be cheered and celebrated.


  1. FISA. Three significant things took place regarding the FISA process corrupted by the O’Bama DoJ and FIB last week.  Two of them are serious.  One is farce.  I’ll let the reader make up his or her mind which one is which.  The redacted Grassley – Graham memo supports the conclusion that Trump dossier author Christopher Steele lied to the FIB and that the FIB did not recommend prosecuting him for lying to investigators.  The FIB did not use a variety of non-FISA tools available to them to verify the claims made in the dossier.  It recommended that DoJ open a criminal case against Steele.  The letter then goes on to discuss the participation of John “F’n” Kerry’s State Department in the festivities, including unmasking of Republican and Trump campaign official’s names picked up as part of the FISA approved surveillance.  Two O’Bama consigliere names are Susan Rice and Samantha Power.  What business did they have recommending names for unmasking?  The second item is the observation that the intelligence community has been fully and completely weaponized in the political wars.  This instance was not the first time.  Nor will it be the last.  The important question is how far back does this go? My guess would be at least to the Clinton years, if not to the Carter years when Frank Church and congressional democrats blew up the CIA for its part in prosecuting the Vietnam War.  Final piece is the 10-page democrat Adam Schiff memo that was rejected by the Trump WH for revealing methods and sources.  Appears Schiff specifically wrote their memo to trigger such a reaction, baiting the Trump WH into rejecting or redacting it while they did the two-year-old routine of whining about unequal treatment for their point of view.  The Trump WH sent the whole mess over to the highly politicized FIB, asking them to figure out what needs to be withheld.


  1. Mentors. The Laws of Physics apply to the political world.  But the political world is a non-linear, non-Newtonian system, where an action will not necessarily trigger an opposite or an equal reaction.  Such is the reaction to the #MeToo movement, that has figured out how to weaponize claims of sexual harassment to remove men from positions of power.  The #MeToos believe that any accusation is sufficient, just like their predecessors on college campuses under O’Bama.  The problem with dishing this out is that the enemy gets a vote in the festivities too.  In this case, as the threat on being in a room alone with a woman, senior men in the workplace are no longer putting themselves at risk, removing training and mentoring in the job and workplace from the same women who are threatening their jobs with specious accusations of sexual harassment.  The number of male managers now reporting to be uncomfortable mentoring women has tripled to 16%.  Almost half of male managers are uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman.  Finally, almost 30% of male managers are uncomfortable working alone with a woman.  Both new numbers doubled since the advent of #MeToo.  Going to be difficult to get the mentoring and assistance up the career ladder in the workplace if those that are doing the teaching and mentoring are in fear for their jobs.


  1. Grant. Listening to people on my side of the political fence express their displeasure with President Trump, I am reminded of an old Lincoln quote about then-General Ulysses S Grant in response to an attempt to get Lincoln to fire him.  Lincoln responded “I can’t spare this man.  He fights.”  Trump was elected to do the same thing to the liberals, the swamp, and the Beltway Party that Grant was asked to do the Confederacy.  Unfortunately, Grant was a much better General and writer than he was a businessman, president, farmer, or anything else, though he did well with whiskey and cigars.  At this point (and I certainly hope it will continue), President Trump is a much better President and businessman than those of us who voted for him would have ever expected.


  1. Lost Decade. The Lost Decade was originally defined in Japan as a period of economic stagnation following Japanese asset price bubble collapse in late 1991.  It lasted at least to 2000, and perhaps until 2010.  The entire economy was involved, with GDP falling by nearly 20% over that period.  Wages fell by 5% and prices were stagnant.  As usual, this was all government inflicted and only recently has Japan started digging themselves out.  City Journal last week wrote about a similar lost decade here in the US, the period following the 2008 financial crash.  Like Japan, the government that created the housing bubble here in the US, was the same government via legislation and regulation, ensured we were in it for the entire two terms of his infestation in the WH.  Governments can never create wealth.  But they most certainly can make sure new wealth will not be created, mostly by making capital so expensive, and its use so difficult that those who would normally create new wealth never try.  The instant President Trump shows up and starts slashing regulations, getting the predatory DoJ out of the way, and starts repealing and removing multiple speed bumps created by democrats since 2007 is the point where the Lost Decade starts ending.  While I have long thought that the last decade was the functional equivalent of the Great Depression, calling it a Lost Decade is not a bad description either.


  1. Wood. Life is all about choices, and at times, my fellow Alaskans choose poorly; very poorly.  Last week, the local fish wrapper ran a story about the increasing use of wood stoves in the MatSu Valley and hour north of Anchorage to heat their homes and businesses.  The MatSu is not densely populated so distribution of natural gas via underground pipelines gets a bit expensive.  The story drew a parallel between Fairbanks, which does have a problem with the EPA over the widespread use of wood stoves, and the MatSu which might.  There are a couple of problems with this, as Fairbanks sits in what is essentially a large depression surrounded by varying elevations of higher ground.  When it gets cold, it is usually still, with a temperature inversion over the area, which locks in all the emissions until the next big wind.  The EPA got themselves involved in cleaning up the new mess with a series of restrictions on wood stove use which have been mostly ignored by local residents.  That fight continues.  In the MatSu, they don’t have an inversion problem, with significant wind off the Matanuska Glacier to the NE of the Valley.  OTOH, they have been very, very efficient and successful in fending off new energy generation and exploration in the Valley.  A decade ago, a company proposed coal bed methane exploration and production in the MatSu.  Individual wells were going to be in backyards under lease.  This was summarily killed.  A year or two the MEA CEO proposed a pair of small coal-fired electrical generation plants.  He was run out of town and the Board replaced, killing the proposal.  More recently, Usibelli Coal tried to expand and build a road to their Wishbone Hills mine.  And Governor Walker killed off the proposed Watana Hydroelectric Dam much to the delight and cheerleading of NIMBYs in the Valley.  As much as I am sympathetic with those who are forced to cut down trees to heat their homes and businesses, guys you’ve done it to yourselves, with your tooth and nail obstruction of every single attempt to more efficiently provide heat and electricity to the MatSu.  Not only have you chosen the least efficient way to heat and light your homes, but you are on the verge of getting our friendly neighborhood EPA involved in your lives.  This is hardly a win – win.


  1. DUI. As congress takes up a DACA / Dreamer immigration fix, most of us on the conservative side look at media coverage of what the senate is up to this week and shudder.  President Trump wants a wall, an end to chain migration, an end to the immigration lottery, a decade plus long path to legalization, and a significant modification of immigration where the only people invited are those who can add value to this nation.  Democrats and Chamber of Commerce Beltway Republicans in the Senate are equally determined to make sure nothing on that list ever happens.  Every now and then, we are reminded precisely who and what the opposition has invited into this nation.  Last week a twice-deported (2007 & 2009) illegal from Guatemala killed Colts Linebacker and his Uber driver on the shoulder of Interstate 70 in Indiana at 4 AM.  He was drunk, fled the scene and was arrested shortly afterwards.  These are the people democrats and Chamber of Commerce Beltway Republicans want to legalize.  I can’t see how importing these sorts of clowns improves America.

More later –

– AG


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