Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
- Space. One of my long-term interests has been the ability of mankind to permanently move off this planet and expand across the solar system. I think it is both interesting and necessary. Around 40 years ago, I hooked up with an outfit called the Space Studies Institute (SSI) founded by Princeton physicist named Gerard O’Neill. He was the first one to actually run the numbers to figure out that massive structures could be built using extraterrestrial materials in the late 1960. NASA, looking for post-Apollo things to do was involved early on right up until William Proxmire (D, WI) got involved, flagging the entire idea as a waste of taxpayer money, getting the little bit of planning / research dollars NASA was spending zeroed. This made O’Neill and his fellow travelers persona non grata for the civil space agency for decades afterwards. Today, with the rise of commercial launch corporations and space tourism, people are starting to think about this sort of stuff again. SSI held their 50-year conference in Seattle last week, so I attended to reconnect with some old acquaintances and see where the research was now pointing. I try to never attend one of these things without learning a thing or two. This one was no different. Biggest pleasant surprise was a significant NASA presence both with active and retired people. One of the presenters was a Dr. Jim Logan, former NASA Chief of Flight Medicine and Chief of Medical Operations at NASA JSC. He gave an update on human limitations for long term spaceflight in places outside earth orbit. There are two huge problems that must be solved before people go elsewhere. First is radiation. Radiation outside low earth orbit where we are protected by Earth’s magnetic field is deadly, especially for fetuses and embryos. Those who spend a long time away from the surface of the earth MUST carry enough radiation shielding to protect from the high energy radiation, say the functional equivalent of 10’ of water all the way around the vehicle. Second data point is that the human body does not do all that well with long-term exposure to less than 1 Earth gravity (1 G). Physiological problems associated with zero-G did not show up until months after that exposure began. There is no data at all on the long-term impact of a third-G (Mars and Mercury) or a sixth-G (Moon and larger solar system moons) on the body at all. Sometime, somewhere we are going to gather that data before sending people on long trips to Mars or the asteroids. Remember that NASA did a 14-day Gemini 7 mission, to see what the impact of a trip to and from the moon (10 – 11 days) would be on the human body so this sort of testing is not unprecedented. Quite likely, whoever goes will have to go in something big enough that it can be rotated so as to provide a full 1-G Earth normal gravity throughout the full duration of the trip.
- Tardigrades. Robert Zubrin wrote an at first hilarious and eventually serious piece entitled The Tardigrades-on-the-Moon Affair in NRO a couple weeks ago. Tardigrades are a microscopic animal otherwise known as a water bear or moss piglet and are among the toughest animals known. They can survive dehydration for years. The commercial lunar lander Beresheet intentionally carried around 10,000 tardigrades on its landing mission to the moon. The probe crashed while landing when the engine malfunctioned. Initial reporting on the tardigrades was great fun until a NASA Goddard astrobiologist got herself involved with a series of tweets blasting the company and Israel for contaminating the pristine lunar surface. She got herself quite worked up, ending with the following:
What you are doing is showing excitement at the long history of forcing OUR values, systems, and in this case, living beings on another world. That is not our right, and it is not our job. If we carry on with that mentality, even if we took away the ‘colonization’ word the premise is the same. It’s colonialism. It’s imperialism.
There is a growing movement out there called the planetary protectionists, that argue that delivery of any living thing from Earth to any celestial body is forbidden under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and constitutes “harmful contamination.” Of course, that kind of ended when Apollo 11 first landed on the moon in 1969. You can make a decent case that it ended earlier when Ranger 4 crashed into the moon in 1962. Zubrin, long a powerful advocate for manned missions to Mars and Mars colonization rightfully asks who gave the moon to the astrobiologists? Better yet, who gave the universe to the scientists? Humans do not exist to serve scientific research. Rather, it is the other way around. The planetary protectionists have already damaged Martian exploration with demands that the $2 billion Curiosity rover currently on Mars not be allowed to explore locations that it appears water is seeping to the surface. This foolishness is coming straight out of academia, and that anti-Western rot is even starting to impact our ability to get people permanently off this planet.
- Cruz. One of the Parkland dads and Max Eden wrote a book entitled Why Meadow Died, an analysis of everything the Broward County school district did that led to the shooting by Nick Cruz that killed his daughter. The book is a sober listing of the failures of the school district which knew full well that Cruz was obsessed with guns and murder and let him practice shooting at school. Cruz was violent, would curse at people, hide behind corners and jump out screaming at people, not to mention occasional torturing and skinning animals. His behavior changed midway thru 7th grade. There was a time in middle school when he was suspended literally every other day. He was put into special needs program, making him nearly untouchable. He tried to commit suicide by running into traffic. The boy told everyone what he was about, what he liked, and what he wanted to do. Such a waste. Such a sad, sad waste. And everyone who knew him or had any contact with him knew it was coming.
- Panic. The most recent National Panic is lung disease tied to vaping. This nicely triggered the American Puritanical reflex which is now Hell-bent to instantly and irrevocably ban all flavored juices used in vaping so as to save The Children. While vaping is rightfully seen as a solution rather than a problem, the kneejerk control freaks are hot to trot. So, what is the problem? In recent months, there have been perhaps 150 – 450 instances of lung related illnesses and at least one and as many as six deaths associated with vaping. At this point, nobody knows the cause. Nobody knows what these people have been ingesting. Nobody knows how long they have been ingesting it. And nobody knows where this stuff is coming from, though there are some indications that it might be related to ingesting black market, THC-related oils. Mixing this stuff with Vitamin E oil has also been mentioned as a possible cause. The CDC is at the beginning of the investigation process rather than the end. The problem is that this gives an opening to the typical American Puritanical impulse that bursts out on the public scene from time, and they have been running wild all last week, including the media, President Trump, and my favorite Senator Lisa Murkowski who never saw a Big Government action she didn’t gleefully support. The New Puritans are suggesting that vaping is worse than smoking itself, which is the height of foolishness, as vaping is the solution rather than the problem. CDC stats suggest that smoking is involved in the deaths of half a million Americans every year while vaping is suspected in less than 10, only this year (which means something new is going on), a mere factor of 100,000. A NRO article on the festivities suggests that the illness may be caused by bad or counterfeit products. The cases also cluster geographically and in some states can be found exclusively among those who vape cannabis products rather than nicotine. For now, the problem seems to be limited to small batches of bad products, but sadly will be used as an excuse to go after vaping altogether, hardly a surprise.
- Vegans. Not a great week for the vegans, though the stories were both sadly predictable, with one of them pure comedy gold. The first story comes out of Oz, where a massage therapist who claims to be a vegan is taking her neighbors to court with complaints of intentionally cooking meat outside just to irritate her with the smell. The case made it all the way to the Supreme court, where she was dismissed. This lady is one of those neighbors from Hades, complaining about everything under the sun including smoking, basketball bouncing, weeds, repainting fences and the cost of replacing damaged plants. The sued neighbor has moved their barbeque and got the kids to bounce basketballs elsewhere, neither of which mollified the vegan much. The greater community hasn’t taken this harassment well at all, with over 2,000 organizing a mass barbeque event near her home just to show the love. The event is being organized on FakeBook and of course, the lady sicced her lawyers on the group. Second story is not as festive, and involve vegan activists trying to free rabbits at a Spanish rabbit farm. For some reason, the Spanish farmers weren’t all that tolerant of the vegans stealing their property and trying to shut down their business and fought back, which surprised the vegans a bit. Police were called and halted the melee, and the vegans were told to leave, which they did. The farmers chased them on the way out, surrounding their vehicles and banged on the windows. They were ‘scared’. More than 60 vegan activists participated in the festivities. They successfully freed 16 rabbits, killing over 100 in the process. A week earlier, an aggressive vegan group that call themselves anti-speciesist and transfeminist attacked a farm, separated hens from cocks, and smashed eggs because they didn’t want the hens to be raped. If things are getting this stupid in Europe, perhaps the Islamist invasion is an improvement, though not by much.
- Hickenlooper. Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper dropped out of the democrat presidential clown car last week and promptly announced he would be seeking the democrat nomination for US Senator from Colorado. The Washington Free Beacon ran a piece last week noting the interesting timing of this announcement. Hickenlooper dropped out on the same day he was required to file his financial disclosure forms with the Office of Government Ethics. He previously requested two extensions that were granted by the FEC. Hickenlooper ran for President for 164 days without filing any financial disclosure statement. If he runs for US Senate, it will be an additional 267 days, totaling 431 days running for federal office without filing any financial disclosure statements. Hickenlooper has a couple travel-related ethics complaints still hanging over his head in Colorado both filed while he was governor. There was a formal complaint filed in 2018 alleging that while governor he violated state rules by improperly accepting jet plane rides. In 2014 as he ran for governor, he released 27 years of tax records, which were only the 2 – 3-page summaries for each year. In contrast, his opponent release full returns for the previous 8 years. Hickenlooper cut a five-figure check to the IRS to settle an issue over tax conservation easements that he counted as charitable contributions on a rural piece of property he owned. He declined to reveal what charities he supported with the excuse that he “didn’t want them politicized.” Sure does appear that Hickenlooper has figured out how to tweak various campaigns so that he doesn’t have to report anything at all, giving the Free Beacon ammunition to ask the question: What does he have to hide?
More later –