Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
1. Media. As polling starts to tighten, at least a bit, media coverage of the last few days of the election continues to do its level best to fend off any notion that Trump has a chance to win the election tomorrow. We have seen the pollsters and media do this for election cycles since at least 1980, nearly two generations. One would think they would finally try to get it right. Good idea, that. Unfortunately, getting it right is no longer the goal of either pollsters or the media. What if their goal is something different, something completely new, and something well within their capabilities today? We saw over the course of the last week, the ability of the media to completely disappear a major story – the Hunter Biden laptop and its contents. Think of this as a test, a rather small test, but a test, nonetheless. What if their goal is to declare Biden the winner tomorrow REGARDLESS of what the votes actually say? Combine that with the dog’s breakfast that they and the democrats are going to make of early voting, absentee ballots, and mail-in voting, dragging every single ballot through state and federal courts for months, all intended to drag the festivities past the certification date for state votes by mid-Nov and past the Electors time to act, mid-Dec? What if their entire goal is to make the entire thing illegitimate in the eyes of voters and win it in the House of Representatives? The polls predicting an easy Biden victory, a substantial lead in them will serve a dual purpose. First, the old standby of suppressing Trump votes. Second, justifying and supporting the media call of a Biden victory. The second is new. Scott Adams suggested this scenario over the weekend, though he still thinks Trump wins. But the media and Big Tech have the power today to do the latter. And he expects they will. I am reminded by the attempted election theft following the 2000 election in Florida. The former democrat talking heads working in the media that time finally shut up in December following the multiple recounts. One of them was Bob Beckel, who also disappeared for a few years afterwards. Reason? Apparently toward the end they started getting actual death threats. I predict a similar response this time around aimed at the media leading this reprise of their 2016 coup.
2. Austin. One of the most hilarious stories over the weekend comes from Austin where a Harris – Biden bus is surrounded by a bunch of pick-em-up trucks flying Trump and American flags who escorted them for a while traveling on I-35. This discombobulated the Harris – Biden campaign gonzos to the extent that they cancelled subsequent campaign events, and attempt to charge the protesters with harassment and intimidation. One of them even called 911 on the Trumpists, accusing them of ambushing the Harris – Biden bus traveling from San Antonio to Austin. He was also upset about their open carry of firearms. One white car driven by campaign staffer tried to cut off a black pickup. They were unsuccessful. Apparently, the FIB is on the case, investigating violence, intimidation, and likely even people driving while not wearing a mask. They keep this up and they will be viewed as simply another in a long line of democrat party apparatchiks masquerading as public employees.
3. Greenwald. Journalist Glenn Greenwald resigned from The Intercept, the online news organization he founded in 2013 because the editors refused to publish a piece he wrote until he removed everything in it that was critical of Biden. They also refused to publish his resignation note afterwards, which Greenwald put up on his personal web site. Apparently the only allowable free speech these days to the left is that speech which says things they agree with.
4. Bennu. There is a space probe orbiting a smallish earth crossing asteroid named 101955 Bennu. Bennu is around 560 m in diameter at its equator. The asteroid is a rubble pile, essentially a conglomeration of rocks held together by their collective gravity. It also rotates on its axis, spun up over millions of years by the differential action of sunlight on its surface. As it has no internal strength at all, it is spinning at a rate that it is on the verge of disrupting it at its equator. As a result, the asteroid is shaped like a top, skinny on the poles and fat around the middle. The probe, Osiris Rex grabbed a sample from the asteroid 10 days or so ago in what is described as a Touch and Go (TAG). The TAG had to be completely automated, due to the distance from the earth. In preparation, the asteroid was well mapped, and several sampling sites were identified. Once they selected one, they ran a few low approaches to sampling, to make sure they could reproduce the flight path inbound and outbound afterwards without hitting anything on the way in. All of these worked reasonably well to the point where the sampling event took place on Oct 21. The sampling unit was a probe on a boom extending from Osiris Rex. At the point of touchdown, they released a nitrogen (N2) bottle to disturb the regolith in hopes that some of it would blow into the collecting unit. Then they pulled away and tried to figure out what (if anything) they got. They were prepared for several attempts to fill the sampling container. Well, the first try worked, really well, to the point where the sampling unit was overloaded and could not close. Photos of the sampling unit showed it jammed open and losing rocks afterwards, so the mission controllers decided to stow the samples early, which appeared to go well. It turns out that the surface was even more ephemeral than expected, as the probe went in a long way and the N2 gas stirred up a lot of stuff. The sample will be returned to a Utah crash landing site in a couple years and collected for analysis. This marks the first successful asteroid sampling by the US. Japan has previously sampled another asteroid. There was no actual video of the sampling pass. The following video is constructed by multiple photos taken during the event. Pay particular attention to the cloud of debris generated immediately following the touchdown.
5. Grid. One of the problems with the digitally connected world is that most of the devices connected to the internet are open for hackers and other bad actors to exploit. And sometimes these exploits are innocuous and in turn, potentially wildly destructive. Most of the foreign hackers are state sponsored, Russian, Chinese, NORK and Iranian. Wired ran a piece a week ago based on an excerpt from a book called SANDWORM that described a test at the Idaho National Lab aimed at a massive diesel generator hooked into a test grid. The test was based on the damage that Russian hackers did to the Ukrainian power grid in 2016 that not only caused blackouts but apparently physical damage to electric equipment. As the same techniques can potentially be used against American power grid, we had to find out how this is done. The test unit was a retired 27-ton diesel generator from an Alaskan oil field. The test was called the Aurora Generator Test. The target of the test was not the generator itself, but a device called a protective relay connected to the grid. This is a piece of safety equipment that can disconnect generation or transmission based on unexpected varying loads in the grid. In this test, they dropped a small chunk of malware into a protective relay hooked into the generator. The generator was brought online and stable output synched to the test grid. The malware in the relay kicked it offline. The generator accelerated, as it was now spinning without a load. Once the relay observed the generator had accelerated sufficiently to be completely out of synch with power on the grid, it reconnected the generator. The reconnection instantly decelerated the generator, which started physically damaging its internal parts. The relay went through three additional hits before the generator came apart completely putting a plume of black smoke 30’ into the air. Wiring on the exterior was melted and burned. The shaft had collided with the internal wall of the generator. It was destroyed. Keep this sort of thing in mind when you start dabbling with the Internet of Things. It is a lot easier to deal out mayhem and destruction with a few lines of well-placed code than it is by tossing a few ICBMs over the pole.
6. Newsom. California Governor Gavin Newsom promulgated his Rules for Thanksgiving last week. The boy has been busy. And also stupid. PowerLine did a pretty decent workup of the intrusive and restrictive rules that would be hilarious if not so sad or maddening. Gatherings of more than three households are prohibited. You aren’t allowed to pass food around. All gatherings are to be held outdoors. Internal restrooms can be used if they are frequently sanitized. Masking, social distancing, and frequent hand sanitizing are all mandated. No singing, shouting, physical exertion allowed, and the total length of the event must be under 2 hours. This led to a funny meme, which noted that only 6 people were allowed at Thanksgiving, but 30 for a funeral. The meme announced a funeral for a pet turkey that will pass away Nov 26. Refreshments will be served.
7. Trafficking. 45 more missing children were recovered by US Marshalls in Southern Ohio and Southern West Virginia during the month of October as part of an anti-human trafficking operation. This was a multi-agency enforcement operation that made 169 arrests. Why report on this? Two possibilities, either/or or both: the interrogation of Epstein’s confidant / procurer Ghislaine Maxwell continues to unwrap his operation; or the efforts of the qanon to blow up this operation is also proceeding apace. The US Marshalls are not doing this out of thin air. They get their leads from somewhere and appear to be acting on them.
8. Takings. One of the better legal blogs out there is the Volokh Conspiracy now located on Reason. While it is left of center, it is not outrageously or unreasonably so, at least not yet. Last week, they ran a piece describing the takings case filed by Seattle property owners against the city government over their support of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone. The city allowed demonstrators to take control a 16-block area following the George Floyd death. The area was up for three weeks and local residents and businesses suffered extensive violence and property damage. They sued the city seeking compensation for the damage, loss of access to their land and buildings, basically a taking under the 5th Amendment. A federal court initially denied a motion to dismiss the three claims made by the residents and businesses. The writer initially thought the plaintiffs had a weak case. After review of the judge’s opinion, he now believes they have a much stronger case than he had thought. Generally, a government is only liable for compensation when they take your property or deny its use. In this case, they are also liable when they help a private entity (protestors in this case) gain control over your property. While the City of Seattle did not actively help the CHOP protestors seize private property, they did knowingly assist with deprivation of resident’s property rights by their assistance to the protesters. The judge also pointed out the appalling behavior of the City of Seattle toward the rights of the residents. The piece ends with the following quote:
People of all races are entitled to have law enforcement protect their lives and property against criminals, while also holding police officers accountable for their own abuses and violations of constitutional rights. And the government should neither violate those rights itself, nor—as apparently happened in this case—help private parties do so.
More later –