Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
1. Congress. There’s old joke asking what is the opposite of pro-gress? The answer is con-gress, which returned to its swampy ways last week with passage of a combo COVID Relief, DoD funding, and $1.4 trillion omnibus piece of offal intended to keep the government open thru September. I’ll discuss details of the 5.600-page monstrosity in coming weeks. Trump’s reaction was pitch perfect, as he demanded $2,000 for each American, threatened to veto it, while congress paid off its international supporters. The threat of a pocket veto disappeared over the weekend following negotiations with congressional leadership and a Trump signature on the legislation. Given the conversion of media into partisan cheerleaders, and the complete lack of what used to pass (however poorly) for reporting of facts, details of what was signed are few and far between outside the occasional Snoopy Dance from the climatistas who apparently got something they wanted.
2. Space. As we grind toward the end of President Trump’s first (and hopefully not only) term, a pair of space-related stories, one great, and one that the potential to be quite ugly hit the tubes of the Internet last week.
- The great news was Trump’s signature on Space Policy Directive 6 (SPD-6) establishing a national strategy on space nuclear power and propulsion. The vast majority of power for space systems today is provided by solar cells, with some combination of battery backup and the occasional fuel cell system. The problem with this is that you are constrained to mostly the inner solar system if solar is your primary energy source. To do anything beyond the orbit of Mars (asteroid belt and farther out), you need a compact, sustainable power source, which puts you right back into nuclear energy. Solar energy quickly drops the farther you get from the sun (by factor of the square of the distance), and solar arrays simply get too inefficient and too heavy to haul around. For example, solar irradiation per square meter at Jupiter is only a tenth that of what would illuminate the same square meter at Mars. Trump is setting the stage to go into space to stay, and I couldn’t be happier.
- The bad news, which might also end up being disastrous news is related to the NASA Orion spacecraft, which has already cost several billions of dollars for a single flight. The capsule has eight power and data units (PDUs). These provide communication between onboard computers and other components. Each unit is redundant in that it has two independent channels. In preflight testing last month, a problem was identified in one of the units. Problem is that the units are buried so deep in the capsule that maintainers are unable to get to the unit to replace them without going in from the outside, cutting a hole in the hull of the capsule. A couple weeks ago, NASA decided to take the faulty unit as-is, fly with a known failure. From an engineering perspective, if you don’t need it, why are you hauling it around with you? After all, every single pound from Earth into orbit is precious, pushing $10,000/pound into orbit. Once you get yourself into the position of flying with known problems (it’s done all the time in aviation, but rarely in space), each time you decide to do it, it becomes just a little bit easier. This is how we end up losing a pair of shuttles and crews of seven. Appears NASA hasn’t learned a lot over the last few decades which does not bode well for its future crews. Appears SpaceX HAS learned this lesson, which is why they are flying.
3. CDC. The next piece of outrage out of the CDC have to do with the “how many angels can dance on the head of this pin” discussion about who is in line for the newly approved vaccines. And the discussion is not what you would think it is, with the woke crowd of racialists at the CDC barely losing an argument that would put the elderly behind so-called essential workers in line for the vaccines. Rationale? Because the elderly are whiter than the essential workers, essentially a race-based criterion. Happily, blue state governors and their public health bureaucracies are picking up the slack and creating their waiting lists on fundamentally racial criteria. For its part, Texas ignored the CDC recommendations and came up with their own set of criteria. Here in Alaska, the argument is well underway with a zoom meeting on who gets on the list following healthcare people next being held today.
4. UVC. One of the things I have been (unsuccessfully) harping upon since March has been the use of UVC light to sterilize surfaces, air volumes, and locales used by large numbers of people in close proximity as an alternative to lockdowns and shuttering small (and large) businesses, churches and sporting venues. UVC is relatively safe for human use and is used by hospitals to sterilize equipment and spaces. It is used by airlines to sterilize cabins. A correspondent reminded me last week that it is even used in barber shops to sterilize cutting and grooming tools. Last week, a study out of Israel was published that found UVC from LEDs effectively killed human coronaviruses in suspension next to the lights. Depending on the wavelength, 99.9% of the virus was inactivated within 30 seconds. Interestingly, other viruses are show sensitivity to these same wavelengths, meaning that UVC may be an effective approach to dealing with a variety of airborne and surface-hosted viruses. This is an approach that can be done relatively quickly, safely, and likely inexpensively. And it has been completely ignored by both the CDC and governments at all levels.
5. Zuckerberg. I wrote about Zuckerberg’s spending on the 2020 election in Items 12/07. Over the course of the last month, that information has changed, and not for the better. It turns out that Zuckerberg dropped around $419 million into non-profits that worked at the local level to rewrite election law at the local level in swing state blue cities. Essentially, his money purchased local election officials to do what the charities wanted him to do. And there were clawback provisions involved, for if the rules were not rewritten in precisely the way that the charities wanted and the procedures not changed to their liking, the grants would have to be rescinded and money returned. The Thomas Moore Society’s Amistad Project filed a report last week on precisely what Zuckerberg’s hundreds of millions of dollars actually did. To put this into perspective, his dollar amount was greater than all CARES Act funds disbursed to help fund the election. The grants encouraged local officials to violate state laws, acting in violation of federal law turning out specific groups of voters while suppressing turnout by other groups of voters. These dollars purchased election judges, drop boxes, election machines, consolidation of counting facilities, and donated to secretaries of state who have fought election transparency at every turn. Executive and election officials in swing states facilitates sharing of private and sensitive information with private interests. Swing state governors started issuing a variety of emergency executive orders encouraging early voting, voting by mail, and discouraging in-person voting. These orders generally encouraged democrat turnout while discouraging Republican turnout. Breitbart reported 7 weeks ago that Zuckerberg’s hundreds of millions flipped three counties for Biden in Georgia. Scott Adams has noted that the concept of one man, one vote is officially dead with this, as the vote of one man – Mark Zuckerberg – via $419 million to charities that used it to rewrite election law to favor his chosen candidates, now counts more than your vote or my vote. It is also patently illegal under federal law, though given the refusal of courts at every level to even look at evidence, what they choose to do about this remains to be seen. Perhaps it is time for congress to get off the dime and get themselves involved in tightening up election law and rules.
6. Shifting. One of the fallouts from the election is the marked shift of immigrant neighborhoods to the right, to Republicans. The NYT, which long ago ceased to be a serious news operation, ran an extensive story about immigrant neighborhoods shifting red while the country chose blue. They don’t write this sort of story unless they are worried. This shift took place in locations with large populations of Latinos and Asians. This was a nationwide pattern, analyzed in 28,000 precincts in over 20 cities. The shift showed up in Chicago, NYC, California, Florida and along the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, stopping at least for a little while, democrat hopes of flipping Texas blue. At every turn, the closer we look at the numbers, the more it becomes clear that Trump rolled to one of the largest slam-dunk landslides since Reagan in 1984. The only thing that stopped that landslide was voting fraud. Democrats, should they regain the WH by hook or crook, are poised to legalize the 11 – 33 million illegals already here and open the borders to more from Central America and Mexico. And they are about to do this at the point where that population is swinging right hard enough for the NYT to publish a huge article about the shift. Their victory may be Pyrrhic in more ways than simply bringing massive election fraud they have been involved in perpetrating for decades to light. They may win what they want at precisely the time they are about to lock in a massive Republican advantage among voters for a generation or more. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people.
7. Blockers. The LGBTQWTF movement by the left is generally sold as liberty choice by those that choose that particular path. In practice, it is also used as a large caliber hammer by activist governments, courts, and NGOs to hammer Christians who disagree into submission. There was one bit of news in that world last week, the first out of Breitbart which had an endocrinologist looking at studies of puberty blockers and the damage those blockers do to bone density. Puberty blockers are an increasingly popular form of child abuse by deranged parents and government school “health” providers. They are used on any kid who says they are sexually confused as a way to hold off puberty and allow medical malpractice to start reassigning gender of the confused kid. Often the diagnosis is made without the knowledge or participation of both parents. Among the nicest side effect of these drugs is sterilization, chemical castration of the kid. The Breitbart article last week noted that puberty blockers given 12 – 15-year-old kids lead directly to a “massive decrease in bone density of patients relative to their peers.” The blockers poison the pituitary gland, stopping its normal function of directing production of estrogen and testosterone. The problem is that this production is intimately tied to a massive increase in bone density that takes place at puberty during the last growth spurt. When this increase in bone density does not happen, the researcher is essentially seeing chemically induced osteoporosis in teenagers, essentially giving them the skeleton of old women in menopause with associated increase risk of fracture. Over half the increase in bone density takes place during the teen years. Apparently, there are some drawbacks to chemically altering your children just to make you feel good about yourself.
More later –