Interesting Items 03/08

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

In this issue:

1.  Dr Suess
2.  Starship
3.  Swabs
4.  Vaccines
5.  Lockdowns
6.  Iran
7.  Apple

1.  Dr Suess.  Cancel culture news of the week was the decision of Dr Seuss Enterprises, the owner of rights for the writings of Theodore Seuss Geisel, aka Dr Seuss, to withdraw six books from future publication due to what they call racially insensitive depictions of characters in the books.  The current list includes:  And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra, Scrambled Eggs Super, and The Cat’s Quizzer.  In the world of cancel culture, there will be more, as they are just getting started.  Cancellation instantly triggered a bidding war on eBay which had bids around $500/book before eBay withdrew all titles as inappropriate.  Note that they still sell some of the most awful books out there (Mein Kampf, Mao’s Little Red Book, etc).  The books are still available on Amazon, though prices have been bid to the $200 range for a couple of them as of this writing.  Given the rolling digital book burning underway on Amazon these days, I don’t expect these titles to be available for long.  The interest bumped the Cat in The Hat to #1 on Amazon’s Best Seller list over the weekend.  My local Costco had a display of Dr Seuss books out over the weekend, though not containing any of the banned books.  Two of my guilty pleasures in life were Dr Seuss and the old Jim Henson Muppets.  I enjoyed the chaotic craziness and silliness inherent in both.  Used to read my youngest to sleep with Dr Seuss books, though my Lovely Lady made me stop.  Apparently stirring renditions of Green Eggs and Ham that had him laughing were not conducive to settling down and going to sleep.  Who knew?  The fun part of this story is not that cancel culture came after yet another book, it was who was targeted this time around, as Geisel was a proud member of the political left, something that he demonstrated in his later years.  Anyone else remember the environmentalist screed dressed up as a children’s’ book entitled The Lorax?  Cancel culture is an attempt by the political left to rewrite history back to Year Zero (today), so that there is no history and no past to learn from.  And once you rewrite back to Year Zero, the next thing up are boxcar rides to camp.

2.  Starship.  Elon Musk launched his latest Starship test flight last week.  This one, SN10, took off, climbed to 10 – 12 km, pushed over with all engines shut down, maneuvered on its fins for a while, reassumed vertical, relit at least two engines, and successfully landed on its tail.  This was the first successful landing of the Starship design.

The problem is that the ship blew up shortly after landing, apparently due to a propellant leak.

One of the important things to remember about aerospace is that it is difficult, and you really can’t skip steps when you are doing something new and bleeding edge.  Landing rockets and using them multiple times are two recent examples.  It is something we knew how to do 60 years ago when we blew up ICBMs right and left.  It is something that NASA forgot over the years.  It is something the Musk knows in his bones and has set up his development team to do.  He has crafted his test and development plan in such a way as to allow multiple tests to destruction in order to learn how to actually do things.  This means the test article needs to be sufficiently inexpensive to allow this sort of testing to destruction and sufficiently robust to reach the testing results.  If a test is successful, the article is used for the next test and the one after that.  When it is not, they make the required changes, clean up the crash site, and give it another try. 

3.  Swabs.  The first time I ran across this story, I thought it was a Babylon Bee exclusive.  Sadly, it appears to be true.  The most recent form of humiliation visited on people traveling to China by the CCP is a unique form of COVID testing, the anal swab.  The first report was Feb 25, when US diplomats reported they were forced to endure such testing.  The ChiComs assured the State Department that the testing was done in error and would never, ever happen again.  Diplomats and their families were subjected to the testing.  From here, the story reminds me of the disdain the CCP treated O’Bama with the last time Air Force One visited the Chinese mainland Sept 2016.  The ChiComs ordered the airport not to provide stairs for O’Bama to deplane, demonstrating the contempt they held him with public humiliation.  Only took six weeks for the CCP to once again demonstrate similar contempt for Biden and the O’Bama straphangers he brought back into office with him, publicly humiliating them with their newly-created testing protocol.  It is something they would not have dared to do with Trump.  Operating from a position of weakness rather than strength with an enemy like the CCP is hardly the preferred position of strength and respect to keep a lid on possible kinetic engagements in the not-so-distant future.  And to demonstrate their contempt for the rest of the world, ChiComs have started making noises about using this sort of invasive testing technique on ALL visitors to China, something that may very well include the Winter Olympics in 2022.  One writer noted that such testing was a great way to obtain DNA if you were in the business of building a DNA database to use against foreign enemies or people you want to exploit in the future.  First up?  US diplomats, most of whom apparently despised Trump and did everything humanly possible to remove from office.  Now they have what they wished for.  How’s that working out so far?

4.  Vaccines.  In yet another reminder of the folly of electing democrats, vaccine distribution in Kansas has become an issue, as the state health department has been withholding vaccine distribution from counties who are prioritizing inoculations those over 65, prisoners, first responders, healthcare workers, and high contact critical workers like grocers and fast food workers.  Those who are not yet 65 with medical conditions that make them most ac-risk for serious complications are not eligible until Phase 3.  At least two counties have moved quickly to vaccinate older residents and front-line workers.  They were told to stop and vaccine supplies withheld by the State.  As a result, the counties cancelled appointments for some of its most vulnerable citizens.  The state government has been notoriously slow in getting vaccines distributed to counties, ranking dead last among all 50 states in administering doses, a full 10% worse than the national average.  The governor and her public health commissioner have been blaming technical and reporting challenges for the distribution failure.  My guess, other than the obvious one of being an elected democrat, is that the real problem is that they are far more interested in enforcing compliance than anything else, especially learning from or rewarding those counties who have figured out how to distribute the vaccines quicker and more efficiently than others.  Most places reward excellence and creativity.  Democrats punish it.

5.  Lockdowns.  Texas and Mississippi lifted all remaining state restrictions based on addressing the Wuhan Flu a week ago.  Biden himself referred to the decision by Texas as Neandertal, which led to a delicious back and forth with the much more mentally competent Texas Governor, Greg Abbott.  As usual, the media and democrats were apoplectic that anyone would deign to choose another path to recovery, especially since there has been precious little difference in infections based on lockdown or masking mandates.  There are multiple corporations who do business with customers in Texas who are promising to continue their masking and social distancing mandates until further notice.  I wonder if their customers will continue to play along.

6.  Iran.  Looks like Iran celebrated the first six weeks of the Harris – Xiden regime by releasing a massive oil spill that hit Israel’s coast last month.  The perp appears to be a Libyan-flagged ship left an Iranian port, turned off its automatic identification system until it got to the Suez Canal, turned it on for the canal, and then off again.  It spent a couple days in early February off the Israeli Mediterranean coast with the system off while it dumped oil into the ocean and onto Israel’s shores.  This attack is described as the worst environmental disaster in Israel’s history, befouling 100 or 120 miles of Israel’s coastline.  This is the second bit of terrorism by Iran in recent weeks, firing a missile at an Israeli ship in the Gulf of Oman.  The Mullahs believe they once again have O’Bama flying top cover against Israel with Harris – Xiden in the WH.  They need to be careful what they wish for, as there is nothing that will stop Israel, the Saudis and other signatories of the Abraham Accords once they get started.  While Harris – Xiden has formally repudiated the Accords, I don’t think that particular train is about to slow down any time soon.

7.  Apple.  Fresh from FakeBook taking on the government of Oz, we have Apple taking on state governments.  First, Apple and Goolag teamed up to defeat legislation in North Dakota that would have forced competition in their App Stores.  This week, the Arizona House of Representatives passed a similar bill.  This is a new front in the battle over Big Tech.  App stores are ostensibly created to give customers access to a whole set of independent applications.  The problem is that these stores are 99% controlled by two companies – Apple and Goolag.  Apple bars competitors from selling apps on iPhones.  Everything on an iPhone has to come via their app store.  Apple and Goolag used their monopoly power to remove access to the Parler app from their users when Big Tech shut down Parler.  There is a lot of money at stake here, as the app stores charge high prices from developers who want their apps listed.  These charges are typically in the neighborhood of 30% of the take.  In contrast, a credit card only charges merchants 2-3% for access to their payment network.  The critical moat here for both Apple and Goolag is maintenance of their monopolistic position.  Steve Jobs explicitly designed Apple’s payment system to discourage people from switching from the iPhone and it’s worked pretty well doing that.  Developers have for years been irritated with Big Tech control over what goes into the app stores.  State legislation has been aimed as requiring Apple and Goolag to allow their systems to download apps from third party app stores.  The goal of this legislation ends Apple and Goolag’s control smartphones.  Apple responded by getting into bed with libertarians, flooding the legislatures with lobbyists, and eventually defeating the ND legislation.  The battle then moved to Arizona where it stands today.  This is just a start, as Big Tech believes they have actual legislative power, which they may believe they have via their ability to drop billions against anything a legislature comes up with, there are lot of legislatures who have actual power, and a lot of creative legislators. 

More later –

  • AG

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