Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
1. Willow. Willow is a satellite field on the western edge of the Prudhoe Bay oil fields in Alaska. As with all new fields, it has been targeted by multiple lawsuits since being proposed. Unfortunately, the greens won their latest lawsuit with federal judge Sharon Gleason in Alaska agreeing with their complaint and ordering more environmental paperwork to be prepared. This came after the Harris – Xiden administration refused to shut down he project. Next step for the feds was to appeal the opinion. Interior under Deb Haaland conveniently missed the deadline to file their appeal, meaning the $6 billion project capable of producing 100,000 bbl/day is dead in the water. The Alaska delegation condemned the opinion. The Trump administration previously approved the project. Here’s where it gets interesting. Senior US Senator Lisa Murkowski is up for reelection, and she owns the cancellation of Willow in at least two ways. Over her years in the Senate, Lisa has increasingly made decisions to support nominees based on the sex of the participant, invariably choosing the female, especially any female’s side in any dispute. She quickly jumped on the Billy Bush tape NBC dropped on Trump in 2016, demanding he get out of the race (so the woman, Hillary could be elected). This poisoned their relationship for four solid years. In 2011, she lauded the “historic” nomination of Sharon Gleason, the first female Alaskan judge, to the federal bench. This year, she supported another historic nominee, the first female Native American, Deb Haaland as Interior Secretary. And who can forget her rather convenient vote of “present” on the Kavanaugh nomination in 2018? Lisa owns both ends of the Willow obstruction, putting a woman on the bench who chose to obstruct it, and putting a woman in office (Haaland) who despises oil and natural gas development. Perhaps voting to confirm a nominee based on their plumbing leaves something to be desired. Perhaps our next US Senator will decide to represent ALL Alaskans rather than just the ladies.
2. FOBS. The CCP tested their version of a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) last week. The test was reported as an orbital test of a hypersonic vehicle that nobody in the intel community knew about. Given the serial failures of the intel community over the last half century, their interest in removing Donald Trump from the WH, and current emphasis on diversity, CRT and other forms of self-abuse, that wouldn’t surprise me a lot. For their part, the CCP announced it was a space plane test, which nobody seems to believe. To recap, both the US and Soviet Union dinked around with a FOBS system in the 1960s, with the Soviets getting a lot farther than we did. The problem with FOBS is that you are 45 minutes from anything (half an orbit). Ballistic missiles cut that in half or more depending how close the launch is to the target, which is the entire reason for Boomers (ballistic missile submarines). It was the hypersonic part of the test that raised eyebrows, as high speeds in the atmosphere is very difficult and everyone is wrestling with what that means today. In order to maintain speed in the atmosphere, you have to be powered. And if you are powered and hypersonic, you will be hot and stand out like a sore thumb in the infrared (IR). The key to all of this is cross range capability. That is, how far off the orbital track can you maneuver? Given that both the US and Soviets rejected FOBS, I remain puzzled at what the CCP believes they can get from this system.
3. Reactors. Two mini-reactor stories out this week, both of them pretty good. The first has former SpaceX engineers working on a portable mini-reactor. Radiant is designing reactors for both military and commercial applications. The machine will output about a megawatt of electricity and is easily transportable. To size this, a megawatt of electricity will power about 1,000 homes. Reactors are heat engines, generally producing twice as much heat as electricity. And if you are in the cold part of the world, you can put the excess heat to good use. You can also do the same in space, which is another application, likely explaining the involvement of former SpaceX people. The second story comes out of Alaska, where DoD announced the Eielson AFB has been chosen as a site for a microreactor development and test. The machine is supposed to be installed by 2027 and sized at 1 – 5 MW. At this point, the owner – operator will be commercial licensed by the NRC.
4. McAuliffe. The VA gubernatorial race is heating up nicely, with democrat Terry McAuliffe flopping around like a well-hooked salmon. In VA, a governor only gets to serve a single consecutive term. McAuliffe irritated much of the VA democrat powers that be by elbowing aside black candidates for the nomination and a second term in office. This drew the very public ire of former VA governor Doug Wilder. McAuliffe needs to be careful. As a VA democrat, when you manage to irritate both the blacks and the soccer moms (CRT), you have done some serious damage to your base. As of today, it appears that the race is tied, so anything is possible.
- McAuliffe was among the loudest democrat voices out there while DNC Chair claiming the 2000 election was stolen. He has also supported Stacey Abrams claim that her gubernatorial loss in GA in 2018 was also stolen. Neither of these worked well when he tried to tie Republican gubernatorial candidate Youngkin to Trump and the 2000 election,
- McAuliffe also backs and defends CRT right at the point parents are fighting it tooth and nail. His comment that parents ought not to have any voice in the education of their children didn’t help. And it turns out that McAuliffe was front and center in bringing CRT into VA public schools while governor in 2015. VA teachers are going to get election day off in order to assist turning out the vote.
- There is a Richmond utility, Dominion Energy, that funded a PAC currently running a series of attack ads on the Republican candidate intended to raise doubts on his support of gun rights. Youngkin has been mostly silent about firearms, mostly because VA is a blue state. The utility is using that silence to claim that the NRA has not endorsed him and that he is not sufficiently supportive of firearms rights in an attempt to suppress the Republican vote.
- Final McAuliffe story has him using Google ads to promote articles from various news organizations. The technique here, and it is a new one, is to swap the original headlines on the search results page with ones written by the campaign itself. The search verbiage friendly to the Republican will point to unfriendly articles once the page is loaded. Sneaky, but effective. It is also a new technique. McAuliffe continues to be a political cockroach.
5. Equity. Latest Anchorage dispute between the veto-proof majority on the Anchorage Assembly and Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson is Bronson’s firing of the Muni’s Equity Officer. This guy is a woke black from Tacoma hired last April to install racism in local government for the Assembly that created the position. Apparently, we have so little racism here in Anchorage that we have to import it from out of state. The ordinance that cooked up the position puts it and whomever controls it under the Assembly’s control, something at odds with the Municipal Charter. Bronson fired the guy a couple weeks ago, replacing him with a local. In response, the fired incumbent issued a press release with a cartoon showing three guys in KKK hoods firing him. This means the Assembly hired the right guy, as a guy who’s only job is to do racism manages to see everything through that lens, sort of the same way a guy with a hammer looks at the rest of the world as a nail. The incumbent had not showed up to work for a few weeks prior to the firing. Latest round of this took place last week with a letter from the Assembly Chair and Vice Chair refusing to accept the firing, claiming he was still employed, and demanding the Mayor ‘splain himself to the Assembly at their next meeting. I predict lawsuits.
6. Shipping. While there are multiple explanations for the shipping difficulties, nobody has even defined the problem, much less proposed a solution. While many solutions have been proposed, this is a fool’s errand without any coherent explanation of the problem. And if California has managed to ossify their shipping flow into a solid, impenetrable, static mass, most of what they’ve done does not apply elsewhere (Port of Savannah, for instance). As usual, the media isn’t even reporting what is going on at the ports. Sounds like they aren’t even looking. This led one gentleman to charter a boat in the Port of LA and took the proverbial Three-Hour Tour (without Gilligan) around the port and found that only a few cranes were working and there were a LOT of empty containers in the port, apparently crowding out all room for the full containers. Scott Adams warned over the weekend that he is very suspicious of problems with too many explanations. The other possibility is that this may be a foreign attack by the CCP. It is possible for a patient, smart adversary with a lot of money to donate to people and organizations in order to get less than optimum decisions made. George Soros has turned this into a robust business model for stirring up trouble in the political world. Who’s to say he is the only one doing this? The counter to this is that the CCP is in deep, serious economic trouble (starting with the collapse of their real estate market) to the point where even screaming leftist Paul Krugman thinks they are in trouble. And if they can’t control their own internal economy, how can they possibly take ours down via creative purchase of well-placed politicians and NGO donations? There is an awful lot that we don’t know about what is going on. There is even more that we don’t know that we don’t know (which puts us in smartly into Rumsfeld Land). My sense is that the solution is too much regulation and too little free market, as governments, regulators and unions all seem to be involved. But I can’t prove it yet.
7. Scheller. Marine LtCol Scheller pled guilty to charges brought after calling for military leadership be held to account for their failures in Afghanistan. The plea agreement was apparently signed while in the brig. The presiding judge levied a letter of reprimand, $5,000 fine, and a general discharge under honorable conditions. He then blasted command for the pre-trial detention and leaking documents (including medical records) in an attempt to make Scheller look bad as command attempted to try the case via public media before it hit the courtroom. The conduct of the case by his commanders at Lejeune is yet another reminder of the deep rot of the Harris – Xiden military leadership, as if we needed any additional reminder (Gen Milley, SECDEF Austin, for example). This rot is going to get a lot of fine Americans killed someday.
8. Nauka. Yet another uncontrollable thruster firing onboard the ISS last week. This one was in conjunction with a thruster test to an attached Soyuz. Its thrusters were supposed to do a short test firing but did not turn off until they were out of fuel. This rotated the entire ISS about 57° off its normal attitude. The crew took about half an hour to regain control of the station and reposition it back. This is the second major rotation of the entire ISS since July when an uncommanded and uncontrolled firing of thrusters of the newly docked Nauka module (also Russian) rotated the entire ISS a turn and a half before being stopped. Fortunately, in both cases, nothing was ripped loose from the structure.
9. Robodogs. Alternate title for this section ought to be ‘Skynet smiles.’ Skynet was the AI behind the Terminator v human in the Terminator movies. Last week, we took another little step toward that world when Ghost Robotics mounted a sniper rifle on one of their robodogs. Ghost Robotics is a competitor to the better-known Boston Dynamics. The new modification was exhibited at the Association of the United Started Army annual meeting and exhibition. It is chambered with a 6.5 Creedmoor that is capable of precision fire out to 1,200 m. It can also use the 7.62 x 51 NATO round. As I said first, Skynet smiles.
More later –