Endings

Well, you may have heard, AOC, or as we are inclined to call her, Occasional Cortex has with some help from her friends, cost New York City that new Amazon headquarters. I’m not a fan of government subsidies to get big businesses to move in, but it is what it is. via the New York Post:

“For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term,” the company said.

“While polls show that 70 percent of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.”

According to the reports I’ve seen, that’s 25, 000 jobs with an average salary of $150,000 per year (Yes, I also think it either insane or obscene, but that’s life). That works out to $3,750,000,000 lost. That’ll leave a mark on tax revenues. And it doesn’t count the other jobs, janitors, food service people, road crews, even ambitious young female bartenders. Nice job, Alexandria.


Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is apparently dead. Science reporter Jacob Margolis told us Wednesday via PJ Media.

“She was bouncing along, doing well, until a massive dust storm engulfed all of Mars in June 2018, knocking out communications with the team on earth,” he explained. The team has not heard from Opportunity since and it is unclear exactly what happened, he said. “The last message they received was basically, ‘My battery is low and it’s getting dark.’ They hoped that the windy season would clear dust off the solar panels (if that was the problem). “

Since then they’ve been pinging her “again and again, every way they knew,” to no avail. “Winter is coming,” said Margolis. “The windy season, which runs from November – January has come to an end, ” which is bad news for the rover because it will be dark and temps could dip to -100 C. The only way she has to keep warm is to move around, so “If components haven’t broken already, the extreme cold will likely serve the final blow…. If the solar panels do start to sip energy from the sun and feed it to the battery, Oppy’s emergency heaters will kick in and it’ll spend that energy warming its little robot heart, which contains its most important components.”

“We have made every reasonable engineering effort to try to recover Opportunity and have determined that the likelihood of receiving a signal is far too low to continue recovery efforts,” said John Callas, manager of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) project at JPL on Wednesday afternoon.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine officially declared Opportunity dead in a 2 p.m. EST tweet:

Someday mankind will walk on Mars, and some of the credit will go to #Oppy and the brilliant Americans who designed, built, and operated the rover. Bravo Zulu, guys and girls.

And there a lesson there, Oppy was American technology, designed and built by Americans, designed to operate somewhat autonomously in a known hazardous atmosphere for 90 Martian days and travel 1100 yards. Instead:

NASA said in a statement. “In addition to exceeding its life expectancy by 60 times, the rover traveled more than 28 miles (45 kilometers) by the time it reached its most appropriate final resting spot on Mars — Perseverance Valley.”

Margolis shared what was likely Opportunity’s last photograph:

Nobody does it better!

As Dr. Tanya Harrison, one of the rocket scientists at JPL Tweeted:

.

A Hell of an Engineer

We’ve lost another hero and in fact, a hell of an engineer and pilot. By now you’ve figured out that we Boilers hold an almost proprietary interest in space, not least since both the first and most recent men on the moon are our alumni, and even one of our band members. But “The Cradle of Astronauts” has had some fellow travelers. One of them John Young died this weekend, the great heroes of the space program continue to thin on the ground, and even in that company Captain John Young, USN (Ret) was special.

From Wikipedia:

After graduating from Georgia Tech in 1952, Young entered the United States Navythrough the Navy ROTC and was commissioned on June 6, 1952, as an ensign. He served as fire control officer on the destroyer USS Laws until June 1953 and completed a tour in the Sea of Japan during the Korean War. Following this assignment, he was sent to flight training. In January 1954, he was designated a Navy helicopter pilot. After receiving his aviator wings on December 20, 1954, he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 103 (VF-103) for four years, flying Grumman F-9 Cougars from USS Coral Sea and Vought F-8 Crusaders from USS Forrestal.

After training at the United States Naval Test Pilot School in 1959 with the Class 23, Young was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, for three years. His test projects included evaluations of the XF8U-3 Crusader III and F-4 Phantom II fighter weapons systems. In 1962, he set two world time-to-climb records while flying his Phantom II, attaining 3,000 meters (9,843 ft) from a standing start in 34.52 seconds and 25,000 meters (82,021 ft) from a standing start in 227.6 seconds. He also served as maintenance officer of Fighter Squadron 143 (VF-143) from April to September 1962.

Fellow astronaut Charles Bolden described Young and Robert “Hoot” Gibson as the two best pilots he had met during his aviation career: “Never met two people like them. Everyone else gets into an airplane; John and Hoot wear their airplane. They’re just awesome”. Young retired from the Navy as a Captain in September 1976, after 25 years.

It’s before my time but it seems to me that getting assigned to Pax River after only about five years as a naval aviator tells us quite a lot about how great a pilot he was. So does the rest of his career.

The rest of his career would bear that out, he flew with Gus Grissom on Gemini 3, the first manned Gemini mission. He also won himself a Congressional reprimand when he smuggled a corned beef sandwich on board, knowing that Grissom would complain about the food. He commanded Gemini 10, including two spacewalks and two dockings with Agena target vehicles.

In May 1969 he was the first man to fly solo around the moon as part of Apollo 10. While commanding Apollo 16 he became the ninth man to walk on the moon. You may recall that the astronauts saluted the colors there upon leaving their spacecraft. Young made it special by saluting while in the middle of an approximately 24 in jump on the surface.

After that, he commanded STS 1, the maiden flight of the space shuttle and again commanded STS 9 which carried the first piece of Spacelab.

In January 1974 he became Chief of the Astronaut Office after the retirement of Alan Shepherd, the first American in space.

Young was openly critical of NASA management following the Challenger disaster, and in April 1987 was made Special Assistant to JSC Director Aaron Cohen for Engineering, Operations and Safety. NASA denied that his criticism triggered the move, although Young and industry insiders believed that was the reason for the reassignment In February 1996, he was assigned as Associate Director (Technical) JSC.

He officially retired on December 31, 2004, but remained involved for several years thereafter.

I’m not sure how much of a Ramblin Wreck he was but like so many from Georgia Tech, He was a hell of an engineer, and pilot, and astronaut. He’ll be missed.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of; wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sun-lit silence. Hovering there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air;
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark nor even eagle flew;
And while, with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Another hero crosses over, Rest in peace, sir.

Voyages and Voyagers

Click to make bigly

Well, the Alabamans are electing their new Senator. I’ll be surprised if it’s much of a surprise, but that’s why they have the election.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and was listening to BBC Norfolk, as I usually do. The call-in show was discussing whether they should allow Trump to make a state visit. The host obviously (although I doubt he thought it obvious) favored not allowing it. I was surprised though, by the time I went back to sleep about five people had called in, all favored the visit, and several vociferously called out his obvious bias. Frustrated indeed, was he, and yes, it was a joy to hear.

The other day, you may have heard, NASA fired a secondary set of thrusters on Voyager 1. Yes, they worked perfectly. But let’s think a bit here. Voyager 1 and 2 launched in 1977, the year Star Wars came out. Voyager 1 is about 13 billion miles away now, well out of our solar system, it took 19½ hours to find out if the commands worked.

NASA back in the day was one of the glories of America and this is why, they simply did things right. Not cheap (even if built by the lowest bidder) they built for the ages and now the stuff simply works.

And now, I hear that President Trump has told NASA to prepare to return to the moon in order to mount a mission to Mars. I’m skeptical but pleased, remembering how it pulled us together in the sixties, so we’ll see.

You know overall, having him as President sort of reminds me of what Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian said back in 1972.

The United States dollar took another pounding on German, French, and British exchanges this morning, hitting the lowest point ever known in West Germany. It has declined there by 41% since 1971, and this Canadian thinks it’s time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous, and possibly the least-appreciated, people in all the world.

As long as sixty years ago, when I first started to read newspapers, I read of floods on the Yellow River and the Yangtze. Well who rushed in with men and money to help? The Americans did, that’s who.

They have helped control floods on the Nile, the Amazon, the Ganges, and the Niger. Today, the rich bottom land of the Mississippi is under water and no foreign land has sent a dollar to help. Germany, Japan, and to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy, were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of those countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.

When the franc was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. And I was there — I saw that. When distant cities are hit by earthquake, it’s the United States that hurries into help. Managua, Nicaragua, is one of the most recent examples.

So far this spring, fifty-nine American communities have been flattened by tornadoes. Nobody has helped.

The Marshall Plan, the Truman Policy, all pumped billions upon billions of dollars into discouraged countries. And now, newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, war-mongering Americans.

Now, I’d like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplanes. Come on now, you, let’s hear it. Does any country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tristar, or the Douglas 10? If so, why don’t they fly them? Why do all international lines except Russia fly American planes? Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or a woman on the moon?

You talk about Japanese technocracy and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy and you find men on the moon, not once, but several times, and, safely home again. You talk about scandals and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even the draft dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They’re right here on our streets in Toronto. Most of them, unless they’re breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from Ma and Pa at home to spend up here.

When the Americans get out of this bind — as they will — who could blame them if they said “the hell with the rest of the world. Let somebody else buy the bonds. Let somebody else build or repair foreign dams, or design foreign buildings that won’t shake apart in earthquakes.” When the railways of France and Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both of ’em are still broke.

I can name to you 5,000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name to me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don’t think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.

Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I’m one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them kicked around. They’ll come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they’re entitled to thumb their noses at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of these. But there are many smug, self-righteous Canadians.

And finally, the American Red Cross was told at its 48th annual meeting in New Orleans this morning that it was broke.

This year’s disasters — with the year less than half-over — has taken it all. And nobody, but nobody, has helped.

As I write this California is burning, and fighting it is a huge effort. It is an American effort, as it always is. But not quite, there’s bunch of very brave men out there, who came to help, all the way from Australia. Friends indeed, as they always have been.

But the others should be a bit cautious, perhaps. As the Marines are wont to say, “No better friend, no worse enemy”. And our memories work just fine, why we remembered that the Voyagers are out there, still working, after all these years.

Dodging Bullets

While dodging bullets is not a recommended practice, it is considered far superior to not dodging bullets. What is he talking about?, I hear. This, apparently we got lucky last month, and missed getting hit by a good sized Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). NASA seems to think that if it had happened a week earlier, it would have made a direct hit. Could be, it has before.

Back in 1859, there was the Carrington Event, a series of powerful CMEs that were powerful enough to set off telegraph instruments all over the world, even causing them to spark and set some telegraph offices on fire. It also caused the Northern Lights as far south as Tahiti. Now the thing is, in 1859 the telegraph was about as high tech as it got, and electric/electronics technology is the most susceptible to plasma events; steam locomotives don’t care, computer controlled diesel -electric ones do.

And that’s why it matters now. In 1859 we could afford to rebuild an occasional telegraph office. Now our entire world is tied up in it. Let’s think about this a bit. The backbone of the internet may, repeat may, be somewhat resistant, given that it is fiber optic, but most of us have metallic links, either telephonic, or cable to that backbone. Satellites depend, the plasma may take them apart, (I can see a couple of ways, but don’ know enough in the field).

But the biggie here is the power grid. If you are old enough, you may remember the New York Blackout in 1965. Here is a bit from Wikipedia about it

The cause of the failure was human error that happened days before the blackout. Maintenance personnel incorrectly set a protective relay on one of the transmission lines between the Niagara generating station Sir Adam Beck Station No. 2 in Queenston, Ontario. The safety relay, which was to trip if the current exceeded the capacity of the transmission line, was set too low.

As was common on a cold November evening, power for heating, lighting and cooking was pushing the electrical system to near its peak capacity. Transmission lines heading into Southern Ontario were heavily loaded. At 5:16 p.m. Eastern Time a small surge of power coming from the Robert Moses generating plant in Lewiston, New York caused the improperly set relay to trip at far below the line’s rated capacity, disabling a main power line heading into Southern Ontario. Instantly, the power that was flowing on the tripped line transferred to the other lines, causing them to become overloaded. Their protective relays, which are designed to protect the line from overload, tripped, isolating Beck Station from all of Southern Ontario.

With no place else to go, the excess power from Beck Station then switched direction and headed east over the interconnected lines into New York State, overloading them as well and isolating the power generated in the Niagara region from the rest of the interconnected grid. The Beck generators, with no outlet for their power, were automatically shut down to prevent damage. The Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant continued to generate power, which supplied Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation customers in the metropolitan areas

But the thing is the grid in 1965 was a mechanical beast, it could cascade tripping out like it did, but men had to go around and reset many of those devices, find enough power to flash generators and sundry other tasks, that’s why it took as long as it did to get everybody back on. […]

But now, we have the super-duper computerized grid, that we can control all those protective devices from our power control centers. It is an incredible accomplishment, but nothing is perfect. I suspect that a plasma event will set up surges in these lines that will trip out overload devices, over much more territory than the northeast, because we are much more connected now. If that’s all it does, it’ll take a bit but our power will be back in a few hours or days, no big deal.

But power lines collect stray energy like nothing else, men have been killed by a lightning strike on a line a hundred miles away. What happens if that plasma event get into electronics that control the grid, or for that matter the office you work at, your house, our world really. What then? All those computers installed in your appliances are built in computer controlled factories. The food you eat comes to you on railroads and in trucks. Both are controlled by computers. So are our cars. they are all more, or less liable to damage from a surge. And a CME is the great grand-father of surges.

How long do you think it will to replace all this stuff to the level of say 1980? I’d say it will be measured in years, not months. I would also say that if you are not prepared both mentally and at least to some extent physically, you likely will not see it.

You know, we have talked about EMP attacks occasionally, this is an EMP attack on the entire world.

Or not. No one really knows.

Pilger, NE: Before and After

This is interesting. You’ll remember that I showed a video of the tornado up in Pilger, shortly after it happened , here. Anyway, yesterday the £ Daily Mail ran some photographs taken from The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite. What’s interesting is that you can trace the paths of (both EF-4) tornadoes.

Here’s a before picture:

article-2673027-1F347EF300000578-538_634x376

And the same view after:

article-2673027-1F347EF900000578-460_634x421

There some difference in the vegetation which may or may not be connected with the storm (I don’t know) but the tornado tracks are as clear as day on this.

Here’s the town after:

article-2673027-1F347EEB00000578-397_634x396

There’s more and a video at the link.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2673027/New-images-destructive-power-storms-hit-Midwest-visible-space.html#ixzz360xMdLns

Keep your head down when the sirens go off, this was bad, even for out here, and more are forecast in eastern Nebraska and Iowa today.

NASA Reveals “Hand Of God”, and a Squirrel, and a Moose

nustar-hand-of-god

NASA Reveals “Hand Of God” | JONATHAN TURLEY.

And courtesy of Two Nerdy History Girls another reason that American TV used to be great.

 

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