Skip to content

Month: July 2020

Launch Day

The Mate and I were up at 0430 Pacific for the Mars 2020 launch. It went off without a hitch (WHEW!). The show from KSC was. . .forgettable, to be kind. I wanted to throw things at the TV when the anchors went off on how we can’t communicate with the spacecraft because it’s on the night side of Earth. I hope someone will explain radio to them before they’re allowed on air again.

Towards the end of the launch our Emperor-for-Life and Chief Crime Boss announced he’s going to try to “delay” the November election. He doesn’t have the authority but he’s gotten away with a lifetime of crime, so why not try this one?

Meanwhile, the Trump coronavirus shitshow is continuing to kill people. The administration is still trying to force states to reopen schools, with mixed ‘success.’ LA County just said no. Caltech’s going to try to bring 1/3 of the undergrads back in September. I’m skeptical.

Shitshow in one chart. You can see how well “reopening” went.

The economy is in the tank and will stay there for the duration of the pandemic, I think. Wall Street hasn’t caught on yet, but they are being pumped up by the Fed. Today’s big announcement was that GDP contracted by a hair-on-fire 32.9% (annualized), which means ~10% last quarter. Meanwhile the GOP is preventing further life support to the economy for at least several more weeks.

Worst economy since the Great Depression (at least).

The Mate and I went to Mammoth a week ago. Quite crowded, and with masking rather mixed. Good compliance in the Village itself, but none at all on the trails, etc. They’re having a big outbreak now, with per capita numbers higher than LA County, but apparently mostly among kitchen staff. Not clear if they’ll be forced to close again. We haven’t opened our place up for August rentals yet because of this.

We went comet hunting twice, with good results. First time we went up to the pinnacles overlook. Very crowded and annoying. I learned that to get photos at night on the Nikon, you have to turn off the noise reduction functions. They were removing the comet from the images! The Mono Lake outing was much nicer but involved rescuing a couple of guys who tried to go offroading in a BMW 3-series and buried it in the sand up to the floorpan. We hauled them out with cargo straps. I guess we should start carrying a tow rope around. . .

From Mono Lake.
From the pinnacles overlook. This one has ISS passing in front of the tail.
Also from the Mono Lake expedition. This one was from the Nikon. I also shot this with the much newer GoPro Hero 8 Black, but much worse results. The sensor is really noisy.

Another Gobsmacking Week and it’s only Tuesday

Hard to say what Biggest News was. I guess I’ll start with the administration’s attempt to purge the US of foreign students. Basically, a couple of weeks ago, Harvard announced it was going online only, and within a few minutes, ICE announced any foreign student at a university that was online only in the fall would lose their visas. I was flabbergasted since that seemed to be a clear violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. Harvard and MIT sued last week on that ground and others, a zillion other universities filed amicus briefs including Caltech, and the court hearing was today. DHS walked in and surrendered.

Newsom basically ordered the state closed again yesterday. All bars, wineries, card houses, movie theaters, gyms, indoor dining, churches. . .ugh. Just ugh. Here’s why:

New cases in California, from LA Times.

Didn’t stop Orange County’s ruling troglodytes from ordering schools to reopen without a mask requirement. Meanwhile, LA Unified isn’t opening at all, and it’s not clear what Pasadena, La Canada, etc. are going to do.

The US isn’t doing better.

The White House’s current “efforts” to solve the pandemic seem to be demonizing Fauci–gotta discredit the messenger–and removing responsibility for hospitalization data from the CDC and giving it to Health and Human Services so it can be discredited, or blocked, too. Otherwise they’re looking for ways to force open the public schools.

I shouldn’t fail to note that last week the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a large chunk of Oklahoma is still a Creek nation reservation.