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“Don't Be A Tough Guy. Don't Be A Fool.
Russia Takes Abandoned U.S. Bases  
October 17, 2019


Russians enter abandoned American base west of Manbij
Russians enter abandoned American base west of Manbij (YouTube)

Russian journalist shows off former American base west of Manbij
Russian journalist shows off former American base west of Manbij (YouTube)


U.S. troops have been scrambling to get out of the way of Russian forces and Turkish forces, including freed ISIS terrorists. President Trump said yesterday, “If Russia wants to get involved with Syria, that’s really up to them.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told Trump, “All roads with you lead to Putin.” Trump called her “a third-grade politician.” Whatever that means.

Russian envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentyev told reporters Tuesday, “There is a glimmer of hope that U.S. troops will eventually leave Syria.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 354 to 60 for a nonbinding resolution expressing opposition to Mr. Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds, a measure that drew support from two-thirds of the House Republican caucus and all three of its top leaders. Trump had Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R - Calif.) hand out copies of his letter to Turkish President Erdogan from October 9, 2019 that did nothing to stop Erdogan from attacking Syrian Kurds. Erdogan threw the letter away.

President Trump letter to Erdogan on October 11, 2019


Music Association: The Beatles - The Fool On The Hill












Hopes and Dreams


Election Interference - Stupid Watergate 2
The President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.  
September 27, 2019


President Trump told Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in the July 25th phone call, to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, the top Democratic candidate for president in the 2020 election. He also wanted Zelensky to find the computer server in Ukraine that was used to hack the DNC during the 2016 election to pull attention away from the Russian hackers. Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to freeze over $391 million of military aid to Ukraine one week before the phone call to Zelensky.
You can't coverup a bad haircut.
On August 12th, a government whistleblower sent a letter, following the law in 50 U.S.C. paragraph 3033 (k)(5)(A), to the Congressional intelligence committee chairs saying, “The President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” The letter details the Presidential phone call and subsequent cover-up of the information. “According to multiple White House officials I spoke with,” the letter says, White House lawyers had on other occasions used the “codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information.

On Wednesday, September 25th, the White House released a reconstructed, rough transcript of the phone call. They also emailed talking points against the transcript to Republicans in Congress and Democrats in Congress. Then they sent a recall message to the Democrats to try to take back the emailed talking points message.

Also on September 25th, Ukraine's president told Trump to his face that he didn't want to be involved in U.S. elections. “I'm sorry, but I don't want to be involved in democratic, open elections of USA,Zelensky said.

A few Republican senators, Romney and Nasse, have spoken out against the President and his actions to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election.

A letter dated September 27th (today) from more than 300 former federal officials [pdf] expressed concern that, “President Trump appears to have leveraged the authority and resources of the highest office in the land to invite additional interference into our democratic process. That would constitute an unconscionable abuse of power. It also would represent an effort to subordinate America's national interests  and those of our closest allies and partners  to the President's personal political interest.

On October 10th, President Trump will hold an election rally at Target Center in Minneapolis.


Music Association: Genesis - In Too Deep

remember when President Nixon tweeted his resignation?






Putin's Puppet President
Who Told Trump About Ukraine?  

September 25, 2019


House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi answered the call to begin the impeachment hearings of President Trump. Reluctantly.

The impeachment path is neither quick nor definitive.

The U.S. House of Representatives has “the sole power of impeachment,” according to Article II of the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Senate has “the sole power to try all impeachments.” The chief justice of the Supreme Court has the duty of presiding over impeachment trials in the Senate. The president, under the Constitution, can be removed from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” What exactly that means is unclear. Historically, it can encompass corruption and other abuses, including trying to obstruct judicial proceedings. No president has ever been removed as a direct result of impeachment. One, President Richard Nixon, resigned before he could be removed. Two presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, were impeached by the House but not convicted by the Senate.
Putin's dog Trump
Impeachment begins in the House, which debates and votes on whether to bring charges against the president via approval of an impeachment resolution, or “articles of impeachment,” by a simple majority of the House’s 435 members. The House has 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans, and one independent. As a result, the Democrats could impeach Trump with no Republican support.

The idea of a president asking or coercing a foreign power to influence a U.S. election should not be a partisan issue. But then, climate change should not be a partisan issue. If climate change were viewed by its economic consequences, instead of just environmental consequences, maybe it wouldn't have partisan baggage.

Currently, most Congressional Republicans do not support impeachment. (The New York Times has kept a running list of Impeachment Inquiry Support since the Mueller Report was partly released.)

If the House approves such a resolution to impeach, a trial is then held in the Senate. House members act as the prosecutors, the senators as jurors, and the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presides. A two-thirds majority vote is required in the 100-member Senate to convict and remove a president. This has never happened. The Senate now has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents who usually vote with the Democrats. Conviction and removal of a president would require 67 votes. So, for Trump to be removed from office via impeachment, at least 20 Republicans and all the Democrats and independents would have to vote against him. In the unlikely event the Senate convicted Trump, Vice President Mike Pence would become president for the remainder of Trump’s term, which ends on January 20, 2021. (The selection of vice-president/ running mates has often seemed to be an insurance policy against impeachment.)

Again, the path is neither quick nor definitive.

Impeachment doesn't make the Democrats look good. It doesn't make the the Republicans look good. It doesn't make Trump look good. The discussion doesn't make Ukraine look good.

So who benefits? Who planted this idea in President Trump's head?

I'm guessing Putin.

I don't think Trump could find Ukraine on a map with clear labels. I don't think Trump could find Ukraine on Google. Someone planted the idea of calling Ukraine for help in interfering with the next U.S. election, and that has its own chapter in Putin's play book.


Music Association: Frank Sinatra - It Had To Be You
Impeachment: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)









Call For Investigation
Election Interference - Stupid Watergate

September 24, 2019


At least eight times in a phone call on July 25, 2019, President Trump told Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to freeze over $391 million of military aid to Ukraine one week before the phone call to Zelensky.


President Trump called Ukraine President Zelensky on July 25, 2019.


Background from Wikipedia

President Donald Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani reportedly pressed the Ukrainian government repeatedly since at least May 2019 to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden. A whistleblower complaint from someone within the intelligence community is believed to be related to this situation, but the complaint has not been forwarded to Congress as the law requires, because it has been blocked by the White House and the Department of Justice.


In 2014, Hunter Biden joined the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company. He was paid a variable amount, up to $50,000 a month some months, for his services. Burisma is the largest non-governmental natural gas producer in Ukraine.[8][9] Since 2012, the Ukrainian prosecutor general had been investigating Burisma's owner, oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, over allegations of money laundering, tax evasion, and corruption. In 2015, Viktor Shokin became the prosecutor general, inheriting the investigation. The Obama administration and other governments and non-governmental organizations soon became concerned that Shokin was not adequately pursuing corruption in Ukraine, was protecting the political elite, and was regarded as "an obstacle to anti-corruption efforts". Among other issues, he was slow-walking the investigation into Zlochevsky and Burisma - to the extent that Obama officials were considering launching their own criminal investigation into the company for possible money laundering. In March 2016 then-vice president Biden issued an ultimatum to the Ukrainian parliament that $1 billion in loan guarantees would be withheld unless Shokin was removed. As of September 2019, there is no evidence that Biden acted to protect his son's involvement with Burisma, although Trump and Giuliani have fueled speculation. Shokin was ousted within the month. His successor, Yuriy Lutsenko, initially took a hard line against Burisma, but within a year he announced that all legal proceedings and pending criminal allegations against Zlochevsky had been "fully closed". He stated in May 2019 that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens, but he was planning to provide information to attorney general Bill Barr about Burisma board payments so American authorities could verify whether Hunter Biden had paid US taxes.

Hunter Biden’s ties to Burisma Holdings was criticized as a conflict of interest in a New York Times editorial. Some critics accuse the United States of maneuvering the Ukraine situation so that Western oil companies would have unfettered access to Ukraine's shale gas reserves. With the revelation that Hunter Biden was serving on the board of the Ukrainian company Burisma, many raised concerns about Hunter Biden's interests conflicting with official US government positions. The White House dismissed nepotism accusations against Biden's son. But the director of the US-Ukraine Business Council, Morgan Williams, pointed to an "American tradition that frowns on close family members of government working for organizations with business links to active politics." Williams stated Biden appeared to have violated this unwritten principle: "... when you're trying to keep the political sector separate from the business sector, and reduce corruption, then it's not just about holding down corruption, it's also the appearance." Hunter Biden's father, Vice-President Joe Biden, traveled to Kiev on April 22, 2014, and urged the Ukraine government "... to reduce its dependence on Russia for supplies of natural gas." And he discussed how the United States could help provide technical expertise for expanding domestic production of natural gas.

Since at least May 2019, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has been pushing for Volodymyr Zelensky, the newly elected president of Ukraine, to investigate Burisma, as well as to check if there were any irregularities in the Ukrainian investigation of Paul Manafort. He said such investigations would be beneficial to his client, Trump, and that his efforts had Trump's full support. On May 10 Giuliani canceled a scheduled trip to Ukraine where he had intended to urge president-elect Zelensky to pursue inquiries into Hunter Biden, as well as whether Democrats colluded with Ukrainians to release information about Manafort. Giuliani claimed he has sworn statements from five Ukrainians stating they were brought into the Obama White House in January 2016 and told to "go dig up dirt on Trump and Manafort," although he has not produced evidence for the claim. Giuliani asserted he cancelled the trip because he had been "set up" by Ukrainians who objected to his efforts, and blamed Democrats for trying to "spin" the trip. Giuliani met with Ukranian officials to press the case for an investigation in June 2019 and August 2019.

Whistleblower complaint

On August 12, 2019, an unnamed intelligence official filed a whistleblower complaint with Michael Atkinson, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG), under the provisions of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA). Having found the complaint both urgent and credible, on August 26 Atkinson transmitted the complaint to Joseph Maguire, the acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Under ICWPA, the DNI "shall" within seven days of receipt forward the complaint to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. Maguire did not do so, and the deadline passed on September 2. On September 9 Atkinson wrote to several lawmakers, telling them about the existence of the whistleblower report which Maguire had not forwarded to Congress. On September 10 House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) chairman Adam Schiff wrote to Maguire, asking why he had not provided it. Schiff asserted Maguire stated he had been told to withhold it on direction from a "higher authority" because it involved an "issue of privileged communications." The DNI is a cabinet-level position. Schiff stated he was also told "the complaint concerns conduct by someone outside of the Intelligence Community." On that basis, the White House and the Justice Department informed Maguire that the complaint was not within the purview of the ICWPA and thus it should be withheld. On September 13, Schiff subpoenaed Maguire to appear before the HPSCI.

On September 18, The Washington Post broke the story of the whistleblower report, saying that the complaint concerned a "promise" Trump had made during communication with an unnamed foreign leader. White House records showed Trump had had communications or interactions with five foreign leaders during the five weeks before the whistleblower complaint was filed. During a previously scheduled closed-door hearing before the HPSCI on September 19, Atkinson told lawmakers that the complaint referred to a series of events, and that he disagreed with the position that the complaint lay outside the scope of the ICWPA, but declined to provide details. On September 19 the Washington Post reported that the complaint related to Ukraine.

Communications with Ukrainian officials

On September 20 the Washington Post reported that Trump had in a July 25 conversation pressed Ukraine's President Zelensky to investigate matters relating to Hunter Biden. The New York Times reported that Trump told Zelensky to speak to Giuliani, and according to The Wall Street Journal he urged Zelensky "about eight times" to work with Giuliani and investigate Biden's son. On September 22, Trump acknowledged that he had discussed Joe Biden during the call with Zelensky, and that he had said, "we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine."

Days before Trump's July 25 call with Zelensky, Giuliani spoke on the phone with Zelensky aide Andriy Yermak about a Biden investigation, as well as a prospective White House meeting between Zelensky and Trump that was sought by Ukrainian officials. Days after the Trump call, Giuliani met with Yermak in Madrid. Giuliani stated on September 23 that the State Department had asked him to "go on a mission for them" to speak with Yermak. The State Department had stated on August 22 that its Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker had connected the men, but that Giuliani was acting as a private citizen and Trump attorney, although he briefed the State Department after the trip. American embassy officials in Kiev repeatedly expressed concerns about Giuliani's meetings. Giuliani stated he told Yermak, "Your country owes it to us and to your country to find out what really happened." Yermak stated he was not clear if Giuliani was representing Trump, but Giuliani stated he was not, and the White House referred questions about Giuliani's role to the State Department, which did not respond. Appearing on television on September 19, Giuliani first denied he had asked Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden, but moments later stated, "of course I did."

Witholding Ukrainian military aid

In early July 2019, the Trump administration placed military aid to Ukraine, which had been appropriated by Congress, on hold. Trump did not mention the aid during his July 25 call with Zelensky, and Ukraine did not know until August that it was being withheld. Ukraine relies on extensive American military aid to fight Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country, and the suspension of the Congressionally-mandated aid was reportedly a "shock" to Ukrainian government officials.

On September 9, 2019, before news of the whistleblower complaint, three Democrat-controlled House committees — the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Oversight and Reform — announced they would investigate whether Trump and Giuliani attempted to coerce Ukraine into investigating the Bidens, by withholding the military aid.

On September 12, the Trump administration released the aid.

In a September 20 tweet, Giuliani seemed to confirm suspicion that there was a connection between the withholding of military assistance funds and the investigation he and Trump wanted Ukraine to undertake. He said, "The reality is that the President of the United States, whoever he is, has every right to tell the president of another country you better straighten out the corruption in your country if you want me to give you a lot of money. If you're so damn corrupt that you can't investigate allegations -- our money is going to get squandered."

The Washington Post reported on September 23 that at least a week before his July 25 call with Zelensky, Trump directed his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to withhold $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. This directive was conveyed by the Office of Management and Budget to the State Department and Pentagon, stating Trump had concerns about whether the money should be spent, with instructions to tell lawmakers that the funds were being delayed due to an "interagency process."

-- See the 2019 Trump-Ukraine controversy Wikipedia page for citations and updates.


Music Association: ELO - Telephone Line









Hopes and Dreams




Climate Changer
Boycott Brazil

August 24, 2019


About a brazillion acres of Amazon rainforest have been set ablaze by the policies of Brazil's anti-rainforest president Jair Bolsonaro.

Prior to becoming president, Bolsonaro was fined for rainforest destruction. He thinks the destruction of the Amazon rainforest will be the salvation of Brazil's economy.

How do you fine the president of a country? Boycott Brazil.

Stop him before he destroys his country and the world.

Brazil burns the Amazon rainforest

No coffee, thank you. boycott coffee, stop burning rainforest

Music Association: Blue Oyster Cult - Burning For You

Book Association:  “All countries must begin thinking of solutions to their problems which benefit the entire globe, not simply their own national interests.”   -- Michael Collins, Carrying The Fire, p. 470.









Product Review
Fresh Fruit

August 14, 2019


BluApple, the food saverWhen was the last time you changed a light bulb? Or when was the last time you heard a joke about how many people it takes to change a light bulb?

I just changed a light bulb this morning, first time in years. As my incandescent bulbs failed, I replaced them with LED bulbs. This was one of the last of the incandescents.

I don't like waste, so I'm happy to use LEDs.

The light bulb was over a worm bin for spoiled fruits and vegetables. I try to time my fruit and vegetable purchases so they don't go bad (at least not in my home). Organic wastes in landfills release methane (CH4). A worm bin is a flipped microcosm of the landfill organic waste problem. Proper worm bin management involves stirring or flipping the worm bin, because methane is produced under highly anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions. A 2004 study found that unaerated composting produced as much as 24 times the amount of methane produced in aerated piles. The best way to aerate compost is small piles. It is better for households to compost their own organic wastes than to send them to landfills.

Even better than feeding the worms, I recently tried out a product that promised to reduce spoiled food, called BluApple.

Disclaimer: This is an unsolicited, unsponsored, unbiased product review.

What I got were two blue plastic hollow apples. You put a white paper packet in each and put them in your refrigerator. After three months, you put in new packets. The packets of sodium permanganate (NaMnO4) absorb ethylene gas, which is given off naturally by fruits and vegetables. Ethylene gas speeds the ripening process and accelerates decomposition.

Six weeks ago, I put the two plastic apples of sodium permanganate in the fridge. I have been pleasantly surprised with the result. Fruits and vegetables are far less likely to mold or spoil. Produce lasts longer.

The flavor of fruits and vegetables are still good. The only negative is that BluApples do not prevent produce from dehydrating.

I might have to fix that by changing some settings on my refrigerator.

The other problem is underripe produce that I buy, expecting to ripen on the counter, may not be ripening as quickly. That's not so much a problem with BluApples as an adjustment for me.


Music Association: The Osmonds - One Bad Apple*

* One Bad Apple was the first number one hit for The Osmonds. It was originally offered to the Jackson Five, who turned it down.



Decomposition Notebook - Wacky Packages sticker by Topps




Hopes and Dreams




Climate Changer
Cargill Backpedals On Deforestation Promise

August 3, 2019


Minnetonka-based Cargill announced in June it would fail to meet a 2020 deadline for ending deforestation in Brazil and other parts of South America.

Deforestation increased in Brazil's Amazon by 88% in June 2019 over June 2018. The drastic spike is due to Cargill buying soybeans from farms on deforested land.

Cargill is buying deforestation-based soybeans to sell to China because:
A.  American soybeans are not being bought by China because of President Trump's tariffs.
B.  Brazilian President Bolsonaro has rolled back regulations and allowed illegal land invasions, logging, and burning since taking office in January.
C.  Cargill is a private company, the largest in the United States, with no shareholders or SEC regulators' oversight.

All of the above. A recent Mighty Earth report calls Cargill, “The Worst Company in the World.”

According to the report, “In addition to their role in creating a market for deforestation-based soy, we found that Cargill finances land-clearing operations deep in virgin forest, building silos and roads, then buying and shipping grain to the US, China, and Europe to feed chickens, pigs, and cows...  Indigenous Peoples who depend on forests have been forced off of their traditional lands...

Residents of a remote indigenous village in the Amazon say heavily armed men in military uniforms raided their community in July and stabbed Wajapi tribe leader Emyra Wajapi to death.
 
Deforestation for soy production accelerates climate change through the release of carbon and the elimination of carbon-trapping trees.

Cargill's history shows soy expansion without deforestation is possible through agricultural development of previously deforested lands (page 28 of the Cargill report).

Cargill, the Amazon deforester


Music Association: Bad Company - Bad Company












Hopes and Dreams




Spaced OutCarrying The Fire by Michael Collins
Mike Collins
July 31, 2019


As the Apollo 11 command module pilot, Mike Collins flew Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon and back fifty years ago. Reading his 1974 book, Carrying The Fire, I understand him and see a bit of him in me.

Collins wore an eye-patch over his eye while in orbit around the moon. He did acrobatics in a T-38 just days before lift-off. He explained Velcro. And he was first to get into his spacesuit before leaving for the launch pad.

There are reasons for all of that but I have to encourage people to read his book.

I will explain two moments Collins had before lift-off that remind me of me.

You know the video showing the astronauts walking in a hallway or a gantry heading for the Saturn V rocket? Each astronaut is carrying their portable oxygen suitcases. Armstrong is first, then Collins, and then Aldrin. Collins is hiding a brown paper shopping bag between his white oxygen suitcase and his spacesuit. At first I couldn't notice it, but then I couldn't not notice it. Billions of dollars of preparations and equipment, plus one brown paper grocery bag. Collins was carrying a going-away present for Guenter Wendt, the technician in charge of getting the crew into the command module. As Neil Armstrong was getting into the spacecraft, Collins gave a Trout Trophy with a minnow on it to Wendt.

Prior to launch, laying on their command module couches from left to right are Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins. The most critical control in the room full of controls is the abort handle just past Armstrong's left knee. A simple 30 degree turn of the handle will fire three solid rockets above them to yank the command module, the uppermost part of the Saturn V rocket, up and sailing over to the Atlantic Ocean. Not exactly a control to bump into unnecessarily, but Collins noticed “a horrifying thing. A large bulky pocket has been added to Neil's left suit leg, and it looks as though if he moves his leg slightly, it's going to snag on the abort handle. I quickly point this out to Neil, and he grabs the pocket and pulls it as far over toward the inside of his thigh as he can, but it still doesn't look too secure to either one of us. I can see the headlines now 'MOONSHOT FALLS INTO OCEAN. Mistake by crew, program officials intimate. Last transmission from Armstrong prior to leaving launch pad reportedly was 'Oops.'


Music Association:  Bob Seger - Shame On The Moon









Hopes and Dreams




Johnny Carson's Monologue
Medaling and Meddling

July 29, 2019


[Ed McMahon: And now, here's Johnny!]

Thank you!

Thank you, very much! It's great to be in Burbank, the only bank without any interest. And speaking of not having any interest, did you hear about President Trump --

Do you like how I tied that in?

Last week, President Trump spoke in front of a fake Presidential Seal. It had a two-headed bird, golf clubs instead of arrows, and a wad of cash instead of an olive branch. No one noticed or had any interest. None of you have any interest!

All right.

Well, did you hear about the preparations for next year's Olympics in Tokyo? They're making the Olympic medals out of recycled computers and electronics. Yes.

And (Johnny's voice cracks) -- there will be a few new medaling categories:
You see, it's all about recycling...

How many of you remember the annoying Windows paperclip assistants? Okay.
How many of you remember Windows?
How many of you remember anything without first checking the cell phone?!?

Uh. Speaking of meddling, back in 2016 the Russians tried to hack the election in all 50 states. Some bills to help prevent future election hacking were stopped by Senator Mitch McConnell.

Are you booing me or McConnell?

Kentucky is calling him, Moscow Mitch. They've put up billboards. When asked for a comment, McConnell said, “Nyet.

Hey, you're in a great moon tonight. Did I say mood or moon?

Stick around and we'll be right back!


Music Association: Doc Severinsen & the NBC Orchestra - Johnny's Theme









Hopes and Dreams





Spaced Out
Moon Step

July 20, 2019
50th Anniversary of Stepping on the Moon


Neil Armstrong got it wrong.

Neil Armstrong was a fighter pilot who flew seventy-eight combat missions in Korea with Navy Squadron VF-51. On a September 3, 1951 bombing mission, the wing of his Panther F9F fighter jet was cut by an anti-aircraft cable. Armstrong kept a cool head and managed to fly to South Korean airspace before ejecting. After he graduated from Purdue and while a reservist at the Glenview Naval Air Station, Armstrong married Janet Shearon on January 28, 1956 at the First Congregational Church of Wilmette. They had three children: Eric (Rick), Karen (who died from a brain tumor), and Mark.

Two months after getting married, while a test pilot for NACA (predecessor of NASA) out of Edwards Air Force Base, Armstrong was co-pilot of a B-29 superfortress which was to air-drop a D-558 Skyrocket from its wing. While at 30,000 feet, the number 4 engine stopped. The propeller began to rotate freely and spun so fast it disintegrated, damaging the number 3 engine. Commander Stan Butchart and co-pilot Neil Armstrong used just the number 2 engine to make a slow circling descent and land the B-29 safely.

On March 16, 1966, Neil Armstrong and David Scott flew on Gemini 8 with a mission to rendezvous and dock with an uncrewed Agena target vehicle in Earth orbit. After docking, the combined spacecraft began to roll. Out of contact with Mission Control, Armstrong tried to compensate with the Gemini's thrusters* without success. He released the Agena, which caused Gemini 8 to spin faster. The thrusters only seemed to make the spin worse. While spinning like a top (technically, 300° per second, according to Michael Collins), Armstrong reached up and fired the Reentry Control System (RCS) and turned off the thrusters. A recent biography based on tape-recorded interviews had Neil Armstrong saying the thrusters had shorted. It fired when they didn't want it to fire and didn't fire when they did want it. According to a Boeing source, damaged wiring caused one of the thrusters to stick in the On position, or as Collins says in Carrying The Fire, “a continuously firing thruster caused by a short circuit in the wiring to the thruster.” Again, Armstrong kept a cool head.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong took manual control of Apollo 11's Eagle lunar module, after seeing they were headed toward boulders the size of cars. Meanwhile, the computer announced 1202 and 1201 data overflow alarms due to Buzz Aldrin leaving the docking radar (the Rendezvous Radar) on during the landing process.**

Armstrong kept a cool head and landed on the moon. In recorded interviews Neil Armstrong said that to him the landing on the moon was the achievement, not stepping on the moon.

With all due respect to the late, great Neil Armstrong -- astronaut and hero -- no, the stepping on the moon was the significant moment.

It wasn't the first time a vehicle had touched the moon.

Before the Eagle had landed in the Sea of Tranquility, before Apollo, before Gemini, before Mercury, and before President Kennedy announced in 1961 the plan to land a man on the moon, the Russians had crashed Luna 2 on the moon. That was 1959. The U.S. crashed three Ranger probes (4, 6, & 7) in 1962 and 1964. The Russians crashed more Luna probes (5, 7, & 8) in 1965. The U.S. crashed Rangers 8 and 9 in 1965. The Russians landed Luna 9 in 1966. The U.S. landed Surveyor 1 in 1966 and Surveyors 3, 5, and 6 in 1967.

Hell, on July 21, 1969, the Russians accidentally crashed Luna 15 on the moon while Apollo 11 was on the moon!

A crewed vehicle landing on the moon was distinctive. Stepping on the moon was the achievement.
That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.

Music Association: Van Morrison - Moondance
* By thrusters, I mean Gemini's Orbit Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS).
** In the 2007 documentary, In The Shadow Of The Moon, Buzz Aldrin says, “The landing radar was now beginning to receive signals and being Dr. Rendezvous, no matter what the checklist said, I was going to leave the rendezvous radar on and active so if we had to abort, it was on and working and we could reacquire Mike [Collins] as soon as possible if we had to go back up.”








Spaced Out
“Minneapolis, We Have A Problem

July 19, 2019


I'm reading Carrying The Fire by Mike Collins. Don't tell me how it ends!
diagram of the Saturn V rocket for Apollo 11
Collins was a test pilot at Edwards Air Force base. He performed a spacewalk on Gemini 10. And he commanded the Columbia command module on Apollo 11, but I'm not at that part yet.

Early on in the book, he commends Houston as the location for mission control, “I can't imagine calling from the moon with, ‘Say, Minneapolis, we have a problem up here.’

Collins is so crystal clear on details of astronaut training and NASA chronology that it puts all those Apollo documentaries to shame. When I watch a documentary on any subject I know anything about, I evaluate them by how many new things I learned, how many things are grossly oversimplified, and how many things they clearly have no clue about.*

After describing everything leading up to the launch of Gemini 10, Collins asks himself the most frequent question, “How long does it take to train for a flight?” He then responds on page 197, “I hope you are sufficiently bewildered by the events described so far in this book that you don't know the answer because I don't either. ” I guessed his lifetime. He starts with the six months preparing for Gemini 10, but then added to that the six months preparing as backup for Gemini 7. He adds all the Basic Grubby Training of orbital mechanics, jungle training, centrifuge, zero-G airplane rides, and pressure suit work across the country but primarily in Worchester, Massachusetts. But omitting all the years as a test pilot would be a mistake because it taught how to be cool under pressure, memorize details, report details, and follow up on corrections. He says, “... it had taken me thirty-five years to reach crew quarters at Merritt Island, Florida” and he felt ready.

Gemini 10 pogo-stickingly launched. But right after the Titan rocket first stage engines cut out and the second stage started up, the first stage tank ruptured and blew up. The Gemini 10 spacecraft was undamaged by the blast. After docking with an Agena spacecraft, they used Agena's engine to increase Gemini's altitude to a (then) record-breaking 475 miles up. On their way to meet up with a second Agena while preparing for a stand-in-the-doorway EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity), Houston's Deke Slayton complained that John Young and Mike Collins were too quiet. Houston wanted to talk baseball while Collins was trying to work through a 131 step EVA checklist.

Did Houston want to know about the knee pain Collin's had endured? Or the two pictures of voluptuous, beautiful women someone had secretly affixed to the Gemini 10 sunshades?!?

After a complex, second EVA, Collins took a moment to see the superbright world moving by every ninety minutes without doom or gloom, only optimism. That's Collins, the Michael Palin of astronauts.

Both are optimistic, ex-smokers turned runners, writing with matter-of-fact ease.



Music Association: Sinatra - Fly Me To The Moon
* A show purporting to explain why the Beatles broke up was so laughably sloppy on information, I was surprised they got Paul's name right.











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Superman

Impact Investing
Impact Investing


Gifs of Kittens (part 1)
Holiday Gifs of Cats and Kittens Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5  

Climate Solutions
Climate Change Solutions

Hennepin County Library at Southdale (Edina, MN)
Southdale Hennepin Library,  Edina Library  

Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman

food fraud
Food Fraud


prior posts


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Hopes and Dreams: Stuck on AutoDrive



Twin Cities Calendar
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Hopes and Dreams:
Stuck on AutoDrive
The Twin Cities Calendar
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Hopes and Dreams: Stuck on AutoDrive is a novel that's about inventing the self-driving car. It has:

adventure

comedy
romance
danger



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