I want to share a Shakespeare sonnet which gives me a New Years-y feeling.
But before I do, a few words from one of America’s most popular poets, in her day: Ella Wheeler Wilcox. (1850-1919) Never heard of her? I guarantee you know ONE line of hers: “Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep, and you weep alone!” One of the “three-named ladies” of American lit (although it was Hawthorne who coined that phrase, before Ella’s time), most of her stuff seems kinda Hallmark-ish. But check this out, from The Year:
“The new years come, the old years go;/We know we dream,we dream we know.”
I like that last line, it sort of spirals around in my brain, consuming its own tail like the Orphic serpent. The poet was a spiritualist, a believer in Theosophy, so Ella, if you’re watching: I’ll raise a glass to you tonight!
But now for the Bard.
I think it’s the idea of the world-soul, dreaming the future, that makes this seem like a New Year’s Eve poem to me. ( The fifth and sixth lines now make me think of 2016, when HIllary, the “mortal moon”, was eclipsed by Sol-like Trump, to universal prophecies of disaster, none of which came true!)
Here’s Sonnet 107:
“Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul/Of the wide world, dreaming on things to come/Can yet the lease of my true love control, /Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom./The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured/And the sad augurs mock their own presage./ Incertainties now crown themselves assured,/ And peace proclaims olives of endless age./ Now in the drops of this most balmy time/My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,/Since ‘spite of him, I’ll live in this poor rhyme/While he insults o’er dull and speechless tribes.
And thou, in this, shalt find thy monument/When tyrants’crests and tombs of brass are spent.”
The name of Reality Leaker crossed my computer screen today. The Intercept ran a long column by Reality Leaker’s mother, in which she was whining about how short the sentences handed to Team Trump are, in comparison to Reality Leaker’s 63-month sentence.
I thought it was laughable, but I saw that Salon also had an article about mother Billie Winner-Davis’s whining, and the New York Times has an article about a stage play to tell Ms. Reality Leaker’s story. Treason should make a great subject for a drama, but we all know that the convicted heroine of the story will be portrayed as a brave whistleblower rather than the treasonous felon she is.
Just to bring this back, so we can dismiss it again. Reality Winner served in the U.S. Air Force, then took a job with a company that was working for NSA. She leaked a document about Russian election systems hacking in 2016 to her friends at The Intercept. They ran with the leak, portraying it as proof that the 2016 election was stolen from Hillary through Russian interference in collusion with Team Trump.
Leaking the document damaged the ability of NSA to investigate several leads that they had unearthed in their Russian hacking investigation. The extent of the damage she did is not known; prosecutors allowed her to plead guilty in return for a sentence of only five years because they did not want to have to produce additional sensitive information in court.
Here are my picks for the best books of 2018, fiction and nonfiction. These aren’t the best books published this year, but rather the best I’ve read in the last twelve months. The winner in both categories is barely distinguished from the pack, and the runners up are all worthy of reading. Runners up appear in alphabetical order by their author’s surname. Each title is linked to my review of the book.
Over the last couple of years, there’s been a lot of buzz about T.M. Landry College Preparatory School in Louisiana. It was started specifically to get poor black kids into elite colleges, and that was the sales pitch to black families: yes, tuition is steep, but we’ll get your kids into the big leagues. And it appeared to be working. Viral videos of students getting acceptance emails/letters to Harvard, Yale, Brown, etc, were the toast of YouTube.
The New York Times and several other groups have been digging into the school, and surprise surprise: the whole operation is a fraud. Here’s the Cliff Notes version: the school “assisted” with student college applications, and almost completely falsified everything from their family backgrounds, their grades and test scores, and even made up academic events from thin air that the students had supposedly competed in:
In reality, the school falsified transcripts, made up student accomplishments and mined the worst stereotypes of black America to manufacture up-from-hardship tales that it sold to Ivy League schools hungry for diversity. The Landrys also fostered a culture of fear with physical and emotional abuse, students and teachers said. Students were forced to kneel on rice, rocks and hot pavement, and were choked, yelled at and berated.
Worse, the inevitable happened. When the students DID get to these elite schools, they very often couldn’t handle the coursework, needing remedial work in sometimes even the most basic subjects.
And the school? Still operating. Local and state authorities say they don’t have the jurisdiction to shut it down.
They have got nuthin’. This is a long feature, prominently highlighted at the default Google News aggregator, purporting to list a bill of particulars. None of this is concerning; it is all old news, with the case for corruption resting on a house of cards of innuendo, guilt by association, and denigrating land development business as somehow inherently evil.
Six years ago I was thinking of USA Today as one of the least unreliable of the major mass media news organizations. But in the Age of Trump they have energetically leapfrogged their competition in a rush to Leftist advocacy exclusively. They are Fake News. The Enemy of the People.
I don’t think I need to refute all this mess for the Ratburghers. Every charge in this article has been discussed, and we generally agreed that there was no evidence of collusion between Team Trump and Russian government hackers. We observed that the members of Team Trump who have been indicted, and who have spent time in jail, and slapped with large fines, and threatened with ruin, were being squeezed in order to get them to flip on President Trump. One of the prominent bits cited in this long feature is Michael Cohen. We have previously observed that he pled guilty to an act that is not a crime. It is clear that the prosecutors were more interested in tainting President Trump than in any issues of justice or ethics. Which, I think, indicates that the prosecutors themselves ought to be brought up on ethics charges.
Other crimes by members of Team Trump predated their involvement with Trump by several years. They also were clearly prosecuted in order to squeeze them for testimony damaging to President Trump.
Michael Flynn lying to the FBI is a real curiosity to me. Why did he lie? He had done nothing wrong, nor had Trump. Nevertheless, Flynn’s lie is a much lesser crime than many crimes that this same team of prosecutors chose not to pursue.
I expect that all y’all will see similar instances this week of Leftist mass media cheerleading for impeachment. This is going to be a very popular theme from Big Media for the next little while. This feature from USA Today is attributed to three staff reporters, even though it is entirely a rehash of stuff from weeks or months ago.
I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.
Dive into the historical background of the legend of King Arthur
By MARK LARDAS
Dec 25, 2018
“King Arthur: The Making of the Legend,” by Nicholas J. Higham, Yale University Press, 2018, 392 pages $32.50
King Arthur is probably the world’s best-known fictional character. Writers from the 11th century’s Chrétien de Troyes to Bernard Cornwall in the 21st century have written stories about him. And the King Arthur’s legend keeps growing. A story this well-known must have a historical basis.
“King Arthur: The Making of the Legend,” by Nicholas J. Higham examines that issue. It’s a search for the source of the Arthur legend.
Arthur’s Britain, when and where a historical King Arthur could’ve existed, belonged to a chaotic and obscure corner of history. The Romans had retreated from Britannia. The island was being invaded by barbarians, and de-civilizing as it broke into a constellation of petty and competing kingdoms. Written accounts were spotty, and most history fell under oral tradition.
Higham sifts through all of this in a quest to track down the original sources creating the Arthur legend, including proposed foreign sources. Few verifiable records from the period exist indicating a historical basis for Arthur. Some researchers concluded the historical Arthur, if he did exist, came from outside Britain, with the story somehow transplanted into an obscure island in Europe’s northwest corner.
There are surprisingly many proposed “foreign” Arthurs. They include a Dalmatian centurion, Sarmatian horsemen, Georgian warriors, and stepp tribesmen. Others speculate Arthur was a Roman or Greek legend recast, Arthur as a British Hercules. Higham picks through all these theories, revealing few strengths and many weaknesses in these candidates.
Higham also examines the historical record of early dark ages France and Britain, seeking historic leaders who might have formed the basis of the Arthur myth. Higham believes clues to its origins lies in Historia Brittonum, a 9th century work, attributed to Nennius, a Welch monk.
“King Arthur: The Making of the Legend” offers some surprising conclusions. Meticulously researched, Higham takes readers through every step of the journey he took to arrive at his conclusions. It is more a scholarly examination of Arthur’s legend than popular writing. Yet for those more interested in the Arthur myth and its origins than another retelling of the Arthur story, this book should not be missed.
Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.
Sorry, I should have put this in a spoiler because of the coarse language in the video. I will do that now.
I am sorry but this person’s voice and mannerisms are masculine. I really think this person could have laughed it off. That is what a woman would do. “You need new glasses, Buddy.” or “Thanks for calling me ‘Sir’ but my friends call me ‘Madam’.
(Saturday Night Science usually appears on the first Saturday of the month. I have moved up the January 2019 edition one week to discuss the New Horizons spacecraft fly-by of Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69, “Ultima Thule”, on New Year’s Day, January 1st, 2019.)
In January 2006 the New Horizons spacecraft was launched to explore Pluto and its moons and, if all went well, proceed onward to another object in the Kuiper Belt of the outer solar system, Pluto being one of the largest, closest, and best known members. New Horizons was the first spacecraft launched from Earth directly on a solar system escape (interstellar) trajectory (the Pioneer and Voyager probes had earlier escaped the solar system, but only with the help of gravity assists from Jupiter and Saturn). It was launched from Earth with such velocity (16.26 km/sec) that it passed the Moon’s orbit in just nine hours, a distance that took the Apollo missions three days to traverse.
In February 2007, New Horizons flew by Jupiter at a distance of 2.3 million km, using the planet’s gravity to increase its speed to 23 km/sec, thereby knocking three years off its transit time to Pluto. While passing through the Jupiter system, it used its instruments to photograph the planet and its moons. There were no further encounters with solar system objects until arrival at Pluto in 2015, and the spacecraft spent most of its time in hibernation, with most systems powered down to extend their lives, reduce staffing requirements for the support team on Earth, and free up the NASA Deep Space Network to support other missions.
As New Horizons approached Pluto, selection of possible targets for a post-Pluto extended mission became a priority. In orbital mechanics, what matters isn’t so much distance and speed but rather “delta-v”: the change in velocity needed to divert the trajectory of a spacecraft from where it is currently headed to where you want it to go. For chemical rockets, like the thrusters on New Horizons, this depends entirely on how much propellant is on board, and this resource would be scarce after expending what was required for the Pluto mission. New Horizons was launched with propellant to provide 290 metres/sec delta-v, but most of this would be used in course corrections en route to Pluto and maneuvers during the Pluto encounter (the scientific instruments are fixed to the spacecraft structure, which must be turned by firing the thrusters to aim them at their targets.) Starting in 2011, an observing campaign using large Earth-based telescopes began searching for objects in the Kuiper belt which might be suitable targets for New Horizons after Pluto. These objects are extraordinarily difficult to observe: they are more than four billion kilometres from Earth, small, and mostly very dark, and thus visible only with the largest telescopes with long exposure times under perfectly clear and dark skies. To make things worse, as it happens, during this time Pluto’s orbit took it past some of the densest star fields of the Milky Way, near the centre of the galaxy in the constellation of Sagittarius, so the search was cluttered with myriad background stars. A total of 143 new Kuiper belt objects were discovered by this search, but none was reachable with the 33 kg of hydrazine monopropellant expected to remain after the Pluto encounter.
It was time to bring a bigger hammer to the job, and in June 2014, time on the Hubble Space Telescope was assigned to the search. By October of that year three potential targets, all too faint to spot with ground-based telescopes, had been identified and called, imaginatively, potential targets PT1, PT2, and PT3. The course change to get to PT1 would use only around 35% of New Horizons‘ remaining fuel, while the others were more difficult to reach (and thus less probable to result in a successful mission). PT1 was chosen, and subsequently re-named “2014 MU69”, along with its minor planet number of 486958. Subsequently, a “public outreach” effort by NASA chose the nickname “Ultima Thule”, which means a distant place beyond the known world. A recommendation for an official name will not be made until New Horizons reveals its properties.
The fly-by of Pluto in July 2015 was a tremendous success, fulfilling all of its scientific objectives, and in October 2015 New Horizons fired its thrusters for sixteen minutes to change its velocity by 10 metres per second (equivalent to accelerating your car to 22 miles per hour), setting it on course for Ultima Thule. Three subsequent burns would further refine the trajectory and adjust the circumstances of the fly-by. This was the first time in history that a spacecraft was targeted to explore an object which had not been discovered when launched from Earth. After transmitting all the data collected in the Pluto encounter to Earth, which took until October 2016, New Horizons went back into hibernation.
In June 2018, the spacecraft was awakened and in August 2018 it observed its target with its own instruments for the first time. Measurement of its position against the background star field allowed precise determination of the inbound trajectory, which was used in final course correction maneuvers. At the same time, the spacecraft joined Earth-based telescopes and the Hubble in a search for possible moons, rings, or dust around Ultima Thule which might damage the spacecraft on a close approach. Had such hazards been found, the fly-by would have been re-targeted to be at a safer distance, but none was found and the original plan for a fly-by at 3500 km was selected.
Although New Horizons is bearing down on its target at a velocity of 14.4 km/sec, it will remain just a faint dot until hours before closest approach at 05:33 UTC on New Year’s Day, January 1st, 2019. Other than its position, brightness, and colour (reddish), little or nothing is known about the properties of Ultima Thule. We don’t know its size, shape, composition, temperature, rate of rotation, albedo (reflectivity), whether it is one object or two or more in close orbit or in contact, or anything about its history. What is almost certain, however, is that it is nothing like anything in the solar system we’ve explored close-up so far.
Its orbit, unlike that of Pluto, is that of a conventional, well-behaved member of the Sun’s extended family. The orbit, which takes Ultima Thule around the Sun every 296 years, is almost perfectly circular (eccentricity 0.045) and close to the ecliptic (2.45°). (By contrast, Pluto’s orbit has an eccentricity of 0.25 and an inclination to the ecliptic of 17°.) This makes it probable that Ultima Thule has avoided the cosmic billiards game which has perturbed the orbits of so many distant objects in the solar system, making it a “cold classical Kuiper belt object” (the “cold” refers not to temperature but its analogue in dispersion of velocity). What this means is that it is highly probable that this body, unlike the planets and moons of the inner solar system, which have been extensively reprocessed from their original constituents, has been undisturbed since the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago and is a time capsule preserving the raw materials from which the inner planets were assembled.
In 2017, predictions of Ultima Thule’s orbit indicated that it would pass in front of, or occult, a distant star, with the shadow passing through southern Argentina. Since the distance to the object and its speed in orbit are known reasonably well, simply by measuring the duration of the star’s occultation, it is possible to compute the length of the chord of the object’s path in front of the star. Multiple observing stations and precise timings allow estimating an object’s size and shape. A network of twenty-four small telescopes was set up along the expected path (there is substantial uncertainty in the orbit, so not all were expected to see the occultation, but five succeeded in observing it). Combining their results yielded this estimation of Ultima Thule’s size and shape.
The best fit was to a close binary or “contact binary”: two lobes, probably originally separate objects, in contact with one another. What does it actually look like? We’ll have to wait and see. The occultation observations found no evidence for rings, moons, or a dust halo, increasing confidence in the planned close fly-by.
Another mystery which will have to await close-up observation is the absence of a pronounced light curve. An irregularly-shaped object like Ultima Thule would be expected to vary dramatically in brightness as it rotates, but extended observations by Hubble failed to find any variation at all. The best guess is that we’re observing it close to the pole of rotation, but again it’s anybody’s guess until we get there and take a look.
Are we there yet? No, but it won’t be long now. As I noted, the closest fly-by will be at 05:33 UTC on 2019-01-01. Most of the scientific data will be collected in the day before and after the moment of closest approach. Coverage of this event will not be like what you’ve become accustomed to from other space missions. New Horizons will be 6.6 billion kilometres from the Earth at the time of the fly-by, more than 43 times the distance of the Earth from the Sun. It takes light (and radio waves) six hours to travel that distance, so anything transmitted to Earth will take that long to arrive. Further, since the high-gain antenna used to send data back to Earth is fixed to the same spacecraft structure as the scientific instruments, while they are collecting data during the fly-by, the antenna won’t be pointed in the correct direction to send it back to the distant home planet.
After the scientific observations are complete, the antenna will be pointed at the Earth to send “quick look” data, spacecraft health information, and the first images. These are expected later on the first of January and over the next few days. To those accustomed to broadband Internet, these data arrive excruciatingly slowly.
Even with a 70 metre Deep Space Network antenna, the downlink rate is 501 bits per second. If you have a 50 megabit per second broadband Internet connection, this is one hundred thousand times slower: comparable to the dial-up computer terminal (300 bits per second) I used in 1968. It takes around an hour to return a single image, even in the compressed formats used for quick-look data. Downloading all of the science data collected during the fly-by will begin on the 9th of January, when New Horizons returns to spin-stabilised mode (which requires no maneuvering fuel) with its antenna pointed at Earth, and is expected to take twenty months. When the data download is complete, the spacecraft will be placed back into hibernation mode. If another Kuiper belt target is identified which can be reached with the remaining maneuvering fuel before its nuclear power source decays or its distance to Earth becomes too great to return fly-by data (expected in the 2030s), it may be re-targeted for another fly-by.
I will post news and data as they arrive in the comments to this post. If you wish to be notified when new comments are posted but don’t have a comment to add at the moment, simply post a comment consisting of the single word “follow” and you’ll receive notifications without your comment appearing.
Here is a Science Chat from September 2018 with New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern looking ahead to the encounter with Ultima Thule.
This is a panel discussion at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December 2017 describing the preparations for the encounter with Ultima Thule and what may be learned from the fly-by.
The GOP lost the House of Representatives. Chairmanships will flip from Republican to Democrat. The House Committee on the Judiciary will go from control by Bob Goodlatte to control by Jerrold Nadler. Nadler has said that the current investigations will end and new investigations will begin.
Here is Goodlatte’s summary letter:
Dear Attorney General Whitaker and Director Wray,
With the 115th Congress coming to a close, the investigation into decisions made by DOJ and FBI and related interviews conducted by the House Committee on the Judiciary and Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have, at least for the time being, been concluded. …
The letter goes on to beg for a public release of transcripts that Goodlatte sent over. I hope that Whitaker starts a new special counsel into obstruction of justice and ethics complaints about senior FBI and DOJ Deep Staters.
You should read the letter; it is very short. Also, here are links to reporting by Leftist media:
Idk about the border wall Gofundme. It’s over $18M now, and you’d think this would be big news. The fact that it isn’t makes me feel like the total is just not very much money. I mean, people work and slave and worry all their lives and never accumulate that much. The fact that it can be accumulated in 12 days just by asking for it creates a kinda “throw down the mattock”* moment for me.
But–nonetheless, because of what seems to me, and I’m sure to many Americans, like an impressive fundraising effort, I am resolved to look into whether a GoFundMe site could be started to fund efforts to do away with birthright citizenship.
I don’t say “repeal” because it’s clear, reading the 5th and 14 th Amendments together, that the Constitution does not mandate unqualified birthright citizenship. Check it out: the 5th provides that “no person” ( no person whatsoever, citizen or non-citizen, unqualified) shall, inter alia, be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. The 14th, adopted to protect Southern blacks after the Civil War, is NOT unqualified: in addition to being born or naturalized, the individual has to be “subject to the Jurisdiction” of the US. It is a principle of statutory construction that every word and phrase of a statute must be given effect. Unqualified birthright citizenship was created by the judiciary and can be abrogated by it, but, as with other judge-made law like Obergefell, the social substrate must be worked and leavened. Somebody has to do it. Or die trying.
The money raised could be used, obviously, to support campaigns for office of right-minded individuals. It could be used to research the positions of judicial nominees.
What else? An education campaign Is a sore necessity. The US and Canada are the only 2 developed nations which have unqualified birthright citizenship, by which I mean, pop out here and bingo, you’re an American, with nothing more, no waiting period, no additional steps to take. Trump was ridiculed when he said this, but it was accurate.
Because birthright citizenship is the great lure.
It’s not only the border. It’s a foreign army of Chinese militants growing up right now, born to “birth tourists” in San Francisco, who will be able to walk back in here upon majority, with their entire families It’s babies born to the huge number of people who overstay their visas. ( And as the Left will tell you, why, those are by far the greater number of illegals here!)
I can’t resolve here today to actually start a GoFund Me. I don’t know enough about the rules and policies of the site. But I do resolve to research the feasibility of opening such a page.
Any ideas as to what it should be called? Citizens Awake? I like No Littering! Too bad that’s taken….
*”The earth is an oyster with nothing inside it, /Not to be born is the best for man./The end of toil is a bailiff’s order, / Throw down the mattock and dance while you can.” –W.H.Auden, Death’s Echo
I’m listening to an audio book of The Gulag Archipelago. Lots of arrests so far. Chilling. It can definitely happen here. All the structure is in place, and with the state’s ability to see and know everything it would be worse. More effective. More, um, surgical.
Like maybe right now?
Anyway, I believe Alexander S would not be especially concerned with a government shut down.
I hereby advise the PR director for the White House press office to solicit stories of people adversely affected by this government shutdown. After a few hundred responses I would take the best cases and publish them -respectfully – on the website.
Then juxtapose that with stories of people affected by our current system of immigration.
The hardships by government workers, even some of the stronger cases, will begin to look quite lame.
“We are asking the Democrats to approve 5billion of your money – not their money – your taxes, for this problem. 5 billion is a lot of money, but compared to the depth, and reach, and cost of this problem, actually only a small percent of our budget.”
Also while you guys at the White House are listening, y’all are doing a great job!
“There is a tide in the affairs of men/Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”
Yeah, and looking back 2 years, I think we missed it.
I read that early in 2017, GOP Congress coulda gotten Wall funding by budget reconciliation. We had won it ALL! But they didn’t do it. And Trump signed budget after budget which not only didn’t fund his signature promise, but actively prohibited it.
Yes, great: standing firm now is the least he could do, the best he can do, and it’s also probably the last thing he has power to do. I support it. But it’s to little too late. He shoulda taken this stance in March 2017.
I wonder why he didn’t? I think probably, contrary to the Lefty portrayal of him as impetuous, headstrong, unwilling to accept counsel, he did defer to the advice of GOP Congress members like Ryan and McConnell. I think any citizen-president would. They’d been in DC a long time, he was a newcomer, and: they’re in his own party, for Chrissakes! Like all of us, he’d been hearing that they desperately wanted to repeal Obamacare and deal with illegal immigration. And besides, didn’t they owe him for getting the GOP all 3 branches of,our government? Wasnt it reasonable to lean toward feeling they were on the same side as Trump and his voters?
And what’s going to happen now, on Jan 3?
Does anybody doubt that Trump is going to be impeached? He will probably survive the trial in the Senate. But so what? There will be wave after wave of investigatory activity. We will be beaten into the clay by these steelshod Progs.
Of course I hope I’m wrong. But O Ratty, do you see any possible positive outcome Of this impasse for Trump and for us?