Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Another great one from PJTV

Again, thanks to Pajamas Media:

The Power and Danger of Iconography

With thanks to Pajamas Media:

My Letter to Senator Robert Casey (D-PA)

Dear Senator Casey,

I am writing to express my supreme disgust and extreme displeasure at your vote yesterday to uphold federal funding for ACORN and its affiliates by voting "NO" on the Johanns Amendment.

ACORN representatives in multiple states are either under investigation or already subject to criminal prosecution for incidents of voter fraud.

ACORN representatives were recently recorded by intrepid, independent investigative journalists conspiring to promote tax fraud, mortgage and bank fraud, child exploitation, illegal immigration, and the facilitation of prostitution.

Your vote yesterday is a disgrace to the good name of your father, a slap in the face of every Pennsylvania resident, a stab in the back to every American taxpayer and voter, and shows blatant disregard for the oath you took to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic; to bear true faith and allegiance to the same."

Thank you for your attention.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Senate Adopts the Johanns Amendment to HR3288!

The United States Senate has adopted the amendment proposed by Mike Johanns (R-NE) that prevents ACORN from receiving ANY federal funds under current appropriations.

The vote was 83-7.

Every American tax payer owes a debt of gratitude to James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles.

Wisdom of the Day

And yet however just these sentiments will be allowed to be, we have
already sufficient indications that it will happen in this as in all former
cases of great national discussion. A torrent of angry and malignant passions
will be let loose. To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall
be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their
opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their
declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An enlightened zeal for the
energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a
temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty. An over
scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more
commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere
pretense and artifice; the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the
public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual
concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be
infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it
will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the
security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed
judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition
more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people
than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of
government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more
certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those
men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have
begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing
demagogues, and ending Tyrants.

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #1

Getting Exactly What You've Asked For

I happened to be at my parents' house in New Jersey this weekend, and I decided to risk assured infuriation by reading their copy of The New York Times. I wasn't disappointed. One article in particular jumped off the page at me, and it's a wonderful demonstration of how the willingness of "We the People" to cede our liberty and sovereignty to government makes all of our lives worse.

The piece is entitled "Turning to Windmills, but Resistance Lingers" and it is dated September 13, 2009.

It's the story of Wendie Howland of Bourne, MA. Based on the introductory paragraph, "Wendie Howland grows her own food and heats her water with rooftop solar panels. She drives a Prius with a bumper sticker that boasts 'One less S.U.V.'," I'm going to go out on a strong limb and assume that:

1) She's a good, caring liberal.
2) She voted for President Obama.
3) She has enthusiastically supported environmental groups and regulations.

Well, Mrs. Howland and her husband have been prevented by government regulation from erecting a wind turbine on their own private property so they can generate some or all of their own electricity. It's a disgrace, but it's exactly what liberals have asked for time and time again by placing in the hands of government what we can and cannot do with our liberty and private property.

Ms. Howland's neighbors "overwhelmingly approved" a bylaw regulating windmills in 2007. This is "collectivism" at its worst, especially since "To Mrs. Howland, the town's claim that a windmill would hurt the character of her neighborhood was especially galling. None of her closest neighbors objected, she said."

Now, the usual liberal response to an anti-regulatory comment by a conservative usually descends into rhetorical slams like "you don't believe in a clean environment" or "you only care about big business' interests and not that of the people", or worse.

I support Mr. & Mrs. Howland's desire for a wind turbine because it is the conservative thing to do! It is their private property. How they want to use their property, and their wealth to improve upon it, is their business and no one else's.

Here's how a scenario like this should play out, taking both self and community interest into consideration:

1) I want to erect a wind turbine to generate electricity for myself. It is worth the cost to me because I believe that I'm going to get more value out of the transaction than what I'm spending. That value could be in lowering my electricity bill, believing that I'm being better to the environment, whatever - the value is what is important; I'm acting in my own self-interest.

2) Since it is in my own self-interest to care about my neighbors, I inform them that I'd like to build the turbine. This gives them the option to object, raise concerns, or otherwise act on their own self-interests.

3) Now, I'm putting my "neighbor" hat on. What am I worried about? How is this going to affect me? If the thing falls over, where's it going to land? Perhaps I don't want them to erect their turbine, but what can I do to mitigate the situation? I can ask for financial consideration. I can ask them if they have an insurance rider covering the turbine and its effects. I can ask if I can share in the electricity generated - either for my consent or for contribution of my own wealth -since it can't practically be stored. I can ask for a trade or concession as simple as, "Hey, whenever I need to cut my grass can I use your tractor?"

4) Back to being the turbine erector. Now that I've talked to the neighbors, I can decide if the costs of my project - including that of satisfying my neighbors and community - still provide the value I'm looking for. Maybe I go ahead, maybe I don't. Perhaps my neighbors still aren't happy and seek other recourse if we can't come to a mutually agreeable, beneficial, and profitable solution.

That is liberty. That is freedom. That is caring about one's neighbors out of one's own self-interest.

And that, by the way, is capitalism. Trading wealth for value in one's own self-interest to generate more wealth, be it material or otherwise, is the essence of economics.

It's also the essence of our unalienable right, as Jefferson wrote, to "the pursuit of Happiness."

I hope the Howlands eventually get their freedom to use their wealth and property as they want to, even though by what I'm assuming their political and regulatory stances have been, they got exactly what they asked for time and time again in being denied their freedom.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Apollo+40: Break in Blog

Folks, I'm not going to be able keep up with the rest of the night's activities from Apollo 11. I'll be posting a bunch of stuff tomorrow in the way of recap.

Apollo+40: Moonwalk!

LMP Buzz Aldrin joins Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface at 109:43:05. Aldrin coined perhaps the best description of the Moon:
Magnificent desolation.

Armstrong and Aldrin had many tasks to accomplish during their EVA, and only about 2-1/2 hours to complete it all.

Apollo+40: The First Step

109:24:48 (CDR): "That's one small step for [a] man; one giant leap for mankind."

Man has for the first time set foot in the heavens on a body other than our natural home.

Apollo+40: The EVA Begins

At 109:07 GET, 22:39 EDT, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin - clad in their A7B spacesuits with the Portable Life Support Systems (PLSS) - finished the depressurization of Eagle and swung the front hatch open.

109:19:16 (CDR): "Okay. Houston. I'm on the porch." (Armstrong is at the top of the ladder that will lead him to the surface)

109:22:00 (CAPCOM): "We're getting a picture on the TV."

109:22:48 (CAPCOM): "Okay. Neil, we can see you coming down the ladder now."

109:22:59 (CDR): "Okay. I just checked getting back up to that first step, Buzz. It's [the LM compressible landing leg] not even collapsed too far, but it's adequate to get back up.

109:23:38 (CDR): "I'm at the foot of the ladder. The LM footpads are only depressed in the surface about 1 or 2 inches, although the surface appears to be very, very fine grained, as you get close to it. It's almost like a powder. Down there, it's very fine.

109:24:13 (CDR): "I'm going to step off the LM now."

Apollo+40: Lunar Communion

During Apollo 8's broadcast from lunar orbit, December 24, 1968, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders used the words from the book of Genesis to frame their Christmas message from the Moon. NASA promptly got sued by an atheist; the case was eventually dismissed.

Apollo 11 LMP Buzz Aldrin wished to receive Holy Communion on the Moon, but couldn't be plain about his act.

105:25:38 (Aldrin): "This is the LM pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way. Over."

Aldrin had brought conscecrated bread and wine with him in his "Personal Preference Kit" that his pastor provided. Before receiving the sacrament, Aldrin read from John's Gospel, Chapter 15, Verse 5:

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (NASB)

On this, the 40th Anniversary of the first Holy Communion received on the Moon, let us all give thanks for God's blessings on the great United States of America, through His son, Jesus Christ.

Apollo+40: Early EVA?

The original Apollo 11 flight plan had the crew enter a rest period for about four hours after landing and clearance to stay on the Moon. How they expected anybody to calm down and rest at that point is anybody's guess.

Before launch, Armstrong and Aldrin had planned to ask for an early EVA.

104:39:14 (CDR): "Our recommendation at this point is planning on an EVA, with your concurrence, starting at about 8 o'clock this evening, Houston time. That is about three hours from now."

104:39:40 (CAPCOM): "Tranquility Base, Houston. We thought about; we will support it. We're GO at that time."

In about four hours, man will set foot on the Moon!

Apollo+40: Stay for T3

At 102:21:46, Mission Control cleared Eagle at Tranquility Base for extended surface operations, including man's first steps on the Moon!

Apollo+40: Stay for T2, Landing Report

At 102:51:45, Mission Control radioed Eagle that they were STAY for the "T2" liftoff point, guaranteeing them at least a two-hour stay on the Moon. The next point that they could lift off to rendezvous with Columbia wouldn't happen until Columbia circled the Moon again.

At 102:55:16, Commander Neil Armstrong told Mission Control about the landing, now that things had calmed down in the cockpit a bit:

(CDR): "Hey, Houston, that may have seemed like a very long final phase. The auto targeting was taking us right into a football-field-sized crater, with a large number of big boulders and rocks for about one or two crater diameters around it, and it required us going in P66 and flying manually over the rock field to find a reasonably good area."

(CAPCOM): "Roger. We copy. It was beautiful from here, Tranquility. Over."

Apollo+40: Landing!

102:45:40 (LMP): "Contact Light!" (A big, blue light labeled "LUNAR CONTACT" has illuminated on their instrument panel, signifying that one of the touchdown probes attached to Eagle's landing legs has made contact with the Moon)

102:45:43 (CDR): "Shutdown."

102:45:44 (LMP): "Okay. Engine Stop.

102:45:45 (LMP): "ACA out of Detent."

102:45:46 (CDR): "Out of Detent. Auto."

102:45:47 (LMP): "Mode Control, both Auto. Descent Engine Command Override, Off. Engine Arm, Off. 413 is in." (Touchdown Checklist)

At 102:45:57 - half question, half answer - CAPCOM Charlie Duke transmits:

"We copy you down, Eagle."

And then, at 102:45:58, we hear the words from Neil Armstrong that will change humanity for ever:

"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

102:46:06 (CAPCOM): "Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot."

About one minute later, Armstrong and Aldrin were given their first clearance to stay on the Moon - for about five minutes until the next STAY/NO-STAY decision point.

Apollo+40: Final Descent

102:43:01 (LMP): "750 [feet]. Coming down at 23 [feet per second]."

102:43:21 - Armstrong switches from the automatic descent to P66 - computer-assisted manual landing control - at 600 feet altitude; searching for a clear place to land!

102:43:26 (LMP): "Okay 400 feet down at 9. 58 forward." (Armstrong is moving Eagle rapidly forward looking for a place to set down.)

102:43:35 (LMP): "330, 3-1/2 down."

102:43:42 (LMP): "Okay, you're pegged on horizontal velocity." (Armstrong is maneuvering the LM so quickly forward that it's off the measurement scale. He'll have to null out the horizontal velocity before touchdown, otherwise the LM will tip over!)

102:43:52 (LMP): "1-1/2 down. Ease her down. 270 [feet]"

102:43:58 (CDR): "Okay, how's the fuel?"

102:44:00 (LMP): "8 percent [fuel remaining]."

102:44:02 (CDR): "Okay. Here's a...looks like a good area here."

102:44:04 (LMP): "I got the shadow out there." (Aldrin can now see Eagle's shadow on the lunar surface!)

102:44:24 (LMP): "200 feet, 4-1/2 down."

102:44:31 (LMP): "160 feet, 6-1/2 down."

102:44:45 (LMP): "100 feet, 3-1/2 down, 9 forward. Five percent [fuel remaining]. Quantity [warning] light."

102:44:54 (LMP): "Okay. 75 feet. And it's looking good. Down a half, 6 forward."

102:45:02 (CAPCOM): "60 seconds." (At this call, Armstrong has to land within 60 seconds or abort because of low fuel).

102:45:08 (LMP): "60 feet, down 2-1/2. 2 forward. 2 forward. That's good."

102:45:17 (LMP): "40 feet, down 2-1/2. Picking up some dust!"

Lunar dust, undisturbed for billions of years, is now being stirred up by Eagle's descent engine!

102:45:25 (LMP): "4 forward. 4 forward. Drifting to the right a little. 20 feet, down a half."

102:45:31 (CAPCOM): "30 seconds [of fuel remaining]."

Apollo+40: GO for Landing!

At 102:42, Flight Director Gene Kranz - a veteran of spaceflight control since the dawn of American manned spaceflight - polled his flight control team for the final time:

Okay, flight controllers: GO/NO-GO for landing.

GNC? "GO!"

CAPCOM, we are GO for landing.

102:42:08 (CAPCOM): "Eagle, Houston. You're GO for landing. Over."

102:42:17 (LMP): "Roger. Understand. GO for landing. 3,000 feet [altitude]."

Right after acknowledging the GO for landing, another program alarm occurred, this time a 1201 - another overflow condition.

102:42:25 (CAPCOM): "We're GO. Same type [of alarm]. We're GO."

102:42:31 (LMP): "2,000 feet [altitude]."

Another 1202 program alarm cropped up at 102:42:41 - still GO!

Apollo+40: Landing Program P64

102:41:12 (CAPCOM): "Eagle, you've got 30 seconds to P64"

With that call, Charlie Duke informs Armstrong and Aldrin that Eagle will pitch over for the final approach program in 30 seconds and the two astronauts will get their first view of the landing site close up.

102:41:35 (CDR): "P64"

102:41:51: Onboard Eagle, Commander Neil Armstrong says, "Okay. 5,000 [foot altitude]. 100 feet per second [descent rate] is good. Going to check my attitude control. Attitude control is good.

102:41:51: (CAPCOM): "Eagle, you're looking great. Coming up [on] 9 minutes [since the start of PDI]."

Apollo+40: Program Alarm!

At 102:38:04, Eagle began receiving good data from its landing radar, without which a landing could not be attempted. As LMP Aldrin began incorporating the radar data into the guidance computer's trajectory calculations...

102:38:26 (CDR): "Program alarm."

102:38:30 (CDR): "It's a 1202."

The guidance and computer experts in Mission Control were scurrying; what was the problem? Could Eagle continue? Was an abort called for?

Well, it turns out that one of the last simulations Mission Control went through involved guidance computer program alarms. The guidance "back room" quickly told the Guidance Officer, Steve Bales, that it was a temporary overload condition and that it was safe to proceed. Bales called onto the Flight Director's voice loop in Mission Control: "We're GO on that, Flight."

102:38:42 (CDR): "Give us a reading on the 1202 program alarm."

102:38:53 (CAPCOM): "Roger. We got you...We're GO on that alarm."

At 102:39:14, another 1202 program alarm was triggered. Eagle is still GO!

Apollo+40: Powered Descent

Up to this point, everything Apollo 11 has done was completed by Apollo 10's dress rehearsal in May. At 102:33:05, Eagle's descent engine ignites, sending the spacecraft and Armstrong and Aldrin down towards the lunar surface.

After the first minute of PDI, Aldrin reported that the two LM guidance systems - primary and abort - agreed closely as to the spacecraft's trajectory.

The first indication of trouble wasn't far behind:

At 102:36:11, Armstrong reported that Eagle passed its visual mark for PDI+3:00 early; the landing would be further downrange than expected.

At 102:37:22, CAPCOM Charlie Duke gave the astronauts a status update:

"You are GO to continue powered descent."

So far, so good - but landing on the Moon can't be this easy, can it?

Apollo+40: GO for PDI

Through the bad communications and data drop-outs, Mission Control has reviewed all the available information, and gives the word that Eagle can proceed:

102:28:08 (CAPCOM): "Eagle, Houston. If you read, you're GO for powered descent. Over.

102:28:18 (CMP): "Eagle, this is Columbia. They just gave you a GO for powered descent."

102:28:22 (CAPCOM): "Columbia, Houston. We've lost them on the high gain [antenna] again. Would you please - we recommend they yaw right 10 degrees and reacquire."

102:28:34 (CMP): "Eagle, this is Columbia. You're GO for PDI and they reccomend you yaw right 10 degrees and try the high gain again."

102:28:46 (CMP): "Eagle, you read Columbia?"

102:28:48 (LMP): "Roger. We read you."

102:28:51 (CAPCOM): "Eagle, Houston. We read you now. You're GO for PDI. Over."

102:28:57 (LMP): "Roger. Understand."

Onboard Eagle, Armstrong and Aldrin run through the steps on their PDI checklist to prepare for engine ignition. PDI will commence in about four minutes!

Apollo+40: DOI successful, on the way to PDI

102:15:36 (CAPCOM): "Columbia, Houston. Over."

102:15:41 (CMP): "Houston, Columbia. Reading you loud and clear. How me?"

102:15:43 (CAPCOM): "Roger. Five-by, Mike. How did it go? Over."

102:15:49 (CMP): "Listen, babe. Everything's going just swimmingly. Beautiful."

102:15:52 (CAPCOM): "Great. We're standing by for Eagle."

102:15:57 (CMP): "Okay. He's coming along."

With a successful DOI, Eagle is now closer to the Moon in altitude, therefore Columbia reestablished contact first.

102:17:27 (LMP): "Houston, Eagle. How do you read?"

102:17:36 (CAPCOM): "Five-by, Eagle. We're standing by for your burn report."

All did not stay well however. Communications with Eagle became extremly "ratty", in the vernacular of space travel. Mission Control was forced to deal with repeated voice and data dropouts from Eagle as the spacecraft hurtled toward the point where PDI would begin.

Apollo+40: PAO Update from Mission Control

This is Apollo Control at 101 hours, 54 minutes. We're now about 20 minutes, 45 seconds from
reacquiring the command module on the 14th revolution. The time until the ignition for the power descent is 38 minutes, 55 seconds. Here in mission control, people still standing and waiting. I believe back in the viewing room, we probably have one of the largest assemblages of space officials that we've ever seen in one place. Included among the viewers are Dr. Thomas Paine, NASA Administrator, Jim Elms, Director of the Electronic Research Center at Cambridge, Dr. Abe Silverstein, Director of NASA's Lewis Research Center, Rocco Petrone, Director of Launch Operations at Kennedy Space Center is there. From Marshall Space Center, we have Dr. Wernher von Braun, the Director, and his Deputy, Dr. Eberhard Rees. Also a large number of Astronauts including Tom Stafford, Gene Cernan, Jim McDivitt, and John Glenn. We also see Dr. Kurt Debus, Director of the Kennedy Space Center, Dr. Edgar Cortright, Director of the Langley Research Center. Dr. S. Draper, Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentations Laboratory is also in the viewing room. Here in the control room proper down on the floor a number of Astronauts including Pete Conrad, Fred Haise, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, and Donald K. Slayton, Director of Flight Crew Operations at the Manned Spacecraft Center. Sitting beside us in the back row of consoles here is Dr. Robert Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center. Further down on the line is General Sam Phillips, Director of the Apollo Program. Also Chris Kraft is here, Director of Flight Operations at the Manned Spacecraft Center, and George Low, the Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager. We also see in the back viewing room, Secretary of the Air Force, Seamans, and many others who I'm sure we can't see through the glass. We're now 18 minutes, 10 seconds until reacquisition of the spacecraft. Ignition for the power descent to the lunar surface is 36 minutes, 30 seconds away. At 101 hours, 57 minutes, this is Apollo Control, Houston.

Apollo+40: DOI

Assuming all is still well with Eagle, CDR Neil Armstrong and LMP Buzz Aldrin are executing the DOI burn on the far side of the moon, and out of contact with Mission Control.

We'll be reacquiring communications with the Apollo 11 spacecraft in about 30 minutes.

Apollo+40: Go for DOI

Mission Control has verified that all is well with LM Eagle and CSM Columbia. Before the two spacecraft pass behind the Moon again, the following good news is relayed to the crew:

101:17:53 (CAPCOM): "Eagle, Houston. You are GO for DOI. Over."

DOI - Descent Orbit Insertion - will take place behind the Moon, and drop Eagle from its approximately 60 nautical mile altitude to the point 50,000 feet in altititude where the final descent - Powered Descent Intitiation (PDI) will begin at the beginning of the next front-side pass.

At 101:25:27, Mission Control sends Apollo 11 around to the back side for the last time before descent and hopefully landing with the following:

(CAPCOM): "Columbia/Eagle, Houston. Three minutes to LOS. Both looking good going over the hill."

Apollo+40: CSM/LM Separation Maneuver

100:43:47 (CAPCOM): "Apollo 11, Houston. You are looking good for separation. You are GO for separation, Columbia."

Before bidding his comrades farewell for their descent to the lunar surface, CMP Mike Collins radioed the following:

100:37:31 (CMP): "I think you've got a fine looking flying machine there, Eagle, despite the fact you're upside-down."

100:37:36 (CDR): "Somebody's upside-down."

At 100:39:52, Mike Collins fired Columbia's thrusters to move his craft away from Eagle. Spacecraft checks continue. Mission control is reviewing status, and we're awaiting GO/NO-GO for DOI.

Apollo+40: Columbia & Eagle Undocked - Descent Preparations Continue

After their latest back-side of the Moon pass, CSM Columbia and LM Eagle are now flying independently!

100:18:01 (CDR): "Eagle is undocked."

100:18:03 (CAPCOM): "Roger. How does it look, Neil?"

100:18:04 (CDR): "The Eagle has wings!"

All is looking well with spacecraft systems. The next GO/NO-GO point coming up is for the separation of the two spacecraft to give maneuvering room in preparation for Descent Orbit Insertion (DOI) by the LM.

Apollo+40: Go for Undocking

At 99:25 GET, CAPCOM Charlie Duke radioed the following to Apollo 11:

Apollo 11, Houston. We're GO for undocking. Over."

Apollo 11 is about to pass behind the Moon again, with LOS expected at 99:30. When Mission Control reacquires the spacecraft at about 100:16, Columbia and Eagle will have separated and be flying free of one another.

Apollo+40: Descent Prep PAO Update

Approximately 99:20 GET:

This is Apollo Control. We have less than 10 minutes now until loss of signal on the twelfth revolution. Before losing contact with the spacecraft, we'll be passing along a GO-NO/GO decision for undocking. That will occur early on the next revolution just prior to reacquiring the spacecraft. Flight Director, Gene Kranz, is going around the control center talking to his flight controllers. We're viewing status in preparation for making the GO-NO/GO decision for undocking.

Apollo+40: Descent Prepartions Continue

At 97:31:05:

(CAPCOM): Apollo 11, Houston. 30 seconds to LOS. Both spacecraft looking good - going over the hill. Out.

(PAO): This is Apollo Control. We've had loss of signal now. We'll next acquire the spacecraft inabout 46 minutes at a ground elapse time of 98 hours, 18 minutes. During that pass, Armstrong and Aldrin in the lunar module begin checking out activating the lunar module, and they appeared to finish about 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled time in the flight plans. They began early and have maintained the pace. Both spacecraft looking very good at this time. Everything progressing very smoothly. On the next revolution, revolution 12, the crew will continue activation and checkout of lunar module systems. The following revolution, revolution 13, they will undock from the command and service module. At 97 hours, 33 minutes, this is Apollo Control.

Apollo+40: Landing Morning

Apollo 11 is beginning their preparations to descend to the lunar surface in LM Eagle. A little before 9:00 AM this morning, Mission Control relayed the following items to the crew:

Okay. Church services around the world today are mentioning Apollo ll in their prayers. President Nixon's worship service at the White House is also dedicated to the mission, and our fellow astronaut, Frank Borman, is still in there pitching and will read the passage from Genesis which was read on Apollo 8 last Christmas. The Cabinet and members of Congress, with emphasis on the Senate and House space committees, have been invited, along with a number of other guests...

Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, there's one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-o has been living there for 4,000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported.

The crew's reply to the last was, "Okay. We'll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Apollo+40: Landing Eve

Apollo 11 circularized their lunar orbit with the LOI2 burn in late afternoon Eastern Time.

The flight plan then had Armstrong and Aldrin move to the LM Eagle and begin checking out their lander for tomorrow's descent and, hopefully, the first manned lunar landing.

Tonight was the first time the individual spacecraft callsigns - Columbia and Eagle were used over the radios.

Wake-up and landing preparation begin at about 7:30 AM tomorrow morning; landing in late afternoon!

Apollo+40: Apollo 11 in Lunar Orbit!

At 76:15:59, Apollo 11 came around the other side of the moon and regained contact with earth. Communications were "ratty" at first, but eventually the crew reported a near perfect LOI burn, resulting in a lunar orbit of 60.9 x 169.9 nautical miles (perfect would have been 60 x 170).

In the words of Commander Armstrong: "It was like - like perfect!"

About 13 minutes later, those of us on Earth heard these magical words from Apollo 11:

76:34:34 (Armstrong): Apollo 11 is getting its first view of the landing approach. This time we are going over the Taruntius crater, and the pictures and maps brought back by Apollo 8 and 10 have given us a very good preview of what to look at here. It looks very much like the pictures, but like the difference between watching a real football game and watching it on TV. There's no substitute for actually being here.

(CAPCOM): Roger. We concur, and we surely wish we could see it firsthand, also.

Landing approach! We'll find out tomorrow...

Apollo+40: LOI

75:49:50 - Apollo 11 is behind the moon and out of contact with earth. Assuming all is well, the LOI burn has just started. If the LOI burn is not executed, Mission Control should regain contact with the spacecraft (acquisition of signal, or AOS) at 76:05:30.

A perfect LOI will result in AOS at 76:15:29 or soon after.

Apollo+40: Apollo 11 Behind the Moon

The critical LOI burn has to take place out of contact with the Earth as Apollo 11 passes behind the Moon. Immediately prior to loss of signal (LOS), Mission Control took one more look at the telemetry, and let Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins know that all was well:

75:40:33 (CAPCOM): Apollo 11, this is Houston. All your systems are looking good going around the corner, and we'll see you on the other side. Over.

75:40:42 (Armstrong): Roger. Everything looks okay up here.

A couple of seconds later, contact was lost with Apollo 11 as they passed out of sight behind our nearest neighbor. At LOS, Apollo 11 was 309 nautical miles from the moon with a velocity of 7,664 feet per second.

LOI, if successful, would slow Apollo 11 by 2,914 feet per second. The burn would begin in just under nine minutes.

Apollo+40: Go for LOI

Counting down to Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) - the first of two burns to slow down Apollo 11 just enough to be captured by the moon's gravity.

This is Apollo Control at 75 hours, 26 minutes. We're 15 minutes away from loss of signal. Apollo 11 is 9,066 miles from the Moon, velocity 6,511 feet per second. We're 23 minutes away from the LOI burn...Flight Director Cliff Charlesworth polling flight controllers for the GO/NO-GO status for LOI now.

75:30:46 (CAPCOM): 11, this is Houston. You are GO for LOI. Over.

75:30:53 (Aldrin): Roger, GO for LOI.

Apollo+40: 11 Approaches the Moon

As was customary, soon after Mission Control awoke the Apollo 11 crew to begin their day, the CAPCOM radioed up some news. Both of these are amusing:

72:29:46 (CAPCOM): Okay. First off, it looks like it's going to be impossible to get away from the fact that you guys are dominating all the news back here on Earth. Even Pravda in Russia is headlining the mission and calls Neil, "The Czar of the Ship."

72:31:35 (CAPCOM): Even the kids at camp got into the news when Mike Jr. [son of CMP Mike Collins] was quoted as replying "yeah" when somebody asked him if his daddy was going to be in history. Then after a short pause he asked, "What is history?"

About 3-1/2 hours until lunar orbit insertion...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Apollo+40: Lunar Sphere of Influence

From the PAO Transcript:

This is Apollo Control at 61 hours, 39 minutes. We've had no further conversation with the crew since our last report. Flight Surgeon says there is no indication at this time that they have begun to sleep, but we expect they'll be getting to sleep here shortly. Coming up in less than 10 seconds now, we'i1 be crossing into the sphere of influence of the moon. A computational changeover will be made here in Mission Control. At this point as the moon's gravitational force becomes the dominant effect on the spacecraft trajectory, and our displays will shift from Earth reference to moon reference. At that point, which occurred a few seconds ago, the spacecraft was at a distance of 186,437 nautical miles from Earth, and 33,822 nautical miles from the moon. The velocity with respect to the Earth was 2,990 feet per second, and with respect to the moon, about 3,272 feet per second. The passive thermal control mode that was set up for the second time by the crew appears to be holding well at this point, and all spacecraft systems are functioning normally. Mission going very smoothly. At 61 hours, 41 minutes, this is Apollo Control, Houston.

In about 14 hours, Apollo 11 will enter lunar orbit if all goes well.

Apollo+40: Checking out Eagle

Onboard Apollo 11, Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin began a planned inspection and familiarization on-board their LM Eagle at about 55:37 GET. The LM activities were planned for and lasted about 90 minutes. This familiarization was a precursor to LM activation that would happen prior to landing in lunar orbit.

Apollo 11 downlinked an unplanned TV broadcast of the LM checkout, a portion of which is featured below:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

At approximately the conclusion of the LM familiarization, Apollo 11 was reported to be
178,236 nautical miles from earth, at a velocity of 3,146 feet per second.

Apollo+40: Overnight Status, 7/18

From the PAO Transcript, at about 6:00 AM 7/18/1969:

This is Apollo Control, 45 hours 28 minutes Ground Elapsed Time. A little more than an hour remaining in the Apollo 11 crew sleep period. Present velocity, 3799 feet per second. Distance from moon, 69 810 nautical miles. Apollo 11 will continue decelerating as it gets to the point
where the moon's sphere of influence overcomes the Earth's sphere of influence. This point will take place - This event will take place at 61 hours 39 minutes and 57 seconds Ground Elapsed Time, according to the Flight Dynamics Officer. At this point, the spacecraft-to-moon distance will be 33 822 nautical miles, spacecraft-to-Earth distance, 186 437 nautical miles. The velocity will have slowed to a relative crawl at this point. The Earth referenced 2990 feet per second, moon referenced 3772 feet per second. Clock counting down to lunar touchdown, which as mentioned before will likely be changed as the spacecraft goes into lunar orbit and the data is refined, some of the times change a few seconds one way or the other. At any rate, the landing clock now showing 57 hours 17 minutes until lunar landing. At 45 hours 30 minutes Ground Elapsed Time, this is Apollo Control.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Apollo+40: Catching up with Apollo 11

Apollo 11 spent the rest of their first flight day with several key accomplishments:

1) Transposition & Docking - CMP Mike Collins was at the controls as CSM Columbia separated from the S-IVB third stage, turned around, and docked with and then extracted LM Eagle from the now spent Saturn booster.

2) Establishing Passive Thermal Control (PTC) - the crew placed their spacecraft into a slow "barbecue roll" so that the sun's heat energy would be equally distributed during the trans-lunar coast.

3) Mission control determined that Apollo 11's trajectory was about spot on, so the first scheduled mid-course correction maneuver was deleted from the flight plan. Apollo 11 will execute a mid-course correction today at 12:16 PM, 26:44:58 MET.

With the exception of the mid-course correction and regular spacecraft housekeeping tasks, flight day 2 is a quiet one for the crew. There's some excitement scheduled for tomorrow as CDR Neil Armstrong and LMP Buzz Aldrin board Eagle in flight for the first time to make sure that all is well with their lander.

At about noon today and just before the mid-course correction maneuver, 26:27:00 MET, the Mission Control PAO reported that Apollo 11 was 108,594 nautical miles from earth with a velocity of 5,057 feet per second.

Crew quote of the day:

Houston, Apollo 11...I've got the world in my window. -- CMP Michael Collins, approximately 26:07:20 MET.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Apollo+40: Trans-lunar Injection

At 2:40:20, about four minutes before TLI:

CAPCOM: Apollo 11, this is Houston. We just got telemetry back down on your booster, and it is looking good.

CDR: Roger, Everything looks good here.

A few minutes later:

PAO: This is Apollo Control. We are about two mintues from ignition now. We are showing present altitude of about 108 nautical miles. We expect to be in an altitude of 177 nautical miles at cutoff. The present velocity is 25,560 feet per second. We are one minute from ignition.

At 2:44:16, the S-IVB single J-2 engine lit on schedule.

2:45:14 (CAPCOM) - Apollo 11, this is Houston at 1 minute. Trajectory and guidance look good, and the stage is good.

2:46:26 (CAPCOM) - Apollo 11, this is Houston. Thrust is good. Everything is still looking good.

2:47:54 (CAPCOM) - Apollo 11, this is Houston. Around 3-1/2 minutes. You're still looking good. Your predicted cut-off is right on the nominal.

2:48:04 (CDR) - Roger. Apollo 11 is GO.

2:49:18 (CAPCOM) - Apollo 11, this is Houston. You are GO at 5 minutes.

2:49:22 (CDR) - Roger. We're GO.

The TLI burn completed succesfully! Apollo 11 is on their way to the moon!

At 2:53:03, Commander Neil Armstrong commented on their Saturn V's performance:

CDR: Hey, Houston, Apollo 11. That Saturn gave us a magnificant ride.

CAPCOM: Roger, 11. We'll pass that on. And, it certainly looks like you are well on your way now.

Apollo+40: GO for TLI

All of Apollo 11's earth orbit checkouts look good. At 2:26:30 MET, Mission Control radioed the following good news:

Apollo 11, this is Houston. You are GO for TLI. Over.

TLI - Trans-lunar injection - the burn of the Saturn V S-IVB third-stage engine to send the mission on its way to the moon.

TLI will take place at 2:44:16.

Apollo+40: 11 on orbit

Apollo 11, now about at 1:15:00 MET, is in a safe earth orbit. The crew, working in concert with Mission Control, is checking out their spacecraft and making sure that all is well with systems and guidance in preparation for the next big mission hurdle: trans-lunar injection, or TLI.

The TLI burn of the Saturn V S-IVB third-stage will set Apollo 11 on its course for the moon. TLI is expected to take place at about 12:16 PM EDT today, or at 2:44:00 MET.

Apollo+40: Godspeed, Apollo 11!

Apollo 11 accelerates through the sound barrier on its way to earth orbit.
LIFTOFF! At 9:32 AM, Apollo 11 takes to the skies. A few seconds before liftoff, the five massive F-1 engines of the Saturn V S-IC first stage ignited, generating the 7.6 million pounds of initial thrust necessary to send the two Apollo spacecraft to the moon.

The times that follow are Mission-Elapsed Time (hr:min:sec):

At 00:02:03, Mission Control told the crew that they were GO for staging; in the first two and a half minutes of flight, the S-IC stage consumed about 2,000,000 liters of propellants. At staging, Apollo 11 was 30 nautical miles high, and had travelled 35 nautical miles downrange.

Staging - the five J-2 engines of the S-II second stage are now driving Apollo 11 higher and faster.

At 00:04:00, Apollo 11 is still GO - 72 nautical miles high, 190 nautical miles downrange, velocity 11,000 feet per second.

5 minutes...GO! 6 minutes...GO! 7 minutes...GO! 8 minutes...GO! 9 minutes, second-to-third staging...GO! 10 minutes...GO!

Apollo 11 is 101 nautical miles up, 1,000 nautical miles downrange, velocity 23,128 feet per second.

At 00:11:42, the single engine of the S-IVB third stage shuts down, and Apollo 11 is in a safe earth orbit of 101.4 by 103.6 nautical miles, velocity 25,568 feet per second!

So far, so good!

Apollo+40: T-00:06:00

From the Apollo 11 PAO Transcript:

This is Apollo-Saturn launch control. We've passed the 6 minute mark in our countdown for Apollo 11. Now 5 minutes, 52 seconds and counting. We're on time at the present time for our planned lift off of 32 minutes past the hour. Spacecraft test conductor, Skip Chauvin now has completed the status check of his personnel in the control room. Ail report they are GO for the mission, and this has been reported to the test supervisor, Bill Schick. The test supervisor now going through some status checks. Launch operations manager, Paul Donnelly, reports GO for launch. Launch director Rocco Petrone, gives a GO. We're 5 minutes, 20 seconds and counting.

Apollo+40: T-00:30:00

From the Apollo 11 PAO Transcript:

This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control. We've Just passed the 31 minute mark in our count. At T minus 30 minutes 52 seconds and counting, aiming toward our planned liftoff time of 32 minutes past the hour, the start of launch window on this the mission to land men on the Moon. The countdown still proceeding very satisfactorily at this time. We've got by an important test with the launch vehicle checking out the various batteries in the 3 stages and instrument unit of the Saturn V. We remain on external power through most of the count to preserve those batteries which must be used during the powered flight. We've Just taken a look at them by going internal and then switching back to external again. The batteries all look good. The next time we go internal will be at the 50 second mark with those batteries and they will remain, of course, on internal power during the flight. The lunar module, which has been rather inactive during these latter phases of the count also is going on internal power at this time on the 2 batteries on the ascent stage and the 4 batteries on the descent stage. For the next 20 minutes we will take a look at some systems in the lunar module and then power down at about the 10 minute mark in the count, power down the telemetry to preserve the power of the LM. The lunar module on Apollo 11, of course, when it separates from the command module in lunar orbit, will have the call sign Eagle. The command module call sign, once the 2 vehicles separate, will be Columbia. Both Columbia and Eagle are GO at this time at 29 minutes 24 seconds and counting. This is Kennedy Launch Control.

Apollo+40: Apollo 11 Countdown Progressing

From the Apollo 11 PAO Transcript:

This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control. 'We have Just passed the 56-minute mark in our
countdown. We are still proceeding in an excellent manner at this time. All elements reporting in that all systems continuing to look good at this point. We are still aiming toward our planned liftoff at the start of the lunar window 9:32 AM eastern daylight. A short while ago, in fact the spacecraft test conductor - we are doing quite well, in fact some 15 minutes ahead on some aspectsof the preparation spacecraftwise. Armstrong replied that was fine so long as we don't launch 15 minutes early. I guess they ars referring to the start of the window. The countdown is still going well, T minus 55 minutes, 10 seconds in counting, this is Kennedy Launch Control.

Apollo+40: Apollo 11 Ready for Launch

Commander Neil Armstrong leads Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin to the transfer van on their way to Launch Complex 39, Pad A for the flight of Apollo 11 (Image: NASA)

Deke Slayton, NASA's Director of Flight Crew Operations woke the Apollo 11 crewmembers just after 4:00AM. After brief physical examinations, Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins sat down for the traditional pre-flight astronaut breakfast of steak and eggs. After suiting up and beginning to breathe the 100 percent oxygen atmosphere they'd be using in flight, the crew departed for the launch pad amidst the cheers and well wishes of NASA.

The countdown is proceeding well; a few minor glitches have been resolved, but otherwise all is well with Saturn V booster #506, Command/Service Module #107, and Lunar Module #5.

Apollo 11 is targeted for launch at the beginning of the window at 9:32 AM Eastern Daylight Time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Apollo+40: Go Apollo 11!

Apollo 7 - October 11-22, 1968 - Commander (CDR) Wally Schirra, Command Module Pilot (CMP) Donn Eisele, and Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) Walt Cunningham made the first flight of the Apollo Command & Service Modules (CSM) in earth orbit.
Apollo 8 - December 21-27, 1968 - CDR Frank Borman, CMP Jim Lovell, and LMP Bill Anders made man's first flight away from the confines of earth orbit; nobody will ever forget their Christmas Eve broadcast from lunar orbit.
Apollo 9 - March 3-13, 1969 - CDR Jim McDivitt, CMP Dave Scott, and LMP Rusty Schweickart completed the first critical flight test of the Lunar Module, callsign Spider, in earth orbit.
Apollo 10 - May 18-26, 1969 - CDR Tom Stafford, CMP John Young, and LMP Gene Cernan returned America to lunar orbit and completed the dress rehearsal for a lunar landing - descending to about 50,000 feet above the surface in LM Snoopy as CSM Charlie Brown remained in lunar orbit.
After these successes the next flight, Apollo 11, was given clearance to attempt the first lunar landing. Launch was targeted for July 16, 1969.
The Apollo 11 crew is:

CDR Neil Armstrong
CMP Michael Collins
LMP Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin

Their Finest Hour will be honoring the flight of Apollo 11 (and this time, I mean it! ;-) ). My blog postings will typically be as if the events were happening in the present.

In his wonderful memoir Carrying the Fire, Apollo 11 CMP Michael Collins listed eleven key mission points on which the success or failure of the flight would hinge (pp. 339-341):
1. Launch Obviously a hazardous time, with gigantic engines, explosive fuels, high temperatures and velocities, terrific wind blasts, and stringent guidance requirements combining to make a very tense eleven minutes from lift-off to earth orbit.

2. TLI Translunar injection, wherein the third-stage Saturn engine was reignited, causing us to depart the relatively stable situation of being in earth orbit and begin a trajectory that would hopefully just miss the moon three days later. If the engine stopped prematurely, we had some complicated scrambling to do to make it back to earth at all.

3. T&D Transposition and docking, the process of separating the CSM, turning it around 180 degrees, docking with the LM, and pulling it free from the carcass of the Saturn. I also include here clearing the [docking] probe and drogue from the interconnecting tunnel.

4. LOI Lunar orbit insertion, a two-burn procedure for slowing down enough to be captured by the moon's gravatational field, but not enough to crash into it. If the engine shut down prematurely during the first burn (the more important of the two), some really weird trajectories could result, and the LM's engine might have to be quickly pressed into service to return us to earth.

5. DOI/PDI Descent orbit insertion and powered descent initiation were two LM burns which caused Neil and Buzz to depart my comfortable sixty-mile orbit and intersect the surface of the moon at the right spot. If not precisely performed, the LM would come down in the wrong place or - more likely - couldn't land at all, in which case some really zany rendezvous sequences could ensue.

6. Landing Could be very dangerous; we simply didn't know. Fuel was short, therefore timing was critical. Also, the properties of the lunar surface in that one spot might be poor. Worse yet, visibility and depth-perception problems could cause a crash instead of a landing. Thus it has been since the days of the Wright brothers.

7. EVA [Extra-vehicular Activity] Walking on the moon might be physically taxing and overload the oxygen or cooling systems. There might be potholes, or even underground lava tubes which would cause the surface to collapse. Even more basic, any EVA puts man just one thin, glued-together, rubber membrane away from near-instant death.

8. Lift-off Only one engine, and it had better work properly - that is, provide enough thrust and provide it in exactly the right direction. If not, at best the LM would limp up into an orbit from which I might be able to rescue it; at worst, Neil and Buzz would be permanent decorations among the rocks in the Sea of Tranquility.

9. Rendezvous A piece of cake, if...a horror, if...which if would prevail? I would have my book with its eighteen variations on the theme tied to my neck, literally, as I waited in the CM to find out. Then, hopefully, docking and tunnel clearing again.

10. TEI Transearth injection; we burn our one engine, which could get us home or leave us forever stranded in lunar orbit. No back-up this time, as the LM would be empty and gone at this point.

11. Entry Diving into the earth's atmosphere at precisely the right angle was required for a successful splash, not to mention the flawless on-time performance of the parachute system and related claptrap. I would fly the entry phase, because, of course, I had to learn how to do it all in case I came back from the moon without Neil and Buzz.
The adventure is about to start!
Sources for my tribute are primarily NASA, and I'll provide links/references where possible. Some in advance:

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Rest in Peace, Karl Malden

I heard on the radio a little while ago that we've lost one of the true greats of Hollywood, Karl Malden. His career spanned decades, won him an Oscar, and produced many memorable performances.

My favorite of his is the famous "Sermon on the Docks" from On the Waterfront. Mr. Malden's talent is truly on display, and on top of being a wonderful moment in film, it is a true Christian message. Enjoy!

Karl Malden was 97 years old. Thanks for the memories, and rest in peace.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Our Most Precious Resource

Today in my music rotation, the song "Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride came up. It's about child abuse and the silent, innocent victims of violence primarily at the hands of those who should be their ultimate protectors: their parents.

I'm a parent, and I would do anything to protect the lives and health of my two wonderful children.

Thank you, Martina.

Please visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and ChildHelp - and consider donating to these worthy causes.

Our children are our future, and they must be defended.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Liberal Sees the Light!

Heard about this piece from American Thinker this morning on Jim Quinn's program entitled: Why Do Liberals Bleed? It's dead on.

The money quotes are in the writer's conclusion:

As a good, loyal liberal, I always expected others to take care of me. If I gave my unqualified loyalty to the system, I could sleep well at night. But now, with victims left bleeding, a dangerously naive government, and sheep like masses, I see the absurdity of my thinking.

I heard a philosopher once say that one of the biggest existential tasks of life is giving up the fantasy of the ultimate rescuer. Liberalism reinforced this fantasy for me, as it does for so many others. Now I see the truth: We come into this world alone, and we will leave it alone. When we live our lives in the back seat of the car expecting Daddy to drive us, we only have a child's view of the world.

On that very dark day in November years ago when I became an object of someone's evil and inhumanity, I glimpsed a truth I never wanted to see: that there really is no protection, not in the way I had always thought, not by other flawed humans. I didn't know what to do with this insight until 1 1/2 years ago when I discovered that there were others out there like me, that there was something called conservatism, and now slowly but surely the pieces are coming together for me, one by one.

As I continue on the path to independence and personal responsibility, perhaps looking to myself for protection is another step on my journey.

Welcome home, "Robin of Berkeley", and America is better from your homecoming.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The California Supreme Court Gets One Thing Right

I'm not commenting on Proposition 8, up or down. Here is the one thing the California Supreme Court got right, whatever your feelings on the decision:

From the court's ruling, on page 3:

Regardless of our views as individuals on this question of policy, we recognize as judges and as a court our responsibility to confine our consideration to a determination of the constitutional validity and legal effect of the measure in question. It bears emphasis in this regard that our role is limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values.

In other words, justice - as it should always be - is blind.

A Victory for the Tenth Amendment

I haven't seen the text of the decision yet, but I'm very pleased that the California Supreme Court has decided to follow the will of the voters and not impose their will by judicial fiat.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Apollo+40: Go Apollo 10!

Today at 12:49 EDT, we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the launch of Apollo 10. Follow along as Their Finest Hour honors the dress rehearsal for America's moon landing!

More will follow later, and I promise that I'll be better about posting the history than I was with the flight of Apollo 9.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The effect of abortion on the course of history

...or rather, the effect of not "choosing" on history:

Hat tip: Stand Firm

UPDATE 11:49 - oh, and what if another young mother to be had made a different "choice"?

A rock will work, if that's all you've got...

...but wouldn't it have been better if this woman had been better armed?

Mothers Arms
Second Amendment Sisters

Is the tide turning?

Well, well. I'm sure this Gallup poll result published today that found that 52 percent of Americans consider themselves "pro-life" vs. 42 percent "pro-choice" will be the lead story on MSNBC and CNN today.

Or not. I just did searches against both MSNBC and CNN's web sites for "Gallup abortion" and didn't find any references to the poll result. (And in fairness, it doesn't look like Fox News has picked up on it yet either.)

Gallup's "Bottom Line" on the poll may rank as one of the understatements of the year:

With the first pro-choice president in eight years already making changes to the nation's policies on funding abortion overseas, expressing his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, and moving toward rescinding federal job protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortion procedures, Americans -- and, in particular, Republicans -- seem to be taking a step back from the pro-choice position. However, the retreat is evident among political moderates as well as conservatives.

It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public's understanding of what it means to be "pro-choice" slightly to the left, politically. While Democrats may support that, as they generally support everything Obama is doing as president, it may be driving others in the opposite direction.

No, it has pushed the understanding of "pro-choice" to be what it really is, which is "pro-abortion" - hardly "slightly" to the left. The New Soviet Man is the most virulently pro-abortion politician we have ever seen elected to national office.

Life should never be viewed as a cost to the state, as Mr. Obama has demonstrated by his words and actions. Life is a blessing and an opportunity for greatness and achievement.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"The Obama Card"

New video, courtesy of the Republican National Committee's YouTube Channel:

"I'd like a book on chutzpah, and I want you to pay for it."

This post's title is a caption from a Charles Addams cartoon published many years ago. I was remined of it because today, our President, New Soviet Man Barack Obama, had this to say at a town hall meeting in New Mexico:

May 14 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama, calling current deficit spending “unsustainable,” warned of skyrocketing interest rates for consumers if the U.S. continues to finance government by borrowing from other countries.

“We can’t keep on just borrowing from China,” Obama said at a town-hall meeting in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, outside Albuquerque. “We have to pay interest on that debt, and that means we are mortgaging our children’s future with more and more debt.”

Can you believe this guy? This is the President who has proposed unheard of levels of deficit spending and wants to dump our Nation into more debt than his 43 predecessors in the office - combined, and today, he now thinks it's "unsustainable"?

I continue to be amazed at the absolute gall of this man. Even if he confiscated 100% of the wages earned by Americans as taxes he couldn't finance all of his pipe-dream socialist tyrrany without borrowing more, and more, and more.

If I had the chance to talk to Mr. Obama today, I think I'd simply say: "Hello pot, let me introduce you to kettle."

TFH 5/14: Private First Class James H. Diamond, USA

On May 8, 1945 the world celebrated V-E Day and the end of war in Europe. That day, thousands of brave Americans were still fighting the evil forces of the Japanese Empire across the Pacific. The indomitable heroism of one such American soldier began that day, and six days later on May 14th, he gave his life in service to our Nation.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company D, 21st Infantry, 24th Infantry Division. Place and date: Mintal, Mindanao, Philippine Islands, 8-14 May 1945. Entered service at: Gulfport, Miss. Birth: New Orleans, La. G.O. No.: 23, 6 March 1946. Citation: As a member of the machinegun section, he displayed extreme gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty . When a Japanese sniper rose from his foxhole to throw a grenade into their midst, this valiant soldier charged and killed the enemy with a burst from his submachine gun; then, by delivering sustained fire from his personal arm and simultaneously directing the fire of 105mm. and .50 caliber weapons upon the enemy pillboxes immobilizing this and another machinegun section, he enabled them to put their guns into action. When 2 infantry companies established a bridgehead, he voluntarily assisted in evacuating the wounded under heavy fire; and then, securing an abandoned vehicle, transported casualties to the rear through mortar and artillery fire so intense as to render the vehicle inoperative and despite the fact he was suffering from a painful wound. The following day he again volunteered, this time for the hazardous job of repairing a bridge under heavy enemy fire. On 14 May 1945, when leading a patrol to evacuate casualties from his battalion, which was cut off, he ran through a virtual hail of Japanese fire to secure an abandoned machine gun. Though mortally wounded as he reached the gun, he succeeded in drawing sufficient fire upon himself so that the remaining members of the patrol could reach safety. Pfc. Diamond's indomitable spirit, constant disregard of danger, and eagerness to assist his comrades, will ever remain a symbol of selflessness and heroic sacrifice to those for whom he gave his life.

James Diamond, thank you for your courage and sacrifice. Freedom-loving people across our Nation and the world are forever in your debt. May 14, 1945 was your finest hour!

People Don't Starve Because of the United States

Yesterday, I heard Jim Quinn refer to an event that the school district (Pine-Richland) in which I reside held about two weeks ago on Friday, May 1. The event was sponsored by and raised money for Oxfam America and had the purpose of "raising awareness" of world hunger. The event was publicized in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on April 30 and was described as follows:
More than 100 participants will attend the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet at
Eden Hall Upper Elementary School, 3900 Bakerstown Road in Pine to experience a meal as a low, middle income or upper income global citizen. This event is one
of the thousands taking place across the country.

This is typical liberal symbolism over substance, but don't worry, the coverage gets worse. Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has published a summary of the event:

On a recent Friday night, Pine-Richland senior Cassie Muzzonigro enjoyed a
sumptuous dinner at Eden Hall Upper Elementary School, where servers waited on her hand and foot.

Superintendent James Manley spent the evening on the cafeteria's cold tile floor eating rice with his fingers...

Sophomore Samantha Shipeck, who sat on the floor with her poverty-stricken
peers, said the experience was eye-opening. She played a Vietnamese farmer
surviving on loans from local money lenders who charged 30 to 40 percent
interest a month.

"It's not living another person's life, but getting a glimpse at what it's like," she said. "Even if I don't get into international relations or see any of these different countries, it's important to be aware of what's going on in the world."

The event was organized by high school students in Matt Roberts' Asian studies class. Senior Emily Sisk introduced her teacher to Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization founded in 1970 that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and injustice.

Last summer, while attending a program sponsored by Americans for Informed
Democracy, Sisk participated in a hunger banquet. "I wanted to recreate it in this area because I know there are a lot of students who are politically active," she said. "I wanted to show them that they should go out and do things because it is possible to pull things off like this, to get an event together if you really try."

Raising awareness? No, the purpose of this event is to make us feel guilty for our prosperity.

Now, let's examine some facts:

First, some foundational information on population:
Estimated US Population, February 2009: 306 million
Estimated World Population, 2008: 6,707 million (6.707 billion)
Total non-US Estimated Population: 6,401,000,000

The United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service has published summary statistics for the United States' agricultural trade. The statistics for calendar year 2008 paint a very interesting picture:

United States Food Exports: $115,437,000,000
United States Food Imports: $80,465,000.000
United States Net Food Exports: $34,972,000,000

So you don't have to do the math yourself, our net food exports are $114 per every person in the United States, and $5 per every non-US person in the world. Now, I know what you're going to say: "We're the richest country, and we're only exporting $5 per person of food to the rest of the world? That's a disgrace."

Well, let's look at the issue from the perspective of quantity, not cost.

I used the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service's statistical query engine to find out how much the United States exported of four key staple agricultural products to the rest of the world during calendar year 2008: corn, wheat, soybeans, and rice. This is what I found:

US exports of corn: 51,897,526 tonnes = 114,414,459,845 pounds
US exports of rice: 3,588,160 tonnes = 7,910,538,707 pounds
US exports of soybeans: 32,162,159 tonnes = 70,905,423,304 pounds
US exports of wheat: 29,099,778 tonnes = 64,154,028,874 pounds

Total US exports for those four: 116,747,623 tonnes = 257,384,450,731 pounds.

Two-hundred and fifty-seven billion, three-hundred and eighty-four million, four-hundred and fifty thousand, seven-hundred and thirty-one pounds of just four agricultural products were exported by the United States in 2008.

By the way, that works out to 841 pounds of exports for every man, woman, and child in the United States, and 40 pounds of exports for every man, woman, and child in the rest of the world. And again, that's just for corn, rice, soybeans, and wheat.

The United States already feeds the world. There are not starving people in the world because of our largesse, or wastefulness, or selfishness, or consumption. There are starving people in the world because many are enslaved in poverty by the tyrannical governments that rule over them. There are starving people in the world because starving, not to mention unarmed, populations can not rise up and challenge the power of the tyrants.

Perhaps our schools should be teaching our children how many more would be starving if it was not for the greatness of the United States, you think?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

TFH 5/13: Major Kern W. Dunagan, USA

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War:


Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army, Company A, 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry, Americal Division. Place and date: Quang Tin Province, Republic of Vietnam, 13 May 1969. Entered service at: Los Angeles, Calif. Born: 20 February 1934, Superior, Ariz. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Maj. (then Capt.) Dunagan distinguished himself during the period May 13 and 14, 1969, while serving as commanding officer, Company A. On May 13, 1969, Maj. Dunagan was leading an attack to relieve pressure on the battalion's forward support base when his company came under intense fire from a well-entrenched enemy battalion. Despite continuous hostile fire from a numerically superior force, Maj. Dunagan repeatedly and fearlessly exposed himself in order to locate enemy positions, direct friendly supporting artillery, and position the men of his company. In the early evening, while directing an element of his unit into perimeter guard, he was seriously wounded during an enemy mortar attack, but he refused to leave the battlefield and continued to supervise the evacuation of dead and wounded and to lead his command in the difficult task of disengaging from an aggressive enemy. In spite of painful wounds and extreme fatigue, Maj. Dunagan risked heavy fire on 2 occasions to rescue critically wounded men. He was again seriously wounded. Undaunted, he continued to display outstanding courage, professional competence, and leadership and successfully extricated his command from its untenable position on the evening of May 14. Having maneuvered his command into contact with an adjacent friendly unit, he learned that a 6-man party from his company was under fire and had not reached the new perimeter. Maj. Dunagan unhesitatingly went back and searched for his men. Finding 1 soldier critically wounded, Maj. Dunagan, ignoring his wounds, lifted the man to his shoulders and carried him to the comparative safety of the friendly perimeter. Before permitting himself to be evacuated, he insured all of his wounded received emergency treatment and were removed from the area. Throughout the engagement, Maj. Dunagan's actions gave great inspiration to his men and were directly responsible for saving the lives of many of his fellow soldiers. Maj. Dunagan's extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty, are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Kern Dunagan attained the rank of Colonel before leaving the Army. He survived the Vietnam War and passed away at an all too young 57 years in 1991. He rests in peace in San Francisco National Cemetery. (Wikipedia)

Colonel Dunagan, I honor your sacrifice, service, and courage. All Americans are forever in your debt. May 13, 1969 was your finest hour!

The Lawless President

This column from today's The Wall Street Journal, "Chrysler and the Rule of Law" by Todd J. Zywicki, is an alarming summary of the complete disregard for our Constitution and the laws enacted under it by our President, New Soviet Man Barack Obama.

Professor Zywicki sets the stage:
Fleecing lenders to pay off politically powerful interests, or governmental
threats to reputation and business from a failure to toe a political line? We
might expect this behavior from a Hugo Chavez. But it would never happen here,

Until Chrysler.

A recitation of the facts surrounding President Obama's strong-arm of the Chrysler bankruptcy and the relevant Constitutional and legal provisions follows. He succintly points out that Chrysler's secured creditors are being shafted in favor of the United Auto Workers - not conicidentally one of Mr. Obama's favored constituency groups. He continues:

By stepping over the bright line beween the rule of law and the arbitrary
behavior of men, President Obama may have created a thousand new failing
businesses. That is, businesses thay might have received financing before but
that now will not, since lenders face the potential of future government
confiscation. In other words, Mr. Obama may have helped save the jobs of
thousands of union workers whose dues, in part, engineered his election. But
what about the untold number of job losses in the future caused by trampling the
sanctity of contracts today?

The value of the rule of law is not merely a matter of economic efficiency.
It also provides a bulwark against arbitrary governmental action taken at the
behest of politically influential interests at the expense of the politically

And what if the next time it is a politically unpopular business...that's on
the brink? Might the government force it to surrender a patent to get the White
House's agreement to get financing for the bankruptcy plan?

A dire, dangerous question indeed. In fact, it echoes of Ayn Rand's "Directive 10-289".

At this time, I'd like to call Mr. Obama's attention to the text of Article II, Section 3 of the United States Constitution:

"He shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."

I made the assertion around Election Day that if - and as it has turned out to be - when Barack Obama took the Oath of Office, the entire statement would be a lie.

Sadly, tragically, I was right.

Pray for our Nation.

(Hat tip: Drudge)

Congratulations Atlantis!

(Image: NASA)
The crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis has successfully rendezvoused with, captured, and berthed the Hubble Space Telescope! The first of five space walks to service the observatory takes place tomorrow.
Great job to all!

The real lesson of Carrie Prejean

In her own words, Miss California USA on the First Amendment and what our forefathers sacrificed to protect:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TFH 5/12: Second Lieutenant Charles W. Shea, USA

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:


Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company F, 350th Infantry. 88th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Mount Damiano, Italy, 12 May 1944. Entered service at: New York, N.Y. Birth: New York, NY. G.O. No.: 4, 12 January 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, on 12 May 1944, near Mount Damiano, Italy. As 2d Lt. Shea and his company were advancing toward a hill occupied by the enemy, 3 enemy machineguns suddenly opened fire, inflicting heavy casualties upon the company and halting its advance. 2d Lt. Shea immediately moved forward to eliminate these machinegun nests in order to enable his company to continue its attack. The deadly hail of machinegun fire at first pinned him down, but, boldly continuing his advance, 2d Lt. Shea crept up to the first nest. Throwing several hand grenades, he forced the 4 enemy soldiers manning this position to surrender, and disarming them, he sent them to the rear. He then crawled to the second machinegun position, and after a short fire fight forced 2 more German soldiers to surrender. At this time, the third machinegun fired at him, and while deadly small arms fire pitted the earth around him, 2d Lt. Shea crawled toward the nest. Suddenly he stood up and rushed the emplacement and with well-directed fire from his rifle, he killed all 3 of the enemy machine gunners. 2d Lt. Shea's display of personal valor was an inspiration to the officers and men of his company.

Charles Shea survived World War II and continued in the service of our Nation in the Army, eventually rising to the rank of Colonel. He passed away at age 72 in 1994 and now rests in peace at the Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, NY. (Wikipedia)

Colonel Shea, thank you for your indomitable courage and gallant service to our Nation and the cause of Freedom. May 12, 1944 was your finest hour!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Godspeed STS-125!

Image: NASA

Space Shuttle Atlantis, carrying a crew of seven, has succesfully attained orbit after launch this afternoon from Kennedy Space Center! Commander Scott Altman and his six crewmates are in pursuit of the Hubble Space Telescope for its fifth and final on-orbit service.

TFH 5/13: Captain Seymour W. Terry, USA

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:


Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army, Company B, 382d Infantry, 96th Infantry Division. Place and date: Zebra Hill, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, 11 May 1945. Entered service at: Little Rock, Ark. Birth: Little Rock, Ark. G.O. No.: 23, 6 March 1946. Citation: 1st Lt. Terry was leading an attack against heavily defended Zebra Hill when devastating fire from 5 pillboxes halted the advance. He braved the hail of bullets to secure satchel charges and white phosphorus grenades, and then ran 30 yards directly at the enemy with an ignited charge to the first stronghold, demolished it, and moved on to the other pillboxes, bombarding them with his grenades and calmly cutting down their defenders with rifle fire as they attempted to escape. When he had finished this job by sealing the 4 pillboxes with explosives, he had killed 20 Japanese and destroyed 3 machineguns. The advance was again held up by an intense grenade barrage which inflicted several casualties. Locating the source of enemy fire in trenches on the reverse slope of the hill, 1st Lt. Terry, burdened by 6 satchel charges launched a l-man assault. He wrecked the enemy's defenses by throwing explosives into their positions and himself accounted for 10 of the 20 hostile troops killed when his men overran the area. Pressing forward again toward a nearby ridge, his 2 assault platoons were stopped by slashing machinegun and mortar fire. He fearlessly ran across 100 yards of fire-swept terrain to join the support platoon and urge it on in a flanking maneuver. This thrust, too, was halted by stubborn resistance. 1st Lt. Terry began another 1 -man drive, hurling grenades upon the strongly entrenched defenders until they fled in confusion, leaving 5 dead behind them. Inspired by this bold action, the support platoon charged the retreating enemy and annihilated them. Soon afterward, while organizing his company to repulse a possible counterattack, the gallant company commander was mortally wounded by the burst of an enemy mortar shell. By his indomitable fighting spirit, brilliant leadership, and unwavering courage in the face of tremendous odds, 1st Lt. Terry made possible the accomplishment of his unit's mission and set an example of heroism in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.

Seymour Terry received a battlefield promotion to Captain. He was gravely injured by a mortar attack later on May 11, and died of his wounds two days after his Medal of Honor heroics on May 13, 1945. He was 26 years old and today rests in peace in his home town of Little Rock, Arkansas. (Wikipedia)

May 11, 1945 was Seymour Terry's finest hour! We are all eternally grateful for his courage, sacrifice, and service to our Nation and the cause of Freedom.

Friday, May 08, 2009

TFH 5/8: Lieutenant Junior Grade William E. Hall, USNR

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:


Rank and organization: Lieutenant, Junior Grade, U.S. Naval Reserve. Place and date: Coral Sea, 7 and 8 May 1942. Entered service at: Utah. Born: 31 October 1913, Storrs, Utah. Citation: For extreme courage and conspicuous heroism in combat above and beyond the call of duty as pilot of a scouting plane in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Coral Sea on 7 and 8 May 1942. In a resolute and determined attack on 7 May, Lt. (j.g.) Hall dived his plane at an enemy Japanese aircraft carrier, contributing materially to the destruction of that vessel. On 8 May, facing heavy and fierce fighter opposition, he again displayed extraordinary skill as an airman and the aggressive spirit of a fighter in repeated and effectively executed counterattacks against a superior number of enemy planes in which 3 enemy aircraft were destroyed. Though seriously wounded in this engagement, Lt. (j.g.) Hall, maintaining the fearless and indomitable tactics pursued throughout these actions, succeeded in landing his plane safe.

William Hall survived World War II, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He passed away at age 83 in 1996 and rests in peace at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery. (Wikipedia)

We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his sacrifices, service, and courage in the face of the enemies of our Nation and of freedom itself. May 8, 1942 was his finest hour!

Economic Growth Stupidity

According to this article (Breitbart, via Drudge), the European Union economic brain trust is considering limiting the work week, i.e. reducing the hours that existing employees work so unemployed folks can be hired to fill the gaps.

This is the absolute height of lunacy and denial of basic economic prinicples. Here's what will happen:

1) They cut back on the hours productive people work, thereby reducing the wages they earn and the money they have to spend.

2) The productive people therefore spend less and reduce their consumption.

3) The businesses where the productive were spending now have reduced revenue and will have to either raise prices or reduce costs. What's the easiest way for them to reduce costs? Reduce manpower.

4) The value of the money that people have to spend is now even less still because prices are higher.

5) All in all, this will lead to more unemployment, not less.

What should they do?

1) Reduce taxes.
2) Remove regulation.
3) Let the free market stretch its legs and grow.

The economic masters of the European Union need to read up on the "broken window fallacy".

In the mean time, "John Galt, please call your office."

Witnesses to the failures of socialized medicine

Check it out at "Faces of Government Healthcare".

Thursday, May 07, 2009

TFH 5/7: PFC Kenneth Michael Kays, USA

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War:


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. place and date: Thua Thien province, Republic of Vietnam, 7 May 1970. Entered service at: Fairfield, Ill. Born: 22 September 1949, Mount Vernon, Ill. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. (then Pvt.) Kays distinguished himself while serving as a medical aidman with Company D, 1st Battalion, 101st Airborne Division near Fire Support Base Maureen. A heavily armed force of enemy sappers and infantrymen assaulted Company D's night defensive position, wounding and killing a number of its members. Disregarding the intense enemy fire and ground assault, Pfc. Kays began moving toward the perimeter to assist his fallen comrades. In doing so he became the target of concentrated enemy fire and explosive charges, 1 of which severed the lower portion of his left leg. After applying a tourniquet to his leg, Pfc. Kays moved to the fire-swept perimeter, administered medical aid to 1 of the wounded, and helped move him to an area of relative safety. Despite his severe wound and excruciating pain, Pfc. Kays returned to the perimeter in search of other wounded men. He treated another wounded comrade, and, using his own body as a shield against enemy bullets and fragments, moved him to safety. Although weakened from a great loss of blood, Pfc. Kays resumed his heroic lifesaving efforts by moving beyond the company's perimeter into enemy held territory to treat a wounded American lying there. Only after his fellow wounded soldiers had been treated and evacuated did Pfc. Kays allow his own wounds to be treated. These courageous acts by Pfc. Kays resulted in the saving of numerous lives and inspired others in his company to repel the enemy. Pfc. Kays' heroism at the risk of his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

This great American died in November, 1991 at an all too young 42 years. Kenneth Kays, thank you for your courage, service, and sacrifices. May 7, 1970 was your finest hour.

Prediction: Arlen Specter will not be the Democratic candidate in 2010

We're starting to learn more about the background machinations behind Benedict Arlen's party flop. It is real interesting how quickly the Left is throwing him under a bus rather than a bone, now that they've got him.

Who's going to stick their neck out to elect Arlen Specter as a Democrat? Harry Reid? "Chuck You" Schumer? Specter believes only in Specter and political expediency, not in "the cause".

Once the New Soviet Man or his handlers determine who the good, solid, Pennsylvania Marxist is for our 2nd Senate seat, Specter will be dumped by the wayside.