Why ICANN is important. Another Fort Hood incident. Tetrad of Lunar Eclipses. Will the International Space Station become flotsam?

View 818 Wednesday, April 02, 2014


“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983

If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan. Period.

Barrack Obama, famously.


“the only thing that can save us is if Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us alone.”

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon


Get Ready for the Internet Robber Barons

If the United Nations ends up in charge, it would have a chokehold on the global economy.


Karl Borden

The world may see history repeat itself with the Internet, and the unintended consequences are likely to be profound. The United Nations has long craved the power to tax, and the Obama administration’s decision to give up U.S. oversight of the domain-name system and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, may end up giving the U.N. that power.


There is considerably more, but the mere thought of UN Bureaucrats, responsible to no one, having control over Internet domain names and able to levy fees on their control and use should strike terror into every heart except a UN employee. And this is not an April 1 story…


‘To make matters worse, some suggest Israel gave this information to Moscow in exchange for Russia allowing Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel.’



Roland Dobbins

More excerpts:

And indeed one of the major reasons being given for why Pollard should not be released is it would send the wrong message to Snowden and other intelligence officers contemplating discussing classified information in the future. This in itself should be a strong enough reason for not granting Pollard clemency.

Still, it is hardly the only reason why President Obama should not release Pollard, as Secretary of State John Kerry is reportedly urging him to do. Another closely related reason is that it would be a slap in the face to the overwhelming majority of U.S. intelligence officers and other national security officials who are not contemplating leaking classified information. These individuals work tirelessly to protect the United States and Edward Snowden’s treason has already been highly demoralizing to honest national security professionals in the United States. To pardon Pollard so soon after Snowden’s case surfaced would be the ultimate insult to these individuals.



The more you know about the Yellowstone Caldera and ash pits, the more frightening the place becomes; but I suspect that animals  are fleeing poachers and wolves rather than have some extra sensory perception of  oncoming eruptions.


Dr. Pournelle,

There was a counterpoint opinion about the effect of changing responsibility for ICANN given by a founding internet engineer, Vint Cerf, in a Leo LaPorte interview today on TWiT.tv. There is no link up on their site yet, but the interview was a special report and very well done. What I got from the interview is that ICANN is operated with limited powers as a trust, and is seeking proposals for opening that up to another, potentially foreign operator but with the same constraints. It would seem that some of the dire predictions sent to you may be a little on the alarmist side, at least from Mr. Cerf’s perspective.


I am not familiar with that TWIT, but my concern is that once this is in the hands of the UN, who has control over what it will attempt to do?  A dollar a year per domain registry is not unreasonable, and who can keep them from imposing it?  The system we have works; but why would the UN operate it the way we do?  Bureaucracies are like that.  See the Iron Law.



Another shooting incident at Fort Hood. The Army is unable to protect itself: if you want to murder people, you need access to a military base or a school; on either case you will be assured that someone will have disarmed anyone able to protect himself or comrades, so you may proceed as you will.  Just as it is generally safe to rob landing passengers from aircraft. This is to assure the safety of the disarmed troopers. One might have thought that this approach would have been questioned after the Mad Muslim Psychiatrist opened fire on his unarmed comrades five years ago.

2300: the incident is officially over. A combat veteran suffering from what used to be called shell shock got into a dispute and began shooting. Three or four are dead, and many more wounded. Once again an armed man was able to kill a number of trained soldiers because they were disarmed and he knew they had been disarmed.  There needs to be a better way to run military posts.

Given that the Mad Major was allowed to do psychiatric counseling of combat veterans and those being deployed for the first time, even though he had spoken of jihad in medical seminars and had given plenty of warning that he had loose screws, it is hard to imagine the psychiatric environment at Fort Hood where this trooper was being treated for PTSD, which we hardly understand any better than we understood shell shock. Everyone was afraid of offending the Mad Muslim Traitor Psychiatrist, and of course offending him would have been a great disaster.  It would have been politically incorrect.  Instead we had a “workplace incident”, in which a jihadist tried to save his Afghani co-religionists by killing American GI’s being sent to enforce the edicts of the Mayor of Kabul. It was not an act of combat by a traitor, but merely a “workplace incident”, yet we will execute him for it (not by firing squad or hanging, apparently. He doesn’t get to dance Danny Deever.  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176154



I sometimes manage to miss important mail due to other distractions.  I generally try to get back to everything.  This one is topical:



A Tetrad of Lunar Eclipses

A total lunar eclipse on April 15th marks the beginning of a remarkable

series of eclipses, all visible from North America.

VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gzgSuJM5O8

The lecture also does a good job of explaining eclipses; it ought to be shown in every school at some point.  And on April 15 you can see a total Lunar eclipse if you like.

Hi, Jerry. The upcoming lunar eclipse is on April 15, yes, but only because NASA runs on GMT. For those of us WATCHING the eclipse, it’ll be late in the evening of April 14. When you get up on April 15, it’ll be long over.


Ken Mitchell

Ho. I didn’t pay close enough attention I guess.   So it is about 11 PM PDT in California on the 14th that we need to start watching?


Hi, Jerry. You write: “Ho. I didn’t pay close enough attention I guess. So it is about 11 PM PDT in California on the 14th that we need to start watching?”

Yup; the U1 time, the beginning of the total phase of the eclipse, is at 05:58 GMT on the 15th, so 22:58 on the 14th, for those of us in the Pacific time zone. The sub-point of the Moon will be directly south of California; if we were on Standard time instead of DST, the total eclipse would begin 90 seconds before midnight.



Ken Mitchell


And by coincidence, I got this today.

The Planetary Society <http://support.planetary.org/site/R?i=QVLy4DoYB6sUXQb6sgkR6g>

Dear J.,

In the 42 years since the last Apollo mission, humans have not flown beyond low Earth orbit. The capability to go back to or even beyond the Moon does not yet exist. President Obama adopted the flexible path proposed by the 2009 (Augustine) Committee to Review U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans by proposing NASA plan a series of steps into the Solar System – reaching a near-Earth asteroid by 2025, the vicinity of Mars in the 2030s and landing on Mars in the early 2040s.

Even the first step in that plan is beyond the capabilities of current space systems unless the near-Earth asteroid is redirected from its natural orbit to one closer to Earth, around the Moon. The robotic Asteroid Redirection Mission (ARM) is a new idea now proposed by NASA to enable human space flight to go beyond the Moon and start on the path to Mars. The proposal has generated both enthusiasm and skepticism – some question its cost, some think it is a detour on the way to Mars or back to the Moon, while some see it as the only practical way to revitalize NASA and get human space exploration started again.

Join a panel of three renowned astronauts as they discuss the future of human spaceflight:

* Tom Jones – Scientist, Author, Pilot and Space Shuttle Astronaut

* Garrett Reisman – DragonRider Program Manager, SpaceX and Space Shuttle Astronaut

* Rusty Schweickart – Chairman Emeritus, B612 Foundation and Apollo Astronaut

Moderator: Louis Friedman – Executive Director, Emeritus – The Planetary Society

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

8:00 pm to 9:30 pm

Beckman Auditorium – Caltech

This event will be broadcast at http://ustream.tv/caltech <http://support.planetary.org/site/R?i=yRUoZ_bgbNnBy3m3ad8XUA> .

No registration is required for this free event and parking after 6pm near the auditorium is free as well. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis.

Directions, parking and additional information may be found at http://www.kiss.caltech.edu/index.html <http://support.planetary.org/site/R?i=dXYebJ4wL8e_OMxtKk8zzA> .

This event is sponsored by the Keck Institute for Space Studies and The Planetary Society.

Hope to see you there!




The Planetary Society

85 South Grand,

Pasadena, CA 91105

Planetary.org <http://support.planetary.org/site/R?i=BGfAR4NehA8K2aqGj0K3EQ>


Although I pay dues, I don’t interact much with the planetary society. My last experiences with them was Carl Sagan arguing for more robotic exploration and abandoning manned space exploration. Making the universe safe for robots.  Larry Niven told Saga “Carl, I hope you realize that every time you get a convert , you lose support for space exploration. People don’t hold ticker tape parades for robots.”  I continued to support going back to the Moon. To Stay.

(Actually that was hardly my last contact with them, and I do tend to support the Planetary Society since we need probes to study asteroids and planets until we can learn how to get people living up there; at the moment I really can’t guarantee to keep humans alive on a trip to Mars. Space is a dangerous place. The way to learn how to live there is to go to a safer place: a Moon Colony.)

I know how to build a Lunar Colony and it would probably make money. Capitalization would be large but not great in comparison to money frittered away since Apollo. For what we have spent since Apollo we ought to be half way to Alpha Centauri by now; certainly we ought to have a Mars Colony as well as a Lunar Colony.  But that’s another story.  We could have an asteroid mining civilization by 2040.  The one I postulated in 1985 could exist now had we built it. But that too is another story.


And I have this discouraging message which I have not had time to analyze:



And the hits just keep coming from Washington:

‘Given Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine¹s sovereignty and territorial integrity, until further notice, the U.S. Government has determined that all NASA contacts with Russian Government representatives are suspended, unless the activity has been specifically excepted.’



Roland Dobbins

I presume that at some point we will have officially abandoned the Space Station and the Cosmonauts can claim it as flotsam? 




Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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