Splashdown for SpaceX

John Stossel:

2 Americans just landed safely after spending 2 months in space.

11 years ago, an Obama committee concluded that would take 12 years and cost $26 billion. Elon Musk did it in 6 years– for less than $1 billion.

Private competition is always better.

On the other hand, says the LA Times:

Elon Musk’s growing empire is fueled by $4.9 billion in government subsidies

Los Angeles entrepreneur Elon Musk has built a multibillion-dollar fortune running companies that make electric cars, sell solar panels and launch rockets into space.

And he’s built those companies with the help of billions in government subsidies.

Tesla Motors Inc., SolarCity Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support, according to data compiled by The Times. The figure underscores a common theme running through his emerging empire: a public-private financing model underpinning long-shot start-ups.

“He definitely goes where there is government money,” said Dan Dolev, an analyst at Jefferies Equity Research. “That’s a great strategy, but the government will cut you off one day.”

Like the government is liable to cut Boeing off. Because now, it can.

I’m guessing Musk reckons he could find other customers, if the government stopped paying. But I’m guessing further that a chunk of all that money goes to schmoozing the government to keep on paying. In a decade or two, Musk could be no better than Boeing.

This is “privatisation”, and privatisation isn’t the same as a real market, hence the sneer quotes. Private competition is always better. So are lots of customers spending their own money, instead of just the one, getting its money at gunpoint. Let’s hope that in this case it will turn out to be a step in the right direction. As big as it now feels.

The Plague has brought back the Seventies

I remember when people looking like this were all over Top of the Pops:

Following a heavy dose of injury, Surrey quick bowler Reece Topley is today back playing international cricket for the first time in four years.

The one difference from the Seventies: tattoos on the arms.

On Ex-Muslims and on the lack of social media omnipotence

Over the course of the last few days, Facebook suppressed Ex-Muslim TV but has now allowed it back on air again.

Which provides me with a perfect excuse to write some topical commentary on the subject of Ex-Muslims, and on social media and the allegedly dictatorial powers of the social media. I have a hook. XMTV got suppressed, and then unsuppressed. By social media. Over the last few days. I can now have “Current events” in my category list for this posting.

My commentary on XMTV goes like this: Islam is an ideology of conquest, of the world, by Islam. Submit or die. Islamic terrorists interpret Islam correctly. “Moderate” Muslims either don’t read, or don’t listen to, what they nevertheless insist on going through the motions of saying they do believe. Or they’re just lying, to us and to themselves.

Those who react to the above truths with a shudder, often come back with the claim that, well, yes, that may be true, but this is not a nice thing to say. Yes, Islam does indeed need to “reform”, but if you describe Islam too accurately, that will only arouse opposition from angry Muslims, and they’ll dig in their heals and refuse to make Islam any nicer.

I, on the other hand, think that if any “reform” of this transformative sort ever materialises, it is now decades away from happening. In the meantime, if and when such “reform” (actually a radical rewrite) ever happens, the reason why it will happen will be that millions upon millions of Muslims are publicly abandoning Islam altogether, refusing to wait for it to stop being the nasty thing it has been since it was founded and as of now remains. Only when staring extinction in the face will Islam’s remaining adherents seriously set about remaking their beliefs to the point where they might become truly nice. Will it then be too late for Islam thus to save itself from oblivion? I don’t know and I don’t care.

So, in the meantime, I regard the transformation of Muslims into Ex-Muslims as by far the most important thing now happening to Islam, and also (because also) the best thing. Do you think of yourself as “moderate” and a Muslim. I say: Make up your mind which of these two things you want to be. Choose nicely and wisely. Choose to become an Ex-Muslim.

In the event that history carries on getting nicer, you Ex-Muslims are in the vanguard of it. Hurrah for you. That’s commentary part one of this posting.

As to the second part of the commentary I want to attach to this Facebook-versus-Ex-Muslims contretemps, well, Facebook surely could have kept the Ex-Muslims permanently off their platform, but only at the cost of a relentless drizzle of anti-Facebook anti-Islamic commentary, such as are to be read in this posting, in the paragraphs above this one and, to carefully moderated extent, in the paragraphs that follow. Worse, they might provoke a mass-migration to Parler or Gab or some such alternative. (Every time something like this Ex-Muslim thing happens, I get an email from Gab telling me all about it, and telling me to switch to Gab. One day, I just might.)

But, meanwhile, note that I found out about this news item via Twitter. Twitter, like Facebook, is anti-anti-Islamic, in the sense that this is surely the attitude of most of their two workforces. Yet, although presumably also constantly nagged by Non-Ex Muslims to scrub the Ex-Muslims from their site, Twitter did not do so, despite I am sure must have been a definite little spike of attention being paid by the world to the various Ex-Muslim tweets, denouncing Facebook, that they found themselves hosting.

The problem Twitter and Facebook both face is that they are juggling two contradictory agendas. There is the big money-spinning agenda, the one that says that people can say whatever they hell they like, much as I can say whatever I like on this blog, because it’s my blog. And then there’s the agenda that says that the social media should promote virtue and suppress vice, by allowing and drawing attention to virtuous messages and ignoring and scrubbing all the vicious ones, virtue and vice being defined in accordance with the wokist principles adhered to by, at the very least, an influential and noisy minority of their workforces. Because the wokists want wicked ideas suppressed, rather than merely argued into obscurity, these two agendas can’t both happen. And often the clash between the two generates fireworks, and more attention for particular agendas that the wokists dislike, as may have happened with this temporary interruption of Ex-Muslim TV service.

I don’t want to underplay the amount of grief that the wokists can do to any individual or organisation that they pick out from the herd and concentrate their attacks on. But killing an individual animal is not the same as wiping out the entire herd. If it were, there’d have been no Brexit, no Trump, no actually existing modern world. The Anglosphere is currently having an ideological civil war, and there’s nothing that social media can do to prevent this, not least because they themselves have constructed many of the battlefields and thus helped to make the war happen. They are now merely a part of this war, and a very ambiguous one at that. To switch metaphors from a herd to a conflagration, the social media often fan the very flames that the people who run them and who work for them are trying to extinguish.

Quite a lot of links to Steve Stewart-Willams creature tweets

Steve Stewart-Williams does great tweets, and his animal tweets are especially appealing. If you just want cute, there’s plenty of that. But if you want to tell yourself that you are also learning some science, he often lets you do that too.

So, here are links to a big clutch of recent SS-W creature tweets, starting with how ape brains compare to the human brain, what with humans being apes of the particular sort that understand the universe.

Apes a like humans in all sorts of ways. Young chimps laugh when being tickled. Gorillas trying to keep dry behave just like humans trying to keep dry. Another chimp fact: underneath all that fur they are ripped, in the manner of some humans.

The Portuguese man o’ war is not even in a single creature. Each one is a colony of creatures. Also weird is this gender fluid stag beetle.

Humans and other apes play, but so do other creatures. Here is a dog playing on a slide. But is this dog playing on the slide merely to oblige its human? Could be. So, how about this crow playing on a seesaw? Crows don’t care about obliging humans. Do they? Maybe some crows do.

More bird tweets. Here is a silly bird, pecking at the flowers on a lady’s dress. Here are peacocks. You often see pictures of peacocks showing off to peahens. Less common are photos of peacocks fighting each other. Follow that link for both. And click on this next link to see a bird’s nest woven into a leaf.

From birds to a gecko. Here’s a gecko trapped in amber, 54 millions years ago.

A feline tweets now. From this one, about cats negotiating obstacle courses, I actually learned something. When cats walk, their back legs go exactly where they front legs have just been. So, if they choose where to put their front legs carefully, then that obstacle course is successfully negotiated.

And here is another feline tweet, concerning how a a kitten turns into a cat. That kittens turn into cats I already knew. Hard to pass that off as science.

Tarantulas can swim. I didn’t know that, so that is science. Also, the laws of physics don’t apply to goats, which must be science because physics.

And finally, back to a human, in this case Sitting Bull. He makes the cut because Sitting Bull was human, but bulls are creatures. Someone has done a picture of Sitting Bull with dice.

I hope you have been having a nice Friday.

Ely Cathedral again

I said, in this posting about a terrific photo by Andrew Sharpe of Ely Cathedral:

Sharpe would appear to have a very similar photo-relationship with Ely Cathedral to the one that this guy has with Salisbury Cathedral. Both photo the same cathedral, lots of times, with the cathedral looking different every time.

Here is another Andrew Sharpe photo of Ely Cathedral, one of two photos that he displayed on his Twitter feed earlier this month, both of them featuring light on the land and on the cathedral, with a dark sky behind:

Wonderful. Of the two, I prefer that one, because of the sheep having been included in the foreground.

Linseed

Photoed by Martin Cook:

Are the tracks so far apart because they’re made by a crop sprayer? This is the countryside, so what do I know?

This and three more, bigger, here.

And in case you were wondering:

Linseed in uk mostly is grown for animal feed, pet food and human consumption. Lot goes to markets abroad to animal feed to produce animal products with higher omega-3 levels, such as meat and eggs etc.

Here.

Poetic perfection in a reopening pub

Rebecca Day tweets:

I’ve spoken to regulars Chris and Jimmy. Jimmy hasn’t gone to bed after his night shift tarmacking the roads. He had a shower and came straight here. He described the taste of his first Carling as being like an ‘angel pissing on the tip of my tongue’.

In her original tweet, Rebecca Day put “p***ing” and “his” tongue, so I’ve restored what Jimmy said to its original state of perfection. You’re welcome.

One of the services this blog supplies to its regular readers is to pluck occasional pearls of perfection like that (or that (or that)) from the torrent of swine shit that is Twitter, or at any rate what Twitter seems to turn into for many people.

Cat in Istanbul shop window

As not promised (see below), here’s a rather charming photo that Michael Jennings took in Istanbul last December, of a shop window:

Not just signs, but the place where they’re done from. And a cat. I recall Michael writing, somewhere, somewhen, that there are many cats in Istanbul and that they are very well respected by the humans of that city.

You can always tell how well cats are treated in this or that place that you visit, by how sociably they behave towards you. When cats hide from you, that’s a sign of a nasty neighbourhood, I think.