GOP is a death cult!

It is now long past time to cast off highfalutin’ Latinisms and simply call the Republicans and their religious and secular conservative allies what they are, and in unadorned English: a death cult. As the country reels from the coronavirus pandemic, our national government might just as well be run by the infamous People’s Temple of Jonestown.

By now we are benumbed by the all-pervasive arguments over relaxing workplace shutdowns and stay-at-home orders due to coronavirus. In any sane society, the issue would be how to institute the most efficient measures to defeat the pandemic in the shortest time and with the lowest loss of life. Instead, Trump and his merry band of lunatics have hijacked the national debate into a faux-serious discussion of when, oh, please, how soon, can we “reopen the economy?” Naturally, the media gamely continue to play along with this calculated bit of dezinformatsiya…

There is no longer the slightest doubt in any sane person’s mind that not only are the GOP’s fundamentalist-extremist religious allies a death cult disguised as 501(c)3 tax-exempt charitable organizations. The whole extremely well-funded edifice of “economic conservatism” is equally a death cult, worshiping Mammon so fervently that it is eager to make human sacrifice upon its altar, just like the Mayans and Carthaginians.

Let those of us who do not accept the joining of Mammon and phony bishops like Trump, sit back and watch this medieval beast devour itself, starting from the tail, again and again.

Green Dragon in the Sky over Iceland


Click to enlarge

A gargantuan green dragon hisses in the sky over Iceland. Either “Game of Thrones” really upped its production budget for its final season, or the sun belched a barrage of charged particles into our atmosphere again.

As much as any of us would like to see a real dragon breathe flames into the winter sky, buzzkill NASA blames solar activity — as usual — for the writhing, “fire-breathing”- aurora that loomed over Iceland earlier this month.

Of course, I like the GAME OF THRONES scenario.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Jimmy Page’s Dragon Guitar Reborn

Here’s what Page’s axe looked and sounded like in 1968

❝ Fender instruments on Wednesday gave the public its first look at its recreation of a Telecaster guitar that Page once painted with a dragon, a long-lost piece of six-string history that marked the guitar hero’s last days in the Yardbirds and first days in Led Zeppelin.

❝ The instrument with the psychedelic green-and-red serpent on its body represents “a pivotal moment for the guitar and music,” said Paul Waller, the master builder who worked side-by-side with Page to make him a spot-on match of the guitar before making 50 more by hand to sell to the public.

❝ The reboot was hatched when Page was looking through photographs for a book celebrating last year’s 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin. The dragon guitar, which he says was once his “Excalibur,” kept popping up in them, and he started to think it was time to get past his bitterness about its fate…

❝ The 1959 Telecaster, pre-paint, had been a cherished gift from his fellow former Yardbird bandmate Jeff Beck…

Page first decorated it with mirrors, then pulled out poster paints and used his art-school skills to summon the dragon.

He would use the guitar to write and record songs like “Dazed and Confused” for the first Led Zeppelin album, work as significant as any in the history of the electric guitar.

But a clueless house-sitter, not thinking much of Page’s painting, put his own mosaic artwork over the dragon and presented it to Page as a gift. Page said it was all he could do not to hit the guy over the head with it. Instead, he stripped it bare and angrily threw it into storage, where it sat for 50 years.

RTFA for the tale of rebirth courtesy of the guitar builders at Fender.

SpaceX Dragon reaches International Space Station

A SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule overcame a potentially mission-ending technical problem to make a belated but welcome arrival at the International Space Station on Sunday.

Astronauts aboard the outpost used the station’s robotic arm to pluck the capsule from orbit at 5:31 a.m. EST as the ships sailed 250 miles over northern Ukraine.

Flight controllers at NASA’s Mission Control in Houston then stepped in to drive the capsule to its berthing port on the station’s Harmony connecting node…

The Dragon capsule, loaded with more than 2,300 pounds of science equipment, spare parts, food and supplies, blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Friday aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the second of 12 planned supply runs for NASA…

Dragon was to have arrived at the station on Saturday but a problem with its thruster rocket pods developed soon after reaching orbit. Engineers sent commands for Dragon to flip valves and clear any blockage in a pressurization line in an attempt to salvage the mission.

By Friday evening, Dragon had fired its thruster rockets to raise its altitude and begin steering itself to rendezvous with the station.

As they say, it’s not where you start but where you finish that counts. You guys really finished this one on the mark,” station commander Kevin Ford radioed to Dragon’s flight control team in Hawthorne, California, and NASA’s Mission Control in Houston…

Once the capsule is unloaded, the crew will begin refilling it with 3,000 pounds (1,361 kg) of unneeded and broken equipment and science samples for analysis on Earth.

Bravo.

Following events as they happened, one process that was clear is the growth and evolution of computing power has added depth and capability to control systems on devices like the Dragon. Thruster problems would have made a mission like this a dead end a decade ago. Now, backups and workarounds were a matter of enabling changes in the program.

Good news.

Space company’s rocket test flight had secret cargo

Call it one small step for a cheese, one giant leap fromage-kind.

A wheel of Le Brouere cheese was the secret cargo aboard the SpaceX Dragon, the first commercial spacecraft to be recovered from Earth orbit, the company revealed Thursday. SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk hinted at the cargo after the capsule’s successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday afternoon, suggesting it had something to do with the British comedy troupe Monty Python.

The block of fermented curd was a nod to one of the group’s best-known sketches, “Cheese Shop.” The wheel, described only as “very big,” was being towed back to California aboard a barge along with the spacecraft and “basking in the glow of being the first cheese to travel to orbit on a commercial spacecraft,” company spokeswoman Kirstin Brost told CNN…

The Dragon was launched into low-Earth orbit on Wednesday from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center and splashed down about 500 miles off the coast of Southern California about three hours later. It was the first flight under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, which aims to develop commercial supply services to the international space station.

Bravo! For the flight and the cheese both.