Travel

Virgin Galactic flies its first astronauts to the edge of space, taking one step closer to space tourism

Virgin Galactic completed its longest rocket-powered flight ever on Thursday, taking a step ahead in the nascent business of space tourism. The two pilots on board Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft Unity became the company’s first astronauts. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson was on hand to watch the historic moment. Virgin Galactic said the test flight reached an altitude of 51.4 miles, or nearly 83 kilometers. The U.S. military and NASA consider pilots who have flown above 80 kilometers to be astronauts. Test pilots in 2004 were awarded a commercial astronaut badge by the Federal Aviation Administration for flying a previous, experimental iteration of Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft design. Lifted by the jet-powered mothership Eve, the spacecraft Unity took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert. Upon reaching an altitude above 40,000 feet, the carrier aircraft released Unity. The two-member crew of Mark Stucky and Dave Mackay then piloted the spacecraft in a roaring burn which lasted 60 seconds. The flight pushed Unity to a speed of Mach 2.9, nearly three times the speed of sound, as it screamed into a climb toward the edge of space. After performing a slow backflip in microgravity, Unity turned and glided back to land at Mojave. This was the company’s fourth rocket-powered flight of its test program. Unity is the name of the spacecraft built by The Spaceship Company, which Branson also owns. This rocket design is officially known as SpaceShipTwo (SS2). Unity also carried four NASA-funded payloads on this mission. The agency said the four technology experiments “will collect valuable data needed to mature the technologies for use on future missions.” “Inexpensive access to suborbital space greatly benefits the technology research and broader spaceflight communities,” said Ryan Dibley, NASA’s flight opportunities campaign manager, in a statement. The spacecraft underwent extensive engine testing and seven glide tests before Virgin Galactic said it was ready for a powered test flight — a crucial milestone before the company begins sending tourists to the edge of the atmosphere. Each of the previous three test flights were successful in pushing the spacecraft’s limits farther.

Very cool!!  For more, click on the text above.     🙂

Early snowfall stokes Colorado skiers, clouds climate debate

A heavy autumn snowfall has ski resorts across Colorado holding some of their earliest opening days in a decade or more, stoking skiers and fueling another snowball fight over climate change. Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek plan to open this week, shaving several days off their anticipated starts to the ski season and marking the first time that both resorts have launched ahead of time in 10 years, said Vail chief operating officer Doug Lovell. The resorts credited a “combination of some of the best early-November snowmaking conditions and more than four feet of natural snowfall last week.” Ski Cooper plans to open Nov. 23, 10 days earlier than scheduled, while Monarch Mountain in Salida announced Monday that it would invite skiers and snowboarders Friday, its earliest first-day-of-the-ski-season since 1996, after receiving a hefty 34 inches of powder. “We couldn’t be more thrilled for an early opening this year,” said Randy Stroud, general manager of Monarch Mountain, in a Monday press release. “We did our snow dances and Mother Nature delivered.” The state’s snowpack sat Thursday at 124 percent of average, according to the Colorado Snow Survey, after a Veteran’s Day weekend storm that dropped more than a foot of snow on areas of the Front Range. Some resorts have already opened after receiving double-digit snowfall. Eldora Mountain began operating a week ago, nine days earlier than scheduled, while Arapahoe Basin, Wolf Creek and Loveland celebrated their first days of the season last month. “The early season snowfall has created momentum and excitement for the opening of the ski season here in Colorado,” said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA, in an Oct. 18 statement. “Winter has arrived in the Colorado mountains and it’s great to see winter sports enthusiasts out in force!” Klaus Wolter, climate scientist with the NOAA-ESRL Physical Science Division and University of Colorado Boulder, attributed the early snow to several factors, including the weak El Nino, which “tends to make it wetter in the fall over Colorado.” “Below-normal temperatures mean that (a) most of the precipitation fell as snow, even at lower elevations, and (b) snow-making conditions were in place for the last four weeks or so,” Mr. Wolter said in an email. The rush to the slopes comes as a welcome change from last year’s disappointing Colorado ski season. Last year, environmentalists cited the drier-than-average 2017 winter, the state’s 14th driest on record, as evidence of global warming’s threat to snow. “The whole state is having its worst opening in 20 years,” Auden Schendler, vice president of sustainability for Aspen Snowmass, told the Coloradoan in December. “This is the weather and climate we fear. It’s already here.” Mr. Schendler serves on the board of Protect Our Winters, a Boulder-based climate advocacy group that has pushed to recruit skiers and snowboards by warning that “climate change is threatening winter as we know it.” “In the last decade, we have begun to see and feel climate change’s devastating impacts,” said Protect Our Winters. “Ski seasons are becoming shorter, more extreme, and less reliable.” Climate Depot’s Marc Morano compared such warnings to the infamous pronouncement of former University of East Anglia climate scientist David Viner, who warned that winter snowfall would soon become “a very rare and exciting event.” “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” Mr. Viner said in an article for the [U.K.] Independent headlined, “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past.” That was in 2000. “Climate activists and scientists claimed for years that snow was ‘a thing of the past’ due to ‘global warming,’ but snow has not cooperated,” said Mr. Morano, author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change.” “How do the activists explain away the record snows of recent years?” he asked. “Easy, by ignoring the current reality and predicting less snow in the future due to ‘climate change.’ Rest assured, snow is a thing of the present—just ask the autumn skiers enjoying the slopes.” Then again, climate change may actually be causing more snow. The EPA’s snowfall map showed that the white stuff decreased at 57 percent of its stations from 1930-2007, but not everywhere. Total snow increased during that period in some regions, including the Great Lakes and parts of Colorado. Snowfall in south-central Alaska has doubled in the last two years, while the East Coast has been socked with a series of snowstorms. Why? “Global warming means hotter air, and hotter air can hold more moisture,” said the Union of Concerned Scientists in a post. “This translates into heavier precipitation in the form of more intense rain or snow, simply because more moisture is available to storms.” Not surprisingly, Mr. Morano was skeptical. “So no matter what happens, the activists can claim with confidence the event was a predicted consequence of global warming,” he said. “There is now no way to ever falsify global warming claims.” For those trying to decide whether to buy a season ski pass, the best advice may be that there’s no predicting weather. “Just because it started snowing in November is no guarantee that it’s going to keep snowing,” said Jeffrey Deems, National Snow and Ice Data Center research scientist. “So get out there, get your days in, and take advantage of when the skiing’s good.”

Agreed…

New York coffee shop fined $300 by Sanitation Department for sign announcing how many cups they’ve kept out of landfill

A coffee shop in New York was allegedly fined $300 by the Department of Sanitation for a misplaced sandwich board on the sidewalk, which announced that the business had kept over 2,000 cups out of the landfill in 2018. Smith Canteen’s owner, Kerry Diamond, posted about the ironic incident on Facebook, claiming the sign has been in the same spot for the past seven years. “I’ve been spending a lot of money and time trying to figure out waste reduction, composting, and single-use plastic alternatives at the Canteen, so this really burns me,” she wrote. Diamond’s business, in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, encourages customers to bring their own cup in order to reduce single-use options and earn a 10 percent discount for doing so. She also said they do their part to help keep the street in front of their shop clean. “We keep our corner storefront as tidy as possible, sweep regularly, clean up all the litter that blows down the street, and take care of our tree pit like good citizens,” Diamond wrote. “We try so hard to be good and then to get kind of smacked down that way, it’s just kind of a bummer,” she told the New York Daily News. Diamond is encouraging the city to do more to help keep the street free of trash. “It would be really wonderful if you had programs to help small businesses become greener and if you kept Smith Street clean instead of the mess of litter and overflowing garbage cans that it’s been all year,” she wrote. Others on Facebook agree with Diamond, arguing that city officials need to worry about more important things. “Smith Street is disgusting these days. Talk about wrong priorities,” one person wrote. “As if you are the problem and not the obvious solution!” someone else commented. “Major props for keeping your business so tidy and responsible. Smith Street is a horror show and you all are a bright spot!” another person wrote. The New York Sanitation Department has since withdrawn the fine, according to the Daily News, though Diamond had planned to fight it. “We’ve investigated the incident and have determined that we will withdraw the action on this notice of violation because it appears as if the sign is within the legal three-foot limit, the street is not a zero-tolerance block and there is ample pedestrian access to the sidewalk,” spokesman Vito Turso said. “We encourage the shopkeeper to continue helping to keep cups out of landfills by all legal means.”

Oh whatever, Vito!  Fact is, you got busted by social media, and buckled under the understandable pressure from the good people of NYC.  Talk about ironic..  The NYC Sanitation Dept fining a coffee shop owner for a sign like this.  Kudos to Kerry for her good example.  If you’re on Smith Street, stop in for a cup o’ joe, and support her business.    🙂

Life on the dirtiest block in San Francisco

The heroin needles, the pile of excrement between parked cars, the yellow soup oozing out of a large plastic bag by the curb and the stained, faux Persian carpet dumped on the corner. It is a scene of detritus that might bring to mind any variety of developing-world squalor. But this is San Francisco, the capital of the nation’s technology industry, where a single span of Hyde Street hosts an open-air narcotics market by day and at night is occupied by the unsheltered and drug-addled slumped on the sidewalk. There are many other streets like it, but by one measure it is the dirtiest block in the city. Just a 15-minute walk away are the offices of Twitter and Uber, two companies that along with other nameplate technology giants have helped push the median price of a home in San Francisco well beyond a million dollars. This dichotomy of street crime and world-changing technology, of luxury condominiums and grinding, persistent homelessness, and the dehumanizing effects for those forced to live on the streets provoke outrage among the city’s residents. For many who live here it is difficult to reconcile San Francisco’s liberal politics with the misery that surrounds them. According to city statisticians, the 300 block of Hyde Street, a span about the length of a football field in the heart of the Tenderloin neighborhood, received 2,227 complaints about street and sidewalk cleanliness over the past decade, more than any other. It is an imperfect measurement — some blocks might be dirtier but have fewer calls — but residents on the 300 block say that they are not surprised by their ranking. The San Francisco bureau photographer, Jim Wilson, and I set out to measure the depth of deprivation on a single block. We returned a number of times, including a 12-hour visit, from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on a recent weekday. Walking around the neighborhood we saw the desperation of the mentally ill, the drug dependent and homeless, and heard from embittered residents who say it will take much more than a broom to clean up the city, long considered one of the United States’ beacons of urban beauty. Human waste has become such a widespread problem in San Francisco that the city in September established a unit dedicated to removing it from the sidewalks. Rachel Gordon, a spokeswoman for the public works department, describes the new initiative as a “proactive human waste” unit. At 8 a.m. on a recent morning, as mothers shepherded their children to school, we ran into Yolanda Warren, a receptionist who works around the corner from Hyde Street. The sidewalk in front of her office was stained with feces. The street smelled like a latrine. “Some parts of the Tenderloin, you’re walking, and you smell it and you have to hold your breath,” Warren said. At she does every morning, she hosed down the urine outside her office. The city has installed five portable bathrooms for the hundreds of unsheltered people in the Tenderloin but that has not stopped people from urinating and defecating in the streets.

You get the idea..  And this is an article from the very liberal NY Times; not some conservative news media outlet.  San Fran is a poster child of what happens when years and years of extreme liberal politicians enact failed liberal policies in a major urban area for decades.  San Fran is a total disaster, and it’ll remain so until the residents decide that enough is enough and actually consider voting for politicians who aren’t the same liberal Democrats they’ve been electing for decades.  But, don’t hold your breath…or your nose.  For more, click on the text above.

How Air in the Pacific Northwest Became Dirtier Than Beijing

SPOKANE, Wash.—On a recent morning in this city bred on the great outdoors, the halls of Mt. Spokane High School were filled with some 600 football players throwing spirals, cross-country runners doing laps, and marching band members twirling batons. The air outside was too smoky to breathe. The Pacific Northwest, sandwiched between Canada’s smoldering British Columbia to the north and six fire-wracked Western U.S. states, is feeling the side effects of one of the worst fire seasons on record. For much of the past several weeks, clouds of choking smog have upended daily life and posed a health hazard for millions here. “It was like being at a campfire wherever you went,” said Paul Kautzman, Mt. Spokane’s athletic director, after a particularly noxious day. Flights have been delayed because of visibility problems, the Seattle Seahawks moved practice to an indoor facility, and people are showing up at hospitals and medical clinics with complaints of wheezing, shortness of breath and other ailments. Long-planned surgeries have been canceled because patients are too ill from the smoke. In Spokane last week, a thick, gray fog draped the sky, obscuring the view of Mt. Spokane and the fir trees that dot the skyline here. A YMCA camp had to shuttle 60 children from a park to its nearest indoor facility, a former Gold’s Gym, where they arrived wearing protective masks. This region has dealt with smoke pollution before, but this year has been significantly worse, residents and experts say. Aug. 20 was the worst day so far for Spokane, population 215,000. Its air was dirtier than that of any major city—outpacing typically smog-addled places like Beijing and Lahore, Pakistan, according to a global pollution survey by IQAir Group, a Swiss-based manufacturer of air-pollution equipment that has a data collection unit. Among 80 cities with populations of more than 300,000, Vancouver, British Columbia, had the worst air quality in the world that day, followed by Seattle, IQAir said. Under the Air Quality Index, a standard followed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 101 to 150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, 151 to 200 is unhealthy for everyone, and over 200 very unhealthy. Spokane reached a high of 226 last week. Vancouver hit 165. Eric Lewis, chief executive of Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles, Wash., on the Olympic Peninsula north of Seattle, said he has experienced a sore throat, raspy voice and difficulty breathing—even though he suffers from no respiratory illness and has forsaken his daily walks for more than two weeks. “It’s like suddenly becoming a smoker,” he said. Rain over the Spokane area cleared out the skies Sunday and Monday, but smoky conditions were expected to return later this week there and in other parts of the Pacific Northwest that got a reprieve. Experts say it is unclear when the smoke will lift for good. An unusually stubborn ridge of high pressure has blocked most of the cleansing onshore winds from the Pacific, said Ranil Dhammapala, an atmospheric scientist at the Washington State Department of Ecology. High-pressure systems and wildfires are frequent occurrences this time of year in the region, but the duration and extent of the pollution is unusual, said Mr. Dhammapala.

Crazy..  For more, click on the text above.

San Francisco introduces ‘Poop Patrol’ to clean up after its own crappy liberal policies

The city of San Francisco just can’t seem to do anything right. The city’s liberal policies designed to welcome the homeless and encourage illegal drug use is turning the city from a high-tech haven of beauty and cleanliness, to what UC Berkeley professor Lee Riley described as unsanitary conditions “much greater than communities in Brazil or Kenya or India.” Congratulations lefties, the former crown jewel of the West Coast is now being compared to some of the dirtiest slums in the world. Since the beginning of 2018, the city has received over 14,000 calls to the 311 service about feces on the sidewalks and in the streets. It has gotten so bad the city has lost conventions because of the filth. It appears the city is tired of being the butt of national jokes and has decided to fight back. Local officials have announced yet another program to fix the problems the other programs caused in the first place. The “poop patrol” is expected to cost about $750,000 and employs six people with two trucks. No word if the trucks are hybrid. “What we are trying to do is be proactive,” said Director of Public Works Mohammed Nuru. ”So we’ll have a crew that will roam around looking for locations. We actually have data for neighborhoods where we get frequent calls.” Nuru added that “what happens is we’re going to take one of those crews out and try to get ahead of those calls and look for these locations so that hopefully we can get less numbers of calls coming in.” Two things are disturbing about the city’s latest move. Judging from Nuru’s comments, it appears the city is more worried about having to answer phone calls, which is their job, than the actual danger posed by the feces. The second problem is the health danger the fecal matter poses. Pictures of workers cleaning up the problem seem to have one thing in common; they are wearing protective gear. This begs the question, where is the protective gear for the thousands of citizens walking on the streets every day? It may seem like a joke, and making fun of San Francisco is all the rage, but there is a real health threat to the people of the city. Ask anyone that was deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq. As a former contractor with the State Department in Kabul, Afghanistan, I can attest to the danger dried airborne fecal matter poses. The “Kabul Crud” hits just about every westerner that goes to the country usually within two weeks of arrival. The air in Kabul is not only filthy with dust, but it is also contaminated with dried fecal matter. This is what happens when you have an open sewer system, as San Francisco now appears to have. Dr. Lee Riley has warned about the dangers the conditions in San Francisco are posing to the residents warning about rotavirus stating, “If you happen to inhale that, it can also go into your intestine.” The virus can be fatal. San Francisco officials need to quit coming up with programs to fix its previously flawed programs. The city needs to get to the root of the problem, and that is its policies that encourage illegal drug use, which in turn attracts homelessness and its horrendous building regulations that cause homelessness.

The author of this article, Printus LeBlanc knows of what he speaks.  I deployed to Afghanistan, myself, as a “field grade” Army Intelligence officer, and quickly got the infamous “Kabul Crud” which kept me down the first few days I was in “theater.”  I’ve never been so sick in my life.  San Francisco is the poster child of what happens when out-of-control, politically correct, extreme liberal policies area enacted by agenda-driven Democrats.  Those liberal policies have failed.  Period.  I remember Pier 39, and enjoying great seafood there, etc.  You couldn’t pay me to go there now.  For disgusting pics and videos, feel free to click on the text above.  Thanks to Printus for this eye-opening story, and exposing what’s going on in San Fran..

First space tourist flights could come in 2019

The two companies leading the pack in the pursuit of space tourism say they are just months away from their first out-of-this-world passenger flights — though neither has set a firm date. Virgin Galactic, founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, and Blue Origin, by Amazon creator Jeff Bezos, are racing to be the first to finish their tests — with both companies using radically different technology. Neither Virgin nor Blue Origin’s passengers will find themselves orbiting the Earth: instead, their weightless experience will last just minutes. It’s an offering far different from the first space tourists, who paid tens of millions of dollars to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) in the 2000s. Having paid for a much cheaper ticket — costing $250,000 with Virgin, as yet unknown with Blue Origin — the new round of space tourists will be propelled dozens of miles into the atmosphere, before coming back down to Earth. By comparison, the ISS is in orbit 250 miles (400 kilometers) from our planet. The goal is to approach or pass through the imaginary line marking where space begins — either the Karman line, at 100 kilometers or 62 miles, or the 50-mile boundary recognized by the US Air Force. At this altitude, the sky looks dark and the curvature of the earth can be seen clearly. Click here for more.

🙂