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Building an Apollo Simulator

 

For two years, I’ve been working to program and build a complete Apollo space flight simulator to use in my physics classes. When I say “complete,” I mean not just a computer program that lets you fly, but a mock-up of the spacecraft control panels and the entire Mission Control, as well.

I’m a physicist, and I do a lot of computer programming in my research, so I started with writing a Python language program to handle the physics of space flight. The basic idea is that, given a starting position and speed, you add up the forces acting on the spacecraft (gravity, atmospheric drag, engines), and from that you get the acceleration. That gives you, in turn, the new position and speed. Step the clock forward a fraction of a second, and repeat. I have a lot of computer engineering students in my class, so it fit naturally with the lessons.

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A President and a Gentleman: George H. W. Bush

 

As the country mourns the passing of President George H. W. Bush, C. Boyden Gray and Haley Barbour join Peter Robinson to discuss fond memories of his leadership, friendship, humility, and legacy. They discuss the 41st president’s involvement in the Clean Air Act, the reputational teeter-totter the public had with him and Reagan, and his foreign policy decisions.

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America Might Be Richer and More Powerful in 20 Years Than You Expect

 

Let’s take a moment and ignore the bouncing stock market. Let’s cease with speculation about how the American economy will perform over the next year or two — and its possible impact on politics. Let’s both pull back the camera from current events and point it toward the far horizon.

What might things be like in, say, 2040? The expert consensus predicts the same old, same old economic growth, about the same pace as we’ve seen throughout the 2000s. A (maybe, nearly, hopefully) 2 percent economy. Real GDP will likely grow at about half the pace of what it did in the last half of the 20th century.

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Can Someone Send Her Some Tips?

 

I saw the headline, but the actual story is unbelievable. Newly minted Congress-woman and Democratic Socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is taking a week off due to “burn out”, before she has even started her new job, and is calling it a timeout for ‘self-care’. She isn’t sure what ‘self-care’ is, so she took to social media to ask for tips. She mentioned on Instagram that there are people who are ostracized for doing a facial, and how her 3-4 times a week yoga schedule has been disrupted due to her new work schedule. Ok….

Keep in mind, she hasn’t started the job yet. Then how does she find the time for all this social media?

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Chicago’s New Obama Burden

 

The proposed construction of the extensive Obama Presidential Center on some 19.3 acres in Jackson Park on the south side of Chicago has long been a simmering issue of deep and continuous controversy. This past February, I stated my multiple objections to the choice of the historic site for the center and argued that on every conceivable ground it would be far better for the City of Chicago to construct it in Washington Park, located just to the west of Hyde Park. Washington Park is largely under-utilized and is a stone’s throw from the Chicago expressways. The Washington Park site will not require closing the major northbound roads that now run through Jackson Park, and it will not clash with other lakefront fixtures, including the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry located on the north end of Jackson Park. My views were hardly idiosyncratic; they were shared by at least 200 members of the University of Chicago faculty.

Objections to the project were effectively overridden when the Chicago City Council’s Committee on Housing and Real Estate gave the project its unanimous blessing on October 11. By that time, however, the action had started to shift to the courts: On May 14, a long-time activist group, Protect Our Parks, joined by several Chicago residents, filed a lawsuit whose sole purpose was to block the construction of the Obama center in Jackson Park. The suit seeks to invalidate the transfer of property rights in the Jackson Park land from the Park Department to the City of Chicago for the nominal price of $1, after which the City plans to designate it for use by the center, without making a formal transfer of title.

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Conservative Intellectuals Exit Stage Left

 

I cancelled my long-time subscription to The Weekly Standard earlier this year after one too many anti-Trump editorials. I probably would have canceled it sooner but I kept on forgetting, on account of my not reading the magazine regularly anymore, even though it showed up every week in my mailbox. The last issue that I received asserted that the June 2016 Trump Tower Meeting “wasn’t evidence of the campaign colluding with Russia, but it was evidence that some of Trump’s top advisers were willing to collude.” The same editorial reassured its readers that, “Mueller is everything we value in a public servant—honest, competent, utterly averse to partisan hackery.” 

The recent dissolution of The Weekly Standard has brought much hand-wringing and back-patting from our intellectual betters. Reportedly, The Standard’s subscription base has dropped by 10 percent or more in each of the last five years. Their subscription base would already have been a tiny sliver of the Republican electorate.

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Arizona Governor Ducey Appoints McSally to Senate Seat

 

Governor Doug Ducey just announced the appointment of Rep. Martha McSally to the US Senate. She will serve out the remainder of John McCain’s term, following the four-month-long appointment of Jon Kyl.

“All her life, Martha has put service first — leading in the toughest of fights and at the toughest of times,” said Governor Ducey. “She served 26 years in the military; deployed six times to the Middle East and Afghanistan; was the first woman to fly in combat and command a fighter squadron in combat; and she’s represented Southern Arizona in Congress for the past four years. With her experience and long record of service, Martha is uniquely qualified to step up and fight for Arizona’s interests in the U.S. Senate. I thank her for taking on this significant responsibility and look forward to working with her and Senator-Elect Sinema to get positive things done.”

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Populism, Economic Nostalgia, and ‘Left Behind’ America

 

Economic nostalgia is a notable attribute of America’s populists on the left and right. If not for the mistakes of elite policymakers, the economic golden age of postwar America might never have ended. But it’s not just economic nostalgia that unites populists across the political spectrum. It is also the idea that reality puts no constraints on policymakers’ actions, or at least the effectiveness of those actions. Take the issue of what to do about America’s “left behind” regions. It’s the subject two outstanding pieces, one in The New York Times by Eduardo Porter, the other in The Wall Street Journal by Christopher Mims. Both are definitely worth a read.

In “The Hard Truths of Trying to ‘Save’ the Rural Economy,” Porter notes the “inescapable reality of agglomeration.” Innovative companies, the sort that generate high-paying jobs, want to locate near other innovative companies so they can tap deep pools of high-skilled worker talent. And thus you have Amazon building new campuses in New York City and Washington DC, rather than Columbus, OH. Sure, policy wonks have lots of ideas to help distressed communities take part in the evolving American economy — tech education initiatives, broadband investment — but there are no guarantees. As Brookings scholar William Galston is quoted, “I don’t know if these ideas are going to work. But it is worth making the effort.”

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The Inferno of Junior High

 

When I was 13 or so, my Mom pitched religion in such a way that I nearly became an atheist. It wasn’t the actual religion itself that disturbed me so much as her sales pitch.

Me: Why do you believe in g-d?

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Kids, Courts, and the Indian Child Welfare Act

 

Get ready to hear much more over the coming year about the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. In October, in a case called Brackeen v. Zinke, Texas federal judge Reed O’Connor ruled much of ICWA unconstitutional. Since then advocates of the law, led by Indian tribes and social welfare organizations, have been sounding the alarm: ICWA, a law representing a step toward making amends for America’s historic maltreatment of Native Americans, is under attack. (Appeal is pending.)

Some of the outcry has now been personalized into an attack on the jurist responsible for the ruling. In an unrelated December 2018 case Judge O’Connor, a 2007 George W. Bush appointee, handed down a much-criticized ruling finding the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, and online critics were soon connecting the two rulings as “activist” products of the same unreasonable hand.

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Give the Gift of Ricochet

 

We don’t do this very often, (well, other than just about every Ricochet Podcast), but on the occasion of entering our ninth year of our, yes, sometimes perilous existence on the interwebs, we wanted to ask one time to consider giving someone you care about the gift of Ricochet this holiday season.

New members obviously help us run the site and pay our employees, but in addition, new members keep the community growing and vibrant. And having our current members personally select new arrivals is the best way to ensure Ricochet stays the best, brightest, and most civil community on the internet.

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Remembering President George H. W. Bush With Chase Untermeyer & Andrew Ferguson

 

On November 30, 2018, forty-first president George H. W. Bush passed away. Andrew Ferguson and Peter Robinson both served as speechwriters for Bush during his tenure in the White House as both the vice president and president. Chase Untermeyer served as the ambassador to Quatar under the forty-first president. The three men gather to remember the man they knew and the legacy he left behind.

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The GOP Needs To ‘Primary’ The “Old” Strategists/Commentators

 

So … we find that the veteran (experience is not a strength if it is all bad) political class of “strategists, commentators and consultants” (join us on our next cruise … please, clap) and their fans are gearing up for another failed run in 2020. Oh my, but they are gaining in confidence once again, listening to each other in their extremely comfortable echo chamber. Mitt! Jeb! John (my dad was a postman)!

Seriously?! C’Mon Man!

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‘The Valley of Shadows’: An Unconventional End-of-Days Novel

 

John Ringo wrote “Under a Graveyard Sky,” the first book in the Black Tide Rising Series in 2014, which is a novel about a zombie apocalypse; since then he added three more. Then he invited his author friends to play in his world.

“The Valley of Shadows,” by John Ringo and Mike Massa is the first collaborative novel added to the series.

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Quote of the Day: Living and Dying

 

“If a person has a serious, complex illness, palliative specialists are happy to help. The ones in the study discussed with the patients their goals and priorities for if and when their condition worsened. The result: those who saw a palliative care specialist stopped chemotherapy sooner, entered hospice far earlier, experienced less suffering at the end of their lives—and they lived 25% longer. In other words, our decision making in medicine has failed so spectacularly that we have reached the point of actively inflicting harm on patients rather than confronting the subject of mortality. If end-of-life discussions were an experimental drug, the FDA would approve it.” — Atul Gawande, in his book, Being Mortal

Early in my work as a hospice volunteer, we were told about medical doctors who refused to acknowledge that it was time for a patient to let go of hopeless measures for treatment; it was the doctor’s job, after all, to sustain life. Unfortunately, some patients went through horrible suffering because they feared death and because a doctor would not be candid with them about their situations; family members also participated in this plan, unable to face the truth.

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Loneliness, Social Media and Mental Health

 

Over at the New York Post my friend Karol Markowicz has a great column about the emerging crisis that is loneliness. She writes,

“We’re increasingly living our lives on the Internet, alone amid vast digital crowds. Social media have replaced socializing. We’re all guilty of staring too often at our phones. We curl up at night with the latest Chrome browser.”

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These are the people who are leading our children’s education

 

According to an article in the Eugene (Oregon) Register Guard, the Superintendents of Schools for Oregon, Washington and California have petitioned the federal government to not classify students according to the traditional, medical definition of sex. Their “reasoning” is captured in a single sentence:

“Our understanding — and the assumption underlying policy in our states — is that gender is a spectrum that is not necessarily linked to biological sex.”

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Beulah Bondi – Character Actress

 

Movies are so different nowadays. Nothing like they were in the thirties through the fifties. Most of us baby boomers remember those old-time stars. People like John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart (my favorite male lead), Barbara Stanwyck (my favorite female lead), James Cagney, and many more. We may have been born in the late forties into the fifties, but, primarily due to TV and the influence of our parents, many of us learned to fall in Love with people who have been immortalized on the big screen.

My Mom had a photograph album, where she collected pictures of old stars like Henry Fonda, Hedy Lamar, and others. Maybe by watching and enjoying old movies reminds me of her, and how she is always in my heart.

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Another Interesting Idea out of Russia

 

So why am I starting a post with God Save the Tsar, a song not seriously sung in over a century? Because the biggest new idea out of Russia seems to be a revival of the monarchy. Seriously.

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Blue Lives Lost

 

This year, 137 American police officers lost their lives. A member of the emergency communications center in the Boone County Sheriff’s Office in Indiana suggested to the sheriff a special project to honor all of them. As a result, they set up a Christmas tree with 137 blue ornaments, each with the name, rank and end of watch date of one of the officers who died. Included in that group was Deputy Jacob Pickett from Boone County.

Officers from Boone County spent a weekend writing the names of those officers on the bulbs. Joni Scott, Chaplain of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, commented:

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