A Rocket Launch Gone Wrong

Oct 30 2014 @ 9:39am

On Tuesday, the unmanned Antares rocket exploded seconds after launching:

Ioffe highlights Russia’s reaction:

Russia Today reported that the Antares rocket was “American-Ukrainian,” and other outlets ran with it. The spectacular failure, wroteone Russian tabloid, “is the work of Ukrainian and American specialists.” The rocket, based loosely on the Soviet Zenit rocket, was designed by the originally Soviet, now Ukrainian, Yuzhnoe Design Bureau, according to various Russian news sites. … It would be perfectif only the Russians were right about the Antares’ origins. But it turns out that the rocket’s engine, like the engines of other privately-made American rockets, was made in … Russia.

Justin Bachman provides more background on the rocket design:

The Soviet-era AJ-26 engine was designed in the 1960s as part of Russia’s space race with the U.S., originally envisioned as a way to propel cosmonauts to the moon. The engines are “refurbished and Americanized,” Frank Culbertson, the Orbital Sciences executive in charge of the NASA program, said Tuesday night in a news conference, defending the AJ-26 as “very robust and rugged” and with a successful track record.

At least one person in the industry disagrees.

Read On

Charles Kenny delivers a reality check:

It’s not just that the link between growth and particular policies is weak—so is the link between growth and politicians as a whole, whatever their ideological persuasion. Bill Easterly and Steven Pennings of New York University looked for (PDF) evidence of the impact of national leaders on growth since 1960. Their findings suggest that, if national leaders matter anywhere, it’s in autocracies rather than in democracies like the U.S. and Europe. But even in autocratic regimes it’s hard to pinpoint the influence of individual leaders on economic growth—good or bad. Some leaders were in charge during periods of high growth and some during periods of low growth, but no more often than you would expect if random chance rather than leadership quality was driving the results. Across 50 years and 100 countries, they suggest, 2 percent of the variation in growth rates might be explained by political leaders—with 98 percent accounted for by other factors.

Leather Bound

Oct 30 2014 @ 8:14am

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Ever heard of a leather postcard?

Leather postcards were first made in 1903. They were a novelty that appealed to tourists. When stitched together, they could be used as a pillow cover or wall hanging. The holes along the edge could also be used to attach fringe. The cards were made of deer hide and the pictures burned in. The U.S. post office banned leather postcards in 1907 because they jammed postage-canceling machines. Leather cards continued to be made as souvenirs until about 1910.

An avid antiquer on Ebay elaborates:

During the Victorian Era, the term pyrography was coined to describe the artistic use of fire to create graphics on numerous materials such as wood and leather.

Read On

John Ahlquist and Scott Gehlbach take down the study that claimed they did, pointing out that its limitations “are, in fact, numerous”:

Their estimates rely on a key question from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study: “Are you registered to vote?” Notably, this is not the same question as “Are you registered to vote in the United States?” In principle, non-citizens could be registered to vote only in their home country and respond affirmatively, and truthfully, to the question on the survey.

Read On

The Best Of The Dish Today

Oct 29 2014 @ 9:15pm

Tough Mudder London South 2014

Another note on the swift descent of ethical journalism. One concern I’ve repeatedly voiced is that at some point, corporations will simply dispense with “sponsored content” on existing publications and create newspapers and magazines for themselves. Since the Fourth Estate has already abandoned any pretense of being independent of advertizers for their content, it’s a small jump. And here comes Verizon with a new website:

The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called SugarString.com. The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game.

There’s just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.

It gets worse, doesn’t it?

Today, we revisited the plight of the Yazidis still facing the terror of ISIS; that “chickenshit” Netanyahu; and the broad definition of “sexual assault” that Ivy League higher-ups have signed onto, even if their students don’t quite agree. Plus: the campaign to shut down and even criminalize “toxic male culture”. I also re-engaged Ross Douthat on the issue of pastoral treatment of divorced and re-married Catholics.

Plus: a gorgeous video celebrating New York City and Paris.

The most popular post of the day was A Declaration Of War Against Francis; followed by Does The Self Exist? Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 24 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. Dish t-shirts are for sale here, including the new “Know Dope” shirts, which are detailed here. Below are images for the general design and the DC-specific one (also available are ones for Oregon and Alaska – the two other states voting on legalization Tuesday):

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The final email for the day comes from a veteran programmer. I’m going to give her the last word on the gamergate furore:

This is regarding your post about gamergate. I have been a very loyal reader of your blog for more than 10 years now and have been a subscriber for two. I have always dearly admired and respected you. I know this email is long and harshly worded in places, but please take the time to read it. It would mean a lot to me.

Your readers were right to warn you about not writing about that debate. At the very least, you should have researched the industry you were covering before making comments about it. Perhaps you did by reading some extremely lazy leftist writing on the subject (of which there is unfortunately much) or because you’ve been hanging out with Breitbart, who seems to be your ideological bedfellow in this – I don’t know.

[Ed. note: Professional details written here are being left out "because my identity will be easy to determine and it may put my life and that of my family in danger (this happened to other women for much less).] Whom I know is not especially important – the industry is so small that anyone who has been there for as long as I have knows all these same people. (Gamergate doesn’t quite see things that way and continues to weave conspiracy theories about it.) What I mean to convey is how personal all this is to me.

I don’t actually want to bring up the ludicrous “both sides have been bullied” quote, considering that only “one side” has received credible death threats that are being investigated by the FBI. [Ed. note: that "both sides" line was clarified in a follow-up post the reader may have missed.] I don’t mean to complain, because much like all of the mature nerdy adults I know, I’m over it, but I have to ask: do you honestly believe that only nerdy white males exist, that nerdy girls don’t get bullied? (I know I was!) I also had to then deal with not being taken seriously as a “fellow gamer” by the “gamer culture” whose end you’re lamenting for some reason (worry not, it will continue to thrive as is).

And you compare it to gay culture, as if there has ever been any actual or remotely comparable discrimination of gamers! Recall all the gamers who were murdered when they were caught holding hands in public while arranging for DS Download Play on their DSes!

Read On

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Over the weekend, Charles C.W. Cooke urged Second Amendment activists to “consider talking a little less about Valley Forge and a little more about Jim Crow”:

Malcolm X may have a deservedly mixed reputation, but the famous photograph of him standing at the window, rifle in hand, insisting on black liberation “by any means necessary,” is about as American as it gets. It should be celebrated just like the “Don’t tread on me” Gadsden flag. By not making that connection, the movement is losing touch with one of its greatest triumphs and forsaking a prime illustration of why its cause is so just and so crucial.

Francis Wilkinson finds Cooke’s argument wanting:

Read On

A reader counters Bill Ridgers:

He could not be more wrong with the following statement: “Some rules of engagement are obvious: one would never peck on first introduction, for example, no matter where in the world you were.” I can only assume that Ridgers has never conducted any business in Latin America. Actually, you can go to certain parts of the business community in Miami and you’d get the same result – people meeting for the first time with a peck on the cheek. This is true for man/woman, woman/woman, and man/man. Men in Argentina, for example, routinely greet each other in a business context with a kiss. My wife is Latin, and she is confused when she meets “gringos” who act awkward when, upon meeting someone (man or woman) in a business or personal context, does not immediately gravitate to a kiss hello.

I’d add that, as a gringo myself, it took some getting used to this bit of culture. Now, I much prefer the kiss to a handshake, in part because I’m much less likely to get germs from a quick peck than a firm handshake. But I’d probably prefer fist bumps to kisses, if we could ever make that a standard greeting.

Face Of The Day

Oct 29 2014 @ 7:41pm

PHILIPPINES-ECONOMY-POVERTY

Members of some 30 families who live under a bridge rest amid candlelight after the illegal electric supply they were using was cut in Manila on October 29, 2014. Some earn money by selling flowers and collecting plastic bottles, earring an average of four US dollars a day. The Philippines announced in April plans to spend more on infrastructure and introduce other reforms to try to lift millions out of poverty. The revised Philippine Development Plan sets more ambitious economic targets to address persistent concerns that poor Filipinos are not enjoying the benefits of the country’s recent dramatic economic growth. By Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images.

Ebola Federalism, Ctd

Oct 29 2014 @ 7:10pm

A reader pushes back on this post:

Just to be clear here, just because a health-care worker takes time off of work to go volunteer in West Africa in fighting Ebola doesn’t mean that the institution they work for is also volunteering their away time hours. In most cases, the worker must still have accrued enough time off to actually take the vacation in question – and the employer rarely distinguishes between hours off spent sipping martinis in the Maldives and hours off spent replacing IVs in Liberia.

And while the state might reimburse them for the lost wages, that doesn’t mean their medical employer has to welcome them back after three weeks of leaving their workplaces understaffed and their coworkers overworked to fill up the slack. Treating it like the health worker should just be happy they got 21 free days off work is a bit ignorant, and assumes that health care workers are all able to gallivant off from their workplaces. Most workplaces have penalties for taking excessive time off that go well beyond merely suspending pay during the unapproved absence, and those penalties usually include being fired.

But that’s not true here; Cuomo today reassured Ebola volunteers that their jobs will be secure – and then some:

Mr. Cuomo, speaking at an event in Staten Island, noted that the Army was instituting even more restrictive measures on their personnel working in Ebola-infested regions, denying them even contact with their families–and promised New York would duplicate the military’s policy of compensating overseas workers for their time. “If [Mr. Obama]‘s critical of the quarantine, then he has to be highly critical of the Army’s policy,” Mr. Cuomo told reporters today.

Read On

An Unofficial Home Away From Home

Oct 29 2014 @ 6:47pm

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For her series Undocumented, Mary Beth Meehan photographed the homes of immigrants without visas:

Contrary to political rhetoric on the subject, Meehan photographs a group of people deeply embedded in their local communities; attending school, church, working, volunteering and paying taxes like every other citizen. The series captures a domestic landscape slightly askew, requiring the viewer to pick out the tell-tale clues of who these people are and the lives they are trying to build. While the soccer trophies, lazy boy sofas and Toy Story kids table feel decidedly American, there are hints of an immigrant household as well, blended together in a familial harmony evocative of our country’s self-proclaimed “melting pot” vision.

It’s upon further inspection that the work takes on a subtly somber tone. Meehan began photographing the interiors of these homes because their owners are afraid to show their faces. They cannot openly plead their case, nor can they risk exposure for fear they will lose everything they have worked so hard to build.

See more of Meehan’s work here.