Today Should be a National Holiday, a Big One: starting an annual tradition.

I’m not kidding.

Back in the 1770’s unrest was growing in the American colonies, at least those along the Atlantic Seaboard from New Hampshire down through Georgia.  Protests over taxes imposed without the taxed having any voice in the matter, complaints about a distant monarch and legislative body making rules and laws over people to whom they are not beholden.

There had been clashes which fed that unrest, including the famous “Boston Massacre” where British troops fired into a rioting mob resulting in several deaths.  Think of it as the Kent State of the 18th century.

In an effort to quell the unrest, or at least have it be less of a threat to British officials, General Thomas Gage, Military governor of Massachusetts, under orders to take decisive action against the colonists, decided to confiscate firearms and ammunition from certain groups in the colony.  His forces marched on the night of April 18, 1775.

The colonists, forewarned of the action (the Longfellow poem, which children learn in school–or they did when I was in school–is historically inaccurate, but it sure is stirring, isn’t it?), first met the British troops at Lexington Massachusetts where John Parker, in command of the local Colonial Militia said, according to the recollection of one of the participants, “Stand your ground.  Don’t fire unless fired upon.  But if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

Whether Parker actually said those words, the first shot was fired.  No one knew who fired it, whether British or Colonial.  In the ensuing, brief battle the British regulars put the Colonial militia to flight.

The British then turned toward Concord.

A small unit of militia, hearing reports of firing at Lexington marched out but on spotting a British unit of about 700 while themselves only numbering about 250 they returned to Concord.  The Colonial militia departed the town across the North Bridge to a hill about a mile north of town where additional militia reinforcements continued to gather.

The British reached the town and began searching for the weapons they came to confiscate.  They found several cannon, too large to be moved quickly, and disabled them.  Other weapons and supplies had been either removed or hidden.

On seeing the smoke of the burning carriages from the cannon, the Militia began to move.  It is not my purpose here to go into detailed description of their movements but in the end the British regulars found themselves both outnumbered and outmaneuvered.  They fled, a rout that surprised the Colonial Militia as much as the British regulars.  Again, I simplify but in the end they marched back to Boston continuing to suffer casualties from what amounted to 18th century sniper fire from the surrounding brush.  The frustration of the British soldiers led them to atrocities, killing everyone they found in buildings whether they were involved in the fighting or not.

Eventually the British forces fought their way back to Boston where they were besieged by Militia forces numbering over 1500 men.

And the Revolutionary War had begun.

And so, on this day in 1775, the nascent United States took the course that would lead eventually to Independence.

And that’s why April 19 deserves to be a National Holiday on a par at least with Independence Day.  The latter was recognition of what became fact on the former.

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The political power of the NRA

Newsweek did an article where they tried to dismiss the NRA based on the idea that the number of members is smaller than people believed.  Not only was the article wildly, factually, inaccurate–a creation of pure wishful thinking if not deliberate disinformation–but, to be blunt, it really does not matter.

The anti-freedom Democrats (but I repeat myself) want to paint the NRA as the cause of opposition to their gun grabbing. If it’s the cause, if they can just defeat “the NRA” then they win. Only the NRA (and GOA and 2AF and other groups) isn’t cause, they’re effect of ordinary citizens who actually care about their rights, including RKBA. The NRA’s membership is modest on the national scale. Their political funding paltry compared to others. What they bring to the table is a lot of people who vote at least in part based on candidates’ support of RKBA–and the NRA helps, imperfectly perhaps but at least to some extent, to make people aware of where those Candidates stand on issues. In short, there are a lot of people–NRA members or not–who will vote based on those NRA ratings of politicians.

It’s not the money they offer to politicians that gives them their power. It’s not even the number of actual members. It’s the number of people who use them as a touchstone for whether or not a candidate is a “good” one to vote for on RKBA issues.

The NRA’s power comes from the fact that many people do support RKBA. But the anti-freedom Democrats (once again, I repeat myself) simply cannot wrap their heads around that so they try to convince themselves that it’s the other way around.

The very definition of “cart before the horse” in its original sense.

On This Day: Transit 1, the Granddaddy of GPS.

On this date in 1960 the Transit 1B was launched becoming the first successful navigation satellite.  The earlier Transit 1A, launched in September 1959 failed to reach orbit.

The program got its start shortly after the Soviets launched Sputnik 1 in 1957.  Scientists were able to determine its orbit using doppler shift of its radio signals during a single pass.  They theorized that if the orbit of a satellite was known and predictable, they could work backwards from the same information and determine the position a station receiving those signals and they proposed a satellite system to implement this principle.

The Transit 1B was launched on April 13, 1960 on a Thor-AbleStar rocket.  The rocket consisted of a Thor missile first stage and an “Ablestar” second stage.  This class of rocket was able to put up to 330 lbs into Low Earth Orbit.

The system was successfully tested in 1960.

After the first tests, the decision was made to switch from the Thor-Ablestar launcher to the Scout, solid fueled launcher.  This presented a significant challenge as the solid fueled Scout had both a lower payload capacity and subjected the payload to higher vibration during launch.  Smaller and more rugged electronics were successfully designed and the successfully  orbited went into orbit in December 1962.  The first of these new satellites Transit 5A-1 had problems with its power supply.  A second, launched in April 1963 failed to achieve orbit.  A third had various electronics problems including oscillator instability which meant it could not be used for navigation but it did successfully demonstrate gravity gradient stabilization (the ancestor of the “tether” concept).

These early “teething” problems were overcome and the Navy started using the system for navigation in 1964.  Surveyors used the system for making accurate benchmark measurements by averaging multiple Transit readings.

The system was rendered obsolete by the Global Positioning System satellites.  The last Transit satellite was launched in 1988, and remained in service until 1996, through the early days of GPS.

Not Stupid: A Blast from the Past

To my liberal friends:

I keep running into this “conservatives (by which they generally mean anyone the speaker thinks is not far left liberal/progressive) are stupid/uneducated” idea.  And, frankly, the constant refrain is making you look bad.

Look, you and I disagree on political philosophy. Fine. We have different priorities on what we consider important. But this “conservatives are stupid/ignorant/uneducated” meme is getting old.

My degree is in physics. I graduated Summa Cum Laude.  I work in “cutting edge” technology (Atomic Force Microscopy, one of the enabling technologies to nanotechnology). I am also a bona-fide “rocket scientist” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacecub) and have presented at space development conferences and seen concepts that I pioneered (commercial, manned, suborbital flight) go from paper to hardware reality.

I am not stupid, or ignorant, or uneducated. I just happen to think that “liberty” trumps “security.” That the best social program for the poor is a job. That a strong, vibrant, growing economy benefits everyone, rich and poor alike, that “government stimulus” is only able to put money into the economy that it took out of it in the first place and therefore does not help on any except the shortest of terms and actively harms the economy in the long term, and that the government should actually follow the Constitution, that something that is important enough that it must be done even if the Constitution doesn’t allow it, then amend. the. Constitution. to allow it.

And if the schools, that lead to “better educated” folk, have been telling people otherwise, well, so much the worse for the schools.

I’ve seen this refrain before, for at least 20 years.  Disagree with someone (in the incident I am specifically thinking of, that someone being a “professional educator”) not on facts but on a matter of political philosophy, on relative values, and get told to “go back to school, a public school”.  Since there was no disagreement on the facts of the matter in the case in question, but on what conclusions people drew from the matter there could not have been a better admission that schools weren’t teaching skills so much as providing political indoctrination.

So please stop confusing indoctrination with education, agreement with your favored policy for intelligence.   Recognize that people can disagree with you and not be stupid.  Otherwise, the results will turn around and bite you in the end.

Sidekicks

The movie with Chuck Norris, Mako (one of the great character actors of his day and it’s a shame he never got that gold statue), Richard Moll, Joe Piscopo and others.

On Facebook I saw that this movie was released 25 years ago yesterday.  That doesn’t add up to me, but that’s okay; it’s what brought it to mind.

I’ve got to admit, it has always been one of my guilty pleasures.  Behind the send-up of action movies, well, to a large extent I was  that kid.  Oh, I didn’t have the asthma excuse for getting out of gym.  No, I had it worse, I had the combination of being a physical “late bloomer” (meaning I hit puberty, and the various growth spurts, later than my peers) so I was always the runt in the class without having an excuse from showing everybody how small and weak I was.

And, of course, there was no Mr. Lee to take me under his wing and help me through all that.  And I didn’t have a “father figure” of any type really for guidance and support.  My parents had separated when I was very young.  The stepfather that came later was also gone (praise the Norns–and that abusive SOB is now long dead; may his shade haunt Niflhel until Ragnarok and beyond).  So I had to deal with that all on my own.

But I’m not bitter.  No, not in the least.

If you didn’t get it, that was sarcasm.

Anyway, back to the movie.  I don’t know how long it will be there, but for now at least the whole thing appears to be up on Youtube for free: