Strange Times: Big Government Giveaways, a Farm in Bridgehampton & a Trip to Mars

Strange times

One thing nobody has pointed out is that the bold, left-wing liberal Donald Trump turned on the presses, printed money and gave it away, mostly to the poor, in greater amounts than any president of the United States, ever. This even includes Franklin D. Roosevelt and his giveaways and make-work jobs during the Great Depression. At the present time Joe Biden has given away $3 trillion, which is $2 short of Trump. But he’s got bills in the works to give away another $3 trillion. He’ll snatch back the title. It’s supposed to be only Democrats that do this.

One wonders, if this is only about printing presses working overtime, why no president has thought to do this for the nearly 90 years between FDR and Trump. It sure boosts the economy. It sure makes a lot of jobs.

I’ve asked Wall Street people about this great giveaway and they just shrug. It’s not such a big deal.

Maybe I’m wrong about the printing presses. Maybe all this extra money comes from bank loans. So one day America will get foreclosed upon.

The Great Depression ended with another government program – the huge effort to build guns, tanks and planes when FDR declared America to be “the arsenal of Democracy” to help defeat Hitler. Again it was just free money and jobs, jobs, jobs.

In 2010, I talked to a Bridgehampton farmer named Richard Hendrickson about the great giveaway during the Depression. Richard, who was still as smart as a whip, was almost 100 years old when I talked to him. He was about 18 when the Depression hit.

“For a time, we had about 30 jobless young up in the woods near Mecox,” he said. “They were on a government job program. Job was to count the bugs in the trees in one particular woods. The government paid them, fed them, housed them in temporary barracks that trucks towed in and when the job was finished, they went away. I met some of them. They were perfectly nice.”

He also talked about what his family did to help people who’d lost local jobs in the area.

“All these people out here are going hungry,” he continued. “Every Saturday, my mom and dad would load up a truck full of vegetables from our farm and we’d drive around the area giving it away to neighbors. We all did what we could to help.”

Perhaps it’s good to put all this in perspective, and consider our place in the universe.

We’re sitting on the third planet from the sun. And we’ve got real trouble. A pandemic and global warming. Maybe things would be better elsewhere.

So we’ve landed on Mars. I love the details of this. First of all, scientists in the mission center in Pasadena had to reset their watches to Mars time because Mars spins a little slower and it takes longer to complete a day.

Anyway, the Rover, which separated from a rocket and set down on Mars, cost $2.7 billion and is called “Perseverance” because it persevered for seven months to get us there. After coming down under a parachute, it landed in the bottom of a dusty crater, opened a little door and nudged out a small $85 million helicopter called “Ingenuity.” Ingenuity is 1.6 feet tall and weighs about 4 pounds.

Ingenuity activated a tiny solar panel then itself up and used that energy to unfold its wings and fly off. There’s a camera on Ingenuity and another camera on Perseverance. So Ingenuity made a video of the ground it hovered over and Perseverance took a video of it doing that. They’re like a couple of tourists.

On its first flight, Ingenuity rose up to a height of 16 feet, and flew 328 feet at 8 miles an hour to scan the rocks and dirt below, then turned around and flew back to Perseverance, landed and turned itself off.

NASA did have a problem with Ingenuity activating itself for a second trip. It was instructed to power up but it didn’t do it. Everyone was horrified. So they tried again and it did do it.

The scientists here scrambled around trying to find out what was wrong, and they discovered that it was a computer code problem. They wrote new code to work around the problem, but then decided not to use it, because it seemed the power up and power down instruction always worked if you tried enough times. Since the new workaround might result in some other computer activity not working property, why take the chance?

(Made me think that in the old days if something didn’t work quite right you could often fix it by banging it on the side with the flat of your hand. But that was not an option here.)

So anyway, as of mid-May, the helicopter has successfully gone on these little exploration trips five times, each time going further and further out before coming back. And now they’ve decided to extend the mission and have Ingenuity go out even farther, to the ridge at the end of the crater, hover there, and then have Perseverance trudge over and reset itself to where Ingenuity is hovering.

The goal of this new mission is to get Ingenuity to peek over the rim and see what’s what further out.

Eventually, with data safely stored in Perseverance, NASA expects to have a second rover land on Mars, gather up rocks and what’s been photographed and videoed and return with it, landing on Earth nine months later for further study.

Bottom line is that there are eight other planets out there and at least Mars hasn’t got the kind of problems we are having on Earth at this time.

Yay.

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