In Space, No-one has Covid

We start with some exciting news that this weekend (Saturday 14th November) will see the first routine crewed SpaceX launch. The capsule (aptly named: Resilience) will mark the first NASA crewed launch since 2011 when the shuttle program ended.

Earlier in the year two astronauts flew aboard the SpaceX Demo 2 mission to make final evaluations of the software and hardware developed by the public-private partnerships, and having gone smoothly, the regular program of shuttling astronauts to and from the ISS kicks off.

In other, infinite vacuum related, news; NASA plan to use dinosaur farts to project a capsule of shoe-wearing monkeys to the moon in 2024 #MakeTheMoonGreatAgain. That plan might change somewhat given recent democratic events, though the Space Launch System (SLS) will continue testing and will hopefully make a dry (i.e. monkey & shoe-less) run to the moon and back a year from now. The testing apparatus is pretty epic,  

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and built upon the same (though heavily renovated), half a century old, testbed which was used for the Saturn 5 rocket’s development before the Apollo moon landing. When testing the engines, which turn freezing liquid gases into exhaust vapor hot enough to boil iron, water is sprayed (also in the 100’s of thousands of gallons) to prevent the testing structure from being destroyed by the heat and noise.

The Saturn 5 is still, despite being out of commission for 50 years, the record holder for biggest baddest mother flipping rocket to ever fly – to quote every NASA engineer’s internal monologue. Eat your heart out, Elon… and Bezos and Branson. 

Look at this thing – it holds half a million gallons of hydrogen. 

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& the ape-descendant bearing portion of the whole setup, Orion looks sci-fi as heck.  
Anyway, back to the… news. Nerds.

The Internet

TikTok, Time is Running Out

Approximately 100 million years ago, back in August 2020, Trump’s administration ordered that TikTok’s parent company Bytedance must divest itself of all US-based assets by 12th November. After a lengthy process of negotiations and bidding a takeover deal by tech company Oracle was approved (despite Trump insisting that the US treasury should get to ‘take a cut’ of the deal).

The deal is now being delayed by approvals (or predictable lack thereof) from the Chinese Government, but in the meantime time has run out. The order gave Bytedance the option to apply for a 30-day extension, which they did… but they claim no-one has responded! They say the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has been silent for weeks. Essentially the Trump administration appears to have forgotten, or more likely, lost interest in their efforts to ban TikTok.

Update: on 13th November the administration announced the extension had not been granted but it will indefinitely delay enforcement, suggesting it has in fact entirely lost interest in TikTok.

Weekly Dose of Warm-Fuzzies

Fancy twenty minutes of harmless (albeit vacuous) ‘LoLs’ followed by a surprisingly heartwarming conclusion? Look no further than the latest doppelganger video from Oobah Butler (the guy who gamed Tripadvisor to make his shed the top-rated restaurant in London).

Butler specialises these days in finding lookalikes to do things people don’t want to do, like going sky-diving with their wife

This time it’s Stephen Monteau who wants someone to go to his high-school reunion who is more handsome and successful. Long story short, some aforementioned ‘lols’ before it turns out the school peers Monteau thought didn’t care about him would much rather have seen the real him again. Enjoy the warm-fuzzies before you remember about the pandemic again… Watch it here.

The US

What do now, Murica?

Congratulations America, you’ve achieved the bare minimum of a respectable democracy and elected someone basically qualified to govern. By ‘qualified’ here we mean ‘has decades of government experience’, where an unqualified candidate might look like, hypothetically, say a businessman sufficiently incompetent to test the fundamental principle of capitalism that ‘money begets money’.

In a contest between ex-VP Joe Biden and the world’s most media-drenched bitch (the Trumpster fire) there is only one qualified candidate on the course to a legitimate and mature democracy.

The value of having a ‘good man’, a good person, situated in the highest office of the land is incalculable. There will not be a tape recording of vulgar misogyny from the withering Biden. Biden will not abuse the American legal apparatus to cover up his crimes, as Trump has on many occasions.

Perhaps most importantly for a government that’s keenly able to form coherent strategies and execute on them, Biden’s team aren’t all going to end up being convicted –

“In all, 14 Trump aides, donors and advisers have been indicted or imprisoned since the days when the first-time candidate promised that he would only hire “the best people.””


It’s pretty hard to not be shit at governing while you’re under investigation or in prison. 

So, to recap our causes for celebration: 

  • The U.S. now has a head of state who likely won’t go out of their way to encourage strong men and authoritarians globally 
    • As Trump, for instance, actively praised the Chinese concentration camps for their Eastern Muslim minority…; or perhaps Biden would call a spade a spade and politely ask the Russian’s to stop poisoning inconvenient people with soviet era nerve agents – while Trump would snivel away from this opportunity like the sypyllitic-weasel that he is despite the Russian opposition leader’s explicit pleas for moral support.
  • The President of the United States will no longer be a draft dodging piece of shit
  • The POTUS will no longer be engaged in many character annihilating lawsuits (annihilating the victims, that is, not Trump) or use the DOJ to, ironically, pervert (pun intended) the course of justice
  • Biden will not lie about voter suppression 
  • The POTUS will wear a mask indoors and probably won’t host a super spreader event

The list goes on, you know it. 

Now, how about someone who unequivocally says the poor shouldn’t be punished for not being able to spend unnecessary quantities of money on healthcare? Maybe next time America… 

The UK

Cumming Cheap

In lockdown 1.0 Dominic Cummings, government puppet-master and Roark Jr. from Sin City impersonator, infamously broke a plethora of lockdown restrictions to go and stay at his not-second-home in County Durham. 

An investigation showed the property had been converted without planning permission, or alerting the local council, and so had paid no council tax since 2002. Lucky Dom though has avoided thousands of pounds in back-taxes as Durham Council have kindly agreed to waive them.

Well, we’ll see who gets the last laugh when there’s no more money in the national coffers for him to hand to Conservative Party donors… It’ll probably be Dom.

Update: Cummings left Downing Street last night (13th) with a packed up archive box and is apparently out on his ass with immediate effect. I would be delighted, but having provided a brutal Brexit and pathetic pandemic response he’s presumably set his sights on blowing up the sun or something of equivalent level of destruction. It does leave us a big question though: with Cummings gone, who’s PM now?

The Backbenchers aren’t Waking Up

It appears some Tory MPs are getting thoroughly fed-up with their own government. Who’d have thought that putting a narcissist who stacked his cabinet with incompetent ‘yes-people’ in charge would lead to dissatisfaction?

An array of back-bench pressure groups are forming and becoming increasingly well-organised and influential. Notable groups include the Northern Research Group (pushing for action on Johnson’s election promises to ‘level-up’ the North), the Covid Recovery Group (predominantly opposing lockdown measures), and the Common Sense Group. The latter rails against lockdown, what it sees as soft immigration policy, and ‘the woke agenda’ (ironic given how often some back-benchers are caught snoozing).

Like many melty right-wing snowflakes, they seem particularly upset about any investigations into historical racism. Recent targets include the Greenwich Maritime Museum’s research into historic links between the Royal Navy and slavery, which it described as “leftwing ideological nonsense, and the National Trust, which it said was “coloured by cultural Marxist dogma” and in the grips of “elite bourgeois liberals” for acknowledging links between some of its properties and the slave trade.

Thanks for reading! We’ll be back next week, get in touch with the authors Will Marshall and Alistair Simmonds on Twitter and let us know what you did and didn’t like.