Obamacare increases Florida insurance premiums

Finding out what’s in it: Florida citizens will see massive hikes in their healthcare premiums in 2015 because of Obamacare.

These hikes will also be accompanied by narrower networks and poorer service. Ain’t Obamacare grand?

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Obamacare continues force premiums to skyrocket.

Finding out what’s in it. Premiums continue to rise, and numerous insurance policies continue to be cancelled, all because of Obamacare.

Writing in Forbes, Manhattan Institute health-policy analyst and NRO contributor Avik Roy discovered that in 3,137 of America’s 3,144 counties, Obamacare has hiked 2014 individual-market premiums by an average of 49 percent. Women saw rates increase in 82 percent of U.S. counties, while they rose in 91 percent of counties for men. Although some have benefited from Obamacare’s subsidies, Roy writes, “Those who face higher premiums, higher taxes, or both, appear to outnumber those whom the law has made better off. That alone isn’t a test of the law’s virtue — but it is a measure of the law’s failed promise.”

The article also describes the cancellation of insurance policies in numerous states, despite Obama’s oft-repeated promise that “if you like your plan you can keep your plan. Period.”

The Feds steal cars

Theft by government: Homeland Security agents confiscate forty vehicles because they think they violate the Clean Air Act.

The story has this very interesting tidbit: According to the owner of one vehicle “had spent considerable money ensuring her vehicle would pass inspection laws and that it was in compliance with emission rules.” Nonetheless, the feds showed up at her door and took the vehicle.

Sudanese Christian woman arrives in U.S.

Some good news: The Sudanese Christian woman who had been threatened with execution because she would not renounce her religion has finally escaped Sudan, arriving in the United States on Thursday.

Go to the link for some joy. Despite the efforts of some in this country to destroy its fundamental freedoms, it still remains the world’s haven for the huddled masses yearning to breath free.

Another new launch company completes flight test

The competition heats up: Generation Orbit this week completed a test flight of its air launch rocket system for putting small payloads into space.

The flight was to test the handling and flight characteristics of the aircraft to be used to release the launchers.

The company is planning two different air-launched systems, one to put small payloads into suborbital space, another to put 100 pound payloads into orbit. In both cases they are targeting the science and educational community that builds cubesats and has been in desperate need of its own launch services for decades.

Vostochny Soyuz 2 launchpad nears completion

The competition heats up: The massive concrete launchpad structure for Russia’s Soyuz rockets at its new spaceport in Vostochny is now almost finished.

Nor is that the only thing getting built.

Also, official Russian TV showed the installation of giant cisterns for kerosene fuel, liquid oxygen and nitrogen gas at a nearly completed storage facility of the launch complex. The active construction of 12 residential buildings, of a kindergarden, of a boiler facility and of a water treatment plant was also continuing at the future space center. A new concrete-production plant, a power conversion station and a car park were reported approaching completion. During the summer, regular workforce was reinforced with 400 members of 22 student teams assembled at the site from 15 regions of the Russia, the local government said.

The head of Russia’s space agency also visited the site this week, demonstrating the government’s continuing strong commitment to get this new spaceport finished on time.

Update: In related news, sources in Russia’s Finance Ministry say that by 2016 the budget for Baikonur will be zeroed out, the money shifted entirely to running Vostochny. This is the first solid indication that Russia plans to abandon its historic Kazakhstan spaceport when the new spaceport is finished. Previously officials insisted that Russia was going to continue its partnership with Kazakhstan.

Getting closer

Comet 67P on July 31

This image of Comet 67P from Rosetta was taken yesterday. Though it has not been processed like the image I posted yesterday, more details continue to come out as the spacecraft each day gets closer to the comet. This image was taken from a distance of 825 miles, 375 miles closer than the previous day.

Very soon these close-up images will become too large to show the entire nucleus in one image. Rosetta will instead begin to snap images of specific features.

Meanwhile, the Rosetta science team released its first temperature readings of the comet.
» Read more

Mom arrested for teaching her son independence and self-reliance

Insanity: A mother has been arrested because she let her 7-year-old son walk alone about ten blocks to a neighborhood park.

The boy had a cell phone which he had just used to check in with his mother.

When I was seven I wandered all over my neighborhood in Brooklyn. In fact, when I was 4 to 6 my parents would rent a bungalow in a resort in the Catskills each summer. There, I would wander the countryside every day completely on my own. The resort, called a bungalow colony, was not fancy and did not really have any organized activities for the kids. We were free to explore, and would go miles in all directions into the nearby farm fields and woods. Interestingly, we knew our limits and always stayed within them.

But that was then, when this culture was free and believed in freedom and teaching independence and self-reliance to its young. Now, such ideas are considered evil and must be squelched.

The Clintons demand that unauthorized bios should not “be allowed”

Fascists: Faced with the publication this year of three unauthorized biographies, the Clintons are demanding that such works “should neither be allowed or enabled.”

The Clintons’ prepared statement is very clear:

Their behavior should neither be allowed nor enabled, and legitimate media outlets who know with every fiber of their being that this is complete crap should know not to get down in the gutter with them and spread their lies. But if anyone isn’t sure, let’s strap all three to a polygraph machine on live TV and let the needle tell the truth. [emphasis mine]

As Ed Morrissey notes bluntly at the link, “Their behavior should not ‘be allowed’? What authority exists to bar these authors and their publishers (one of which is Regnery, like Hot Air a subsidiary of Salem Communications) from engaging in political speech? A better question: What authority do the Clintons propose to stop political speech?” [emphasis in original]

A Hubble Space Telescope status report

Five years after the last shuttle repair mission, the Hubble Space Telescope continues to operate almost perfectly.

Jeletic said other than a single gyro failure, the observatory is operating in near-flawless fashion five years after the final shuttle crew departed. “Batteries are fine, solar arrays are fine, all the communications equipment is fine, we don’t see any glitches with the computers, the instruments are all fine,” he said. “In fact, an interesting statistic, the Advanced Camera for Surveys, which was repaired by the astronauts during the last servicing mission, that’s actually now run longer on the repair than it did originally for the Wide Field Camera part of it.”

The ACS, like the repaired Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, no longer has any internal redundancy. “It’s amazing. It truly is,” Jeletic said. “Given all the things that can fail, a lot of people were hoping for one or two years of continued work with it. Now we’ve gotten over five.” Likewise, the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, which also is operating in “single-string” mode, is still going strong.

When they completed the 2009 servicing mission, the goal was to give Hubble five more years of operation. They’ve done that, and are now looking to keep the telescope going till at least 2020, marking 30 years in orbit.

The only issue, not surprisingly, is the failure of one of the six gyros on board. These have traditionally been the telescope’s biggest problem, and have been replaced twice over during shuttle missions. Three of today’s six however are using a new design which will hopefully extend their life significantly.

Fermi proves that novae produce gamma rays

The Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope has discovered that novae, small scale stellar explosions similar to some supernovae but far less powerful, also produce gamma rays when they explode.

A nova is a sudden, short-lived brightening of an otherwise inconspicuous star caused by a thermonuclear explosion on the surface of a white dwarf, a compact star not much larger than Earth. Each nova explosion releases up to 100,000 times the annual energy output of our sun. Prior to Fermi, no one suspected these outbursts were capable of producing high-energy gamma rays, emission with energy levels millions of times greater than visible light and usually associated with far more powerful cosmic blasts.

What is significant about this is that it demonstrates a solid link between novae and supernovae, since only recently have scientists shown that some supernovae also produce gamma ray bursts. It suggests that the two explosions are produced by somewhat similar processes, but at very different scales. This fact will have important ramifications in the study of stellar evolution and the death of stars. For example, some nova stars often go nova repeatedly. Other data suggest that some more powerful eruptions can be recurrent as well. Extending this recurrent pattern to supernova suggests many new theoretical possibilities.

CIA admits it hacked the Senate’s computers

These people should be fired, then imprisoned: The CIA today admitted that illegally hacked into the Senate’s computer system.

Oh wait, I have a better idea! Let’s put them in charge of our healthcare and patrolling the borders and our tax system and space exploration and climate research and any number of other important issues of the day in which we need honesty, ethics, reliability, and competence!

A Democrat speaks, and lies spew out

We never tried to impeach Bush, says Democratic lawmaker who co-sponsored Bush impeachment bill.

What really depresses me about this story is not that the Democrat lied so blatantly but that she did so because she knew that her supporters are so wedded to her and her party that they will accept what she says without question. She knows she can get away with it.

In related news: “Want to see what liberals are really like? Then read our uncensored hate mail from the last three weeks.”

Mangement failures in Obamacare

Finding out what’s not in it: A new GAO report cites epic management incompetence in the Obama administration that caused the disastrous Obamacare website failure.

Among the issues, investigators found that the administration kept changing the contractors’ marching orders for the HealthCare.gov website, creating widespread confusion and adding tens of millions of dollars in costs. Changes were ordered seemingly willy-nilly, including 40 times when government officials did not have the initial authority to incur additional costs.

As a result, the government has spent $840 million on Healthcare.gov and its supporting systems, according to the report.

As I’ve said repeatedly, when you ask the equivalent of the Department of Motor Vehicles to run one-sixth of the U.S. economy, you are guaranteeing this kind of failure. Worse, it is not as if this hasn’t happened before. We have had plenty of experience with failed and bungled government operations in the past four decades. Why do we then demand that we entrust more of our lives to their control?

As Albert Einstein wisely noted, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

How the Earth gave the Moon a lemon shape

Scientists have found that the Earth’s gravity combined with the Moon’s rotation forced the satellite to become “lemon-shaped.”

As the Moon solidified, its rotation caused it to elongate along its polar axis. But because the length of the Moon’s rotation was the same as its orbit, with one hemisphere always facing the Earth, the tidal force of the Earth’s gravity then pulled at the center, distorting the Moon’s shape so that one hemisphere bulged Earthward.

This theory is not new, but these new calculations are more robust, lending greater weight to it.

The first lunar close-up

Fifty years ago tomorrow Ranger 7 took the first close-up images of the Moon, just before the spacecraft crashed onto the surface.

“It was like looking at a soft quilt or something, no jagged edges on anything,” muses Jim Burke, as if he’s describing something every school kid hasn’t seen a hundred times. “It looked like fresh snow in a way, except it was grey instead of white.”

At the time—50 years ago tomorrow—Burke was one of the first people on Earth to see what the surface of the Moon looks like up close. Early on the morning of July 31, 1964, he joined his colleagues in poring over a series of printed photographs, the pockmarked Moon getting closer and closer until one final blurred image marked the moment when Ranger 7 impacted the surface, making its own brand-new crater. A stripe of static along one side of that last photo indicated the interruption of the final transmission.

The article details the frustrating history of the Ranger program, with the first six attempts all failing. Ranger 7 succeeded, however, working so well that the last image actually got truncated at impact. The full set of images revealed the surprising cratered history of the Moon, with the impact rate of large to small craters far more complex than expected.

The early bombardment of the Earth

Using computer models based on the Moon’s crater record, scientists have developed a simulation of the great early bombardment of the Earth around 4 billion years ago.

The model suggests that the biggest asteroids to hit Earth would have been as large as 3,000 kilometres across. Between one and four would have been 1,000 kilometres wide or larger, it predicts, with a total of three to seven exceeding 500 kilometres in width. The most recent of these would have hit around 4.2–4.3 billion years ago.

In comparison with Earth’s mass, the amount of rock hitting the planet would have been tiny. But it would have had an enormous effect on Earth’s surface, says Marchi. A 10-kilometre-wide asteroid was enough to kill the dinosaurs, and studies4 show that one 500 kilometres across would vaporize all of the planet’s oceans. “At 1,000 kilometres, the effects would be so wide the planet would probably be completely resurfaced with material from the mantle,” he says.

More here, including animated gifs showing this bombardment unfold.

Today’s 67P image + the comet’s coma!

High Resolution of 67P, July 29, 2014

Today’s Comet 67P image from Rosetta above is actually an image from yesterday, refined and cleaned up by the spacecraft’s science team. The July 30 image can be found here, but it isn’t as interesting.

The image above was included in a press release that describes the effort by Rosetta to image the coma that surrounds this nucleus.

Clarence White & Roland White – I Am A Pilgram/Soldiers Joy

An evening pause: Performed live on Bob Baxter’s “Guitar Workshop” in 1973. Hat tip to jwing, who wrote the following when he sent me the link:

Clarence was instrumental in making flat-picking guitar a lead solo instrument in bluegrass, along with Doc Watson. He played as a session musician for many groups in the 60′s such as the Everly Brothers and The Monkees. Later he became the lead guitarist for Roger McGuinn’s Byrds. He developed the B-string bender invention that you can hear on the Eagles’ song “Take It Easy.” Sadly, in 1973 while packing up the band’s van after a late night gig he was hit by a drunk driver and was killed. A huge loss to music. This video was recorded in LA only a few months before that fateful night. Enjoy a true virtuoso.

Chinese anti-satellite test?

The U.S. State department is claiming that China completed a “non-destructive” anti-satellite test last week.

The State department also demanded that China refrain from further such actions.

China in turn said that the test was for a a ballistic missile defense system. According to these Chinese reports, the test was of a land-based missile designed to intercept an incoming rocket, much like Israel’s Iron Dome and the U.S. SDI systems. Such a system, however, is in many ways indistinguishable from an anti-sat system. In fact, the U.S. military proved that by firing a missile that successfully destroyed an orbiting satellite several years ago.

In the case of last week’s Chinese test, the interceptor did not apparently impact anything but instead demonstrated its ability to hit a prearranged simulated point in space.

New emails reveal Lois Lerner’s hatred of conservatives

Working for the Democratic Party: In newly revealed emails, Lois Lerner refers to Obama’s conservative opponents as “–holes” and “terRorists”.

In that Nov. 9, 2012 email, Lerner further suggests that conservatives will ruin the country: “So we don’t need to worry about alien teRrorists (sic). It’s our own crazies that will take us down,” she wrote.

The evidence also shows that Lerner used her private email account to conduct official IRS business, while also clearly favoring liberal organizations.

I wonder what we would find if those lost emails could turn up?

ExoMars will likely miss 2018 launch date

Because of technical and financial issues the European/Russian ExoMars rover mission is expected to miss its 2018 launch window.

The main reason for the delay would be the ExoMars’ brand-new landing system, which is designed to safely take the rover through a fiery descent in the Martian atmosphere and then softly land it on the surface of the Red Planet.

In addition to its late development start, the landing system has a complicated share of responsibilities between Russia and Europe, which greatly slows down the work. For example, the overall landing system is being developed by NPO Lavochkin in Moscow, while its parachute system will be provided by Europe. Many other aspects of the mission are similarly intertwined.

To further complicate matters, NPO Lavochkin, which traditionally builds all Russian planetary probes, but also some of the highly classified military satellites, is notorious for its Soviet-style secrecy. As a result, it is harder for the two sides to coordinate the work, Europeans sources said. Finally, the translation of documents between Russian and English further delays the work on the project.

The program is also significantly over budget.

A new cheap rocket company

The competition heats up: A New Zealand company says it is building a rocket capable of launching cubesats into orbit for only $5 million.

Rocket Lab says it is building a carbon-composited launch vehicle –named Electron—which will send small satellites into earth’s orbit for five million U.S. dollars. The U.S. company, which is building the vehicle in New Zealand, expects the first to be ready next year and already has committed to its first 30 launch slots.

Though their low cost will once again increase the space launch customer base, they are not really in competition with any of the big players, who don’t really make their money launching cubesats. Instead, by focusing on the cubesat market, Rocket Lab is aimed at providing launch services to a niche that has, up until now, had no real launch services. If a university or small company wanted to launch a cubesat., they had to piggyback on a large launch.

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