Monthly Archives: June 2012

A SWAT team in Indiana broke down the unlocked front door, tossed in stun grenade, and then stormed into … (wait for it) … the wrong house.

Does this make you feel safer? A SWAT team in Indiana broke down the unlocked front door, tossed in stun grenade, and then stormed into … (wait for it) … the wrong house.

Update: Thank you Steve for noting that I typed the wrong state, Illinois, in the post. This has now been corrected.

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Wiretap applications by Eric Holder’s Justice Department are now providing evidence that top officials, including Holder, knew about the Fast-and-Furious program and its smuggling of guns illegally into Mexico long before the murder of border agent Brian Terry by one of those guns.

It’s not the crime but the coverup: Newly revealed wiretap applications by Eric Holder’s Justice Department show that top officials, including Holder, almost certainly knew about the Fast-and-Furious program and its smuggling of guns illegally into Mexico long before the murder of border agent Brian Terry by one of those guns.

This evidence provides an explanation why Obama, Holder and other Justice officials have been stonewalling Congressional investigations. The documents they are withholding likely prove that they have been lying, from the beginning, about what they knew about Fast-and-Furious. Worse, their willingness to let guns pass over the border into Mexico illegally would make them accessories in the murders of Terry and numerous Mexicans.

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The journal Science once again excuses scientific fraud

Science has once again decided to make excuses for scientific fraud.

The first link is describes Science’s willingness in 2011 to excuse the illegal effort of Phil Jones and Michael Mann to delete emails in the climategate scandal. The second link is Science’s effort today to protect another scientist, social scientist Dirk Smeesters, who — as described in the third link — was forced to resign from his university and retract two papers after being caught fudging data to produce the results he wanted.

This quote below however — from the Science article itself — should have been all a scientific peer-reviewed journal like Science should have needed to know:

Smeesters repeated in the interview what he told the university: That he only engaged in so-called data massaging, a “large grey area” in his field, and that the raw data for some of his experiments were lost when his home computer crashed. Paper records for the studies, he added, also disappeared when he moved his office. [emphasis mine]

A scientist who admits that he fiddled with his raw data to get the results he wants, and then admits losing that raw data so that no one can check him deserves no defense ever from the scientific community. That Science is willing to make such a defense is further evidence that something is really rotten in the established upper echelons of American science.

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Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister said today that his country needs to expand its commercial space services and grab market share from the United States and Europe.

The competition heats up: Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister said today that his country needs to expand its commercial space services and grab market share from the United States and Europe.

I wonder if these comments stem from a realization that — because Russia’s Proton rocket, its main commercial space product, is twice as expensive as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 — Russia faces a significant loss of business if it does not adapt.

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Clark Lindsey posted today this interesting cost comparison between the Falcon 9 and the Russian-built Proton rocket.

The cost of launch: Clark Lindsey posted today this interesting cost comparison between the Falcon 9 and the Russian-built Proton rocket.

The essence is this: The Proton rocket costs twice as much as the Falcon 9. If SpaceX can make a profit charging these low numbers, the launch industry is going to see a major shake out in the coming years.

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The most powerful rocket presently in service, the Delta-4 Heavy, successfully launched a U.S. surveillance satellite this morning.

The most powerful rocket presently in service, the Delta-4 Heavy, successfully launched a U.S. surveillance satellite this morning.

The booster features three core rocket boosters and is topped with a second stage to place payloads into orbit. It is 235 feet tall (72 meters) and can carry payloads of up to 24 tons into low-Earth orbit and 11 tons to geosynchronous orbits.

SpaceX’s proposed Falcon Heavy would launch about 50 tons into low Earth orbit, making it twice as powerful, should it be built. The next obvious question, which I can’t answer at the moment, is how do these two rockets compare in terms of cost?

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“It’s all up to the voters now.”

“It’s all up to the voters now.”

It always has been up to the voters. Sadly, my baby-boom generation has too often turned to the courts to absolve themselves from responsibility for making tough decisions as voters. With Obamacare, that is no longer possible. If the public wants to get rid of this turkey of a law, which every poll says they do, the public had better come out to the polls in November and vote for candidates who are in favor of its repeal.

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A Modest Proposal

“A Modest Proposal.”

Now that the Roberts Court has affirmed that the government has the power to mandate purchases of private goods and services as long as it’s structured as a tax, I propose that we put this new-found authority in the service of an explicit Constitutional right. For far too long, too many Americans have suffered from an inequal distribution of firearms, despite the Second Amendment’s express exhortation to “keep and bear arms,” in large part because income inequality in this nation has kept the poor and working classes from having the proper protection for themselves and their loved ones. We need to end this disparity now by applying the ObamaCare model immediately.

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While thousands protest the restarting of any nuclear power plants in Japan following last year’s earthquake, some scientists have questions about one particular plant.

While thousands protest the restarting of any nuclear power plants in Japan following last year’s earthquake, some scientists have questions about one particular plant.

The article’s headline falsely suggests that the scientists oppose all nuclear power plants, which is not the case. If anything, the overall manner in which the Fukushima power plant withstood the biggest earthquake in history demonstrated that most of Japan’s nuclear power plants are probably safe from future earthquakes. For scientists to have concerns about one particular plant seems reasonable, however, and is not the same thing as opposing all nuclear power.

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A skeptic takes an educated look at alternative energy.

A skeptic takes an educated look at alternative energy.

The matter of affordable costs is the hardest promise to assess, given the many assorted subsidies and the creative accounting techniques that have for years propped up alternative and renewable generation technologies. Both the European Wind Energy Association and the American Wind Energy Association claim that wind turbines already produce cheaper electricity than coal-fired power plants do, while the solar enthusiasts love to take the history of impressively declining prices for photovoltaic cells and project them forward to imply that we’ll soon see installed costs that are amazingly low.

But other analyses refute the claims of cheap wind electricity, and still others take into account the fact that photo­voltaic installations require not just cells but also frames, inverters, batteries, and labor. These associated expenses are not plummeting at all, and that is why the cost of electricity generated by residential solar systems in the United States has not changed dramatically since 2000. At that time the national mean was close to 40 U.S. cents per kilowatt­-hour, while the latest Solarbuzz data for 2012 show 28.91 cents per kilowatt-hour in sunny climates and 63.60 cents per kilowatt-­hour in cloudy ones. That’s still far more expensive than using fossil fuels, which in the United States cost between 11 and 12 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2011. The age of mass-scale, decentralized photovoltaic generation is not here yet.

Then consider the question of scale. Wind power is more advanced commercially than solar power, but with about 47 gigawatts in the United States at the end of 2011 it still accounted for less than 4 percent of the net installed summer generating capacity in that country. And because the capacity factors of U.S. wind turbines are so low, wind supplied less than 3 percent of all the electricity generated there in 2011.

Read the whole article. It is detailed, thoughtful, and blunt.

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Data of the tidal fluxes on Titan by the Cassini spacecraft now suggest that there is a liquid ocean below Titan’s icy crust.

Data of the tidal fluxes on Titan by the Cassini spacecraft now suggest that there is a liquid ocean below Titan’s icy crust.

The team’s analyses suggest that the surface of the moon can rise and fall by up to 10 metres during each orbit, says Iess. That degree of warpage suggests that Titan’s interior is relatively deformable, the team reports today in Science1. Several models of the moon’s internal structure suggest such flexibility — including a model in which the moon is solid but soft and squishy throughout. But the researchers contend that the most likely model of Titan is one in which an icy shell dozens of kilometres thick floats atop a global ocean. The team’s findings, together with the results of previous studies, hint that Titan’s ocean may lie no more than 100 km below the moon’s surface.

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A private organization focused on preventing asteroids from impacting the Earth today announced its plans to build and launch an infrared space telescope by 2017.

A private organization focused on preventing asteroids from impacting the Earth today announced its plans to build and launch an infrared space telescope by 2017.

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Scientists have found a previously unknown mineral embedded in a meteorite that crashed to Earth in 1969.

Scientists have found a previously unknown mineral embedded in a meteorite that crashed to Earth in 1969.

Dubbed panguite, the new titanium oxide is named after Pan Gu, the giant from ancient Chinese mythology who established the world by separating yin from yang to create the earth and the sky. … “Panguite is an especially exciting discovery since it is not only a new mineral, but also a material previously unknown to science,” says Chi Ma, a senior scientist and director of the Geological and Planetary Sciences division’s Analytical Facility at Caltech and corresponding author on the paper.

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Both Russia and the United States have developed a “pain ray” weapon for dispersing protestors.

What could go wrong? Both Russia and the United States have developed a “pain ray gun” for dispersing protestors.

The beam has a much shorter wavelength than a microwave oven and very different effects. The waves penetrate only about 1/64 of an inch, and anyone caught in the beam experiences painful but harmless heating of their skin. It causes what developers call a repel effect; nobody can stand it more than a few seconds before having to get out of the beam.

That’s the American system, not yet used. The Russian system is similar, and the Russians seem ready and willing to put it into operation.

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The bloody and corrupt scandal of Obama’s Fast-and-Furious gun-smuggling operation: a summary.

The bloody and corrupt scandal of Obama’s Fast-and-Furious gun-smuggling operation: a summary.

Imagine a government agency designed for the specific purpose of investigating and preventing the unlawful use, manufacture, and possession of firearms. Now imagine this agency engaging in an operation that not only goes against that purpose, but actually seeks to accomplish the opposite, by actively encouraging the sale of firearms to people whose ties to organized crime and gun violence are well known – and that this operation involves sending firearms across an international border into a country that this agency, and the government of which it is a part, purposely failed to warn, inform, or request permission from.

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