Monthly Archives: March 2013

At a cave rescue course

Posting this weekend is light because I am attending a class here in Tucson on cave rescue. Today, Saturday, was a mostly in class session going over the basics, most of which I am very familiar with from many years of experience. We did spend ninety minutes learning how to carry people around in a sked or sled, two different types of equipment used to carry a patient through difficult cave passage. In this case the terrain was simulated by going up, over, under, and around scaffolding and vehicles inside a garage. Lots of fun.

On Sunday we will be doing a mock rescue, whereby we will arrive at a cave entrance where we will have to locate the patient in the cave and get that person out of the cave safely. Should be most interesting.

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The collapse of household income since 2009.

The collapse of household income since 2009.

A comparison of the graph in the article above with the changing federal debt (both graphs below the fold) is quite revealing. The steep drop in household income in 2009 lines up precisely with the steep rise in federal deficits beginning in 2009. I wonder if they have anything to do with each other? The article also notes the possible negative impact of Obamacare. How could they think such a thing?
» Read more

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“We’re just not interested in continuing to support bureaucracies and talkfests.”

Canada to the UN environmental movement: “We’re just not interested in continuing to support bureaucracies and talkfests.”

The country has pulled out of a UN program supposedly aimed at “combating desertification,” noting that

only 18% of the roughly CAD$350,000 per year that Canada contributed to the U.N. initiative is “actually spent on programming,” [Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper] told Parliament this week during question period. “The rest goes to various bureaucratic measures. … It’s not an effective way to spend taxpayers’ money.”

As is their normal approach to debate, there is a lot of wailing, gnashing of teeth, and name-calling among the environmentalists, but no substantive response to counter Harper’s point above.

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One very good sign that North Korea’s recent warlike threats are merely posturing.

One very good sign that North Korea’s recent warlike threats are merely posturing.

[W]e do have one pretty good metric with which to judge the country’s intentions: the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The Kaesong Industrial Complex, located just across the northern side of the border, is staffed by South and North Koreans. It can’t function without Pyongyang’s daily okay. If the North suddenly shuts down Kaesong at some point, watch out. But as long as it’s still running, as it has been throughout the provocations and tensions of the last few weeks, we can probably – probably — assume that North Korea is not actually planning to launch a war.

And the complex is still in operation.

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“The fact that global surface temperatures have not followed the expected global warming pattern is now widely accepted.”

The uncertainty of science: “The fact that global surface temperatures have not followed the expected global warming pattern is now widely accepted.”

This quote above refers to scientists in the climate field, who are now admitting that for the past 20 years the climate has shown no warming, despite the continuing increase in CO2 in the atmosphere and their computer models that all predicted increased temperatures because of that CO2.

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India has successfully tested a homebuilt engine to be used in its more powerful geosynchronous launch rocket, set for launch in July.

The competition heats up: India has successfully tested a homebuilt engine to be used in its more powerful geosynchronous launch rocket, set for launch in July. More here.

Previous launches of the GSLV rocket used a Russian-built engine on a second stage. They also ended in failure, not because of the Russian equipment but because of other problems.

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There astronauts were successfully launched today from Russia and are expected to dock with ISS later tonight.

Three astronauts were successfully launched today from Russia and are expected to dock with ISS later tonight.

They are the first crew to use the fast route to ISS, only six hours, rather than the more traditional two day rendezvous path.

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Elon Musk confirms that on future Falcon 9 launches they will do tests of a powered return of the first stage.

The competition heats up: Elon Musk confirms that on future Falcon 9 launches they will do tests of a powered return of the first stage.

For the upcoming flight, after stage separation the first stage booster will do a burn to slow it down and then a second burn just before it reaches the water. In subsequent flights they will continue these over-water tests. He repeatedly emphasized that he expects several failures before they learn how to do it right. If all goes well with the over-water tests, they will fly back to launch site and land propulsively. He expects this could happen by mid-2014.

These tests are an extension of the Grasshopper tests, only this time they will take place during an actual launch.

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Science and sequestration in context

On March 21, the House accepted the continuing resolution proposed by the Senate for the year 2013. This continuing resolution will fund everything in the federal government though September of this year, and includes the cuts imposed on March 1 by sequestration.

As it always does, the journal Science did a specific analysis of the science portion of this budget bill. As usual, they looked only at the trees, not the forest, comparing the budget changes up or down for the 2012 and 2013 years only, noting how those changes will impact each agency’s programs. As usual, Science also took the side for more federal spending, assuming that in each case any cut was sure to cause significant harm to the nation’s ability to do cutting edge science.

I like to take a wider and deeper view. Below is a chart showing how the budgets for these agencies have changed since 2008. They give a much clearer perspective of the consequences of sequestration and the cuts, if any, imposed by Congress on these science agencies.
» Read more

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A Proton rocket has successfully launched a Mexican communications satellite today.

The competition heats up: A Proton rocket has successfully launched a Mexican communications satellite today.

ILS, the company that launches the commercial Proton rocket, needed this success badly, considering the recent problems they have had with the Proton’s Briz-M upper stage.

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To show support for the New Jersey family that had been threatened by the government for posting a picture of their son holding a rifle, hundreds of parents post pictures of their own gun-toting kids.

Pushback: To show support for the New Jersey family that had been threatened by the government for posting a picture of their son holding a rifle, hundreds of parents post pictures of their own gun-toting kids.

Note also that if you look at the posed pictures, none of the kids have their hands on the trigger. Unlike Michael Bloomberg’s actor in his anti-gun ads, these kids have been taught the safe way to handle a gun.

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A Democratic voter discovers he’s actually a tea party racist.

A Democratic voter discovers he’s actually a tea party racist.

Today was a bad day. After meeting with my tax accountant, I am now cutting a very large check to the State of California, all of which resulted from Proposition 30 and the “retroactive tax” that was levied on my 2012 income. This despite the fact that I already paid my 2012 taxes back in September.

While the law stipulates that I must surrender this money, I refuse to acknowledge this as a tax at all. This is not a tax. This is an asset seizure plain and simple. The term “retroactive tax” is a despicable euphemism. It is no different than when Hugo Chavez used the benign-sounding “nationalize” to describe his seizure of private property in Venezuela.

He then notes that he is not a tea party member or even a Republican and that he voted for Obama twice.

Wanna bet that in the next election he’ll still vote Democratic? Based on the history of the past three decades, I expect that even after this experience, he will still refuse to abandon the faction he has adopted (the Democratic Party) and change his vote.

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