Monthly Archives: April 2013

Large majorities in the Muslim world want the Islamic legal and moral code of sharia as the official law in their countries

Large majorities in the Muslim world want the Islamic legal and moral code of sharia as the official law in their countries.

While the poll included many encouraging things, I found this to be its most disturbing statistic:

Suicide bombing was mostly rejected in the study by the Washington-based Pew Forum, but it won 40 percent support in the Palestinian territories, 39 percent in Afghanistan, 29 percent in Egypt and 26 percent in Bangladesh.

Name for me any other culture or religion in the world today where more than a quarter of the population thinks suicide bombings are a good thing.

Share

In NASA’s new contract with Russia to launch astronauts to ISS Russia has raised the ticket price from $63 million to $70.6 million per seat.

The competition heats up: In NASA’s new contract with Russia to launch astronauts to ISS, announced today, Russia has raised the ticket price from $63 million to $70.6 million per seat.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union the Russians have become very good capitalists indeed. Consider: the price the Russians were charging for a single ticket on Soyuz was about $33 million in 2004, when George Bush announced the planned retirement of the shuttle. Since then they have repeatedly jacked up the price, knowing that we have no where else to go.

In the end, these price increases are actually a good thing, as they will make it easier for the new American companies to undercut them while simultaneously making a bigger profit.

Share

The meteoric rise in Texas oil production since 2010.

The meteoric rise in Texas oil production since 2010.

Amazingly, oil production in the Lone Star State has more than doubled in less than three years, from 1.142 million bpd in July 2010 to 2.295 million bpd in February 2013, which has to be one of the most significant increases in oil output ever recorded in the history of the US over such a short period of time. A million bpd increase in oil output in less than three years in one state is remarkable, and would have never been possible without the revolutionary drilling techniques that just recently started accessing vast oceans of Texas shale oil.

The article does not going into any detail about why this boom suddenly started in 2010. They indicate that it is linked to the development of new drilling techniques, but I’d like to know more.

Share

Opportunity went into safe mode during the communications pause in April when the Sun was between Mars and the Earth.

Opportunity went into safe mode during the communications pause in April when the Sun was between Mars and the Earth.

Mission controllers for Opportunity, which landed on Mars in January 2004, first learned of the issue on Saturday (April 27). On that day, the rover got back in touch after a nearly three-week communication moratorium caused by an unfavorable planetary alignment called a Mars solar conjunction, in which Mars and Earth are on opposite sides of the sun. The Opportunity rover apparently put itself into standby on April 22 after sensing a problem during a routine camera check, mission managers said.

It sounds like this is a recoverable problem and the rover will be back in operation momentarily. Stay tuned.

Share

A dozen Democrats are calling for action on global warming because it might cause women to become hookers.

Is there nothing global warming can’t do? A dozen Democrats are calling for action on global warming because it might cause women to become hookers.

I shouldn’t be surprised by this idiocy. These are the same politicians that voted for Obamacare without even reading the bill.

Share

On the air, twice!

Tonight is radio night here at Behind the Black. I will be on two different syndicated radio shows, one in the United Kingdom, The Moore Show, followed by two hours live beginning at 10 pm (Pacific) on Coast to Coast with George Noory.

Both interviews should be a lot of fun. I intend to talk a bit about today’s SpaceShipTwo flight and how that lays the groundwork for the future of space travel. The subject of climate will also be a topic on both shows.

Share

It appears the Progress freighter has successfully docked with ISS.

It appears the Progress freighter has successfully docked with ISS.

The story is not entirely clear on whether this was a successful hard dock, or only a soft dock. However, I’ve done a search on the web and it sounds like the docking was good. This story says the astronauts on ISS will conducting leak tests (a normal procedure) and then begin unloading, which suggests that all is well.

A hard docking is confirmed.

Share

Congress is considering exempting itself and its staffers from Obamacare.

Now Congress has found out what’s in it: Lawmakers are considering exempting themselves and their staffers from Obamacare.

If they think the law is too onerous for themselves, then maybe they might finally realize that it is too onerous for everyone, and repeal the damn thing. Unfortunately, such common sense is not likely to appear in Washington.

Update: The story above suggested the exemption was being pushed by both parties. This apparently is not entirely true. There does appear to be some common sense in Washington, at least among some on the Republican side, as indicated by Republican statements from both the House and Senate. As noted by Speaker John Boehner’s office,
» Read more

Share

A new report from Russia suggests that the undeployed antenna on the Progess freighter will interfere with ISS’s docking port and prevent a docking.

A new report from Russia suggests that the undeployed antenna on the Progess freighter will interfere with ISS’s docking port and prevent a docking.

It appears that the antenna would allow a soft docking but prevent the hard docking necessary to allow for the opening of the hatch. Something similar to this had happened on the Russian Mir station in the 1987. Two astronauts did a space walk to clear the hatch of a piece of debris. Now the Russians are suggesting again that if a hard dock becomes impossible a spacewalk be performed to get the antenna out of the way.

Share

America the fallen: Twenty-four signs that our once proud cities are turning into poverty-stricken hellholes.

The day of reckoning looms: America the fallen: Twenty-four signs that our once proud cities are turning into poverty-stricken hellholes.

It is important to note that every single one of the cities cited in this article has been under Democratic Party rule for decades. While the decline is not entirely their fault, their tax-and-spend policies combined with a passion for heavy regulation certainly share much of the blame.

Share

An antenna used to orient a Progress freighter during docking, launched today to ISS, has failed to deploy.

An antenna used to orient a Progress freighter during docking, launched today to ISS, has failed to deploy.

Though astronauts can manually dock the spacecraft, they still need proper radar data to gauge its location, spin, orientation, speed, and distance. If the remaining four antennas cannot provide all this information, it will be very dangerous to try a docking.

A problem like this has not happened on a Progress freighter in literally decades. When I consider the spate of other recent failures experienced by the Russian space industry, I can’t help wondering whether they have developed an overall quality control problem.

Update: Russian mission control said today that even if they cannot solve the deployment failure and get the antenna working it will not prevent a docking with ISS on Friday.

I tend to believe them. With four other antennas plus additional radar equipment on ISS it does seems reasonable that there is sufficient redundancy to allow the docking to proceed. Also, considering the Russians past problems with collisions on Mir, I would expect them to be very careful about proceeding if they had any doubts.

Share

In a web interview today, Richard Branson said that the first supersonic powered flight of SpaceShipTwo is now set for this coming Monday.

The competition heats up: In a web interview today, Richard Branson said that the first supersonic powered flight of SpaceShipTwo is now set for this coming Monday.

We’re hoping to break the sound barrier. That’s planned Monday. It will be a historic day. This is going to be Virgin Galactic’s year. We’ll break the sound barrier Monday and from there, we build up through the rest of the year, finally going into space near the end of the year. I’ll be on the first official flight, which we look to have in the first quarter of next year. We’re doing a number of test flights into space first.

Share

Three years of Solar Dynamics Observatory images of the Sun — in three minutes.

Three years of Solar Dynamics Observatory images of the Sun — in three minutes.

I’ve posted the video below the fold. It’s quite cool.

Note that these images cover the period when the Sun was ramping up to what was hoped to be a strong solar maximum, when SDO was being designed and built. And though the Sun does appear to be active in these images, it is actually far less active than it has been for solar maximums going back at least a century.

» Read more

Share
1 2 3 5