Monthly Archives: September 2013

“I respectfully inform you hereby that I am disinclined to join in any more mandatory radicalism.”

“I respectfully inform you hereby that I am disinclined to join in any more mandatory radicalism.”

The written words of a college teachers assistant to his professor. He wrote these words after deciding he can no longer attend any mandatory “diversity” training sessions after the last session. Click on the link and read his letter. You will find it most educational. It also describes nicely a good example of modern leftwing civility.

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In straight party line votes, the Democrats in Congress once again voted for Obamacare, refusing to even consider a one year delay in some of its provisions in order to keep the government running.

In straight party line votes, the Democrats in Congress today once again voted for Obamacare, refusing to even consider a one year delay in some of its provisions in order to keep the government running.

The Senate voted for the second time Monday to kill a Republican counter-offer that would rein in ObamaCare while funding the government, kicking the bill back to the House with only a couple hours left on the clock before the government begins to shut down. Lawmakers are facing a midnight deadline to reach an agreement on a government spending bill. Senate Democrats vow they will not accept any proposal that targets ObamaCare. The latest House bill would have delayed the law’s individual mandate while prohibiting lawmakers, their staff and top administration officials from getting government subsidies for their health care.

The Senate voted 54-46 along party lines to reject it. [emphasis mine]

My description of this story above is not how most news outlets are covering the story, since it spins the story in favor of the Republicans. However, the fact remains that the Democrats continue to demand that Obamacare be enforced, come hell or high water. No compromise, no negotiation, no discussion will be allowed, even if that means the entire federal government will go down in flames.

Personally, I am not worried about a government shutdown. It will be generally as harmless as sequestration was, especially since both parties came to an agreement to fund the military, which will not shutdown. Stories like this, about how NASA will be shutdown almost entirely, are mostly repeating overstatements and lies by the administration. Some projects will get delayed, others stalled, but nothing important will likely be lost.

And yes, we still intend to hike tomorrow in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, even if the Park Service tells us it is closed.

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Why the House should stand firm.

Why the House should stand firm.

When President Barack Obama is willing to negotiate with Russian, Syrian and Iranian leaders but unwilling to negotiate with the U.S. House of Representatives, it is time for the House to stand firm. When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says, according to unnamed sources quoted in Politico, that he will refuse to attend a negotiation at the White House because House Republicans have to cave and surrender to his terms, it is time to stand firm. When a senior, unnamed Democratic official is quoted Monday morning calling for no negotiations and saying “it’s time to punch the bully in the nose,” it is time to stand firm. When Obama spends a week making three partisan speeches attacking Republicans and then calls House Speaker John Boehner to tell him, “I will not negotiate,” it is time to stand firm.

It is a sad commentary on Obama’s attitude toward the elected majority of the House of Representatives that he could have a more pleasant conversation with the head of the Iranian dictatorship than with the elected leader of the U.S. House.

Just once in my life I would like to see the conservatives stand firm and not back down. What the Republicans are demanding is not unreasonable, and considering the numerous problems being caused by Obamacare, quite relevant and appropriate. If the Democrats discover they can get their way in even these circumstances, then their behavior in the coming years will become far more intolerant and uncompromising.

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The weather on an exoplanet: Cloudy and clear.

The weather on an exoplanet: Cloudy and clear.

Astronomers using data from NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes have created the first cloud map of a planet beyond our solar system, a sizzling, Jupiter-like world known as Kepler-7b. The planet is marked by high clouds in the west and clear skies in the east. Previous studies from Spitzer have resulted in temperature maps of planets orbiting other stars, but this is the first look at cloud structures on a distant world.

This result is cool, but no one should take it too seriously. They have detected evidence of that to the scientists “suggest” clouds, but no one really knows.

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“It is the Democrats who have taken an absolutist position.”

“It is the Democrats who have taken an absolutist position.”

The rest of the quote makes this point even clearer.

I’d like to repeal every word of the law. But that wasn’t my position even in this fight – my position in this fight was, we should defund it, which is different from repeal….Even now what the House of Representatives has done is a step removed from defunding – it’s delaying it. Now that’s the essence of a compromise. For all of us who want to see it repealed, simply delaying it for American families on the same terms as has been done for American corporations – that’s a compromise.

Guess who said it.

I repeat that this budget battle illustrates to everyone that the Democrats are willing to shut down the government rather than deal with the terrible problems their terrible law has caused. They imposed Obamcare on everyone without any negotiation or compromise, and remain unwilling to even consider any discussion or changes.

It is their baby, and since they are willing to practically die for it, maybe the voters should give them what they want.

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Russia’s Proton rocket returned to flight today with a successful launch of a commercial satellite.

Russia’s Proton rocket returned to flight today with a successful launch of a commercial satellite.

This launch only occurred about two hours ago and all appears at this time to be going well. For the Russians this is a crucial flight, as they need to demonstrate that they are cleaning up their quality control problems following the spectacular Proton launch failure in July in order to compete in the increasingly competitive launch market.

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SpaceX successfully launched its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket today, putting its first commercial payload into orbit.

SpaceX successfully launched its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket today, putting its first commercial payload into orbit.

They also attempted to restart both the first and second stages after separation to test the possibility of eventually getting them back to Earth undamaged.

Two post-mission burns of the boost stage were attempted. The first, involving three of the rocket’s nine first-stage Merlin 1D engines, was successful in slowing its descent into the atmosphere. But SpaceX was unable to carry out a second burn of a single engine after the stage went into a spin and ran out of fuel due to what Musk described as a centrifuge effect. The second burn was intended to further slow the first stage’s descent, and because it did not take place as planned, the stage hit the ocean hard, Musk said. Parts of the first stage had been recovered, he added.

The restart of the second stage never occurred due to what Elon Musk called “minor” issues.

The successes today of both Falcon 9 and Cygnus once again demonstrate the advantages of allowing private companies the freedom to design and build rockets they then own and can sell on the open market. The cost to get these space vehicles built was far lower than anything NASA has built in decades, and both got finished much faster as well.

Getting into space can only get cheaper and faster from here.

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Japan’s H-2A rocket, built by Mitsubishi, has won its first commercial contract.

The competition heats up: Japan’s H-2A rocket, built by Mitsubishi, has won its first commercial contract.

This is a surprise, as Japan has tried for years to sell the H-2A to commercial satellite carriers, with no success. That they have finally succeeded suggests to me that the demand for launch services is increasing, and there is room for more companies to provide the service.

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The Coney Island of the Smokies

The main drag in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

I must admit I did not expect this. When we made our reservations to stay in a timeshare motel in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, I imagined the town would resemble the small West Virginia towns I am very familiar with from my many years of caving in that state. There would be a relatively quiet main street, with some restaurants, a supermarket, one or two gas stations, and some basic shopping.

What I found instead is a wonderfully energetic example of American capitalism, a carnival amusement area reminiscent of the amusement spots of the past and most epitomized by Brooklyn’s Coney Island.

When I was growing up in Brooklyn in the late 1950s and 1960s, Coney Island was a shadow of its grand past, but it still carried with it much of its old glory. You could stroll along the boardwalk or Surf Avenue and visit hundreds of shops, stores, and amusement rides, most of which were independently owned. In addition, the island also had several larger private amusement parks, such as Steeplechase Park, Astroland, and Luna Park (which unfortunately had closed before I ever saw it), each of which had a collection of their own rides and amusements. With some, like Steeplechase and Luna, you had to pay a separate admission price to get in.

This is exactly what I discovered here in Gatlinburg and the adjacent towns of Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.
» Read more

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Ten states where Obamacare has wiped out health insurance.

Finding out what’s in it: Ten states where Obamacare has wiped out health insurance.

Read it. The details are quite horrible.

But don’t worry. President Obama and the Democrats in Congress are willing to shut down the government rather than even simply delay the implementation of this law for one year. For them, this law must stand, and that’s all there is to it.

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A good global warming scientists comments on the IPCC report: “The increase from 90-95% means that they are more certain. How they can justify this is beyond me.”

A good global warming scientists comments on the IPCC report: “The increase from 90-95% means that they are more certain. How they can justify this is beyond me.”

Read the whole post. Curry illustrates in blunt language how broken the IPCC process is, and how little it has to do with real science.

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Republicans vent frustration over their internal battles over stopping Obamacare.

Republicans vent frustration over their internal battles over stopping Obamacare.

I link this article, describing the conflicts within the Republican Party over tactics, to note that while these idiots and the press (both liberal and conservative) are focusing on these minor differences, the main point is being completely missed: The Democrats just voted again to endorse Obamacare and make sure that horrible law stays in force.

We know that almost every Republican wants to stop and repeal this law. All they are arguing over is tactics. What counts here is that the Democrats still support Obamacare, and have just demonstrated this to every voter. If the Republican leadership had any brains (something I sincerely now doubt), they would be focusing on this fact in every conversation with the press, continually. Similarly, the conservative press is acting stupid as well, focusing on these minor tactical battles rather than the fact that the Democrats continue to support this disaster of a law, despite the harm it is doing to Americans.

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India has now rescheduled the launch of its home-built GSLV rocket for December 15.

India has now rescheduled the launch of its home-built GSLV rocket for December 15.

The launch of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), which was deferred on August 19 following a flaw in the rocket, will take place on December 15, ISRO head said here today. “The launch of GSLV D5 satellite which was postponed on August 19 about two hours before liftoff after detection of a fuel leak in the rockets’ second stage will now be held on December 15,” ISRO chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan said at an interactive session with students and teachers here.

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Due to problems developing SpaceShipTwo’s engine, it appears that its first flight into space will not occur sooner than February 2014

Due to problems developing SpaceShipTwo’s engine, it appears that its first flight into space will not occur sooner than February 2014, and that commercial operations will likely not begin before the end of 2014.

The problem is that despite public claims to the contrary, the nitrous oxide-rubber hybrid has never been hot fired on the ground at full duration, sources indicate. And the engine is not powerful enough even when fully fired to get SpaceShipTwo into space with any actual payloads (i.e., six wealthy passengers). Even as Scaled Composites has pursued the flight test program and Virgin Galactic has issued optimistic flight predictions that commercial flights are only months away, the two companies have been secretly working on alternatives to the nitrous oxide-rubber engine they have been using to explore SpaceShipTwo’s flight envelope. Sources report that the development of alternative hybrid designs has been running into trouble. An engine that used nitrous oxide and nylon exploded on Scaled Composites test stand on May 17. The nozzle and rocket casing were thrown clear and the test stand was wrecked. The composite tank holding the nitrous oxide did not explode, but it was damaged to the point where it could not be reused.

This is very bad news. To develop a new engine at this late stage of development will be quite difficult. The spaceship itself was designed specifically with the first engine in mind. Any replacement will likely be different in power and design and require some changes to the ship.

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Divers have pulled fragments from the February 15 Chelyabinsk meteorite impact out of nearby Chebarkul Lake.

Divers have pulled fragments from the February 15 Chelyabinsk meteorite impact out of nearby Chebarkul Lake.

Posted from Gaitlinburg, Tennessee, the Coney Island of the Smoky Mountains. The drive today was sadly a lot longer than planned, as we hit bad traffic in Nashville.

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Obamacare will destroy our members’ health insurance, cry the unions.

Finding out what’s in it: Obamacare will destroy our members’ health insurance, cry the unions.

The key question the author asks:

What surprises me about this is that union leaders are pretty strategic when it comes to employee benefits. It was obvious in 2009 that Obamacare’s employer mandate would incentivize this shift. Why didn’t labor unions fight it back then?

The answer to that question is summed up in two words: blind partisanship. For the last two decades these unions have been hand-in-glove Democratic operatives. If the Democrats said “Jump!” the unions asked “How high?” If they had used just a little bit of brain power back in 2010 — as conservatives and tea party activists did — they would have seen how terrible Obamacare is and would have opposed it.

The real question is this: Will they now support Republicans who are trying to stop and repeal Obamacare? Or will the unions continue to be blindly partisan when it comes to elections? Sadly, I think they will continue to be blindly partisan.

Posted as we approach the Texas border.

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Curiosity has found that water and other interesting things permeate the soil of Mars.

Curiosity has found that water and other interesting things permeate the soil of Mars.

When [a soil sample was] heated, the instrument detected the abundance of water [about 2% of the sample] plus significant quantities of carbon dioxide, oxygen and sulfur compounds, according to the researchers. Carbonate materials — compounds that form in the presence of water — were also identified. The experiment confirmed the presence of oxygen- and chlorine-containing compounds — likely chlorates or perchlorates. Originally discovered by NASA’s 2008 Phoenix Mars Lander (and likely detected by NASA’s Viking landers in 1976), perchlorates were found in the soil of high-latitude arctic regions. This indicates that perchlorates occur globally over Mars. Though highly toxic to human biology, some microbes are known to use the oxidizing chemical for energy. This finding intensified the debate over whether hypothetical microbes on Mars could metabolize perchlorates in a similar way.

Perchlorates were proposed as an explanation for the Viking results by scientists who did not believe those results suggested the presence of microbiological life. I find it interesting that now scientists are saying that the perchlorates might actually be evidence of life. Once again, the uncertainty of science rules the day!

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The Obama administration today revealed that ObamaCare enrollment will be delayed for small businesses and Spanish speakers.

The Obama administration today revealed that ObamaCare enrollment will be delayed for small businesses and Spanish speakers.

It appears that neither the small business and Spanish language websites for enrolling will be ready on time, which also appears to be par for the course for this law and administration.

Not that this matters. The Democrats are going to make sure this law will stand no matter what.

Posted about a third of the way across Texas.

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Comet ISON has now brightened to 11th magnitude as it approaches its flyby of Mars.

Comet ISON has now brightened to 11th magnitude as it approaches its flyby of Mars.

The story above is hopeful the comet will put on a show in November, but I am increasingly doubtful. To be even visible to the naked eye it must brighten to 6th magnitude, and it appears to be brightening far slower than expected.

Posted as we drive through El Paso, Texas.

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“The Democrats in 2014 should by all means be asked relentlessly to defend their monster.”

“The Democrats in 2014 should by all means be asked relentlessly to defend their monster.”

As its Oct. 1 implementation date arrives, ObamaCare is the biggest bet that American liberalism has made in 80 years on its foundational beliefs. This thing called “ObamaCare” carries on its back all the justifications, hopes and dreams of the entitlement state. The chance is at hand to let its political underpinnings collapse, perhaps permanently.
If ObamaCare fails, or seriously falters, the entitlement state will suffer a historic loss of credibility with the American people. It will finally be vulnerable to challenge and fundamental change.

Still in New Mexico.

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