Monthly Archives: November 2013

A mother with multiple sclerosis has lost her health insurance because of Obamacare.

Finding out what’s in it: A mother with multiple sclerosis has lost her health insurance because of Obamacare.

She will likely face an IRS audit now as well, since she has gone public with her story. Can’t have these little people speaking bad of our great leader.

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The Federal Trade Commission goes after piano teachers.

We’re here to help you: The Federal Trade Commission goes after piano teachers.

[T]he MTNA has existed since 1876 solely to advance the cause of music study and support music teachers. The 501(c)(3) has about 22,000 members, nearly 90% of them piano teachers, including many women who earn a modest living giving lessons in their homes. The group promotes music study and competitions and helps train teachers. Not exactly U.S. Steel.

The association’s sin, according to the feds, rested in its code of ethics. The code lays out ideals for members to follow—a commitment to students, colleagues, society. Tucked into this worthy document was a provision calling on teachers to respect their colleagues’ studios, and not actively recruit students from other teachers.

Such evil. Thank god we have Washington bureaucrats around to stamp it out!

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Scott Walker’s epic battle to beat the unions in Wisconsin.

Scott Walker’s epic battle to beat the unions in Wisconsin.

When they and Democratic legislators failed to prevent passage of Act 10 [the law that defanged the unions], they tried to defeat — with a scurrilous smear campaign that backfired — an elected state Supreme Court justice. They hoped that changing the court’s composition would get Walker’s reforms overturned. When this failed, they tried to capture the state Senate by recalling six Republican senators. When this failed, they tried to recall Walker. On the night that failed — he won with a larger margin than he had received when elected 19 months earlier — he resisted the temptation to proclaim, “This is what democracy looks like!”

Read it. It describes the way our country can defeat the fascists.

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A Progress freighter was manually docked with ISS today when its automatic docking system suffered a malfunction 200 feet from the station.

A Progress freighter was manually docked with ISS today when its automatic docking system suffered a malfunction 200 feet from the station.

This freighter was using a new rendezvous radar system, and had spent two extra days approaching the station to do rendezvous tests. What failed has not yet been released.

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The Falcon 9 rocket had an abort at launch today at 5:39 Eastern.

The Falcon 9 rocket had an abort at launch today at 5:39 Eastern.

The rocket is safe on the launchpad. They are assessing the situation. SpaceX has a remarkably good record of launching quickly and successfully after a launch abort, sometimes within an hour.

The countdown has been reset for a 6:44 pm Eastern launch, the latest they can in their launch window, and has resumed. You can watch it live here.

It appears that they have resumed the countdown, even as they continue to assess, so that if all is well they will be able to launch within their window. This means however they are not yet go for launch.

They now say they are go for launch, even as they assess. In addition, their customer, SES, has given them 20 more minutes on their launch window.

I just love how SpaceX seems to always have an abort-at-launch whenever I am free to watch. I think this is the fourth abort-at-launch nail-biter I have seen.

They have aborted the countdown again at T-48 seconds. They have also scrubbed for the day. It appears they had not completed their assessment of the original abort and decided to scrub. The next launch attempt date is not yet known.

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Though this conclusion is not final, it appears that Comet ISON was destroyed today in its close fly-by of the Sun.

Though this conclusion is not final, it appears that Comet ISON was destroyed today in its close fly-by of the Sun.

A sad end to what has been a cometary disappointment. First spotted while it was very far from the Sun, astronomers thus hoped that Comet ISON would blaze brightly when it got closer. Instead, it hardly brightened at all during its journey inward, barely reaching naked eye visibility in the last week. Now it appears to be gone forever.

Scientists will gain some knowledge from this comet, as it was a first time visitor to the inner solar system and thus provides information about the solar system’s beginnings. Nonetheless, for those of us that enjoy watching the beautiful things the heavens give us, this comet will always remain a dud.

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A cancer patient who went on Fox to talk about how Obamacare has made him lose his health insurance is now being audited by the IRS.

Working for the Democratic Party: A cancer patient who went on Fox to talk about how Obamacare has made him lose his health insurance is now being audited by the IRS.

Another way to describe this despicable behavior by the Obama Administration and the IRS is that they are fascist, jack-booted thugs. But that would be uncivil of me, even if it is entirely accurate.

Update: The insurance broker who saw the Fox news report and then helped the cancer patient keep his insurance is now also being audited.

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A new housecat-sized feline species has been discovered in Brazil.

A new housecat-sized feline species has been discovered in Brazil.

Oncillas are housecat-size felines found throughout much of South America, and are also known as little tiger cats, little spotted cats or tigrinas. But not all oncillas are the same: New research suggests that little tiger cats in northeastern Brazil belong to a different species from those elsewhere on the continent, although they look virtually identical.

Researchers analyzed the genetic material of oncillas in northeastern Brazil, and compared them with nearby populations in the south. They found that there was no flow of genes between the two populations of oncillas, and hasn’t been any for millennia, according to the study, published today (Nov. 27) in the journal Current Biology.

This, along with other genetic differences, led researchers to conclude the two populations do not interbreed and are in fact different species, said study co-author Eduardo Eizirik, a researcher at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.

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Gun confiscation begins in New York.

Gun confiscation begins in New York.

Not only does this violate the second amendment, it also violates the fifth amendment, which states that no private property shall “be taken … without just compensation.”

I am so glad I moved out of that fascist state back in 1997.

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Two brothers, also college students, have formed a company to build cubesats for researchers

The competition heats up: Two brothers, also college students, have formed a company to build cubesats for researchers.

Mark and Eric Becnel are aiming their company Radiobro at providing turnkey cube satellite services to researchers who have experiments they’d like to fly, but who don’t have the resources to build their own satellites to fly them. “There’s an unfilled niche there in supplying a need if a scientist wants to take an experiment and fly it in space,” Eric Becnel said. “The idea is to provide that researcher with an off-the-shelf solution.”

The solution will encompass both the hardware and software necessary for the research to take place and be monitored, the brothers said. “Maybe you’ve got a launch opportunity and a window to launch,” Mark Becnel said. “We can help you by delivering that satellite in as fast as 12 months.”

This is the kind of creative capitalism the American aerospace industry hasn’t seen from its new engineers in years. In my experience giving lectures at student chapters of the AIAA, aerospace students have routinely been focused on looking for a job, either at NASA or with one of the big aerospace companies. These guys are instead trying to create their own. I say, they have the right idea, and have picked the right venue at exactly the right time. If they do it right, they and their company Radiobro stand to be a big success.

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Comet ISON makes its close flyby of the sun today.

Comet ISON makes its close flyby of the sun today.

Three possible fates await Comet ISON, according to Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

“It could be tough enough to survive the passage of the sun and be a fairly bright naked-eye object in the early morning sky in the first week of December,” Yeomans said in a statement. “Or, the sun could actually pull it apart. The tidal forces could actually pull this comet apart and so it becomes several chunks rounding the sun and putting on a great show again in early December. Or, if the comet is very weak, it could break up into a cloud of dust and be a complete bust in December.”

So far the comet has been a big disappointment in terms of brightness. However, its flyby today will be interesting as scientists will get a chance to observe one of the largest sun-grazers they’ve ever seen do this.

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Faced with an almost certain recall over her gun control votes, a third Colorado state legislator has resigned.

Pushback: Faced with an almost certain recall over her gun control votes, a third Colorado state legislator has resigned.

By resigning she allows the Democratic governor to appoint a Democratic replacement, thereby keeping control of the state legislature in Democratic hands. Had she been recalled the voters would have had the option to vote for a Republican replacement, as happened with the first two legislators who were recalled.

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The Obama administration yesterday proposed outlawing political speech by any non-profits.

Working for the Democratic Party: The Obama administration yesterday proposed outlawing political speech by any non-profits.

The IRS would enforce these new rules, which would make official the harassment of conservatives that the IRS did during the run-up to the 2012 election. Though they claim these rules would apply to all political groups, you and I know that they will likely use these rules selectively to squelch the speech of the administration’s opponents.

If you have any doubt, consider the selective manner in which the National Park Service enforces its laws. The leftist Occupy movement was allowed to do whatever it liked during its protests, despite being in clear violation of the law, but veterans were blocked from visiting open-air national monuments during the government shutdown in October.

This decision by the Obama administration also reveals Obama’s total support for that IRS harassment of conservatives. He liked it, and now wants to make it official. Moreover, the failure of his so-called investigation into the IRS scandal to contact any of the groups harassed, even after six months, tells us again that President Obama actually supported the harassment and is acting to stonewall the investigation.

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Using Kepler data, astronomers have discovered a solar system with seven planets and configured similar to our own, with rocky planets close to the star and gas giants farther away

Using Kepler data, astronomers have discovered a solar system with seven planets and configured similar to our own, with rocky planets close to the star and gas giants farther away.

The system is far more compact than ours, with the gas giants in orbits similar to Mercury, Venus, and Earth.

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The ingenious plan engineers have devised to do good science with the crippled Kepler space telescope.

The ingenious plan engineers have devised to do good science with the crippled Kepler space telescope.

They are going to use the spacecraft’s solar panels as a pseudo third reaction wheel. This will allow it to point with acceptable accuracy for short periods.

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The Supreme Court has decided to rule on the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.

The Supreme Court has decided to rule on the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.

Remember, Obamacare does not have what lawyers call a severability clause. If they rule any part of the law unconstitutional, without this clause they are required to rule the entire law unconstitutional.

Of course, these rules existed when we followed rules. Nowadays, who knows?

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This year’s hurricane season, predicted to be above average, was the weakest in decades.

The uncertainty of climate science: This year’s hurricane season, predicted to be above average, was the weakest in decades.

This failure also continues a pattern seen in recent years, where the number of actual hurricanes ends up far below their prediction, but the number of named hurricanes still ends up about right (see the charts on the prediction link above). I noted this in 2012, and now it has happened again. As I said then,

I wonder if their naming process was fudged to get them the numbers they wanted. While it might be possible to do that with the naming process of tropical storms, it is far more difficult to fudge the number of actual hurricanes. My skeptical nature and the recent willingness in the climate field to fiddle with data probably makes me more suspicious than I should be.

Thus to me, these seasonal hurricane predictions are becoming increasingly suspect.

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Another wave of mortgage loan defaults is about to hit.

The day of reckoning looms: Another wave of mortgage loan defaults is about to hit.

The loans are a problem now because an increasing number are hitting their 10-year anniversary, at which point borrowers usually must start paying down the principal on the loans as well as the interest they had been paying all along. More than $221 billion of these loans at the largest banks will hit this mark over the next four years, about 40 percent of the home equity lines of credit now outstanding.

For a typical consumer, that shift can translate to their monthly payment more than tripling, a particular burden for the subprime borrowers that often took out these loans. And payments will rise further when the Federal Reserve starts to hike rates, because the loans usually carry floating interest rates.

Read the whole article. The possibilities, especially for some large banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America, are not good.

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Five disastrous predictions that the Republicans got right about Obamacare.

Five disastrous predictions that the Republicans got right about Obamacare.

Before Obamacare was passed, when Democrats were telling the public that it would make health care cheaper, better, and would cure cancer right after it makes your bed in the morning and cuts your grass, Republicans were pointing out the very flaws that the American people are bitterly complaining about today.

Sadly, the worst is yet to come, all of which have also been predicted by conservatives. And the most important prediction of all has been that there will no way to repair the damage created by this law by minor fixes. It must be repealed.

Update: Here’s another prediction that is going to hit 80 to 100 million people just before next year’s midterms. I wonder if it will cause any of those diehard low information Democratic voters to finally consider changing their votes.

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A Progress freighter, launched yesterday, will not dock with ISS for four days in order to test upgrades to its rendezvou radar system.

A Progress freighter, launched yesterday, will not dock with ISS for four days in order to test upgrades to its rendezvou radar system.

Unlike recent Progress vehicles that used the 2AO-VKA and AKR-VKA antennas of Kurs-A system, M-21M is sporting a AO-753A antenna of the Kurs-NA system instead. Once the Progress reaches its preliminary orbit, it will conduct a series of automated engine burns to put it on track to fly within one mile of the station on Wednesday, allowing for the test of the lighter, more-efficient Kurs automated rendezvous system hardware for upgraded Soyuz and Progress vehicles.

After it finishes its flyby, the Progress will loop above and behind the station, returning Friday for a docking.

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