Monthly Archives: December 2013

How global warming activists ended up getting stuck in the ice fields surrounding Antarctica.

How global warming activists ended up getting stuck in the ice fields surrounding Antarctica.

The first error expedition leaders made was under-estimating the prevailing sea ice conditions at Mawson Station, their destination. The scientists seemed to be convinced that Antarctica was a warmer place today than it had been 100 years earlier, and thus perhaps they could expect less sea ice there. This in turn would allow them to charter a lighter, cheaper vessel.

And then there’s this:

Why the vessel got trapped in the first place may be because [project leader and professor Chris] Turney never bothered to look at sea ice charts, which showed near record high levels of sea ice surrounding Antarctica. Moreover, Turney even denied that the overall sea ice trend was expanding around the continent. Fox News writes, “Turney said it was ‘silly’ to suggest he and 73 others aboard the MV Akademic Shokalskiy were trapped in ice they’d sought to prove had melted. He remained adamant that sea ice is melting, even as the boat remained trapped in frozen seas.

Did he expect to find less ice than Mawson did 100 years earlier? This appears to be what he expected, given his expedition’s planning. [emphasis mine]

In other words, this group and its so-called scientific leader are typical of the entire global warming climate community. Facts are irrelevant. The Earth is warming, the icecaps are disappearing, and to hell with any data that says otherwise.

Eventually, however, reality bites. Personally, I would much rather focus on reality first, so that I am prepared to deal with it when it jumps up at me.

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NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted China’s Yutu rover on the Moon’s surface.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted China’s Yutu rover on the Moon’s surface.

These images confirm that the rover landed in Mare Imbrium, not Sinus Iridum, the originally announced landing site and the site that many Chinese news sources continue to report as the landing site.

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AmeriCorps volunteers have discovered that the health plans provided by this federal program are insufficient to meet the requirements of Obamacare.

AmeriCorps volunteers have discovered that the health plans provided by this federal program are insufficient to meet the requirements of Obamacare.

If they don’t buy additional health insurance they will be subject to fines under the healthcare law.

I especially like this quote:

Sarah L. Sklaw, a 22-year-old Vista member from New York City, said: “I really support the Affordable Care Act, and I don’t want to be a naysayer. But it was surprising and frustrating to be told that our health coverage would not meet the law’s standards, especially because the Corporation for National and Community Service told us at orientation in August that we did not need to worry about the issue.”

In other words, she supported Obamacare, partly because she was told “if she liked her health plan, she could keep her health plan. Period.” She has now discovered that this was a lie and is angry. Who wudda thunk it?

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The geological history of Venus: What’s known, not known, and unknown.

The geological history of Venus: What’s known, not known, and unknown.

This is a very clearly written overview by James Head, one of the world’s preeminent planetary geologists, of what has been learned about the geology of Earth’s sister planet, the planet of a million volcanoes. Key quote:

Many features on Venus (folded mountain belts, rift zones, tesserae) were like Earth, but there were few signs of Earth-like plate tectonics, so that Venus seemed to have a single lithospheric plate that was losing heat conductively and advectively. But the cratering record presented a conundrum. First, the average age of the surface was <20% of the total age of the planet, and second, the average was not a combination of very old and very young surfaces, such as Earth’s continents and ocean basins. Third, the lack of variability in crater density, and of a spectrum of crater degradation, meant that all geological units might be about the same age. This implied that the observed surface of Venus must have been produced in the past hundreds of millions of years, possibly catastrophically, with very little volcanic or tectonic resurfacing since then! Suddenly, Venus was not like Earth, nor like the Moon, Mars, or Mercury.

Some scientists even believe that Venus was essentially resurfaced in a massive volcanic event about a half billion years ago. Others disagree. Meanwhile, the European probe Venus Express has gotten hints that volcanic activity is still going on.

As Head concludes, it has been 20 years since the last spacecraft arrived at Venus to do geological research. It is time to return.

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New York mayor Bill de Blasio: “We are going to get rid of the horse carriages. Period.”

A leftist politician speaks! New York mayor Bill de Blasio: “We are going to get rid of the horse carriages. Period.”

I highlight this story because it illustrates perfectly the priorities of the left. de Blasio wants to shut down the horse carriage industry that takes tourists on rides through Central Park because he and his ilk think it inhumane to the horses. Meanwhile, they don’t seem to care at all what this action will do to the humans who ride, care for, and make a living from those horses.

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Scientists think they have found cloudy skies on a nearby super Earth.

Scientists think they have found cloudy skies on two nearby exoplanets.

One planet is a super Earth, while the other is Neptune-sized.

This finding, as fascinating as it is, is also incredibly uncertain. The data suggests clouds, but the data is quite thin. We are barely seeing what’s there. Without doubt, the reality is far more complex — and interesting — than presently theorized.

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Elon Musk outlines the upcoming test program for the development of the man-rated Dragon capsule.

Elon Musk outlines the upcoming test program for the development of the man-rated Dragon capsule.

The bottom line is that they are planning two major unmanned flight tests in 2014, followed by a manned flight test in 2015. The manned flight would use their employees, not NASA astronauts.

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Mars One narrows its applicant pool of would-be Martian colonists from 200,000 to just over a 1000.

Mars One narrows its applicant pool of would-be Martian colonists from 200,000 to just over a 1000.

People started applying for a voyage to the red planet in April 2013 through Mars One, a Netherlands-based private venture that wants to land humans there by 2025. By the time the company stopped taking applications, more than 200,000 people had submitted one. Today, Mars One announced that it’s made a short(er) list of 1,058 applicants.

These are individuals willing to make a one way trip.

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Global sea ice area is now at its second highest level ever recorded, and closing in on an all time record.

The uncertainty of science: Global sea ice area is now at its second highest level ever recorded and is closing in on an all time record.

The link is also amusing in that it includes some interesting predictions made by global warming scientists and politicians in recent years, all predicting that the Arctic Ocean would be ice free by 2013.

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Moronic Common Core lessons the federal government is imposing on public schools.

Government marches on! Moronic Common Core lessons the federal government is imposing on public schools.

#4 is especially vile, as its whole point is to encourage racial hatred.

I have not written much about the federally mandated education program Common Core, but don’t worry, nothing about it will surprise you. It is like most things the federal government requires these days, poorly thought out, politically motivated, and destructive to our society.

Other than that, it is peachy cream wonderful!

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Dave Barry looks back at 2013.

Dave Barry looks back at 2013: The year of the zombies.

But getting back to the zombies: It wasn’t just people who came back alarmingly in 2013. The Cold War with Russia came back. Al-Qaeda came back. Turmoil in the Middle East came back. The debt ceiling came back. The major league baseball drug scandal came back. Dennis Rodman came back and went on humanitarian missions to North Korea (or maybe we just hallucinated that). The Endlessly Looming Government Shutdown came back. People lining up to buy iPhones to replace iPhones that they bought only minutes earlier came back. And for approximately the 250th time, the Obama administration pivoted back to the economy, which has somehow been recovering for years now without actually getting any better. Unfortunately, before they could get the darned thing fixed, the administration had to pivot back to yet another zombie issue, health care, because it turned out that Obamacare, despite all the massive brainpower behind it, had some “glitches,” in the same sense that the universe has some “atoms.”

Read it all. It will make you wish an actual zombie apocalypse had happened.

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The Obama administration essentially admits that Obamacare has increased the number of uninsured.

The Obama administration essentially admits that Obamacare has increased the number of uninsured.

The signups on the Obamacare website have been far below their goals. Meanwhile, the numbers of people who have had their insurance cancelled is far far higher. The result: fewer people insured.

Way to go, Democrats!

And then there’s this: Five Obamacare news stories to watch out for in 2014.

Except for the midterm elections, none sound like they will be good news.

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The company for the high resolution cameras that the Russian astronauts were unable to install on ISS during their spacewalk last week has issued an update.

The company for the high resolution cameras that the Russian astronauts were unable to install on ISS during their spacewalk last week has issued an update.

The installation of the cameras proceeded according to plan and without incident. During a spacewalk, Russian cosmonauts were able to transport the cameras to their mounting position and install them quickly and efficiently. However, soon after installation, the Mission Control Centre (MCC) outside of Moscow was unable to receive any data from either camera (contrary to what was reported during the live transmission of the spacewalk). Without this data, engineers in the MCC were not able to confirm that the cameras were receiving the power necessary to allow them to survive the temperature fluctuations of the space environment. As a consequence, senior technical personnel from UrtheCast and RSC Energia (UrtheCast’s Russian partner) jointly decided that the safest and most prudent course of action was to uninstall the cameras and bring them back inside the ISS to be reinstalled at a later date, once the data transmission problem has been solved.

UrtheCast’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr. George Tyc, was present at the MCC throughout the operation, along with the Company’s Chief Engineer for Space Systems, Mr. Greg Giffin. Said Dr. Tyc, “The fact the neither camera could communicate with the MCC strongly suggests that the problem lies inside the ISS and it is not a problem with the cameras or external cables. This kind of issue has been encountered before on the ISS and can be fixed in the near-term. Bringing the cameras back inside to be installed another day was simply the right engineering decision.”

No word on what caused the problem, but as this commercial project is being done in partnership with the Russians and the Russians are whom the company is working to solve the technical problem it was almost certainly on the Russian portion of ISS.

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A tea party look at 2013.

A tea party look at 2013.

In 2013, the five-year old conservative grassroots upsurge has grabbed Washington, D.C. by the collar, tearing the city colloquially known as “Boomtown” in a conservative direction for the first time in decades.

Though the article sees far more success in 2013 for tea party politicians than I think is warranted, I also think it does outline the birth of the future. The left is increasingly old and out of touch. The tea party, small now, has got the right ideas, and will thus grow stronger with time — assuming of course that it stays true to those ideas.

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Police confiscate a legal firearm and thus cost their city almost $7000 when the owner wins the lawsuit demanding the gun’s return.

Pushback: Police confiscate a legal firearm and thus cost their city almost $7000 when the owner wins the lawsuit demanding the gun’s return.

They also arrested the owner and held him for three days on charges so flimsy the prosecutor refused to prosecute.

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Obamacare includes absurd regulations that will cost the vending machine industry millions.

Finding out what’s in it: Obamacare includes absurd regulations that will cost the vending machine industry millions.

Around 457 pages into Obamcare, section 4205 stipulates “the vending machine operator shall provide a sign in close proximity to each article of food or the selection button that includes a clear and conspicuous statement disclosing the number of calories contained in the article.” This new mandate will cost the vending machine industry an estimated $25.8 million initially and an additional $24 million for every subsequent year.

Expect some companies to go out a business because of this craziness.

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The first person to cycle to the South Pole.

The first person to cycle to the South Pole.

Leijerstam used a modified version of the commercially-available Sprint trike, made by recumbent tricycle manufacturer Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE). She chose to go with a recumbent trike because it would allow her to maintain stability in the often very-high winds. This allowed her to concentrate simply on moving forward, instead of having to waste time and effort keeping her balance. The strategy paid off, as she not only made it, but also beat two other cyclists who had set out for the Pole on two-wheelers, days before her Dec. 17th start date.

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SpaceX successfully completed a static fire engine test Saturday in preparation for its next commercial satellite launch on January 3.

The competition heats up: SpaceX successfully completed a static fire engine test Saturday in preparation for its next commercial satellite launch on January 3.

It will be a busy next two months for commercial space. Cygnus is scheduled to launch on January 7, while Dragon makes its next flight on February 22. During that same time period a Russian Progress freighter will be launched. Also, there will be two Ariane 5 launches and one Proton launch, plus one commercial launch by India along with that country’s first launch of its home-built GSLV rocket.

As I say, the competition is heating up.

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The Russians today launched their new upgraded Soyuz 2 rocket, successfully putting three payloads into orbit.

The competition heats up: The Russians today launched their new upgraded Soyuz 2 rocket, successfully putting three payloads into orbit.

The rocket appears to be more powerful. It also appears designed for significant future upgrades that will increase its power even more.

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India has now scheduled January 5 as the date for the test launch of its homebuilt powerful GSLV rocket.

The competition heats up: India has now set January 5 as the date for the test launch of its homebuilt powerful GSLV rocket.

India’s needs this more powerful rocket if they are going to be a serious player in the new colonial movement in space. They have had many problems over the past decade trying to get it operational. Maybe now they will finally succeed.

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Today’s spacewalk by two Russian astronauts on ISS set a new Russian duration record though one of the two commercial cameras was unable to transmit its data to the ground.

Today’s spacewalk by two Russian astronauts on ISS set a new Russian duration record though one of the two commercial cameras installed was unable to transmit its data to the ground.

For reasons that are unclear, the astronauts were then instructed to disconnect both cameras and bring them back inside ISS. This caused the cancellation of a number of other tasks and was the reason the spacewalk was the longest ever by Russian astronauts.

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Were the dinosaurs covered by feathers or scales? Scientists disagree.

Were the dinosaurs covered by feathers or scales? Two scientists find that most had scales.

Palaeontologists Paul Barrett of the Natural History Museum in London and David Evans of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto created a database of all known impressions of dinosaur skin tissues. They then identified those that had feathers or feather-like structures, and considered relationships in the dinosaurian family tree.

The results, which Barrett revealed at the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology’s annual meeting in Los Angeles in late October, indicate that although some ornithischians, such as Psittacosaurus and Tianyulong, had quills or filaments in their skin, the overwhelming majority had scales or armour. Among sauropods, scales were also the norm.

The uncertainty of science: Don’t bet any money on this result. The number of dinosaur fossils actually known is relatively tiny — making the overall database tiny as well — and further discoveries could change everything.

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