Monthly Archives: August 2011

Europe and Russia talk of joint manned mission to Mars

Europe and Russia talk of joint manned mission to Mars.

I’m not sure how seriously to take this story, though its implications are intriguing regardless. More than any other country, Russia knows how to build the kind of spaceship necessary for the journey. What Europe will contribute more than anything else would be money.

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Did Obamacare cause the economic collapse

“The elephant in the room.”

By the spring of 2010, private sector job growth turned positive. In April job growth increased to 230,000 net private-sector jobs. The economy appeared on track for a normal recovery from an awful recession. The administration began confidently predicting a “Recovery Summer.” But Recovery Summer fizzled instead of sizzled. In May private sector job growth dropped sharply to less than 50,000 net jobs. Thereafter, monthly improvement in private job growth averaged just 6,500 jobs.

What else happened in the spring of 2010? Despite obstacles that many believed would kill the bill, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. Within two months, the trend in job growth dropped sharply. Monthly job creation had been on pace to top out in the hundreds of thousands. Post-Affordable Care Act, it has barely kept pace with population growth. [emphasis mine]

and

The health-care measure raises business costs and makes planning for the future more difficult. It should be expected to slow hiring.

Federal Reserve officials report that the law has had exactly this effect. Dennis Lockhart, president of the Atlanta Fed, reports that “prominent among these (factors businesses explain are impeding hiring) is the lack of clarity about the cost implications of the recent health care legislation. We’ve frequently heard strong comments to the effect of ‘my company won’t hire a single additional worker until we know what health insurance costs are going to be.'” Surveys bear out these warnings. In a recent poll one-third of small business owners identified the healthcare bill as one of their top two obstacles to hiring. [emphasis mine]

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66 Percent of CEOs Plan to Freeze or Downsize Workforce Size

Two-thirds of the country’s CEOs plan to freeze or downsize their workforce over the next year, according to a new survey.

“As I approach my 44th year in business, the last 20 as CEO, I can never remember a time when I felt so disenfranchised from our leadership in Washington. They seem determined to continue their ongoing anti-business attitude and to frustrate small and mid-sized businesses by uncertainty on taxes, government regulations, and simply too many bureaucratic restrictions. We desperately need a change in Washington.”

I guarantee that much of this reluctance to hire stems from uncertainty and fear of Obamacare and the regulations it brings.

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New images from Opportunity

Opportunity begins exploring the rim of Endeavour Crater, taking a bunch of new images . I especially like this one, of which I’ve posted a cropped scaled-down version below. The image looks across the 13-mile-wide Endeavour Crater to its far rim on the horizon. Note the haze. Mars very clearly has an atmosphere, even though it is far thinner than Earth’s. In the foreground are scattered rocks, ejecta produced from the impact that formed a smaller nearby crater now named Opportunity Crater.

Endeavour Crater as seen by Opportunity

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“Freedom Dies With Each Paper Cut”

“Freedom dies with each paper cut.”

Recently, the USDA inspectors show up and pull our workers out of the fields for hours of questions (while we still are paying them). They inspect our houses. Several items just not up to code say these inspectors in an accusatory and snide tone. Threw a stack of regulations literally 8 inches high, small type, saying we are responsible to know and to account for each and every one.

Now we treat our workers very well, but we treat them like men, not children. The house was “messy.” My goodness, we need to hire a maid! The screen door was not exactly square with the frame by an 1/8th of an inch. Well many folks around here live in older homes that have settled. The list goes on, but no item was such that our workers thought there was a problem. The worst part is we were treated like criminals. We are awaiting our fine for our failing to memorize every federal regulation applicable to us.

My dad is 67 and told the feds that he was out of farming due to this ridiculous bureaucracy and storm trooper treatment. Their arrogant reply, “well the law lets us inspect your land and homes one year after you have left farming, so you can’t keep us off your land next year either.”

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Two planes to Martha’s Vineyard

Barack and Michelle Obama took separate government planes to their vacation on Martha’s Vineyard,

This is just one clear example of why I have no faith in Obama’s sincerity when he claims he wants to rein in spending. To him, tax dollars and the government they fund are his little playthings, to do with as he likes.

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A reporter finds out the uselessness of Obama’s advice to call the USDA for help

A reporter finds out the naive uselessness of Obama’s advice to “contact the USDA” for help and advice about its new agricultural regulations.

In less than 24 hours, the reporter talked to about a dozen different offices, all of which passed the buck. And here is the final answer the reporter got, from media relations:

Secretary Vilsack continues to work closely with members of the Cabinet to help them engage with the agricultural community to ensure that we are separating fact from fiction on regulations because the administration is committed to providing greater certainty for farmers and ranchers. Because the question that was posed did not fall within USDA jurisdiction, it does not provide a fair representation of USDA’s robust efforts to get the right information to our producers throughout the country.

In other words, PR mumbo-jumbo that says nothing. Read the whole thing, as it is hilarious, tragic, and very very familiar, as we have all had this kind of experience trying to get answers from the government.

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EPA arbitrarily declares a couple’s property a wetland

We’re here to help you: The EPA arbitrarily declared a couple’s property a wetland and then threatened them with heavy fines if they didn’t restore the property to its pristine state.

The plot is not connected either to the lake or a nearby creek, though Mike Sackett, 45, says part of the land got “wet” at times in the spring. “We sued because we wanted our day in court to say, ‘This is not a wetland,’ ” he says.

The Sackett’s case is now before the Supreme Court.

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Archeologists reap treasures from a newly-discovered POW camp from the Civil War

Archeologists reap treasures from a newly-discovered POW camp from the Civil War.

Camp Lawton’s obscurity helped it remain undisturbed all these years. Built about 50 miles south of Augusta, the Confederate camp imprisoned about 10,000 Union soldiers after it opened in October 1864 to replace the infamous Andersonville prison. But it lasted barely six weeks before Sherman’s army arrived and burned it during his march from Atlanta to Savannah.

Barely a footnote in the war’s history, Camp Lawton was a low priority among scholars. Its exact location was never verified. While known to be near Magnolia Springs State Park, archaeologists figured the camp was too short-lived to yield real historical treasures. That changed last year when Georgia Southern archaeology student Kevin Chapman seized on an offer by the state Department of Natural Resources to pursue his master’s thesis by looking for evidence of Camp Lawton’s stockade walls on the park grounds.

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The job boom for government regulators under Obama

The chart of the day, from John Merlune at Investor’s Business Daily:

Boom in jobs for regulators

Merlune’s article outlines in frightening detail how there has been a job boom in only one place during the Obama administration, the government regulatory industry.

Regulatory agencies have seen their combined budgets grow a healthy 16% since 2008, topping $54 billion, according to the annual “Regulator’s Budget,” compiled by George Washington University and Washington University in St. Louis. That’s at a time when the overall economy grew a paltry 5%.

Meanwhile, employment at these agencies has climbed 13% since Obama took office to more than 281,000, while private-sector jobs shrank by 5.6%.

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Rats didn’t spread the Black Death

New research has shown that humans, not rats, spread the Black Death in the plague of 1348-1349. Also,

Sloane, who was previously a field archaeologist with the Museum of London, working on many medieval sites, is now attached to English Heritage. He has concluded that the spread of the 1348-49 plague, the worst to hit the capital, was far faster, with an impact far worse than had been estimated previously. While some suggest that half the city’s population of 60,000 died, he believes it could have been as high as two-thirds. Years later, in 1357, merchants were trying to get their tax bill cut on the grounds that a third of all property in the city was lying empty. [emphasis mine]

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The American Eclipse of 2017

2017 Eclipse map

Time to start making your vacation plans. On August 21, 2017 a total eclipse of the sun is going to traverse the entire length of the continental United States, from Oregon to South Carolina. Kentucky will have the longest view, with totality as long as three minutes.

And astronomers are already thinking of ways to harness the help of the American people in observing this event. In a paper published today on the Los Alamos astro-ph website, a team of astronomers are proposing organizing something they have dubbed the U.S. Eclipse MegaMovie, whereby they gather together as many images of the totality as possible and assemble them into a single film, showing the evolution of the sun’s corona as it crosses the continent.
» Read more

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