Monthly Archives: August 2011

Some questions about today’s hypersonic test flight

Here are some additional stories describing today’s test flight of the Hypersonic Test Vehicle.

I have several questions, and no answers:


Legal rabbit farm raided and destroyed

The abuse of power: A legal rabbit farm raided and destroyed by Colorado police.

“They’ve destroyed me emotionally, socially and professionally,” Bell said, listing numerous ways in which local animal rights activists have publicized information about the case in an effort to make her and her four children — all adults who haven’t lived under her roof for several years — look bad. But that’s not all.

“They’ve made 4-H kids all across Colorado just sob,” she said, “because I am their 4-H connection.” Bell noted that 12 of the seized rabbits belong to 4-H kids who were planning to show them at upcoming fairs — two at the Jefferson County Fair that begins Thursday and the remaining 10 at the Colorado State Fair which runs from Aug. 26 to Sept. 5 in Pueblo.


“The left is going to have to compromise and cut some domestic welfare spending, and the right is going to have to compromise and cut some military spending.”

From a Tea party activist: “The left is going to have to compromise and cut some domestic welfare spending, and the right is going to have to compromise and cut some military spending.”


Hubble captures a necklace in space

necklace in space

Who needs aliens and imagined cities on the moon when you have a reality that produces such strange and beautiful things as the image on the right?

On July 2, the Hubble Space Telescope took this image of a planetary nebula, aptly dubbed the Necklace Nebula. As the caption explains,

A pair of stars orbiting close together produced the nebula, also called PN G054.2-03.4. About 10,000 years ago one of the aging stars ballooned to the point where it engulfed its companion star. The smaller star continued orbiting inside its larger companion, increasing the giant’s rotation rate.

The bloated companion star spun so fast that a large part of its gaseous envelope expanded into space. Due to centrifugal force, most of the gas escaped along the star’s equator, producing a ring. The embedded bright knots are dense gas clumps in the ring.

The binary still exists, and can be seen as the star in the center of the necklace. The two stars are now only a few million miles apart and complete an orbit around each other in about a day.


TSA lawyers argued yesterday they did nothing wrong in arresting a protester who removed his shirt and pants at a security checkpoint

Thugs: TSA lawyers argued yesterday they did nothing wrong in arresting a protester who removed his shirt and pants at a security checkpoint to reveal the fourth amendment of the Bill of Rights written on his chest.


The state of the Himalayan glaciers

A new study of the glaciers of the Himalayas by the Indian Space Research Organization and the Geological Survey of India has found that, based on satellite data, 2184 were retreating, 435 were advancing, and 148 showed no change.

It is refreshing that the scientists and politicians involved in India refused to cite global warming as a cause, referring instead to the “natural cyclic process”. As India’s former environment minister Jairam Ramesh noted, “There is no doubt that the general health of the Himalayan glaciers is worsening, but the truth is incredibly complex.”


Making hard choices

A new poll shows that the congressional special election to replace Anthony Weiner in the traditionally Democratic district in Queens/Brooklyn, New York is surprisingly competitive.

The poll found [Democrat] Weprin, a state assemblyman, leading [Republican] Turner, a retired broadcasting executive, 48 percent to 42 percent in the race for the Democratic-friendly Queens and Brooklyn-area seat.

Two thoughts: First, this poll fits with another that shows for the first time a majority of adults don’t want their own Congressman reelected. If so, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Democrat appears so weak in Brooklyn/Queens, a place I lived for most of my life and a place I found to be so knee-jerk Democrat that you couldn’t admit to being Republican without risking being blacklisted from all things.

Second, despite the mess the federal government is in as well as the disgraceful scandal that caused the previously elected Democratic Congressman to resign, it is also not surprising that 48 percent of the population still wants to vote Democrat in this district. This is my biggest fear: the continuing unwillingness of too many Americans to honestly face our government’s budget problems.
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The very slow ramp up to maximum

an active sun

As it does every month, NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center released today its monthly updated graph of the Sun’s solar cycle sunspot activity. I have posted the July graph below.

For the first time in four months there was a increase in sunspot activity, albeit small. The sun has been even more active in August, as shown by the flurry of sunspots on its face from August 1 (shown on the left) and the August 8 solar flare, the most powerful produced in four years.

This monthly graph, however, continues to suggest that the next solar maximum will be very very weak, even weaker than the most up-to-date predictions for the next solar maximum.

The sunspot graph for July 2011


2012 is gonna be nasty

2012 is gonna be nasty.

There’s no doubt that we’re in for a high level of personal nastiness and invective. This election is not going to be about some minor adjustment to spending, or some trifling adjustment of tax rates, or some nibbling at the edges of the regulatory state. What is at stake in the 2012 election is the continuation of a world-view; a political philosophy that sees ever-larger government as the cure to whatever ails us. This next election is the first big battle for the survival of that worldview as the majority view of the political class, or the survival of the insurgent TEA party idea that government has become to large, too intrusive, and too expensive, so therefore must be radically reduced. There is little room to compromise between these two visions of government. Indeed, in most ways, they are worldviews that are mutually exclusive. Over the next decade or so, we are going to learn which of these two views will prevail, and if the US, as presently composed, will remain a united polity.


Kansas becomes the second state to return a large federal grant awarded to them by Obamacare.

Kansas becomes the second state to return a large federal grant awarded to them by Obamacare.

‘Every state should be preparing for fewer federal resources, not more,’ Governor Brownback said in a statement. ‘To deal with that reality, Kansas needs to maintain maximum flexibility. That requires freeing Kansas from the strings attached to the Early Innovator Grant.’


Restaurants Brace for Job-Killing Obamacare Regulations

Repeal it: Chain restaurants struggle with Obamacare regulations requiring all menus to include calorie information.

Under the new rules, if [a chain] wanted to introduce a new item, such as a crab cake pizza, [they’d] have to replace the signs in all of [their] stores, sucking time and money that could otherwise be used to build [the] business.


“So what it comes down to is this: The federal government has passed a law requiring us to build new signs, or buy new menu boards, and to put on those signs and menu boards information which we already provide, even though it is unlikely to change eating habits, at a cost of over a million dollars we will divert from and be unable to spend on jobs,” cautioned Puzder.


Lying for Politicians

With the recently passed debt ceiling deal, there are going to be a lot of news reports talking about how that deal is going to force cuts and reductions in government spending. Everyone one of these stories will be a lie.

Take for example this story today in Nature, discussing the fate of science research under the deal. Here is how they describe what will happen if the Congressional “super-committee” cannot come up with an agreement and across-the-board “cuts” are triggered:

“Then there will be extraordinary pain,” says Michael Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society in Washington DC. “And it will get worse in 2014.”

The two-stage structure of the debt deal explains both the short-term reprieve and the long-term worry. The first set of agreed cuts, totalling US$917 billion, will be spread over 10 years, but two factors mitigate their effect. First, reductions to defence spending will account for a significant share of the cuts — meaning that other US agencies won’t bear the entire burden. Second, the cuts are heavily loaded forward onto the 2014 fiscal year and beyond, in an apparent effort to shelter the current fragile economy. Only minimal cuts will be implemented in fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

The trouble with this is that it is simply not true. There will be no cuts at all, under any condition, according the debt deal.
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