Monthly Archives: January 2012

What really happened in the Gingrich ethics case?

What really happened in the Gingrich ethics case?

Given all the attention to the ethics matter, it’s worth asking what actually happened back in 1995, 1996, and 1997. The Gingrich case was extraordinarily complex, intensely partisan, and driven in no small way by a personal vendetta on the part of one of Gingrich’s former political opponents. It received saturation coverage in the press; a database search of major media outlets revealed more than 10,000 references to Gingrich’s ethics problems during the six months leading to his reprimand. It ended with a special counsel hired by the House Ethics Committee holding Gingrich to an astonishingly strict standard of behavior, after which Gingrich in essence pled guilty to two minor offenses. Afterwards, the case was referred to the Internal Revenue Service, which conducted an exhaustive investigation into the matter. And then, after it was all over and Gingrich was out of office, the IRS concluded that Gingrich did nothing wrong. After all the struggle, Gingrich was exonerated.

I vaguely remembered the details of the Gingrich ethics case, and the article above confirms what my memory was telling me: Not only was Gingrich innocent of all charges, the charges themselves were political in nature and downright absurd.

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A new superconducting detector might supersede CCDs for astronomy

Good news: A new superconducting detector might supersede CCDs for large astronomical telescopes.

Ben Mazin, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Barbara, believes that he is on the cusp of a camera breakthrough: his lab is working on a superconducting detector that could eventually replace the charge-coupled devices (CCDs) that have become de rigueur in both consumer and astronomical digital cameras. Mazin’s detectors, known as microwave kinetic inductance detectors (MKIDs), can simultaneously count photons, measure their energy and record each one’s time of arrival — something that CCDs can do only after the light is split with a prism or a grating, an extra step that adds to the loss of photons.

And you know that inevitably some variation of this technology is going to find its way into ordinary commercial products.

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It doesn’t exist

Fomalhaut b

In a preprint paper published today on the Los Alamos astro-ph website, astronomers have concluded that the exoplanet orbiting the star Formalhaut might not exist. This planet, the first exoplanet ever thought to be directly imaged in visible light, was first described in a paper published in 2008, and was actually tracked in its orbit over several years, as shown in the image on the right.

The new research used the Spitzer Space Telescope to see if the planet’s heat could be detected in infrared wavelengths. Unfortunately, the scientists found nothing.
» Read more

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15 Questions The Mainstream Media Would Ask Barack Obama If He Were A Republican

Fifteen questions the mainstream press would ask Barack Obama if he were a Republican.

While many of these questions are simply intended as a way to attack Obama (which of course is what the press does to Republican candidates), the last three are perfectly reasonable and do address directly the actual failures of his administration.

13) Why should the American people reelect you when your 10 year budget saddles America with more debt than all previous Presidents combined?

14) Your stimulus bill cost more in real dollars than the moon landing and the interstate highway system combined. What do we have to show for all of that money spent?

15) Members of your administration promised that the trillion dollar stimulus would keep unemployment under 8 percent. Instead, we’ve had 35+ months of 8% and above unemployment. Doesn’t that mean we wasted a trillion dollars on nothing?

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Members of the Democratic Congressional Black Caucus on Monday charged that voter ID laws are aimed at preventing black voters and specifically aimed at defeating Barack Obama.

Members of the Democratic Congressional Black Caucus on Monday charged that voter ID laws are intended at preventing blacks from voting and are specifically aimed at defeating Barack Obama.

“It is clear to me that whether racially based or not, this is a direct attempt, not only to undermine the election process, but a specific attempt to derail what surely would be and ought to be the re-election of Barack Obama,” Rep. Donna Christensen (D-VI) said on the floor.

So, according to these Democratic elected officials, blacks are either too stupid to carry ID, or are all criminals who fear being identified. What bigotry.

Or maybe these Democratic elected officials simply want to maintain the possibility of voter fraud.

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A 33,000-year-old dog skull found in a Siberian cave, when compared with other ancient dog remains found in a Belgium cave, suggest to scientists that the domestication of dogs took place separately in many different places.

A 33,000-year-old dog skull found in a Siberian cave, when compared with other ancient dog remains found in a Belgium cave, suggest to scientists that the domestication of dogs took place separately in many different places.

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The biggest solar storm to be aimed at the Earth in seven years is expected to reach us by Tuesday.

The biggest coronal mass ejection to be aimed at the Earth in seven years is expected to reach us by Tuesday.

No need to panic. Not only is the storm still relatively mild compared to past eruptions, the airline and electrical industries are actually well prepared for this event. However, if you want to see the aurora, this will probably be a good opportunity.

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Gingrich plans ‘visionary’ speech on space this week in Florida

Gingrich has announced that he plans to give a “visionary” speech on space this week in Florida.

To me, this does not bode well. The last thing the American aerospace industry needs right now is another politician dictating a “new” path. The best thing Gingrich could do is to endorse the effort to have private companies do the work, and to then outline how he will get the government out of their way.

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The deadline to apply for NASA’s next astronaut class is Friday.

Act quick! The deadline to apply to join the next astronaut class at NASA is Friday.

Though if you ask me (and no one is), it probably makes more sense to apply to Virgin Galactic, Scaled Composites, SpaceX, or Stratolaunch if you want to be a space cadet, as these are going to be the guys in charge in coming years.

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Former Obama staffer arrested in false ID scheme

A former Obama staffer has been arrested in false ID scheme aimed at implicating a Republican office-holder in unethical behavior.

“So on its face, Edwards’s identity theft appears to be part of a coordinated effort by the Iowa Democratic Party to bring down the Republican Secretary of State so he can be replaced with a Democrat. We hope that Edwards will get the long jail term that he deserves, but the more important question is, from whom was he taking instructions? Circumstantially, one would guess from his boss, Jeff Link. But if so, who was instructing (and paying?) Link’s firm? The White House? Tom Harkin? Iowa’s Democratic Party?”

Of course, hoards of mainstream journalists are now gathering in Iowa to cover this story.

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