Is the Senate in recess? The Constitution says no.

Is the Senate in recess? The Constitution says no.

Article One, section Five of the Constitution states: “Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days.”

The House has refused to adjourn. The Congress is therefore in session. This kind of gamesmanship has been done many times in the past, but never until now has a President made believe he could simply ignore the plain words of the Constitution.

I know my liberal readers like to make excuses for Democrats when they ignore the law, but the law remains the law. Just because you happen to like what Obama is doing is a bad reason to let this pass. Just remember that if we ignore the law when you’ve got your guy in office, the other side will then have a free pass to ignore the law when they are in office. Sooner or later, we will all pay for that evil.

A NASA inquiry into the ownership of a variety of space artifacts, including Jim Lovell’s Apollo 13 checklist, has halted their sale at auction.

Power grab: A NASA inquiry into the ownership of a variety of space artifacts, including Jim Lovell’s Apollo 13 checklist, has halted their sale at auction.

In other words, it appears that NASA management has decided that everything ever built by NASA belongs to NASA, forever, even if NASA would have thrown it away at some point.

The Sun calms down in December

It’s that time again! As I do every month, it’s time to post Space Weather Prediction Center’s monthly updated graph showing the Sun’s solar cycle sunspot activity. The graph itself can be seen below the fold.

After five months of quickly increasing sunspot activity, the Sun in December finally took a rest, with the sunspot numbers dropping down to almost exactly the solar activity scientists had expected at this time, according to their May 2009 prediction. Interestingly, this might be the first time since I began tracking the solar cycle in 2008 that the prediction actually matched that month’s activity.
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Democrats regulating the dead

Democrats regulating the dead.

Democrats believe their personal preferences are so noteworthy and have such a significant bearing on the future of society that it’s only fair these indispensible preferences be imposed on the public by force of law.

Which brings us to Democrat Alvin Tillman, a third–term member of the council in Terrebonne Parish, LA, who evidently does not have enough to occupy his time. Tillman is personally offended by the chroma culprits who paint their family tombs anything but white, which is Tillman’s preferred color. “We want to stop this before it gets out of hand,” Tillman was quoted by the Associated Press. “Before you know it you’ll go out there and the cemetery will look like Mardi Gras.”

Since this is Louisiana — where being dead is no bar to exercising the franchise in favor of Democrats on election day — it could be that Tillman is simply responding to the wishes of his electoral base.

What is this stuff?

What is this stuff?

The uncertainty of science: In this week’s release of images from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the science team posted the image on the right and asked, “What is this stuff?”

Here’s a hypothetical geologic history that might explain this scene: layered sediments were deposited by water or airfall (including volcanic pyroclastics). A crudely polygonal patterned ground was created by stresses in the sediments, and groundwater followed the fractures and deposited minerals that cemented the sediments. This was followed by perhaps billions of years of erosion by the wind, leaving the cemented fractures as high-standing ridges.

Of course, this story is almost certainly incomplete if not totally wrong.

Click here to see the close-up subimage from which I cropped the image on the right.

The National Science Foundation has declined until 2020 to commit to funding a giant American-built ground-based telescope

Bad news for American astronomy: The National Science Foundation has declined until 2020 to commit to any funding for either one of the two giant American-built ground-based telescopes.

For nearly a decade now, two university consortia in the United States have been in a race to build two ground-based telescopes that would be several times bigger than today’s biggest optical telescope. One group—led by the University of California—plans to build the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) in Hawaii. The other team—led by Carnegie Observatories, the University of Arizona, and other institutions—is developing a 28-meter behemoth named the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), which would be built in Chile. Over the past few years, both teams have raised tens of millions of dollars toward the billion-dollar-plus projects in the hope that the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) would come up with the balance.

But now, it turns out, neither project has a chance of receiving any significant funding from NSF for at least another decade. In a solicitation posted by NSF last week, the agency indicated that it does not expect to fund the building of any giant segmented mirror telescopes—that is, TMT or GMT—until the beginning of the 2020s. According to the solicitation, all that NSF can provide right now is $1.25 million over 5 years for the development of a public-private partnership plan that could eventually lead to the building of a large telescope, should NSF be in a position to fund such a telescope sometime in the next decade.

I suspect the NSF’s unwillingness to fund this project at this time is directly related to the budget crisis in Washington. Though the NSF got slightly more money in 2012 than in 2011, that money is all accounted for by other projects. There is no margin for anything new that will be as expensive (in the billions) as these giant telescopes will be.

Space exploration and the unexpected consequences of government decisions

On Thursday, December 15, 2011, NASA management announced what seemed at first glance to be a very boring managerial decision. Future contracts with any aerospace company to launch astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) will follow the same contractual arrangements used by NASA and SpaceX and Orbital Sciences for supplying cargo to the space station.

As boring that sounds, this is probably the most important decision NASA managers have made since the 1960s. Not only will this contractual approach lower the cost and accelerate the speed of developing a new generation of manned spaceships, it will transfer control of space exploration from NASA — an overweight and bloated government agency — to the free and competitive open market.

To me, however, the decision illustrates a number of unexpected consequences, none of which have been noted by anyone in the discussions that followed NASA’s announcement back in mid-December.
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How to deal with the leftwing press

Rick Perry demonstrates how to deal with the leftwing press. With video.

Politico reporter: “These are members of your staff.”
Rick Perry: “You got a name?”
Politico reporter: “Who say –”
Rick Perry: “You got a name?”
Politico reporter: “You won’t listen to –”
Rick Perry: “You got a name?”
Politico reporter: “Uh.”
Rick Perry: “If you don’t have a name to tell me this individual said this, then I don’t take that as a corroborating source.”

Politico is the same outfit that destroyed Herman Cain based on unnamed sources and undescribed charges. They are also the same outfit that has had plagiarism problems recently. Perry shows us how this kind of shoddy reporting deserves to be treated.

Top 10 Ways Hollywood Can Win Its Audience Back

The top ten ways Hollywood can win its audience back.

As someone who spent almost twenty years in the movie business, I think Nolte hits the nail on the head. I also think Hollywood will not do any of the things he suggests, mostly because it would require them to abandon their elite, leftwing ideology that for the past thirty years has become the only thing too many Hollywood people care about.

The new Arctic ozone hole

An interesting and very informative paper was published by the American Geophysical Union this past Saturday, entitled “Arctic winter 2010/2011 at the brink of an ozone hole.” The first paragraph of the introduction essentially summed up the paper’s key points:

Large losses of Arctic stratospheric ozone have been observed during winter 2010/2011, exceeding observed losses during cold winters over the past decades, characterized as the first Arctic Ozone Hole. Although in general Arctic ozone is expected to recover because of the reductions in ozone depleting substances as a result of the Montreal Protocol and its amendments, the observation that apparently the cold Arctic winters in the stratosphere have been getting colder over the past decades raises some concern that Arctic ozone depletion may worsen over the next decades if the cooling trend continues while concentrations of ozone depleting substances remain sufficiently high. [emphasis mine]

Two important take-aways:
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Olympic VIPs will get 4000 BMWs and their own private traffic lanes in what the Olympics bill as the “green Games.”

Equality and environmentalism among the elite: Olympic VIPs to get 4000 BMWs and their own private traffic lanes in what the Olympics bill as the “green Games.”

It is understood that at least 250 VIPs will be given their own designated BMW, complete with a personal chauffeur, to escort them from their Park Lane hotels to the Games. Several thousand other officials, sponsors, dignitaries and athletes – known as the ‘Olympic family’ – will share the remaining pool of plush cars, worth up to £30,000 each.

Members of the public will be urged to walk or try to board crowded trains and buses.

At the end of 2011, America, like much of the rest of the Western world, has dug deeper into a cocoon of denial.

“At the end of 2011, America, like much of the rest of the Western world, has dug deeper into a cocoon of denial.”

Tens of millions of Americans have yet to understand that the can can no longer be kicked down the road, because we’re all out of road. The pavement ends, and there’s just a long drop into the abyss. And, even in a state-compliant car seat, you’ll land with a bump. At this stage in a critical election cycle, we ought to be arguing about how many government departments to close, how many government programs to end, how many millions of government regulations to do away with. Instead, one party remains committed to encrusting even more barnacles to America’s rusting hulk, while the other is far too wary of harshing the electorate’s mellow.

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