Monthly Archives: November 2012

The requirement in Obamacare that restaurants list calories on their menus will cost billions.

Finding out what’s in it: The requirement in Obamacare that restaurants list calories on their menus will cost billions.

President Obama’s own Office of Management and Budget listed the menu display imposition as the third most burdensome statutory requirement enacted that year, forcing retail outlets to expend 14,536,183 work hours every year just to keep Uncle Sam happy. Instead of applying the menu rule just to restaurants, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided on its own initiative to sweep certain convenience stores and pizza delivery storefronts under the calorie-count requirements. FDA bureaucrats are even micromanaging compliance, down to determining the sizes of fonts that can be used on menu signs.

This regulation does nothing to lower the cost of healthcare, and in fact increases costs in more ways than can be counted. Moreover, it is less than useless in improving the public’s health.

However, it does do a lot for federal bureaucrats, giving them more power over businesses and our lives. Hooray!

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A Russian Proton rocket, scheduled for launch in late December, is being replaced because of damage sustained during transport from its factory.

A Russian Proton rocket, scheduled for launch in late December, is being replaced because of damage sustained during transport from its factory.

This is not the first time this has happened. In 2010 a Soyuz capsule had to be replaced for the same reason. Modern television journalism (if one can call it that) would immediately ask “Is this a trend?” I instead wonder what the details are in both cases, which unfortunately are not available.

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When you go for your annual physical — free under Obamace — the doctor cannot treat you for, or even answer questions about, any new ailments.

Finding out what’s in it: When you go for your annual physical — free under Obamace — the doctor cannot treat you for, or even answer questions about, any new ailments.

We are obligated by law to code specifically for the reason of the visit. An annual exam is one specific code; you can not mix this with another code, say, for rectal bleeding. This annual visit covers the exam and “discussion about the status of previously diagnosed stable conditions.” That’s the exact wording under that code — insurance will not cover any new ailment under that code. If you are here for that annual exam, you will not be covered if you want to discuss any new ailment or unstable condition. I cannot bait and switch to another code — that’s illegal. We, the physicians, are audited all the time and can lose our license for insurance fraud.

You, the patient, will then have to make a decision. Do you want your “free” yearly exam, or do you want to pay for a visit which is coded for a particular, new problem? You can have my “free” exam if you only discuss what Obamacare wants me to discuss.

In other words, this so-called “free annual physical” is a fraud. In fact, in order for it to be free, both the doctor and the patient have to purposely ignore any new problems that might have come up since the last physical. Or the doctor has to cheat and do work for which he will not be paid.

None of this should be surprising. You allow the government to stick its hands into everything you do, those hands are going to go places you never expected or would have permitted. Just ask anyone who has had to go through airport security.

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Boeing indicated today that it is considering increasing its investment in its CST-100 manned capsule in order to accelerate its development.

Good news: Boeing indicated today that it is considering increasing its investment in its CST-100 manned capsule in order to accelerate its development.

I suspect that, after Boeing in September let leak the idea that they might shelve CST-100 if the space agency didn’t give them more money, NASA management instead told them in no uncertain terms that if they didn’t show a more serious commitment to building CST-100, they might lose the contract altogether.

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The arrival of the legal dictator.

The government you deserve: The arrival of the legal dictator.

The real problem here is not that the state government in Michigan is trying to impose on Detroit an appointed manager with great powers, but that for generations the voters refused to fire the incompetent and corrupt elected officials (all Democrats as is usual in the big urban cities). The result is a city in ruins.

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A service module to nowhere

As a replacement for its discontinued ATV cargo freighter — which paid its share of ISS — Europe has decided to build a service module for the Orion capsule.

This decision occurred at the same time ESA decided to upgrade Ariane 5 rather than replace it. Both decisions, to my mind, were serious mistakes.
» Read more

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A Pennsylvania college has cut the work hours of all instructors to avoid the costs of Obamacare.

It ain’t just restaurants: A Pennsylvania college has cut the work hours of all instructors to avoid the costs of Obamacare.

And we’ve only just begun. Under Obamacare the costs for employing anyone full time will be so high that soon most companies will realize they have no choice but to make as many of their staff part-timers as possible.

However, it is this quote, from one of the instructors who almost certainly voted for Obama, that makes me want to scream.

It’s kind of a double whammy for us because we are facing a legal requirement [under the new law] to get health care and if the college is reducing our hours, we don’t have the money to pay for it.

You’re a damn college professor and you didn’t have the brains to figure this out before the election?

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NASA is downplaying the hype about a big discovery by Curiosity.

Surprise, surprise! NASA is downplaying the hype about a possible big discovery by Curiosity.

As I noted, Curiosity might have found something that is interesting and exciting, but every news source that hyped this story deserves criticism. Good journalism is reporting the news, not speculating about something that hasn’t happened yet.

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Sources in Russia indicated that the contract for Sarah Brightman’s space tourist flight has not yet been signed.

Sources in Russia indicated today that the contract for Sarah Brightman’s space tourist flight has not yet been signed.

Brightman will have turned 55 by that time, which means she will become one of the 20 oldest cosmonauts of the world, among which there is now only one woman (Barbara Morgan, which made a shuttle flight in 2007). “It is not known how the next three years, which the singer will spend in permanent travel around the world, will affect her health,” the source said. It is most likely that only Russian cosmonauts will take part in the 2015 ISS mission, who will take all three spaces in the Soyuz, he said.

The story focuses on the publicity gained for Brightman by making her announcement, but the actual scoop, assuming the source is correct, is that she doesn’t have a contract.

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Cracks have been found in the first Orion capsule intended to fly in space.

Government space marches on! Cracks have been found in the first Orion capsule intended to fly in space.

The cracks were discovered during a proof pressure test the week of Nov. 5. Proof testing, in which a pressure vessel is subject to stresses greater than those it is expected to encounter during routine use, is one of the many preflight tests NASA is performing on Orion to certify the craft is safe for astronauts, agency spokeswoman Rachel Kraft said. “The cracks are in three adjacent, radial ribs of this integrally machined, aluminum bulkhead,” Kraft wrote in an email. “This hardware will be repaired and will not need to be remanufactured.”

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Has Curiosity made a big discovery?

Has Curiosity made a big discovery?

There has been a lot of buzz the past twenty-four hours about the possibility of a major discovery from Curiosity. However, I agree with Jeffrey Kluger at Time. It is dangerous to pay much attention to these wild speculations, as they are often wrong. Stay calm, and wait for some real information. The most likely possibility is that they have found something very intriguing and exciting, but not Earth-shaking.

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In meetings today the European Space Agency has decided to upgrade Ariane 5 rather than immediately build a new Ariane 6 rocket.

In meetings today the European Space Agency (ESA) has decided to upgrade Ariane 5 rather than immediately build a new Ariane 6 rocket.

Normally I would label this story as an example of “the competition heating up.” In this case, however, I don’t see how an upgrade of Ariane 5 can possibly be competitive. The rocket has been so expensive to operate that — even though it has dominated the launch market for years and is very reliable — ESA has had to subsidize its cost. It has never made a profit. I don’t see how they can reconfigure it enough to bring its cost down to compete with Falcon 9. In other words, they are trying to put lipstick on a pig.

Nor is this surprising. Arianespace is a government-run business, operated like a committee with the member nations of ESA all having a say. Under this arrangement, it is difficult if not impossible to get a quick and efficient decision. Moreover, political concerns will often outweigh issues of efficiency and profits.

In the open competitive market of privately-run companies that the launch market is becoming, I am very skeptical this kind of business can survive.

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The levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a new high in 2011.

The levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a new high in 2011.

The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the single most important greenhouse gas – reached 390.9 parts per million in 2011 and is now 40% above the pre-industrial level of 280 ppm, the WMO reports in its new Greenhouse Gas Bulletin released today. Methane (1,813 parts per billion) and nitrous oxide (324 parts per billion) — both potent greenhouse gases — also reached new highs last year.

Mysteriously, however, there has been no measured rise in the temperature of the climate for the past sixteen years, even though every computer model predicted that this increase in greenhouse gases would force a temperature rise.

The conclusion? I have none, other than to point out once again that climate science remains a difficult and complex area of research, filled with large gaps in knowledge and many questions and uncertainties that remain unanswered.

However, we will never get these questions answered if we make believe they don’t exist. It is essential that the climate science community stop pretending that they know what is going on while simultaneously playing politics with the science. Do the research, ask the right questions, and focus on what we don’t know. And tell the politicians to shut up and keep out, as they are surely the last people to understand the science of climate.

That way, we might finally begin to understand what is happening and can deal with it rationally.

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