Monthly Archives: February 2013

Public pressure is now being applied to gun manufacturers who are trying to wheezle out of the boycott against gun-banning states.

Pushback: Public pressure is now being applied to gun manufacturers who are trying to weasel out of the boycott against gun-banning states.

In other words, Armalite is trying to play both ends against the middle. They want to say they are on-board with the boycott (sort of) to placate gun owners, but they aren’t; they’re still going to continue selling to individual police officers… just not to the departments. Armalite will sell to every individual officer in the department that wants an AR-15, but they won’t sell to the department’s official purchasing agent. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

Owens suggests spending your money with other companies and I agree. We are reaching the moment where you are either for freedom or against it. And if you act against it you are not my friend and will get none of my support.

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Mammoth Cave is now officially longer than 400 miles.

Mammoth Cave is now officially longer than 400 miles.

This official announcement is a bit old, as the survey work that brought Mammoth over 400 miles was probably done during the October or December 2012 expeditions.

Update: I contacted some of my caving friends who survey in Mammoth regularly, and they have confirmed that the survey reached 400 miles during the October 2012 expedition.

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“All you need to know to get on a plane these days is the color of your house.”

Does this make you feel safer? “All you need to know to get on a plane these days is the color of your house.”

I realize that this is actually an example of the TSA trying to be helpful to a U.S. citizen, but it also illustrates the complete uselessness of all TSA airport security.

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The number of gun companies who have decided to stop selling to anti-second amendment state governments has grown to 44.

Pushback: The number of gun companies who have decided to stop selling to anti-second amendment state governments has grown to 44.

None of the companies listed include any of the big gun or ammo manufacturers, but give it time. The government is sometimes their biggest customer, so to sacrifice that income requires a level of commitment they might not yet be ready to make. Nonetheless, I expect it is only a matter of time before some of the heavy players join this effort, if only to apply pressure to state governments. And when a few do, all will feel pressure to join in.

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The Antares hot fire test of the rocket’s first stage was successfully completed tonight.

The competition heats up: The Antares hot fire test of the rocket’s first stage was successfully completed tonight.

The 29-second hot fire test took place at 6:00 p.m. (EST) on February 22, 2013 at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s (MARS) Pad 0A, which was designed and built over the last several years to accommodate liquid-fuel space launch vehicles. The primary goals of the test were to ensure that the launch complex’s fueling systems and the Antares stage one test article functioned properly in a fully operational environment, that engine ignition and shut down commands operated as designed, and that the dual AJ26 first stage engines and their control systems performed to specifications in the twin-engine configuration. The test included a full propellant loading sequence, launch countdown and engine ignition operation. The pad’s high-volume water deluge system flowed throughout the entire period of the test to protect the pad from damage and for noise suppression.

The first stage will now be prepped for a full scale test launch of Antares, expected in about six weeks. If that is successful, Orbital Sciences will then follow with a flight of the Cygnus capsule to ISS.

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George Washington’s Farewell Address

An evening pause: In honor of George Washington’s birthday, here is his farewell speech, in which he outlined his advice for the citizens of this country to sustain a free America into a long and prosperous future.

The wisdom of these words is astonishing. More so is their predictive quality. Washington knew, possibly better than anyone, the greatest risks that threatened liberty. Woe to us all if we choose to ignore his warnings.

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Because of the cost of Obamacare, employers are dropping healthcare coverage for spouses.

Finding out what’s in it: Because of the cost of Obamacare, employers are dropping healthcare coverage for spouses.

By denying coverage to spouses, employers not only save the annual premiums, but also the new fees that went into effect as part of the Affordable Care Act. This year, companies have to pay $1 or $2 “per life” covered on their plans, a sum that jumps to $65 in 2014. And health law guidelines proposed recently mandate coverage of employees’ dependent children (up to age 26), but husbands and wives are optional.

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The head of the Transportation Department threatens long delays if the sequestration cuts take place March 1.

Chicken Little report: The head of the Transportation Department today threatened long delays if the sequestration cuts take place March 1.

Either he is lying or he has decided to make the most harmful cuts to hurt the public the most. Sequestration will lower the budget of the FAA by 8.2 percent, which will cut that agency’s budget from $18.7 to $17.2 billion, which is still more than the FAA got in 2009, by $300 million. I don’t remember long delays and limited airport operations at that time, do you? See here for my sources.

There is no reason to shut down operations or cause significant travel delays, unless LaHood wants to cause pain so that the money flow keeps pouring in.

Update: One more comment. It took me all of five minutes of research to come up with the past budgets of the FAA to give the sequestration cuts some context. I think it disgraceful that the reporter for this story couldn’t do the same.

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New data has allowed scientists to lower the chance that the asteroid Apophis will hit the Earth in a future orbit.

New data has allowed scientists to lower the chance that the asteroid Apophis will hit the Earth in a future orbit.

Recent observations from Pan-STARRS PS1 telescope at Haleakala, Hawaii have reduced the current orbital uncertainty by a factor of 5, and radar observations in early 2013 from Goldstone and Arecibo will further improve the knowledge of Apophis’ current position. However, the current knowledge is now precise enough that the uncertainty in predicting the position in 2029 is completely dominated by the so-called Yarkovsky effect, a subtle nongravitational perturbation due to thermal re-radiation of solar energy absorbed by the asteroid. The Yarkovsky effect depends on the asteroid’s size, mass, thermal properties, and critically on the orientation of the asteroid’s spin axis, which is currently unknown. This means that predictions for the 2029 Earth encounter will not improve significantly until these physical and spin characteristics are better determined.

The new report, which does not make use of the 2013 radar measurements, identifies over a dozen keyholes that fall within the range of possible 2029 encounter distances. Notably, the potential impact in 2036 that had previously held the highest probability has been effectively ruled out since its probability has fallen to well below one chance in one million. Indeed only one of the potential impacts has a probability of impact greater than 1-in-a-million; there is a 2-meter wide keyhole that leads to an impact in 2068, with impact odds of about 2.3 in a million.

The second paragraph basically says that the keyholes that might bring Apophis back to Earth are very small, making it unlikely that the asteroid will fly through any one of them in 2029. The first paragraph however notes that it will be impossible to chart the asteroid’s course accurately enough to rule out this possibility until we have more data on the asteroid itself.

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In an interview in Australia, the head of the IPCC has admitted that the climate has stopped warming now for the past seventeen years.

Consensus! In an interview in Australia, the head of the IPCC has admitted that the climate has stopped warming now for the past seventeen years.

No computer climate model offered in any IPCC report predicted this long pause in warming. They all instead insisted that because of the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the global temperature would have to rise, and do so quickly and with catastrophic results.

In other words, those models were wrong. The climate is very complicated, and we don’t yet understand very well how it functions.

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Using Kepler scientists have discovered a three planet solar system with one planet slightly larger than our Moon.

Using Kepler astronomers have discovered a three planet solar system with one planet slightly larger than our Moon.

Kepler-37’s host star belongs to the same class as our sun, although it is slightly cooler and smaller. All three planets orbit the star at less than the distance Mercury is to the sun, suggesting they are very hot, inhospitable worlds. [The moon-sized] Kepler-37b orbits every 13 days at less than one-third Mercury’s distance from the sun. The estimated surface temperature of this smoldering planet, at more than 800 degrees Fahrenheit (700 degrees Kelvin), would be hot enough to melt the zinc in a penny. Kepler-37c and Kepler-37d, orbit every 21 days and 40 days, respectively.

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The TSA detained a wheelchair-bound three-year-old girl, took away her stuffed doll, and refused to allow the parents to videotape the child’s pat down.

Doesn’t this make you feel safer? The TSA detained a wheelchair-bound three-year-old girl, took away her stuffed doll, and refused to allow the parents to videotape the child’s pat down. Videotape at the link.

It is necessary for more people to challenge these thugs. (I don’t care that the agents in the video tried to be polite to the mother, they were still acting like brainless thugs.)

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In an effort to save money and protect the environment, the U.S. Navy has decided to move away from fossil fuels and back to non-toxic and environmentally friendly wind power.

In an effort to save money and protect the environment, the U.S. Navy has decided to move away from fossil fuels and back to non-toxic and environmentally friendly wind power.

Not letting Republican obstructionism of the budget process go to waste, President Obama’s national defense team is putting together a plan to retrofit US warship with ‘tried-and-true’ sails, taking advantage of free, naturally occurring wind rather than diesel and nuclear fuels that put crews at constant risk of causing an ecological disaster.

Used by many advanced cultures for thousands of years, sails were the environmentally sound propulsion system for naval vessels until the 20th century.

Many experts agree that their return might just usher in a new era of ‘green military technology’ – if it can overcome opposition from the generals and the fossil fuels lobby, whose alleged “concerns” about military readiness only serve to ensure more profits for the military-industrial complex.

Read the whole thing. It makes perfect sense!

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The microfilmed miniature bibles that flew to the moon during Apollo have become the center of a custody dispute between the state of Texas and the author who wrote their history.

The microfilmed miniature bibles that flew to the moon during Apollo have become the center of a custody dispute between the state of Texas and the author who wrote their history.

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