Monthly Archives: March 2013

Cyprus has agreed to confiscate a percentage of the savings of large depositors in order to satisfy demands from the European Union creditors..

The day of reckoning looms: Cyprus has agreed to confiscate a percentage of the savings of large depositors in order to satisfy demands from its European Union creditors..

This is only a hint of what’s coming for us here in the U.S. Like the European Union, eventually the federal government is going to go bankrupt, and when that happens it (being the politicians in charge) will then decide that the savings and pensions of private citizens will have to save them somehow.

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The strange polar vortexes of Venus.

The strange polar vortexes of Venus.

The large-scale cyclone extends vertically in Venus’ atmosphere over more than 20 kilometers, through a region of highly turbulent, permanent clouds. However, the centers of rotation at two different altitude levels (42 and 62 km above the surface) are not aligned and both wander around the south pole of the planet with no established pattern at velocities of up to 55km/h. The study also finds that even when averaged cross-winds are roughly the same at both altitudes, there is still a strong vertical gradient, with winds increasing by as much as 3km/h for every kilometer of height and leading to possible atmospheric instabilities.

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We made it.

Getting to the Window in the Santa Catalinas is a challenge, mostly because of the 4000 foot elevation gain. In the past two years Diane and I have made three previous attempts, all of which were aborted because we simply either ran out of time or energy.

Today, we left very early in the morning, and because we are right now in very good shape, made it with little trouble, completing the entire hike in just under eleven hours. Some pictures below the fold.
» Read more

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Virgin Galactic reports that the recent tests of the engine for SpaceShipTwo have been a complete success.

The competition heats up: Virgin Galactic reports that the recent tests of the engine for SpaceShipTwo have been a complete success.

It appears that they are getting very close to putting the engine on the spaceship for the first powered flights. Things should get very exciting when they do.

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Hiking to the Window in Ventana Canyon

An evening pause: My posting on Sunday will be light until the evening, as Diane and I will be doing a 13.2 mile hike up Ventana Canyon to a giant natural bridge called the Window. This canyon is in the Santa Catalina mountains that overlook Tucson. These mountains are quite rugged, with some intense elevation gain in a very short time, comparable to the Grand Canyon. For this hike we will gain 4,000 feet in 6.6 miles.

Below is a video of this hike but only going about halfway up the canyon.

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The Democrats in the Senate passed their first budget in four years yesterday.

Pigs fly! The Democrats in the Senate passed their first budget in four years yesterday.

The budget cuts practically nothing while increasing taxes by almost $1 trillion, which essentially illustrates how little the Democrats want to bring the debt under control. That four Democrats who face a tough election in 2014 voted against the budget also suggests that the Democrat’s traditional spendthrift approach might finally be becoming dangerous at the polls.

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NASA has issued a clarification specifically excluding its press announcements from the suspension of all public outreach efforts.

NASA has issued a clarification specifically excluding its press announcements from the suspension of all public outreach efforts due to sequestration.

I am not surprised. These budget cuts are aimed at grabbing the most publicity as possible, without harming NASA’s ability to lobby for funding. Ironically, the truth is that much of NASA’s education and outreach work can be cut, will not be missed, and so these cuts should illustrate this fact quite effectively.

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Obamacare may cost small business as much as 65% of their profits.

Obamacare may cost small business as much as 65% of their profits.

At these levels, the question that will soon occur to the business owner is “Why am I bothering?” If he can shrink his business to less than 50 employees and avoid the Obamacare costs, he will.

And in related news: Health insurers are privately warning brokers that premiums may double next year for many individuals and small businesses due to Obamacare.

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Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has reversed course and will allow a tough gun bill to be introduced in the Senate.

Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has reversed course and will allow a tough gun bill to be introduced in the Senate.

In 2010 the NRA backed Reid in a close election because they said he had an “A” rating, always defending the right to bear arms. I thought this was a very very bad mistake, as Reid is also a very partisan liberal Democrat, which generally means you can’t trust him on any conservative issue. Lo and behold, we now learn you can’t trust him on this conservative issue.

Had the NRA put its support behind Reid’s challenger, that challenger would have had a much better chance at winning. They did not, and here we are. Thank you, NRA.

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A congressional report, issued by Republicans in the House and Senate, says that Obamacare will increase healthcare costs by 200 percent.

A congressional report, issued by Republicans in the House and Senate, says that Obamacare will increase healthcare costs by 200 percent.

Though the report is partisan, it is worth reading because of the depth of the analysis as well as the range of its historical research. For example:

The report notes that a number of states have already imposed requirements on health coverage and the result has been fewer choices and higher premiums. In New York, for example, a 30-year-old male paid an average of $1,200 a year in annual premiums in 1993, but one month after the state passed Obamacare-like reforms, premiums soared to $3,240. At the time Washington state passed similar reforms, 19 insurance carriers wrote policies for state residents. Within six years, only two carriers remained in the state.

I was living in New York when the state legislature passed this early version of Obamacare and can attest to truth of the above facts. Costs doubled and insurance companies fled the state, reducing competition. I even wrote about an article about it. The evidence from these state efforts illustrates the likelihood that Obamacare will do the same, nationwide.

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Curiosity is out of safe mode and will be resuming full science operations by next week.

Curiosity is out of safe mode and will be resuming full science operations by next week.

It is imperative that the engineers clear up these computer problems now, as communications with the rover will be limited in April because the sun will be in the way.

Transmissions from Earth to the orbiters [Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter] will be suspended while Mars and the sun are two degrees or less apart in the sky, from April 9 to 26, with restricted commanding during additional days before and after. Both orbiters will continue science observations on a reduced basis compared to usual operations. Both will receive and record data from the rovers. Odyssey will continue transmissions Earthward throughout April, although engineers anticipate some data dropouts, and the recorded data will be retransmitted later.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will go into a record-only mode on April 4. “For the entire conjunction period, we’ll just be storing data on board,” said Deputy Mission Manager Reid Thomas of JPL. He anticipates that the orbiter could have about 40 gigabits of data from its own science instruments and about 12 gigabits of data from Curiosity accumulated for sending to Earth around May 1.

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is approaching its fifth solar conjunction. Its team will send no commands between April 9 and April 26. The rover will continue science activities using a long-term set of commands to be sent beforehand.

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New results show that the effectiveness of a new malaria vaccine fades after a period of years.

New results show that the effectiveness of a new malaria vaccine fades after a period of years.

The vaccine is expensive, but its use does seem to reduce the number of children who get malaria. The problem thus will be to balance cost with effectiveness, which is never an easy thing to do.

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ILS, the company that launches the Russian Proton rocket, has lowered its prices.

The competition heats up: ILS, the company that launches the Russian Proton rocket, has lowered its prices.

The reason they have given is that the insurance rates to use their rocket have risen due to the three Proton rocket failures in the past two years and that they want to offset that cost for their customers. I suspect a second reason is the price pressure that the Falcon 9 is placing on them.

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After 35 years of travel, Voyager 1 has finally left the solar system.

After 35 years of travel, Voyager 1 has finally left the solar system.

There is still some dispute among scientists about this, but the evidence seems clear that the spacecraft has entered regions outside the influence of our solar system.

Update: Since this morning the scientists seem to be backtracking. They now claim that Voyager 1 has not left the solar system.

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Without a warrant New Jersey police raided the home of a firearms instructor, demanding the right to inventory his guns, after he posted a Facebook photo of his son holding a rifle.

Without a warrant New Jersey police raided the home of a firearms instructor, demanding the right to inventory his guns, prompted by a Facebook photo he had posted of his son holding a rifle.

The family’s trouble started Saturday night when Moore received an urgent text message from his wife. The Carneys Point Police Dept. and the New Jersey Dept. of Children and Families had raided their home. Moore immediately called [his attorney] Nappen and rushed home to find officers demanding to check his guns and his gun safe. Instead, he handed the cell phone to one of the officers – so they could speak with Nappen.

“If you have a warrant, you’re coming in,” Nappen told the officers. “If you don’t, then you’re not. That’s what privacy is all about.” With his attorney on speaker phone, Moore instructed the officers to leave his home. “I was told I was being unreasonable and that I was acting suspicious because I wouldn’t open my safe,” Moore wrote on the Delaware Open Carry website. “They told me they were going to get a search warrant. I told them to go ahead.”

It seems to me that police across the nation are becoming increasingly nonchalant about violating our Fourth Amendment right, which states quite bluntly, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

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