A decorated war veteran on a Boy Scout hike with his 15-year-old son was arrested by police in Texas because he was “rudely displaying” a firearm.

Does this make you feel safer? A decorated war veteran on a Boy Scout hike with his 15-year-old son was arrested by police in Texas because he was “rudely displaying” a firearm.

Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham told Fox News he was illegally disarmed by members of the Temple Police Dept. – even though he held the proper permits to carry his weapons. Grisham and his son were on a 10-mile hike in a rural area populated by wild boars and cougars. He was carrying an AR-15 rifle and a .45 caliber pistol. He was charged with resisting arrest – even though video his son filmed of the incident clearly showed that Grisham did not resist arrest. Police later reduced the charges to interfering with a peace officer while performing a duty – a class B misdemeanor.

Update: several commenters have pointed out facts about Grisham, including this very detailed report from Michael Yon, that raise serious questions about the reliability of this story. Worth reading.

A private company tells the IAU to bug off!

A private company tells the IAU to bug off about who has the power to name things in space!

Uwingu affirms the IAU’s right to create naming systems for astronomers But we know that the IAU has no purview—informal or official—to control popular naming of bodies in the sky or features on them, just as geographers have no purview to control people’s naming of features along hiking trails. People clearly enjoy connecting to the sky and having an input to common-use naming. We will continue to stand up for the public’s rights in this regard, and look forward to raising more grant funds for space researchers and educators this way.

The company also pointed out that even astronomers name things without the IAU’s approval.

The International Astronomical Union has issued a press release condemning the commercial efforts of private companies to issue names for exoplanets.

Turf war! The International Astronomical Union has issued a press release condemning the commercial efforts of private companies to issue names for exoplanets.

Recently, an organisation has invited the public to purchase both nomination proposals for exoplanets, and rights to vote for the suggested names. In return, the purchaser receives a certificate commemorating the validity and credibility of the nomination. Such certificates are misleading, as these campaigns have no bearing on the official naming process — they will not lead to an officially-recognised exoplanet name, despite the price paid or the number of votes accrued.
… [snip]
To make this possible, the IAU acts as a single arbiter of the naming process, and is advised and supported by astronomers within different fields. As an international scientific organisation, it dissociates itself entirely from the commercial practice of selling names of planets, stars or or even “real estate” on other planets or moons. These practices will not be recognised by the IAU and their alternative naming schemes cannot be adopted.

Well la-dee-da, how dare anyone else name anything ever in space!

The truth is, the IAU was originally given this function by astronomers to coordinate the naming of obscure astronomical objects, not to provide the official names for every object and feature that will ever be discovered in space. And though the IAU does tend to favor the choices of discoverers, it has in the past also ignored their wishes. (See for example my book Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, where the IAU rejected the names chosen by the Apollo 8 astronauts, even though those astronauts were the first to actually go and see these features.)

In the end, the names of important features in space will be chosen by those who live there.

Despite a rest, Kepler’s problematic gyroscope is still having problems.

Despite a rest, Kepler’s problematic gyroscope is still having problems.

Three of the wheels are needed for Kepler’s 3.1-foot telescope to have enough sensitivity to detect the minuscule signatures of Earth-sized planets. In an exercise of caution, mission managers switched off Kepler’s reaction wheels for 10 days in January, hoping the break would redistribute lubricant inside the wheel assemblies, reducing friction and allowing the units to cool down.

But friction in wheel no. 4, which has showed friction for much of Kepler’s mission, actually increased in the month following the “wheel rest” period.

The telescope originally had four wheels. One has failed, with a second showing signs of failure. If it goes, the spacecraft will no longer be able to point with enough accuracy to do its primary mission. They might be able to use it to some observations, but its design is such that even these will be of limited value.

Vladimir Putin noted today, the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s spaceflight, that the new Russian spaceport being built in Vostochny will be open for use by other countries.

The competition heats up: Vladimir Putin noted today, the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s spaceflight, that the new Russian spaceport being built in Vostochny will be open for use by other countries.

Putin’s announcement is a bit vague, in that it is not clear whether he means the spaceport could be used by outside private companies or merely that American or European payloads will be launched from the site using Russian rockets. I suspect the latter. Regardless, Putin’s statement both to the Russian public and to the rest of the world illustrates his desire to sell the new spaceport, which in turn will bring Russia business.

Isn’t competition a wonderful thing?

Since 2010 total government spending per household has exceeded what each household earns per year.

The day of reckoning looms: Since 2010 total government spending per household has exceeded what each household earns per year.

In other words, even if the federal, state, and city governments took 100 percent of your income in taxes, they still wouldn’t get enough money to pay their expenses. And since government spending has continued to rise since 2010 amid a stagnant economy, this situation has worsened, not improved. Worse, in 2012 the public voted in favor of accelerating this situation by voting for more Democrats in the Senate, while keeping a spendthrift Democratic President in power.

We are going bankrupt. It is only a matter of time.

The Fantasy of Extreme Weather

This week there were three stories describing new research proving that global warming is going to cause an increase in the number and violence of extreme weather events. Each was published in one of the world’s three most important scientific journals.

Sounds gloomy, doesn’t it? Not only will extreme heatwaves, cold waves, and droughts tear apart the very fabric of society, you will not be able to drink your soda in peace on your next airplane ride!

However, one little detail, buried in one of these stories as a single sentence, literally makes hogwash out of everything else said in these three articles.
» Read more

Boeing this week revealed a new line of small satellites, the smallest weighing less than 9 pounds, for both military and commercial operations.

The competition heats up: Boeing this week revealed a new line of small satellites, the smallest weighing less than 9 pounds, for both military and commercial operations.

This decision tells me that my worries about Boeing’s competitiveness are unfounded. Moreover, the increasing shift to building smaller satellites will once again lower costs and therefore increase the number of customers who can afford the product. The result will be a larger aerospace industry.

Boeing is about to begin wind tunnel tests of its CST-100 manned capsule.

The competition heats up: Boeing is about to begin wind tunnel tests of its CST-100 manned capsule.

This is good, but there is something about the pace of development of the CST-100 that seems mighty slow to me. Last September there were indications that Boeing might shelve the project, which were countered in November by word that they were instead considering increasing their investment.

The slow pace suggests to me that management has rejected the latter. It also suggests that while they haven’t shelved the project, they are not pushing it hard, which means that eventually it will die because it will fail to compete with other more ambitious and competitive efforts.

Global warming: time to rein back on doom and gloom?

From a global warming advocate: Global warming: time to rein back on doom and gloom?

Prediction, as they say, is tough, especially when it’s about the future – and that’s especially true when it comes to the climate, whose complexity we only partially understand. It is, as we all know, naturally immensely variable. And the effect of human intervention is subject to long timelags: it will be decades, even centuries, before the full consequences of today’s emissions of carbon dioxide become clear.

As a result, scientists and policymakers draw on the past to predict the future. Until now, they have therefore placed much weight on the rapid temperature increases in the Eighties and Nineties. But for at least a decade, these have dramatically slowed, even as carbon dioxide emissions have continued to increase. [emphasis mine]

Or as I like to say, every climate model proposed by every global warming scientist has been proven wrong. They all predicted the climate would warm in lockstep with the increase in CO2. It hasn’t.

This is not to say the climate hasn’t warmed in the past five centuries (though some of the data used in for the past 150 years is sadly suspect). What isn’t clear is why. It might be the rise in carbon dioxide. It might also simply be the lingering warming the Earth is experiencing as the last ice age ends. Or it might be because of the Sun.

The field of climate science is very complex, confusing, and in its infancy. We just don’t know yet, and anyone who says they do is not a good scientist.

The words of NASA’s chief: “NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime.”

The words of NASA’s chief: “NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime.”

He’s right. Instead, others will do it. And the ones who do it from the United States, privately financed for profit, will do it quickly, efficiently, and often, three things NASA has not been able to do at all since the 1960s.

Doctors driven to bankruptcy

Doctors driven to bankruptcy.

What is amazing about this article about the recent spike in doctors filing for bankruptcy is how it somehow never mentions Obamacare at all. The closest the author comes is a mention of “changing regulations.” How informative!

If the author was a good journalist, which he isn’t, it should have been self evident that the advent and effects of Obamacare has to be included in this story, if only to give it the proper context.

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