Monthly Archives: August 2013

Modern Journalism: Retyping press releases

This post is really about the monthly NOAA update of the solar cycle, but before I do that, I must note some really bad science journalism in connection with that solar minimum.

This week NASA released a poorly written press release describing how the Sun’s magnetic field flips whenever it goes through solar maximum, the period when sunspot activity reaches its maximum. The article gave the incorrect impression that this “flip” will be some grand singular and spectacular event and when it happens the consequences to Earth could be significant. Then it buried this most important little detail to the article’s final paragraphs:
» Read more

Share

An inspector general report has found that the 24 health co-ops formed under Obamacare are going bankrupt, even before they have opened.

Our government at its best: An inspector general report has found that the 24 health co-ops formed under Obamacare are going bankrupt, even before they have opened to their first customers.

And that’s not all:

Examiner Watchdog investigative reporting project focused on the co-ops began in 2012 and has since uncovered extensive evidence of financial mismanagement, conflicts of interest, failure to file required tax returns, inadequate capitalization and evasion of public disclosure requirements such as the federal Freedom of Information Act. A recent Examiner survey found, for example, that all but one of the 24 co-ops failed to file required tax returns, and several may invoke a highly questionable loophole allowing them to avoid doing so in the future. Even more troubling, two of the co-op loans were awarded to organizations headed by individuals with questionable backgrounds, the Examiner has learned, including an insider trading conviction and a history of child sexual abuse.

Share

The Obama administration has given Congress and its staff a waiver so that they will not have to pay the full cost increase imposed by Obamacare.

The law is for the little people: The Obama administration has given Congress and its staff a waiver so that they will not have to pay the full cost increase imposed by Obamacare.

No waiver for anyone else, however. You gotta pay, tough luck. You ain’t an important member of the Washington elite, the royal class, the superior smarter set that makes the laws you (and not they) have to follow.

Share

The government is months behind in testing the security arrangements of Obamacare.

O goody: The government is months behind in testing the security arrangements of Obamacare.

“They’ve removed their margin for error,” said Deven McGraw, director of the health privacy project at the non-profit Center for Democracy & Technology. “There is huge pressure to get (the exchanges) up and running on time, but if there is a security incident they are done. It would be a complete disaster from a PR viewpoint.” The most likely serious security breach would be identity theft, in which a hacker steals the social security numbers and other information people provide when signing up for insurance.

Share

NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver is leaving NASA to take a job “in the private sector outside the space industry.”

NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver is leaving NASA to take a job “in the private sector outside the space industry.”

Garver was instrumental in accelerating during the Obama administration the new commercial space program that Mike Griffin began during the Bush administration. I fear what will happen with her gone and Charles Bolden on his own. Moreover, one wonders why she is leaving now. She has worked in the private sector in the past, but never when she had the opportunity to influence policy during a Democratic administration. It could simply be that she got an offer she couldn’t refuse. Or it could be that she doesn’t like what she sees in NASA, the Obama administration, or Congress, and wants out.

Share

An update on Dawn in its journey from the asteroids Vesta to Ceres.

An update on Dawn in its journey from the asteroids Vesta to Ceres. Bottom line:

Dawn is 18 million kilometers (11 million miles) from Vesta and 50 million kilometers (31 million miles) from Ceres. It is also 3.47 AU (519 million kilometers or 322 million miles) from Earth, or 1,310 times as far as the moon and 3.42 times as far as the sun today. Radio signals, traveling at the universal limit of the speed of light, take 58 minutes to make the round trip.

Share

New York’s “greenest” skyscraper turns out to be its biggest energy hog.

New York’s “greenest” skyscraper turns out to be its biggest energy hog.

Maybe the building’s problem is that it has Al Gore as one of its tenants.

Seriously, the article illustrates well “the law of unintended consequences.” You pass a law or regulation intended to do x, and discover that people instead manipulate the law or regulation to get y instead.

Share

A few questions that a real journalist would ask Obama, if given the chance.

A few questions that a real journalist would ask Obama, if given the chance.

That none of these questions were asked by two New York Times journalists during an extremely long interview with Obama should truly embarrass them. Sadly, they are probably proud that they did not ask them.

Share

Russia has announced that they will resume Proton rocket launches in September.

Russia has announced that they will resume Proton rocket launches in September.

Though they have pinpointed the specific cause of the most recent launch failure, they have not yet announced any remedial actions. Note also the expected number of launches for the rest of the year, 4 to 5, is down from earlier expectations.

Meanwhile, in Kazakhstan, an official in that country’s space program has been arrested for taking bribes.

Share

My rant Thursday against politicians on the John Batchelor Show

On my Thursday appearance last week on the John Batchelor Show John and I devoted the entire segment to talking about the sad state of NASA and how the partisan bickering in Congress is not only failing to deal with those problems, that bickering is intentionally disinterested in actually fixing them. As I say,

What both those parties in Congress and in the administration are really doing is faking a goal for the purpose of justifying pork to their districts, because none of the proposals they’re making — both the asteroids or the moon — are going to happen.

I intend to elaborate in writing on this subject in the next day or so. In the meantime, here is the audio of that appearance [mp3] for you all to download and enjoy.

Note that I specifically talked about the following stories during this appearance:

Share

Armadillo Aerospace closes down.

The competition cools down: Armadillo Aerospace closes down.

It is important to recognize that developing a new private industry is not easy, and that many more companies will fail than succeed. That reality, however, does not prove that freedom and private enterprise are bad ideas, merely that they carry great risks.

Share

“You’ve frustrated this committee. You’ve promised to do things and you’re not.”

“You’ve frustrated this committee. You’ve promised to do things and you’re not.”

Guess who? He was also accused of “slow-rolling” the investigation. Video at the link.

In related news the House investigation has now issued a subpoena for the requested documents.

Share

Two graphs that show the depressing trends of the work force for the past twenty years.

Two graphs that show the depressing trends of the work force for the past twenty years.

Both reveal that, since the crash in 2008-2009, there has been absolutely no uptick, despite the desperate repeated claims of the Obama administration. The American work force, and the economy that work force represents, has shrunk, and shows no signs of recovery.

There is a solution, but no one really wants to risk trying it in our Soviet-style society.

Share

The White House has agreed to exempt Congressional staff from the high costs of Obamacare.

The law is only for the little people: The White House has agreed to exempt Congressional staff from the high costs of Obamacare.

A very good analysis of this arbitrary decision, which is completely counter to the specific wording of the healthcare law, can be found here.

Share

New evidence strongly suggests that the IRS’s harassment of conservative groups is continuing, despite the on-going Congressional investigations.

New evidence strongly suggests that the IRS’s harassment of conservative groups is continuing, despite the on-going Congressional investigations.

The IRS’ infamous Cincinnati office, which handles applications from groups applying for tax-exempt nonprofit status, badgered pro-life groups for information on their protesting activities as recently as late June 2013, well after IRS investigations began on the floor of the House of Representatives and elsewhere. “We’ve had three more groups come to us that have had problems with the IRS — some very recent, some current or still pending. One of them just got their determination letter,” Peter Breen, senior counsel at the Thomas More Society, which represents pro-life groups targeted by the IRS, told The Daily Caller. “It’s continuing, and it needs to be addressed.”

Share

Of the almost 1 million jobs created in 2013, 77% are part-time.

Thank you Obamacare! Of the almost 1 million jobs created in 2013, 77% are part-time.

Politicians can live in a ivory tower, devising fantasy plans to remake society, but employers who wish their businesses to survive have no choice but to live in the real world. Obamacare makes hiring full time employees too expensive, so to get the help they need the employers of America are converting their staffs to part-timers.

The long term problem with this is that it will be impossible for businesses to really innovate and compete under these conditions. Moreover, the employees themselves will be poorer, either earning less or working more, while actually getting less healthcare insurance coverage.

And for this we can thank Obama and the Democratic Party. Praised be their names!

Share

SpaceX has confirmed that it plans to begin vertical take-off and landing tests of a full scale Falcon 9 first stage.

The competition heats up: SpaceX has confirmed that it plans to begin vertical take-off and landing tests of a full scale Falcon 9 first stage.

The tests would be in New Mexico’s spaceport, and are essentially a scaled up version of the Grasshopper tests the company has been doing in Texas. It appears they are going to do these ground-up tests in conjunction with attempts on each future Falcon 9 launch to land the first stage.

Share
1 3 4 5