Monthly Archives: November 2013

A father is arrested merely because he wants to pick up his kids from school and walk home with them.

Thugs: A father is arrested merely because he wants to pick up his kids from school and walk home with them.

Watch the video below the fold. It ends with the police officer physically hitting the person with the camera.

I can think of no sane reason why a school would not release this man’s children to him. What difference does it make whether he leaves on foot or in a car?
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Some spectacular oblique images from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have been released.

Some spectacular oblique images from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) have been released.

The top three images are all oblique. Make sure you click through to the full caption of each image to get more information.

The Lunar Alps image is especially interesting to those who have ever explored the Moon with a telescope from Earth. The rill shown is well known to amateurs, as are the Montes Alpes, or Alps Mountains, adjacent to it. From Earth that rill definitely looks like a meandering river canyon. This LRO image resolves it into a canyon made up of a series of crater-like depressions, a geological feature quite different from the river canyons of Earth.

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The Pentagon has for years routinely been doctoring its budget numbers, and has no idea where billions of its money is going.

Good enough for government work: The Pentagon has for years routinely been doctoring its budget numbers, and has no idea where billions of its money is going.

In its investigation, Reuters has found that the Pentagon is largely incapable of keeping track of its vast stores of weapons, ammunition and other supplies; thus it continues to spend money on new supplies it doesn’t need and on storing others long out of date. It has amassed a backlog of more than half a trillion dollars in unaudited contracts with outside vendors; how much of that money paid for actual goods and services delivered isn’t known. And it repeatedly falls prey to fraud and theft that can go undiscovered for years, often eventually detected by external law enforcement agencies.

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The Obamacare website apparently has security flaws so significant that experts are afraid to describe them.

The Obamacare website apparently has security flaws so significant that experts are afraid to describe them.

Kennedy, a former U.S. Marine Corps cyber-intelligence analyst, presented a 17-page report describing the problems to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. It does not go into specifics in some areas, he said, because that could provide criminals with a blueprint for launching attacks. … “There is a lot of stuff that we are not publicly disclosing because of the criticality of the findings,” Kennedy said. “We don’t want to hurt people.” When asked to describe the severity of the threat that they posed to the public, he said it was a “critical risk.”

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The Homeland Security employee who runs a website that calls for the the mass murder of whites has still not been fired.

Does this make you feel safer? The Homeland Security employee who runs a website that calls for the the mass murder of whites has still not been fired.

Kimathi, using the online nom de guerre “the Irritated Genie,” called for “ethnic cleansing” of “black-skinned Uncle Tom race traitors” on his website, which envisioned a massive race war on the horizon. “In order for Black people to survive the 21st century, we are going to have to kill a lot of whites—more than our Christian hearts can possibly count,” he wrote.

In other postings, he warned that whites and their enablers like President Obama are trying to “homosexualize” black men in order to make them weaker, and suggested that a woman’s primary role in life should be to “keep a strong Black man happy.” He also seemed to hold anti-Semitic views, claiming in a Facebook post that his website was under attack from a conspiracy of “zionist smallhats, the Uncle Tom koons,” and, naturally, “the haters.”

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New data suggesting the presence of granite on Mars also suggests that the planet is more geologically complex than previously believed.

The uncertainty of science: New data suggesting the presence of granite on Mars also suggests that the planet is more geologically complex than previously believed.

In my years of science writing, I can’t count the number of times I’ve written the phrase “more complex than previously believed.” For some reason, modern scientists seem to always assume that things will be simple, with one straight-forward answer. From gamma ray bursts to supernovae to planetary formation to whatever, the first example found and the first theory developed from that first example has repeatedly been expected to explain everything.

But that’s not how things work. Instead, the closer scientists have looked, the more complex and interesting things have always become. Many different things can cause gamma ray bursts. Supernovae come in many types. Solar systems don’t have to resemble ours. Everything is always more complex than you first believe.

Scientists would get things wrong less often if they simply kept this thought in mind, at all times.

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To save money, NASA management has shut down a troubled program to build a more efficient plutonium power supply for its deep space missions.

To save money, NASA management has shut down a troubled program to build a more efficient plutonium power supply for its deep space missions.

The cancelled ASRGs would have generated electrical power from the expansion of gas warmed by the radioactive decay of plutonium-238. NASA says that the devices have the same power output as its current generation of Multi-Mission Radioactive Thermoelectric Generators (MMRTG) but use four times less plutonium-238, a scarce resource. One MMRTG with 4.8 kilograms of plutonium is currently powering the Curiosity rover on Mars.

The United States has less than 40 kilograms of plutonium-238 left, but the DOE restarted production this year. Green says he is confident that the DOE will be producing plutonium-238 at a rate of 1.5 kilograms per year by 2019. He says that the stockpiled plutonium-238, along with the new supply, will be enough to send another planned rover to Mars in 2020 and to complete other missions in the 2020s – without any need for the extra efficiency of the ASRGs.

The ASRG program had been a year and a half behind schedule and had had its management team replaced at one point.

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A close look at another government program to try to lower the cost to orbit.

A close look at another government program to try to lower the cost to orbit.

The latest program is know as the Experimental Spaceplane — or XS-1. The objective “is to demonstrate a reusable first stage launch vehicle capable of carrying and deploying an upper stage that inserts 3,000 to 5,000 lb. payloads into Low Earth Orbit (LEO), designed for less than $5M per launch for an operational system.” The system has to be able to perform with aircraft-like operations. And demonstrate the ability to fly 10 times in 10 days. It needs to reach Mach 10 at least once. And provide the basis for next-generation launch services and “global reach hypersonic and space access aircraft.”

Forgive me if I am skeptical. Despite DARPA’s reasonable success (It helped make possible SpaceX’s Merlin engine), these government efforts generally fail because they are unattached to the prime reasons for lowering cost: competition and profits. Consider this very accurate historical summary in the article above:

In the era of bell bottoms and Richard Nixon, there was the space shuttle. When Ronald Reagan ruled the roost, all hope rested in the National Aerospace Plane. During the Bill Clinton era, there were the X-33 and Venture Star. In Barack Obama’s first term, the Air Force pursued its Reusable Booster System (RBS).

Five programs. One objective: to radically reduce the cost to orbit. More than $14 billion spent on development. And the result? A super expensive shuttle program. Four vehicles that never flew. And access to space just kept getting more expensive.

Only when every effort in the aerospace industry is focused on making itself more competitive will we see the kinds of technical advancements this new DARPA program wishes to achieve.

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Newly released emails provide more evidence that IRS official Lois Lerner was lying when she said the IRS scandal was confined to the low-level employees in Cincinnati.

Working for the Democratic Party: Newly released emails provide more evidence that IRS official Lois Lerner was lying when she said the IRS scandal was confined to the low-level employees in Cincinnati.

An IRS official blasted Lois Lerner for her attempt to blame the agency’s targeting scandal on low-level employees in Cincinnati, according to newly released emails. “Cincinnati wasn’t publicly ‘thrown under the bus’ (but) instead was hit by a convoy of Mack trucks,” wrote Cindy Thomas, former director of the IRS exempt organizations office in Cincinnati, in a May 10, 2013 email to Lerner obtained by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Thomas wrote the email on the very day that the IRS targeting scandal broke when Lerner, a senior agency official based in Washington, D.C., admitted that her exempt organizations division engaged in improper targeting of conservative groups.

The truth was that the low-level employees in Cincinnati were getting their orders to harass conservatives from high up the chain in Washington.

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The Census Bureau apparently faked the unemployment numbers prior to the 2012 election to make it appear more people were employed.

Working for the Democratic Party: The Census Bureau apparently faked the unemployment numbers prior to the 2012 election to make it appear more people were employed.

In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington. The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated.

And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it. Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy. And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today.

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Dukakis and the tank.

Dukakis and the tank.

An excellent article on what is probably one of the worst photo-ops ever attempted by a political campaign. My one disagreement is how the article focuses on how silly Dukakis looked in the helmet. This wasn’t what made the photo-op a disaster. What really made it fail was how absurd it was for him to think that riding in a tank would make people forget his deep and longstanding opposition to the military. Watch the Reagan campaign’s response ad, which used the tank ride to point this out. This is what made the photo-op a failure.

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An Obamacare supporter begins to see the light.

An Obamacare supporter begins to see the light.

None of the surprising disasters he describes should have been a surprise to him, but for the fact that he likely considered any criticism in 2010 of Obama or Obamacare by his conservative friends pure racism and not worth listening to. Thus, he never heard them tell him that these disasters were exactly what was going to happen.

Will he change his voting allegiances come November? I doubt it. Too many of the liberal voters I have met in my life are downright bigoted when it comes to politics. To them, Democrats are “the good people who protect the weak and poor” while Republicans are “the evil racists who want to starve little children.” With this simplistic view of the world, they are generally unable to consider the possibility that they have this wrong.

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The new head of the Russian Space Agency has requested that the government impose a ban on the sale of any foreign made satellites in Russia.

The new head of the Russian Space Agency has requested that the government impose a ban on the sale in Russia of any foreign made satellites.

The idea is that Russian industries should build these satellites instead, and that this ban will encourage the rebirth of the Russian satellite business.

I doubt it. If the Russian satellite business could do it better, they would get the business anyway, especially since their labor costs are generally much lower.

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The House, with 39 Democrats voting yes, today passed its “You can keep your plan If you like it” bill.

The House, with 39 Democrats voting yes, today passed its “You can keep your plan If you like it” bill.

Where is the damn Republican Obamacare repeal bill? After the 2010 elections they introduced and voted on one. Why not re-introduce it now?

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So, when does Ted Cruz get his apology?

So, when does Ted Cruz get his apology?

Cruz, recognizing that Obamacare is a disaster, tried to stop it. The Democrats, in love with Obamacare and oblivious to its impending problems, fought back and forced the government shutdown rather than agree to any of Cruz’s proposals. At the same time, Cruz was called all kinds of names by people on both the left and the right. (Consider John McCain, who was vicious in his attacks on Cruz but now is calling for a full repeal of Obamacare.)

Cruz was right however. Obamacare is a disaster. It must be repealed. And the Democrats must be forced to agree or pay the penalty at the ballot box.

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Obama announces he will veto any bill that changes Obamacare, including the “Keep your plan” offers from both parties in Congress.

Good news! Obama announces he will veto any bill that changes Obamacare, including the “Keep your plan” offers from both parties in Congress.

For once I agree whole-heartedly with Obama. The bills in Congress now are foolish, and only serve to make Obamacare more permanent and even more flawed. Let us have a full repeal, and let him veto that. At least then the next election will be on this issue, clearly.

And in related news, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) states that he is going to introduce repeal legislation.

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Lockheed Martin announced today that it is closing down five facilities and laying off 4,000 employees.

Lockheed Martin announced today that it is closing down five facilities and laying off 4,000 employees.

This is actually good news for the company (reflected in a rise in its stock price today) as well as the taxpayer. Faced with less easy money from the federal government, the company is trimming some of its waste and unneeded fat. I am confident these cuts will have zero impact on their ability to operate and compete. If anything, they will improve the company’s abilities.

The cuts are also a recognition that the federal cuts from sequestration are not going away, even though those cuts have resulted in literally no visible problems in any federal program. To me, this is another demonstration that there was (and continues to be) plenty of fat in the federal government that can be trimmed away, without serious harm to any federal program.

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In the past three months Scaled Composites has conducted nine tests of SpaceShipTwo engines.

The competition heats up: In the past three months Scaled Composites has conducted nine tests of SpaceShipTwo engines.

It also appears that one test was of an alternative engine to the one they have been planning to use. All told this suggests they are accelerating their effort to finish SpaceShipTwo.

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Comet ISON brightens to just within naked eye visibility.

Comet ISON brightens to just within naked eye visibility.

“[T]he little but intensely condensed, globular cluster-looking comet was a whopping magnitude 5.4 — two full magnitudes brighter than just 24 hours ago! This makes for a three magnitude total rise since my observation on Monday.” In just 72 hours, Comet ISON increased nearly 16 times in brightness.

Don’t get too excited. Magnitude 5.4 would make it comparable to one of the dimmer stars in the night sky, while the description above indicates it looks less like a comet and more like a blob.

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It appears state insurance regulators are also telling Obama to go to hell with his lawless announcement that the parts of Obamacare causing him political troubles are temporarily suspended.

It appears state insurance regulators are also telling Obama to go to hell with his lawless announcement that the parts of Obamacare causing him political troubles are temporarily suspended.

Commissioner Mike Kreidler said Thursday he won’t allow insurance companies to extend their old policies that didn’t meet the requirements of federal health care reform. An estimated 290,000 Washington residents have received notices that their old insurance policies will be canceled. “Trying to do what the president has proposed would be very disruptive to the insurance market in the state of Washington so no, we will not be allowing insurance companies to extend these policies,” he said. “You’d have to go back and re-rate all of the policies, and the premises for what they originally proposed rates would all change.”

That is Washington. Arkansas has also issued a similar ruling.

I repeat: The Republicans should introduce today a bill to repeal Obamacare in full.

Update: “Insurers are furious about the White House’s new Obamacare plan.”

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