Monthly Archives: January 2015

Read an english translation of Charlie Hebdo

bombhead

Link here.

I don’t agree with much of the material in Charlie Hebdo, nor have I ever found its humor that funny. Nonetheless, right now I want this magazine read by every single person in the universe in order to stick a finger in the eye of Islam’s intolerance.

Meanwhile, Iran officials have condemned the new issue of Charlie Hebdo, calling it an insult to Islam. Well, any religion that considers it more important to condemn a cartoon rather than Islamic terrorists using a 10-year-old to detonate a suicide bomb in the name of Islam deserves to be insulted, a lot!

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Oxford University Press bans mention of pork in books to avoid offending Muslims or Jews

Link here.

The absurdity of this ban is so over the top that I at first was reluctant to post a link, thinking it might be a hoax. It still might be, but I have seen it sourced now in at least two publications.

Even if it is a hoax, that people believe it tells us just how subservient our intellectual elites have become when it comes to freedom of speech. Today’s modern intellectual class does not believe in free speech, it believes in not offending anyone with whom they agree or sympathize. The result is that they insist on dictating to everyone what you can or cannot say.

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Cats vs dogs in genome research

After an initial focus on studying the genomes of dogs, genetics researchers are now switching to cats.

After the completion of the human, mouse and rat genomes, the US National Institutes of Health organized a commission to decide on their next target; the dog genome was selected for high-quality sequencing, whereas cats were put on hold.

That got some cat geneticists’ backs up. “The truth is there were more powerful people interested in dogs,” says Stephen O’Brien, director of the Theodosius Dobzhansky Center for Genome Bioinformatics in St Petersburg, Russia, who led the initial cat-sequencing efforts.

There is now a project which, for only $7,500, allows scientists to map the genome of any cat for the cause of science. Under this program, they’ve already done 56 cats, including a kitten and her parents.

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Test flight of Europe’s first prototype space plane has been rescheduled

The competition heats up: Preparations have resumed for a February 11 test flight of a European prototype space plane, initially scheduled for November but cancelled at the last minute because managers suddenly discovered its launch path was going to go over land.

The launch trajectory of the IXV space plane on a suborbital trajectory will differ from the Vega rocket’s previous flights, which flew north from the space center with satellites heading for high-inclination polar orbits. The launch of IXV will head east from Vega’s launch pad, and the geometry of the French Guiana coastline means it will fly over land in the first phase of the launch sequence.

Officials said they slightly adjusted the launch track to alleviate the the safety concern.

The four-stage Vega rocket was stacked on the launch pad at the Guiana Space Center, and the IXV spacecraft was about to be fueled with hydrazine maneuvering propellant when officials announced the delay in October. A ship tasked with retrieving the space plane after splashdown in the Pacific Ocean had already left port in Italy when news of the launch delay was released.

I remain suspicious about the cause of the delay in November. How could they not have known about the launch trajectory until the last second? Instead, I suspect it occurred because of politics higher up in ESA related to Italian, German, and French tensions over the future of Arianespace. The Italians are the lead on this space plane project, to the apparent chagrin of the French, who mostly run the launch facility in French Guiana. Moreover, it appears the Italians have generally sided with the Germans against the French in the Ariane 6 design negotiations. I wonder if the delay was instigated by higher management in an effort to influence those negotiations.

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High Russia space official shoots down idea of new Russian space station

Sergei Savelyev, deputy director of Russian space agency Roscosmos, dismissed the idea that Russia might leave the ISS partnership to build its own independent space station.

“Theoretically it is possible to create a new Russian space station, but neither the current nor future drafts of the federal space program [through 2025] touch on this subject, and any [hypothetical] implementation could be tied in with the continued operation of the ISS,” [he said]…

Savelyev added that he anticipates Russia will continue to use the ISS beyond 2020, but that its focus will shift toward cooperating with China on Beijing’s own space stations — a small station is already in orbit, and a second larger one is set to be operational around 2020 — and aboard the Russian segment of the ISS.

I think the Russians know that it would be foolish to abandon their partnership on ISS, at least not for a few more years. For at least another decade it is going to be the best thing they’ve got in space.

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False ammonia leak alarm causes evacuation of US portion of ISS

A false alarm on ISS early this morning, signaling the leak of ammonia coolant, forced the evacuation of the American portion of ISS.

American engineers are assessing the cause of the alarm, though they seem pretty confident now said that no leak of any ammonia took place and the problem was likely caused by a faulty sensor.

Update: The crew has now returned to ISS.

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Falcon Heavy launch still set for 2015

The competition heats up: According to SpaceX officials, the first test flight of their Falcon Heavy rocket is still on schedule to occur sometime in the third quarter of 2015.

We should all take this schedule with a grain of salt. Back in 2013 SpaceX had scheduled the first Falcon Heavy launch for the second half of 2014. Then in April 2014 they said it would occur early in 2015. Now they say the third quarter of 2015. I would not be surprised if there are further delays beyond this.

Nonetheless, I have no doubt that they will launch this rocket. SpaceX has consistently delivered on its promises, which is one reason it has grabbed so much of the launch market in such a short time.

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Politicians in Paris do photo op rather than participate in demonstration

Why I pay very little attention to demonstrations: A wide shot of the big name politicians at Sunday’s Paris demonstration against Islamic terrorism shows that none of them were really at the demonstration.

Instead, the politicians were gathered together on a separate street, guarded by security, so that they could link arms just for a photo op. The march itself was elsewhere. I also suspect that they all just gathered very quickly to take the picture than scattered their own separate ways immediately afterwards.

This is why I don’t really care that Obama nor anyone important in his administration showed up. Maybe they should have, and in fact maybe it is another sign of Obama’s incompetence that he did not make sure there was an important U.S. presence there, but who really cares? This is just for show.

What would really mean something to me is if these political leaders actually used this meeting to organize some concrete action to deal with Islamic terrorism. Did they? I think not. As far as I can tell they have made no plans to do anything about it, other than maybe increase security in their own nations, which is merely another way of restricting the freedoms of their own citizens.

Hardly what I would call fighting back against tyranny, terrorism, and oppression.

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IRS harassment of conservatives continues

Working for the Democratic Party: After five years, the IRS has still not moved on a New Mexico tea party organization application for tax exempt status.

I found the following quote from the article most revealing:

Soon after the scandal went public in 2013, the IRS offered the targeted tea party groups a deal: Agree to keep overt political activity to less than 40 percent of what they do and the agency would approve them. Forty-three groups chose to accept that deal, but the ACLJ and other attorneys advised their clients not to take it, saying it would have meant giving up their rights.

In other words, even after the IRS harassment was revealed, the IRS was still trying to find ways to restrict the free speech rights of these conservative groups.

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Arianespace and SpaceX neck and neck in race for contracts

The competition heats up: Of the new commercial launch contracts signed in 2014, Arianespace and SpaceX tied for the lead.

Russia meanwhile signed no new deals 2014, suggesting that the recent launch failures of their Proton rocket has significantly soured interest in their services, despite their low launch costs.

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Dream Chaser lives on!

The competition heats up: Sierra Nevada reveals that it intends to bid its Dream Chaser mini-shuttle as an ISS cargo vessel in NASA’s next round of cargo contracts.

The company also says that it is continuing development of the shuttle right now, despite the present lack of a contract. If this is true, I would expect them to do, as promised, the additional glide tests they had planned, using their engineering test vehicle. If not, then the claim of further development is merely talk, a lobbying effort to improve their chances of winning the next contract.

Not that I blame them. I just think they would do themselves a lot more good doing an actual glide test.

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Judeo-Christian tolerance vs Islamic tolerance

French Jesuits have published a collection of Charlie Hebdo anti-Catholic cartoons on their own website.

We have decided to put online [on our site] a few cartoons of Charlie Hebdo that relate to Catholicism. It is a sign of strength to be able to laugh at some traits of the institution to which we belong, because it is a way of saying that what we value is beyond always transient and imperfect forms. Humour regarding faith is a good antidote to fanaticism and a spirit of seriousness which tends to take everything literally.

We express our solidarity with our murdered brothers , the other victims, their families and friends.
writing

The link above is a translation of the actual site where the cartoons are available.

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Georgia police declare war on okra

We’re here to help you: Heavily armed police raided the home of a retired Atlanta citizen because a helicopter inspection — without a warrant — spotted some plants in his backyard that they thought were marijuana.

The plants were okra, a classic southern side dish.

And police wonder why many people today are suspicious of them. What the hell are they doing, flying over people’s homes and snooping into their backyards?

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A close look at Russia’s next generation space station modules

The competiton heats up: Anthony Zak’s a detailed report of the design and development of the next generation space station modules Russia intends to dock at ISS has this interesting tidbit:

In addition to expanding the ISS, Russian developers viewed the NEM module as the basis for future Russian efforts to send humans beyond the Earth orbit. Thanks to its multi-function design, life support and power-supply capability, one or a whole cluster of such vehicles could provide habitation quarters and laboratories for a station at the so-called Lagrange points, which were considered as a staging ground for the exploration of the Moon, asteroids and Mars.

In case of an international agreement on the construction of a manned outpost in the Lagrange point, the NEM-based laboratory could constitute the Russian contribution into the effort. The NEM-based outpost could be serviced and staffed by the crews of US-European Orion spacecraft and by Russia’s next-generation spacecraft, PTK NP. Simularly, the NEM module, possibly in combination with other hardware, could serve as an outpost in the orbit around the Moon. Also in 2014, plans were hatched to make the NEM-based laboratory a part of the post-ISS Russian space station, VShOS, in the high-inclination orbit.

The Russians have always understood that a space station is nothing more than a prototype of an interplanetary spaceship. They are therefore simply carrying through with the same engineering research they did on their earlier Salyut and Mir stations, developing a vessel that can keep humans alive on long trips to other planets.

This approach makes a lot more sense that NASA’s SLS/Orion project, which does not give us what we need to make long interplanetary voyages, and costs a lot more.

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Photos of SpaceX’s floating landing barge

The landing barge on which the first stage of the Falcon 9 attempted to land has returned to port.

Photos of the barge show signs of blast and burn damage to cargo containers and possible wreckage from the rocket covered by tarps on the platform’s deck. The rest of the vessel appeared undamaged.

These photos do not show as much wreckage as I would have expected, though my expectations here aren’t based on much knowledge. I would have thought that the first stage remains would have been more substantial.

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Cruz and Rubio to chair important space and science subcommittees

We are about to find out how conservative and pro-private enterprise senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) really are. Both have been assigned as chairmen of important subcommittees managing NASA and NOAA.

Cruz will chair the subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, which handles NASA, while Rubio will chair the subcommittee that handles NOAA.

For Cruz especially this position will challenge him to prove his tea party credentials. If he is in favor of private space as much as he claims, we will see him work to trim SLS, a pork project with no hope of achieving anything in space, and favor the commercial space effort, even though SLS brings much more pork into his state.

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“The freedom to write history without intimidation was no longer something that I took for granted.”

bombhead

The religion of peace strikes again! A scholar on Roman history and his family were threatened with death threats when he wrote a book, followed by a television documentary, about the fall of Rome in the Middle East and how his research raised questions about the life of Mohammed.

Just a few minutes into the broadcast, my Twitter stream was going up in smoke. By the time the show ended, the death threats were coming in thick and fast—and not just against me but against my family as well. Channel 4 was also deluged with protests. A private screening scheduled for assorted movers and shakers had to be canceled after the police warned that they couldn’t guarantee the security of those attending the event. Because many of the invitees had been journalists, this naturally gave the controversy a new lease of life.

Two weeks later, I was still fielding death threats from Muslims convinced that the only plausible explanation for my having made the film was that I was in the pay of Mossad or the CIA or both. The most chilling moment of all came when Press TV, a propaganda arm of the Iranian government, aired a documentary leveling pretty much that accusation. It was the one time that I seriously imagined I might end up as the new Salman Rushdie.

As I said, hate and violence appears to be a feature of Islam, not a bug.

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The madness of IRS Obamacare paperwork

Finding out what’s in it: Tax preparers discover that Obamacare adds so much paperwork to their work it isn’t worth it to do it.

About two-thirds of the way through the morning I questioned the whole process. I stated that if someone walked into to my office who was receiving the [Obamacare subsidy] that I would not accept them as a client. The cost of preparing the paperwork to get them properly qualified to receive the benefit would exceed anything I could reasonably charge them. The instructor, a fine fellow from Iowa, stated he unfortunately had to agree with me. So now tax preparers will have to decide whether to accept clients based on our health care system — just like doctors.

There’s lot more. Read the whole thing.

But you voted for Obama and the Democrats because they care. Aren’t you proud?!

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Political prosecution of conservative in South Dakota

A South Dakota tea party conservative who ran and lost in the Republican primary for Senate is now threatened with 24 years in prison for mistakenly signing six petition sheets in error.

The details are worth reading. It looks to me that the only reason she has been indicted is because she is a threat to the powers-that-be, and they want her out of the way.

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Jihadists kill thousands

bombhead

The religion of peace marches on! Thousands dead in another Boko Haram massacre in Nigeria.

District head Baba Abba Hassan said most victims are children, women and elderly people who could not run fast enough when insurgents drove into Baga, firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles on town residents. “The human carnage perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists in Baga was enormous,” Muhammad Abba Gava, a spokesman for poorly armed civilians in a defence group that fights Boko Haram, told the Associated Press. He said the civilian fighters gave up on trying to count all the bodies. “No one could attend to the corpses and even the seriously injured ones who may have died by now,” Gava said.

The key word above is “another”. Killings like this are not a bug in Islam, they are a feature.

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Elon Musk’s twitter explanation of the 1st stage landing attempt

Link here.

He says there were only “10% off”. I suspect that number is off the top of his head, but it does represent how close they came. They hit the barge, and the rocket was attempting to get into position for touchdown when fuel ran out. That is an amazing success for a first attempt of something that no one has ever tried before.

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