Author Archives: Robert Zimmerman

Squeal like a pig

Let’s take a trip into the future, looking past Tuesday’s midterm election.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that, come Tuesday, the Republicans take both houses, in a stunning landslide not seen in more than a century. Let’s also assume that the changes in Congress are going to point decidedly away from the recent liberal policies of large government (by both parties). Instead, every indication suggests that the new Congress will lean heavily towards a return to the principles of small government, low taxes, and less regulation.

These assumptions are not unreasonable. Not only do the polls indicate that one or both of the houses of Congress will switch from Democratic to Republican control, the numerous and unexpected primary upsets of established incumbents from both parties — as well the many protests over the past year by large numbers of ordinary citizens — make it clear that the public is not interested in half measures. Come January, the tone and direction of Congress is going to undergo a shocking change.

Anyway, based on these assumptions, we should then expect next year’s Congress to propose unprecedented cuts to the federal budget, including the elimination of many hallowed programs. The recent calls to defund NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcastings are only one example.

When Congress attempts this, however, the vested interests that have depended on this funding for decades are not going to take the cuts lightly. Or to put it more bluntly, they are going to squeal like pigs, throwing temper tantrums so loud and insane that they will make the complaints of a typical three-year-old seem truly statesman-like. And they will do so in the hope that they will garner sympathy and support from the general voting public, thereby making the cuts difficult to carry out.

The real question then is not whether the new Congress will propose the cuts required to bring the federal government under control, but whether they, as well as the public, will have the courage to follow through, to defy the howls from these spoiled brats, and do what must be done. » Read more

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Demonstration on October 30 to protest the trial of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff

There will be a demonstration on October 30 in support Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, who is facing prison in Austria for publicly quoting the Koran and then criticizing what it says. The video below explains the disgusting nature of the charges against her, and how freedom of speech is under direct attack in Austria. Key quote:

“It seems that some people do not appreciate a non-Muslim quoting verbatim from the Koran. . . . Apparently you have to convert to Islam in order to quote from the Koran and not be accused of hate speech.”

You can offer support to her legal defense fund by going here. This fund is not controlled by her, and will only be used to pay her legal fees.

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First ticket issued for deadly butter

Our government doing the really important work! Health officials in Baltimore have handed out their first ticket to a restaurant for not using the proper cooking recipe, as determined by the government. Key quote:

“They originally had a margarine that was above 3 grams, actually, which is very high compared to the .5 that is allowed. Then when we came back and they had replaced it, they replaced it with one that was 2 grams, so it still was too high,” [Health Department agent Juan] Gutierrez said.

And then there’s this: Fake health inspectors at restaurants on the rise.

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UN treaty language threatens to ban all “climate-related geoengineering”

Treaty language being written at a United Nations conference on biodiversity is so vague it threatens to bar almost all new development. Here is the language, via Science:

8 (w) Ensure, in line and consistent with decision IX/16 C, on ocean
fertilisation and biodiversity and climate change, in the absence of science-based, global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanisms for geo-engineering, and in accordance with the precautionary approach and Article 14 of the Convention, that no climate-related geoengineering activities (1) that may affect biodiversity take place, until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities and appropriate consideration of the associated risks for the environment and biodiversity and associated social, economic and cultural impacts, with the exception of small scale scientific research studies that would be conducted in a controlled setting in accordance with Article 3 of the Convention, and only if they are justified by the need to gather specific scientific data and are subject to a thorough prior assessment of the potential impacts on the environment.

(1) Without prejudice to future deliberations on the definition of geo-engineering activities, understanding that any technologies that deliberately reduce solar insolation or increase carbon sequestration from the atmosphere on a large scale that may affect biodiversity (excluding carbon capture and storage from fossil fuels when it captures carbon dioxide before it is released to the atmosphere) should be considered as forms of geoengineering which are relevant to the Convention on Biological Diversity until a more precise definition can be developed. Noting that solar insolation is defined as a measure of solar radiation energy received on a given surface area in a given hour and that carbon sequestration is defined as the process of increasing the carbon contact of a reservoir/pool other than the atmosphere. [emphasis mine]

This language is so broad that, if agreed to by the United States, it could easily put almost any activity that affects the environment, including technology, business, property, recreation, or practically anything at all, under the control of UN regulators.

But wait, there’s more. The goal of this UN conference, to quote their own webpage, is to achieve “a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.” Obviously, this UN group is not merely interested in protecting the biodiversity of life on Earth, but to also redistribute the wealth so as to help poorer nations.

God help us if our government agrees to this.

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Toronto elects conservative mayor by a surprising margin

Is this a hint of what’s to come on Tuesday? Toronto yesterday not only elected a conservative mayor by a very large margin, four incumbent councillors were also defeated soundly. Key quote:

Polls, indicating the race was razor edge close, were proven false in 11 single minutes! . . . [The conservative] Ford won with 383,501 votes—more than the votes of his two main opponents combined.

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New Kepler results!

Scientists released additional Kepler results [pdf] today, this time describing what they are learning about the stars being observed rather than any planets that might be orbiting them. In studying each star’s minute variations of light, the astronomers can track how the star itself is oscillating like a bell ringing. From this they can do a kind of stellar seismology, finding out a great deal about what is going on inside the star. The data has thus:

  • produced the most precise measurements of the size and age of another star beside the Sun. KIC 11026764 has a radius 2.05 times the size of the Sun, and is now believed to be 5.94 billion years old, slightly older than the Sun’s 4.57 billion years. Though larger than the Sun, this star is a G-type star like the Sun. So far, Kepler has observed about 1500 solar-type stars. The astronomers are still analyzing this data, with results to follow.
  • measured the oscillations of a thousand red giant stars, ranging from slightly larger to dozens of times larger than the Sun. The larger the star, the faster the oscillation and the larger the amplitude, which in turn has confirmed the theories about how the nuclear processes in the core of stars evolve over time, shifting from burning hydrogen to helium. Since these red giants are what our Sun will be like when it reaches old age, we are thus learning something about the Sun’s future.
  • and provided the most precise measurements ever of RR Lyrae stars, a class of unusual variable stars that have puzzled astronomers for more than a century. From this data the astronomers hope to find out exactly why these stars fluctuate as they do.
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