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Standardized Genetic Design of Electric Fish Stuns Biologists

Thursday, June 26th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

I was dragging my knuckles across the landscape of the internet today — as evangelical Christians do when we’re foraging for information that reinforces our primitive, superstitious worldview — when I accidentally stumbled upon some science, first at NPR.org then at Phys.org. I should have known the latter had something to do with science, but at first it reminded me of gym class.

Anyway, it was awkward…me and science, face-to-face. Science looked at me inquisitively, and I gawked back at him, bovine-like, slack-jawed and glassy-eyed. But since I couldn’t figure out how to close that tabby thing on my browser, I decided to read the articles. (Yes, I can!)

The basic story is that scientists studied six different kinds of fish which have magical powers of electricity. Each species, they said, evolved independently of the others. (I don’t have time to explain evolution to you. Suffice it to say it’s a theory that Charles Darwinian and his Beagle invented so they could worship luck instead of God, and also be communists.)

To the great surprise of the scientists, they found the same mechanisms and the same genetic sequences in each of these creatures. Or to put it in terms even a scientist could understand…

A computationally intense comparative study of the sequences showed that electric organs in fish worldwide used the same genetic tools and cellular and developmental pathways to independently create the electric organ.

I hope I’m not insulting your intelligence by using such elementary language, but there may be some homeschoolers in our audience, and I want them to follow along.

So, among billions of genes in any given fish, each of these creatures used the same set of roughly 30 genes to do the electric boogaloo.

Of course, there’s a perfectly natural Darwinian explanation for how this works…

“If you remove the ability of the muscle cell to contract and change the distribution of proteins in the cell membrane, now all they do is push ions across a membrane to create a massive flow of positive charge,” explains Traeger.

The “in-series alignment” of the electrocytes and unique polarity of each cell allows for the “summation of voltages, much like batteries stacked in series in a flashlight,” says Sussman.

Yep, that’s “all they do.” And that can produce about 100 volts per linear-foot of fish, useful for stunning critters he wants to eat, or for navigating murky deeps better than any man-made submarine.

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Former Johns Hopkins Psychiatrist: Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution

Friday, June 13th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

A former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital has written an explosive editorial at the Wall Street Journal saying, “Policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention.” Dr. Paul McHugh, the former chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, challenges the notion that sex-reassignment surgery is good for transgendered persons and provides statistics to back up his assertions.

You won’t hear it from those championing transgender equality, but controlled and follow-up studies reveal fundamental problems with this movement. When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings. Some 25% did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.

We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into “sex-reassignment surgery”—launched a study in the 1970s comparing the outcomes of transgendered people who had the surgery with the outcomes of those who did not. Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as “satisfied” by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery. And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a “satisfied” but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.

McHugh has some strong words for parents who decide to treat their young children for gender disorders:

Then there is the subgroup of very young, often prepubescent children who notice distinct sex roles in the culture and, exploring how they fit in, begin imitating the opposite sex. Misguided doctors at medical centers including Boston’s Children’s Hospital have begun trying to treat this behavior by administering puberty-delaying hormones to render later sex-change surgeries less onerous—even though the drugs stunt the children’s growth and risk causing sterility. Given that close to 80% of such children would abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated, these medical interventions come close to child abuse. A better way to help these children: with devoted parenting.

Dr. McHugh explains the fundamental nature of the problem:

At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. “Sex change” is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women.

He notes that transgendered advocates are so powerful that they have persuaded several states, including California, New Jersey and Massachusetts to pass laws making it illegal for psychiatrists, even with parental permission, to attempt to restore natural gender feelings to a transgender minor, despite data that shows many of these children can and do lose their transgendered feelings. He called on his fellow psychiatrists to challenge the “solipsistic concept that what is in the mind cannot be questioned.”

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Results of Obama’s First Medical Exam Since 2011

Thursday, June 12th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The White House released President Obama’s medical report today, showing that he takes ibuprofen for heel pain, has “occasional use” of nicotine gum and takes Vitamin D daily to address a “mild” deficiency.

“The President’s overall health is excellent. All clinical data indicates that the President is currently healthy and that he will remain so for the duration of his Presidency,” says the two-page report from Obama’s doctor, Ronny Jackson, who also directs the White House medical unit.

Obama last had a physical exam in October 2011 before the exam last month.

“This examination focused on evidence-based health screening and disease prevention. The purpose of this exam was to provide the public with an update of the President’s current health status and to ensure the President continues to enjoy all the benefits of good health,” said Jackson in the report.

The president’s body temperature registered at 98 degrees and his blood pressure was 112/70. His resting heart rate was 62 bpm and his weight was 180 pounds.

The 52-year-old has uncorrected 20/20 vision, according to the report, and his cholesterol is 213.

“Several small benign skin tags identified on neck. No evidence of skin cancer, acute or chronic skin disorders or disease. Remainder of skin normal,” the report added. His genitourinary and other exams by system were normal.

“Mild tenderness to palpation of the plantar surface of the right foot (consistent with recurrent right plantar fasciitis). Remainder of musculoskeletal exam was unremarkable.”

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If You’re Skeptical of Man-Made Climate Change, Barack Obama (Who Is Not a Scientist) Is Very Unhappy With You

Monday, June 9th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Scraped from Mashable.

In an interview airing on Monday night, President Obama reveals his frustration with lawmakers who question the very existence of manmade global warming. The interview, conducted for the Showtime documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously,” features a revealing exchange between New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and Obama, in which the president admits to having the desire to “unload on” lawmakers, such as House Republicans, who question the existence of manmade global warming as well as its severity.

Excerpts of the interview were published in the New York Times on Sunday, and a video clip was posted to Youtube.

“Look, it’s frustrating when the science is in front of us,” Obama said. “…We can argue about how. But let’s not argue about what’s going on. The science is compelling.

The baseline fact of climate change is not something we can afford to deny. And if you profess leadership in this country at this moment in our history, then you’ve got to recognize this is going to be one of the most significant long-term challenges, if not the most significant long-term challenge, that this country faces and that the planet faces.

Actually, the “how” is a big part of the argument, but Obama (who is not a scientist) just leaps over it. The climate is changing, because that’s what climate always does. It changes. The steady-state universe went out of science fashion decades ago, and scientists are just now really getting a good handle on how variations in the Sun’s energy output impact climate here on earth. But “the Sun has a massive impact on Earth’s climate” is the safe way to bet. It’s just a lot bigger and more consequential than we are.

That’s not the only “how” that’s worth arguing about. Even if you accept that mankind is changing the climate, “how” do we change that — or should we? We are a part of nature, if you believe the godless leftists who are pushing their climate change narrative. If we’re a part of nature, then anything we do is natural, including making Earth warmer (or cooler, as scientists — a community that does not and never did include Barack H. Obama Jr. — thought just a few decades ago) is just part of nature. It would be unnatural to oppose that. So there’s one philosophical argument, and then there’s a practical argument — how do we go about changing the climate back? First, you have to suppose that changing it back (rolling back the clock, liberals would argue in other political contexts) is even possible. Then you have to decide that it’s desirable. Then you have to decide what measures will change it back, and whether those measures are worth it. And whether they’ll even work, as we have no history of intentionally changing the entire planet’s climate. That’s kind of a big job. This administration can’t even take care of sick veterans. Yet Obama believes he’s smart enough to heal the planet? Yes, actually, that’s exactly what he thinks — the arrogant boob. He ought to demonstrate competence in a smaller job first. Like, just to pull something out of the air, building a functional health insurance website…

What I’m saying is, Barack Obama is offering a simplistic, bordering on childish, presentation of all the arguments involved in what we think of as “climate change.” But, as he knows well, childish argumentation is often very effective at generating emotional responses.

It hasn’t proven to be very effective so far, though, in changing votes. Americans tend to rate “climate change” very low in our issue priorities. A majority of Americans are at least somewhat skeptical of “climate change”/”global warming” as an issue that’s worth their time. A 59% majority worries more about jobs than “climate change.” Even as an environmental issue, climate ranks behind air and water pollution in Americans’ concerns. It’s just not an issue that moves a lot of voters, nor is it an issue that causes its strongest advocates to change their lifestyles. Barack Obama still joins the likes of Al Gore in jetting around the world, spewing all kinds of noxious gases (in more ways than one) to lecture everyone else about our carbon footprints. Until these enviro radicals practice what they preach, they earn nothing more than the right to be ignored.

 

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What’s the Difference Between a Politician and a Rat?

Monday, June 9th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

A: The rat can experience regret.

That was my first thought, when I learned that scientists have discovered that rats can experience regret.

However, if you read the story, the differences between the rodent and the politician vanish, since the experiment observed the rat’s reaction to learning that he had missed out on a better meal. So this species of regret is the kind a politician does suffer, when he realizes he didn’t fully devour from the public trough the best that was available at the moment.
Incumbent

The scientists did not establish that the subject feels regret for the harm he has done, for how he has nibbled away the substance of his host organisms, for the way he has placed his appetite ahead of the needs of others, for how he has soiled the house and spread all manner of loathsome ailments.

One day, perhaps, science will discover such a conscience…in the rat.

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Why Does Bacon Smell So Insanely Good? Two Minutes Stand Between You and Knowing Why.

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

It’s all about the chemistry, according to Reactions/ACS.

YouTube Preview Image

Now that you’ve watched that, watching Nancy Pelosi say that Obamacare is “beautiful” might not hurt so bad.

h/t i09

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A Slippery Slope Onto a Trampoline

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 - by Nathan D. Lichtman

I will admit I’m not part of the space age generation. I wasn’t even alive when the original Star Wars movies were coming out.

I have missed some of our nation’s greatest achievements in space flight—the moon landing and the first Space Shuttle launches—and I’ve also missed some of its greatest tragedies—the Challenger disaster and NASA’s suspension thereafter.

But, I’ve always considered myself an honorary member of that age group. This is both represented by my obvious “old-soul” mental maturity, but also by my undying love for all things NASA and astronaut related.

My mother worked for a NASA contractor, and so I’ve had some tremendous opportunities to, for instance, meet Carl Sagan and attend two Shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral. And my childhood bedroom featured a large Shuttle mural and several mission posters, along with a cute (yes, cute!) Snoopy astronaut stuffed animal.

It seems as though I missed some of the aforementioned highlights of NASA’s exploration, but I have unfortunately lived through some of its darkest moments.

When Columbia exploded upon reentry, I remember figuring that people would give up on NASA and her proud birds of flight, but they didn’t. At least not right away.

President Bush told us that, not only would we continue, but we would actually expand our efforts, to land on the moon once more, and even put a man on Mars. They were going to build a whole new rocket ship and it was going to take Americans to places unimaginable.

Then the confusing years of Obama started.

President Obama defunded Bush’s optimistic programs, and canceled the Shuttle program. He reorganized NASA to be a pseudo-State Department subsidiary, reaching out to Muslim countries, and providing climate and science education around the world. This presents the need for the highly scientific phrase—huh???

Less than a year after this decision, Obama started strongly encouraging science, math, and engineering education. And he redirected tons of Education Department spending to these pursuits. Rather than spend all this money on the education, wouldn’t it make more sense to give students an incentive for studying these things? Um, maybe by continuing to employ thousands of them, and allow them to achieve great things…by continuing NASA exploration.

Now, its not like I’m unsympathetic to the privatization argument. Space X and Virgin Galactic are changing the space frontier in great ways. But I think it’s clear by now that the Obama administration will spend exorbitant amounts of money, in one way or another. I would just prefer if they spent money in ways that expand our scientific horizons, not just train people for how to participate within what’s currently known.

Oh and there’s another thing—

$150 billion dollars is what some medium-sized countries’ GDPs are. In fact, it’s pretty damn close to what Ukraine’s GDP is (but we’ll discuss Crimean politics in a sec).

And this is what our generation’s predecessors spent on the International Space Station. Set up as the pinnacle of laboratories in space, this project was undertaken by many countries as a joint venture. And of course, our old space-race pal, Russia, was a primary partner.

But now all of the Space Shuttles are sitting in museums. Plans to create a new ship have been long on the backburner (if in the kitchen at all). And so we have no means of accessing the Space Station, let alone launching several of our communications and military satellites.

Obama thought his Smart Diplomacy would be the answer. We would pay the Russians, so that they would deliver our researchers to the Station, and would sell us their rockets to launch our satellites.

Enter Crimea.

When Putin led Russia into a Ukrainian invasion, Obama bristled. Leftover from our Cold War days, the US was allied with Ukraine, and this was an affront to our efforts in the region, and an embarrassment for Obama.

Obama sanctioned Russia, and I guess thought that they wouldn’t care. I suppose he figured he was being magnanimous, because he didn’t provide military support for Crimea, and only economic sanctions…but Putin didn’t see it this way.

So now we’re at a standstill in two ways. Putin continues his hostile presence in Crimea. And, his administration has launched an offensive against the US in another way—by cutting off their space exploration systems.

The Russian version of NASA has said they will no longer sell us any rocket parts or engines, to aid in any deemed military use. And they will not transport our astronauts or researchers to the International Space Station. Their Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, even said “I propose that the United States delivers its astronauts to the ISS with the help of a trampoline.”

I think Obama and his administration have mangled this Russian situation altogether. First upset by their homophobic laws, Obama didn’t attend the Sochi Olympics. Then fearing a hostile takeover of Ukraine, Obama put economic sanctions on Russia. It is important to note that Obama’s efforts have in no way quelled Putin’s advances. But it seems like he legitimately forgot that we rely on Russia, based on his own policies, for space travel. So much for Smart Diplomacy.

Obama’s continued confusion with regard to foreign policy has led us to have trampolines as the only answer. And he has become even more the ‘Huh???’ President.

 

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Science: Avoiding Sun Exposure Can Kill You!

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

You see, here’s the problem with enslaving yourself to the latest science, as Jon Huntsman would have us all do: Today’s official word from on high is tomorrow’s rubbish. They used to teach that an ice age was coming, then it was global warming, now it’s “climate change,” which doesn’t really mean anything because the climate is always changing. Always has, always will, whether we tax ourselves back into caves or not.

We have all grown up hearing about the dangers of overexposure to the sun. What about the dangers of underexposure?

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight is often cited as a cause of skin melanoma. The NHS currently recommends avoiding overexposure to the sun to prevent all types of skin cancer.

But the new research, which followed nearly 30,000 women over 20 years, suggests that women who stay out of the sun are at increased risk of skin melanomas and are twice as likely to die from any cause, including cancer.

“The results of this study clearly showed that mortality was about double in women who avoided sun exposure compared to the highest exposure group,” said lead author Dr Pelle Lindqvist.

30,000 women over the course of 20 years…so, not a fly-by-night study.

“Sun exposure advice which is very restrictive in countries with low solar intensity might in fact be harmful for women’s health.

“The mortality rate was increased two-fold among avoiders of sun exposure as compared to those with the highest sun exposure habits.”

It is thought that a lack of vitamin D may to be blame. Vitamin D is created in the body through exposure to sunshine and a deficiency is known to increase the risk of diabetes, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis and rickets.

Cases of rickets have risen fourfold in the last 15 years as sunscreen has increased in popularity.

Previous studies have shown that vitamin D can increase survival rates for women with breast cancer while deficiencies can signal prostate cancer in men. Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to more aggressive forms of skin cancer.

For all of our alleged progress, we keep having to re-learn what Aristotle figured out ages ago: Moderation in all things is the way to go. Avoid being a drunk or an addict, but a little wine for the stomach now and then won’t kill you. Don’t fry yourself or turn your hide into rich, Corinthian leather, but don’t obsess if you happen to catch a few rays. In fact, bathing in sunlight from time to time is good for you.

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Keystone Pipeline Pits Rank and File Democrats Against a Billionaire. Guess Who’s Winning?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, Democrat, turned up on MSNBC and told faux blue eyes Ronan Farrow that she supports the Keystone XL Pipeline.

McCaskill told Farrow that “Clearly all of the studies have indicated we can do it safely through the united states. so i’m for it.”

McCaskill is right on the science this time. Study after study has shown that the Keystone will be safe, and it will reduce emissions because no ships or trucks will be used to move the oil from Canada to the Texas coast. It will go through a pipe.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, also a Democrat, turned up on MSNBC, and also talked about energy. Rendell, who was once chairman of the Democratic Party, told the Morning Joe audience that he supports an all-of-the-above energy strategy, including alternative energy, fracking and the Keystone pipeline.

Polls show that about 70% of the American people support building the Keystone, but President Barack Obama isn’t listening. San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer has pledged $100 million to help Democrats by donating to them. Steyer opposes the Keystone, and is using his money only to help Democrats who also oppose the Keystone. If you’re a Democrat and you support the Keystone, Steyer’s cash will not end up in your campaign.

Steyer warned President Obama to reject the Keystone, which would create thousands of jobs and reduce gas prices for Americans, or Steyer will use his wealth to attack Obama.

And the pipeline, so far, isn’t going forward. President Obama has sold America’s energy security to the highest bidder. Or, he just isn’t strong enough to stand up to a billionaire.

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The Impediment to Better Farm Policy? The Farm Lobbies – Here, and in Places Like Japan

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 - by Seton Motley

We Conservatives rightly and righteously loathe our every five-year renewal of the Farm Bill.  It is a Franklin Delano Roosevelt-New Deal relic, filled to the rim with more protectionism than anyone not getting government checks could possibly stomach.

We just in February renewed this anti-free market folly.  So we’re again mired in this mess.  We thus need to spend the intervening years working to undermine the tenets of this legislative absurdity.

Since we’re locked down domestically, the way to do that is internationally.  Because what was in the 1930s merely a domestic policy disaster has become – with the explosion of a global market for all things – an international omni-pockmarked heinousness.

Protectionism begets protectionism.  Subsidies and tariffs are matched – and exceeded – by subsidies and tariffs.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  So let’s tear down these walls, shall we?

Except we’re running into some foreign obstinance.

Obama Suffers Setbacks in Japan and the Mideast

Mr. Obama had hoped to use his visit here to announce an agreement under which Japan would open its markets in rice, beef, poultry and pork, a critical step toward the trade pact.

But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was not able to overcome entrenched resistance from Japan’s farmers in time for the president’s visit.

Reminiscent of the right, righteous complaints we Conservatives have long had about our domestic Big Crops.  Because they have been terribly successful at protecting really terrible policy.

Take Big Corn – please.  Which has for decades protected an ethanol program – that requires more energy to produce ethanol than we would use if we just used petroleum.

Ethanol Production Consumes Six Units Of Energy To Produce Just One

But we continued the inanity because it was supposed to be oh-so-much-better for our Big Blue Marble.  Except….

Study Finds Cellulosic Ethanol Worse for Environment Than Pure Gasoline

Which leads anyone – whose thinking isn’t warped by Big Government Crony Socialism – to this inexorable conclusion.

It’s Final — Corn Ethanol is of No Use

Yet Big Corn and its omni-directional protectionism remains.  A Crony Colossus astride us still.

There is one Big Crop that has decided to stand down on protecting its protectionism – Sugar.  So long as other countries – like, say, Japan – stand down on theirs.  Which makes sense – unilateral disarmament is hardly ever a good idea.

Unilateral Disarmament: A Bad Idea With Nukes and Industrial Policy

And farm policy.

Negotiating With Yourself Doesn’t Work

Killing just our farm programs made much more sense when it was just us eating what we grew.  That has long since stopped being the case.  Now, if we just kill our programs, the uber-subsidized global market will kill our farms and jack up our prices.

The European Union (EU) with sugar tried such self-negotiation.  It didn’t end well.

(T)he European Union, which supplied as much as 20 percent of global (sugar) exports in the 1990s, shifted from a net exporter to a net importer following sugar policy reforms in 2005.

Their reforms? Unilateral tear-down of their trade barriers – which sounds good. Except it allowed Big Sugar Subsidy Brazil to flood their market – and wipe out nearly all domestic production.

And now the EU is paying about 25% more for sugar.

So it would be inordinately nice if all of our Big Crops would get off the schneid, and work to make a better global market for their products – and everyone here who has the audacity to eat.

Rather than continue to circle the wagons around a ridiculous and ridiculously antiquated domestic Crony Socialist protectionism nightmare mess.

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Obama Just Set up a Headfake for the Democrats on the Keystone

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

It’s Good Friday. Time for the leftwing president to do something bad.

Barack Obama just punted on the Keystone Pipeline, again, and some Democrats say they are angry at him.

The Obama administration once again has punted on a final decision for the Keystone XL pipeline, announcing ahead of the holiday weekend it is extending a key review period indefinitely — a move that could push off a determination until after the midterm elections.

Republicans, as well as red-state Democrats who want the proposed Canada-to-Texas pipeline approved, slammed the administration for the delay. Democrats even threatened to find ways to go around the president to get the project approved.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous that this well over five year long process is continuing for an undetermined amount of time,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a statement.

Republican Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry called the decision “shameful,” noting that another spring construction season will come and go without the project.

Do ya think Obama knows or cares about that? Has he ever shown that he cares about jobs? Obama doesn’t govern; he agitates, he positions, and he tees up issues.

Obama doesn’t care about jobs, but he does care some about Democrats keeping the Senate. Eleven Democrats recently wrote him a letter urging approval of the Keystone. They’re all vulnerable senators. If they lose, the Democrats lose the Senate and Obama will find himself cornered during the last two years of his presidency. He doesn’t want the Keystone, but he doesn’t want to be cornered more.

Obama’s heart is clearly with the anti-science environmental radicals who oppose the Keystone. But he doesn’t want to lose the Senate.

My guess is, Obama made this extension indefinite to give himself control over when to end it and announce approval. He’ll do that once he has handed the environmental radicals who oppose it something in return, so they don’t abandon Democrats this fall. They will get some nasty new spin on EPA regulations, another turtle that needs protecting from ranchers, whatever. Around August or September, Obama will announce a change of heart, approve the Keystone, and give vulnerable Democrats something positive to crow about at home close to the elections.

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Energy Exec: The ‘Future’ Is Still Coal, Nuclear And Natural Gas

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

If it ain’t broke

In this century, power companies are facing “far more intrusive and disruptive” interference from government than ever before, Anderson said Tuesday. The Chamber event came in advance of Thursday’s Senate Energy Committee hearing on the reliability of the electric grid.

Anderson heads the Akron-based holding company that can trace its lineage to the 1893 founding of Akron Electric Light and Power Co.

Unlike the past, “electricity is under attack in our country,” he said. “I believe state and federal policymakers are manipulating the supply and demand and distorting markets for electricity to further advance the ‘war on coal,’” he said.

Anderson said energy efficiency, renewable power, distributed generation, micro grids, roof-top solar and demand reduction may play “some role” in the future, but “they are not substitutes for what has worked.”

What works are the 19th and 20th centuries’ “real generating assets such as coal, nuclear and natural gas,” he said.

The Party of Science is hell-bent on making everyone use renewable energy sources that are expensive, inefficient or, most of the time, both. And they don’t care how broke it makes you.

So…science but ignore economics, technology and history.

Wait…they’re ignoring the science too.

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NASA Rover Sees ‘Bright Light’ Coming from the Surface of Mars

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Houston Chronicle reports that one of NASA’s Mars rovers has spotted something odd: a bright light coming up from beneath the planet’s surface.

A NASA camera on Mars has captured what appears to be artificial light emanating outward from the planet’s surface.

The photo, beamed millions of miles from Mars to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was taken last week, apparently by one of two NASA rovers on the red planet.

Although the space agency hasn’t issued any official statement yet about the phenomenon, bloggers and NASA enthusiasts have started chiming in.

Scott C. Waring, who maintains the website UFO Sightings Daily, posted the photo April 6.

Waring noted that the light shines upward, as if from the ground, and is very flat across the bottom.

“This could indicate there there is intelligent life below the ground and uses light as we do,” Waring wrote on his website. “This is not a glare from the sun, nor is it an artifact of the photo process.”

Here’s the original photo, which was captured by Curiosity with its Navcam via visible light in a region that the rover scientists call the Kimberley.

mars-light-one

 

Close-up:

mars-light-two

 

I’d like to know more about the time of day, scale of the image, and overall brightness conditions when the rover captured this. Whatever it is, to me it doesn’t look like a light. It looks like gas escaping from beneath the surface. Or, a dust devil at distance that looks bright due to contrast enhancement. I don’t see why a light’s reach would be so defined and limited at the top. It could also be a processing artifact that wasn’t properly cleaned up.

What do you think?

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EPA Experimented on Humans with Lethal Pollutants Without Risk Notifications

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general found that the agency didn’t notify test subjects in recent pollutant studies that they were being exposed to cancer-causing chemicals.

At the request of House Science, Space, and Technology Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-Ga.), the OIG looked into five research studies the EPA conducted in 2010 and 2011 involving 81 human subjects to test the effects of diesel exhaust.

The OIG found the “consent forms inconsistently addressed the risks of being exposed to [Concentrated Airborne Particles] and diesel exhaust,” with only one of the five studies’ forms providing the test subject “with information on the upper range of the pollutant he or she would be exposed to” and just two of the five “alerted study subjects to the risk of death for older individuals with cardiovascular disease.”

“Only two of the five studies’ consent forms included the risk of death from exposure to high levels of selected air pollutants such as [Particulate Matter] and diesel exhaust, and only one study’s consent form included the upper limits of exposure levels,” the report stated.

“…Evidence suggests that at least some human study subjects would like to know if a study involves risk of death, even if the risk is very small.  In the future, the EPA should include the long-term risk of cancer to potential subjects in its consent forms so study subjects can make the most informed decisions about whether to participate in a study.”

Six “adverse events” happened with test subjects in the five studies. “The EPA’s clinical follow-up for the six adverse events ranged from 1 day to 3 months after the event and included phone calls and emails by the EPA nurses. While the EPA’s clinical follow-up appeared to be reasonable, the EPA’s policies and guidance do not establish the EPA’s clinical follow-up responsibilities. In our view, the EPA should revise its guidance to establish the agency’s clinical follow-up responsibilities after an adverse event.”

Two of those “adverse events” were reported by the EPA “later than required,” the report noted.

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Think Progress Upset That FNC And CNN Didn’t Freak Out Over UN Climate Report

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Dance, monkeys, dance!

The Floating Polar Bear Hand-wringing Brigade was so upset over the sane world’s lack of reaction to the latest extortion attempt from the United Nations that they even put someone from the graphics department on it and made a chart.
IPCC-coverage

Wrap your heads around that: they are actually showing the amount of coverage by MSNBC to make the point that it’s a serious issue. The fact that Maddow and Co. were able to pull themselves off of Christie’s bridge long enough to talk about something else is the only thing worth noting here.

This is what we are up against when trying to court younger voters. These prog blogs may seem like outliers but they’re pretty indicative of what sadly passes for mainstream in academia. College kids are being pumped full of far left ideology every day and sites like Think Progress are viewed as serious sources for news.

Oh, and they are all fairly well funded.

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UN Climate Panel Goes Full Stephen King To Extort More Money From Wealthy Countries

Monday, March 31st, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Scaaaaaary.

Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported Monday, and they warned that the problem is likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.

The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants, which is killing some creatures or stunting their growth, the report found.

This is the same group that has been peddling the hysteria snake oil for years and threatening the imminent floating of polar bears all about the place. That it comes from the United Nations should be enough cause for healthy skepticism, but too many still take that international clown car seriously.

What the UN is really all about is global welfare and draining cash and influence from the better developed countries:

The poorest people in the world, who have had virtually nothing to do with causing global warming, will be high on the list of victims as climatic disruptions intensify, the report said. It cited a World Bank estimate that poor countries need as much as $100 billion a year to try to offset the effects of climate change; they are now getting, at best, a few billion dollars a year in such aid from rich countries.

There you have it. They feel that they’re not bleeding the rich countries enough, so the story has to get scarier.

Somebody needs to shut this global socialism factory down.

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Enviro Whackos’ Lies Led To Fracking Bans

Monday, March 24th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

The science of no science.

Environmental activists ginned up false fears about flood-induced contamination from hydraulic fracturing operations in Colorado shortly before voters in the state weighed in on moratoria on the practice, a new report from state regulators shows.

According to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), flooding in the state last year did not contaminate water in the area by damaging oil and gas drilling equipment.

“Early on, there were widespread fears that public safety was threatened by damaged oil and gas equipment,” the commission said in a report released last week.

“Those fears later proved to be unfounded, but they attracted nationwide attention nevertheless,” the report found.

‪Environmental activists in the state sought to highlight the supposed environmental dangers posed by fracking ahead of referenda in four Colorado towns that had proposed fracking bans. Three of the bans passed.

Almost every talking point an anti-fracking activist will throw at you has been proven false one or more times. But that doesn’t really slow them down.

The same environmental activists are now gearing up for a statewide ballot initiative to ban fracking in Colorado, and are still touting environmental dangers that the COGCC says never existed.

The crazy hippies were merely a fringe annoyance for decades. Now they influence policy and elections.

Maybe the legal pot will distract them.

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Yes, CNN’s Don Lemon, It Is Preposterous to Think that a Black Hole Is Responsible for the Disappearance of MH370

Thursday, March 20th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

This is CNN, where wild, irresponsible speculation and abject scientific ignorance are your ticket to getting on the air.

Don Lemon previously speculated that something “supernatural” claimed the missing Malaysian Airlines flight. On Wednesday, he got pseudo-scientific, postulating that a black hole might have somehow swallowed up the 777.

Black holes do exist. But no black hole was responsible for sucking in that airplane.

And then a former government official on-upped Lemon — Clinton-era US Department of Transportation General Inspector Mary Schiavo said “A small black hole would suck in our entire universe, so we know it’s not that.” A small black hole would not suck in our entire universe. Most galaxies have supermassive black holes at their core. The universe remains just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Sigh. Having spent close to a decade at NASA attempting to educate the press and public on astronomy, this makes me feel like a failure.

But honestly, I blame the teachers unions, President Obama for converting NASA into a Muslim outreach program, America’s emphasis on social nonsense over the hard sciences, and the “I’m not saying it’s aliens, but it’s aliens” History Channel for bringing us all to this low point in the use of high technology. It’s all their fault.

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Don’t Listen To FLOTUS, Kids-Your Sweet Tooth Is An ‘Evolutionary Advantage’

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Darwinian dessert.

It’s no surprise researchers have shown again and again that kids are more likely than adults to spring for something like a bowl of Fruit Loops.

But young kids’ preference for extremely sugary foods might be even more biologically ingrained than we thought. Scientists now think that kids’ growing bodies may prompt them to crave more sugar — and a child’s sweet tooth might be heightened during growth spurts.

In a small study, researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia determined what tastes kids prefer by having them rate various soups, sugar waters, jellies and crackers with different levels of salt and sugar.

The study included 108 kids, ages 5 to 10, as well as their moms. The children who preferred sweet solutions over salty ones tended to be tall for their age. And there was a slight correlation between sweet preference and a biomarker of growth found in the kids’ urine.

Julie Mennella, the study’s lead author and a biopsychologist at Monell, says scientists have known for a while that kids prefer both sweeter and saltier tastes than adults, and that kids don’t have to learn to like sugar and salt. But no one could say exactly why.

This study suggests it has to do with children’s development — kids crave more energy and sugar because they’re growing, Mennella tells The Salt. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, since kids who sought out more calories were probably more likely to survive.

This can’t be good news to the First Lady and the army of food police she’s building. This is, after all, the woman who invited kids to the White House for lunch a couple of years ago and forced an abomination called cabbage sloppy joes upon them once she had them trapped.

Now the kids can order a side of banana split with that. Lives depend on it.

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NASA Goes from ‘Muslim Outreach’ to Leftwing Activism

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

NASA is one of the few government agencies that’s worth keeping around, but as an “air” and “space” agency it is poorly equipped to study the history of the rise and fall of past empires. So…

Few think Western civilization is on the brink of collapse—but it’s also doubtful the Romans and Mesopotamians saw their own demise coming either.

If we’re to avoid their fate, we’ll need policies to reduce economic inequality and preserve natural resources, according to a NASA-funded study that looked at the collapses of previous societies.

“Two important features seem to appear across societies that have collapsed,” reads the study. “The stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity and the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses.”

In unequal societies, researchers said, “collapse is difficult to avoid…. Elites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society.”

As limited resources plague the working class, the wealthy, insulated from the problem, “continue consuming unequally” and exacerbate the issue, the study said.

Meanwhile, resources continue to be used up, even by the technologies designed to preserve them. For instance, “an increase in vehicle fuel efficiency technology tends to enable increased per capita vehicle miles driven, heavier cars, and higher average speeds, which then negate the gains from the increased fuel-efficiency,” the study said.

The researchers used what they termed a Human And Nature DYnamical (HANDY) formula to reach their conclusions. The formula uses factors such as birth rates, resources, and income classes to create a mathematical equation to project outcomes.

What’s “handy” is that this government-funded study just happens to line up with what the rigidly ideological president and his party keep saying. Shocking!

It seems clear that now that NASA has been taken out of the manned space flight game, and now that its role in national security and hard-edged exploration is being reduced, it just has too much time on its hands.

Do you want to know a fairly crazy fact about history? We don’t really know why many past civilizations collapsed. Of those whose collapses we do understand, few were simple. Very very few collapsed for one or two reasons, and few collapsed quickly. Some didn’t collapse — they failed to defend themselves and were destroyed. That’s not quite the same thing as a collapse. Some collapsed because of freak natural disasters, and thanks to our present level of technology, such collapses are largely things of the past. Rome collapsed over the course of several centuries, and was split and overrun by enemies, and was betrayed from within. Easter Island’s collapse was pretty quick and fairly easy to explain, but it was also not an empire and was not spread over much territory. But there are many past civilizations that we know little about, how they flourished, and how they died, and how they built what they built while they were still alive (cue the Ancient Aliens guys). It isn’t so much the case that there are gaps in our history. It’s that there is some known history between all the gaps.

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Terrible News for Climate Alarmists, Great News for Polar Bears

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Watts Up With That notes that polar bear ice habitat is higher now than it was during the 1970s and 1980s. The news comes by way of Dr. Susan Crockford.

The Davis Strait polar bear subpopulation is said to be ‘vulnerable’ to the supposed effects of global warming because, like Hudson Bay, Davis Strait sea ice retreats every summer, leaving polar bears on land for several months.

However, Davis Strait bears have been upgraded to ‘stable’ status, according to the latest table (2013) issued by the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (see their boundary map for Davis Strait bears below). Recent development of sea ice in the region can only improve that rating.

Now what’s John Kerry going to do with himself? Even as Russia reverts to its evil empire ways, the Syria civil war rolls on, Iran pursues nuclear weapons and Israel has come under yet another missile attack by terrorists, the Secretary of State declared that “climate change” will now be one of the State Department’s “top-tier diplomatic” priorities.

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Open Thread: 17 Equations That Influenced History

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

You remember all of these, right?

stewart 17 equations table corrected

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Despite Years of Propaganda and the Democrats’ Talk-A-Thon, Climate Change Remains a Fringe Issue

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

A new Gallup poll finds that “climate change” or whatever disguise that movement is hiding in lately just is not a top concern for American voters.

On a list of 15 national issues, climate change ranks near the bottom with only 24 percent worrying about it “a great deal.”

About half, or 51 percent, said they only worry about climate change a little or not at all.

The poll comes just a day after Senate Democrats wrapped up an all-night talk-a-thon in which they pushed for Congress to tackle climate change.

The Democrats who organized that talk-a-thon were misguided in thinking that merely talking about something for a long time makes it go viral. They were trying to emulate previously successful talk-a-thons by Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. But those talk-fests were not creatures of their party; both grew up organically out of the senators’ real concerns over the issues they addressed. The Democrats tried manufacturing a similar event and just ended up wasting their time. No one paid them any attention at all, not even their slavish media allies.

For the Democrats and the climate change panic brigades, their moment may be ending. Concern over the environment peaked in 2007, and Democrats took total control with Obama’s election in 2008. Obama came in pledging to lower the seas and reverse the warming (which wasn’t really happening, according to the data that came out during 2009′s Climategate and afterward). Obama and his cohort had full control of Washington for the next two years yet accomplished little on climate beyond pushing some seriously misguided regulations through the EPA. Now they have lost the House, Obama is discredited and unpopular, and the Democrats are poised to lose the Senate as well. This week’s talk-a-thon, as pathetic as it was, may be turn out to be the high-water mark for “climate change” politics for a generation.

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Democrat Rep: It’s Good for 9-11 Truthers to ‘Suggest There Might Be Other Answers’

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

On CSPAN this morning, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) took a call from a 9-11 Truther. She used the moment to suggest that Truthers have a point.

The caller began the sequence, saying “I have been watching your show, and it is sad to know that you have silenced the voices that talk about building seven on 9/11.” CSPAN’s host defended the network, saying that it has not silenced the Truthers.

Sanchez responded: “I think it is a good thing for people to push and suggest there might be other answers. Honestly, the best information we get comes from constituents who tell us, have you seen this, that document. We have found out a lot of things that way.”

Sanchez did not go into detail regarding what helpful hints about 9-11 that Truthers have brought to her or other representatives.

9-11 is one of the most investigated events in history. The FBI’s investigation alone was the agency’s largest in its history. Truthers suggest a variety of discredited theories, ranging from the entire terrorist attack being a inside job, to the Bush administration allowing it to happen so that it could push for wars it already wanted and to push for increased domestic surveillance. The evidence is not on their side, to say the least.

Prominent Democrats including former Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean have openly flirted with Truther conspiracy theories in the past.

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Open Thread: The Tech To Make Mobile Internet 1000x Faster

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Hurry up with this, already.

Founded in 2011, Artemis is a startup working on pCell, a new wireless standard that it thinks could leapfrog 4G altogether.

Like any new, potentially disruptive technology, pCell has a ton of hype and uncertainty around it. We’ve put together the following guide to pCell for those who want to know more without any of the confusion or tricky marketing language.

What is pCell?

Cell towers as we know them today can be visualized as giant umbrella tops. You deploy them, and they broadcast a bubble of reception that gets weaker as you get farther away. They have to be far enough away from each other so as to not cause interference, but close enough together that you can move between their areas of coverage and still have cell service. If you have too many people in one place, their data use can bog down a tower for everyone.

Artemis’ technology takes a very different direction. Rather than carefully spacing out a relatively small number of towers, Artemis wants to deploy a massive number of boxes the size of routers — called “pWaves” — that will provide much better service to a much smaller area.

Rather than working against interference, pCell embraces the collision of radio waves. By combining the incoming signals from several of the pWave base stations, each pCell user is given the equivalent of their own “personal cell” (hence the name) — which basically means getting full bars of LTE at all times becomes the new standard, while “good” signal strength means getting a signal that’s as much as 1,000 times faster than what we’re all used to.

Of course, this means nothing until I get my Jetsons Hover Car.
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Dear Lying, Progressive Media: There Is No Such Thing as a ‘Climate Denier’

Monday, March 10th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

It is a semantic trick that liberal puppet masters have been employing ever since the Climate Church had to stop saying “global warming”. Anyone who doesn’t buy the uber-hysterical view that light bulbs and toasters are mere days away from whooshing drowning polar bears through the streets of Manhattan is accused of heresy and branded a “climate denier”.

That’s right, none of us believe in climate.

This is an easy thing to pull off when the demographic that you are attempting to control gobbles up whatever crumbs are tossed to them by the information arm of your totalitarian venture.

The discussion, of course, is not about whether climate changes. In fact, we “deniers” are the only ones who seem to be acknowledging that it always has. We question what the influences are. We question why people who claim to be fans of science keep pretending that this subject is settled, even when there is ample evidence that the contrary is so.

Mostly we question how so many remarkably stupid people continue to fancy themselves intelligent.

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Edward Snowden @ SXSW: ‘The Public and Government Have Benefited’ from Disclosures

Monday, March 10th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

With little fanfare and quite a bit of applause, NSA leaker Edward Snowden virtually took the stage and addressed the attendees of SXSW and the world. Snowden appeared live via satellite from an undisclosed location in Russia, using a greenscreen background evidently to conceal his whereabouts in Russia where he has been granted asylum since August 2013. Instead of revealing his location, Snowden used a graphic of the Declaration of Independence as his backdrop. The conversation was hosted via Google Hangouts.

The event began with a question: Why did Snowden choose to address SXSW? He answered that the technological leaders and developers represented at SXSW could enforce our privacy rights via technological standards.

Snowden advocated using end to end software encryption to defeat the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance. The aim, he said, is to make mass surveillance too expensive and difficult for government agencies to engage in.

Much of the conversation with Snowden veered off into the weeds of discussing the use of personal security apps to defeat the NSA. The technical ability to find, install and use those apps is beyond probably 98% or more Internet users at this point. One of the hosts suggested that Internet service companies could offer encrypted communications for an additional charge. Snowden countered that companies like Google could also elect not to hold the data they gather on users once that data’s business purpose has been fulfilled. Disposing of that data would render mass surveillance more difficult.

Snowden accused two American officials of doing more damage to national security via surveillance than anyone else: NSA directors Michael Hayden and Keith Alexander. Snowden said that both are guilty of reorienting the NSA from cyber defense to attack, compromising America’s edge in intellectual property and cyber security. Snowden argued that his leaks have not harmed national secuity, but have improved national security. Snowden and the ACLU chief technologist on the stage, Chris Soghoian, agreed that the U.S. government has prioritized data gathering over cyber security. This weakens our cyber security against geopolitical foes with extensive hacking and cyber attack capabilities, like China.

Snowden brought up two cases in which mass surveillance ended up missing obvious, reported terror threats. While the NSA was hacking Google to get at metadata, Snowden said, U.S. intelligence missed both the Boston bombers and the underwear bomber. In both of those cases, U.S. intelligence had been warned that the specific individuals were a threat. Yet no action was taken against them  to prevent their attacks. Meanwhile, NSA was scooping up metadata from Americans’ cell phones and Internet use. Soghoian said that the NSA knows who has called an abortion clinic or gay book store, but misses terrorists plotting attacks.

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There’s More to #SXSW2014 than Skinny Jeans and Hipsters

Friday, March 7th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

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As great as it can be to be a conservative at CPAC, it tends to be a weekend of preaching to the choir. Well, that, and getting smeared by the dishonest media.

Media could just as easily stroll around Austin this weekend and mock the self-important, the hipster, the thousands upon thousands of conventioneers who occupy every couch, beanbag, stool and crevice to do exactly what they would be doing if they were at home — namely, burying their heads in their laptops and shutting out the rest of the world. If you’re looking for stereotypes, the city and SXSW are full of them — the non-conformist who wears the same little porkpie hat that every other non-conformist wears, the anti-corporate type checking into Facebook on his iPhone or Galaxy, the libertarian start-up dreamer who espouses every single anti-business leftwing trope known to humanity. They’re all here.

But so are the corporations.

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And the networks.

 

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Seth Meyers’ booth/tent lets you rent bikes to get around town, which is pretty helpful. SXSW has brought a couple hundred thousand extra people here, and the roads aren’t even built to handle Austin’s normal traffic. Parking is insane. A free bike is handy.

Anyway, the media won’t mock any of this and it won’t note the corporate-indie conflict or just make fun of some of the more obvious oddities of the whole thing. The corporations are here and the indie start-ups are here, somewhere, and the politics of the place has a distinctively leftish point of view, which doesn’t make a lot of sense if you think about it. The left these days is all about conformity and one-size-fits-all. The left looks at bankrupt California and successful Texas and wants to force the latter to become more like the former, instead of allowing for differences or admitting that its way isn’t working. Tech is about doing whatever works, and then making that work better or in some new way. Tech development is about freedom. The left, and the politics the left has brought to SXSW, are not about freedom at all.

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NASA’s Morpheus Lander is One of the Most Amazing Things I’ve Seen in a Long Time

Thursday, March 6th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

NASA’s Morpheus is a prototype planetary lander. It looks like something out of classic sci-fi movies. But it’s real.

Here’s video from its latest test flight, at the Kennedy Space Center.

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The geek in me is in love with that thing.

h/t Gizmodo

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Obama EPA to Announce Even More Regulations; Could Raise Gas Price 9 Cents Per Gallon

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Environmental Protection Agency’s power to formulate regulations without Congressional authorization is the subject of a case currently being decided in the US Supreme Court. Justices have voiced skepticism that the EPA even has such power. But that isn’t slowing the agency down, nor is the rapidly developing situation in Ukraine. The EPA is reportedly set to announce yet another round of unilaterally-imposed sanctions on the US economy.

The Environmental Protection Agency will reportedly announce a new rule Monday that requires oil refiners to strip even more sulfur molecules from American gasoline blends.

The New York Times reports that the new rule will require oil refiners to install new equipment and carmakers to install newer, cleaner fuel-burning technology in engines. The EPA estimates that the cost of gasoline will be raised by two-thirds of a cent per gallon as a result of the new regulations, while the sticker price of a car will be increased by $75.

The former estimate is disputed by Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers lobbying group. Drevna claims that the price of gasoline could rise by up to 9 cents per gallon.

“I don’t know what model [the EPA] uses,” Drevna told The Times. “The math doesn’t add up.”

That’s the story of the Obama administration: The math doesn’t add up.

 

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Science Mag Editor, Former Obama Adviser: Build the Keystone, Because, Science!

Friday, February 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The opposition to building the Keystone pipeline is shrinking by the day. Another former Obama adviser has come out in favor of building it.

Marcia McNutt, prominent scientist, former head of the U.S. Geological Survey, and now the editor-in-chief of Science magazine writes in aneditorial [subscription required]:

I drive a hybrid car and set my thermostat at 80°F in the Washington, DC, summer. I use public transportation to commute to my office, located in a building given “platinum” design status by the U.S. Green Building Council. The electric meter on my house runs backward most months of the year, thanks to a large installation of solar panels. I am committed to doing my part to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and minimize global warming. At the same time, I believe it is time to move forward on the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil from the tar sands deposits of Alberta, Canada, and from the Williston Basin in Montana and North Dakota to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Former Obama Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and former National Security Adviser Tom Donilon have previously left the administration and then come out in favor of building the Keystone.

h/t US Chamber of Commerce

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‘Breadth and Depth’ of Security Flaws at NASA Take House Chairman ‘Aback’

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

A review of NASA security in the wake of last year’s arrest of a Chinese national accused of spying revealed flaws that took one lawmaker “aback,” but the damning report is being kept out of the public eye.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, requested the review after the March 2013 arrest of National Institute of Aerospace contractor Bo Jiang as he attempted to leave the country at Dulles International Airport.

According to the arrest warrant and criminal complaint, Jiang lived a few blocks from Naval Station Norfolk. On March 13, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation into “conspiracies and substantive violations” of the Arms Export Control Act.

Two days later, agents learned Jiang had “abruptly” bought a one-way ticket back to China. He had boarded the flight at Dulles when agents stopped him and searched his belongings, finding more tech items on Jiang than he claimed to officials, including a second laptop computer, a SIM card, and an old hard drive.

The complaint noted that Jiang previously flew back to China once with a laptop belonging to NASA believed to have contained sensitive information.

Prosecutors later said they didn’t find any sensitive information on the devices that Jiang had on him at the time of his March arrest, and he pleaded guilty in May to a misdemeanor charge of using his NASA laptop to download porn. He was then ordered to leave the country.

Jiang got his Ph.D. at Old Dominion before joining the National Institute of Aerospace as a research scholar at NASA Langley in January 2011. His title changed to research scientist in October 2012. In both positions, he worked on NASA’s aviation safety program.

Whistleblowers concerned about security breaches at NASA facilities had tipped off Wolf about Jiang and other employees. The FBI then began its investigation into the Chinese national, who came to the country in 2007.

Wolf said at the time of the bargain with prosecutors that they still weren’t addressing what may have been on the laptop Jiang took to China in December or why a NASA laptop was provided to a foreign national in the first place.

In March, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden appeared before Wolf’s committee and admitted that about 280 foreign nationals deemed security threats were working at NASA facilities. Wolf called for Bolden to appoint an outside panel to review foreign national access and export controls while stripping access for all foreign nationals with ties to suspect organizations or foreign governments.

“Last year, after learning of security violations at NASA’s Ames and Langley research centers, I called on Administrator Bolden to commission a comprehensive, independent review of the agency’s security, export control and access to NASA property by foreign nationals,” Wolf said Wednesday evening.

NASA contracted with the National Academy of Public Administration to conduct a review of its foreign national operations. All that’s publicly accessible from the report, issued by a panel helmed by former Pennsylvania Gov. Dick Thornburgh (R), is the executive summary.

In all, the review panel issued 27 recommendations, including managing the access of foreign nationals as a program, better control of centers employing foreign nationals by NASA headquarters, and correcting longstanding information technology security issues.

“NASA needs to improve how it protects all of its valuable technical data and proprietary information, not simply the proprietary, sensitive, and/or classified information potentially exposed to foreign nationals,” the summary states.”…The importance of security, the existence of ‘real world’ threats to NASA assets, and the need for improvements in handling foreign national issues have not been clearly and consistently communicated throughout NASA.”

Last week, Bolden fired off a three-page letter to Thornburgh thanking him for the review yet disputing several findings or recommendations in the report. “NASA’s counterintelligence program is focused on Agency assets, and by retaining the existing reporting structure, we ensure a standardized and consistent program across the Agency,” Bolden wrote.

“Frankly, I was taken aback at the breadth and depth of security challenges identified across NASA and I am deeply disappointed the agency has restricted access to the report,” Wolf said. “The report should be made public as soon as possible, with any necessary redactions in the interest of national security, because it confirms not only the serious security challenges that need to be addressed, but a persistent organizational culture that fails to hold center leadership, employees and contractors accountable for security violations. This must change.”

“The U.S. intelligence community has made clear that we face unprecedented cyber and espionage threats, especially from countries seeking to steal cutting-edge aerospace technology which often has military applications,” the congressman added. “It is imperative that NASA secure its key assets and instill a culture of accountability when security violations occur.”

Wolf noted that he added language in the FY 2014 Omnibus spending bill requiring NASA to provide Congress with quarterly reports on the status of its implementation of the report’s recommendations.

“I look forward to discussing this further at my subcommittee’s hearing with Administrator Bolden in March,” he said.

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Which Product was More Dishonestly Marketed: Amazing Live Sea Monkeys, or Barack Obama?

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Kids of a certain age remember ads for Amazing Live Sea Monkeys. They ran in the backs of comic books. The ads promised that Amazing Live Sea Monkeys would hatch, grow, and become your friends.

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Amazing Live Sea Monkeys were supposed to be so amazing that they even had their own Saturday morning show.

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And a video game.

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When Barack Obama burst into American politics, he promised to be a different kind of politician. He promised Hope. And Change.

obama-noddin

The media were smitten.

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Hollywood couldn’t get enough of him.

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Despite their skepticism of the young, inexperienced senator, many Americans fell in love too.

like-the-way-i-feel

Miracle-on-34th-Natalie-Wood-I-believe-animated-gif

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And he was elected President of the United States. Twice.

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Comforting: 95% Of Climate Models Used To Base Policy Decisions On Are Wrong

Monday, February 10th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

The science is…nonexistent.

I’m seeing a lot of wrangling over the recent (15+ year) pause in global average warming…when did it start, is it a full pause, shouldn’t we be taking the longer view, etc.

These are all interesting exercises, but they miss the most important point: the climate models that governments base policy decisions on have failed miserably.

I’ve updated our comparison of 90 climate models versus observations for global average surface temperatures through 2013, and we still see that >95% of the models have over-forecast the warming trend since 1979, whether we use their own surface temperature dataset (HadCRUT4), or our satellite dataset of lower tropospheric temperatures (UAH)

This is obviously the work of some Right Wing Nutjob fringe conspiracy site, right, lefties? Oh wait…he’s a former NASA climatologist. And he is not the only prominent one who dares to speak the obvious.

When one argues with a devout member of the Climate Change Church, one hears about “SCIENCE!” ad nauseam. While computer modeling does play an important role, it isn’t “settled”, as a droning former vice-president is fond of saying. They’re speculative and, in this case, overwhelmingly wrong.

Unfortunately, the grant money is still going to the people who want to dislocate their shoulders trying to fit the square peg into the round hole so we’ll be hearing the “Settled!” chorus for quite some time to come.

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Bill Would Prohibit EPA from Issuing Rules Using ‘Secret Science’

Monday, February 10th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Republican leaders on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee last week introduced a bill intended to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing regulations based upon “secret science.”

The committee will hear testimony from scientists and research officials tomorrow at a hearing on the legislation, but no one from the EPA is scheduled to face Congress.

The bill was introduced by Environment Subcommittee Chairman David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and cosponsored by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

“The Secret Science Reform Act ends costly EPA rulemaking from happening behind closed doors and out of public view. Public policy should come from public data, not based on the whims of far-left environmental groups,” Schweikert said.

“For far too long, the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions,” he added. “This common-sense legislation forces the EPA to be transparent and accountable with their findings.”

The bill states “The Administrator shall not propose, finalize, or disseminate a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such covered action is (A) specifically identified; and (B) publicly available in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results.”

It’s a unified effort by Science Committee Republicans, with original co-sponsors including Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-Ga.), Research and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Chairman Emeritus Ralph Hall (R-Texas), Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Energy Subcommittee Chairman Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), Vice Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), and Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas).

“Virtually every regulation proposed by the Obama administration has been justified by nontransparent data and unverifiable claims,” Smith said. “The American people foot the bill for EPA’s costly regulations, and they have a right to see the underlying science. Costly environmental regulations should be based on publicly available data so that independent scientists can verify the EPA’s claims.”

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