For anyone interested at all in the past and future of flight, this week’s Afterburner is quite good.
Jack Grieve, from the UK’s Aston University, geo-plotted the curse words used in the Lower 48 states out of 8.9 billion words from Twitter. Click the link for the full set of maps, with blue meaning infrequence use and red being more frequent.
No kidding, there was one I’d never even heard of before.
The other item of local interest is that in map after map, curse word after curse word, is how little cussing we do here in Colorado.
Which is odd, given how many Californians are on our roads nowadays.
Social Security is certainly social enough — the part where other people spend your money. But secure? Hardly.
Here’s what Myra Adams just noticed when taking a closer look at her Social Security statement:
At first glance, the statement did not appear menacing. I was told I could expect to receive a benefit of “about $2,136 a month” upon reaching age 70 — which certainly seems like good news. But immediately I thought of a parallel of President Obama’s infamous Obamacare promise: “If you like your Social Security, you can keep your Social Security.”
Then, as if on cue, I saw an asterisk with the following message:
The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2033, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 77 percent of scheduled benefits.
I could not believe I was seeing the equivalent of what I was just thinking, but with a new twist, “If I like my Social Security, I can keep 77 percent of it.”
With an asterisk, my beloved government was informing me that they will be unable to fulfill their part of a financial arrangement into which, as their statement attested, I had been making mandatory contributions starting in 1971 at age 16.
Adams did some of the math — that the number of payees is shrinking relative to the number of beneficiaries, and concludes, “There are just too many Baby Boomers and too many financial promises with elected leaders too afraid to inflict the necessary pain of real reform.”
I mean no disrespect to Mrs Adams, but welcome to 1985.
That’s the year I turned 16 and had my first real summer job. Like most anyone with their first pay stub, I was disappointed with, you know, the actual number left over after all the taxes were taken out. I did a little reading and learned that the 1983 Social Security reform had jacked up taxes, but added only about 20 years of solvency to the program. Conclusion: I was never going to see those benefits.
And it wasn’t just me, either. Poll after poll shows that Gen X kids (kids then, middle aged now) had little faith in Social Security being there for us, despite us paying in at the higher rates for all of our working lives.
And again, no disrespect to Mrs Adams, but by and large we felt this way because we knew our Baby Boomer parents, and we knew their Baby Boomer friends, and we were pretty sure nothing was going to get done to fix the program. The time to act would have been in the 1990s — when the first Baby Boomer President had plenty of time, political popularity, and tax income to have pushed for real reforms before things got too painful.
Mrs Adams notes that “Politicians fear confronting the truth, and they fear Americans can’t handle it,” which is true enough. But mortal enemies Ronald Reagan and Top O’Neill were able to come together to “save” Social Security, even if only temporarily — where was the Baby Boomer leadership when it was their turn? What would have been merely difficult for Clinton became impossible for Bush, and Obama seems content to serve as Ladler-in-Chief on the Gravy Train.
I don’t mean to paint an entire generation with the same broad brush, but I am speaking broadly here — some offense is going to happen. So let’s take a moment to acknowledge and respect those Boomers who have been on the right side of this issue all along. It’s a shame there aren’t more like you.
I’ve been sounding this alarm since high school — that’s 30 years — for all the good it’s done anyone. But my generation mostly just shrugged like we often do on these political issues, because there’s just too many Boomers and too few of us.
By the time a Gen Xer does get elected to the White House — President Cruz or Rand or Walker, anyone? — it will be too late to “fix” Social Security without painful cuts to Mrs Adams benefits, and even more painful cuts to ours. That’s just math. But like any Xer who came home after school to an empty house (we were first the generation-wide “latchkey kids“), we’re used to quietly cleaning up the mess after our parents’ parties. So I suspect we’ll get the job done.
Because somebody has got to look after the Millennials.
Trend Micro peeps say they have discovered a security bug that miscreants can exploit to seemingly murder millions of Android smartphones.
A device will appear lifeless and unable to make calls, with a dead screen and no sound output, if an attack is successful, we’re told. All a victim has to do is visit a dodgy webpage, or run an app containing a malicious file. Rebooting the supposedly dead smartphone will revive it.
Google’s solution is to simply get over it, not browse untrusted websites on your phone, and avoid installing evil applications. A patch to fix the hole is on its way, we’re told.
The vulnerability stems from an integer overflow bug in Android’s media server service, which can be exploited by a malformed video file in a Matroska container. When Android tries to index the file, it crashes, bringing the rest of the operating system down with it.
That bit about avoiding dodgy websites and not installing bad apps is always good advice.
Still, now might be a good time to make sure your phone is upgradeable to the latest & greatest version of Android.
And you’ll applaud him for it.
On July 4, 2015, 22 year-old Lane Pittman decided to take his electric guitar and play the Star Spangled Banner on the street outside his friend’s house in Neptune Beach, near Jacksonville.
Pittman says that after a police officer asked him to stop, he asked if it was okay to play on the sidewalk, and was told that was okay. And play he did:
“I don’t think I ever played that song as good in my life as I did on that day. It felt right. It was an emotional roller coaster.”
The crowd topped 200 people, spilling onto the street around him:
Then Pittman was, to his surprise, arrested for breaching the peace.
Read the whole story, including Pittman being accused of having “white skin privilege.”
You can help with his legal fees by buying this t-shirt.
Get ready for another Marine amphibious assault ship with fricken stealth fighters on it:
Scheduled for launch in in July 2017 and with a tentative induction date set for December 18, the ship is specifically designed to accommodate Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, along a host of other aircraft such as MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, CH-53 Super Stallions, and UH-1Y Huey helicopters.
The USS Tripoli, called LHA 7 [Landing Helicopter Assault] 7, is being assembled at the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Once finished, the ship will displace more than 44,000 tons–similar to the size of fixed-wing aircraft carriers in France and India. Measuring 844 feet long and 106 feet wide the ship, in fact, is a small aircraft carrier.
“The ship is optimized for aviation and capable of supporting current and future aircraft with additional aviation maintenance capability and increased fuel capacities. LHA[Landing Helicopter Assault] 6 will be a Flight I ship, reintroducing the well deck without sacrificing aviation capability,” the U.S. Navy’s website notes about the USS Tripoli’s sister ship, the USS America.
The Essex-class fleet aircraft carriers were the US Navy’s bread-and-butter warships versus the Imperial Japanese Navy, and we built a still-impressive two dozen of the things. The best (and biggest*) full-size carriers in regular use during the war, they displaced 33,000 tons — or one quarter less than the Marine Corps’ new baby carriers.
They also didn’t carry 1,600+ Marines on board, ready to fly Ospreys ashore and kick some behind.
We’re reached the sad state of economic affairs where we see 2.3% quarterly growth and want to shout, “Great news!”
So here’s the great news:
The rebound in April, May and June was largely expected, after a dismal performance in the first quarter of 2015.
Before the report on Thursday from the Commerce Department, analysts on Wall Street had been expecting to see a growth rate of about 2.5 percent for the second quarter.
“I think it’s an O.K. performance. Underlying growth is stable but not spectacular,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS, a research firm based in Lexington, Mass. “The economy is plodding along.”
While hardly exceptional by the standards of the 1990s or even compared with the 5 percent burst of growth in the summer of 2014, the pace of expansion is largely in line with the trajectory of the recovery, which began exactly six years ago.
“Recovery?” They keep using that word; I do not think it means what they think it means.
Hillary is starting to look weak in the general election:
Across nearly every key metric, from trustworthiness to caring about voters to leadership, Clinton has seen an erosion in public approval, as likely Republican rivals have erased her leads in the poll. Clinton has a net -11 favorability rating in the poll, with 40% of the American public viewing her positively and 51% negatively, with more than 50% of independents on the negative side.
If the election were held today, Clinton would be tied with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the poll—down from significant leads in a May 28 survey—but would top the current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.
The trick with Trump of course is how to keep his voters while quietly showing him the door. He doesn’t have a realistic chance of winning the election (or even the nomination), but the eventual GOP nominee can’t win the general without Trump’s “Perot voters.”
The shades of 1992 are familiar, aren’t they?
It’s almost enough to make you wonder if Trump — not a Republican, not a conservative, generous giver to Democrats and liberal causes — identified a potent GOP wedge issue and entered the race for the sole purpose of exploiting it for the Clintons. Any money he spends now he can surely get back from sweetheart deals under Queen Hillary, because as you well know, that’s how the Clinton Machine operates.
I’m not usually the paranoid type, but I find myself looking over my shoulder this morning.
Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Readers™ have long been aware of ♡bamaCare!!!’s punitive 40% tax on “Cadillac” plans, scheduled to phase in beginning in 2018. And as we get closer to that deadline, people are starting to shout about it — even union leaders:
Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union, on Tuesday afternoon joined labor and business interest groups as part of the Alliance to Fight the 40 aimed at dismantling Obamacare’s so-called Cadillac insurance tax. The “Cadillac” label applied by Obamacare defenders is inaccurate, according to the union bigwig. He referred to the tax as “despicable,” “regressive,” “unwise, unjust, and unfair” during a three-minute opening statement at an Alliance teleconference.
“This is not a tax on high end health plans. This tax will hit … middle and working class families,” he said. “This tax is a kick in the face to every hardworking, blue collar, and middle class family in the country.”
What O’Sullivan fails to recognize is that you can’t have big middle class entitlements without big middle class taxes, because that (as Willie Sutton is supposed to have said) is where the money is. Besides, the state-based exchanges can never be solvent unless tens of millions more Americans are corralled into them, which is precisely what this tax is designed to do, by taxing employer-based plans slowly out of existence.
At that point, your only choice will be which of the four overpriced “metal” plans you dislike the least.
Or — and this seems a bit more likely — the tax proves to be so unpopular that its repeal is signed into law by the next President. But then lacking enough unwilling customers, the exchanges go on permanent life support, hoovering up endless tax dollars to stay afloat.
That Democrat SOB in the White House and those Democrat SOBs from the previous Congress well and truly screwed us.
Thanks to Insty, you might have already caught Josh Blackman’s writeup of Laurence Tribe’s early Obama Administration agonies. Blackman called the sad story “a fascinating insight into how administration politics work,” and that’s certainly true enough.
But for me the real story is hidden in this one little detail:
Tribe envisioned himself as some sort of Rule-of-Law Czar to handle Guantanamo and other big issues.
Tribe was offered assurances of a high-level job. In 2009, he wrote a private letter to Obama suggesting a “newly created DOJ position dealing with the rule of law.” He seemed like an ideal candidate to sort out dilemmas like Guantánamo. “I thought that for me to be giving broader advice on constitutional issues would make sense,” Tribe says.
This position ostensibly would have been outside the normal DOJ hierarchy–Attorney General, Assistant Attorney General, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, etc. The “czar” position would have hovered over a lot of turfs–among both political appointees and civil servants. He would have had direct access to the President himself. [Emphasis added]
It should take your breath away to realize that even a good liberal like Tribe thinks our Department of Justice needs an in-house official to school it on the rule of law.
Here comes that bend in the cost curve — up, way up:
Growth in national health spending, which had dropped to historic lows in recent years, has snapped back and is set to continue at a faster pace over the next decade, federal actuaries said Tuesday.
The return to bigger growth is a result of expanded insurance coverage under the 2010 health law, a revived economy and crunchtime as Medicare’s baby-boom beneficiaries enter their 70s.
American spending on all health care grew 5.5% in 2014 from the previous year and will grow 5.3% this year, according to a report from actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published in the journal Health Affairs. In the years through 2024, spending growth is expected to average 5.8%, peaking at 6.3% in 2020.
That Means It’s Working™
Maybe, but the real kicker is in the last line:
His death, if confirmed, raises questions about who will lead the movement that allied with al Qaeda, fought a war with the U.S. and is now divided over whether to pursue an elusive peace deal with Afghanistan’s new government.
A Taliban spokesman wasn’t immediately reachable for comment on Wednesday, and it remains unclear when and how Mullah Omar apparently died. Voice of America reported that a Taliban spokesman had denied his death.
According to Afghan officials and people close to the Taliban, he has been dead for at least two years.
How about a new form of microwave propulsion which could get us to Mars in 70 days, which breaks the laws of physics as we know them, but works anyway?
As efficient as this type of propulsion may sound, it defies one of the fundamental concepts of physics – the conservation of momentum, which states that for something to be propelled forward, some kind of propellant needs to be pushed out in the opposite direction.
For that reason, the drive was widely laughed at and ignored when it was invented by English researcher Roger Shawyer in the early 2000s. But a few years later, a team of Chinese scientists decided to build their own version, and to everyone’s surprise, it actually worked. Then an American inventor did the same, and convinced NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratories, headed up by Harold ‘Sonny’ White, to test it.
The real excitement began when those Eagleworks researchers admitted back in March that, despite more than a year of trying to poke holes in the EM Drive, it just kept on working – even inside a vacuum. This debunked some of their most common theories about what might be causing the anomaly.
Now Martin Tajmar, a professor and chair for Space Systems at Dresden University of Technology in Germany, has played around with his own EM Drive, and has once again shown that it produces thrust – albeit for reasons he can’t explain.
Tajmar presented his results at the 2015 American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Propulsion and Energy Forum and Exposition in Florida on 27 July, and you can read his paper here. He has a long history of experimentally testing (and debunking) breakthrough propulsion systems, so his results are a pretty big deal for those looking for outside verification of the EM Drive.
To top it off, his system produced a similar amount of thrust as was originally predicted by Shawyer, which is several thousand times greater than a standard photon rocket.
A ten-week trip to Mars without the need for massive rocket engines changes everything.
Coming soon to an AC-130 gunship near you — fricken laser beams.
The USAF has retained some of its spare AC-130U “Spooky” gunships to be used as flying testbeds for emerging laser technologies. According to Lt. Gen, Bradley Heithold, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, the idea is that in the not so distant future not only will the new and ever evolving AC-130J Ghostrider be able to cook a single individual in a crowd from on high, or be able to disable vehicles with a high-powered laser, but it will also be able to disperse crowds via a powerful, non-lethal, “active denial system.
Such a system would use rapid bursts of microwave energy over a specific area, which makes individuals feel as if their skin is on fire, while at the same time having no long-lasting effects, if used correctly at least. Active denial systems, often referred to as “pain rays,” have been in development for well over a decade, and have even been tested in prisons here in the U.S., but such an evolved active denial capability would give one of the most deadly flying machines ever invented a true “less than lethal” option.
Is it asking too much for a laser beam powerful enough to melt Nazis? Let’s hope not.
But it isn’t all good news:
Once proven on the AC-130, an airborne active denial system could be deployed to other fixed-wing platforms, and domestic applications are not out of the question.
Let’s stop giving military-grade weapons — especially fricken laser beams — to local cops.
Keep the headline in mind as you read this:
According to a CNN/ORC poll released Monday, 95 percent of registered voters believe it very or extremely important for the presidential candidate elected in 2016 to be honest and trustworthy.
The enthusiasm for this characteristic is consistent across demographics, and significant majorities of both Democratic and Republican voters–95 percent and 97 percent, respectively–agree honesty is an important characteristic for the incoming commander-in-chief.
Assuming she wins the nomination, about half of those respondents will vote for Hillary Clinton.
People lie to pollsters.
Florida Man comments on an EPA proposal to mandate increased usage of biofuels:
“What the hell is wrong with the EPA, we have more oil available than ever and higher food prices due to Ethanol and you want to add more of that Ethanol junk????????” the Florida man wrote to the agency in publicly filed comments.
“Fuck You!” the man wrote in comments, first reported by Politico.
Florida Man is having a good day for a change.
Julie Kelly writes for National Review that the anti-GMO movement “was dealt a major blow last week” with passage of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which eliminates “the state-by-state labeling patchwork that would serve to confuse consumers, stigmatize GMO crops, and raise food costs.”
Culinary crusaders boiled over. Opponents of the bill referred to it as the DARK Act, Denying Americans the Right to Know. Organic-industry leaders, who would hugely profit from the scarlet letters of a GMO label on non-organic products, lobbied heavily against the bill. “We are disappointed but not surprised that the majority of House members have sided with large chemical and food companies to protect corporate interests,” said Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Organic and a major funder for various anti-GMO front groups. Celebrity chef and left-wing activist Tom Colicchio wrote that members of Congress were “actively trying to deny us the basic right to know what we are putting in our bodies.”
They also howled that Republicans were denying states’ rights, even though the bill will preempt a labeling law in only one state (Vermont, home to Democratic presidential candidate and ardent GM foe Bernie Sanders) while preventing a labyrinth of 50 different labeling requirements.
Did Congress overstep state powers with HR 1599? I’d argue that the law falls under Congress’ “weights and measures” clause. The market for food and produce is a national one, and has been for decades. Having a single measure for tomatoes grown in California and eaten in Vermont, and for ice cream made in Vermont and eaten in California, promotes trade amongst the several states and competition among producers. Or am I missing some state prerogative here?
As for Tom Colicchio, I respect the hell out of his cooking, but it’s obvious that he uses his celebrity status to use leftwing causes to appeal to his wealthier clientele.
The measured US temperature data from USHCN shows that the US is on a long-term cooling trend. But the reported temperatures from NOAA show a strong warming trend.
They accomplish this through a spectacular hockey stick of data tampering, which corrupts the US temperature trend by almost two degrees.
The biggest component of this fraud is making up data. Almost half of all reported US temperature data is now fake. They fill in missing rural data with urban data to create the appearance of non-existent US warming.
That’s Tony Heller, writing for RealClimateScience.com.
The lies never stop, do they?
First, the good news — Carly Fiorina might just win a spot at the first GOP debate:
The former Hewlett Packard CEO-turned-Republican candidate ranked seventh and eighth in the two most recent polls from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling and YouGov/Economist. She’s tied with other candidates in both but, if her current rise in the polls continues, Fiorina will make it into the top 10 — the metric Fox News is using to pare down the remarkably crowded Republican field. That means that at least seven candidates who are expected to run will be sitting out the party’s first debate.
Fox News will factor in the most recent five big national polls — and notably that wouldn’t include the above mentioned polls — when they decide on debate participants. If the cutoff was today, Fiorina wouldn’t make it on the stage: She scores second to last, according to NBC News’ calculation. However, the two new polls do signal rising momentum.
Fox should suspend their own rules and bring Fiorina in for a completely different reason: She’s electric. Nobody who watched her moribund 2010 Senate race would ever have predicted that, but Fiorina has come alive. She’s smart, tough, and most importantly, fast on the counterpunch. She’d liven up Fox’s debate stage and likely goose their ratings. Whatever you think of the politics of including Fiorina even if her poll numbers don’t rise high enough, it would make great business sense.
And now, for the even better news:
Phillip Bump explains:
Clinton’s favorability tends to swell when she’s not running for office and dip when she is. CNN, in partnership with ORC, released its own poll Sunday, which included a long-term track of Clinton’s favorability. If you look at it since 2006, when she was widely expected to be the 2008 Democratic nominee, to today, you can see that trend.
But notice, too, that her net favorability now is lower than at any point over the last 10 years. Why?
CNN also broke out Clinton’s favorability by demographic. She’s very, very popular among Democrats and very, very unpopular among Republicans. Among independents? Let’s say very unpopular — with only one “very” this time.
The net result is that Clinton will be forced to rely on minority voters to at least the degree Obama did, but lacking his ability to connect with and inspire them.
No matter how many times the story of collectivization gets told, it always ends the same:
Farmers and manufacturers who produce milk, pasta, oil, rice, sugar and flour have been told to supply between 30 per cent and 100 per cent of their products to the state stores. Shortages, rationing and queues outside supermarkets have become a way of life for Venezuelans, as their isolated country battles against rigid currency controls and a shortage of US dollars – making it difficult for Venezuelans to find imported goods.
Pablo Baraybar, president of the Venezuelan Food Industry Chamber, said that the order was illogical, and damaging to Venezuelan consumers.
“Taking products from the supermarkets and shops to hand them over to the state network doesn’t help in any way,” he said. “And problems like speculating will only get worse, because the foods will be concentrated precisely in the areas where the resellers go.
He pointed to statistics showing that two thirds of hoarders – or “bachaqueros”, giant ants, as they are nicknamed in Venezuela – buy their goods from the three state-owned chains, to resell at a profit.
“Consumers will be forced to spend more time in queues, given that the goods will be available in fewer stores.”
Nationalization is never for the benefit of its ostensible beneficiaries.
The link comes from Forbes’ Tim Worstall, who says that “Venezuela is now one harvest away from serious starvation.”
Turkey and the United States have agreed in general terms on a plan that envisions American warplanes, Syrian insurgents and Turkish forces working together to sweep Islamic State militants from a 60-mile-long strip of northern Syria along the Turkish border, American and Turkish officials say.
The plan would create what officials from both countries are calling an Islamic State-free zone controlled by relatively moderate Syrian insurgents, which the Turks say could also be a “safe zone” for displaced Syrians.
Believe it or not, there once was an ISIS-free “safe zone” in Syria. It was called “Syria.” There used to be one in Iraq, too, known as “Iraq.” And one in Libya called “Libya.”
Of course, all those countries as we once understood them are gone now. ISIS has filled the military and moral vacuums left in the wake of American retreat and indecision. This is what the Obama Administration calls “not doing stupid shit.”
Still, it is nice to have Ankara back on our side, even if only out of desperation. We’ll see how long the Turks stick with us, and you’d be right to suspect that that will depend on whether the White House allows the Pentagon to implement a serious warplan.
You should also wonder about the wisdom of allowing Syrian insurgents in on establishing this safety zone. They seem more likely than not to be ISIS or terrorists by some other name — so it’s a safe bet they were included at Obama’s insistence.
There’s all kinds of pre-fail baked right into this plan.
“If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
-Ronald Wilson Reagan
What ♡bamaCare!!! takes with one hand, Washington promises to return with the other:
The Obama administration has made Memphis’ medical device manufacturers eligible for a federal program to train thousands of new employees, but, nationwide, the industry is laying people off because of a steep Obamacare tax.
One might wonder why the feds are spending perhaps as much as $1 billion — if you believe a press release from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis — for jobs that might not exist in the future.
Cohen’s press release also says the program, called the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership initiative, might add 45,000 new jobs to the medical device manufacturing industry in Memphis and nine surrounding counties.
Whatever the result in this particular case, in general the important thing is that the money and the decision-making power flow through Washington first, last, and always.