Friday, December 17, 2010

The Phantom Ray Flies for the First Time Riding the Space Shuttle Carrier

The Phantom Ray Flies for the First Time Riding the Space Shuttle Carrier

As the space shuttle fades into the sunset, NASA's Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier is looking for a new job. Here's the first time it has been used for carrying an aircraft other than NASA's orbiter: The Phantom Ray combat UAV.

The Phantom Ray Flies for the First Time Riding the Space Shuttle Carrier

NASA's special 747 and the Phantom Ray took off St. Louis on December 13, in a first for both planes: Not only the Shuttle Carrier was carrying a ship that wasn't the shuttle for the first time, but it also was the Phantom Ray first airborne test. The 747 climbed to 14,000 feet while engineers observed the flight from a chasing plane, making sure it was going to be safe for both aircraft to complete its 1,800 trip to Edwards Air Force Base, in California. There, the Phantom Ray will be flying solo for the first time.

As we mentioned two weeks ago

BACKING AWAY FROM THE arsenic-eating bacteria claim.

Happy Birthday, Jane


Jane Austen portrayed by Anne Hathaway in Becoming Jane (2007).

Though never married herself, Jane Austen understood why happy marriages worked. Before the usual conclusion of her novels - a wedding - Jane has shown us enough married couples along the way - the Bennets, the Collinses, Admiral and Mrs Croft, the elder Musgroves, the Gardiners - to give us a fair idea of the characters who create enduring happiness, and those who don't. That's interesting to anybody interested in human relationships, even people with no intention of marrying.

Kindness, broad-mindedness, respect for your spouse and personal self-mastery, shared core values, adventurousness, fortitude and humour - those seem to be some of the keys to happiness for Jane.

Happily for her readers and for moviegoers - Jane must hold the record for books turned into movie scripts - she received support and encouragement from her brothers, who helped her get published.


Image: Chawton House, Hampshire, home to Chawton House Library's collection of literature and its fellowship programme. The Elizabethan manor house once belonged to Jane Austen's brother, Edward Austen Knight.

I would say yes

Transparency Killed The Earmarking Stars?



 Political Cartoon

The Next Sports Performance-Enhancement Fad? Blood Pressure Cuffs

  • Forget illicit drugs and questionable supplements. New research suggests that a small, constrictive band that wraps around an athlete’s arms or legs may lead the next wave of performance-enhancing fads in competitive sports.

In a study published this month in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, a team led by Greg Wells and Andrew Redington at the the University of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, demonstrated that highly trained swimmers that used a blood pressure cuff to restrict blood flow to their arms a few minutes before maximum-effort time trials improved their performance in a 100-meter race by 0.7 seconds.

How to predict earthquakes?

THIS IS INTERESTING: Spacecraft Saw ULF Radio Emissions over Haiti before January Quake. “A French satellite observed a dramatic increase in ultra low frequency radio waves over Haiti in the month before the M7.0 earthquake earlier this year.” Earthquake prediction would be extremely useful.


Nevada jobless rate rises to 14.3%...

Repubs grow up and give up earmarks, Dems continue to eat like hogs

A new analysis by a group of federal-spending watchdogs shows a striking imbalance between the parties when it comes to earmark requests. Democrats remain raging spenders, while Republicans have made enormous strides in cleaning up their act. In the Senate, the GOP made only one-third as many earmark requests as Democrats for 2011, and in the House, Republicans have nearly given up earmarking altogether — while Democrats roll on.

The watchdog groups — Taxpayers for Common Sense,, and Taxpayers Against Earmarks — counted total earmark requests in the 2011 budget. Those requests were made by lawmakers earlier this year, but Democratic leaders, afraid that their party’s spending priorities might cost them at the polls, decided not to pass a budget before the Nov. 2 elections. This week, they distilled those earmark requests — threw some out, combined others — into the omnibus bill that was under consideration in the Senate until Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled it Thursday night. While that bill was loaded with spending, looking back at the original earmark requests tells us a lot about the spending inclinations of both parties.

In the 2011 House budget, the groups found that House Democrats requested 18,189 earmarks, which would cost the taxpayers a total of $51.7 billion, while House Republicans requested just 241 earmarks, for a total of $1 billion.

Where did those GOP earmark requests come from? Just four Republican lawmakers: South Carolina Rep. Henry Brown, who did not run for re-election this year; Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao, who lost his bid for re-election; maverick Texas Rep. Ron Paul; and spending king Rep. Don Young of Alaska. The other Republican members of the House — 174 of them — requested a total of zero earmarks.

75th Anniversary of the Plane That Changed Everything


The aviation era started 107 years ago when the Wright brothers first took flight. But the era of the airlines for the flying public didn't really take off until 1935 when the venerable Douglas DC-3 first took to the skies.

Seventy-five years ago the DC-3 ushered in the era of utility flight, one that continues to this day. Oh sure, the DC-3 may not top a lot of people's list of their favorite planes. It's not sleek. It's not sexy. And it's not fast. But despite a production run of just 11 years, the DC-3 remains one of the most important airplanes in the history of aviation.

The DC-3 first flew Dec. 17, 1935, 32 years to the day after the Wright brothers' first flight.

The DC-3 was a simple evolutionary advance from the DC-1 and DC-2. A pair of 1,000-horsepower Pratt & Whitney engines allowed the plane to carry 21 passengers 1,480 miles at 195 mph. Within a few years airlines had bought more than 400 DC-3s. The government bought more than 10,000 of them as military transports, the C-47.

Lisa will want one

GMC Sierra All Terrain HD Concept: Diesel-Powered Off-Road Awesome

GMC Sierra All Terrain HD Concept: Diesel-Powered Off-Road AwesomeThe GMC Sierra All-Terrain HD Concept's a badass, no doubt. It's big. It's macho. It's American. And unlike the Ford Raptor or Ram Power Wagon, you can get it with a diesel engine.

Pointedly named, the All Terrain HD concept starts life as a 2011 Sierra HD 4WD chassis with the Duramax 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 mated to an Allison 1000 six-speed tranny. The combination produces a respectable 397 hp and a stump-pullin' 765 lb-ft of torque. Already a capable platform, GMC made it wider (73-inch track), taller (21.1-inch ground clearance), and tougher.

Cultural genome project mines Google Books for the secret history of humanity

Cultural genome project mines Google Books for the secret history of humanity

What exactly is the half-life of celebrity? A new field called culturomics has the answer. Using the largest linguistic database ever created - Google Books - culturomics experts track things like "lexical dark matter," and how long fame really lasts.

Earlier today, we spoke to the two main minds behind the cultural genome, Harvard researchers Jean-Baptiste Michel and Erez Aiden. Both come from multidisciplinary backgrounds - they're both part of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, but Michel is also a member of the psychology and systems biology departments, and Aiden is also part of the mathematics department and school of engineering, just to name a few. Indeed, the entire research team encompasses a huge variety of backgrounds, including several more Harvard departments, Google, and Encyclopedia Britannica.

Read more at:


Challenger Crawling In the Mist to Her Fatal Destiny

There's something eerie and very sad about this beautiful photo of the Space Shuttle Challenger, crawling in the mist to Launch Complex 39-B. Days later, on January 28, 1986, the spacecraft disintegrated 73 seconds after lift-off, killing all astronauts aboard.

For the Republican that has everything :).


The Bulletproof Clipboard: For When Secret Santa Goes Very, Very Wrong

I don't know what your office holiday party is like (I would if you invited me!), but around here a bulletproof clipboard would have made caroling with coworkers a whole lot less terrifying.

There is an app for that


Sometimes do you almost pinch yourself, because you just can't believe you're witnessing such creations in your lifetime? Word Lens, which uses augmented reality to translate things in front of you, has given me that exact feeling.

Working kind of like Google Goggles in that it translates real-time images into readable information, Word Lens is a free download but language packs cost $5 as an in-app purchase. So far, it only has Spanish-to-English (and English-to-Spanish), but it will certainly help a person abroad (or even in their own country).

Unions lose big time in Delta vote

For labor, it was the biggest drive to unionize a company since it signed up 70,000 workers at Ford Motor Company in 1941. Success in organizing 56,000 Delta employees would represent a dramatic reversal of the decades-long decline of unionization in the private sector.

With the Obama administration on their side, the unions expected to win the elections and end Delta’s status as the only major airline with a largely nonunion workforce. (Delta pilots have been union members for years.) But the AFA and IAM lost in what was not only a shattering defeat for labor, but also a reflection of the sharply diminished appeal of unions for most workers today.

The final election, conducted last week, delivered the most stunning verdict. Delta workers at airports and reservation centers rejected the IAM, 70-30 percent. In November, flight attendants voted against unionization, 52-48 percent. Ramp (or “under the wing”) employees voted not to join the IAM, 53-47 percent. And maintenance workers turned down the IAM more decisively, 72-28 percent

DREAM Act Vote On Saturday! Largest Amnesty In Human History!

If you are interested in this, these senators are not committed.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI 202-224-6665; 907-271-3735

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS 202-224-2523; 207-945-0417

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK 202-224-6521; 785-233-2503

Obama Lawyer: We Can Force You To Buy Broccoli!

A skeptical federal judge grilled Obama’s lawyers today, and the following exchange resulted:

“They can decide how much broccoli everyone should eat each week?” [Judge] Vinson asked.

“Certainly,” replied Rivkin, an attorney in the Cleveland-based law firm Baker Hostetler LLP.

“We’ve always exercised the freedom whether we want to buy or not buy a product,” Vinson told the Obama administration’s lawyer.

Not good that terrorist are trying this.

Object shot out of sky above Israeli nuclear plant, military says

An unidentified flying object was shot down in the skies above Israel's Dimona nuclear plant, pictured here in 2004.

An unidentified flying object was shot down in the skies above Israel's Dimona nuclear plant, pictured here in 2004.

Jerusalem (CNN) -- The Israeli Air Force shot down an unidentified flying object over the Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev Desert Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said.

6,455 earmarks, $1.1 trillion in bad spending stopped. Thank you Tea Parties, thank you Americans.

The Death Of The Omnibus: “The tea-party movement should take a little bow tonight. Some in Washington really heard you — and a bunch of you are coming in as reinforcements in a few week. It may really be a new day. And, Nevadans who wanted to see Harry Reid leave got a victory party they were not able to celebrate in November tonight — a not-insignificant win.” I’ve had emails from Tea Party leaders who talked at great length with their Senators and brought them around — and, in at least one case, got them to bring a colleague around.

Summarizing the politics of the Tax Bill

CHANGE: Bill preventing big tax hikes heads to Obama. “The president is expected to sign the bill this afternoon.”

Related: Obama’s comeback has just begun. Well, possibly. I really think Krauthammer’s missing the point on this one. If Obama had embraced this deal, he might have something, but instead he said it stinks. That’s lousy triangulation.

Related: A good sales job, but whose policy was Obama selling? “The Democrats voted for Obama’s deal, but Obama’s deal consisted of endorsing the tax rates proposed by George W. Bush in toto. Not just the income tax rates, either, but also the capital-gains tax rates that Obama insisted on raising during the 2008 campaign to either 20% or 28%. In the end, those tax rates got more votes last night in a Democratic-controlled House (277) than they did in the GOP-controlled House in 2001 (230), and more Democrats voted to extend them than Republicans, 139-138. If that’s a victory for Obama, may the next two years be filled with such victories.”

Even Politico calls it “capitulation.”

World Cup Corruption: There is a need for adults in places besides Congress

A world cup in the twilight zone

Earlier this month, as lamented here, the corrupt world soccer bureaucracy awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Now, Lee Smith, in the Weekly Standard, reports that "details of improprieties in the decision-making process of international soccer's governing board, FIFA, are starting to trickle out." Indeed, "there are rumors that the small emirate in the Persian Gulf with the world's third largest reserves of natural gas paid more than $6 billion just to win the bid, some of it over the table and much of it not."

Huge win for the Country

Bill preventing big tax hikes heads to Obama

Tax rates stay at current level

Stock Market will not melt down

Estate tax at 35% over $5 million

One year 2% reduction in Social Security

Price? We pay people not to work for 13 more months.


There was a time

TUES: 587,000
MON: 458,000


Victory: Reid pulls earmark-packed omnibus spending bill

Game over.