August 7, 2013 § Leave a comment
The sun’s magnetic field is expected to flip in the next three to four months and it could lead to changes in our climate, storms and disruption to satellites.
This solar event only happens once every 11 years and signals what physicists call the Solar Maximum – a time when the Sun’s solar activity is at its highest.
During this peak in activity the outbursts of solar energy can increase the amount of cosmic and UV rays coming towards Earth and this can interfere with radio communications, cause solar bursts of light – known as flares – and can affect the planet’s temperature.
via Mail Online.
No one tell Al Gore that it’s really the sun that affects the Earth’s temperature. Oh, let’s hope the “flip” is particularly violent, like it was in 1859.
On a cool September night in 1859, campers out in Colorado were roused from sleep by a “light so bright that one could easily read common print,” as one newspaper described it. Some of them, confused, got up and began making breakfast.
Farther east, thousands of New Yorkers ran out onto their sidewalks to watch the sky glow, ribboned in yellow, white and crimson. Few people had ever seen an aurora that far south — and this one lit up the whole city.
At the time, it was a dazzling display of nature. Yet if the same thing happened today, it would be an utter catastrophe.
The auroras of 1859, known as the “Carrington Event,” came after the sun unleashed a large coronal mass ejection, a burst of charged plasma aimed directly at the Earth. When the particles hit our magnetosphere, they triggered an especially fierce geomagnetic storm that lit up the sky and frazzled communication wires around the world. Telegraphs in Philadelphia were spitting out “fantastical and unreadable messages,” one paper reported, with some systems unusable for hours.
Today, electric utilities and the insurance industry are grappling with a scary possibility. A solar storm on the scale of that in 1859 would wreak havoc on power grids, pipelines and satellites. In the worst case, it could leave 20 million to 40 million people in the Northeast without power — possibly for years — as utilities struggled to replace thousands of fried transformers stretching from Washington to Boston. Chaos and riots might ensue.
via. Washington Post.
Wouldn’t that be interesting?
December 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
Very cool video:
Sea turtles do the cutest things. In this video posted to Reddit, a friendly sea turtle pays a surprise visit to a scuba diver. At first, the diver pushes the curious animal away with a big shove to its belly. But the turtle persists. The diver quickly comes around and starts to pet its head. Enya’s “Boadicea” provides some nice background music during the entire encounter.
Researcher Lisa Belskis, a marine biologist for NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center tell us that the the turtle in this video is an adult or maturing male hawksbill turtle.
The behavior is not unheard of, although it is less typical.
“There have been many anecdotal reports of male hardshell sea turtles approaching divers attempting to mount them, particularly during breeding season,” Belskis wrote us in an email. “From my personal experience I have found that most often turtles go about their everyday business and ignore divers. If divers notice a nearby turtle it will likely stay still as if hoping its camouflage is working and if pursued by a diver they tend to flee.”
via Business Insider.
Click the link above; I’m sorry but WP will not let me embed this video.
November 12, 2012 § 2 Comments
It’s Friday morning, and so far today, the Obama administration has posted 165 new regulations and notifications on its reguations.gov website.
In the past 90 days, it has posted 6,125 regulations and notices – an average of 68 a day.
Makes me think of the old Guns & Roses song Signs.
We’re no longer free. Very sad.
November 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
The Legatum Prosperity Index assessed and ranked the prosperity of 142 countries based on eight sub-categories: economy, entrepreneurship and opportunity, health, governance, education, safety and security, personal freedom, and social capital.
via Business Insider.
We are now 12th.
Embarrassing. No wonder people are leaving in droves.
October 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
The liberal Washington Post complains:
There’s a 7.5 percent federal tax on every airline ticket. The money goes into a fund that pays for the air transportation system: airports, capital improvements and the operation of the Federal Aviation Administration. …
When the airlines kept ticket prices down by shifting $12.8 billion to baggage fees, they also saved almost $964 million in federal taxes they would have owed if they had hiked ticket prices by that amount.
via The Washington Post.
First let’s take a look at the real story when it comes to airline taxes:
– September 11 Security Fee: A September 11 Security Fee of $2.50 USD applies per flight segment (maximum charge per trip — $5.00 USD one-way, $10.00 USD round-trip). A flight segment is defined as one takeoff and one landing.
– Passenger Facility Charges: Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) of up to $18.00 USD may apply, depending upon the itinerary chosen.
– Federal Excise Tax: A 7.5% domestic tax is applied to the airline base fare. The tax may be pro-rated for flights to/from the 48 contiguous U.S. states and Alaska and Hawaii, and some international destinations. A Travel Facilities Tax of $8.40 USD per direction also applies to flights to/from Alaska and Hawaii and the 48 contiguous U.S. states or between Alaska and Hawaii.
– Federal Domestic Flight Segment Fee: A federal domestic flight segment fee of $3.80 USD applies per flight segment. A flight segment is defined as one takeoff and one landing.
Looks like the G is getting more than it’s fair share of the airline travelers’ dollar. The money collected — and wasted — by the TSA and FAA is staggering. It’s no wonder that back in March the Orlando Sanford Intl. Airport was choosing to opt-out of using the TSA for security screenings. Regardless of how they spend it, the government is taking plenty of money from the airline traveler.
Also, let’s take a look at the wording of the story. The newspaper writes, “When the airlines kept ticket prices down by shifting $12.8 billion to baggage fees, they also saved almost $964 million in federal taxes….” Wrong! The airlines didn’t save anything; the consumer saved. This sentence should be written, “By shifting $12.8 billion to baggage fees airline passengers saved nearly $1 billion in taxes that the federal government would have otherwise imposed.
The headline of this story should be, “Shifting fares to fees permitted $1 billion in extra air travel last year.” Air traveler the big winner.
Further, the baggage fees were NOT paid by everyone. If you travel light and didn’t check a bag you paid nothing. If you needed to check a bag, then you paid for the service you received.
The whole situation seems very fair to me. That the government is out the money is just icing on the cake.
October 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
Very cool photo tour of some of the stuff behind the scenes at Google data centers.
October 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
The USPS has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. A key reason was a 2006 law that required the postal service to make annual payments of about $5.5 billion for 10 years to pay for future retiree health benefits. …
In the three months that ended June 30, the agency reported net losses of $5.2 billion.
People like to point out why the post office is suffering a slow cancerous death. eMail, electronic bill pay, faxes, etc. But that’s all garbage. The U.S.P.S. is dying because it failed to meet the realities of the marketplace and because it overpays it’s workers, a/k/a bad management.
Compare the USPS which LOST $5.2 billion in the 2Q 2012 to UPS which made $1.12 billion in the same period. Or FedEx which made $459 million in the 3 months ending 08/12.
Years ago I read Jim Rogers‘ book Investment Biker. In it he tells the story of being in the USSR and mailing some packages back to the UK. Long story short, the communist government charged less to mail letters and package than it cost. This was because it was popular with the people. The people wanted to be able to send letters cheaply and the government obliged. But it was but one example of several (cited in the book) showing how and why the USSR would fail. A government cannot continue to offer services for less than what they cost.
No entity can continue to offer services for less than their cost. The USPS is not exception. It must either figure out how to charge enough for the service it provides or get out of the business. But right now the taxpayers are on the hook to massive amounts of USPS debt. That’s not right.
Lastly, you should care… greatly. The government is now just starting to take over the nations health care. It too will be run with the same level of efficiency and forward thinking as the USPS, or maybe the State of Illinois DMV.
Health care in this country will follow the USPS in bankruptcy. And that’s not going to be good for anyone.