What’s New In Space?

Yep, the weekend has arrived and as per my tradition I will post on anything other than the pathetic crap the MSM gives us daily……today it is space and the new discoveries or such…….

In 2012, scientists discovered a giant exoplanet (one that orbits a star other than our sun) with a ring system so impressive it eclipses its own host star. Now, thanks to a recent eclipse where planet J1407b lined up in front of host star J1407, scientists at the University of Rochester analyzed the way the light signal changed and got a clearer picture of J1407b’s ring system. Their findings: It’s roughly 200 times as large as the rings around Saturn, each of its more than 30 rings are tens of millions of miles wide, and there are gaps between the concentric rings that suggest the presence of exomoons similar to Saturn’s “shepherd” moons. The planet’s mass is 10 to 40 times greater than Saturn’s.

“You could think of it as kind of a super Saturn,” one researcher said. “The details that we see in the light curve are incredible,” added another. “The eclipse lasted for several weeks, but you see rapid changes on time scales of tens of minutes as a result of fine structures in the rings.” This is the first evidence to support the long-held theory that moons can form from a planet’s circling debris, reports Discovery. The findings, to be published in the Astrophysical Journal, are the result of a collaboration between the University of Rochester and the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands and use data from the SuperWASP project.

Cool, huh?  But wait!  There is more!

Just how ancient is a newly discovered solar system? “By the time the Earth formed, the planets in this system were already older than our planet is today,” University of Birmingham researcher Tiago Campante tells the BBC. The solar system—a star named Kepler-444 that’s orbited by five planets—was uncovered via an analysis of data gathered by the Kepler telescope over a four-year period. The work was published yesterday in the Astrophysical Journal. Why the find is attracting so much attention: It’s being described as a “replica” or “twin” solar system of our own. In terms of size, the planets fall between Mercury and Venus, making it the “oldest known system of terrestrial-sized planets,” per the study.

But likely not a life-sustaining one: The planets are too close to the star to permit life, with orbits about 10% of the distance Earth is from the sun. As far as age goes, the solar system came into being 11.2 billion years ago, a determination researchers made using asteroseismology (sound waves trapped within the star cause natural resonances that spur tiny changes in the star’s brightness; age is measured from these variations, reports YaleNews). And as far as distance goes, it’s 117 light-years away. How the researchers frame the significance of the discovery: “We thus show that Earth-size planets have formed throughout most of the universe’s 13.8 billion year history, leaving open the possibility for the existence of ancient life in the Galaxy.” That leads Discovery News to ask, “Could alien life have already come and gone in our galaxy’s history?” (Another noteworthy find: the coldest spot in the universe.)

There you have it….all the worthless space info you did not ask for…..and YOU ARE WELCOME!

Rapid Death Of A Tax Plan

Recently Obama proposed that the money in college funds, hencewith called “529”, be taxed at time of withdrawal……and the Right sphere of politics exploded with negativity…..pundits from all persuasions started pissing and moaning……and claiming that it would be devastating to the average American to have their savings for their children taxed.

The typical GOP attack was that it will hurt the Middle Class…..which is their typical smoke screen when taxes are proposed……but there is a hole in their theory………

In reality 97% of us mere mortals have NO such savings account and the 3% that do include those that were the loudest critics like the anchors from MSNBC morning shows…….in essence only the wealthy have these plans.  The rest of us have to depend on grants and scholarship and massive student debt for our children to go to college.

For days the relentless attacks on the manhood of the president was just mind numbing…..and then the news broke………

President Obama has backed away from a plan to end a tax break for “529” college saving plans after meeting a backlash from lawmakers from both parties. The White House, which had presented the plan as a way to end a tax break mainly enjoyed by the wealthy and replace it with a fairer—and much larger—tuition tax credit, now says the issue has become a “distraction” and it will focus on “education tax relief that has bipartisan support,” reports the New York Times. House Speaker John Boehner had urged the president to drop what he called a tax hike, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was among the Democrats calling for Obama to reconsider the move.

The 529 plan, which is sponsored by all 50 states, is “a pretty good deal, and one that’s been around since 2001,” says NPR‘s Tamara Keith. “But the White House says fewer than 3% of families use these accounts—and 70% of the money in them comes from families earning more than $200,000 a year.” The Wall Street Journal, however, accuses Obama of trying to squeeze middle-class taxpayers, noting that as of last June, there were 11.8 million 529 accounts and the average balance was $20,671.

As usual the wealthy gets their way…….that is how we roll here in the good old US of A……..screw everyone but the wealthy.

Is ISIS On It’s Heels?

Meanwhile back in the sands of the Middle East…….you remember that area that the media is trying desperately to ignore…….

Reports are coming out of the Middle East at an alarming rate……success reports……Kobane has been retaken from ISIS by Kurdish fighters…..Diyala in Iraq is a success….the shi’a militias have driven ISIS out….but with some disturbing reports of shi’as attacking and killing Sunnis…..and the news seems to point to a weakening of ISIS over the past month.

Then there is the reports that the Iraqis will launch a major offensive to retake Mosul in the Spring…..is success breaking out in Iraq and Syria in the war on ISIS?

What could explain this?  Is it the airstrikes?  Maybe the well armed groups that have chosen to fight……just what can explain this weakening?

In recent days, Western media have increasingly reported that IS is unable to sustain its May-August blitzkrieg and that this may well be the beginning of the end for the group. Reporters say that IS has lost its initial popularity, that its power on the ground is waning, that combat with IS has reached a military stalemate and that, this time, it’s the coalition’s turn. Improved Iraqi security forces are pushing back IS fighters, they report, and some analysts have even developed scenarios for the post-IS period.

Certain indicators justify this optimistic picture. In particular, IS’ inability to capture new territory since September 2014; their setbacks in Sinjar against the peshmerga; their failure to capture Kobani, which IS initially saw as easy prey; severe restraints on IS fighters’ mobility due to coalition air attacks; the fading influence of their professional (and savage) media; and decreasing oil prices, which appear to have struck a blow to their financial resources.

Moreover, it is becoming increasingly clear that IS is having problems translating its military achievements to the realm of governance, especially in providing social services. News reports have stated that IS has been unable to maintain contact with opposition groups in Syria and Iraq, and that it is clashing with Islamist groups unwilling to submit to its authority.

ISIS is having its problems…..for one most of the well trusted associates have been killed leaving the leadership to the regional governors…..all this has indications of a group losing control……,if so can the Coalition take advantage of any weakness?

I could have the advantage but the Coalition needs to cease thinking that one grand plan will win this fight…..they are wrong!

To defeat IS, we do not need a single sweeping strategic plan, but instead a compilation of various tactical plans that take into account the local dynamics of cities under IS control. To see IS as a monolithic and homogenous group and to implement a “one size fits all” strategic plan in a top-down fashion would be a gross mistake. The tactical picture of IS in Mosul and Raqqa is different. Pillars of a successful military plan tailored for Mosul cannot be the same as the one for Raqqa. When tailoring a military plan to defeat IS, the basic unit of analysis should be the cities under its control, and the strategic planners should provide enough room for tactical diversity. For example, ignoring certain factors — like the growing Sunni Arab and Kurdish tension in Mosul; the influence of Turkey in Aleppo; growing Alawite discontent in Raqqa; and the Arab-Turkmen alliance that is becoming an anti-Kurdish bloc in Kirkuk — would only serve IS.

US leadership has not shown itself as a reliable leader…….instead of looking for the kill shot….the Coalition needs to exploit the small cracks in the ISIS admin of the regions it controls……if they pass on that then I feel that all the money and ordinance has been a waste and only helps those that deal in the resupply chain.

ISIS can be defeated…..but not by waiting for the knock out punch.  This situation sounds more like a possible reset…..a change in priorities.

Chris Christie: LMFAO

There some stories that are too amusing to pass on…..Chris Christie has started a PAC……presumably to explore the viability of his presidential campaign……

Earlier in the week, Chris Christie announced the formation of the political action committee Leadership Matters for America, located online at LeadershipMattersForAmerica.Org.

Catch anything interesting about that acronym?

Chris Christie’s PAC is http://t.co/4FE5NPxWKL — or LMFAO, in acronym form.

— Ilan Ben-Meir (@ilanagain) January 28, 2015

#YouHadOneJob RT @ilanagain Chris Christie’s PAC is http://t.co/yp2GrdBsbH — or LMFAO, in acronym form.

— Alheli Picazo (@a_picazo) January 29, 2015


I may not be the first to notice – but someone in Christie world should have: Christie’s PAC http://t.co/GLkeO7hNgw Or LMFAO

— Brad Woodhouse (@woodhouseb) January 29, 2015


What can I say?  Kinda ironic…….whatcha think?

Joining the military doesn’t make you a hero – Opinion – The Boston Globe

All this back and forth over a movie….”American Sniper”…….some say the story is about an American hero…….I will not subject my readers to a re-hash of what I had to say about the movie…..just go to yesterday’s posts and read it for yourself……

My regular readers know I have a problem with the term “hero”…….there have been some truly heroic situations but to use the term as some generic label is just wrong…..it diminishes the acts of a true hero

Side Note:  We now have an “American Hero Channel”….but when did gunslingers and gangsters fall into the hero category?  And that makes my point for me….and I thank them……


Joining the military doesn’t make you a hero – Opinion – The Boston Globe.

Chuq’s Daily Musical Interlude

There is only so much faux news that a normally intelligent person can take……and I have reached my tipping point….

I will step back in time and listen to the voice that I have loved over the years……back in the mid 70’s I ran into this lady at the New Orleans Jazz festival and asked her to marry me…..she had the presence of mind to decline…….


American Sniper Thoughts

Are you tired of soft balls?  Or maybe that it is winter and….SNOWING!

I am weary of all the conversation about movies….they are NOT that important other than as a time killing device.

The endless hours of pundits going on and on about this movie or that………their opinions are noted but other than that they are worthless and a bit boring…….like a brain worm eating its way around your grey matter……

All this concern over a movie……first it was “Selma” and some pundits were upset at the way LBJ was portrayed…..why?  Have you ever heard of literary license?  A movie is entertainment.  It is NOT an accurate depiction of history by any stretch of the imagination.

Now the big deal is over American Sniper….again the question…..Why?  And again…it is a MOVIE you morons!  It is entertainment…..not a accurate depiction of history.

We Americans love our wars……we need some strapping hero that we must pull for……American Sniper is just such a movie.

For some reason snipers are the new Kung Fu artist that we so loved back in the 70’s or some boxer in the 80’s or some cop that takes on terrorists in the 90’s……..

We see those famous shirts with the slogan….”One Shot, One Kill”…….youngsters dream of being that person with the power of life or death in their hands.  Why?

What you seldom hear is what happens as a sniper……

You are looking in a person’s eyes when you pull the trigger and watch their head explode in a cloud of red.  There is NOTHING glamorous or romantic about it….take my word for it.

Or that a sniper could spend hours even days lying in his own urine and/or feces….that’s right…..when on mission you cannot get up and go find a near by tree to relieve yourself.

There is NOTHING glamorous or cool about being a sniper.

Keep in mind these are MOVIES…..and seldom are an accurate depiction of the life of a sniper……again…it is meant to be entertainment and for the life of me I cannot find any entertainment quality in being a sniper…….and if one believes American Sniper is cool and worthy of emulation then they are a psychopath and in need of professional help.

Speaking of psychopaths……..

Psychopaths just don’t grasp punishment the way normal people do. So say researchers who used MRI scans to analyze the brains of 12 violent psychopathic criminals, 20 violent criminals who are not psychopaths, and 18 healthy controls who are not criminals. It turns out that the psychopath cohort had a much harder time changing their behaviors and choices when playing an image matching game, as well as adapting when the rules of the game changed, reports Time. Abnormalities were seen in brain regions that process things like moral reasoning, guilt, and embarrassment. This may explain why previous research has shown that rehabilitation using negative reinforcement like punishment rarely works on psychopaths.

“Psychopathic offenders are different from regular criminals in many ways,” one researcher tells LiveScience. “Regular criminals are hyper-responsive to threat, quick-tempered, and aggressive, while psychopaths have a very low response to threats, are cold, and their aggressive behavior is premeditated.” On the plus side, researchers hope that earlier behavioral interventions in young kids could potentially change actual brain structure and function, though not much is yet understood about how one’s genes and upbringing contribute to the making of cold-blooded, psychopathic killers. (Psychopaths also seem to have a terrible sense of smell.)

Could help explain what makes a good sniper…….

This will dis-please all those wannabes that look upon the duties of a sniper as somehow noble……NOTHING noble about the killing of another human…..a necessity possibly…..but noble…..NO WAY!

Sarah….We Thought We Knew Ya

Our past VP candidate has been the butt of many jokes and snarky comments since the election of 2008…..I for one have had my fill of her……but the media still gives her air time and all we can do is ask ……….why?

Back in ’08 there was one person that contacted me before the VP was announced by McCain and he said that it would be Palin…..I got a good chuckle out of it because NO one south of Juneau, Alaska had even heard of a Palin……that person was one Matt Lewis a conserv pundit and he was an avid admirer of hers and promoted her at every turn……7 years later he has had a change of heart…..

Conservative pundit Matt Lewis has been a big Sarah Palin fan from the get-go. In fact, as he explains in the Daily Beast, he was a fan before the get-go—pushing for her as a VP candidate even before John McCain made his pick. Since then, he’s staunchly defended her from critics on the right, and he’s even edited a book of her quotes. Now, however, the party is over. “I got some stuff right, and my position was justifiable at the time, but in hindsight I regret contributing to the premature deification of Sarah Palin,” Lewis writes.

Her recent speech in Iowa—sample line: “‘The Man’ can only ride ya when your back is bent”—was so roundly panned that it feels like “we have finally reached a tipping point where criticizing Palin isn’t only acceptable for conservative opinion leaders, it’s now almost expected.” Lewis’ new view of Palin is that of an “incredibly talented political force” who sold out and squandered any chance of greatness. “And it’s worth considering that maybe her early critics saw some fundamental character flaw—some harbinger of things to come—that escaped me.” Click to read the full column.

Nice to see a pundit like Lewis admit a error in judgement……but that brings up another question…..what took him so long?