Stormy Weather

Mars orbiters have captured dust devils thundering across the plains of Mars before – but on March 14, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped a 12-mile-high monster.

The ‘devil’ left a streak across the planet’s surface – it’s just 70 yards wide, but higher than Earth tornadoes, a column of dust whirling so fast it would sandblast anything in it.

The length of the shadow indicates that the dust plume reached a height of 12 miles above the surface.

Dozens of smaller dust devils were captured by the Mars Reconnaissance orbiter’s cameras, ‘vacuuming’ the surface around the monster ‘devil’.

Despite its gargantuan height, the plume is only 70 yards in diameter, giving it a snake-like appearance that is twisted by high altitude winds, similar to another dust devil spotted recently in this region.

Despite the atmosphere on Mars being desperately thin – one per cent of Earth’s pressure – the planet’s winds are strong enough to produce dramatic events and in the area observed, paths of many previous whirlwinds, or dust devils, are visible as streaks on the dusty surface.

‘Because the density of Mars’ atmosphere is so low, even a high velocity dust devil is unlikely to knock you over,’ says the University of Arizona team which posted the video.

‘However, you might be blasted by any sand or dust particles carried along by the dust devil, which might scratch the visor of your space suit quickly if you were caught outside by this monster.’

Just as on Earth, winds on Mars are powered by solar heating. Exposure to the sun’s rays declines during this season, yet even now, dust devils act relentlessly to clean the surface of freshly deposited dust, a little at a time.

Dust devils occur on Earth as well as on Mars. They are spinning columns of air, made visible by the dust they pull off the ground. Unlike a tornado, a dust devil typically forms on a clear day when the ground is heated by the sun, warming the air just above the ground.

As heated air near the surface rises quickly through a small pocket of cooler air above it, the air may begin to rotate, if conditions are just right.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been examining Mars with six science instruments since 2006 and has has returned more data about Mars than all other orbital and surface missions combined.

One of its cameras is so powerful they can reveal objects on Mars as small as an office desk.

It has taken over 20,000 photographs of the Red Planet so far.

The Orbiter makes a complete circuit of Mars every 112 minutes, flying a nearly circular orbit that ranges in height from about 255 kilometers (160 miles) over the South Pole to 320 kilometers (200 miles) over the North Pole.

For handling large amounts of data, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has 160 gigabits of solid-state memory and a processor operating at up to 46 million instructions per second.

Explanation of the Martian dust devil construction:

Below is video animation of the Martian dust devil:

Anyone Up for a Race War?

Should we be preparing for a Race War. I don’t know, but listening to these New Black Panther members, maybe so. They seem to be ready & willing for violence. Just listen to this audio and you decide if these people are serious or is it all just bluster. I think, this time, we had better take them at their word.

** Obscene Language Alert**

Stickum Up and Buy this Healthcare plan

By Eric Peters

This is written as the Supreme Court is weighing the constitutionality of ObamaCare – in particular, it is considering whether the federal government has the authority under the Constitution to force people at gunpoint to buy a health insurance policy from a private, for-profit business. That this is even being – as opposed to dismissed out of hand – tells us just how far down the slippery slope we’ve already slid. But what most people – especially people who support the mandate – may not have considered is where the precedent about to be established will take us.

Unfortunately in law, precedent is everything, because it becomes practice.

Once the courts countenance a given thing, it becomes the basis for countenancing other, similar-in-principle things.  Some 25 years ago, when the courts ruled it was within the government’s constitutional authority to stop motorists at random, without even the pretext of probable cause (as clearly demanded – without qualification – by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution), a precedent was established. Today, we are subject to random stops – and random searches – at any time, just about. It has become a routine – and routinely accepted – practice.

If the government has the authority to force each of us to buy a health insurance policy on the basis of “interstate commerce” or some appeal to the collective greater good – then a new precedent will have been established. Why, having gone that far, would they stop there? Do you imagine the government will stop there?  Has it ever once, having expanded its authority, failed to expand upon that authority?

Why not also force people at gunpoint to buy life insurance?  As things stand, there are families left without a breadwinner – and the breadwinner’s income – following an untimely death. Perhaps some people cannot afford to buy life insurance.  Surely life insurance is just as vital to interstate commerce – and the “security” provided by a policy just as much a “right” as the “right” to health care? Precisely the same arguments can – and will – be used. You are a fool if you don’t see it coming. And it will not come because of the government’s concern for you. It will come because of the concern over the money (and power) to be had – the two things really driving the individual mandate of Obamacare.

Private (an increasingly meaningless term) businesses have had an epiphany. They have come to realize that it’s in their interests to crawl under the sheets with the government. Because government can force people to buy the businesses’ product or service. Why compete for customers’ dollars when you can use the police power of the state to compel them to hand over the loot? And even better, you (the “private” business) no longer need worry much about quality, efficiency or customer service. After all, what are your customers going to do? They have to buy what you’re selling – or else.

As bad as HMOs and PPOs are – as Soviet and DMV-like as the staff at your doctor’s office may be – at least they cannot put a gun to your head. At least, you have the option of telling them what you think – and walking out the door. Shortly, that may change. And the only thing that will change is the threat of violence for noncompliance. The Soviet and DMV-like experience will be the same – no, it will grow worse. Because you won’t be able to say no – or walk out the door.

Not without the NKVD[People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs] stepping in to correct you. 

And then the precedent will be expanded – and become the general practice.

Life insurance. Home insurance (even if you’ve paid off your home and would rather save the $800 a year that is typically charged). And since this is a car-minded column, let’s not forget cars.

GM and Ford and the rest of them are having a heck of time selling the American consumer on the merits of electric and other “green” cars. Surely, it is in the interests of the furtherance of interstate commerce and the Greater Good that Americans be required to purchase a “green” vehicle. It would help the car companies. It would be an investment in “our future.” Surely, we cannot afford to allow selfish and irresponsible people to avoid paying their fair share….

I wish this were farce. But if the Supremes hold ObamaCare “constitutional” then we no longer have a Constitution. What we will have is the precedent of unlimited, open-ended federal authority – which in short order will become the routine practice of forcing each of us to do (and buy) literally anything. The flower will have blossomed. America will cease to exist.

But we’ll have “health care.”

And much more besides…

I Can Fly

The nation’s first ever zip-line roller coaster, the Rattlesnake, sends dangling riders flying off a 65 foot tower over treetops on a 1,000 feet long rail of sharp curves and plunging dips.

The eco-tourism ride, which lasts for about a minute, is set on the 4,700-acre Forever Florida conservation area in Osceola County.

The attraction is part of a $1.5 million expansion at Florida EcoSafaris in St. Cloud and opened Friday.

‘It’s inspired by zip lining, but it’s gone way past that,’ Matt Duda, sales and marketing director at Florida EcoSafaris, which opened the state’s first zip line in 2009, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Unlike the traditional zip lines the Rattlesnake does not follow a straight course.

‘It’s the evolution of zip line toward high-volume, high-capacity thrill rides. This is one of many ways that zip rides are going — further, faster and articulated turns.’

 ‘That’s the amusement-park ride aspect of this.’ Michael Smith, adventure-course consultant and operator told the Sentinel.

The Rattlesnake is only the second of its kind in the world, the first is similar ride at a park in Tulum, Mexico.

Emily Kaufman, a California-based travel expert known as the Travel Mom, who previewed the ride last month gave it her approval

‘It married a couple of things that I really love: The-zip line experience – the fantasy of feeling like you’re really flying – and a roller coaster. It wasn’t too intense, but intense enough,’ she told the Sentinel.

Zip Lines which began as a form of transportation have become more and more popular in the country.

‘Every single day I’m learning about a new tour. We’re seeing a boom simply because the population is desperate for activities that evoke imagination and inspiration.’

‘And you pair that with the green movement that’s going on – the connecting with the natural world – you have a product that sells itself on so many levels.’ Mr Smith said, reports the Sentinel.

The park’s expansion also saw several other rides opening today, including the Panther Pounce, a 68-foot freefall from an observation tower; Swooping Crane, where guests drop themselves from a height of 55 feet, creating a giant, swinging motion; and Peregrine Plunge, side-by-side, 1,300-foot straight zip lines.

Attribution: Daily Mail

Joke du Jour

A Groaner

Two robins were sitting in a tree.

“I’m really hungry,” said the first one. “Let’s fly down and find some lunch.”

They flew down to the ground and found a nice plot of newly plowed ground that was full of worms. They ate and ate and ate till they could eat no more.

“I’m so full, I don’t think I can fly back up into the tree,” said the first one.

“Let’s just lay back here and bask in the warm sun,” said the second.

“OK,” said the first.

So they plopped down, basking in the sun. No sooner than they had fallen asleep, when a big fat tomcat came up and gobbled them up.

As the cat sat washing his face after his meal, he thought…

“I JUST LOVE BASKIN ROBINS.”

What a Looker

For suspected drug trafficker Ronaldo Silva, prison was a real drag… so he decided to escape in what he thought was the perfect disguise.

When his wife came to visit him at Penedo prison in Brazil , he popped on her bra, threw on a wig and poured his curves into her pretty blue dress.

He even shaved his arms and legs for good measure, and squeezed into a pair of killer heels.

But his plan to sashay through the prison gates went awry after he forgot one thing: it can take a woman years to master how to glide naturally in high heels.

Half an hour into his daring bid for freedom, one eagle-eyed guard noticed that, despite looking like a woman, he didn’t walk like one.

He was followed as far as the bus station before police picked him up and dragged him back to jail.

The jail’s director Carlos Welber said Silva had swapped clothes with his wife during her weekly visit.

She left the prison wearing his bermuda shorts and another top she had brought in her bag.

He told Brazil’s Globo G1 website: ‘He left the prison shortly after her, along with other inmates’ wives. He was wearing a wig, painted false nails and a long dress. He’d spent a long time shaving his legs and arms. There was a lot of preparation and premeditation involved in this.’

Silva managed to get past prison guards, but a policeman patrolling the street outside became suspicious and decided to follow him.

Mr Welber said: ‘He noticed that the woman was walking funny and looked strange. He followed him to the bus station, where two men were waiting on motorbikes to pick him up.

‘The policeman approached him and managed to arrest him and bring him back, still dressed as a woman.’

Silva had been awaiting trial for drug trafficking.

He was transferred to the prison last month after another escape attempt, when armed men tried to invade another jail to release him.

According to Mr Welber, Silva’s wife admitted changing clothes with her husband but claimed she had no idea why he wanted them.

He said: ‘He was the one who demanded her clothes, at least that’s what she’s telling us. Of course we don’t believe her, but that’s her story.

‘At the time it was visiting hour and there were more than 150 family members inside the prison. But we’re taking measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.’

Attribution: Matt Blake

Taxmageddon

From:

Mike Brownfield

Mike Brownfield at Heritage

Brace yourself. In a mere 271 days, you and your fellow Americans will be hit with a tax hike the likes of which this country has never seen. The Washington Post aptly called the unprecedented $494 billion tax hike “Taxmageddon”, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke described it as a “massive fiscal cliff.” Whatever your preferred imagery, it’s a really big deal.

Despite all the warnings, President Barack Obama has kept his silence while Congress has made no apparent effort to prevent this impending calamity to families and the economy. The prevailing wisdom is that “something will get done” in a lame duck session of Congress after the election. But why wait? And why after the election?

Here’s why you should be worried. For starters, remember that this is the same President who in 2009 promised, “if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime.” That’s a vow he’s broken, and in 2013, things are going to get even worse if this year Obama doesn’t lead and Congress doesn’t act. Katy, bar the door, there’s big trouble in store.

The tax man won’t draw his billions from the American taxpayer with just one big needle — the massive tax increase will be the product of tax policies expiring in seven different categories, on top of five new Obamacare tax hikes taking effect. In a new paper, Taxmageddon: Massive Tax Increase Coming in 2013, Heritage’s Curtis Dubay details the tax hikes that will occur if President Obama and Congress do not act before the end of the year:

Almost 34 percent of the tax increase from Taxmageddon comes from the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. These cuts are best known for reducing marginal income tax rates, but they also reduced the marriage penalty, increased the Child Tax Credit and the adoption credit, and increased tax breaks for education costs and dependent care costs.

Another 25 percent of Taxmageddon comes from the expiration of the once-temporary payroll tax cut. The expiration of the patch on the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) — which would raise the income threshold over which families qualify for the AMT to prevent middle-income families from paying this tax that is only supposed to impact “the rich” — accounts for 24 percent of the total potential 2013 tax increase.

The balance of the tax hikes comes in part from new taxes under Obamacare, the expiration of tax cuts in the 2009 stimulus, the expiration of a group of policies known as “tax extenders,” changes in the current policy on the death tax (in 2013, it will rise from 35 percent today to 55 percent and the exemption will fall from $5 million to $3.5 million), and the expiration of businesses’ ability to fully expense new capital investments.

This $494 billion in higher taxes will certainly hit families and business hard in 2013, but their effects are already being felt. Dubay explains that Americans must plan for tomorrow, and the tremendous uncertainty about tax policy makes the future much more uncertain, thus discouraging the investments and other actions needed to spur the economy to create jobs faster today.

So while the President and Congress appear content to put off ’til the 11th hour what they can and should do today, those who will have to pay the higher tax burden are waiting to see what the future holds. Dubay says that this is “slowing job creation and stopping many of the millions of unemployed Americans from going back to work.”

Early on in his presidency, Barack Obama said he knew about the impact of taxes. Back in 2009, on a visit to Elkhart, Indiana, Obama emphatically stated his belief that raising taxes in a recession is a bad idea. Though America is not in recession today, it still struggles with very high unemployment, and so the President’s logic applies with equal force — raising taxes is a drag on job creation. Unfortunately, in a speech in Washington on Tuesday, President Obama unabashedly revealed that preventing tax hikes is not his priority. In fact, he wants to see even more taxes imposed on the American people and on job creators all in the name of “fairness” — may of which are in his budget. That’s a political doctrine, not an economic policy, and it’s a proven recipe for economic disaster.

If the President doesn’t work with Congress to take action soon to prevent a 2013 Taxmageddon, his brand of “fairness” will result in the biggest tax increase in the nation’s history. And that storm will wreak even more damage on America’s already fragile economy. Congress shouldn’t wait for Obama to take the lead in preventing a policy nightmare he might actually favor. Instead, it should act now to prevent these tax hikes from crushing America’s families and our economy.

Get the Fat Out

Scientists have made a major breakthrough in the prevention of heart attacks after developing a vaccine that dramatically reduces fat in the arteries.

The drug, which can be administered by injection or nasal spray, could be available within five years.

Current treatment involves medication that reduces cholesterol and blood pressure.

But the study by Lund University in Sweden is the first which has targeted the underlying cause of heart disease.

Prof Peter Weissberg, the British Heart Foundation medical director, said the vaccine was ‘very promising’.

Fatty deposits can place great strain on the heart by narrowing the arteries and forcing it to pump far harder.

The fatty plaques build up in the blood vessels feeding the heart and over time become narrowed. Parts of the plaque, known as atheroma, may break off causing a clot to form which can block the artery causing a heart attack.

This treatment works by stimulating the body’s immune system to produce antibodies which tackle this build-up.

Working with Prof Prediman Shah, from Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, the team were able to formulate a vaccine that reduced plaque build up by 60 to 70 per cent in mice.

 The resulting injection is waiting regulatory clearance to start clinical trials.

The resulting CVX-210 vaccine, currently in development as an injection by CardioVax, is waiting regulatory clearance to start clinical trials.

A second vaccine using the same materials has been formulated as a nasal spray, Prof Nilsson said.

Prof Nilsson said: “The rationale is that since oxidized LDL plays a major role in the development of atherosclerotic plaques and harmful inflammatory processes, directly targeting oxidized LDL should prevent plaque formation and reduce inflammation.”

Early studies have shown that the antibody, called BI-204, developed jointly by BioInvent and Genentech, reduced plaques by half and was well tolerated when tested in 80 healthy people.

A trial of BI-204 in 144 people with heart disease is underway in America and Canada where body scans will measure plaques in the arteries over time. But Prof Jan Nilsson, professor of experimental cardiovascular research at Lund University, said it was unlikely that the drug would be administered like traditional vaccines in childhood.

 ‘The antibody therapy in particularly is likely to be expensive, so you could probably only afford to give it to high-risk populations rather than everyone,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.

Different ways of administering the vaccine are being developed and could be licensed within five years, the Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology conference at Imperial College London was told.

Attribution: Daily Telegraph

Joke du Jour

25 Signs You’ve Grown Up:

Your house plants are alive, and you can’t smoke any of them.

Having sex in a twin bed is out of the question.

You keep more food than beer in the fridge.

6:00 AM is when you get up, not when you go to bed.

You hear your favorite song on an elevator.

You watch the Weather Channel.

Your friends marry and divorce instead of hook up and break up.

You go from 130 days of vacation time to 14.

Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as “dressed up.”

You’re the one calling the police because those damn kids next door won’t turn down the stereo.

Older relatives feel comfortable telling sex jokes around you.

You don’t know what time Taco Bell closes anymore.

Your car insurance goes down and your payments go up.

You feed your dog Science Diet instead of McDonalds leftovers.

Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.

You no longer take naps from noon to 6 PM.

Dinner and a movie is the whole date instead of the beginning of one.

Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 AM would severely upset, rather than settle, your stomach.

You go to the drug store for ibuprofen and antacid, not condoms and pregnancy tests.

A $4.00 bottle of wine is no longer “pretty good stuff.”

You actually eat breakfast food at breakfast time.

“I just can’t drink the way I used to,” replaces, “I’m never going to drink that much again.”

90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.

You no longer drink at home to save money before going to a bar.

You read this entire list looking desperately for one sign that doesn’t apply to you!!!