Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

by Charlton (Chuck) Stanley, weekend writer

FAA logoLast August, I wrote a blog post entitled The FAA and NTSB vs. Common Sense. The reader can save time by going back and reading that post at the link, because it sets out the main premises of this article.

The FAA has been under growing pressure from all segments of the aviation community to relax the standards for a Third Class medical certificate. This pressure has come from recreational pilots, manufacturers of aircraft and aircraft components, small airport operators, and small businesses. Part of the reason for this pressure is that general aviation is slowly dying.

When the FAA was created, their primary mission was to promote aviation. That includes making it safe and affordable for the flying public. However, the FAA, being bureaucrats who hate to give up power and control once it is in their grasp, asked for comments on a proposed rule change.

That was back in 2009. The initial proposal was denied in 2010. The proposed rule was resurrected, but the FAA has been slow-walking the changes–for more than five years. There has been virtually no progress toward doing away with the Third Class Medical certificate.
Last year, while being questioned, FAA officials made some vague concessions, but would not be specific.

Instead of promoting aviation, I have come to the conclusion that some segments of the FAA resemble a certain character in the Dilbert comic strip; Mordac, the Preventer of Information Services, also known as Mordac the Refuser.

Exasperated, several members of the bipartisan House and Senate Aviation Caucus introduced H.R. 3708: The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act of 2013 (GAPPA). S2103, an identical measure, was introduced in the Senate.

This year, we have a new Congress, and the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act 2 was introduced in the House (H.R. 1062) and the Senate (S.571) last Thursday, Feb. 25, 2015. GAPPA-2 will protect general aviation pilots from liability on charitable flights, extend legal protections to FAA representatives, and require FAA contractors to provide information under Freedom of Information Act requests.

A group of aviation industry leaders sent identical letters to the Senators and Representatives who introduced the GAPPA-2 bills in Congress this week.

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250px-GerbilBurying_Plague_Victims_of_TournaiI had one as a kid named Garibaldi. Millions of people embraced them as pets. However, a study is attributing one of the greatest plagues in history to the cute little rodents: the bubonic plague. While long blamed on rats hiding away on ships, the scientists at the University of Oslo in Norway now believe that the 14th Century plague began with gerbils via the Silk Road.

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0d2b602e-181e-48e5-a6e4-57331c579cec_16x9_600x338We have previously discussed the sometimes curious notion of an intellectual in Saudi Arabia. The fact is that I have met many brilliant Saudi academics and that fact is that every country has their wing nuts. However, Saudi has had a litany of these respected clerics or academics spouting nonsense. The latest is Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari who corrected a student and told him that it is a myth that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Al-Khaibari’s defense of the Ptolemaic system would seem a few hundred years out of date but he appears to view geocentrism as commanded by Allah.

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Pom_Wonderful_logogavel2The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that Pom Wonderful was engaging in deceptive advertising over health claims in ads urging consumers to “Amaze your cardiologist” and “Drink to prostate health.” The Court found that the company lacked the medical or scientific foundation to make such claims in upholding the actions taken by the Federal Trade Commission.

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President_Barack_ObamaGeorge-W-Bush_jpegFor conservatives, it must sound like “better red than dead” all over again. A new study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health suggests that liberals live longer than conservatives in the United States. The researchers looked at more than 32,000 adults and tracked them over 15 years. The result was surprising: conservatives seemed to be expiring faster than their counterparts on the left. However, conservatives claimed to be happier than their counterparts in life.

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Huxley_-_Mans_Place_in_Nature-2-300x179As new study by the respected Pew Research Center shows a striking disconnect between the views of scientists and the public on basic scientific questions. In eight out of thirteen science-oriented issues, there was a 20 percentage point or more difference between the two groups on issues like genetically modified food, global warming, or evolution.

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earth-screensaver_largeA new study in the journal Science suggests that humanity is on the very of causing “a major extinction event” in our oceans while another study has found that 2014 was the hottest year in 135 years of record keeping. In the meantime, Pope Francis has again raised climate change and called environmental destruction a “sin” and affront to God.

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