A Mega Flare from a Mini Star


At 2107 UTC on  23 April, the rising tide of X-rays from a superflare on red dwarf DG CVn triggered Swift‘s Burst Alert Telescope (BAT). The satellite turned to observe the source in greater detail with its other instruments and notified astronomers around the globe that a powerful outburst was in progress.

BTW, my principal contribution to the Swift satellite was the design and testing of the ultra-quiet power regulation system for the sensor array in the BAT.

Video Credit: NASA

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day


While I wait for The Dread Pro-Se Kimberlin to file his omnibus response to the defendants’ motions to dismiss his second amended complaint in the Kimberlin v. The Universe, et al. RICO Madness, I thought if might be interesting to review the story of his vexations federal lawsuit by reposting some of the highlights of the past year’s coverage. Here’s my motion to dismiss his first amended complaint.

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Team Kimberlin Post of the Day

Originally Posted on 12 December, 2013

RICOMadnessThe Dread Pirate Pro-Se Kimberlin has filed a frivolous and vexatious RICO lawsuit against 20+ defendants, including me. I was given 60 days from 19 October to respond to his Amended Complaint. I have done so with a Motion to Dismiss. Under Local Rule 105, TDPK now has 14 days to file any opposition to my motion.

Here is a copy of my motion. I do not wish to make any further public comment on it until the judge has ruled on it.

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Of course, TDPK couldn’t be bothered to respond in a timely manner.

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Team Kimberlin Post of the Day

Originally Posted on 30 December, 2013

RICOMadnessThe Dread Pro-Se Kimberlin seems a bit overloaded by the schedule he set for himself by suing so many defendants in the Kimberlin v. The Universe, et al. RICO case. Apparently, he didn’t expect so many of us to waive service of process and file motions to dismiss in the last week of the 60-day waiver period.DocketItem18-4That’s nonsense. The principle of judicial economy normally leads a court to settle issues with no more expense of its time and resources than necessary. Thus, if only one of the motions to dismiss filed in the RICO Madness is sufficient to eviscerate TDPK’s case, the court could dismiss the suit and get on to other matters. My motion to dismiss is first in line. The court could go ahead and consider it, and, if Brett Kimberlin hasn’t filed an opposition by close of business this afternoon, judicial economy might lead the court to do so quickly without further input from TDPK. If mine isn’t sufficient, there are more on the docket.

It’s not in the interest of justice to require the defendants in the RICO Madness to meet the deadlines set by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and allow extra time for Brett Kimberlin to deal with the mess he made for himself.

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At this point, we were only about 2-1/2 months into the adventure and the paperwork was only just getting started.

Stars and Stripe


SN1006In 1006 A.D., observers from Africa to Europe to the Far East recorded the arrival of light from what is now called SN 1006, a tremendous supernova explosion of a white dwarf star nearly 7,000 light-years away. The supernova was probably the brightest star ever seen in recorded times. It surpassed Venus in the night time sky, only being outshone by the moon. It was visible during the day for weeks, and remained visible to the naked eye for at least two and a half years before fading away.

About 50 years ago, radio astronomers detected a nearly circular ring of material at the recorded position of the supernova. The ring was almost the same angular diameter as the full moon. The size of the remnant implied that the blast wave from the supernova had expanded at nearly 20 million miles per hour over the nearly 1,000 years since the explosion occurred.

Today, we know that SN 1006 has a diameter of nearly 60 light-years, and is still expanding at roughly 6 million miles per hour. Even at that speed, however, it takes observations years apart to detect significant outward motion of the shock wave. This Hubble image of a delicate ribbon of gas shows a very thin section of the supernova remnant. The location of the 1006 explosion is well out of the farme to the lower left. The shock wave is moving to the upper right.

Image Credit: NASA

Assumption of Risk


Life is risky. When I get out of bed, I risk tripping and falling. When I stay in bed, I risk missing breakfast. One of the essential parts of being free is my ability to choose which risk to take. One of the desirable features of our constitutional form of government is its protection of my freedom to choose which risks to assume. It’s notable failures are often related to allowing someone else to take those choices for me.

The recent beheading in Oklahoma has got folks talking about the possible value of “bring your gun to work” laws. There is no likelihood of the state where I live (Maryland, where the courts have ruled that the Second Amendment does not apply outside of one’s home) will pass such a law, and that’s one limitation on gun rights that does not bother me per se.

Private property owners should have the freedom to assume the risks associated with maintaining their property as a gun-free zone. Of course, assumption of that risk should include liability for protecting guests from violence. As an employer, I should have the right to manage my employees’ behavior on the job. As a business owner, I should also have the responsibility for providing a safe environment for my employees and customers, and I should be held accountable if I fail to do so. I should be held strictly accountable if I act to increase an employee’s or patron’s risk.

This gets to my problem with most “bring your gun to work” laws. They force an employer to assume the risk of armed employees rather than allowing him to choose to assume the risks associated with maintaining a gun-free zone. Morally, this is no different from forcing the employer to assume the cost of birth control as a part of health coverage rather than the risk of paying for a pregnancy. As Charles C. W. Cooke has noted, this sort of interference with risk assumption can amount to something like Obamacare for gun owners. If a Catholic may object to birth control, why can’t a Quaker object to guns?

Don’t get me wrong. When I have run businesses, they been hospitable to firearm owners who wish to discreetly exercise their Second Amendment rights, but I believe that we should protect the right those folks who wish to operate or patronize gun-free zones as long as they are not a public nuisance and the owners fully assume the strict liability that should be associated with their choice.