Monday, October 17, 2016

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The Divide in the Electorate

This isn't surprising, but there are real, fundamental differences in how the two camps view the type of people who should be in charge.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, mainly released Sunday, finds that majorities of Hillary Clinton’s supporters believe minorities and women have too little influence in American society, while half say men and whites have too much influence. For all his outsider appeal, Donald Trump’s supporters, by contrast, are far more apt to endorse the status quo in this regard.

Universal flu vaccine

‘Alice in Wonderland’ mechanics of the rejection of (climate) science

Here is a paper on how climate change deniers have to believe multiple contradicting things to justify their position. 

There is considerable evidence that the rejection of (climate) science involves a component of conspiracist discourse. In this article, we provided preliminary evidence that the pseudo-scientific arguments that underpin climate science denial are mutually incoherent, which is a known attribute of conspiracist ideation. The lack of mechanisms to self-correct the scientific incoherencies manifest in denialist discourse further evidences that this is not the level at which rational activity is focused, and we must move to a higher level, looking at the role of conspiracist ideation in the political realm. At that political level, climate denial achieves coherence in its uniform and unifying opposition to GHG emission cuts. The coherent political stance of denial may not be undercut by its scientific incoherence. Climate science denial is therefore perhaps best understood as a rational activity that replaces a coherent body of science with an incoherent and conspiracist body of pseudo-science for political reasons and with considerable political coherence and effectiveness.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Truth About Social Security

Nancy Altman talks about Social Security.
We are committed to revealing to policymakers, the media, and the American people how distorted the debate about Social Security has been. For decades, the conversation has been falsely premised on the lies that Social Security will not be there for young workers, and that the program is unaffordable, and therefore must be cut or, worse, radically transformed into savings invested on Wall Street.
The truth, of course, is that Social Security's benefits are extremely modest by virtually any standard, and the program is extremely efficiently run, spending less than a penny of every dollar on administration. As the wealthiest nation in the world, at the wealthiest moment in our history, there is no question that the United States could have a vastly expanded Social Security program if it chose. The issue is one of values, not affordability.
The idea of expanding, not cutting, Social Security is an idea that, once spoken and understood as possible, makes sense to people. This year's Democratic Party platform, with its strong Social Security plank calling for expanding, not cutting, Social Security shows how the party now has coalesced around that position. And President Obama announced, in a speech on June 1, that he is in step with the rest of the party in advocating expanding, not cutting, Social Security. The current Democratic position is best seen as a return to the position it has held historically. In some ways, moving away from expanding, not cutting, Social Security was the surprise. After all, expanding, not cutting, Social Security is both profoundly wise policy and winning politics.
The next step is for Republicans to feel the heat, see the light, and join the bandwagon or be voted out of office.
Social Security is projecting a modest shortfall which will require legislation sometime in the next decade or so. It will be a victory if that legislation expands and does not cut Social Security while restoring the program to long range actuarial balance. Given where the debate has been, it will be a victory, though smaller, if the program is restored to long range actuarial balance by increasing Social Security's dedicated revenue without cutting benefits.
Now it is our turn. In addition to increasing benefit levels, we should add paid sick leave, paid family leave, caregiver credits, children's allowances, and more. We should also expand Medicare, including by lowering the age of eligibility from age 65 to age 62 and then to age 55, add a counterpart program for children, and eventually have Medicare for All. These and other expansions will take many decades, particularly in light of the moneyed interests that always have been and always will be arrayed against Social Security.
supporters of Social Security should be part of the fight to make college debt free and affordable. Indeed, the right to receive free public education through high school should be extended through the receipt of a bachelor's degree. Social Security supporters should be part of the fight for raising the minimum wage, as well. Those who care about Social Security should be part of the fight to protect workers' rights to bargain collectively, too.
And everyone should be part of the fight to expand Social Security, which is best understood as a family program. Social Security is a program for all generations.
In addition to providing the nation's most secure source of retirement income—income that cannot be outlived—it generally is Americans' most important, and often, only, source of disability insurance and life insurance.
It provides children with monthly benefits when a working parent dies, becomes disabled or retires. Those benefits now stop at age 18 (or 19, if still in high school). Those benefits used to continue until age 22, if the child was in college, university, or post-secondary vocational training. Those benefits should be restored. As I said in response to the last question, paid sick leave, family leave, and other benefits that assist all generations should be added.

Beyond the Foundations

Let's compare how the candidates have performed in their personal charitable giving.
The total of all Donald Trump’s donations since 2001 comes to  0.038% of his supposed net worth. That’s not pocket change. That’s pocket lint.

The Clintons have donated 37.6% of their net worth. Simple math shows that the Clintons are almost 1,000 times more generous with their money.

A Tale of Two Foundations

Clinton Foundation has an excellent track record of doing good. The Trump Foundation 
may soon be in legal trouble and has done little good. Hillary is the real deal, while Trump is nothing but a slimy imitation.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Local case makes national headline

Data Reveals Trump’s Base Is 'Deplorable’ and Clinton Is Right

When Hillary Clinton says that most of the people who support Trump are unsavory, she isn't engaging in political hyperbole. It actually turns out that she is understating her case. They really are racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and Islamaphobic. What a country we are! 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

How Melanoma Spreads

There's some big news on the melanoma front. Science now understands the mechanism by which melanoma metastasizes. And with that knowledge, it shouldn't be so hard to stop it from doing so.

AP’s big exposé on Hillary is not so much

In an effort to generate some sensational headlines, AP does some sloppy reporting.
There's no there there. No unethical conduct has been discovered. It's just another example of trying to generate dirt on the Clintons when there is none. Compare this to how fast wheels have come off the scooters for Roger Ailes, Donald Trump and other notables.

An effective and low-cost solution for storing solar energy

An article in Science Daily talks about progress on smoothing out the intermittentcy problem of solar energy. They have a demonstrated solution that uses proven technology without exotic elements.
The approach taken by EPFL and CSEM researchers is to combine components that have already proven effective in industry in order to develop a robust and effective system. Their prototype is made up of three interconnected, new-generation, crystalline silicon solar cells attached to an electrolysis system that does not rely on rare metals. The device is able to convert solar energy into hydrogen at a rate of 14.2%, and has already been run for more than 100 hours straight under test conditions. In terms of performance, this is a world record for silicon solar cells and for hydrogen production without using rare metals. It also offers a high level of stability. 
The other side of the equation would be an efficient hydrogen-base fuel cell and there has been much recent progress on that front as well.

Longterm Cause of Climate Change

You guessed it. It's us. Humans have been warming the planet for 180 years. If it takes that long to reverse it, we are probably doomed.

'Cocks Not Glocks' Anti-Gun Protest

Sounds like they are having some fun times down at my alma mater. In protest about the legality of concealed-carry of guns on campus, students are protesting with technically illegal open carry of sex toys.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

SMR Plant would create more than 1,000 jobs in Idaho Falls

Our liberal friends on the wet side of the mountains probably helped Washington State
miss this boat. Our state needs to take another look at good ways to provide for Washington's economic future.

Who Wants Trump?

Here's a good analysis of who Trump supporters are. As you might expect, the results don't align with conventional wisdom.

What makes a Trump supporter? Surveys show that racial resentment is a much bigger factor than income, education, or view of the economy. A person with a higher income is more likely to support Trump than on with a low income. A large segment of Trump supporters are less-educated, blue-collar workers who are gainfully employed. A Trump supporter is likely to live in a zip code which is homogeneously white. Folks who have contact with immigrants are not Trump supporters. Manufacturing areas are less likely to support Trump as are areas which have high exposure to Chinese imports. It isn't the poor whites who are experiencing global economic dislocation who support Trump. His base seems to be reasonably well-off white folks who are concerned about maintaining their de facto segregated white bubble.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Sweden does guns right

There is a strong and deep hunting culture in Sweden that not only co-exists with strong gun regulation but is instrumental to it. Hunters don't want guns being used to kill people either and they are willing to do what it takes to make that happen. Getting responsible hunters in the U.S. on board with common sense gun safety regulation could help greatly.

Monday, August 08, 2016

The New Standard of Health Care Programs

As political forces wrangle about the future of health care policies in the U.S., it would be near-criminal if changes cause low-income people to lose the gains that have been made. Regardless of political philosophy, we have a moral obligation to maintain this minimum baseline.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Private Health Insurers Are Problematic

Wendell Potter has a good essay on how highly profitable insurance companies  want to drop ACA participation. They miss the good ol' days of being able to cherry-pick their clientele and to hell with the sick folks who really need good insurance. I think that forcing insurance companies to stay in the ACA will have constitutional problems. Eventually, there will have to be a public option. Perhaps the cost of that can be paid in part by taxing insurers who don't offer ACA plans.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

West Richland delegate and the Sanders legacy

Our own Kate Moran is highlighted in an article from the DNC floor. She's going to take the Bernie Sanders issues into her political life at the local and regional level. Kudos to her.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Get Me Some Pomegranates

The humble, ugly pomegranate may be just the thing to hold back the biological insults of aging. Intestinal bacteria transform a molecule contained in the fruit into a molecule that enables aging mitochondria to rebuild themselves. Better mitochondria contribute to rejuvenated musculature and even reducing the effects of Parkinson's.

How Hillary Gets Things Done

Those outside her circle can be forgiven for being suspicious since she has been under attack for her entire political career. Yet, she has withstood all of that. Interestingly enough,
those closest to her are unwaveringly loyal. You would think that if she were half as bad as her detractors say, there would be, by now, some disgruntled insider ready to profit from a tell-all expose'. The problem with that scenario is that she is the real deal. She gathers information and listens to people. Then she turns all that data into well-considered action. Like Obama, she may not be a flashy, popular president, but she could very well be one of the best.

The Trump Danger

Historians assess Donald Trump and how he compares to similar historical figures. It isn't pretty.

Osmotic Power

Seawater on one side, fresh water on the the other, and a 3-atom thick membrane between them. The result, electricity. A potential new source of power arises.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Real Meat and Real Leather Without Animals

A Brooklyn startup is doing just that. Modern Meadow grows real leather from skin cells harvested from a real live (and unharmed) calf. They use the skin cells to produce collagen. In the normal tanning process the animal hide has to have hair, muscle, and fat removed to get down the collagen connective tissue from which leather is made. This lab actually grows the collagen without all that other stuff that a living animal needs. The lab-grown collagen is free of blemishes and makes perfectly good leather. They can even fine-tune things like thickness and elasticity to suit the needs of the final consumer. Right now, they are concentrating on leather because it's the most lucrative, but they could do muscle tissue for meat just as well.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

First commercial carbon-capture plant set to open in Switzerland

A commercial carbon capture will open soon.
The firm expects to be opening the plant near Zurich in September or October. The plant will suck carbon dioxide out of the ambient air and sell it to an agricultural company to spur the growth of lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes.
C02 is already taken out of the air in enclosed spaces like submarines and space capsules. Climeworks will be using a similar process called direct air capture (DAC), in which normal ambient air is pushed through a fibrous sponge-like filter material that has been impregnated with chemicals called amines, derived from ammonia, which bind to C02.


There was once a Black Wall Street

But it was destroyed by a white mob in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921. 
The event is seldom mentioned in history books, but it is a big part of black history in America — an event that demonstrates the broader violence perpetrated against black Americans throughout the Jim Crow era.

Big Oil Subsidies

The next time Congress works on budget cuts, they should start cutting with the oil subsidies. Currently 4.5 billion taxpayer dollars go to the oil industry each year in tax breaks that may have been warranted in the past, but the rationale in today's industry is no longer there. Yet, because of intensive lobbying and Citizens United, there is no will in Congress to plug this "Giant" loophole.

Breath test for lung cancer

Lung cancer detection could be as simple as a breath test. Cancer cells give some signature compounds that can be detected in small concentrations.

Deadbeat Trump

Donald Trump has a history of not paying his bills. Many small businesses have failed after doing business with him. I'm sure glad he isn't going to get into public office or anything like that.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Changes in Transportation

And speaking of unexpected changes, could the future of transportation be something completely different than what we expect? How might the transportation landscape change with autonomous cars, full electrification, and distributed sources of energy?

New Model for Evolution

A new model for evolution hypothesizes that cooperation and niche expansion could be another driver for speciation rather than the classical assumption of competition as the driver. This could be an interesting expansion into studying natural systems.

It also raises an interesting idea in my mind. In what other areas should we rethink our assumptions about the role of competition in driving innovation and change? Could this be a different way to think about economic systems? What about studying how enterprises thrive by finding untapped demands and actually creating new markets rather than fighting for a bigger share of an existing market?

Trump Quality

To get an idea of the quality of expertise upon which Trump relies, look at who he enlists as his economic advisers

Larry Kudlow
Kudlow is to economics what William Kristol is to political strategy: if he says something, you know it’s wrong. When he ridiculed “bubbleheads” who thought overvalued real estate could bring down the economy, you should have rushed for the bomb shelters; when he proclaimed Bush a huge success, because a rising stock market is the ultimate verdict on a presidency (unless the president is a Democrat), you should have known that the Bush era would end with epochal collapse. 
Stephen Moore.
In a bid to preserve its journalistic integrity, one newspaper will no longer use him as a resource.

Beyond the empty bombast, don't count on Mr. Trump to be able to build a qualified staff on much of anythin.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Stopping The Outbreak Of Anti-LGBT Laws

A simple act of Congress could stop all these state-by-state anti-LGBT laws. It would save us all the bother of suits and counter-suits to take the issue to the Supreme Court. The Court has already ruled in favor of same-sex marriage for all 50 states based on the equal protection guaranteed in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Based on Obergefell v. Hodges, I can't see how any court should have to go through the exercise of striking down all 100 or more discriminatory statutes which are currently being considered by various state legislatures.

The Abortion Myth

Abortion is much safer than giving birth. It’s also safer than a colonoscopy or getting wisdom teeth removed. When Texas and other throw-back states start requiring clinics and oral surgeons to have hospital-grade facilities, we might begin to think that they have some sense in their heads. But until then...well, here's your sign.

Five Pacific Islands Are Victims of Global Warming

Five of the Solomon Islands are harbingers of the things to come as they vanish beneath the waves. Sadly, the rest of the world moves to do something about far too slowly. Will we be in time for the major cities along our coasts or will they share the same fate?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Mercedes Boots Robots From the Production Line

Bloomberg Business reports that Mercedes has found with the many options that go into today's automobiles, automation can't keep up. The flexibility of a well-trained human work force is going to reduce the time it takes to assemble a car from 60 days to 30. It seems possible that eventually a normal customer might be able to have a car built from the tires up to his unique specifications. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

What the 2016 elections mean to the Supreme Court.

Exxon's Amazing Hypocrisy

While denying climate science, Exxon took steps to cope with the coming climate change that they very well knew was coming. And this was back in the 80’s!
Exxon and its affiliates set about “raising the decks of offshore platforms, protecting pipelines from increasing coastal erosion, and designing helipads, pipelines, and roads in a warming and buckling Arctic.” In other words, the company started climate-proofing its facilities to head off a future its own scientists knew was inevitable.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Ultimate in Clean Fuel

Researchers have successfully generated methanol from atmospheric CO2 at a fairly low temperature. Previous method have required high CO2 concentrations and high temperatures. They expect to be able to scale the demonstration up to industrial levels in 5 to 10 years. It can't compete with $30 per barrel oil, but it would be a way to produce a carbon-neutral fuel cycle.

Mama Dragons

Mothers of gay Mormons combat the institutional discrimination of the Church.  Not only are homosexuals not welcome in the Church, but neither are their families. It stuns me that the leadership could think that this is a good thing.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Gun Non-safety.

Some myths die hard.

...statistically, it's more likely that someone with a concealed carry permit will set out to commit mass murder than prevent it. 
a 2014 study from the University of California–San Francisco found that people who owned a gun were three times as likely to kill themselves as non-firearm owners; by comparison, the annual per capita risk of death during a home invasion is 0.0000002 percent. Hell, even toddlers killed more people than terrorists in 2015. Guns are used far more often for killing than for self-defense, despite the fact that some 63 percent of Americans think guns make them safer
Only seven of the 160 of the mass shootings that took place between 2000 and 2013 ended because of some would-be Rambo came to the rescue
More than half (56 percent) were terminated by the shooter who either took his or her own life, simply stopped shooting or fled the scene. Another 26 percent ended in the traditional Hollywood-like fashion with the shooter and law enforcement personnel exchanging gunfire and in nearly all of those situations the shooter ended up either wounded or dead. In 13 percent of the shooting situations, the shooter was successfully disarmed and restrained by unarmed civilians, and in 3 percent of the incidents the shooter was confronted by armed civilians, of whom four were on-duty security guards and one person was just your average "good guy" who happened to be carrying a gun.

Gun Deaths Are Now Outpacing Traffic Deaths In 21 States

I'm glad to know that driving a car is safer than having a firearm. Maybe we need to license gun owners and require them to have appropriate insurance and registration. Just a thought.

Anti-GMO Research and Data

In one's zeal to protect public health, one should be really careful about using bad science. The short-term publicity rarely outweighs the damage done to the credibility of one's position when one plays fast-and-loose with the data.

'BPA-free' plastic has problems

A common substitute for BPA has problems. Given the complex chemical reactions possible with long-chain polymers, we should be cautious about using plastics in our food processing equipment and packaging. Well-behaved things like stainless steel and glass seem so much more attractive.

Boost C-section Babies

It's long been said that C-section babies suffer because they lose out on a good inoculation of gut bacteria. It's amazing how long it's taken for someone to be serious about providing them what they miss. This seems like such an obvious solution.