Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

BP Culture of Neglect

This is what happens when the teeth of regulators get pulled. There is nothing to stop a corporation from spiralling down to a profound culture of neglect.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Nuclear Energy Factoid

Journalists that write that a tiny speck of plutonium inhaled into a lung will certainly cause cancer are wrong. It's also wrong to say that a small amount of plutonium introduced into a water supply would endanger large populations. Health physicist whose job it is to deal with radiation exposures say that plutonium is no worse than other more common naturally occurring elements like radium and thorium. In order to receive a dose of plutonium with a toxic effect one would have to be within a few meters of the source. Further away and wind and air turbulence would rapidly dilute any aerosol. As far as water is concerned, plutonium would settle out quickly in any body of water and the gut doens't absorb plutonium very well anyway. Out of 26 workers who were exposed to plutonium during the days of the Manhattan Project only one developed a cancer that could be related to his exposure. Most lived quite well into their eighties. Oil fields and coal minest are much more dangerous.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Defending Income

Bring that money back home!
Congress could declare all personal assets hidden in tax havens as de facto tax evasion. Forcing this money into the open and back onshore would generate tens of billions in tax revenues that would fall exclusively on the richest fraction of Americans. Meanwhile, Republicans would look foolish trying to argue that taxing funds already held offshore would hurt U.S. job creation.

Silver Lining to Citizens United Decision

Could lifting the lid on campaign financing be a good thing? If the
left stays upfront about its financing and the right chooses to hide,
the fact of that hiding might be good political fodder. Unlike the right, progressive donors are not afraid to be counted. We don't fear hypothetical attacks. We are already under assault.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Climate Skeptics Embrace Green Energy

Even for climate change skeptics, a green energy industry is a good thing.

Life? Easy. Complex Life? Not so much.

Before I've noted that life itself may be inevitable given earth-like conditions. Now this article proposes that complex life may indeed be quite rare. That's because somewhere in the past one primitive organism captured another and turned it into a power supply. Once freed from producing its own energy, the organism became free to kick evolution into high gear.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bogus Talking Point # 1

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the recession.
In this Business Week article the author refers to a Federal Reserve report that lists 5 causes of the crash. None of those causes were action by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As the housing bubble grew, their position in the market became smaller and smaller. Most of the market was going to private institutions. It seems that the loans being generated failed to meet Fannie and Freddie standards. They can't take subprime loans by law. As they watched their market share fall they eventually began to play follow the leader by relaxing their requirements where they could. And in the end they were forced by market pressure to take loans that never should have been taken by anyone.

Without common sense regulation it is the nature of markets to have boom and bust cycles. The root cause is the human factor in that any manager who acts responsibly while the competition appears to be making huge profits as it heads toward a cliff finds himself without a job. In our system, profits are rewarded and prudence is usually punished.

Why is the press doing such a poor job?

Here are 9 stories that are not receiving enough press attention.
1. The high amount of mortgage fraud that led to the recession
2. The way accounting tricks were consciously used to give the appearance of higher profits leading to higher bonuses.
3. The lack of prosecutions for any of this fraud.
4. The second level of fraud caused when bad ethics made it impossible for firms with good ethics to compete.
5. The fraud in the foreclosure processes.
6. The massive coverup of losses on bad assets.
7. The absence of effective regulation even now.
8. Thue shaky positions of state and local governments and how bad the shortened stimulus is slow the recovery, employment, and vital services.
9. The acceptance of massive long-term unemployment.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Picturing the Sun

This picture is remarkable because it was taken by looking down toward the center of the Earth...using neutrinos.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Man-made disasters

The worst man-made disaster was the chemical explosion at Bhopal. It killed 3,849 outright and left 100,000 disabled. Yet no one has called for a moratorium on building chemical plants. Dam failures in the US has killed more people outright than Chernobyl did.

If you want to protect yourself from radiation, stop smoking. Living next to a coal plant will give you more radiation than living next to a nuclear plant.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Today's Nuclear Energy Factoid

Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Electricity Production
In grams CO2 equivalent per kWh.
Natural Gas........688

Monday, October 04, 2010

What Movie Are They In?

They think it is "Birth of a Nation". But it really is "Citizen Kane"

Arguably, this shouldn't be surprising. Modern American conservatism is, in large part, a movement shaped by billionaires and their bank accounts, and assured paychecks for the ideologically loyal are an important part of the system. Scientists willing to deny the existence of man-made climate change, economists willing to declare that tax cuts for the rich are essential to growth, strategic thinkers willing to provide rationales for wars of choice, lawyers willing to provide defenses of torture, all can count on support from a network of organizations that may seem independent on the surface but are largely financed by a handful of ultrawealthy families.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Tax Receipt

Ezra Klein looks at what your tax dollars really get you.

Do What Is Right

Andrew Sullivan on Obama's speech:
I do not believe for a second that the GOP of Palin and Boehner and Beck and DeMint represents anything but more debt, more war, more social division and more denial about the deeply serious problems this country faces and the profound dangers that are metastasizing in the world. I have no love for the Democrats but I do fervently believe that this president's record is far better than many now fashionably claim, that his inheritance was beyond awful, and I am not giving up on this president's immense task now, and neither, in my judgment, should any of those who voted for him in 2008.

Could the stimulus be a success?

By any number of measures, the stimulus is proving successful. It has efficiently met its goals and even done more than originally planned. So can we stop talking about it as if it were evil incarnate? No. That would be just too rational.

TARP may have been a good investment

It's working out better than expected and may have even made a profit for the taxpayers.

Coyote Ridge Corrections Center receives LEED recognition

Right here in southeastern Washington we have a green energy leader/.