Friday, August 31, 2012

Anti-gay bigotry

How to debunk homophobia:

Those who think homosexuality is a choice reveal themselves as bisexual.  Gender preference isn't much of a choice for the rest of us.

Those who say that homosexuality is disgusting don't have a very realistic idea of what heterosexual sex is like.  Parts is parts and heterosexuals do everything that homosexuals do.

Homosexuality is no more a mental illness than red hair is an illness.  It can't be "fixed" and homosexuals have the same mental stability and capacity that the rest of the population does.

If homosexuality is unnatural or against God's design, then so is religious incentivized monogamy.  The penis has the peculiar shape it has to help expel the seminal fluid from the vaginal canal of other men who have been there in the last 48 hours.  That's what is natural.

Wood pulp

Nano-crystaline cellulose could be a new wonder material.
So why all the fuss? Well, not only is NCC transparent but it is made from a tightly packed array of needle-like crystals which have a strength-to-weight ratio that is eight times better than stainless steel. Even better, it's incredibly cheap.

One-molecule-thick material

What could you do with a sheet of material that was only one molecule thick?  This could change the technical world as we now know it.

Texas Judge Tom Head

Lubbock's own Tom Head warns of possible civil war if Obama is elected.  Classify this under either potential self-fulfilling prophecies or thinly-veiled threats.  It's all the more reason to keep Obama's opposition out of power.

College Loans

The current situation with college loans is not always helpful to our students.  Too often they turn into a sick trap for the young and unwary.
Update: There is as cap on the size of payments required for student loans.  With ACA, Obama lowered that cap from 15% to 10%.  No ex-student is required to pay more than 10% of their income on their student loan obligation.  This makes life easier on the loan recipients but it could be problems for the lenders (even if the lenders are the taxpayers).

The cause of abortions in U.S.

Most anti-abortion folks are not really serious about that issues.  You can tell by how little they actually focus on the real causes of abortions.

Birth Control Rights

If you are in that segment of the population concerned about birth control, here's a primer on how your rights could be affected by the election.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

19 Times

That's how much more money big Pharma spends on advertising than basic research.  So if we want more for our pharmaceutical dollar, perhaps we should go back to limiting the advertising.

Obamacare and Medicare

Romney is correct. ACA cuts Medicare costs. It does that with an agreement with the hospitals. The costs experienced by the hospitals is offset by the increased number of patients with insurance. Reducing Medicare costs in this way is a good thing. It cuts costs without cutting benefits. Isn't that what's needed?  Hurray for Barack!

Ryan/Romney, on the other hand, would just gut the program altogether.  What kind of government do we want?  One that gets the job done or one that quits.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Icelandic Model

Don't look for the austerians in Europe for help in economic recover. Look to Iceland. Preserve the safety net.  Let the banks take the losses they have earned.  Allow the currency to devalue.  Economic growth returns across the board.  Krugman is vindicated.

Where's the Beef?

My recent letter to the editor of the Tri-City Herald (headline provided by TCH):
Imagine what a powerful thing it would be for Romney to be able to show with his tax returns that he is grateful for the opportunities for success provided by this country. He could say, "Because this country has been good for me, I am willing to pay taxes on the money I earn here. Because this country has been good to me, I want to serve to make sure it is just as good for everyone." But for some reason, Romney can't or won't demonstrate such gratitude.
If he won't, it shows that he and his team are not very smart campaigners. If he can't, it shows that his ambition for the job has more to do with selfish goals than the general good. In either case, he is not qualified to be our country's leader. At the moment, Romney looks like someone who skims the cream without being willing to pay his fair share to feed the cow.

Read more here:

Obama Staged Shootings?

Here's proof that the folks who worry about their guns and Obama are
just street-rat crazy.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mitt Romney, Voter Fraud

The Guardian hypothesizes that it isn't the taxes paid or not paid by Governor Romney that he is trying to hide.  Rather, it's the clear evidence that he violated voting laws to vote in the election to replace Ted Kennedy.  If that's the case, it's Game Over.  The GOP can just pack up their carpetbags full of money and go home.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Paul Ryan’s Lies

1. National Debt has raised borrowing costs. Actually interest rates are at historic lows. We have a golden opportunity to refinance our debt. Rates are so low that the government can actually make money by borrowing.

2. Spending levels are unsustainable. Spending has actually gone done. We have a deficit because of the Bush tax cuts and a depressed economy. Unemployed people can’t pay taxes.

3. We can cut debt and cut taxes. The math is a fantasy. Cutting taxes in the past has made the deficit worse.

4. Inflation is a threat. Part of our economic problem is that there is too little inflation. Modest inflation encourages spending and reduces the deficit.

5. Social Security is about to go broke. All it needs is a minor tweak and it will be fine for the foreseeable future.

6. Medicare in about to become insolvent. There are some challenges for it in the future as more people age. Again it just needs some adjustments and it will be fine. Furthermore, the ACA actually strengthen Medicare financing.

7. Medicaid spending is unsustainable. Better health care law can reduce the need for high Medicaid spending.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Recycling Nuclear Waste

Recently the DC Court of Appeals vacated the waste confidence rule of the NRC.  It basically said to the NRC, "You don't have any sort of credible plan for spent nuclear fuel and it's time to stop pretending that you do!"  As a result, any no new licenses for nuclear power plants are going to be issued until the NRC gets its act together.

This is an opportunity to talk about closing the loop in the nuclear fuel cycle.  The advantages of recycling spent nuclear fuel include:
  • Reduction of the volume of space needed in a geologic repository by 75%.
  • The long-term toxicity of the waste to be deposited is reduced from several hundred thousand years to 10,000 years
  • Vitrified waste only loses 1% of its mass by water leaching in 100,000 years.  That's a period 10 times as long as it takes for the waste to become no more radioactive than the ore from which natural uranium is extracted initially.
  • 96% of the original fuel is reused.  That means that much less needs to be mined and processed to begin with.
  • The recycled fuel requires less enrichment effort that natural uranium.  Natural uranium is 0.72% U235 and recycled is typically 0.9%.  Fuel is typically enriched to a range of 3.0-5.0% U235.
  • Vitrified waste from recycling doesn't contain any material that is useful for weapons.  It can be stored on an interim basis without any proliferation risk.
  • Recycling burns the plutonium that is contained in spent fuel, thereby removing it from table as a proliferation concern.
  • A recycling capacity makes it inviting for international users to buy the service instead of developing their own.  This enhances non-proliferation.
One reason that recycling hasn't been implemented in the U.S. is the perception that it costs more to recycle fuel than it does to mine and enrich fresh natural uranium.  On a napkin sketch, this is true.  However, when one considers the costs of spent fuel uncertainty and the eventual repository costs, recycling begins to look much better.  Currently rate-payers are paying into a fund to dispose of wastes and there has been no return on that money.

A recycling program would provide 18,000 direct jobs during construction with 5,000 operational jobs thereafter.  It could be expected to be in place for 50 or more years.  Some 30,000 additional jobs would be generated in the surrounding community and host state.

The technology has been proven in other countries and private capital is available to build the infrastructure, should the decision be made to allow it.  The existence of a recycling industry would stimulate the development of more effective and efficient technologies.

Here sits an economic development option that could be budget neutral.  All private industry needs is reasonable regulation and permission to proceed.

Information taken from an AREVA white paper entitled "Recycling. Essential Element in a Sustainable Nuclear Fuel Cycle"

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Truth and Fiction

By applying lessons learned from social media, scientists can examine classical literary works and determine which which have a basis in truth and which are just made up.   The Iliad and Beowulf score high on being based on real characters while Les Misérables, Richard III, Fellowship of the Ring, and Harry Potter show otherwise.

Money for Nothing

It today's unusual economics governmental borrowing makes good fiscal sense.
So investors are, in a sense, offering governments free money for the next 10 years; in fact, they’re willing to pay governments a modest fee for keeping their wealth safe.

The Estate Tax Canard

Ezra Klein looks at who actually paid the tax when it was last in place.  The answer: very few.
So if you hear politicians worrying about the 55 percent rate, remember that when it was last in place, fewer than 5,000 people were affected every year. It’s simply not that big a part of the tax code, and the idea that “millions” of families and small businesses would be affected by a return to Clinton rates is just plain wrong.

Dooh Nibor

Krugman's criticism of the Romney tax plan.  It's Robin Hood spelled backwards.  It takes from the poor and gives to the rich.

No Quick Fix

Jeffrey Sachs critcizes both the Left and the Right for fostering the expectation that our economic woes can be solved easily.  The solution is long term and requires long term discipline.
The U.S. needs long-term public investments -- in education, skills, and infrastructure -- so that its dual economy can once again become an inclusive middle-class economy. Out kids should be in school and training, rather than in unemployment or low-skilled work. The Eurozone needs debt relief, cleaned-up banks, and social inclusion in the south that matches the more successful north. The entire rich world needs to understand that it faces a new era, in which its growth will be earned the hard way, by having sufficient skills and technology to warrant a significant wage premium over the emerging economies.

And all countries rich and poor will need to plug two more structural holes. The first is the explosion of tax havens, the kind where Mr. Romney reportedly keeps his savings. Without adequate taxation of corporate and high-end income, there is no way to close budget gaps in the U.S. and Europe. The second is ecological. No economic trick, no amount of education and training, will suffice, if we do ourselves in by human-induced droughts, heat waves, famines, and floods. It's time, in short, to put away the gimmicks and to start thinking about the sustainable economic prosperity, built on education, skills, social inclusion, and environmental responsibility.

Carbon Tax Success

Despite all the moaning and hand-wringing, a carbon tax is actually Britist Columbia, Canada.  That figures.


The scientific underpinings of Stephen Colbert's 'truthiness' has been established.  People genuinely can be influenced to believe that some clearly false propostitions are true by how they are presented.  "Truthiness" is the experience of just feeling that something is true regardless of the actual facts.

Natural Wood Computer

The Iameco computer brings sustainability into computer design.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Romney and Bain Capital

The theory versus the reality.  In economic theory, private equity firms buy under performing businesses and restructure them such that the capital is used more efficiently.  This creative destruction strengthens the economy in the long run.  But in actual practice, leveraged buyouts load firms with debt, channel money to the brokers, and leave the workers in the lurch.  What's lacking is appropriate regulation that genuinely results in the theoretical promise of such creative destruction.  What we have is a social class that extols the theoretical benefits of capitalism while it delivers little of them in actual practice.  Instead, they manipulate capitalism for their own predatory satisfaction.  If the benefits of capitalism are to be genuinely realized, its energy needs to be channel appropriately rather than diverted into the silver-lined pockets of the wealthy.