Monday, September 28, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Energy and Hastings

Dear Rep. Hastings: If drilling for oil is the solution for our energy problems why is the United Arab Emirates looking to build nuclear power plants?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Bush EPA Legacy

Coal companies pollute with impunity because Bush's EPA refused to prosecute clear violations. Him and his supporters should be jailed.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What is LFTR?

Kirk Sorenson gives a excellent presentation that is packed with good facts about the promise of thorium-based nuclear reactors. It's a technology that has been successfully demonstrated then ignored because of bureaucratic in-fighting.

Nuclear Power Talk at WSU

Roger Reynolds presents a talk on the fuel cycle, current reactor designs, and the next generation of designs. Open to the public. Friday at 12:10 at the West building of WSU Tri-Cities, 2710 Universty Drive, Richland.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Why the public option matters

Krugman makes the point that in order for health care reform to work there has to be an individual mandate, everyone must be covered. If there isn't a public option we will all be forced into the hands of private insurers that generally burn 30% of the money in overhead and profit-taking.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A prescription for hospitals

An article in the Boston Globe lays out a way for hospitals to run like a Toyota manufacturing plant. Patients, staff, and doctors at Cincinatti Children's Hospital love it.
Good flow keeps costs down and customers happy.

In hospitals, nobody expects - or even wants - “fast” care, but everyone in the building benefits when the flow of patients from one part of the system to another is smooth. Backups in one part of the hospital can cause backups in others, leaving, for example, patients sitting for hours in the waiting room or highly trained surgical teams cooling their heels with no patient. A smoothly flowing hospital saves time and money, but it also reduces stress on the staff and the risk of mistakes.

Unfortunately, the typical US hospital is a model of bad flow: The average emergency room wait, for example, is four hours. The problem is actually quite simple, Litvak says. Nearly every department is run separately, making today’s hospital a nest of competing kingdoms rather than a smooth-running, cooperative organization. Hospitals often have limited power over doctors, who can schedule patient appointments without regard to the hospital’s needs. Effectively, one of the most important industries in America is in the hands of people who, for all their talents, have little expertise at running a business.

As a result, Litvak says, American hospitals only think they’re overcrowded because they have a chronic problem managing their flow. Patients simply pile up at certain times. In 2006, for instance, US hospitals were typically only 65 percent full, far less crowded than the 84 percent occupancy in Britain and the 90 percent occupancy of Canadian hospitals. But when US hospitals get much more than 65 percent full, the whole system starts to become stressed. Then, to boost their capacity, hospitals expand, at an average cost of $1 million per new bed.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Mixing Solar with Coal to Cut Costs

We can improve the efficiency of coal plants (more power for less emissions) by adding a solar booster to the preheaters. Currently coal plants must siphon off part of their steam to preheat the water for the boilers thereby reducing their overall efficiency.

And now we bring you...

Steel 'Velcro'. It's able to support enormous loads when pulled in the plane of the sheets but can be easily separated without special tools. I wonder where this could start showing up.

The Cost of Health-Care Reform

The cost of health-care reform is roughly equivalent to the cost we incurred when we got the inheritance tax cuts. Ezra Klein:
The difference between doing this right and doing this wrong is, in other words, about $30 billion a year, or $300 billion over 10 years. To put that in perspective, many of the legislators who are balking at the cost of health-care reform voted for the Kyl-Lincoln bill to reform the estate tax at a cost of $75 billion a year, or $750 billion over 10 years. You can make health-care reform work at a price tag that legislators are, in theory, willing to bear, at least when the tag is attached to tax cuts.

Bad History Curriculum

Conscientous educators may need to find a way to replace textbooks produced by national companies. When Texas sets the standards the result is sub-par history textbooks with a distorted view of recent events.

Recession turns the corner

According to the Washington state economist the leading indicators have turned around. The surprising part is that the overseas economies are blazing the trail to recovery ahead of the US rather than the other way around. It will be interesting to see what Paul Krugman has to say about this.

And guess what? He agrees. I'm sure glad the adults were in charge on this one.

Tea Party Time

So there's going to be another TEA party rally Saturday 9/12 from 1-4 at John Dam Plaza in Richland. Who's up for a little counter-demonstrating? It's going to be a regional thing with TEA nuts coming from Walla Walla and Moses Lake.

Banned in Utah

This video raised a stink in Farmington, Utah, when it was shown in school. Way to support your overwhelmingly elected President, folks. And I suppose that service to the community is a bad idea if a black Democratic president recommends it.