Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bill Watterson's "cartoonist's advice."

I have always loved the work of Bill Watterson.

A Price on Carbon

In one of those sneaky bureaucratic moves that could set a long-standing precedent, the government may have just put a price on atmospheric carbon.
Moniz, speaking at Columbia University’s new Center on Global Energy Policy at the School of International and Public Affairs, backed into the carbon price discussion. Moniz’ agency is working with OMB on “speeding appliance energy efficiency” and is preparing to issue a new rule on microwave ovens. Moniz noted almost in passing that the microwave rule will include the first “interagency panel price on carbon” of $36 a ton.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Devil Made Me Do It

Using knowledge about command and execution centers in the brain, researcher were able to establish a brain interface in which one person was able to make another person move his fingers.  The command was properly interpreted in one brain and then sent to another brain and successfully executed.  The future will be an interesting place.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ending the War On Drugs

Law-and-order hits a high-water mark.  Being too tough on small crimes can be really expensive and these days we simply can no longer afford it.  Especially when there are more effective ways to deal with the problem that are actually cheaper than incarceration.

A Drug Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Perhaps there is pharmaceutical cure for opiate addiction.
Several clinical trials have shown that low doses of ibogaine taken over the course of a few weeks can greatly reduce cravings for heroin and other drugs. There was extensive research on it in the 1990s, with good evidence of safety in animals and a handful of studies in humans. The US National Institute on Drug Abuse invested over $1 million, but then abandoned the project in 1995. A study had shown that at high doses, ibogaine caused some brain cell degeneration in rats. Lower doses similar to those used in human addiction trials showed no such effect, however.

Myth of the Private Sector

This idea that innovation flourishes in the private sector isn't so much.  True wealth-creating innovation comes from government investment in basic research.  Seventy-five percent of the new drugs come from government-funded research.  Perhaps we need a better mechanism by which the government well is reimbursed for the research that leads to great wealth in the private sector.

Welfare Myth

The Cato Institute has a study out that says it pays better to be on welfare than it does to work.  Here's why it is total bunk.  Very few qualify for all the programs.  Single folks don't get all that much.  And many programs have a sliding scale so working isn't excessively penalized.  Nonetheless, programs could be designed better to remove what poverty traps still remain.

Subsidize or Invest?

The argument is that subsidies aren't getting us there.  What we need is more investment in research so that green energies are cheaper and can out-compete fossil fuels.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Nepotism, cronyism, and narcissism

Here's why I feel much better about picking on the rich than stomping on the poor.
Here’s what we know about the rich: They have a lot more money than everyone else, and they have more money than everyone else by a larger margin than they used to. Why is that? They like to tell themselves it’s because they are morally and intellectually superior, but there is not a whole lot of evidence to back that up. People usually end up rich because they were born or raised with certain environmental advantages. One of the biggest advantages you can be born with, these days, is rich parents. And one of the biggest advantages rich parents pass on to their offspring — let’s say the second-biggest, after “money” — is the sense of entitlement necessary for an entirely unaccomplished rich person to coast through life without constantly feeling crippling guilt.

Wedding Photographer Illegally Discriminated Against Gay Couple

Similar to the Arlene's Flowers case, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that a wedding photographer could not refuse to provide services to a lesbian couple.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fraud in Government Programs

Everything you think you know about government fraud is wrong.  Stopping fraud isn't all that difficult.  Hiring more workers to make sure that aid is promptly distributed to those who need it and vigorously prosecuting those that misappropriate that aid is part of the solution.  A good read.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Oklahoma Constitutional Amendment Struck Down By Federal Judge

The establishment clause means that you can't single out Muslim religious laws for discrimination.  If you are going to rule out Muslim religious laws, you have to rule out the religious laws of all other religions as well.  Why do they insist on wasting everyone's time with this?  Because they just can't keep their bigotry under wraps anymore.  In the long run, that should be a good thing.  The bad guys have self-identified themselves for easy recognition.

Remember the Replicators?

Imagine major aircraft parts, like wings, assemble like chain mail from small interlocking components.  Manufacturing would resemble 3D printing.  The assembling parts could even shift their shape and retain their original strength.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Older Adults and Brain-fitness

It turns out that those brain training programs actually work.  Have you done your Lumosity training for today?

Minimum Wage Effect

If one really wants to bring the working poor above the poverty line, it would take a $10 minimum wage.  We can let the economists argue about whether that would be a good thing or not.

New gay-friendly youth center opens in Kennewick

The Vista Youth Center had to close its doors but a new LGBT-friendly organization has opened.  Check out the Quest Youth Center.