Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Science on Safety of GMO Foods

Finally, here's an attempt to round up what is known about GMO products and the human body.  The bottom line is that it is quite unlikely that they can harm us directly.  However, the interaction of GM crops and our environment could be a problem.

Mathematical Ecology

One of the few people who have applied the mathematics of complex systems to political instability, Peter Turchin, may have predicted our current predicament.  If we don't change our ways, things are going to get much worse before they get better.
Turchin has found what he believes to be historical cycles, two to three centuries long, of political instability and breakdown affecting states and empires from Rome to Russia. In a book he is finishing, he argues that similar cycles are evident in US history, and that they are playing out to this day. He admits that his theory, built on a model that combines social and economic data, must be tested against real events – but unlike most historical theories, it can be. Meanwhile, he says, it "predicts the long-term conditions that led to this shutdown".
Workers or employees make up the bulk of any society, with a minority of employers constituting the top few per cent of earners. By mathematically modelling historical data, Turchin finds that as population grows, workers start to outnumber available jobs, driving down wages. The wealthy elite then end up with an even greater share of the economic pie, and inequality soars. This is borne out in the US, for example, where average wages have stagnated since the 1970s although gross domestic product has steadily climbed.
In Turchin's theory, such political acrimony is paralleled by rising discontent among workers left with less and less, and increasing state bankruptcy as spending by the elite who control the government coffers spirals. Ultimately, the situation gets so bad that order cannot be maintained and the state collapses. A new cycle begins.
Hari Seldon is among us and Isaac Asimov laughs from his grave.

Launch Problems

It's important to keep things in perspective.  When Social Security, the safety net that we have come to know and love, was launched, thing's didn't go very smoothly then, either.  Imagine enrolling millions of people with nothing but paper and file cabinets.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Republican Delusion

Whenever a Republican opens his or her mouth to complain about the growing deficit, someone should just stuff a dirty sock in it.  Deficits have fallen over the last 4 years.  And with a bit of appropriate stimulus our economy could experience the kind of turnaround that could make them drop even faster.

The Ignored Health Care Subsidy

The right wrings its hands over the subsidies in the ACA but we all seem to completely ignore the truly massive subsidy that has been is place for decades.  Have you guessed what it is?  It's the employer-based health care tax deduction.

Early Humans Belonged To Same Species

Rather than a set of human species predating homo sapiens it looks like the various homo erectus branches were just normal variations within a single species.  It isn't a question of which species led to us but they are all us.

Denmark Is Considered The Happiest Country

Why might that be?  They have high taxes but they use them to take provide excellent education and take care of each other.  They have a strong sense of being this thing all together rather than just each person just getting as much for themselves.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

This is the Tea Party

This isn't just another pundit's opinion, this is real data.  And it isn't very flattering, nor is it indicative of the kind of people that would serve our country well.

When studied it is seen that the content in Tea Party websites dealing with conspiracies, socialism, and government as bad runs about 33% while similar content constitutes about 5% of the material on main stream conservative websites. About 71% of identified Tea Partiers believe that Obama will destroy the country while only 35% of all conservatives believe that.

They are incapable of compromising, despite their rhetoric.  When asked, they see any compromise as complete capitulation.  These are not reasonable people and the sooner they are driven from power, the better it will be for everyone.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

An Interesting Discovery

Here is a source of energy as well as a way to improve efficiency in current power plants that has just been discovered.
In a completely unexpected finding, MIT researchers have discovered that tiny water droplets that form on a superhydrophobic surface, and then "jump" away from that surface, carry an electric charge. The finding could lead to more efficient power plants and a new way of drawing power from the atmosphere, they say.

Wind Turbines Kill Humans

This Forbes article explores not only the human death toll from wind turbines, but also provides statistics for the human cost of our other energy sources.  How safe is safe?  There are risks that we accept everyday that are higher than the risks that publicly concern us.  We need to keep things in perspective and target the things that cause the most harm first.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Obamacare flowchart

Here's a link for reference.  Remember, only a fraction of us are actually significantly affected by Obamacare.

What's it all about?

Ezra Klein tells us:
This is all about stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people and reduces subsidies to private insurers in Medicare in order to help low-income Americans buy health insurance. That's it. That's why the Republican Party might shut down the government and default on the debt.