Tuesday, November 26, 2013

California Gets It Right

Is Obamacare a doomed failure? Not even close. Krugman points to a revealing example.
At a time like this, you really want a controlled experiment. What would happen if we unveiled a program that looked like Obamacare, in a place that looked like America, but with competent project management that produced a working website?
California shows the way. It's huge. It doesn't have any special advantages when it comes to providing health care. It's booking 10,000 enrollments per day. Young people are enrolling.  California isn't the only state that is doing well. So are Kentucky, Connecticut, and New York.

Monday, November 25, 2013

No Life, No Continents

Using simulations, researchers have shown that without the weathering of rock that is done by living things, Earth would not have continents.  Instead, it would be a water world with only a few volcanic peaks piercing the surface.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Case for Higher Government Spending

These are the reasons the deficit scolds are so wrong, wrong, and wrong.

A Campaign of a Different Color

What happens when a New Age spiritual guru becomes a congressional candidate?  You get refreshing rhetoric like this:
“The first place democracy is broken isn’t in Washington. The first place democracy is broken is in our hearts and minds,” Williamson said. “There needs to be an intervention of sorts and it’s the American people who have to do it.”

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Republicans and health care exchanges

Despite all the whining, Republicans especially need the exchanges to work.  All their alternative proposals depend on the same idea.  We should also look at the weaknesses in the exchanges as a fundamental weakness in the Republican approaches.  Private insurance is at the core of their plans.  But do we really want to go there?  Take a look at the experience of Oregon:
 Nothing about the law's difficult debut in Oregon or elsewhere has undermined its huge expansion of Medicaid or Medicare; indeed, the argument for a broader single-payer health-care system is very much intact. Instead, the elements of Obamacare that are failing are precisely those market-based initiatives that Republicans most want to work.

No Joy In Saying I Told You So

Single-payer advocates decry the ACA implementation as well as critics on the right.
"We may have an 'I-told-you-so' moment, but it's hard to get any pleasure out of it knowing how many people are actually going to get hurt," said Stephanie Woolhandler, a New York-based doctor who co-founded Physicians for a National Health Program, a group that pushes for universal health care. "You had a bad system, and you're putting a patch on it using the same flawed insurance companies that got us here in the first place," she said.

What's Up With The U.S. Health Care System?

This one chart shows how bad it is.  We spend tons of money but life expectancy isn't all that remarkable.  Are American patients different than those in other countries?  Are we exceptional because we lead in the expensive development of new medical technologies?  Or are we just wasteful in the way we spend money on health care?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Winning the Obamacare Thanksgiving Debate

Here's everything you need.

Point: Obamacare forced people to lose insurance plans.

Counterpoints:  People were already having policies cancelled before the ACA.  Get sick and you're out.
                        The plans that are no longer allowed are substandard plans.  Only fools would want them.
                        The solution to plans being cancelled should have been a public option.  But Congress didn't want that.

Point: Premiums are increasing.

Counterpoints: And premiums weren't increasing before the ACA?  What planet have you been on?
                       Cheaper, better plans are available now.
                       Better plans cost more than bad plans.  Bad plans are now illegal.
                       Younger people who have insurance through their employers have always carried the burden for the older people.  No one complained about that.  So stop complaining about the ACA.
                       The dreaded public option would help with this, too.

Point: Individual mandate is unconstitutional.

Counterpoints: This was a Republican idea from day one.  Take your complaints to them.
                       Supreme Court has upheld the law.
                       We were already paying for the uninsured through the back door with sky-rocketing premiums. The mandate is a cheaper way.
                       There is a better way than a mandate.  It's called single-payer.  (like Medicare)

Point: The bad website startup will be fatal to Obamacare.

Counterpoints: Take this complaint to the Republican governors who fought the ACA instead of getting their state ready to implement it.  In some forward-looking states, health care enrollment is working just fine.
                       Red states have been lousy at educating their people how to become enrolled.
                       During the Romneycare rollout, the younger people waited until the last minute to enroll.  We can't expect it to be much different at the national level.

Point: Obamacare is killing jobs.

Counterpoints: The Bureau of Labor Statistics sees no evidence that the ACA has any effect on part-time workers who are seeking full-time jobs.
                       The ACA pays for itself and cuts the federal budget in the process.  You don't like that?
Final Zingers: People are going to needlessly die in states with GOP governors who refuse the Medicaid expansion.  The ACA isn't the best way to provide health care.  It would be better to remove the costly middlemen and have Medicare for all.  Medicare has a 60 percent approval rating.

Will 2-D tin be the next super material?

With all the marvels made available by molecular thin sheets of carbon, stanene (2-D) tin, may be the next greatest thing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The nuke that might have been

World War II stimulated the discovery of nuclear energy.  The Cold War gave us more nuclear weapons than we could ever use.  It also gave a direction to the design of nuclear power plants that has been problematic ever since.  Where would we be if we hadn't been swayed by the likes of Admiral Rickover?
The liquid-fluoride thorium reactor, developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee during the late 1960s, ran successfully for five years before being axed by the Nixon administration. The reason for its cancellation: it produced too little plutonium for making nuclear weapons. Today, that would be seen as a distinct advantage. Without the Cold War, the thorium reactor might well have been the power plant of choice for utilities everywhere.

Frescoes In Catacombs Show Early Women Priests

Real history is never quite what some wish it to be.  We now have evidence that the Early Christian church had women priests.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wind Turbines Kill Bats

Not all renewable energy sources are safe. Especially if you are a bat. Bats fill an important ecological role.  It isn't a good thing that we are killing them by the thousands.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tasmanian Tigers

Reports of their demise may have been premature.

Smart Wheel By FlyKly

This looks like a truly remarkable invention.  It's a bicycle wheel that can easily electrify most any bicycle.  If the price is right, I really want one.

Elizabeth Warren

Everyone is talking about this analysis.  Personally, I like Warren more than Clinton.  Mostly because both the Clintons have always been my second choice.

Environmentalist Failure

The criticisms of Pandora's Promise fall flat.  In the heat to criticize all things nuclear, some environmental advocates expose some weak thinking.  In my opinion, they could and should do a better job.  Poor arguments make them to easy to dismiss when the world truly needs to heed the environmental message.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Finding Bomb and Drug Factories

Sewer sensors have been tested that can be used to locate sources of criminal activities.  Perhaps all the bad guys will move to the country.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Origin of Life

A new proposition for the origin of life comes from a Texas Tech paleontologist.  It ties together other partial theories into a consistent whole.

Wal-Mart and American jobs.

Wal-Mart says it wants to bring jobs back to the U.S. But they have said that before. Do they mean it this time? It's complex. Other countries are buying more locally.  And the cost of American is coming down to Chinese levels.