Saturday, December 28, 2013

We Should All Go Nuclear

According to Greenpeace, strangely enough, fossil energy is much more dangerous that nuclear even when you look at the accidents.  Remember, 20,000 people died at Fukushima just because they lived too close to the coastline.
Which leaves us with the truth about the relative dangers of these forms of energy generation. As The Lancet has reported, nuclear generation kills far fewer people than the other major forms (and yes, this is true of hydro, solar and wind power as well). And even when nuclear suffers a terrible disaster like either Chernobyl or Fukushima, we find that the number of deaths is far lower than just the regular annual toll from coal burning in one country alone, those 1,600 a year just in the UK.

GOP says Obamacare will cancel 80-100 million insurance plans

Not so much.  I call this truly creative prevarication.

Big Governments and Happier People

Dylan Mathews interviews Benjamin Radcliffe about his book, "The Political Economy of Human Happiness." The key to happiness is what he calls "decommodification." If you live an upper-middle class life, you have the opportunity to make choices about what you do in life. If you are further down the economic ladder, happiness depends more about what happens to you from external circumstances. Things like government assistance, strong labor unions, and a strong safety net give the lower classes access to the self-determination similar to what the rich enjoy. Pure capitalism isn't a good policy.
"Now, to be sure, the market economy absolutely contributes to human well-being in other ways — no one can deny that — but we have a macro- vs. micro-problem. At the macro level, capitalism works well. I would agree with Brooks that the market society is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. But at the micro level it depends at the very core of its logic, as even Adam Smith was at pains to point out, on the idea of using other people (employees) as a means to making profits for oneself. The people we hire to do work are just mere commodities in the profit-loss calculations, no more worthy of special concern than barrels of oil or bushels of grain. The last chapter of my book discusses these moral tensions that capitalism creates. My conclusion is that the social safety net, labor market regulations and labor unions all limit the degree to which people become mere commodities, and thus are more likely to lead fulfilling lives."
 For the sake of basic humanity, capitalism needs to be well-regulated.

Utah Is on Track to End Homelessness by 2015 With One Simple Idea

The solution to homelessness is surprisingly simple: just give people a home!
The state is giving away apartments, no strings attached. In 2005, Utah calculated the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for an average homeless person was $16,670, while the cost of providing an apartment and social worker would be $11,000. Each participant works with a caseworker to become self-sufficient, but if they fail, they still get to keep their apartment.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Utah Same-Sex Couples Getting Marriage Licenses

Utah state constitution amendment ruled unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby issued a 53-page ruling saying the constitutional amendment Utah voters approved in 2004 violates gay and lesbian couples' rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment. Shelby said the state failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way.
This is huge!  All other DOMA-style amendments and laws across the nation are toast.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Obamacare horror stories? Not so much

It seems that some of the most noted Obamacare horror stories are not so horrible after all.  But will facts triumph over fear?  Only the Shadow knows.

The Future of Obamacare

All the right-wing handwringing notwithstanding, the big insurers are confident the ACA will endure.  They've committed $500 million in advertising to bring in new Obamacare subscribers.

A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics

It's geeky, I know. But, Quantum Physics may undergoe a remake.  A new theory can replace a 9-page formula with a simple geometric model.

Pope Francis Supports Breastfeeding Enough To Know It Needs To Happen In Public

In an interview, Pope Francis made a point about hunger, for anyone, anytime.
At the Wednesday General Audience the other day there was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few month s old. The child was crying its eyes out as I came past. The mother was caressing it. I said to her: madam, I think the child’s hungry. “Yes, it’s probably time…” she replied. “Please give it something to eat!” I said. She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing. I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat!

How to Create New Jobs

Just raise the minimum wage.   A $10.10 minimum wage would create 85,000 new jobs.  For reference, it takes a wage of $10.20 for an individual to meet the most basic of needs in the American county with the smallest cost of living.

Under the Sea

Sometimes we can be oblivious to that which is just below the surface if we only think in 2 dimensions.  And the ocean is much more than just the surface.  Ta-dump, ta-dump, ta-dump.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mathematics and Human Struggles

Here's some more along the Hari Seldon line.  A mathematical formula can be used to describe how humans escalate their behaviors.  It applies to many things from crying babies to cyber attacks to civil unrest.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Job Creator Myth

Income inequality is the real problem. The richest folks are so rich that their action hurt rather than help the economics for the rest of us.
Remember: the rich do not create jobs. The goal of a corporation is to create as few jobs as possible. More jobs means more overhead; more overhead means less profit. The only reason for a business to create jobs is if employing more people can generate more business to create more profit. And that can only happen if there are paying customers out there.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

This Quote Explains It

From Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs,
"This country does a great job of creating wealth, but not a great [job] of distributing it.”
Duh!  Now that we have that figured out, what should be done about it?

Pregnant Woman Suffers

Don't expect good reproductive health care at a Catholic hospital.  When it comes to reproduction, religious dogma is more important than endangering a mother's life.  For their behavior in this regard, the church is getting sued.

Hints of cold dark matter

A new analysis of an old experiment points toward detection of dark matter on a table top.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Vermeer’s Secret Tool

I wonder how much the value of his painting will decline because he used an optical tool to create his paintings.  Using his camera obscura, he could paint subtleties that the human eye doesn't even see.