Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why Roman Monuments Have Lasted So Long

Roman concrete is better than modern version and more friendly to the environment. They used volcanic ash and lime where we use Portland cement. The cement requires high temperatures to produce and has a large carbon foot print. The Roman concrete has a structure that quenches microfractures so it is actually more resilient than modern forms.

Wave-particle duality and quantum uncertainty are same thing

In the small world of theoretical physics, I think this is kind of big. The wave-particle duality in which an elementary particle behaves both like a wave and a particle is nothing more than an expression of the uncertainty principle. So the two spooky things about quantum behavior is actually one spooky thing.

Taking Jesus Seriously

If these 4 Teachings of Jesus aren't part of one's religious makeup, one should be cautious about calling using the term Christian.

1. Jesus is the Word, not the Bible.
2. Entrance to the Kingdom is by doing the will of God.
3. Condemnation is not Jesus's style
4. You must sacrifice yourself for the ones with whom you disagree the most.

Friday, December 12, 2014

US Navy successfully deploys laser weapon

This is just way cool! Watch the video of how the LAWS system on the USS Ponce can take out small threats like drones and small craft. What they don't say is how automated they can make it in terms of target acquisition. They show it being operated by guys with joysticks, but methinks they actually have a much better way of doing it than we are being told.

Russia's Nuclear Navy Legacy

Russia's legacy is a problem. It's been described as a floating Chernobyl. Russia is a story of what can happen with nuclear issues when safety is not the first and foremost concern.

It's interesting to compare this record to the USN record noted previously. This tells me that those who have concerns about the dangers of nuclear energy, have every right to be concerned. It also tells me that, with a proper safety culture, those concerns can be put to rest.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

It Takes Money to Save Money

Linda Tirado documents the plight of the poor. Not having money generates a vicious cycle. You can't get ahead because you don't have the resources to recover from any little thing that gets in your way. Every setback that would be minor for most folks, is a another major struggle for the poor.

Surely, our country can do better than this.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

How red wine prevents cancer

It seems that the resveratrol in red wine helps prevent cancer by killing damaged cells. If the damaged cells manage to live too long, they can become the seeds of the disease.

Renewables Won't Work

A couple of Stamford-educated Google engineers worked on the Google RErenewable energy simply won't work
. For the high energy demands of modern developed society, it just isn't enough. The estimates that it can work are typically back-of-the-envelope calculations that are much more simplified than the true big picture.
However, I doubt that nuclear energy was included in the RE column like it should be.

The Smart Mouse

They replaced the glial cells in a mouse with human cells. The human cells multiplied and overran the mouse glial cells. And it turned out that the mouse was smarter than the average bear...er, mouse. There's more to advanced brain function than just the neurons. Improved connection make for better brain function, even across species.

Sane Drug Policy

The Netherlands has a drug policy that encourages users to get help rather than fear arrest. There drugs are seen as a public health issue. And, guess what, the percentage of their population that have used marijuana and cocaine is far smaller than here in the U.S.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Basic income

Dylan Matthews takes another run at the universal basic income approach. It's a worthy effort but I don't think just giving people money is a real answer to the problem. All men (and women) may be created equal but by the time they get to life's economic starting line such is clearly not the case. Warren Buffet talks about the roots of his success being in that he won the birth lottery. He had good parents, good health, and was able to get a good education. If we really want to honor the "created equal" ideal, we need to find ways to level out the birth lottery playing field. The first goal of our welfare programs should be to improve the lot of children who have to run a race just to get to the starting line. This means food assistance, housing assistance, health care assistance, educational assistance, and guidance and counseling, and other sorts of things that help surmount obstacles. Another goal should be whatever aid is appropriate to individuals who are the least worthy to receive it. Even if a person has no ambition or is completely devoid of a work ethic, would it be moral to expect them to starve on the street?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Being Wrong

Paul Krugman notes that politics determines who has power, not who as the truth. One would hope that those in power would be operating on concepts based in reality. But history is replete with examples in which such was not the case. It will be interesting to see what history says about the 114th Congress.

Republicans predicted that deficit spending would lead to rising interest rates. It hasn't.
Boehner urged a slashing of spending. Government that have done that have depressed their economies.
At the state level, Republican governors have slashed taxes on the wealthy to stimulate growth. It hasn't worked.
They predicted that too few would enroll in the ACA for it to work, more people would lose insurance than gain it, and costs would soar. Instead enrollment was strong, many more people have insurance, and costs have moderated.
They are so very wrong about climate change and generations could suffer for that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Europe's Depression Worry

Like American workers, German workers have not had much of an increase in wages recently. Therefore, they aren't spending much money and their economy is stagnant. Government bonds have been selling at a negative yield. That means the German government actually makes money when it borrows. But still  the German government refuses to invest in badly needed infrastructure. Such an investment would stimulate an economy that badly needs it.

Fortunately, things are not quite that bad in the States. But the Republicans could make it so if they get the austerity they want.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Laser Weapons

A rap against laser/directed energy weapons has always been that they needed clear weather to be effective.  The latest laser from Boeing seems to have solved that problem. The solution has been demonstrated at low power. The next step is to take it to full power and see how it works against potential targets.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Motorcycle lane splitting

One of those counter-intuitive findings, motorcycle lane splitting is better for riders, better for drivers, and safer than sitting in traffic. We aren't talking about screaming speed here. A motorcyclist is in more danger of being creamed from behind while standing in a line a cars than he is of being hurt while tooling along at a reasonable speed between two lines of cars. Getting motorcycles out of the car lanes reduces congestion for everybody.

America's Navy The Unsung Heroes Of Nuclear Energy - Forbes

The US Navy has logged over 5,400 reactor years of accident-free nuclear power. This a testament to the skill of the crews that man our ships and the reactor designs we use in them.

Financial 'Experts' No Better At Finance Than Normal Humans

Mutual fund managers, those wonderful experts that know so much more than the rest of us about valuing and trading securities, really don't do much better than the rest of us. This contributes to the case for solid consumer protections in financial instruments.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

We Need A Surgeon General

Little did the NRA and its senators know that rejecting the Surgeon-General appointee would leave us leaderless in the fight against ebola. Sometimes there is a bigger picture than one's own hand-gun paranoia.

The Scablands

Ars Technica takes a look at what is a local landscape for me. It is truly unique on this planet.

Nuclear Power As Renewable Energy

This article makes a case for adding nuclear to the renewable energy list. The supply of fuel is limitless when one considers that scarcity will raise prices to the point that procurement technologies that are too expensive today become feasible at higher prices. That includes recycling and fast reactors for breeding fuel. The thorium cycle has yet to be exploited as well. Fully recycled fuel has no long-lived radioactive wastes. And nuclear power doesn't add to the CO2 problem.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Austerity Has Been a Big Disaster

Even more than we thought. And Krugman has big serious worries whether Europe can recover from its experiment with austerity.
It's all about the fiscal multiplier. Stimulus, you see, is measured by how much one dollar of government spending increases GDP. But in a normal economy, it doesn't. That's because the Federal Reserve has its inflation target that it's determined to hit (or at least not overshoot). Government spending, though, can flood the economy with money, raising prices in the process. So the Fed, in turn, would either raise rates to offset this spending it doesn't want, or wouldn't cut rates like it otherwise would have.

Either way, the Fed's actions would keep the economy from being any bigger with more government spending than it would be without it.

But this calculus changes when there's a recession, especially if interest rates are at zero. In that case, the Fed wouldn't want to neutralize stimulus spending. So GDP would grow at least as much as spending does - what economists call a multiplier of one - and maybe more since there could be spillover effects.

Think about it like this: spending money on roads and bridges might boost the economy more than just the money the government directly spends. That's because the newly-paid construction workers will go out and spend their money too - and so on, and so forth. Indeed, even the oh-so-orthodox International Monetary Fund estimates that the fiscal multiplier might be as high as 1.7 right now.

Production-Ready Aeromobil Flying Car To Debut

This video shows the aeromobil on the road and taking off into the air. Has the flying car finally arrived?

Fusion On the Cheap

The dynomak from University of Washington students could be a challenger to the big money designs. It's spherical in design and the magnetic containment field is produced by the current in the plasma.

An Advance in Carbon Capture

Liquid capture is energy-efficient but not that efficient at capturing CO2. Solids can capture CO2 efficiently but it takes lots of energy to move the CO2 out of the capture material. A slurry combination may be both cost-effective and energy-efficient.

More on Cold Fusion

This merits watching. Even if it isn't what it looks like, it could open the door on some very interesting physics. If it is what it looks like, it could revolutionize the world of power production and thereby just about everything else in the economy.

Friday, September 19, 2014

History Is Important

I've been really enjoying Ken Burns' series on Roosevelt.  Being a baby boomer, I don't have as much appreciation as I should of how much he changed this country and our philosophy of government for the better. If you can catch it, watch it.

Hospitals Benefit Under Obamacare

Despite all the hand-wringing, hospitals are seeing a boost to their bottom lines because more people are insured now. Many of the costs that just had to be written off now get remunerated. Duh.

Main Source of Fracking Gas Leaks Discovered

It isn't the materials that are injected into deep geologic strutures. It's leakage from faulty well casings. This makes perfect sense.  For all the touted technology excellence you would think the industry would pay more attention to the concrete.

Obscure Power of Small Donations

This piece by Usha Rodrigues in Slate shows how, with our convoluted tax code, even small donation can be corrupting for Congress.  In the JOBS act, there was a special provision inserted that only benefited a single corporate interest. And, strangely enough, the principals of the corporation made modest donations to the congress critters that engineered the changes.  These principals had never donated to congressional campaigns before. Quid meet Quo.  The overall impact was so small that it went by completely under the corruption-detection radar. But it was corruption nonetheless.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sweden: Where School Vouchers Failed.

Choice oriented vouchers resulted in a steep decline in test scores in Sweden. The voucher system led to inflated grades with a faulty incentive system.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hope for U.S. Manufacturing

The wage freeze in the U.S. may finally begin to pay off. Global costs have risen to the point that American labor is more of a bargain. I only hope that there is a sufficient increase in American jobs that the domestic demand for goods and services goes up as well.  Then we may actually enter a virtuous cycle for continued economic growth.

What Pro-Life Looks Like in Actual Practice

Ireland is a clear example of a pro-life regime.  This is the world pro-life supporters want for our country. We know you for what you are, so stop pretending that you are civilized.

Rad Waste from Fracking

It seems that there are radioactive waste issues from hydraulic fracturing. Granted, the wastes are low-level but, as can be seen in the article, low-level wastes require special disposal processes.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Better than Graphene

Of all the things for which hemp is useful, this may be the most unexpected.  A challenge with electric transportation is rapid refueling.  A potential solution is super-capacitors instead of batteries.  It turns out that waste hemp fibers can be used to make a very efficient super-capacitor at a small fraction of the expense of that miracle material, graphene.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Ontario’s wins the war on coal

The most industrialized province in Canada is able to shut down all its coal plants.  Here's how they did it.

Welfare Applicants, Less Than One Percent Use Drugs

This is a waste of public funds, not to mention an unnecessary burden placed on poor people.  And whose idea is it?  The conservatives, of course.  If you are poor, they are not your friends.  If you don't want your taxpayer dollars to be wasted, they are not your friends either.

Instability in Power Grid

The situation in Germany is a real world example of what happens when there is too much dependence on intermittent renewable energy with insufficient baseload power close at hand.  It's just isn't a nuisance but jobs and industries stand to suffer.

Inequality Not Natural or Healthy

It's not just lefty liberals that are saying this. S&P says that our level of inequality is neither natural nor healthy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Religious Exemption From Anti-Abortion Laws

We can thank a batch of Satanists for suit that uses the other edge of the Hobby Lobby sword to protect nonbelievers from oppression by muddleheaded Christians.  A classic example of what to expect when one allows religion to overstep into civil society.

Estakio Beltran in the TCH

Here's a link to the Estakio Beltran article in the Tri-City Herald.

Easy Cancer Screening

Imagine what it would be like if screening for all types of cancer could be done with a simple blood test.  Many, many more malignancies could be caught much earlier and ambiguous symptoms could more quickly be confirmed as cancerous or not.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Universal Basic Income.

Max Ehrenfreund has some well-thought words about guaranteed income.  The basic idea is that as income-indexed reduction in assistance actually acts as an unfair tax on the poor.  Since then, he has expanded on the theme in the Washington Post.  And David Atkins added more depth to his thoughts in the Washington Monthly.  In some form this should be appealing to both sides of the aisle because if it is done right a great big bit of government bureaucracy can be simplified while we significantly improve the lives of those at the bottom of the economic scale.  I've heard an interesting counter-argument that the misery of American poverty is a major deterrent to completely uncontrollable illegal immigration.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Artificial Intelligence and the Evolution of Musical Style

An artificial intelligence algorithm has shown that stylistic evolution can be tracked programmatically.  The routine correctly places various works of the Beatles into the proper time sequence just from an analysis of the musical structure.  We humans have a sense of that when comparing early and later works but this program can actually quantify it.

It would be interesting to see how it applies to other musical artists such as Bach or even Carl Orff.

A Guaranteed Income

Perhaps it's time to have the discussion about using a guaranteed income to eliminate poverty in America.  Just think of how many piece-meal social programs that could be replaced if we, as a nation, found a way to provide a basic livable income to our most disadvantaged citizens.  Dylan Matthews points out that such a thing is indeed affordable.  In all honesty, there are a vanishing small few of us who have not arrived at where we are without some sort of unearned assistance.  Warren Buffet speaks of it as the birth lottery.  My parents' generation benefited significantly from the post-WWII GI bill that enabled erstwhile rural farm boys to receive college educations.  That generation, in turn, was able to establish middle-class lives that made it possible for their children to have greater opportunities than they would have found on an Oklahoma farm.

David Atkins adds his analysis of why it makes more sense in light of the fact that increases in productivity have lined the pockets of the wealthy while wages for our workes continue to stagnate.

What would a good guaranteed income system look like?  What is working or not working in other countries?  How do we give people the help they can use without providing incentives for perpetual dependency?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Budget and Debt Crisis - Imaginary

When your local Republican congressional candidates get in a lather about our federal budget and debt, rest assurred that it's only a figment of their imaginations.  The CBO reports that the ratio of debt to GDP will be flat for the next decade.

Dangerous Thing, Religion

A study found that children with religious upbringings have more difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Missing disasters

The ACA can be improved, there's no argument about that. But perhaps we shouldn't be listening to the critics who predicted disasters that didn't happen.  The people in our country deserve better thinkers than that.

Full Disclosure

Not big news here, but a clarification that if a company chooses to offer sub-standard health care benefits to its female employees, it must say so up front.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Voter Integrity? Right..

The "uniformity" argument doesn't make sense when the demand on polling places is not uniform.  The new laws make it harder for city dwellers than suburbanites.  The "voter fraud" so frequently cited simply doesn't exist.  What does exist is a clear pattern.  It's Republicans that are pushing these measures.  And the measures have the effect of disenfranchising voting groups that tend to vote for Democrats.  Republicans are clearly using their positions of power to maintain that power even if it means subverting the expression of popular will.  They are exhibiting a genuine disrespect for democracy and an embrace of moneyed imperialism.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Voter fraud is mostly a myth

Seven papers, 4 government inquiries, 2 news investigations and a court ruling have established it.  So don't talk about excessive government spending unless you are willing to stop wasting money on this rabbit chase.  What the studies show is that the fight against voter fraud is nothing more than suppression of the voting rights of poor people.  What a country!

Moderate voters are a myth

Our public debates can't make much progress until we realize moderate voters don't exist.  The apparent moderation we see in surveys is a fluke of statistics.  Typically someone identified as moderate actually has some radical views in some area or another.  Sometimes the views are political opposites such as simultaneously pro-life and anti-gun.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Piketty Protégé’s Theory on Tax Havens

In the wake of Piketty talking about the evils and persistence of inequality, we now have Gabriel Zucman talking about the harm done by the large-scale tax evasion practiced by the moneyd classes.
Because large-scale tax evasion skews key economics statistics, it hampers officials’ ability to manage the economy or make policy, Mr. Zucman says. It erodes respect for the law, preventing the government from carrying out one of its essential tasks. And it discourages job creation, since it rewards people and corporations for keeping money overseas, instead of investing it domestically.

Downdraft Tower

The persistent knock against wind power is that it is intermittent.  Here is a design that can
deliver power 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.  Now we're talking!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Anti-microbial coatings

How nice would it be to have surfaces that not only killed germs, but could kill them for years.  These materials even prevent bio-films from forming that could harbor bacterial colonies.

Monday, June 02, 2014

New App

Are you stuck on the horns of a moral dillemma?  Yup, there's an app for that.

Acoustic Tractor Beam

An acoustic tractor beam sure beats chewing gum on a coat hanger to retrieve my lost guitar pick from behind the drier.

Direct Conversion of Biomass to Fuel

Renewable technology marches on.   This technique uses engineered microbes. 
"Now, without any pretreatment, we can simply take switchgrass, grind it up, add a low-cost, minimal salts medium and get ethanol out the other end," Westpheling said. "This is the first step toward an industrial process that is economically feasible."

Hydrogen Into Liquid Fuel

A technique for storing hydrogen in a liquid form has been developed that uses atmospheric CO2.  It's a catalytic process that combines hydrogen and CO2 into formic acid.  Then another catalytic process releases the hydrogen for use in combustion. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Copy and Delete Text in Images

This new Google Chrome extension called Naphtha, really works.  I think it's pretty cool.

Nuclear Startups

While the government has dropped its fee to power plants for disposal of spent fuel and the fuel continues to pile up, same new nuclear startups are working to generate more power from the spent fuel stockpiles.  The technique is to dissolve the fuel into a molten salt and completely burn the fissile material in it (something that can't be done with fuel in a solid form).  Molten salt reactors were successful experimentally back in the 50's but have yet to be built commercially.

WSU Students Win International Hydrogen Competition

Kudos to  the winners of the annual Hydrogen Student Design Contest.
The WSU team's fueling station design was safe and reliable while also lowering building costs of current stations by 75 percent.
Conducting an economic analysis, the students determined that filling a hydrogen fuel tank to go 300 miles would cost about $48, which is comparable to regular gasoline. They developed a business plan in which a portable hydrogen fuel station could work in conjunction with existing gas stations in a way that would benefit both entities.
"The design the students developed looks to be completely implementable right now,'' said Jake Leachman, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and an advisor on the project. "We want to build one, and we should. The business model/idea is innovative and could lead to a startup company.''
I'm happy to say that my son, Austin Miller, was on that team handling the economics and public policy issues.  Way to go!

Crowdfunding Safe Fusion Power?

An alternative nuclear fusion process is proposed by LPP Fusion that doesn't need the astronomic investments required by such this as the ITER.  Developers think they can have a 5 MW reactor by the end of the decade for a mere half million dollars. It would produce electrical power for about 0.06 cents per kWh. Rather than fight plasma instability, it capitalizes on it.  By fusing carbon and boron, ionized helium ions are produced without any radiated neutrons. The other isotopic products have a half-life of only 20 minutes which means the apparatus can be brought back to background levels in about 9 hours.  Since the output is charged particles, electricity can directly generated.  It could be a game-changer.

New Porous Silicon

From Penn State we have this: a method of producing porous silicon with much more surface area than the standard method.  It can be used to catalyze the production of hydrogen from water with only sunlight as the energy input. That would be interesting to see at an industrial scale.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Single Mother, Child Poverty Myth

It's often said that the high child poverty figures in the U.S. are due to the high numbers of single mothers.  This analysis shoots that hypothesis full of holes.  Other countries with similar rates of single mothers have much lower rates of children in poverty.  That's mainly because they do something about it with better welfare programs.
...high child poverty in the US is not caused by some overwhelming crush of single mother parenting. The lowest of the low-poverty countries manage to get along in the world with similar levels of single mother parenting just fine. Morever, relatively high child poverty rates are the rule in every single family type in the US, not just some single mother phenomenon. We plunge more than 1 in 5 of our nation's children into poverty because we choose to. It would be easy to dramatically cut that figure, but we'd rather not.

Salvation Gets Cheap

Advances in renewable energy have made a carbon-free energy regime financially achievable.  So it's time for those on the right who believe in the power of the market to surmount all obstacles (except environmental restrictions) and those on the left who believe that reduced economies are the price we must pay for a livable environment to just give it up.  We CAN have a better environment without sacrificing economic growth.

Ginseng and Influenza

Ginseng has shown anti-viral effects against influenza A and other viral infections of lung tissue.  It's another case of folk medicine proving itself in the laboratory.

A Breakthrough?

A human-made compound in animal tests has been shown to reverse the process of artherosclerosis.
Specifically, the experiments showed that treatment with D-PDMP led to:
  • a drop in the animals' levels of so-called bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein, LDL; 
  • a drop in oxidized LDL, a particularly virulent form of fat that forms when LDL encounters free radicals. Oxidized LDL easily sticks to the walls of blood vessels, where it ignites inflammation, damaging the vessel walls and promoting the growth of fatty plaque; 
  • a surge in good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein, HDL, known to counteract the effects of LDL by mopping it up; and 
  • a significant drop in triglycerides, another type of plaque-building fat.

  • The treatment also prevented fatty plaque and calcium deposits from building up inside the animals' vessels. These effects were observed in animals on a daily D-PDMP treatment even though they ate a diet made up of 20 percent triglycerides -- the human equivalent of eating a greasy burger for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition, the researchers say, D-PDMP appears to precision-target the worst byproducts of aberrant cell growth signaling, such as oxidized LDL and the activity of certain chemicals that fuel vessel inflammation, without altering cell growth itself.
    This all sounds like great stuff.  Furthermore, the compound has been well-tested in animals and hasn't produced any side effects even at 10 times the effective dose.


    I'm sure this is a far too serious book for me to wade through, so I leave the heavy lifting to others who have the smarts and the inclination to do so.  However, I think it may become a landmark publication in the world of macro-economics.  It appears to be well researched and well thought out.  It supports the idea that a natural outcome of unfettered capitalism isn't a utopia but rather the banana-republic oligarchy toward which the U.S. is headed if not already arrived.  A possible prescription to keep that from happening could be a tax on wealth to balance out the rich-get-richer-just-because-they-are-rich trend.  It also clearly demonstrates the need for strong inheritance taxes and capital-gains taxes.  Concentration of wealth in the hands of the rentiers instead of the laborers distorts democracy.

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    Natural Experiment with Unemployment Benefits

    The results are in.  By cutting off unemployment benefits we got to see if that incentivised the long-term unemployed to find more jobs.  It didn't.  It just managed to create more misery for no good reason.  On the other hand, the loss of that money going into the hands of spenders has further reduced the demand that is needed to really bring an expansion of job opportunities.

    The Sociopathic One Percent

    When Tim Draper did his polling on turning California into 6 new states, he was surprised at how poorly it was supported by the wealthier regions of the state.  Under his plan, the wealthier areas would no longer have to supported the more disadvantaged areas of the state.
    It's always a big shock to selfish rich people that most other well-to-do people aren't as selfish as they are. It's important to remember that many of the very wealthy are like Warren Buffett, people who vote primarily for Democrats and aren't afraid to pay a little more in taxes to have a fruitful, stable and fairer society. It's not even the 1% that are ruining things for the rest of us; it's a very sociopathic, very energetic fraction of that 1%. And they're really shocked when other people don't behave as asininely as they do.

    Oligarchy is US

    When put the numbers to it, it turns out that the US is, in fact, an oligarchy.
     "Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, ..." and then they go on to say, it's not true, and that, "America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened" by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead "the nearly total failure of 'median voter' and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."
    So, who is surprised at that finding?

    Carbon and Taxes

    In November, the Obama administration set the social cost of carbon dioxide at $37 per ton.  Many argue that that figure is too low. 

    The recent IPCC report estimates that it would take $0.15/kg of CO2 to solve the climate change problem.  If I do my math right, that works out to be a little less that $150/ per ton.

    The British Columbia carbon tax experiment at a rate of $30 per ton has proven to be a success.  Carbon emissions are down without any severe economic impacts despite the poor economy.  Note that there are special provisions in the BC law that mitigate the economic impact on low income households.

    That puts a framework around it.  We can start moving the right direction with a $30/ton figure.  But to really solve the problem we need to get closer to the $150/ton level.  With the higher taxes, there should be sufficient economic incentive for carbon sequestration efforts to begin to pay off.

    The Citizens Climate Lobby has produced legislation that starts with a $20/ton tax with an annual increase in the rate.  Unlike the BC law, only 60% of the proceeds are returned to the taxpayers with 25% going into the general fund and 10-15% going towards green energy subsidies.

    Personally, I think there is little need for any of this money to go into the general fund.  That is better addressed by income tax reform.  Nor, do I see a need for channeling any of the money into green energy subsidies.  The tax itself should be sufficient incentive for green energy development.

    I went looking for oppositional articles to the BC carbon tax and found none.  Actually, many who opposed the tax have come to love it.  Because of the kickback to taxpayers, any repeal of the tax would have to be defended as a net tax increase--not a very popular idea.

    Furthermore, a carbon tax is much easier to administer than a cap-and-trade regime.  A carbon tax can be revenue-neutral way to modify economic behavior and perhaps even create a few new jobs as markets shift away from carbon emissions.

    Surviving a Nuclear Bomb: Update

    Some of us can still remember the days of backyard bomb shelters that eventually evolved into teeange makeout pads.  Just to keep current, here's today's best guide to surviving a nuclear explosion.  Best option is to be somewhere else.  It all gets worse from there.

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Solar Danger

    Even something as perceptually benign as a solar power plant can have unexpected and unintentional consequences, such as becoming a solar energy equivalent of the La Brea tar pits.  Birds and insects get singed and thereby attract more birds and insects.

    Wednesday, April 09, 2014

    What Your Metadata Has To Say

    In a study of only 546 volunteers, it was shown that a great deal of sensitive information can be gleaned from a person's telephone metadata.  That's why the first thing investigators do in CSI shows is pull the suspects phone records.
    Mayer and his team showed that participants called public numbers of “Alcoholics Anonymous, gun stores, NARAL Pro-Choice, labor unions, divorce lawyers, sexually transmitted disease clinics, a Canadian import pharmacy, strip clubs, and much more.” ...
    “It highlights three key points. First, that the key part of the NSA’s argument—we weren’t collecting sensitive information so what is the bother?—is factually wrong. Second, that the NSA and the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] Court failed to think this through; after all, it only takes a little common sense to realize that sweeping up all numbers called will inevitably reveal sensitive information. Of course the record of every call made and received is going to implicate privacy. And third, it lays bare the fallacy of the Supreme Court’s mind-numbingly broad wording of the third-party doctrine in an age of big data: just because I reveal data for one purpose—to make a phone call—does not mean that I have no legitimate interest in that information, especially when combined with other data points about me.”

    Policies Have Consequences

    Some people may have lost their insurance because of Obamacare. But when states refuse to fully implement it, some people lose their lives.  What a country!

    Virginia is another state where it sucks to be among the working poor.  One can only hope that voters come to their senses and make some changes in their governors and in their state houses.

    Navy Deploys Lasers

    The US Navy is set to deploy ship-board laser weapons this summer.  They can target drones, small boats, light aircraft, and missiles.  It uses commercially-available technology and costs less than a dollar per shot.  The current defensive weaponry being replaced spews thousands of rounds of depleted uranium. 

    Tuesday, April 08, 2014

    CO2 Recycling

    Liquid Light's CO2 converter can turn this troublesome byproduct into over 60 chemicals.  Other companies are working on even more such processes.  So instead of sequestering CO2, fossil power plants should start looking at selling it to these chemical fabricators.

    What do New Jersey, Texas and Arizona have against Tesla?

    Back in the last century, auto dealer franchise laws were adopted in response to the monopolistic behavior of car manufacturers.  They also kept a portion of the profits from car sales in the states where the cars were being sold.  The inefficient layer of middle-men may have inflated prices a bit but some of that money remained in-state where it could be taxed for effectively.

    Now,Tesla is challenging that business practice.  In any given location, there aren't enough cars sold to support a traditional dealership.  And the prices are already steep enough such that bumping them up to support middle-men would hurt the small volume of sales even more.  Furthermore, no smudge-pot car dealership is going to be effective at selling Tesla's because of the conflict of interest that comes with selling a product that would supplant the product line that generates almost all of your profits.

    Tuesday, April 01, 2014

    Hypocrisy Lobby

    Y'know, if you are going to deny coverage for you employees to use certain contraceptives, you should really stop investing in the companies that make them.  Hobby Lobby's 401k retirement plans have $73 million in mutual funds that hold stocks in the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the birth controls to which the company objects.

    Natural Gas Into Liquid Fuel

    Over at BYU, they are turning raw natural gas into upgraded liquid alcohol fuel.  The catalysts are not exotic and the process runs at around 180 degrees Celsius. 

    Mugshots from DNA

    With a surprisingly small sample database, researchers have built eerily accurate facial reconstructions from just a person's DNA.  My first thought is the forensics applications but it could go so much farther than that.

    Failed Republican Experiment

    In 2012, Kansas enacted severe tax cuts.  They could have been the shining demonstration of the success of a the Republican low-tax utopia.  But instead of the wet dream, low-tax Kansas became a nightmare.  Schools are poorly funded.  The damage by the Great Recession to public services has been deepened and extended rather than alleviated.  There was no improvement to the Kansas economy.  New jobs and earnings have lagged behind the rest of the country.  And the situation is projected to continue to be worse than the rest of the nation.  But it was good for the wealthy.

    Do we need any more evidence that those calling for lower taxes are only interested in lining their pockets at the expense of society as a whole?

    H/T Hullabaloo

    Nifty Fuel Cell

    This solar-induced fuel cell catalyzes biomass such as powdered wood into electricity.  It can use all kinds of biomass and the catalyst functions from sunlight or low-grade heat.  Pretty cool, I say.

    Thursday, March 13, 2014

    The Bankers' Big Lie

    The bankers want us to believe that the American financial consumers were responsible for the Great Recession.  The evidence shows that bankers were the real villians is this.  They inflated valuations and issued bad mortgages by changing their own rules.  And nothing has been done to keep them from doing it again.

    Sorry, everybody was not to blame. “We” didn’t all do it. “Main Street” didn’t succumb to a new tulip mania, and cheap credit didn’t expose anything but the corruption and immorality of a financial industry that systematically put huge numbers of even credit-worthy borrowers into defective products. Cultural theorizing—especially the evidence-free kind—should be seen for what it is: an exercise in complacency. It’s easy. And it’s what you lean on when you don’t want to take on structural problems, the kind you actually have to do something about.

    Taxing All College Graduates

    Josh Freedman makes the case for using an income tax bump on college graduates as a means for funding public higher education.  Then, he tries to find problems with the proposal.  I find his counter-arguments weak so maybe the time has come for this idea.

    The arguments for it include: no debt taken on by students, repayment is tied to income, ease of administration, poor people will not be supporting higher education through general taxes, and more poor people could avail themselves of higher education.

    In trying to construct some viable argument against the proposal, Freedman gets lost in the weeds about poor people being under-represented at private schools.  But that's irrelevant.  He also argues against an idea that isn't in the proposal.  Again, irrelevant, and a waste of bits.

    Here's a link to Oregon's attempt to put such a thing in place.

    Texas’ New Abortion Law is Driving Women to Extremes

    Texas abortion laws suck and this is why.  Any genuine medical reason for an abortion runs afoul of the small-minded laws written by anti-choice activists who could care less about human medical realities.  Methinks the "God" they worship has something to be desired as well.

    Not Biodiesel But 'Biogasoline' From Plant Waste

    Chemists at UC Davis have derived a chemical process that can be use to convert cellulose into sustainably-sourced gasoline.  Cellulose is processed into levulinic acid which is then processed into the gasoline-like hydrocarbons.  It has a high yield and doesn't involve fermentation like previous methods.  Provisonal patents have been filed.

    Five-second Food Rule Validated

    Recent research supports the applicability of the 5-second rule.  So if that food hits the deck, snatch it up quickly and proceed with your meal.

    Netflix Link to Pandora's Promise

    Pandora's Promise on Netflix.

    Saturday, March 08, 2014

    Obamacare and the Part-Time Economy

    Obamacare has not yet turned America into a nation of part-time workers, as many of its strongest critics have long said it would. 
    In fact, the opposite seems to be happening, according to new government numbers published Friday: The number of part-time jobs is actually shrinking, and full-time jobs are being created instead.
    The critics may not be all that good at business.  Smart employers take a broader view that just saving a few nickel and dimes by engineering ways to not have to pay for their employees' health care.  If they have the demand, they need good, healthy, motivated, and experienced employees. It saves money in the long run because the business itself operates better.  However, when demand is iffy, it just gets harder to do that and the businesses go into survival mode and are forced to cannibalize themselves just like a malnourished body begins to consume it's own muscles.

    Monday, March 03, 2014

    Better Than A Minimum Wage Hike

    Warren Buffet has a better idea.  An appropriate increase in the EITC would put more money into the working poor's hands without the economic impact employers.  That money would come out of tax revenue, so maybe we could not build quite as many warplanes.

    Dave Camp has some more ideas on improving the tax code.  These include streamlined educational tax credits, a larger standard deduction, and a larger child tax credit.  He also would eliminate special interest tax advantages and a great many loopholes.  Since he is writing in the WSJ, he has to float the canard that lower taxes would magically create jobs, but we can forgive him for that since many of the things he lists get bipartisan support.

    Update: Obama's budget has an expanded EITC and child tax credit in it.

    Methanol from Carbon Dioxide

    Just below I linked an article that talked about a method using microbes to generate sugars for fuel production from atmospheric CO2.  Today the folks at SLAC have identified a catalyst that can do pretty much the same thing, without the messy biology.  This stuff synthesizes hydrogen and CO2 into methanol.

    Sunday, March 02, 2014

    USPS and the Economy

    Could the Post Office save the economy?  Postal banking is an old idea that may be worth thinking about again. More poor people could get affordable banking services.  It would make the delivery of federal benefits to the poor more cost effective by cutting out the commercial banks that skim those dollars by charging fees for access to food stamps and unemployment benefits.  A protected savings method for the poor could be provided.  More banking could be provided to the immigrant population since many of them already use money order services provided by the Post Office.  Postal banking could lead the way in improving measures against identity fraud by rolling out more secure "chip-and-PIN" debit cards.  It could lead the way in establishing mobile phone banking services.  Established banks have been slow to do this because they see the lead-in costs as too expensive.  Postal banks wouldn't sell your personal information to advertisers like other banks do.  Recessions could be dealt with efficiently by putting stimulus money directly into the hands of consumers with a Federal Reserve ATM system.

    Wednesday, February 26, 2014

    Fukushima radioactivity and California

    Before the hysteria machine gets all wound up, one should note that Fukushima radioactivity poses little threat to California.  As usual with these sorts of things, background radiation that everyone lives with every day without batting an eye completely washes out the Fukushima contribution.  It's only because of the peculiar isotopes and really sensitive instruments that we can even identify it at all.  The real killer in all this was the circumstance of living too close to the coastline where tsunamis can come through your door.

    Echo Chamber Effects

    It's conventional wisdom that the echo chamber effect has increased our political polarization.  Now, the math backs it up.  Even our affinity search engines contribute to the effect. They tend to recommend articles that are similar to the ones we like to read.  Before too long, all you see are things that mesh with your own point of view.  The lesson here is that if we are going to govern for all the people, we need to make the significant effort to read the stuff from the other viewpoint and try to understand how other folks see the situation.

    Cheating Our Children

    The voices on the right like to use the charge that when the government runs a deficit we are cheating our children. But the truth is actually the reverse of that.  Interest rates are low because businesses and individuals are sitting on plenty of cash because there is a lack of good investment prospects brought about by the shortage of demand.  We cheat our children when we don't put that money to work by not investing it in infrastructure and education.  Businesses and individuals don't do infrastructure and educations, government does.  The government needs to be borrowing all that unused money and use this opportunity to make the future brighter for our children.

    Passive Cooling in Full Daylight

    If you could build cooling panels that radiate excess heat into space in would be a nifty thing.  These guys have.  The trick is to absorb incoming heat and re-radiate that energy out at a frequency that isn't absorbed by the atmosphere.  It's a greenhouse effect dodge.

    Fuel From Air

    This is really old news now, but the concept is interesting. This is another one of those enhance biological process that converts atmospheric CO2 into sugars that can then be processed into fuel.

    Hemp for Cooking Oil

    Once our nation gets past having hemp around for recreational use, we should capitalize on the many useful industrial applications of this fine crop including excellent cooking oil.  It's nutritionally similar to olive oil but with a longer shelf life.

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    Debt-Free Higher Education

    Oregon House Bill 3472 proposes as system by which students get free college tuition in exchange for a small percentage of their future earnings for 20 years.  Students would have no debt, no interest, and the rate would not change.  Over time it is expected that the system will create stable funding for higher education without the profit-seeking middlemen and the crushing student debt burden.

    Missouri Guns

    It's a no-brainer that easy access to firearms will result in more deaths by gunfire.  Yet many, for various reasons, feel that the level of carnage is either non-existent or justifiable.  With this study, the argument for the former weakens significantly.  So one must ask, are the additional 60 murders per year in Missouri offset by some other public good?  Has the sacrifice of innocent lives brought about any discernible benefit?

    Friday, February 14, 2014

    Graphene for Desalination and Other Filtering

    Graphene's peculiar characteristics allow it be fabricated into a high flux filter for water.  Fabricated in layers like mother-of-pearl, it lets water quickly pass through while selectively rejecting other sorts of molecules including salts.  The filtering pores are customizable such that they can be tailored to inhibit dissolved molecules of a given size.

    Plastic Bags Into Diesel

    University of Illinois researchers have demonstrated a method that can convert plastic shopping bags into diesel fuel more efficiently than crude oil.  I wonder what the plastic bag equivalent to a barrel of crude is.

    Effects of Inequality

    Krugman points to interesting research that shows mere affluence can make your opinions more conservative. Lottery winners become less interested in income equality.  In other research, Krugman notes that austerity produces more income inequality.  The rich care less and less about the unfortunate even when their riches are unearned.  And the austerity policies supported by the rich, makes them richer and everyone else poorer.

    Break Even

    Just want to note this notable milestone.  Lawrence-Livermore reports that they have been able to get more energy out of a fusion reaction than they put into it.  The ironic thing is that they weren't actually working on developing fusion power, but instead were doing research for nuclear weapons.

    Wednesday, February 12, 2014

    Volkswagen Helping Unions Organize

    Why is a major automaker assisting organization efforts in right-to-work Tennessee?  Because the Germans have learned that having a union can boost productivity and provide better flexibility during downturns.  The key idea is an entity known as a "works council".  Managers like the councils.  Here's why.
    There are three major advantages of councils. You're forced to consider in your decision making process the effect on the employees in advance…this avoids costly mistakes. Second, works councils will in the final run support the company. They will take into account the pressing needs of the company more than a trade union can, on the outside. And third, works councils explain and defend certain decisions of the company towards the employees. Once decisions are made, they are easier to implement.

    Neutrinos in the News

    A recent paper hints that they may be much more massive than current understanding acknowledge.  That would explain why there were fewer galaxy clusters in the early universe that can be explained by current estimates of neutrino mass.

    It might also explain why they are more affected by passing through the earth than they should be.

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014

    Creationism Is Dangerous

    Something you should know about your friends that hold to creationism is that they are in the grip of a near-cultish belief system. This HBO documentary demonstrates that.
    Creationism, the documentary reveals, isn't a harmless, compartmentalized fantasy. It's a suffocating, oppressive worldview through which believers must interpret reality-and its primary target is children. For creationists, intellectual inquiry is a sin, and anyone who dares to doubt the wisdom of their doctrine invites eternal damnation.

    Interesting Nazi Legacy

    OK, how many of you knew that the popular sacrament of the 60's was gifted to us by Nazi scientists?  I remember hearing that it came from CIA research but I hadn't heard from where they got it.

    Friday, February 07, 2014

    Peak Oil Strategy

    Our local PNNL facility produces a method of making crude oil from algae.  It bypasses that whole bury-it-underground-for-millions-of-years-and-drill-for-it thing.

    Oklahoma Fights Gay Marriage

    First, a federal judge strikes down Oklahoma's gay marriage ban.  Then Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel mandates that all states must not disciminate against same-sex marriages when providing benefits for their National Guard members.  In response, Oklahoma stops providing benefits to all married members of its National Guard.  It's possible that someday they might twist themselves into dropping marriage status as a consideration for any and all state programs.  This could be fun to watch.  Unless, of course, you live in Oklahoma.

    Gummy Lithium Btteries

    Wazzu scientists have a better lithium-ion battery for you.  It works as well as the liquid kind but without the fire hazard.
    You can stretch, smash, and twist it, and it continues to conduct electricity nearly as well as liquid electrolytes. Furthermore, the gummy electrolyte should be easy to assemble into current battery designs, says Zhong.

    Monday, February 03, 2014

    Pensions vs. Corporate Welfare

    This article compares the funds states put into pensions to funds they give away in corporate tax breaks.  This may be an unfair comparison but it raises interesting questions.

    Lousiana wants to cut its $350 million state pension plan while handing out $1.8 billion in corporate tax breaks.  It's the worst state at this, but all states give specialized tax breaks to keep and attract industry.  But are those breaks compensated for by higher revenues from the economic activity that is attracted?

    Corporations have perfected the practice of getting states to bid against one another with tax breaks.  Any state that wishes to avoid this unilaterally disarms itself.  Much like individual workers, the only way states can get out of this bind seems to be to organize. 

    Abortion Rate Lowest Since 1973

    When one sees a statistic that the U.S. Abortion Rate Hits Lowest Point Since 1973 it makes me want to see why.  It's interesting to note that rate peaked back in 1981 with 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women and plateaued at around 19.4 from 2005 to 2008.  Then it dropped to 16.9 by 2011.  The key cause isn't the drop in the number of providers due to more restrictive laws.  With more contraceptive use, the overall pregnancy and birth rates have declined as well.  Perhaps the recent recession and available contraception has led more folks to delay children for the time being.

    Another factor has been the more frequent use of medication abortions.  These make abortions more accessible and easier to do earlier in the pregnancies.

    It is yet too early to see any impact from some of the recently enacted anti-abortion restrictions.

    Saturday, February 01, 2014

    An Alternative to Obamacare

    The Republicans have finally provided their alternative to the ACA.  It should really give Obamacare a boost because, frankly, the alternative proposals are unpleasantly aromatic.

    Too Poor For Obamacare

    In its original form the ACA provided aid for the really poor folks by expanding Medicaid.  But with a recent Supreme Court decision, states are free to opt out of that.  As a result, the poorest folks get left out completely.  There are a bunch of governors that need to be unelected since they clearly don't care a whit about their poorest citizens.

    The Cult and the Brain

    TED talk presenter, Diane Benscoter, shares her experience as a member of a cult and how it works in a brain.  She references Kathleen Taylor about the mental illness aspect of religious fundamentalism.  At the root of it all is a loop of circular thinking that nothing can penetrate and can make it possible to rationalize anything.  It isn't that there's evil at work but rather a fault in human reasoning capacity that others can happily exploit for their own ends.

    Sweet Crude Biofuel

    Genetically-modified yeasts can convert table sugar into complex lipids that can be used instead of petroleum-based products.  Now just how are we going to produce all the sugar that is needed?

    Greenhouse Gases into Chemicals

    For a generation the major raw material for the chemical industry has been petroleum.  How much better it would be if our greenhouse gases could be converted into useful chemicals!

    Thursday, January 30, 2014

    The Price of Lax Gun Control

    Access to guns increases the risk of suicide and homicide.  If people have a gun, they are more likely to use it. That's a no-brainer.  Do the benefits of an armed populace outweigh this cost?

    Getting Poverty Wrong

    What the the GOP gets wrong about poverty:

    The war in poverty isn't lost. While it is still too high, the poverty rate has fallen in the last few decades thanks to government programs.

    The cost of welfare is the the $1 trillion per year that is touted by the Cato Institute.  A more honest figuru is about $212 billion per year.

    Poverty isn't caused by moral decay.  Worker productivity have gone up some 80% while wages have only gone up 4%.  Workers are not reaping the full benefits of their labor.

    Poverty reduction programs are not wasteful.  In six of the largest anti-poverty programs, 90 to 99% of the money actually gets into the hands of the clients.

    Food stamps don't keep people on welfare.  Some 87% of the food stamp recipients who can work work and that number has been growing.

    Big government doesn't keep people poor.  The programs successfully 40 million people out of poverty in 2011, 9 million of whom were children.  Nothing harms opportunity more than poverty and nothing improves it more than the lack thereof.

    Anti-poverty programs are not short term solutions.  They yield long-term benefits in children's health, education, and eventual careers.

    The statistic that is quoted as the official poverty rate that hasn't changed much is a bad statistic.  It doesn't reflect some sources of income.  The real poverty rate has, in fact, been declining for decades.

    Income inequality is a big deal.  It's the highest it's been since 1928.

    Marriage doesn't really lift people out of poverty.  The synergy of shared expenses isn't as large as is assumed in the way we take our statistics.

    The number of people in poverty is much larger than the official statistic.  According to the census, 1 in 3 fall below the poverty line.

    Contrary to the GOP talking point, raising the minimum wage would actually lift half of our working poor out of poverty.

    Rather than kill the economy, a higher minimum wage would improve it.  It would grow by $22 billion and add 85,000 new jobs.

    "Economic Freedom Zones" won't help poverty.  They just move it around.

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

    Universal Biofuels Production

    chemical process that digests any plant material has been discovered.  This opens the way for biofuel production from almost any feedstock.

    Sugar is relatively easy to obtain from things like fruit and seeds, but those are also the sorts of things we like to eat. Most of the sugar in the rest of a plant, however, is locked into a complex polymer called cellulose. Figuring out a way to easily break down cellulose has been one of the major hurdles to the expansion of biofuels.
    Now, researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison have figured out a chemical treatment that, given a bit of time, can completely dissolve any plant matter including wood. The end result is a solution containing mostly sugars, along with a few other organic molecules—some of which can be shunted off to synthesize the key ingredient of the chemical treatment itself.

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

    Turning Carbon Dioxide Into Electricity

    By using it as heat-transfer fluid, researchers propose using sequestered CO2 to extract geothermal energy.
    In computer simulations, a 10-mile-wide system of concentric rings of horizontal wells situated about three miles below ground produced as much as half a gigawatt of electrical power -- an amount comparable to a medium-sized coal-fired power plant -- and more than 10 times bigger than the 38 megawatts produced by the average geothermal plant in the United States.
    The simulations also revealed that a plant of this design might sequester as much as 15 million tons of CO2 per year, which is roughly equivalent to the amount produced by three medium-sized coal-fired power plants in that time.

    Enemies of the Poor

    Republicans have this reputation. And sadly, they have earned it with their actions. They oppose Medicaid expansion, unemployment benefits, and education financing.  Every budget the House has passed contained cuts to food stamps and other poverty programs.  They make noise about doing something about poverty buts to really do something effective, taxes on the rich will have to rise.  They simply won't do that.

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    Why Some Identical Twins Are Noticeably Different

    I've always wondered why my set of identical twins sometimes aren't so much. One is left-handed and one is right.
    This explains in some measure why identical twins -- products of nearly identical genomes -- can be noticeably different from one another in their appearance and propensity for disease. Living things are, after all, built from cells, and each cell is in turn the product of the genes it expresses. Dynamic and random allelic expression can result in different blends of some traits, even in otherwise genetically identical people.

    Thursday, January 09, 2014

    Incandescent Survivors

    Incandescent bulbs are no more dead than are internal combustion engines.  The regulation that has the industry scrambling is about efficiency similar to the CAFE standards for automobiles.  As a result, new, highly efficient incandescent bulbs are being manufactured and marketed.

    A Battery for Renewable Energy

    With a flow battery the capacity is only limited by the size of the tank.  This may be the way for wind and solar to get out of the deep weeds towards becoming a reliable base-load provider.