Friday, April 17, 2015

A Continuing Oil Spill In Gulf Of Mexico

The Taylor Energy oil spill has been pumping crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico for over a decade. There is no resolution in sight. Fossil fuels have a continuing and significant environmental cost.
Hurricane Ivan whipped into the Gulf of Mexico in 2004, churning up waves that triggered an underwater mudslide and toppled Taylor's platform. The platform stood roughly 10 miles off Louisiana's coast in approximately 475 feet of water. The mudslide buried the cluster of 28 wells under mounds of sediment. Taylor tried to remove the unstable sediment covering the damaged wells, but determined it was too dangerous for divers. Without access to the buried wells, traditional "plug and abandon" efforts wouldn't work.

The Hum of the Earth

It's been known for a long time that the Earth has a low-frequency hum that humans can't consciously hear. Now we know what's causing it. It's deep ocean waves that move along the sea floor. They have enough energy to be registered on instruments like seismic waves from earthquakes.

Making Positive Changes

Dr Phil has some key steps to accomplishing changes in your life.

1. Decide what you are good at or what is good about you.
2. Observe yourself exhibiting those qualities or characteristics or mastering a given function or activity.
3. Acknowledge that you are living up to your potential and having some mastery in your life.
4. Make an attribution to yourself regarding that competency.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Acidic Oceans

The Permian extinction was caused by high CO2 from volcanoes over a long period of time. The rate of CO2 was comparable to what we are doing today and we can see similar effects. The question is, how far do we want to go down that path?

Affordable Nuclear Waste Disposal

Given that the volume of highly radioactive wastes is not huge, it makes good sense to 
dispose of them in deep boreholes. The technology is simple and much less expensive than elaborate treatment systems.

Record Penalty For Deadly Blast

While many fret over the potential dangers of advanced energy sources, let us be reminded that energy from fossil fuels is killing people.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Possible breakthrough for hydrogen cars

This innovative method uses "dirty", unrefined biomass in a facility no larger than a gas station to produce hydrogen. You don't have the high capital cost of a central generation facility using natural gas nor the mass transportation and storage problem of hydrogen produced at a central facility. Instead the roadside facility can generate its own supply directly from feed material. The hydrogen produced is of high purity, perfect for hydrogen-based fuel cells.

Seven questions for presidential candidates

If one can't actually ask these questions of a candidate, one can at least try to ascertain what their answers might be from their history and current positions. I wonder if anyone will try that exercise.

  1. What’s the biggest crisis you’ve faced in your professional life and how did you handle it?
  2. What's the biggest personal crisis you’ve faced and how did you handle it?
  3. What’s your greatest political triumph?
  4. What’s your greatest governing triumph?
  5. What experience have you had that will serve you well as president?
  6. What historical presidential moment tells us the most about your vision of the office?
  7. Tell us a joke.  

$94,000 For Florist

Barronelle cashes in on her religiously-excused discrimination. A sweet deal if you can get it. Hmm, I wonder how many other ways one could milk the "defenders of Christian morality" for ready spending money without bumping up against the fraud laws. It looks like there's a pretty deep well of disposable greenbacks ready for the tapping.

Baby genes to be mapped at birth

My wife and I have already experienced health benefits from knowing our personal genetics. It looks like there is work being done to map everyone's genes at birth.
It can be a two-edged sword unless we have sufficient protections in our legal structure that prevent genetic discrimination. 

Sunday, April 05, 2015

About time

The New York chapter of the Boy Scouts hires the first openly gay staff member is scouting. This Eagle Scout will be serving as a summer camp leader.

College Tuition

Paul Campos in the NY Times takes a look at what has been driving tuition costs. And surprise, it isn't the number of students, faculty wages, or a host of other usual suspects.
a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Fukushima Disaster and Lessons Learned

The Tohuku earthquake and tsunami of 2011 resulted in 20,000 deaths and 300,000 people dislocated. But the Fukushima nuclear power plant played no part in those casualties.
But the real health and environmental impacts from the Fukushima reactors are nothing compared to the tsunami. Contrary to all the hype and fear, Fukushima is basically a large Superfund site. No one will die from Fukushima radiation, there will be no increased cancer rates, the food supply is not contaminated, the ocean nearby is not contaminated, most of the people can move back into their homes, and most of the other nuclear plants in Japan can start up just fine.
The dangerous part about living near Fukushima is that you would be living next to a tsunami-prone ocean.

Recently, some Fukushima students compared radiation levels in their hometown to those at a number of locations around the world. They found that there were plenty of highly-populated places France, Belarus, and Poland which had higher radiation levels. There will be no Fukushima death

The 350,000 tons of treated water from Fukushima that only contains tritium contamination
can safely be dumped into the ocean a little at a time. The key thing is to really, really dilute it. At easily achievable dilutions, the amount of tritium concentration will be comparable to what occurs naturally. And even with that level of dilution, the amount of tritium will continue to decline over a few decades as it undergoes decay with a half-life of 12 years.

No Defense

A newspaper that has always been quick to defend Scott Walker gives
no defense to allegations that he directly benefited from an enourmous corporate contribution.

At issue is over $1.5 million in donations made in 2012 to the Wisconsin Club for Growth (WCG), a group that defended the Governor during his 2012 recall election and is directed by Walker's campaign advisor, Yahoo News' Michael Isikoff reported on March 23. The donations were made by hardware store franchise owner John Menard Jr. According to Isikoff, in the years after Walker survived that recall election, Menard's business has benefited from "up to $1.8 million in special tax credits from a state economic development corporation that Walker chairs."

Cathy McMorris Rodgers Is Out of Step with Reality

McMorris-Rodgers asked her constituents to forward their tales of Obamacare failures. I'm sure she thought there would be an avalanche of them since this program is so baaaad. Instead she was inundated with statements of support for it. I wonder if she will continue to ignore her people and I wonder how it will take for her to pay the price for that and be retired from public office.

Breaking News for April

CERN researchers confirm existence of the Force. By carefully crunching the numbers from recent experiments, researchers at CERN have identified a new energy that acts in our universe.