Saturday, November 28, 2015

It's A Conspiracy!

Paul Krugman points out that when the Republican wring their hands about how tin hat looney Donald Trump someone needs to remind them that he is a monster they have created by acting as if all allegations have validity as long as they promote the desired agenda. Truthfulness is immaterial.

That Mysterious Star Again

 Following up on a previous post about a mysterious star, it turns out that there is a much more likely possibility, a family of comets. At the sound of hooves think horses, not zebras.

It's a Brave New World

I'm reminded of the Ender series of books by Orson Scott Card or the movie Gattaca. Those were stories and speculations but this is real. With CRISPR we now have gene splicing that can be exact, quick, and easy. While it may open up a whole new front on cures for scores of diseases, it could also become an ethical horror story. Where do you hope such power can lead? What do you fear about it? Could CRISPR be responsible for many future headlines?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Energy From Fossil Fuel Without Carbon Dioxide

This process extracts hydrogen from methane (natural gas) in a clean and efficient manner. It's a form of catalytic cracking similar to what is done when crude oil is refined into things like kerosene, diesel fuel, gasoline, and feedstocks for the chemical industry. Unlike previous methods, there is no carbon dioxide by-product. The by-product instead is solid black carbon which is chemically useful. Rather than catalysts, the method bubble methane through a liquid metal. When the bubbles pop on the surface, carbon is left on the surface of the liquid and hydrogen escapes into the reactor.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Real Story Of Thanksgiving

It seems the history of Thanksgiving involves plague, human trafficking, and assassination. About par for the course when it comes to European settlers and the indigenous inhabitants.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

This Is a Big Deal

The Blue Origins booster rocket just demonstrated a soft landing. After so many worthy efforts by so many different enterprises, Blue Origins gets it first. And it is a beautiful sight!

Inconvenient Truths for the Environmental Movement

While Republicans and conservatives deny climate change and build energy policy around fossil fuels, environmentalists have their own form of denial going on. Renewables need a reliable backup power so the question should always be wind and what, solar and what, etc. The most environmentally friendly backup power is nuclear.

Rotary Engine Delivers 75 Percent Thermal efficiency

A new rotary engine design delivers amazing efficiency. By going back to basic thermodynamics, LiquidPiston has developed an engine with a very high compression ratio that lets the fuel-air mixture burn completely at a constant volume. Then it is allowed to expand to near-atmospheric pressure. The result is a quiet diesel engine that does not need a muffler. And it doesn't need elaborate cooling because there isn't a great deal of waste heat.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hordes of Mexican Illegals? Not So Much

This makes the Southern border fence look all the more silly. It seems that 
more Mexicans have returned to Mexico in the last few years than have come to into the U.S.

Unintended Consequences

Sometimes it's better to do nothing. It seems the products used to disperse oil after the Deep Horizon blowout made it more difficult for microbes to clean it all up. All the oil dropped to the bottom and is just sitting there. It will sit there for a really long time.

Predicting Learning Capacity

For parents with young children, try this raisin test. Children who pass it successfully at 20-months-old will do well in school. Those who don't will have a bigger struggle.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Where Laws Really Come From

New software called Legislative Influence Detector has been developed which can analyze the language of a congressional bill and determine the origins of the text. 
To get the real story behind a bill, the software digs through 500,000 state bills, as well as thousands of pieces of text drafted by lobbyist groups that were saved into a database. An algorithm then calculates the top 100 documents most relevant to the bill in question before examining each one more closely, searching for passages the two have in common.
We can use this like the ads on NASCAR car drivers uniforms to see who has purchased the legislation in question. Unfortunately, we can't tell how much they paid for it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ted Cruz For President

Michael Brown gives his reasons for endorsing Ted Cruz.

  1. He is a man of unshakable, conservative moral convictions; 
  2. He is willing to take on the Washington establishment; 
  3. We need a radical shift in the direction of our country, and his team has asked me to help get out the evangelical vote.
Of course, no candidate can do it all.  A good candidate is dependent on God's help. Even scripture says that when good people lead, the nation prospers and when bad people lead, the nation suffers.

Michael says,
But in looking for the leader who most strongly fits my criteria – being unshakably pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-Israel; having a good handle on economic issues, immigration, and national security; and not being part of the political establishment – Senator Cruz comes out on top, and I genuinely believe he has a real possibility of making it all the way.
So if you value Mr Brown's opinion, Cruz is your guy.

But if you, on the other hand, think the likes of Michael Brown represents some of the most destructive ideas which would be just terrible for this country and the people who live in it, Cruz needs to be laughed out of public life.

Poor State Integrity

The Center for Public Integrity has scored all states on their legal structures in place to avoid political corruption. It turns out that no state performs well.  Most just suck, but some have some serious problems. It sounds like there are some real opportunities for improvement.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Job-Killing Obama

Just for fun, here's a graph that compares the change in private sector employment between the Bush years and the Obama years. It seems clears that, to whatever degree a president's policies influence job growth, both presidents had a inherited slump followed by a growth curve. The big difference is that Obama inherited a bigger slump that began during the Bush years and has delivered much better growth that has yet to level off.