atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#3450: The Tuesday political bloviation

Need to get back into the swing of things, so let's go:

* * *

We alllmost had a spotless day this year, with regards to the sun and its solar cycle.

* * *

Oh well, I guess we have to ban guns after all. The lead in ammunition is killing an endangered species.
That is likely the outcome that California authorities were hoping for when, in 2008, they instituted a ban on lead ammunition for hunting many species within the condor’s range in southern California. But when the researchers compared blood lead levels in condors before the ban (2006-2007) and after (2009-2010), they found no improvement.

The researchers are currently evaluating the ineffectiveness of the ban so far, including a look at whether hunters are fully complying with the new rule. Myra Finkelstein, a University of California-Santa Cruz researcher involved in the project, told Ars that “even if only a few people are still using lead ammunition, there will be enough contaminated carcasses to cause lead poisoning in a significant number of condors. We found that over the course of ten years, if just one half of one percent of carcasses have lead in them, the probability that each free-flying condor will encounter a contaminated carcass is 85 to 98 percent, and one exposure event could kill a condor.”
Know what my answer to this issue is?

I think you can guess.

If you guessed, "See ya! Wouldn't want to be ya!" you're RIGHT!

Actually, I've got another idea: let hunters use depleted uranium ammo. The projectile is just a method of carrying the energy of the exploding gunpowder to the target; it's the kinetic energy that does the damage. Lead's a good material because it's common, has a low melting point, is easily cast, and is really dense.

DU is much more dense. It's not nearly as soft as lead but it's much more dense. Bullets can be correspondingly smaller (and can be fit to the barrel with a discarding sabot made from eco-friendly biodegradable plastic) and won't give things lead poisoning. DU is entirely (or almost) U-238, which is an alpha emitting isotope; it's not any more radioactive than the animal you're shooting at.

It's more expensive than lead is, though.

So they say, "if lead was truly removed as an environmental hazard, the increase in condor health and survival should be substantially greater than modeled here."

...and elsewhere in the article: "Several birds had isotopic signatures similar to lead-based paint, and had been observed roosting in an old fire tower with peeling lead paint."

So even if you ban lead ammunition (what else will hunters use?) you still cannot eliminate lead as "an environmental hazard" without combing the entire state of California for lead paint and eliminating it.

And of course California is just rolling in dough. The state government has so much extra cash laying around they're having to rent warehouses to store it all!


Simple fact: species go extinct all the time. 90%--more--of the species which ever existed are extinct. I like how the same people who tell us that Darwin Is Right and it's all evolution and survival of the fittest...and then they interfere with the process by trying to keep around a species which has had its day.

* * *

S&P says there's a 20% chance of a double-dip. I say they're wrong. There's a 0% chance. Why?

The recession never ended, that's why. When the history of the Obama years is written they're going to call this what it is: a depression, and they're going to say things like, "Despite the lessons given by the Great Depression in the 20th century, leaders in the early 21st century WERE A BUNCH OF FUCKING MORONS AND DID EXACTLY THE SAME GODDAMNED STUPID SHIT AND THEN WERE SURPRISED WHEN THE SAME THINGS HAPPENED!"

...and that Ace post includes the Newsweak cover from April of 2010 saying, "America's Back! The REMARKABLE tale of our economic turnaround".

* * *

This Ace post discusses an article which talks about the feminist fantasy of "having it all"--career, family, etc--and makes the point that men have never "had it all".

Damn good point.

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I predicted this in 2008: "'Racist'? We elected a black President. STFU."
...President Obama won a larger percentage of the vote than Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and (though you probably don't want to bring this up in conversation with him) Bill Clinton.

Now it is true that you can go out in America and find people who would just never vote for a black person. But it's a lot harder than it was a generation or two ago, when most voters admitted to pollsters they would never vote for a black president.
The whole "America is racist" thing just doesn't have the traction it once did, and this is the case because Obama won the election.

He won the election, and has done an absolutely abysmal job of governing; that's why he's facing such an uphill battle in his quest for re-election. It's not racism; it's reality.

* * *

Three from Advice Goddess today:

Socialized medicine always ends up the same way. A bit of what she blockquotes:
So, as in all countries with socialized medicine, a two-tier system was created: one for the "gray masses" and the other, with a completely different level of service, for the bureaucrats and their intellectual servants. In the USSR, it was often the case that while workers and peasants were dying in the state hospitals, the medicine and equipment that could save their lives was sitting unused in the nomenklatura system.

...Socialized medical systems have not served to raise general health or living standards anywhere. In fact, both analytical reasoning and empirical evidence point to the opposite conclusion. But the dismal failure of socialized medicine to raise people's health and longevity has not affected its appeal for politicians, administrators, and their intellectual servants in search of absolute power and total control.
And she adds, "It's crony communism -- which is kind of how all communism turns out."

Oh no, not "kind of". It is how all communism and socialism turns out.

After all, Congress is exempt from ObamaCare. They keep their gold-plated insurance.

Then she's got two posts on the TSA:

1) TSA thug opens urn, spills ashes, laughs about it. Yeah, you're one of the brown blue shirts, so it's okay for you to be a callous asshole while exceeding your authority. TSA personnel aren't allowed to open urns and the like, but this twit did anyway because "we have to make sure you're not a terrist or something!"

2) They're not just in the airports, either. Nope! They're on Amtrak, too. Soon they'll be in bus stations and highway rest stops, and in the latter case everyone will have to stop and be searched, because "We're here to protect you from terrism!"


* * *

Another excellent Borepatch post on climate science. "...[W]e simply cannot know whether the climate is warming or cooling, because the data has been so manipulated as to be no longer reliable."

* * *

We're told that the Democrats are raking in the campaign cash, but they're taking steps to economize on major campaign events this year. I wonder why that is?

One possibility is that they are taking in record amounts, but they've realized that Obama's a losing proposition and therefore are trying to save money for later, when conditions are more favorable.

I didn't say it was likely, only that it's possible.

* * *

For years SF has had machine-brain interfaces because the electrical nature of the brain means we ought to be able to use a computer to interpret those electrical signals. The problem is knowing how to interpret those signals in a useful way. It could give Stephen Hawking the ability to control his wheelchair and speech synthesizer merely by thinking. And, by extension, others with similar afflictions.

We could then build him a one-man tank with machine guns and robot arms and turn him into a Dalek! How cool would that be? "EX-TER-MIN-ATE! Incidentally, if a quantum black hole absorbs half of a virtual particle pair it will appear to emit radiation and therefore will evaporate over time...."


* * *

I have said, several times, that enriching uranium is such a difficult thing to accomplish that the Manhattan Project built Oak Ridge, Tennesee, to do it.

Here are pictures of Oak Ridge during WW2.

Picture 6 features the control panels for about 24 calutrons--mass spectrometers--which separate the U-235 atoms from the U-238 atoms quite literally one atom at a time. There were many, many more than 24 calutrons operating in the Y-12 plant.

#8 mentions that the calutron bus bars were silver. That's because copper was in short supply; the Manhattan Project borrowed silver from the US Treasury until the war was over, and eventually the silver bus bars were replaced with copper.

* * *

I told you! I told you! Karl Denninger says Congress is thinking about delaying sequestration.

One of the big selling points of the "compromise" bullshit from last autumn was that if Congress did nothing, automatic budget cuts would happen ("sequestration") and the federal budget would get cut that way.

At the time I said that those cuts would never happen; Congress would simply pass a measure to undo them. And now, here we have Congress saying that they'll "delay" the implementation of sequestration for "just a few months".

Yeah, sure. And as March 2013 approaches, it'll get delayed another few months, and eventually--after the public has forgotten about it--it'll be repealed.

I was right.

* * *

Another from Denninger: Richmond Fed continues the bad news from the Philly Fed last week. "...[W]orkweek contracted, and new orders and backlog both collapsed. Shipments and capacity both are negative and prices received are not holding up."

Recession's a-comin'! That is to say, the ongoing recession is steepening past the government's ability to sweep it under the rug.

* * *

Denninger's take on the "Orbitz charges Mac users more" story, linked solely because of this quote:
If you were dumb enough to pay twice as much for a computer with zero serviceability, especially when all portable computers include a battery that has a known service life but you can't replace it, and you willingly and intentionally subjected yourself to this, you're also likely to overpay for something as simple as a place to sleep.
Stupid is as stupid does!

* * *

I love the comments at this FML post. Here's the text:
Today, my parents felt the need to lecture me about how people who "smoke the reefer" are a "waste of life" and will never amount to anything. I was baked during the entire conversation, and actually ended up breaking down in tears, because I realized they were totally right. FML
The comments from the pro-weed folks are very funny in their own right, but then there's this one:

"For the record, Obama 'smoked the reefer' quite frequently when he was young, and well he isn't exactly amounting to nothing."

...except for being the worst President since Carter. Worse than Carter. Other than that, he's perfect and his use of weed has not impared, uh, his, his, uhh, um, uh, his ability to, uh, um, uh, uhh, speak without a, um, uh, uhh, umm, teleprompter.

Lots of comments claim George Washington grew weed, that it was his biggest crop. Hemp is used to make rope. GW wasn't sitting around with Thomas Jefferson firing up bongs; they were producing raw materials for the rope-making industry.

This one is sad: "Heyy b'y, I'm a stoner chick whos getting an 85 average, I mean like hello university right? Your opinion's yours, but don't assume every stoner can't do well in life... But peace man"

I wonder what she'd be getting if she weren't fouling her brain with THC every day? "Your opinion's yours, man!" I'd wager she is not getting an 85 average in engineering or pre-medicine....

Say it again: the New Prohibition has failed miserably and the War on Drugs is doing nothing but enriching a bunch of thugs. (Exactly the way the prohibition of alcoholic beverages worked in the 1930s.)

I don't think marajuana should be illegal. This clearly hasn't done jack shit, and anyway what about liberty?

Ultimately I think it's fucking stupid to smoke pot, because if you smoke it (or use other recreational drugs) you're doing so specifically to become intoxicated, period, full stop, end of list.

You don't smoke weed to enjoy the flavor, unlike certain methods of tobacco use, or the various flavors of ethanol. Smoking pot is essentially the same as hooking up a dilute solution of ethanol to an IV and letting it drip into your veins. You smoke pot to get high and that means intoxicated.

True, tobacco contains nicotine, which has certain palliative effects on the human nervous system. But you don't get high on it the way you do with THC.

Ultimately I think marajuana use will be demonstrated to be worse for you than tobacco use.

A bunch of people defend weed use claiming that Carl Sagan used it, that Steve Jobs used it, etc etc. Well, Steve Jobs died of cancer, and pot's indicated for palliative care of terminal cancer cases in California, but still--even if he used it before he got cancer, how does that compare to the average user of marajuana in the United States?

How much weed did Jobs smoke compared to a typical weed user? Did he toke up and get baked to the gills every day, or did he have a single joint once in a while? Frequency and duration of use are major factors, and they don't equate.

If you focus your life on getting high you're going to be a complete waste of protoplasm. If you go to work every day and work hard, and have a single joint in the evening to relax, your outcome will be slightly different from that nether standard. In both cases you "smoke every day" but that's where the similarities end.

So if you say, "I smoke weed every day and I'm successful!" it doesn't mean everyone who smokes it is a success story. And, sad to say, there are a hell of a lot more wasteoids out there than there are successful people who have a bit of it to relax after work.

That is just the law of averages.

So put me down in the "It should be legal but you're a moron for using it" category. I'm glad the kid, at least, realized that his parents are right about his habitual pot use.

* * *

New motorcycle owner does two stupid things in this picture.

The first one is trying to cram his bike into a parking space with another bike. That's not how you do it. I know the guy is thinking, "Well, instead of taking up another whole space I'll just share this one," but that's simply not the way you do it.

Second? Look where he's stored his helmet: dangling by its strap from the handlebars. There's two reasons this is moronic.

1) Someone could steal it pretty f-ing easily. It really doesn't take much--just walk past and casually lift the thing off, and walk away. But more importantly:

2) It could fall off.

If the helmet falls off there--never mind why or how--after it hits the pavement it's worthless and must be replaced.

A modern motorcycle helmet is a precision piece of engineering. The thing is designed to absorb impact destructively; when it hits something the inner foam is meant to distort and/or come apart in such a way as to maximize the acceleration time. It's meant to take, say, a 200 millisecond impact and turn it into, maybe, an 800 millisecond impact. This lessens the acceleration experienced by the head inside that helmet, thus preventing injury (or at least lessening the severity of injury). The shell is meant primarily to spread the impact across a larger surface area, thus reducing the probability of a skull fracture.

If you drop a helmet from that height, there is no way to know if it has been damaged. Casual inspection can tell you nothing. Did the shell crack? Has the foam been distorted in any way? Did something happen to the adhesive securing foam to shell, so that at a critical moment it might shift?

There's no way to tell. You can't take it apart to inspect it and you don't have an X-ray machine in your house--and even if you did, what the hell do you know about the stress characteristics of composite materials? Unless you're an expert at composite engineering, chances are you don't know what to look for.

And so, if you drop it even from waist high, you've taken a helmet costing $100-$200-$300 and converted it into trash. If you want to risk it, you go ahead and use it--but don't come crying to me if you slam your head into a '57 Buick and the helmet fails. I'm the guy who told you to throw it away and buy a new one.

A half-helmet like the one in the pic probably costs around $90-$150. Still--have you got even $90 to throw away? I didn't think so. Me neither--which is why I handle my helmet like gold leaf and always make sure it can't roll or fall before I take my hands off it.

Most bikes come with a friggin' helmet lock bolted to the frame and you're an idiot if you don't use it. Me, I either put the helmet into the trunk, or I carry it with me.

* * *

Couple nuclear power thingies from Rod Adams:

First he reviews a book which is supposed to be pro-nuclear but has a bunch of anti-nuclear nonsense in it. One of the things mentioned is a ship meant to carry "yellowcake", uranium ore--which is 0.7% U-235 and is therefore primarily an alpha emitter. Quoth Adams:
...[S]tarts off with a description of a ship named the Altona, which was transporting natural uranium in its mined, oxide form called yellowcake (U3O8). The ship ran into some weather and some of the containers holding the yellowcake broke open, spilling some of the contents inside the hold.

For some unexplained reason, Martin described that incident as some kind of near miss. He also claimed that the ship was carrying “770,000 tons” of uranium yellowcake. A quick search of the vast resources at our fingertips reveals that the world’s total production of yellowcake in 2011 was 63,000 tons and that the world’s largest ship displaces about 565,000 tons. Perhaps that should have been 770,000 POUNDS, not tons. That is just one of many technical errors,...
The book is apparently an anti-nuclear screed masquerading as a pro-nuclear one. It proclaims that thorium is the only safe nuclear system.

How convenient that even if we started working on commercializing thorium reactors now it would be at least a decade (probably longer) before the first commercial thorium power reactor could even start construction.

Here Adams discusses what he thinks the book is actually about: "Though Martin has published a book that purportedly is pronuclear, I believe it is actually a well conceived effort to encourage fratricide that will support the hydrocarbon establishment."

And then he says this:
Thorium thinkers, please let me clue you in. Uranium is not your enemy. Thorium does not work as a fuel without substantial quantities of either U-235 or Pu-239 to provide the neutron flux that turns your favorite element into an isotope that will fission to release almost exactly the same amount of heat per unit mass as fissioning either uranium or plutonium. Thorium, like its neighbors on the periodic table, produces that heat without releasing any CO2, NOx, SOx, mercury or fly ash.
Thorium power will naturally develop from a robust uranium power industry.

Problem is, we don't have that robust uranium power industry. We've got a couple of government agencies (EPA and NRC) which are extremely hostile to nuclear power: if the FAA were that hostile to air travel, a ticket from NY to LA would cost $10,000 and require that you give a year's notice, complete a ream of paperwork, perform an environmental impact study, get approval from three committees, and defeat a lawsuit before you could board the airplane.

We need to be generating more than 20% of our electricity with nuclear reactors before people start wondering if there's a cheaper way to do it. Make it economically worthwhile to do the R&D the thorium cycle still needs, and then you'll see it take off.

* * *

Ann Barnhardt says this today: "Europe alone is sitting on $70 trillion in unrepayable bank and sovereign debt. That $70 trillion in unrepayable, bad debt is ITSELF the collateral on at least $700 trillion in derivatives. And that is JUST EUROPE. For perspective, the GDP of the United States is $15 trillion, and the GDP of the entire planet is $63 trillion."

I wish she'd get a real linkable blog instead of what she's got there.

* * *

Jon's really losing it now:


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