blueollie

When the going gets tough, the Republicans….run away

Tax cuts for the rich don’t created jobs!

April 30, 2011 Posted by | economics, economy, politics, politics/social, republican party, republicans, republicans politics | Leave a comment

5K Run

This morning I ran a 5K in 25:30. The day: somewhat windy, but temperatures in the mid 50′s (perfect).

I warmed up on the track and did hip hikes, piriformis stretches and walked/jogged for 1 mile, then ran .5 miles then jogged just a bit more.

Lots of people were there: Tracy, Mat, Tony, Mike, Herb and Alberto (to name a few).

I started off somewhat slowly and Lori (a lovely spandex clad sociology professor) ran the first 1.25 miles with me. It was a pity to leave her but I think that she started a bit too quickly.

As for me: I just kept it steady; Mat was leaving the circle as I was entering. I didn’t look at my watch that much except to see when I was at 12-13 minutes.

I didn’t really tire out; I honestly don’t see why I can’t run at least some of my training runs at this pace. But this was a steady effort.

I’ll post photos when I get them.

Note: my shoulder, knee and piriformis left me alone. :)
My time, while not good (about 1 minute slower than 2 years ago), was better than what my mid week work-outs lead me to expect. This may be delusional, but I really think that I might work up to holding this pace for 10K by fall.

April 30, 2011 Posted by | running, time trial/ race | Leave a comment

30 April 2011 am

Well, later I’ll run (or attempt to run) a university 5K. It is in honor of a friend who died of cancer last year.
Though it is not raining, it is windy (20 mph, gusts to 25 mph); we’ve just had so much wind around here. True, we haven’t had the monster storms that have pounded the states and regions south of us. But the weather has been unstable all year long.

I’ve read conclusions of the “this is due to climate change” variety. Of course, isolated storms or weird weather is NOT in and of it self evidence of climate change. But having a long period in which one averages far more storms than normal would be evidence.

So many, including those who accept the fact that we’ve had climate change, don’t understand the difference between weather (what we see when we look out the window) and climate (long term average of the affects).

Posts

The President speaks of energy and subsidies for oil and gas companies.

The Senate: beware of these compromise bills which are really just about embracing what the Republicans want:

That’s the proposal emerging in the Senate from Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee and also Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri. It would get the deficit down not by raising taxes on the rich but by capping federal spending.

If Congress failed to stay under the cap, the budget would be automatically cut.

According to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the McCaskill/Corker plan would require $800 billion of cuts in 2022 alone. That’s the equivalent of eliminating Medicare entirely, or the entire Department of Defense.

Obviously the Defense Department wouldn’t disappear, so what would go? Giant cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education, and much of everything else Americans depend on.

It’s the Republican plan with lipstick. It would have the same exact result. But by disguising it with caps and procedures, Republicans can avoid saying what they’re intending to do.

President Obama: no, he isn’t a Republican:

Rather than being an early 1990s moderate Republican, Mr. Obama is a prototypical, early 2010s Democrat. And although a 2010s Democrat shares more in common with a 1990s Republican than with the Republicans of today, they are still far from alike. [...]

A system called DW-NOMINATE, developed by a group of six political scientists, rates each member of Congress on a scale from negative 1 (very liberal on economic issues) to positive 1 (very conservative) based on their roll call votes. The system also creates a score for each president based on cases in which the outcome he desired from a vote in Congress was clearly articulated.

According to the system, the score for the average Democrat in the 111th Congress was -0.382 (negative 0.382), although there was a fairly significant range, from very liberal Democrats like Dennis Kucinich (-0.612) and Barbara Lee (-0.743) to moderates like Heath Shuler (-0.100) and Ben Nelson (-0.030).

Mr. Obama’s score of -0.399 was very close to the average, splitting the difference between his party’s liberal and moderate wings. Mr. Obama typically does leave some room to his left. On initiatives ranging from health care to financial regulation, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, as well as many liberal bloggers, thinkers, and activists, have complained that his positions concede too much to the Republicans. But Mr. Obama’s positions also generally draw some complaints from moderate, Blue Dog Democrats, and do not always win their votes.

I’ll repost a chart from this Nate Silver article, but I highly recommend reading all of it:

More Politics: Here is an article about Ron Paul and how he does NOT run away from financial support from KKK-Neo Nazi types. It is true that this support is only a small fraction of his support and that, in general, his supporters don’t approve of the KKK-racist points of view. But Mr. Paul doesn’t give them their money back either though he does say that he doesn’t approve of them:

Such is the luxury of those who have no chance of winning. :)

April 30, 2011 Posted by | 2012 election, Barack Obama, economics, economy, environment, Peoria, Peoria/local, political/social, politics, politics/social, running | Leave a comment

Dr. Andy’s April 2011 Links

Dr. Andy was kind enough to share some very interesting links with me. Here they are:

IQ tests: what do they measure?
I am reading Guns, Germs and Steelby Jared Diamond. In that book he talks about why certain societies developed at greatly different rates than others (factors: native plants that were suitable to be farmed, animals that could be domesticated, suitable deep water ports for trading, the flow of ideas, etc.). He attacks the idea that certain groups of people evolved vastly different intellectual abilities.
Of course, there ARE significant differences in IQ scores across groups of people. So what are these scores measuring?
Intelligence is a factor…but so is motivation to do well:

ScienceNOW – Up to the minute news from Science
What Does IQ Really Measure?
by Michael Balter

Effort helps makes you smart? Kids who are more highly motivated on IQ tests achieve higher scores.

Kids who score higher on IQ tests will, on average, go on to do better in conventional measures of success in life: academic achievement, economic success, even greater health, and longevity. Is that because they are more intelligent? Not necessarily. New research concludes that IQ scores are partly a measure of how motivated a child is to do well on the test. And harnessing that motivation might be as important to later success as so-called native intelligence. [...]

New work, led by Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, and reported online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explores the effect of motivation on how well people perform on IQ tests. While subjects taking such tests are usually instructed to try as hard as they can, previous research has shown that not everyone makes the maximum effort. A number of studies have found that subjects who are promised monetary rewards for doing well on IQ and other cognitive tests score significantly higher.

To further examine the role of motivation on both IQ test scores and the ability of IQ tests to predict life success, Duckworth and her team carried out two studies, both reported in today’s paper. First, they conducted a “meta-analysis” that combined the results of 46 previous studies of the effect of monetary incentives on IQ scores, representing a total of more than 2000 test-taking subjects. The financial rewards ranged from less than $1 to $10 or more. The team calculated a statistical parameter called Hedge’s g to indicate how big an effect the incentives had on IQ scores; g values of less than 0.2 are considered small, 0.5 are moderate, and 0.7 or higher are large.

Duckworth’s team found that the average effect was 0.64 (which is equivalent to nearly 10 points on the IQ scale of 100), and remained higher than 0.5 even when three studies with unusually high g values were thrown out. Moreover, the effect of financial rewards on IQ scores increased dramatically the higher the reward: Thus rewards higher than $10 produced g values of more than 1.6 (roughly equivalent to more than 20 IQ points), whereas rewards of less than $1 were only one-tenth as effective.
[...]

Of course motivation isn’t the only factor; a bored Stephen Hawking would do better on any test of intellectual ability than I would, no matter how much you paid me. :)

Consequences of free trade:
There is a reasonable conjecture that unrestricted free trade is what doomed the American Bison. You had a huge demand for the hide and then a (then) new way of tanning the hide and making it into a commodity that could be sold. I wouldn’t call this article “anti-capitalism” but rather “why some regulation can be a good thing.”

World Hunger I’ve heard some of these ideas, but the idea behind this article is this: world hunger is more complicated than you think, and those who are deemed “hungry” often spend their money on inessential things. Bottom line: to many, boring life is probably not worth living.

April 29, 2011 Posted by | economics, education, Friends, science, social/political, world events | Leave a comment

But it worked when Chuck Norris said it in a movie!!!

Is this guy a perfect Republican or what? :)

April 29, 2011 Posted by | 2012 election, moron, morons, political humor, politics, Republican, republican party, republican senate minority leader, republicans | Leave a comment

29 April 2011 Midlife crisis edition (sports)

Blogging will be light until my grading is done and the grass is cut (we’ve got a break in the weather here from our record setting rainfall).

I’ve got some links from Dr. Andy to share when I get back to posting.

This morning I managed a slowish hilly 3 mile walk in Bradley Park; it was fun but my left piriformis muscle is barking at me…again.
The problem: I added the long walks and didn’t back off of doing squats…in fact I strove for deeper depth in the squats without being nice and lose first.
So I’ll have to lay off of those and perhaps do leg extensions, curls and push-backs for a while (standing glute machine exercises).

And yes, I had a brief episode of shoulder pain last night (“heavy” lat pull-downs?)

Increasing entropy is taking its toll on me. :)

But I’ll just say what is on my mind: yesterday at yoga, some younger women (in their 20′s?) showed up; they were wearing the very clingy, very tight spandex tights. I noticed their bodies…and yeah, they were very different than the bodies of the older “fit” women. Sure, they were new to yoga and from what I can see, their poses left a lot to be desired. But their bodies have a “tautness” that the bodies of older women don’t have, and their butts are smaller and less spread.

Then I thought about me..and what my body looks like compared to those younger men who lift in the university gym. The difference is stark. Their muscles bulge; mine sag. They handle 225 on the bench; I barely budge up 135 on the incline. Yes, I did hit 210 last year, but it about broke my shoulder; I’ve switched to the incline press as it is easier on my right bicep tendon.

The younger guys are lifting to get stronger; I lift to slow the rate of my decline (their first derivative of strength is positive; on the other hand I am trying to keep my second derivative positive).

Oh well; that is what it is about at my age; I have to balance what I enjoy with what doesn’t hurt my body. That is why I’ve had to give up (at least for now) my beloved pull-ups and bench press and instead do incline presses and lat-pull-downs.

I also have to make choices; I can no longer attempt to train for both a long walk and a long run. If I walk long, I have to keep the runs short.
If I walk long and if I walk and run hills, I have to do away with the squats.

Plans for 2011 (subject to injuries, etc)
1. Resume swimming (a little at a time)
2. Run a few 5K races
3. Prepare for a walking marathon (Quad Cities?).
Injuries permitting, I’ll plan on one “long interval workout”, one “10 mile at pace” workout, and one long walk (18-20 miles) every week; I’ll shoot to break 5:14 (12 minutes per mile pace).
4. Yoga: shoot to get into headstand with straight legs and to get into the peacock feather pose.

April 29, 2011 Posted by | Navel Staring, running, sports, walking, weight training, whining, yoga | Leave a comment

28 April 2011 PM

Workout notes Yoga with Lynn at Ms. Vickie’s class in the morning, then weights and a hilly 4 mile walk in the afternoon.
I was bothered slightly by vertigo at yoga (not serious) and I had difficulty getting into headstand. Then my exit was downright revolting. :)
Of course, it didn’t help that there were young women with very low cut tops right behind me…remember that they were leaning forward and I was upside down.

Noon: weights;
Squats: 10 x 45, then 4 sets of 10 x 135 (two with a narrow stance, two with a medium stance). I focused on getting lower; I tried to reach the “sticking point” each time. These were free; no Smith machine.
Rotator cuff
Incline bench: 10 x 115, 5 x 135, 5 x 135, 9 x 125
Curls: barbell: two sets of 10 x 62 (two 10s on each side) “preacher”; 1 set of 10 x 25 lb. with the dumbbells
Pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 140 (shoulder friendly grip)
Rows: 2 sets of 10 x 200 (wide grip), 10 x 230 narrow grip.
Sit ups (4 x 25 changed the incline)

Then I walked a 4 mile course (220 feet of climb) in 59 minutes; this was a subset of my 4.2 mile home course. It was chilly and windy.

Posts

Snark: this is funny; here is how it starts out:

Looks Like Trump’s Right: How the Hell Did This President Get Into Those Ivy League Schools?
Politics

- “The dean looked over Barack’s transcript and college boards and then suggested in a kindly way that he apply to some less competitive colleges in addition to Columbia.”

- “There were no class rankings at his high school, but Barack never made honor roll even one term, unlike 110 boys in his class.”

- “His SAT scores were 566 for the verbal part and 640 for math. Those were far below the median scores for students admitted to his class at Columbia: 668 verbal and 718 math.”

- “At Columbia, Barack Obama distinguished himself primarily as a hard partier, and he managed to be detained by police twice during his university years: once for stealing a Christmas wreath as a fraternity prank and once for trying to tear down the goalposts during a football game at Princeton.”

- “Obama’s transcript at Columbia shows that he was a solid C student. [...]

Surf to the article to see the conclusion….if you know me at all you KNOW where this is headed….

While we are on the ridiculous “birther” stuff, Leonard Pitts sums it up very well:

Criticize him to your heart’s content. Give him hell over Libya. Blast him about Guantanamo. Knock him silly on health care reform. He is the president; taking abuse is part of his job description.

But this ongoing birther garbage, like the ongoing controversy about his supposed secret Muslim identity, is not about criticism. It is not about what he has done but, rather, what he is. [...]

Obama provided his birth certificate and its authenticity has repeatedly been vouched for by Hawaiian officials.

This, even though, if there were the slightest chance he was ineligible for the presidency, opposition researchers working for his opponents would have shredded him like an old bank statement.

This, even though his Aug. 4, 1961, birth was noted by contemporaneous birth announcements in not one but two Hawaii newspapers. What’d he do? Jump in a time machine, zip back to the ’60s and plant the notices? [...]

Frankly, I wish Trump and his fellow birthers would just go ahead and call Obama an N-word. Yes, it would be reprehensible and offensive.

But it would be a damn sight more honest, too.

Disclaimer: yes, every time I say something like this or this or this “is racist” some dull witted conservative whines “every time I criticize Obama, you pull out the race card.”

Politics: 2012 race
Here is Karl Rove’s take on the 2012 race (for what it is worth):

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is now up and operating. It’s an interesting amalgam: Tactically, it’s Bushian—but strategically, it’s Nixonian.

The Obama approach copies the tactical emphasis of President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election effort. On Monday, Mr. Obama’s manager Jim Messina told volunteers that the campaign would focus on “expanding the electorate . . . growing the grass roots . . . measuring progress; and working for every vote.” With his emphasis on metrics and growing the electorate, Mr. Messina sounded a lot like Mr. Bush’s 2004 campaign manager, Ken Mehlman, outlining the Bush campaign’s re-election priorities. (That strategy worked: Mr. Bush got 25% more votes in ’04 than he did in 2000.)

A metric-driven approach that relies on grass-roots volunteers will serve Mr. Obama well, especially compared to the Democrats’ 2004 campaign, which emphasized paid canvassers recruited from temp agencies and union halls. Voters know the difference between a personal appeal from a passionate volunteer and a pro-forma pitch from someone more interested in a check than a cause.

But Mr. Obama is making a mistake by following the advice of President Richard Nixon, who argued White House hopefuls must run to their party’s flank in the primary and tack back to the center for the general election. While Mr. Obama doesn’t face a primary challenge, the White House is worried about the intensity of the Democratic base and feels compelled to feed it red meat now.

He goes on to say why this is a bad strategy and is based on what he thinks are “false assumptions”. But his conclusion is a masterpiece of irony:

But that moment is lost. It’s clear Mr. Obama likes campaigning more than governing. And for this president, campaigning means knocking down straw men and delivering a steady stream of misleading attacks. It means depicting opponents as indecent, heartless people who take special delight in targeting seniors and autistic children. It means basking in the adulation of a partisan crowd rather than engaging in the difficult work of passing bipartisan legislation.

Since Mr. Obama can’t make an affirmative case for his re-election, he has decided to try convincing voters that Republicans are monstrous. As a result, America is likely to see the most negative re-election campaign ever mounted by a sitting president.

How ironic is that? Anyone for Swift boating??? I am thinking of pots and kettles.
Besides, Republican governors are making Republicans look like monsters; all we have to do is point.

Bottom line: the Republicans would take us toward another Gilded Age and NOT see that as a bad thing.

Science
This is interesting. Recovering addicts are told to avoid their old hang-outs; there are too many associations with the substance that they used to abuse. This is how it works, in theory:

Pavlovian memories
Addictive drugs cause dopamine neurons, which synthesize and store the neurotransmitter dopamine, to release it, signaling to other brain areas to take note of the context surrounding the drug—the better to replicate the experience in the future. “We can think of those neurons that release dopamine as ‘teachers’ that tell other brain areas, the ‘students,’ to learn the associations surrounding rewards such as food, sex and addictive drugs,” Morikawa explains. In essence, alcohol and other addictive drugs help the “teachers” teach better.

Morikawa emphasizes that the study does not show that alcohol improves “conscious” forms of learning and memory—a fact that could be corroborated by many a college freshman. Indeed, alcohol use is known to cause both acute and lasting damage to cognitive function.

The type of learning that alcohol and other addictive drugs may promote is best described as “subconscious” reward-based conditioning, much like the classic example of Pavlov’s dog. Just as the dog learns to associate the sound of a bell with food (a reward), a person may similarly associate a particular street corner in his hometown with cocaine use. After much repetition the dog salivates at the sound of a bell, and a cocaine addict craves a hit when he returns to the old hangout. The new insight from Morikawa’s work is that alcoholics may be more vulnerable to reward-based conditioning—meaning they would learn new cravings sooner.

Earlier work by Morikawa’s lab, also on mice, showed that repeated amphetamine use has a similar positive effect on reward-based conditioning. Morikawa expects likewise from other addictive drugs, such as opiates and nicotine—the common thread: increased dopamine levels.

There was a study done with mice. Surf to the article to see how the study was set up. But here is the finding:

After two cocaine injections the mice were again allowed to freely explore the compartments. The mice that had a week of saline injections increased their stay in the compartment where they had received cocaine by 7 percent. But the mice that had a week of ethanol injections—the “hard-drinkers”—lingered in their cocaine compartments much longer, increasing their time there by 14 percent. One week of heavy alcohol intake had increased the mice’s ability to remember the context of a rewarding experience. The heightened potential for synaptic plasticity was temporary, lasting between a week and a month after ethanol injections stopped, according to the researchers.

So this effect appears to be real!

April 28, 2011 Posted by | 2012 election, Barack Obama, economics, economy, health, political/social, politics, politics/social, racism, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, science, training, walking, weight training, yoga | Leave a comment

America Needs to See Obama’s Report Cards – The Colbert Report – 4/27/11 – Video Clip | Comedy Central

ColbertNation.com video – Barack Obama releases his long-form birth certificate, but Donald Trump wants the president’s Occidental records.

America Needs to See Obama’s Report Cards – The…, posted with vodpod

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Barack Obama, political humor, politics, republicans | Leave a comment

Mitt Romney’s “Peacetime” Gaffe – The Colbert Report – 4/26/11 – Video Clip | Comedy Central

ColbertNation.com video – Haley Barbour ends his daring presidential campaign, and Mitt Romney nails Obama on a peacetime spending binge.

Mitt Romney’s “Peacetime” Gaffe – The Colbert R…, posted with vodpod

April 27, 2011 Posted by | 2012 election, humor, Mitt Romney, political humor, republicans | Leave a comment

27 April 2011: non workout stuff

Posts for the day:
This is the Obama reelection plan. We’ll see how it works. Things that we can’t control: gas prices and the quality of the Republican opposition.

Note: yes, the President released his “long form” birth certificate. I think that this is a master-stroke. Why? Well, the “birthers” will scream about how the certificate “looks faked” or “is fake”; remember that NOTHING will satisfy them. One can say the same for those who discount his academic success as “affirmative action”.

I have to admit that I have a couple of things to say about those who question the President’s academic credentials:
1. This impugns the academic integrity of every one of his professors…and does so without evidence.
2. Who CARES what Pat Buchanan thinks? The man is no intellectual giant…in fact he is a creationist idiot.

Humor
I don’t know where this was taken but this is sooooo Peoria:

epic fail photos - Walking The Dog FAIL
see more funny videos, and check out our Yo Dawg lols!

Back to politics

2012 Election
With President Obama so vulnerable, you’d think that the GOP 2012 field would be like a shark tank. But it isn’t; many are reluctant to run.
The problems: money (it takes a lot of it), a gross loss of privacy (more so in the youtube era), and, well, it is hard:

Haley Barbour’s decision to forgo a run for the presidency in 2012 puts him in the company of a half-dozen top Republicans who have considered — and rejected — a challenge to President Obama next year.

The question is: why? [...]

But the publicly stated reasons often mask other considerations as politicians consider whether to run for president. Here are five reasons why some of the Republican Party’s brightest stars might be opting for the sidelines this year.

1. Biden. If Mr. Obama wins re-election, there is almost zero chance that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. would run for the presidency in 2016, [...]

2. The economy. Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have dipped below 50 percent, but he remains personally popular and by many calculations the economy appears to be improving — if slowly.[...]

3. Money. Mr. Obama is expected in some quarters to raise $1 billion for his re-election campaign, [...]

4. The Tea Party. The emergence of the Tea Party movement as a force inside the Republican Party requires potential presidential candidates to pick sides in an intraparty philosophical struggle. [...]

5. The media glare. [...]

Now gas prices might be the card that trumps “the economy”. But factor 3 is interesting. The fact is that much of the Republican base is loud, obnoxious and intellectually retarded. Who wants to pander to THAT rabble? Also, the tea party might do to the GOP what it did to the GOP in Delaware: it might knock out a credible candidate and replace him (her?) with an idiot.

In all honesty, along with Mr. Pawlenty, Mr. Romney and Mr. Daniels, a moderate female such as Condoleezza Rice or Christine Todd Whitman might be formidable. I wonder if one of those two ladies would be on a running mate shortlist.

Economic Issues
No, the “growth in government spending” that is projected isn’t due to the growth of governmental programs; as Paul Krugman says, “Obama didn’t cause the baby boom”:

Rather than addressing these facts directly, Taylor now claims that Obama must have expanded government, because his budget projected spending of 24 percent of GDP in 2021, up from 19.6 percent in 2007, before the crisis struck.

But the great bulk of this projected rise has nothing whatsoever to do with Obama’s policies.

Let’s compare the CBO projections for 2021(pdf) with the historical data (pdf) for 2007. The projections shows spending rising from 19.6 percent of GDP to 24 percent; what’s behind that?

The answer:

So, Social Security is up. That has nothing to do with Obama, who hasn’t changed the program at all; it’s just demography, the baby boomers retiring.

Medicare is also up. Obama actually cut funds from Medicare, a fact trumpeted by Republicans. Nonetheless, projected spending is up, both because of demography and because of rising health costs.

Medicaid is up. Some of that is due to the expansion in the Affordable Care Act, but much of it is just more demography — most Medicaid funds are spent on the elderly and disabled — plus health care costs.

And net interest is up because of recent and current deficits, largely the result of the Great Recession.

The bottom line is that using 2021 projections to claim that Obama has massively expanded government is nonsense.

Medicare: no, “the magical market” isn’t the answer (hat tip: Lynn, by walking partner and yoga buddy)

Our faith in the power of the free market to solve our problems got a big endorsement from Congressman Paul Ryan. The Republican from Wisconsin believes there’s nothing so wrong with Medicare’s soaring spending that robust competition can’t fix. He’s proposed to shift Medicare clients to private insurance coverage by 2022, with the government chipping in the first $11,000 for most people.

The government’s cost would be capped. That’s where you derive the savings. Under the Ryan Plan–a pessimist might call it Ryan’s Hope–so many companies will be rushing in to provide health insurance to aging boomers that the competition should keep the price of premiums from rising much. “There’s no evidence of that,” says Yale School of Management professor Fiona Scott Morton. “There really isn’t. We have many uninsured people who are paying out of pocket for things, and it’s not driving down prices.”

[...]

Nowhere in the Adam Smith rule book does it say that prices have to come down every time new competitors show up. We tend to forget what a price does: it’s a mechanism for balancing supply and demand. It’s not necessarily price’s job to make steel less expensive. Price is about making steel available.

[...]
In health care, the consumer is at a disadvantage. The issue is called substitutability. We’re really good at picking out the most suitable of four available cereals or cars to meet our needs. We’re not good at substitution when it comes to health care. How qualified are you to evaluate the thousands of doctors in the area where you live? It’s also hard to shop for an orthopedic surgeon after you’ve just broken your leg.

Under the Ryan Plan, price could play a completely unintended role: it could ration demand rather than expand coverage. “This Republican plan is not solving the problem,” says Morton, an expert in competitive strategy. “It’s solving the problem of the cost of government’s health care. You’ll have people who can’t afford it. They’ll just die.” Economists call that demand shedding. That too is a market-based solution.

Nuclear Power
One of the issues with the nuclear industry is that, well, it is unlike other industries. Safety standards have to be merciless (as they are in the Navy nuclear power program). Judging safety is a job for experts. But who are the experts? By and large…they are the people already in the industry or people who have an interest in seeing the industry flourish. Hence there is a huge potential for conflict of interest and Japan’s nuclear industry is plagued with that:

In 2000, Kei Sugaoka, a Japanese-American nuclear inspector who had done work for General Electric at Daiichi, told Japan’s main nuclear regulator about a cracked steam dryer that he believed was being concealed. If exposed, the revelations could have forced the operator, Tokyo Electric Power, to do what utilities least want to do: undertake costly repairs.

What happened next was an example, critics have since said, of the collusive ties that bind the nation’s nuclear power companies, regulators and politicians.

Despite a new law shielding whistle-blowers, the regulator, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, divulged Mr. Sugaoka’s identity to Tokyo Electric, effectively blackballing him from the industry. Instead of immediately deploying its own investigators to Daiichi, the agency instructed the company to inspect its own reactors. Regulators allowed the company to keep operating its reactors for the next two years even though, an investigation ultimately revealed, its executives had actually hidden other, far more serious problems, including cracks in the shrouds that cover reactor cores.

Investigators may take months or years to decide to what extent safety problems or weak regulation contributed to the disaster at Daiichi, the worst of its kind since Chernobyl. But as troubles at the plant and fears over radiation continue to rattle the nation, the Japanese are increasingly raising the possibility that a culture of complicity made the plant especially vulnerable to the natural disaster that struck the country on March 11.

Already, many Japanese and Western experts argue that inconsistent, nonexistent or unenforced regulations played a role in the accident — especially the low seawalls that failed to protect the plant against the tsunami and the decision to place backup diesel generators that power the reactors’ cooling system at ground level, which made them highly susceptible to flooding. [...]

So while I am convinced that, on technical grounds, nuclear power can be made to work, I wonder if it can work in the United States. France makes it work, but France is more socialist than we are…and they don’t have all of the choices that we have.

Is it even possible to bring Navy like discipline into our nuclear industry?

April 27, 2011 Posted by | 2012 election, affirmative action, Barack Obama, Democrats, economics, economy, education, energy, health care, humor, Mitt Romney, Peoria, Peoria/local, politics, politics/social, racism, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, science, technology, world events | 1 Comment

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