11 November 2010 pm

Underwater treadmills existed for some time now; these helped injured runners gradually ease into running. Now there is a more sophisticated treadmill which uses air to tailor the amount of weight that the recovering individual uses when running or walking.

Gamma bubbles: yes, there are massive gamma ray plumes coming from some locations (the places where there were black holes?) These are thousands of light years in diameter! So much for the claim that “the universe was designed for life” (as Neal DeGrasse Tyson lampoons here)

Here is an awesome photo of two galaxies colliding…as ours will eventually with the Andromeda.

Time and space really are different!

And yes, while the curvature of space might change from location to location, the value of “pi” (which is the ratio of a circle’s diameter to circumference in Euclidean geometry) doesn’t vary by location. 🙂 No, I am not making this question up as a “straw man”.

Yes, there are genes that influence the amount of sleep we need; read about that here.

Astonishingly, fly maggots have many light receptors (“eyes”, so to speak):

An article soon to be published by Nature from the world-famous laboratory of Lily and Yuh Jan describes the astonishing finding that Drosophila maggots – and, you can be pretty sure, virtually every other kind of fly maggot – is covered with tiny “eyes”. Nobody had any idea that this was the case.

Up until today, the maggot’s “eyes” were thought to be a group of 12 cells called Bolwig’s organ.

It turns out that if this Bolwig’s organ is “killed”, the maggot will still avoid light; it still detects it!

Social Issues
Yes, raising the retirement age is problematic: whereas life expectancy (from 65 years on) has gone up for some economic groups, it has barely budged for the lowest income groups (those who need social security the most). And think about those whose jobs are physically demanding..not about those who work in climate controlled offices.

Health insurance Interesting question: should health insurance cover medical bills that result from stupid acts (e. g., a kid deliberately swallowing various items? ) That itself is an interesting question, but this finding is VERY interesting:

A potential catch for would-be sword-swallowers is that until the full panoply of protections in the health care reform bill comes into effect, insurance companies can deny coverage to prospective clients based on a history of risky behavior. Companies sometimes scour applicants’ medical records for evidence of frequent emergency room visits or revealing doctors’ notes. New rules will severely limit the factors they can consider starting in 2014. […]

Economic theorists have long been concerned about moral hazard—the assumed tendency to engage in risky behaviors, like eating razors, because your insurer will always have your back. But recent studies have shown the opposite to be true. People who have health insurance are actually less likely to drink heavily, smoke, or have a high-risk job such as logger, airline pilot, or taxi driver. The insured are also more likely to wear seat belts and seek preventive care services. Researchers speculate that risk-loving people may perceive forgoing health insurance as just another adrenaline rush.

Another tough issue Amazon was carrying a self-published book on pedophilia. This sparked outrage. On one hand, I can see the outrage over this book; part of it was instructions on “how to not get caught”. On the other hand a book to help pedophiles (those who have these desires) to NOT ACT ON THOSE DESIRES might be useful.

And yes, there is free speech; the government has no right to censor such stuff. But citizens can decide to buy where ever they want. So no, I did not take part in the protest but I didn’t loudly back Amazon either. It turns out that Amazon gave in.

I hope that they don’t place the whole subject as a taboo one; protecting society from the acts of pedophiles requires us knowing more about them.


Republican anti-science
Yes: John Shimkus (IL-19, from the Southern Part of the state) says that “God” won’t let global warming destroy the planet so we don’t have to worry about that.

I am utterly revolted that we have such idiots in positions of power. Evidently, the younger, better educated voters are also turned off for these reasons:

He answers in the affirmative, and proposes a reason: the Republican war on science and knowledge (Why America’s Top Students Tune Out the GOP). Money quote:

Today’s top students are motivated less by enthusiasm for Democrats and much more by revulsion from Republicans. It’s not the students who have changed so much. It’s the Republicans. … Under Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, Republicans championed science and knowledge. But over the past 30 years, national Republicans have formed an intensifying alliance with religious conservatives more skeptical of science and knowledge. I don’t know whether discarding evolution goes against common sense; but I’m pretty sure it goes against most Ivy League-educated senses.

More along these lines here.

Such stupidity (in terms of both science and being reflexively against regulations) has a consequence as Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub points out here.

General Republican stupidity
Of course current Republican stupidity isn’t limited to science:
Here Sarah Palin (who else) attacks a non-existent program.

Then Ms. Palin attacks The Journal’s Real Time Economics for pointing out that she got the facts wrong:

The Journal’s Real Time Economics, having had the audacity to point out that Sarah Palin’s attack on quantitative easing was factually challenged, gets a blast from the barracuda. As I read it, they seem somewhat shocked — it sounds as if they’re deeply surprised at being accused of villainy simply because they pointed out that the facts are somewhat at variance with what politicians on the right are saying.

Folks, my hatred of many current Republicans comes from this. I don’t hate someone for disagreeing with me; heck I am frequently wrong about things. What I detest is this celebration of stupidity and anti-intellectualism. That is also why I liked Barack Obama so much; I saw him as a push-back against that. True, this quality of his might be hurting him politically; he doesn’t seem to have the ability to do the necessary arm twisting that President Johnson, President FD Roosevelt and President Clinton did. Then again, he did get some large bills passed, so I can’t say that he was ineffective though.

Politics: what will happen?
The Democrats are wooing Senator Snowe. I disagree with DK here: if Senator Snowe wants to defect, I say “welcome her with open arms”. She is smart and will perhaps be more moderate without the straight jacket that the current Republican party is throwing on her. Note: she proposed a “pubic option trigger” for the Senate Health Care bill which would have been an improvement over what we passed.

Don’t Cave Mr. President!
Liberals (myself included) are worried that President Obama might cave on the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Paul Krugman is not optimistic. Robert Reich offers a way forward:

Yes, the President needs to acknowledge the Republican sweep on Election Day. But he can do that by offering his own version of a compromise that’s both economically sensible and politically smart. Instead of limiting the extension to $250,000 of income (the bottom 98 percent of Americans), he should offer to extend it to all incomes under $500,000 (essentially the bottom 99 percent), for two years.

The economics are clear:

First, the top 1 percent spends a much smaller proportion of their income than everyone else, so there’s very little economic stimulus at these lofty heights.

On the other hand, giving the top 1 percent a two-year extension would cost the Treasury $130 billion over two years, thereby blowing a giant hole in efforts to get the deficit under control.

Alternatively, $130 billion would be enough to rehire every teacher, firefighter, and police officer laid off over the last two years and save the jobs of all of them now on the chopping block. Not only are these people critical to our security and the future of our children but, unlike the top 1 percent, they could be expected to spend all of their earnings and thereby stimulate the economy.

Conservative supply-siders who argue the top 1 percent will stop working as hard if they have to return to the 39 percent marginal rate of the Clinton years must be smoking something (probably an expensive grade).

November 11, 2010 Posted by | 2010 election, 2012 election, astronomy, atheism, Barack Obama, biology, brain, cosmology, creationism, Democrats, economics, economy, evolution, free speech, knee rehabilitation, mathematics, moron, morons, national disgrace, nature, political/social, politics, politics/social, poverty, pwnd, quackery, religion, Republican, republican party, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, running, sarah palin, science, space, Spineless Democrats | Leave a comment