Saturday, May 31, 2014
BRT has talked about the Robert's SC on numerous occasions as you, my loyal readers know. From Citizens United to Greece NY, the radical decisions authored by this ideological court in direct oposition to the Constitution and our civil rights, has had no equal since the founding of this once great nation. To further support BRT's argument comes a superb Linda Greenhouse NYTimes article titled Polar Vision.
But I’m finding it impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Republican-appointed majority is committed to harnessing the Supreme Court to an ideological agenda. The evidence is everywhere: from the way the court invited and then accepted a fundamental challenge to public employee labor unions in Harris v. Quinn, a case argued in January and due for decision any day; to its brick-by-brick deregulation of campaign finance; to its obsession with race and with drawing the final curtain on the civil rights revolution.
I wrote “ideological” rather than “partisan” agenda because there’s something deeper going on than mere partisanship. Congress, after all, reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006 by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both houses, in a bill signed into law by President George W. Bush. The Bush administration urged the court to uphold the law in one of the last briefs filed before the president left office. It was a small cadre of right-wing activists that pressed the opposing view on the court. Success took a while: The court lost its nerve on that initial round in 2009, but conspicuously kept the door open for a renewed challenge. The result was last term’s Shelby County v. Holder, the 5-to-4 decision that cut the heart out of the Voting Rights Act – which had been the plan all along.
I rest my case.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Thursday, May 22, 2014
BRT has talked about Geckos, small lizards able to climb just about anything using molecular adhesion at atomic level (via van der Waal forces) to attain great "stickiness" yet permitting easy release from same when said gecko moves on to snag another fly. With this knowledge in hand, really smart people from US Mass/Amherst will be introducing a radical new product called Geckskin once they get the manufacturing part down. For yours truly, I can't wait to use this product.
Geckskin™ is composed of stiff fabrics—such as carbon fiber or Kevlar—with soft elastomers, such as polyurethane or polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). It uses commodity materials, not nanotechnology. The key innovation of Geckskin™ was the integration of a soft elastomer (the pad) with a stiff fabric (the skin), allowing the pad to drape over a surface to maximize contact. Further, as in natural gecko feet, the skin is woven into a synthetic tendon, yielding a design that plays a key role in maintaining stiffness and rotational freedom. The end result is an adhesive device that is powerful, easily removed, and leaves no residue.
Spiderman awaits. :)
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Yours truly has never like lithium ion batteries as they are:
- Potentially dangerous (ask Boeing about this)
- Take a long time to charge
- Have limited recharge capability and are
- Environmentally unfriendly
The dual carbon battery enables high-performance, high value products coveted by consumers. The battery is energy dense and could enable a 300-mile range electric vehicle. It also charges 20 times faster than the best lithium ion battery available.
The dual carbon battery is the first ever high performance battery that meets consumer lifecycle demand, rated for more than 3,000 charge cycles. This means an electric vehicle powered by a dual carbon battery will maintain high power and long life after years of use, retaining resale value.
Seen below is the DC battery. Without question, this is disruptive to the max. :)
Not to gloat but BRT did say fracking was a short term solution to a long term problem, a fact big oil is unwilling to admit even though the predicted shale boom for CA is now a bust with more bad news to follow as fracking wells don't last very long due to the fact natural gas is just that, a gas, something evanescent, something totally different from the sweet crude gushers that issued forth from Texas back in the day.
Chesapeake Energy’s (CHK) Serenity 1-3H well near Oklahoma City came in as a gusher in 2009, pumping more than 1,200 barrels of oil a day and kicking off a rush to drill that extended into Kansas. Now the well produces less than 100 barrels a day, state records show. Serenity’s swift decline sheds light on a dirty secret of the oil boom: It may not last. Shale wells start strong and fade fast, and producers are drilling at a breakneck pace to hold output steady. In the fields, this incessant need to drill is known as the Red Queen, after the character in Through the Looking-Glass who tells Alice, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”
Lest we forget CA.
In 2012, the federal officials estimated that 13.7 billion barrels of oil could be recovered from the Monterey Shale. The EIA now says that only 600 million barrels of oil can be recovered using existing technologies such as acid treatment and fracking, the controversial oil and gas technique that involves forcing millions of gallons of water laced with silica and chemicals deep underground to break up rock formations.
Reality check anyone?
“This downgrade fundamentally changes the risk-reward calculation when it comes to unconventional oil development in our state,” Jayni Foley Hein, executive director of the Berkeley Center for Law, Energy and the Environment, said in a statement from the group CAFrackFacts. “Given that the industry’s promised economic benefits are not likely to materialize, the state should take a hard look at the impacts that oil development has on public health, safety and the environment.”
The revised figures come from new evidence accumulated by the EIA and the U.S. Geological Survey, Sieminski said. Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY), based in Los Angeles, controls 2.3 million acres in California -- an area 12 times the size of New York City -- including vast portions of the Monterey Shale that have so far frustrated attempts to extract commercial quantities of crude.
Makes one think, doesn't it, particularly when weighing the costs versus the benefits of tech questionable at best.
To open shale rocks and to release trapped oil and gas, large amounts of water, fine sand, and chemical substances must be injected under high pressure into the ground. In fact, hydraulic fracturing requires as much as five million gallons of water per well; in 2012 alone, fracking consumed some 50 billion gallons of water. Although the sheer volume of water consumed may not present a problem in water-rich regions, such as Pennsylvania, it may become a major obstacle in water-parched states, such as Texas; overall, 55 percent of the wells fracked since 2011 are in drought areas. In those areas, energy producers will need to compete for water with other users, including farms, manufacturing plants, and households. According to a recent UN World Water Development Report on water and energy, "There is an increasing potential for serious conflict between power generation, other water users and environmental considerations."
Water wars anyone?
And so it goes - K. Vonnegut
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Sunday, May 18, 2014
What's interesting here is the fact our for profit medical system pays big bucks to non-doctors in the HC system we all love and cherish, something to consider when you go to your doctor to get a check up or to get a live saving and exquisitely delicate operation requiring a skilled set of hands to the max to do the deed.
She said that executive salaries in health care “increased hugely in the ‘90s” and that the trend has continued. For example, in addition to Mr. Del Mauro’s $21.7 million package, Barnabas Health listed more than 20 vice presidents who earned over $350,000 on its latest available tax return; the new chief executive earned about $3 million. Data released by Medicare show that Barnabas Health’s hospitals bill more than twice the national average for many procedures. (In 2006, the hospital paid one of the largest Medicare fines ever to settle fraud charges brought by federal prosecutors.)
Hospitals and insurers maintain that large pay packages are necessary to attract top executives who have the expertise needed to cope with the complex structure of American health care, where hospitals and insurers undertake hundreds of negotiations to set prices.
It gets better
And studies suggest that administrative costs make up 20 to 30 percent of the United States health care bill, far higher than in any other country. American insurers, meanwhile, spent $606 per person on administrative costs, more than twice as much as in any other developed country and more than three times as much as many, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund.
Single payer anyone? Works for me.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
When looking at this photograph of a cornfield in Nebraska, one is struck by the sheer size of the landscape in question, where the sky seems to extend to forever and simple breaks in the horizon attain a significance in ways impossible to imagine outside of a place such as this. Now imagine this place poisoned, where nothing grows and restoration to it's former state is simply not possible due to the kind of product Keytone XL will ship to Texas refineries if the pipeline comes to pass.
TransCanada, the $48 billion Canadian company that owns the Keystone, has repeatedly said the XL will be “the safest pipeline ever built on U.S. soil,” a technological marvel with automatic shut-off valves and satellite monitoring. The exact composition of what will flow through the pipeline is not publicly available, but it will include bitumen — a thick, semisolid petroleum product — blended with natural gas that has been pressurized to become a liquid. If the line is approved, it could carry 830,000 barrels a day of this “diluted bitumen” across Nebraska, over 275 miles and through 515 private properties. No one knows exactly what a leak would do, but evidence from past malfunctions suggests catastrophe. In 2010, a spill from Enbridge’s Line 6B dropped 840,000 gallons of bitumen to the bottom of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. Four years and more than a billion dollars later, the cleanup continues. Last spring, Exxon’s Pegasus line burst near a residential area of Mayflower, Ark., spreading 210,000 gallons of bitumen through neighborhood streets, causing evacuations and leaving residents complaining of respiratory problems, nausea and headaches.
Something to consider, don't you think?
The net should be a public utility, forever neutral, where all bits are created equal and not sliced up into preferred bits vs unpreferred bits based on monies paid to a given ISP by a content provider in order to juice up bit speed in delivering content to people able to pay the extra fees in order to get said content at faster rates at the expense of smaller entities like BRT, a situation that, in time, would wreak havoc on a chaotic and bit neutral system that works due to the universally agreed upon and applied open standards protocols defining how the net functions as a communications construct for the world. If a two tiered system becomes the norm, the underlying tech would eventually be compromised as the big players would develop, in effect, proprietary methodologies to improve their net speeds while the rest of the web would devolve into an afterthought because of the eventual elimination of the universal application of OS technology that keeps all bits equal on today's internet, the most complex communication system every designed by man.
With this in mind, the net should become a public utility, forever allowed to run without the Wheelers of the world trying to game the system with Orwellian weasel words akin to how politicians defend the indefensable with turgid and abstract prose designed to confuse and disguise the real intentions of the enterprise that is committing the indefensible, something Orwell knew all to well when writing Politics and the English Language.
Interesting enough, Netflix, the larges content provider on the net, wants Net Neutrality big time as they realize what would happen if the Verizon's of the world got their way.
Unfortunately, Verizon successfully challenged the U.S. net neutrality rules. In principle, a domestic ISP now can legally impede the video streams that members request from Netflix, degrading the experience we jointly provide. The motivation could be to get Netflix to pay fees to stop this degradation. Were this draconian scenario to unfold with some ISP, we would vigorously protest and encourage our members to demand the open Internet they are paying their ISP to deliver.
Addendum: Click here to read Wheelering and Dealing at the FCC. You won't be disappointed.
Click the FCC logo to send your comments about Net Neutrality directly to the FCC,
it's the right thing to do.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Monday, May 12, 2014
The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday.
The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis.
“This is really happening,” said Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA’s programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research. “There’s nothing to stop it now. But you are still limited by the physics of how fast the ice can flow.”
The eocene awaits.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Awesome model of the universe. Recommendation, turn down the volume,
it distracts from the beauty and power of the tech. The site is also amazing.
The Illustris project is a set of large-scale cosmological simulations, including the most ambitious simulation of galaxy formation yet performed. The calculation tracks the expansion of the universe, the gravitational pull of matter onto itself, the motion or "hydrodynamics" of cosmic gas, as well as the formation of stars and black holes. These physical components and processes are all modeled starting from initial conditions resembling the very young universe 300,000 years after the Big Bang and until the present day, spanning over 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution. The simulated volume contains tens of thousands of galaxies captured in high-detail, covering a wide range of masses, rates of star formation, shapes, sizes, and with properties that agree well with the galaxy population observed in the real universe. We are currently working to make detailed comparisons of our simulation box to these observed galaxy populations, and some exciting promising results have already been published.
Friday, May 09, 2014
Elegant, affordable tech, able to transform the world with grace and common sense, is the ultimate in industrial design as seen in the Drinkable Book from Waterislife.com a water filtration system in a form factor for the ages.
Each page is its own little filter that can clean up to 100 liters of water (that’s around a 30-day supply). This means each book can provide a single person with up to four years of clean water. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon and University of Virginia developed a special kind of paper that’s coated in silver nanoparticles, which kill bacteria. “Some socks use silver nanoparticles to prevent fungus from growing on athletes’ feet,” explains chemist Theresa Dankovich, the project’s lead scientist who has been researching this process since 2008.
So drink up, with luck, it will be on the house for people in developing countries who have never tasted the wonders of truly clean water.
Awesome without question. :)
Tuesday, May 06, 2014
I'm really glad that 5 Supremes decided, amongst themselves, to trash the Constitution regarding the separation of church and state as written in the 1st Amendment, something the Founding Fathers were adamant about as they knew just how catastrophic injecting religion into politics could become whether the religion in question be christian, islamic, jewish, hindu or whatever as the specific religion in question doesn't matter save for the fact said religion will eventually impact the government in ways that negatively impact anyone who's not a believer in that chosen religion or anyone who doesn't believe in a god at all, a philosphy Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Paine and Madison, among significant others, related to without issue.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..." and Article VI specifies that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
WASHINGTON — In a major decision on the role of religion in government, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the Constitution allows town boards to start their sessions with sectarian prayers. The ruling, by a 5-to-4 vote, divided the court’s more conservative members from its liberal ones, and their combative opinions reflected very different views of the role of faith in public life, in contemporary society and in the founding of the Republic.
Words cannot describe just how partisan and inept this court truly is. Jefferson, Hamilton, Washington, et al, are rolling in their graves in seeing how these small minded "politicians" made a ruling (The Town of Greece, NY vs. Galloway) even more atrocious then Citizens United & McCutcheon as this "masterpiece" violates the core essence of the Constitution of America, the Bill of Rights.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
What the Supremes did regarding Citizens United and McCutcheon, is now coming back to haunt us big time. Unbridled money corrupts, something Judge Paul A. Crotty, SDNY Federal District Court Justice, knows all too well in having to reluctantly abide by these atrocious rulings by a court less then Supreme in every sense of the word.
On Thursday, Judge Paul Crotty, who sits on the federal district court in Manhattan, reluctantly allowed unlimited contributions to independent political groups in New York State. “Reluctantly,” in fact, doesn’t begin to describe how clenched the judge’s teeth were in writing this remarkable opinion, which eloquently describes the dangers of the very act he was allowing...
“Indeed, today’s reality is that the voices of ‘we the people’ are too often drowned out by the few who have great resources,” the judge wrote. “In today’s never-ending cycle of campaigning and lobbying, lobbying and campaigning, elected officials know where their money is coming from and that it must keep coming if they are to stay in office. Ordinary citizens recognize this; they know what is going on; they know they are not being included. It breeds cynicism and distrust.”
Click here to read his heartfelt opinion. Who knows, maybe Roberts and the gang of 5 might learn something from somebody who really does understand the letter of the law but then again, knowing how this version of the SC operates, I wouldn't make book on it in any way shape or fashion.