moldybluecheesecurds 2

Friday, March 27, 2009

Moldy's grooming tips: sporadically skip the shampoo

I'll let this one speak for itself.

Two fixes for Wall Street: regulation and...regulation

With the AIG bonuses "scandal" so recently in the news, it's an insightful analysis that finds that tighter regulation of Wall Street may be the preventive medicine for the next credit crunch, but also the solution for inflated pay.  The findings?  The more regulation of Wall Street (and the fewer ways to "beat the system"), the more moderate the pay.

In the West, water kills coal, not carbon

An insightful, if short, post on the real bane of power generation in the arid Western United States - water.  Solar and wind have a big leg up on any combustion-based power plants, because all of them (and nuclear) require significant amounts of water for cooling.

The slow erosion of science news

The death of print newspapers hasn't just meant the loss of quality journalists, but also the loss of science reporting.  And that's particularly important in the United States.

Before discussing the highlights, let's consider the context. Truth is that the United States never has been a wellspring of scientific knowledge, even given its great achievements in that regard.

We wring our hands over low math and science test scores, but few adults bother themselves with the details. We get steamed over the politics of stem cells and global warming, but few voters know even the basics of cellular development and carbon emissions.

Read more at the original piece on Minnpost, and try your hand at the basic science knowledge quiz.  

A modest energy program proposal: Pruises for everyone

At 50 mpg (almost double the new CAFE standards for all American vehicle fleets), would spending $400 billion over 10 years to get everyone a Pruis be a good economic and green stimulus? 

This is from the L.A. Times automotive writer, so don't expect any full scale lifecycle analysis, but you will get the scoop on the new 2010 model.

P.S. The new CAFE standards are a bit underwhelming, coming in 1 mpg less than what automakers already delivered for cars in 2007 and 1 mpg over what they did for light trucks.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Crying wolf in climate change

Climate Progress had an interesting post last week asking why climate deniers always shout down any link between extreme weather and climate change.

I have a better question: what's the danger in having climate change activists link every weather phenomenon to climate change? 

Climate is not equal to weather (for the distinction, click here), but when we blame a given weather event or even a season of them on climate change, we make fools of ourselves the next time the weather reverts to the norm.

Climate change is a long-range phenomenon, seen over decades, and we trivialize it by associating it with weather.

Monday, March 16, 2009

More on livestock antibiotics

I had not read today's paper when I posted earlier.  More on the subject, from Kristof.

Seventy percent of all antibiotics in the United States go to healthy livestock, according to a careful study by the Union of Concerned Scientists — and that’s one reason we’re seeing the rise of pathogens that defy antibiotics...

Unlike Europe and even South Korea, the United States still bows to agribusiness interests by permitting the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed.

I hope that this high profile unmasking means some real action will be taken.  This is not a practice we can afford to continue.

Bacon, killing you without clogging your arteries

No, this isn't an article on the nutritional "benefits" of bacon.  It's a note that we use some of our best tools in modern medicine to protect pigs, at the expense of humans

Heard of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)?  It's gaining ground because pigs are being given antibiotics and end up harboring the resistant bacteria. 

It's not just bacon that trumps human use of antibiotics.  It's beef.  And a study in Australia a few years back found that prohibiting the prophylactic use of such drugs in livestock improves the chances that these bacteria can be treated in humans

So stop giving methicillin to my food.  Save it for me.

Why bank nationalization?

Read the "best argument" for it at fivethirtyeight.

Summary: backing up bad bank assets without ownership would cost $14 trillion.


Would you like some formaldehyde with that?

When you think about personal care products, you might think that the highest safety standards would apply to things for babies.  And you might be wrong, since a great number of the leading shampoos for babies have the carcinogen formaldehyde.  Whee!

More on formaldehyde
More on dioxane, also found in baby bath products

P.S. It's not clear if they even tested adult bath products, which it seems unlikely would be any better.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Correlation, causation illustrated


We're not at peak oil yet

I subscribe to peak lite, the idea that rising demand for petroleum products will outstrip supply increases, before actual peak production hits.  At any rate, for those thinking we'd hit the downslope, 2008 was the peak production year (and had the peak production month) for world petroleum supply.  There's always next year!

Progressive taxes: forget rates, let's bracket

A great post on looks at the top tax bracket historically.  Summary: the rate has been much higher than the current sub-40, but the bracket also applied to much higher income levels.  His thought: instead of just undoing the ill-conceived Bush tax cuts, slap on a millionaires tax bracket with a higher rate.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Food and conversation

Wife (+baby) and I just got invited to a splendid little dinner and it was just the kind of dinner conversation I like.  Topics included:

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Many Americans don't even know tax rates

For all the whining about taxes, it seems that many Americans don't even know how federal income taxes work. Tax brackets are marginal, they only apply to the income that falls in that bracket, not all your income. The idiots who are trying to reduce their income to drop down a tax bracket are only going to accomplish the former: reduce their income.


Still Dirty, Still Coal

Hat tip to Shadoweyes for a "truth in advertising" look at clean coal: