Friday, December 14, 2012

America and its guns

In the wake of the tragedy today in Connecticut, I came across this article in the Boston Globe, which provides the best analysis I have read on the relationship U.S. citizens have with their guns.

"So societies are defined not so much by how people live but rather by how they are willing to die. A key thing that defines us — that sets us apart from the rest of the world — is our willingness to die by gunfire."

After reading the piece, I looked to see who wrote it, and I smiled to see it was my old college friend, Farah Stockman.  Thanks Farah for an elegant article.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fukushima evacuees given more monetary aid, but hardly enough!

On Friday, July 20, 2012,  the Japanese government announced provisions for the residents inside the evacuation zone surrounding Fukushima Daiichi.

The most a family of four might receive is about $85,000 USD.  It's better than $10,000, but hardly enough to compensate for the homes and lives lost.  Roughly $6 billion for the 80,000 evacuees, whereas $45 billion for TEPCO.

A Simple Question for Japan's Leaders

The Huffington Post recently published my article about my recent trip into the 20km evacuation zone surrounding the failed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

A big thank you to all those who read, commented, and shared the link with others.  More awareness is needed on the plight of the 80,000 Japanese people who cannot return home.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Unexceptionalism: A Primer

E.L. Doctorow's recent NY Times OP-ED piece is a pretty strong indictment of the United States policies over the last 13 years.  We have our work cut out for us to undo a lot of this damage.

"TO achieve unexceptionalism, the political ideal that would render the United States indistinguishable from the impoverished, traditionally undemocratic, brutal or catatonic countries of the world, do the following:

If you’re a justice of the Supreme Court, ignore the first sacrament of a democracy and suspend the counting of ballots in a presidential election. Appoint the candidate of your choice as president.

If you’re the newly anointed president, react to a terrorist attack by invading a nonterrorist country. Despite the loss or disablement of untold numbers of lives, manage your war so that its results will be indeterminate."

The list goes on and on...

The beginning of the Constitution resonates: "In order to form a more perfect Union..."  We have regressed.  Nothing to do but roll up our sleeves and get back to doing the hard work necessary to treat everyone fairly and provide equal opportunities for all.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Strong Case for the 40 Hour Work Week

"For the good of our bodies, our families, our communities, the profitability of American companies, and the future of the country, this insanity has to stop. Working long days and weeks has been incontrovertibly proven to be the stupidest, most expensive way there is to get work done. Our bosses are depleting resources from of the human capital pool without replenishing them. They are taking time, energy, and resources that rightfully belong to us, and are part of our national common wealth.

If we’re going to talk about creating a more sustainable world, let’s start by talking about how to live low-stress, balanced work lives that leave us refreshed, strong and able to carry on as economic contributors for a full four or five decades, instead of burned out and broken by a too-early middle age. A full, productive 40-year career starts with full, productive 40-hour weeks. And nobody should be able to take that away from us, not even for the sake of a paycheck."

More from Sara Robinson here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rich Welfare Queens

Someone with some extra time on their hands should put together a website detailing very closely the welfare that US billionaires and millionaires receive in the form of tax breaks.  One could start with the billionaire hedge fund managers who pay taxes at a 15% rate as a result of the Carried-Interest Loophole.   I would bet that they receive far more welfare cumulatively than those below the poverty line.  The website could also detail the welfare that corporations receive, and indirectly the large shareholders.  Lastly, the website should detail the dealing of Congress, particularly those on the Finance Committees of both the Senate and House who are largely responsible for keeping the Carried-Interest Loophole alive, despite widespread popular support for ending it. 

In his excellent NY Times article, "America is Europe," David Brooks makes a very strong point showing that tax breaks are equivalent to government spending.  If we factor in tax breaks, "the U.S. has one of the biggest welfare states in the world. We rank behind Sweden and ahead of Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Canada."

The major difference is that countries like Sweden and Italy provide welfare to its citizens who are young and old, whereas the US provides the majority of its welfare to its wealthiest citizens.

Our welfare to the wealthy of America really needs to change. Hopefully we the people can start shining a light on this so that we can gather enough support to make some real changes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nickel That is Lighter Than a Feather

Click here to find out more!


I wonder how it will hold up in an earthquake!  Here's more from a cool LA Times article:

"Scientists have invented a new material that is so lightweight it can sit atop a fluffy dandelion without crushing the little fuzzy seeds.

It's so lightweight, styrofoam is 100 times heavier.

It is so lightweight, in fact, that the research team consisting of scientists at UC Irvine, HRL Laboratories and Caltech say in the peer-reviewed Nov. 18 issue of Science that it is the lightest material on Earth, and no one has asked them to run a correction yet.

That's light!

The material has been dubbed "ultralight metallic microlattice," and according a news release sent out by UC Irvine, it consists of 99.99% air thanks to its "microlattice" cellular architecture.

"The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness 1,000 times thinner than a human hair," lead author Tobias Shandler of HRL said in the release.

To understand the structure of the material, think of the  Eiffel Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge -- which are both light and weight efficient -- but on a nano-scale."