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Comment: Re:Birth control pills signifcant contributor? (Score 1) 147

by dublin (#48142261) Attached to: Birth Control Pills Threaten Fish Stocks

It comes from all kinds of things, but nowhere int he amounts and strengths found in birth control pills. The pill is *far* worse than even regular hormoe replacemtn therapy, since the dose has to be strong enough to swamp the body's normal hormonal actions and responses. This type of overloading always produces very high levels of excreted chemicals - far more than you'll find from almost any other source.

And keep in mind, these are more dangerous for people than other environmental estrogens, since they're *designed and intended* to work most effectively on humans.

Still, won't someone think of all those poor, chemically gay fish? They didn't choose to be that way... :-)

Comment: Re:It's not just estrogen. (Score 1) 147

by dublin (#48142209) Attached to: Birth Control Pills Threaten Fish Stocks

Try buying food that isn't packaged, cooked, or served in materials that are well-known to leach xenoestrogens... From bottles to juice boxes to plastic/vacuum bags to polymer coatings in almost all modern cans and coffee and drink cups - you're getting bathed in this stuff unless you can afford to buy everything you eat at the farmer's market, and even them it's almost impossible to avoid the various pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc., many of which are loose in the environment themselves.

Comment: Re:Cities (Score 1) 147

by dublin (#48142129) Attached to: Birth Control Pills Threaten Fish Stocks

No, the EPA is worried about the natural non-pollutant CO2 rather than the clear and present danger of concentrated chemicals from city water treatment plants. Do you really expect the Feds to attack their urban power base? As another poster mentioned, the urban hipsters would scream bloody murder if they had to pay to have their effluent treated to eliminate these extraordinarily powerful chemicals...

Comment: Re:So add testosterone too (Score 1) 147

by dublin (#48142079) Attached to: Birth Control Pills Threaten Fish Stocks

I've yet to see any that correlate estrogen in contraceptive pills with the quantities of estrogen in waste water. Modern contraceptive pills use minute amounts. Additionally, our bodies produce estrogen in the liver,adrenal glands, breasts (in women), and fat cells (are increased obesity rates producing more waste estrogen?). We put far larger amounts into some cosmetics and shampoos. We also use synthetic estrogen compounds in substantial amounts plastics in our food packaging and containers. They've long been known to leech into our food and are harmful endocrine disruptors which can have effects that are passed on to our offspring, including infertiility and cancers

Or maybe, just maybe, the right solution is to start eliminating *all* of those sources - sounds to me like you're trying awfully hard to defend birth control hormones for reasons other than the provable scientific fact that environmental estrogens and xenoestrogens are wreaking havoc on our entire ecosystem, people and animals.

The thing that differentiates hormones from other kinds of chemicals is that a tiny amount produces an enormous biological response. The smart thing to do is to quit acting like bathing our bodies and our environments in this stuff doesn't matter... (The studies you seek are out there and numerous - use Google yourself, dammit.)

BTW, I'm far from a green weenie (I strongly support fracking and nuclear, and believe the science shows that man made global warming is complete and utter BS), but I do believe that there are two very large, very real technological dangers to our biology that will finally become recognized in the coming decades - environmental sex hormones (far more often female than male, but both are troublesome), and modern digital wireless communications with sharp square-wave edges which are more and more proving to affect biology through methods other than heating or ionization.

Comment: On what Constitutional authority? (Score 1) 70

by dublin (#47928967) Attached to: The Case For a Federal Robotics Commission

I know it's silly and old-fashioned to bring up the Constitution when discussing the creation of yet another sclerotic Federal Bureaucratic behemoth, but this proposal is ridiculous on its face. Even the absurdly over-stretched interstate commerce clause and general welfare clause do not even come close to justifying this sort of overreach by the Feds.

IF (and that's a *big* if) this kind of regulation is needed at all (personally, I can't think of one good reason for it), then I see no reason why it can't be handled by the states. Centralizing policy and regulations for what amounts to the convenience and increased power of "bureaucrats armed and clerical" (in the immortal phrase of Dabney) is NOT allowed by the Constitution.

I'd vote in a heartbeat for any Presidential candidate, regardless of party, who would carry out Goldwater's pledge: "I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is "needed" before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' "interests," I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can."

Sounds to me like every aspect of a Federal Robotics Commission would be the triumph of special interests over liberty...

Comment: Re:We need ...... Solar? (Score 1) 305

by dublin (#47718143) Attached to: If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

And we'll see if it really pays off for him. So far, unless you're on an island and have to ship in your diesel fuel, solar doesn't make economic sense without massive subsidies. (I'm pretty sure even a billionaire like Musk would blanch at backing solar without FITs, RECs, PPAs, etc.)

I work in solar, and it's a technology I'd really like to see succeed, but we're quite some ways away, and in a few important ways, we're slipping backwards - It takes at *least* 20-25 years to make back your investment. But current solar cells (even good ones) will begin to rapidly degrade at that time -(to about 80% output, falling off a cliff to single digits within around another 5 years. So even if everything goes your way, you've got only about five years of positive and rapidly decreasing power production before you have to replace the whole thing and start over.

The race to cheap Chinese panels now has panels lasting fewer than 10 years before delaminating and coming apart (leaching toxic heavy metals in the process...) - if that happens to even a few percent of the panels there's no way you can *ever* break even. Add in big outstanding questions about the lifespan of other expensive components such as inverters and wiring, and it's a good bet that only the most attentive operators of solar plants will ever make thier money back. (On the DC wiring issue, the prevalent PV industry practice of grounding the negative leg effectively *designs* for galvanic corrosion of the wiring, resulting in little more than hollow straws in a few years if things get a little damp - 300-1200 VDC *will* do that!)

Lastly, you don't get much power out of solar on an areal basis - a good figure for perfect siting, etc. puts the max power per panel/year at only a few dozen dollars worth of electricity. (Heck, there's less than 1000 W/m^2 there to start with on a clear day and a LOT less than that if there are *any* clouds, and after conversion and transmission losses, you're down to only a little over 10% of that.)

Solar is starting to make sense in limited cases, but it will be probably at least another decade or two before putting solar panels everywhere makes economic sense - especially in very distributed environments like residential rooftops, where no one is really going to be monitoring or maintaining the system. that's one advantage of Musk's approach - he tends to be focused more on larger sites that he can make sure are performing (or at least not sucking too bad...)

Comment: Re:We put all our eggs into the ITER basket. (Score 1) 305

by dublin (#47717999) Attached to: If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

Look, this isn't about a lack of money - well it is, but the reason there's no money there is because there's NO reason for anyone (govt or private) to bet tons of money on somthing that has so little realistic chance of working. If fusion looked doable, we'd have people throwing money around like crazy, and we'd have billionaires tripping all over each other to be the Rockefeller of fusion. It's laughable that the tinfoil hat folks see a conspiracy to protect "big oil" - I work with some oil investors, and I can assure you that if they really thought for a second that they could invest in an alternative that could *really* economically displace oil, gas, and nuclear, they'd do it in a heartbeat.

Comment: Re:Ready in 30 years (Score 1) 305

by dublin (#47717945) Attached to: If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

I am certainly no fan of the F-35 - I think it's one of the worst military boondoggles ever - a plane that is staggeringly bad at everything it does but sucking money and hollowing out American airpower.

That said, it has some limited utility. Spending that money of F-35's gets us F-35s no matter how bad they suck.

On the other hand, there's no real reason to expect that a terabuck thrown at fusion would get us anything at all. Personally, I think lottery odds are better than a big government funded program sure to be rife with corruption actually solving the world's energy problems...

Comment: Re:Ready in 30 years (Score 1) 305

by dublin (#47717899) Attached to: If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

Good of you to call BS, now I'm going to... We quite simply DO NOT KNOW what goes on inside the Sun - we only see the outer layers, and are completely guessing about what's inside - your temperature and density figures are most likely wrong, especially if certain uniformitarian assumptions turn out not to hold...

Now, to be fair, those guesses *could* be right, but I kinda doubt it - the universe has this bizarre tendency to be, as Haldane said, "not only queerer than we imagine, but queerer than we *can* imagine"...

Comment: Re:which turns transport into a monopoly... (Score 1) 276

by dublin (#47717607) Attached to: Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars

Like a LOT of people, I will NEVER live anywhere that requires an elevator. No claustro- or acrophobia, I just can't imagine anything more soul-crushing than having to get in a smelly sardine tin to ride to my house. And yes, that includes penthouses in highrises. Great place for a party (maybe), but you damn sure couldn't get me to live in one, even if you gave it to me...

Comment: Re:which turns transport into a monopoly... (Score 1) 276

by dublin (#47717559) Attached to: Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars

Interestingly, as many cities pursue high-density growth policies and their local governments rant against the manifest evils of suburbs, it's going to turn out that suburban rooftops are the largest and most readily usable area for solar PV power generation (which does after all go well with the idea of electric cars, which make no sense now, but will someday...)

Cities are just too dense to make anywhere near enough power from the clean solar sources all the people say they want.

Distributed renewables generation has problems (max benefit at 15%, and negative value by 30% - See Eleanor Denny's great recent PhD dissertation on the Irish grid), but one thing's for sure - you sure can't distribute generation without someplace to distribute it *to*, and high density development doesn't give you anyplace to do that...

Comment: Re:Any bets on how long before the plug is pulled? (Score 1) 142

The Nanny state has run amok. I think even sadder is that the hacker crowd at Slashdot even a decade ago would have reacted with a collective, "Cool, let's give this a try and see how it works and how we can make it better", rather than with a zillion arguments about how an obviously versatile technology must be banned under the force of law.

We sure have a lot of totalitarians of fascist and other stripes here these days.

In almost all cases, technology is morally neutral - nukes, biotech, radio waves, and gunpowder can all be either murderous and evil or protective and supportive - it depends entirely on the *way* they're used. Laws attempting to force a particular outcome are generally doomed to fail, because people are smarter than their lawmakers and will do what makes sense in their particular situation, which they invariably recognize far better than their lawmakers. (Nobel winner Milton Friedman even went so far as to argue (quite persuasively, I might add) against intrusive government programs such as professional licensing, even for doctors. In today's world of frictionless information, there really is much less call for overly controlling laws.)

Parkinson's Law: Work expands to fill the time alloted it.