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Comment: Re:Stopped reading at... (Score 1) 592

by lxw56 (#39531637) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Feed Africa?
Soil organic matter is essential to the soil holding water. The problem with modern fertilizers is the carbon-nitrogen balance. Nitrogen fertilizer also fertilizes soil life, which consumes soil organic matter and eliminates it as CO2. Sustainable farming practices increase soil organic matter, increasing the soil's water-carrying capacity.

Comment: Re:Of course, prior to mid 1800s (Score 1) 252

by lxw56 (#39233859) Attached to: UK Plans Private Police Force

Witch hunts were also common back then. Real ones, where they'd take women who'd committed no crime and burn them at the stake.

That was so much worse than today, when all they do is break into men's houses unannounced, shoot their dogs, and search for hallucinogens, which they consider a reason to steal the house and throw the resident into prison for decades.

Comment: Re:Still no mention of military spending (Score 1) 2247

by lxw56 (#37777814) Attached to: Ron Paul Suggests Axing 5 U.S. Federal Departments (and Budgets)

The Department of Energy manages the nation's power supplies,

The power companies are quite capable of that.

Department of Commerce collects taxes,

I thought this was the responsibility of the Treasury Department.

the Interior governs our damn national parks and the immense stretches of government-owned land along with all our environmental efforts

It's worth noting that the federal government owns 30% of all US territory. Should it?

The Department of Education mandates school curriculum and is perhaps the only way social mobility even exists, let alone educated poor (free lunches etc.),

The DoE oversees a few school services that should be provided by states or other organizations. It also regulates, often detrimentally, state education as if the states or school districts are unable to do so themselves.

weather forecasting would be impossible without NOAA, and neither would our current understanding of climate change, without NIST our clocks wouldn't run on time and our industry would not have any baseline standards, and without the USGS, well, we'd have no idea what our natural resources look like--or our flood risk, earthquake data, and so on.

Private companies and other organizations do many similar things - satellite imagery, weather forecasting, standardization, risk assessment. Why not also do these?

Without government spending a great many things that people take for granted would disappear and the world would become a much more unpleasant place.

How do we get bread baked and distributed to stores? What federal agency oversees the care of abandoned pets? Services we consider unthinkable without the government are services that have been provided elsewhere, separate from a massive institution that claims authority to rule us under threat of violence.

Comment: Where Hydrogen and Carbon fall in (Score 1) 325

by lxw56 (#30549156) Attached to: "Home Batteries" Power Houses For a Week
Hydrogen is #10 at .12% of crust mass.
Carbon is #15 at .03%, but passes all other elements in industrial production at 8.6 gigatons/year, not counting agriculture. Iron is next for production at 1.2 gigatons.
Nitrogen is #31 at .005%, right below lanthanum and yttrium! And Lithium is #33.

You can find the full list at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abundance_of_elements_in_Earth's_crust. I love Wikipedia. That is all.

Comment: Re:In Santa Fe NM you pay extra for a gravel road (Score 1) 717

by lxw56 (#28344861) Attached to: Broke Counties Turn Failing Roads To Gravel

I don't see why local interest groups shouldn't be allowed to do their own thing. Do you just dislike them because they're not like you? The solution is allowing more groups or individuals exemption from regulation, thus taking away the idea that these few groups are "special".

Comment: Re:Hack-a-thons? No. (Score 1) 469

by lxw56 (#27991755) Attached to: The Dangers of Being Really, Really Tired

By the way, since the all-out attack on unions started, real income of American middle and lower-class workers has declined at a steady rate.

Cited by Thomas Sowell in Economic Facts and Fallacies, average real income per household has only risen 6% per household, but has risen 51% per individual, between '69 and '96. Wages have increased significantly, the problem is smaller households. Furthermore, households with higher incomes usually have two or more wage-earners, lower-income households have one or none, making household income a terrible substitute for individual wages in this discussion. Unions have been an important check on the power of big business, but all-out attack or no, they aren't in a regulatory disadvantaged position today. Rather, they're in decline because what they offer either isn't valued by many workers (for lower-wage walmart-type jobs often taken by people who either don't fight for their rights or don't care much about the job anyway/short-term workers) or isn't especially needed (for higher-wage jobs that you have to not suck at to keep).

If it hadn't been the ready availability of easy credit, our standard of living would have plummeted.

Of course, easy credit only returns to bite borrowers in the ass, to the benefit of the banking system.

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