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Comment Re:Look over here, look over here! (Score 1) 479


DDT is not as widely useful as you believe.
It does nothing to the wide range of mosquitos that do not linger on indoor surfaces.
It does nothing to the wide range of mosquitos (and other pests) that adapted to be immune to it.
It does nothing to stop farmers from spraying it on crops instead of homes.

Add to this that the locales that used DDT the heaviest saw the greatest threats from adapted species after very few years, and DDT became an albatross.

There are effective ways to fight malaria without DDT.
And DDT is still generally approved for use in epidemics and special situations (even in the USA).

Comment Mini-magnetosphere Plasma Propulsion? (Score 2) 193

This reminds me of M2P2 that was all the rage on this site a decade or so ago.
Looks like the Dr. Winglee kept up some research, but their page was last updated in 2011.
But, some pretty pictures, movies, and results from actual experiments.

If you've never heard of this, the basics are to create a magnetic sail by trapping plasma in a magnetic field around a spacecraft.
Solar wind particles push against the plasma, which is able to expand the range of the magnetic field, and provide force to push the craft.
This is somewhat similar to the concept of solar sails, except the plasma expands outward (increasing surface area exposed to the wind) as the density of the wind decreases. This provides more force than a solar sail the further you are from the sun.

Another benefit was the plasma and magnetic field are deflecting solar particles, so it can shield the occupants, much as this article describes.

Comment Re:Seguro Popular -- it's not universal (Score 1) 732

And many libertarians also don't connect all the past experience this country has with not having public police or fire services. Take a tour of Philadelphia; they'll gladly show you the remaining emblems for the various private fire services that existed long ago.

Then you'll gradually learn how those services were incompatible within the city or between cities. This lead to a lot more property damage and lives lost.

It's not an accident that such things became public over the course of time.

Comment Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (Score 1) 732

which will be if they allow the government (screw it - allow the current batch of GOP politicians) to reduce SS benefits to future generations

And even if we do not a thing to change the current issues, the most pessimistic projections by the SS Board suggests:

  • projected benefits will be 75% of the full promise to future beneficiaries
  • In inflation adjusted dollars, this amount is significantly higher than today's payouts
    • The less pessimistic projections, which followed America's growth until the current recession, showed the program remaining able to fund to 100% for at least 75 years (the outer horizon of projections).

      Further, if we rebalance the growth in inequality our society has allowed to occur for the last 30 years, then everyone in those time horizons is better off financially.

Comment Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (Score 1) 732

Wait it gets worse.

Since there is no cap on the profits of insurance companies, they are free to simply raise premiums to pass on the cost of bad investment of past premiums.
For instance, all their internet stocks become worthless, then raise premiums to meet profit expectations. Or deny more claims, or pay doctors less for procedures.

The $12 Q-tip (uncited) is just a symptom of the inequties in the system. Doctors and hospitals need to be paid (not always what they want, but fairly). When the payers (insurance companies) refuse to pay for some services, then others have to priced higher to recoup the costs. And on and on...

Comment Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (Score 1) 732

This is correct, however I ask a follow up. Why are hospitals forced to provide healthcare services to people that cannot pay - this is one of the main drivers behind escalating costs of healthcare, but why is this the case?


You can rationalize several reasons depending on your bent.

  • Public health is a national priority. Having destitute sick people hanging around is worse for all citizens.
  • Public health is a matter of national security. To fight wars you need a healthy population. Look at the British experience in WWI. They lost nearly their entire upper class because the lower classes were too sick to fight. They lost a generation of the fittest young men.
  • Public health has greater utility to society than letting the slob die. If he dies or is permanently disabled, we lose the value of his labor and other contributions to society. The gambit is that on average, these contributions are far greater than saving his life today.
  • Public health is a religious duty. All of the Abrahamic religions (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) see assisting the poor as a mandated act of charity.
  • Because we have a society that values individual life and holds it to be something worth saving.

Comment Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (Score 1) 732

Remember, that's the only way all insurance works - by forcing one group to subsidize another.


Also, with all for profit insurance, you're subsidizing the losses of the insurance company when they make bad investments with your premiums (i.e. American insurance companies after 1999). If they make good investments, they don't see a reason to lower the premiums and just keep the profits.

I think you can see that growth in health care costs to the the individual have direct relationships to the lack of profits to the insurance company. If they don't hit a target, they raise the premium ever higher or reduce the payout or reject more claims. There is not direct relationship between premiums and quality of service, especially if you live in a captive market like Alabama.

There's hope the Obamacare changes to cap profits at 18% of premiums received will remove some of these issues. Also the gradual change into a system that monitors the actual effectiveness of outcomes will increase the effectiveness of treatment for the same dollar.

Comment Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (Score 1) 732

But how much of the insurance is to protect against tort, and how much is actual malpractice.

In the annals of data about tort reform you can find some specialties (e.g. anestheticians) who changed their operational practices. As a specialty, their insurance rates went from the highest to among the lowest by simply adding things like check lists and adopting better practices.

These types of studies among the specialists would likely make a larger impact than tort reform, which only really impacts the outcomes of patients with legitimate medical malpractice claims. It's difficult to win such cases, which require a lot of proof. Tort reform only caps the results of the winners (very few), not the losers (most).

Comment Re:Damn! (Score 1) 1165

I'll take my chances of having an accident or being in a firefight rather than surrender to a criminal. I don't care if it's $20 or $2000.

Thus is the crux of the problem revealed. Regardless of how either of us random internet persons feel about firearm ownership, you seriously OVERESTIMATE your ability and UNDERESTIMATE the danger of escalating such a situation. Surrendering small private property to a criminal to avoid escalating to physical damage should not cause such a sharp cut to your ego.

Every single piece of defensive training material I have ever seen, studied, or discussed starts with an attempt to deescalate from violence. Awareness, prevention, avoidance, and deescalation of violence are orders of magnitude more effective in preventing bodily harm and serious injury (to all parties involved). Surrendering some private property may be the cost.

One of the things you clearly OVERESTIMATE is the effectiveness of having a firearm. Presumably your friend was surprised by his assailant. If you'd been present with your firearm, you would not be able to draw it and aim without alerting the assailant. While he may choose to flee, he may also choose to escalate to using that knife on you or one of your friends. That's a worse situation, all around.

Even more likely, and more dangerous, the assailant may have seen the firearm before hand. In that case, he may choose to disarm you before you are aware of his presence. In that case, you are now being robbed at gunpoint. At the very least, you've lost a gun worth much more than $20.

Being aware of your surroundings and being prepared to surrender a meager amount of personal property (you keep the real money hidden, right) is generally more effective. There are times when escalating to violence is unavoidable or more acceptable, but they are rare and you need proper training to have a chance of avoiding serious harm. I'm not against people carrying guns, just untrained, macho morons who don't have the good judgement to not use it.

Comment How about Zinc metal batteries instead of Hydrogen (Score 1) 406

I'm not a chemist, but why not deposit the Zn vapor onto a surface and sell it to produce Zn-metal batteries?

Would this provide an electricity storage source that is more dense than Hydrogen? Since the generators are distributed, then the Zn-battery plants could be built near the furnaces and the results distributed in local markets.

Something similar to the Better World battery swap stations could replace depleted batteries with fresh ones and the depleted batteries could be sent back and refined in the furnaces.

As a distribution matter, wouldn't this be somewhat less problematic than piping low-density Hydrogen around the community?

Comment Re:two ways to solve the tax "scam" (Score 4, Informative) 1505

Usually when the government lowers taxes they see an increase in tax revenue because of increased spending since taxes are lower

No. This is the often-marketed Supply Side tax cut effect that is, as shown here, incorrect.

The correct statement is that a cut in taxes does not reduce tax revenues dollar for dollar. This is also over the long-term, like 30+ years. For instance, the Kennedy era tax cuts eventually reduced tax revenue by 70% of expected receipt.

While I do not have direct citations back this up, it has been the recent trend that the sellers of Supply Side Tax cuts to the Republican party have had to claw back the extreme claims. I think Bruce Bartlett has spent recent history setting the record straight. You can also find more information among Krugman's public articles.

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