Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

RealClearScience has listed the three biggest myths about nuclear power.  Here’s the three, with excerpts:

Myth #1. Nuclear is dangerous. In the minds of many, the examples of Three Mile Island, Fukushima-Daiichi, and Chernobyl, are enough to cement this statement as fact. But a full and rational examination of nuclear’s operational history swiftly dispels this common myth. As a variety of different analyses have shown, even when you factor in nuclear’s memorable accidents, it is vastly safer than any fossil fuel energy source.

Well, yes.  The state of art in fission reactors just continues to improve.  The latest generation of pebble-bed reactors are safe, make efficient use of fuel and are damn near idiot-proof.  Reactor designs will only continue to improve.

Myth #2. Nuclear waste is an unsolvable problem. Nuclear energy results in radioactive waste in the form of spent fuel rods – a big drawback. But did you know that coal plants actually produce more radioactive waste during their operation? Currently, more than 90,000 metric tons of nuclear waste (which would fill a football field twenty meters deep) are stored at more than a hundred sites around the United States, a workable but undesirable situation. However, that waste could be safely locked away in Yucca Mountain, a remote site in the Nevada desert situated on federal land.

The entire controversy around Yucca Mountain is a canard, nothing but.  It’s a stable site, remote from any tsunami damage, in a geologically stable location.  We can and should store nuclear wastes there.  Opposition to it is based on nothing more than hysterical anti-nuke sentiment.

Myth #3. Nuclear is prohibitively expensive. No doubt you’ve heard or read numerous accounts about nuclear power plants shutting down or even being canceled in the process of construction for being too expensive. It’s true, in some locations, the landscape of electricity generation makes nuclear unprofitable, but in most locations, nuclear power is doing just fine.

Nuclear power would truly succeed in a setting where the damaging externalities of fossil fuel power sources are priced in. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimated that a meager carbon price costing the average household only $1 per month could make nuclear competitive nationwide, while vastly reducing air pollution.

Here’s a problem.  We don’t need government picking winners and losers, not in energy, not in health care, not in anything.  No more fees, taxes, carbon prices or any other such horseshit.

But with that said, nuclear power is an essential part of our energy future.  The United States has plenty  of fuel in domestic sources.  We have plenty of storage space.  We have the best in modern reactor technology.  Fission reactors as designed today are safe, clean and reliable; the argument watermelons use against them are arguing against forty and fifty year old technology, not the current state of the art.

We should already be building new nuclear generation capacity.  It’s just ridiculous that we aren’t.

Animal’s Daily Random Notes News

Over at Glibertarians you can now read the latest in my series, Profiles in Toxic Masculinity!  This installment presents a character from the Old West who was quite a bit different than the movie depiction.

Meanwhile, here are some tidbits from the day’s news:

Democrats don’t want to talk about the economy.  That’s no surprise, since the economy is humming, and their proposals would be pure disaster.

Left-wing violence won’t stop with Andy Ngo.  Of course not; it didn’t start with him.  It won’t stop until one of two things happens:  The thugs of the contradictorially-named Antifa are arrested, tried and jailed, or some counter-protestors start exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.  That latter would lead to some really, really nasty scenes.

But this is a little over the top:  Progressives Are Leading America To Her Demise.  Progressives aren’t leading anything; the Democrats have a small majority in one house of Congress, and that only because they were smart enough to run moderate candidates in swing districts.  They do, however, have control of education, entertainment, the legacy news media and much of the bureaucracy, and that’s concerning.

On a lighter note, this guy has earned a Deluxe Platinum Man-Card.  For life.  Interestingly, black bears are actually more likely to attack you with predatory intent that grizzlies.  A griz may attack you because you’re too close to its cubs, or to a carcass he’s claimed, or just because you pissed him off.   But a black bear may well want to eat you.

And from the world of science – actual science, not pseudo-science nitwittery – GMO crops are yielding huge benefits in Spain and Portugal.  That ought to make some heads explode.

And on that note, we return you to your Tuesday, already in progress.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

It seems some are blaming social media for a sudden increase in trashing of our public lands.  Excerpt:

Social media’s ability to attract swarms of visitors to picturesque meadows and alpine lakes has presented a new challenge to keeping natural spaces looking even quasi-pristine.

“I don’t think anybody anticipated social media — a year ago, or five or 10 years ago — to be what it is today,” said Dana Watts, executive director of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. “There’s no question it’s having an impact. It is something we’re very much paying attention to.

With more people venturing into the outdoors — many in pursuit of the perfect Instagram snap — Romano can reel off a list of etiquette violations he’s witnessed: Litter, off-leash, free-range dogs, keep-out signs ignored, switchbacks cut, social trails splitting meadows and noise.

“The first time I heard music on speakers in the backcountry, I thought, ‘This can’t possibly be.’ Now it’s very frequent, and people are blasting it,’ ” Romano said.

“I’ve heard people say people who do these things are just ‘hiking their own hike.’ That doesn’t mean you do what you damn well please. Trails are on public property and come with rules and regulations. Roads are public property, too, and we share them with a lot of people. I can’t just drive my own drive. … That mentality astounds me. Trails are being inundated with a lot of new, clueless people right now, and we need a massive public-education campaign.”

Here’s a thought:  Post the rules and regulations for the use of these public lands (I am pretty sure this has already been done).  When the park rangers and/or Forest Service officers find people violating these rules, 1) arrest them, 2) fine them, 3) implement sentencing that includes making them clean up their damn mess – or, more likely given the time involved, someone else’s mess.

When I was a little tad, the county I grew up in – Allamakee County, Iowa – along with neighboring Winneshiek and Clayton Counties –  were home to some amazing county parks.  Many of those, like North Bear County Park and Bloody Run County Park, had extensive camping areas along narrow, lightly graveled roads where one could drive back along the creeks for miles, camping along the streamside and in the meadows in some beautiful locations.  But this was in the late Sixties and Seventies, before the anti-littering campaigns started having an effect, and I can well remember my parent’s frustration at the number of people who would leave bags of trash and piles of empty beer cans just laying on the ground when they pulled out of their campsites.

The state and county authorities who managed these parks were likewise frustrated.  How did they respond?  By closing the parks to vehicle traffic.  Oh, they were still public parks.  There was a parking lot next to the road, and a big solid steel gate over the drive in, so only county officials could enter.  Fishermen, hikers and backpackers were free to walk in, but no wheeled vehicles were allowed.  That solved the problem, but at the cost of a great deal of access.  So that may well be what eventually happens in Washington, where this problem is occurring.

You don’t see this much in Colorado, even in roadside camping areas.  You likewise don’t see it much in Wyoming, where Mrs. Animal and I have done a great deal of camping and fishing.

So, what’s different in Washington state?  Any thoughts?

Rule Five Tech Obsession Friday

Here’s an article on how the use of personal technology like cellular phones and tablets may physically change humankind.  One problem:  It’s absolute horseshit.  Excerpts with my comments follow:

Creating a 3D model of a future human called “Mindy”, scientists said people living in 2100 may have hunched backs from hours of sitting over computers and looking at smartphones.

2100?  That’s eighty-one years from now.  Evolutionary changes in populations of large mammals, like humans, take spans of many generations; they don’t happen in that short a time.  Also, a hunched back is an acquired trait, and those can’t be inherited; this is Lamarckism, and it’s bullshit.

Mindy also has bigger neck muscles to compensate for her poor posture, a thicker skull to protect from radiation and a smaller brain that has shrunk from leading a largely sedentary lifestyle.

There’s nothing about a sedentary lifestyle that will necessarily lead to a smaller brain.

Humans in fewer than 100 years may also have claw-like hands from gripping their phones.

Again, an acquired trait if even that.  There is not, to our knowledge, an allele or set of alleles in human geneology that produces “clawed” hands as described in this article.

Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, said: “Spending hours looking down at your phone strains your neck and throws your spine off balance.

A “health and wellness expert?”  Why not talk to an evolutionary biologist?  You know, someone who actually knows what the hell they are talking about?

“Consequently, the muscles in your neck have to expend extra effort to support your head.

Explain to me how this affects your genome.  Hint:  It doesn’t.

“Sitting in front of the computer at the office for hours on end also means that your torso is pulled out in front of your hips rather than being stacked straight and aligned.”

See above.  But this next bit is where we really cross into the absurd.

Kasun Ratnayake, of the University of Toledo, also said the human body could change to limit the amount of damaging light eyes are expose to – possibly resulting in a second eyelid.

“Humans may develop a larger inner eyelid to prevent exposure to excessive light, or the lens of the eye may be evolutionary developed such that it blocks incoming blue light but not other high wavelength lights like green, yellow or red,” he said.

He’s referring to a nictating membrane.  Birds, fish, reptiles and some amphibians have them.  Some mammals do, but primates do not, and therefore humans do not.  To find and activate an allele or (more likely) a set of alleles that would produce a structure that has not existed in millions of years, since humanity’s last common ancestor with, say, camels, or polar bears, or seals; that would take many generations of conditions in which a nictating membrane confers some reproductive advantage, and it would be wildly unlikely at this distance in time that those alleles still even exist in our population.

This sack-o-crap article demonstrates one thing very plainly:  The people who wrote it and the people they interviewed don’t know their asses from their faces where evolution is concerned.  Evolution is the change in allele frequencies in a population over time; individuals do not evolve, and allele frequencies change primarily when conditions favor one allele over another, thus producing differential reproductive success.

None of the acquired traits they describe could produce differential reproductive success.  None of the acquired traits they describe could magically be encoded into the genome.  This article is absolute and utter horseshit, fit only for enriching lawns.

Animal’s Daily Armed Jews News

Israel gets it.

First of all, thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links – and check out some reminiscences about my grandfather over at Glibertarians.

So, it seems a Boston-area rabbi is picking up a tip or two from the IDF.  Excerpt:

BOSTON — A rabbi here has asked congregants to consider bringing guns to religious services as a form of protection in response to recent shootings at synagogues across the country.

Rabbi Dan Rodkin of Shaloh House in Brighton, a Boston neighborhood with a large number of Russian-speaking Jews, told the public radio station WBUR that the rise in hate crimes across the country and the loss of life at the Chabad at Poway and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh influenced his thinking.

Rodkin fears that increased safety measures implemented at Shaloh House — they include security cameras, reinforced glass windows and panic buttons — are no longer sufficient protection. The rabbi said the actions of an off-duty officer at the Poway Chabad center, where one woman was murdered, may have prevented further casualties.

“I know it sounds horrible, but I think it’s a very logical approach for the situation we’re in,” he said in an interview on the WBUR “Morning Edition” program. “I don’t want people to have guns. But I think to protect our families, it’s a necessity now.”

Several of his congregants, including former soldiers and retired police, are now carrying guns into daily services at Rodkin’s synagogue, which also operates a day school.

I think I understand why the rabbi is reluctant, even as he made the right decision.  If this were an ideal world populated by ideal people, nobody would need to carry guns for protection – at least, not from other people.

But it’s not an ideal world, and there are no ideal people, although my late father and mother came damn close.  There is only the world we live in, and in this world, for some insane reason it seems like it’s getting rather less safe to be a Jew.  I’m not sure why; the Jewish people I’ve known have all been fine, upstanding folks.

Rabbi Rodkin is concerned for the safety of people for whom he feels responsible.  I can understand that, having taken a platoon of 32 people into a combat zone.  My people were armed.  There’s no reason why Rabbi Rodkin’s people shouldn’t be armed either.

And if anyone demands justification for their decision to take up arms, here it is:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

‘Nuff said.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.