Thursday, June 16, 2016

Crappy Comparison in Support of Vegetarianism

I have no problem with people who are vegetarians (or even vegans) but I do have a real problem with arguments like this one that, effectively, call all meat eaters horrible people.

Yes, most livestock in this country is poorly treated, and we should stop that, and yes the reasoning is perfectly legitimate, but the result of reading this article is, for most people: nothing.  Those who are either already vegetarians or are already engaging in cruelty minimizing practices (and, if the latter, spending way more on their meat selections) will agree.  Everyone else, well, they may not like the conditions but the argument isn't new, and the tone is not one that is going to convince them to change.

The problem comes down to: meat tastes good, and poor conditions mean cheaper meat.  We really have evolved to like meat, so giving it up is not easy. On top of that most people are going to get the less expensive option...especially for things like chicken which don't have the [wagyu]/prime/choice/select grade cachet that beef has.  Humanely raised chicken is a lot more expensive (like 3-7 times the price).  Now if humane standards were required, there is a very good chance that the price of humanely raised chicken would come down somewhat (though it would still be higher than current).  That would be fine, and those things are proceeding.

Meat should cost more than it does and we should eat less than we do.  Calling [most] meat eaters assholes (effectively) may even be true but it isn't going to get them on your side.

Point out the bad conditions and work to change them: good.  Convince higher income people to go for [expensive] humane options: good.  Write yet another "Everyone should be vegetarian (or vegan) because meat is cruel/murder" article: fuck off!


This is just really neat.  Got there through a link off one of the Astronomy Pictures of the Day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Issue Is Going To Be Storage

This is the right way, in general, to think about next gen energy market.  Smaller, distributed generation points will be linked with better software to maximize efficiency.  The problem, which is not mentioned here, is storage.  We need a lot of energy storage to accommodate peak demand, and peak efficiency offsets.  Much more with renewable energy technologies since things like solar and wind can't be brought on and offline in the same way that a gas power plant can.

I was at PNNL a couple weeks back listening and talking with lots of people thinking about this problem.  Software does help a lot, but we still need some technology breakthrough that will let us get the storage we need.  Geographically limited pumped hydro is still the king.  Flow batteries seem to be the most promising new(er) technology, though they aren't quite there yet.  Other battery technologies/improvements are still mostly geared toward portability and mobility, though if they can be brought down in cost and improved in cycle life they could be used to the same end.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

No Brainer for Terrorists in US: Use Guns

I'm surprised it's taken so long for them to figure it out, but thanks to the NRA it is so easy to get lots of high powered firearms, with no tracking or registering, it was really just a matter of time before lone wolf type terrorists started becoming more common in the US.

So, really, the NRA is, in fact, an enabler of terrorists.  Note: this has actually been true for some time as lots of not-brown gun nuts and gun nut groups do employ terrorist techniques in the literal sense of instilling terror in others, particularly any opposition (think open-carry activists).  Really, the NRA is guilty of this.  So I suppose the [modern] NRA is both an enabler of terrorism and itself a terrorist organization.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Maybe but...

Not really of much consequence, but while not everything is a 1977 computer there are a couple things that could be, and he mentions one (variant) in that article multiple times: Google glass.

If you could put on a pair of glasses that looked like regular eyeglasses but enabled some form of, augmented reality, then I suspect that would be very popular, and improved computing (and software) could make that real in the future.  The issue with Google Glass is that you are obviously wearing Google Glass, and unless you're a big fan of cosplaying as the Borg then it's probably not too appealing to you.

As a second aside, the author mentions that he thinks self-driving cars are going to be big, and while I agree that they could be possible in the future, it isn't the capability so much as implementation that I think will hold them back.  Getting people to give up control is more of a hindrance than making a vehicle capable of driving itself.  

Monday, June 06, 2016

In Which We Learn How Came To Be President Trump

This article could prove prophetic if the baby-fingered orange noise machine does win.  Also: why oh why can't we have better journalists.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Not Surprising, but Not Sure The Conclusion is Fully Warranted

So lots of people believing the rich are extra mobile and that they will leave if their [local] taxes are raised doesn't apparently make it so.  At some level the argument that high taxes drive rich people away is, on its face, ridiculous.  Look at really highly taxed places in this country--NYC, San Francisco, NJ--and guess what, more rich people live in those places than live in the low taxed places in this country (both in terms of raw numbers, and, more relevantly, proportionally). So clearly low taxes aren't very useful for retaining rich people.

I would argue that the very things that high taxes can provide: better education, more/cleaner parks, better security...are reasons that all people would want to live in those places, but since many people want to live there, those places become expensive to live in and, over time, more wealthy people end up living in them than poorer people.

That said, it isn't necessarily the case that places considering a millionaire's tax shouldn't worry that their millionaires will leave.  It's more complex than just what we currently see.  If wealthy people living in low tax states are living there in part because they are more inclined to go to low tax areas, then they will move if their taxes go up.  In the case of Florida, while they could probably get away with it, it may also be that Arizona, New Mexico and Texas would start to see a larger share of the rich who do move.

If you pay the same taxes in Arkansas as you do in Manhattan, well, New York has lots more cultural opportunities, more diverse food/entertainment, better access to airports that will shuttle one to the far corners of the world, nearby ocean, mountains, rivers...also, it has more rich people already, and the wealthy do love rubbing elbows with each other.  Arkansas does have Petit Jean State Park, which is gorgeous, but probably isn't enough to compete.

So while there's a pretty good argument that, in general, high taxes on wealthy people are not going to lead to an exodus of those same people, it is probably quite dependent on what taxes are already, where the increase would put them, and the particulars of a state/region and the rich that choose to live there.

Thursday, June 02, 2016