August 30, 2009


Atoms within a single molecule were pictured for the first time by a team at IMB.
They used a metal needle only 1 atom wide at the tip and put a single carbon-monoxide at the tip of that. They then traced a molecule of pentacene and measured the forces between the atoms.

The experiment was performed at -268 C in high vacuum. The picture that resulted easily shows the structure of the molecule.

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August 27, 2009


I always hear things like:
"The rich get richer, the poor get poorer"
"The shrinking middle class"
"Tax cuts for the rich"
"Unfair burden on the poor"
"Greedy rich people"
It goes on and on. Most recently I hear congress and the President justifying their new programs by saying only people making over $250,000 a year will see tax increases. It seems fair on the surface. If you make a ton of money, you can afford to pay a few more taxes. But how much income taxes do the rich pay? And how much is enough?
Looking at some of that data graphically:

This is rather unbelievable really. The top 1% tax payers in this country (1.4 million people) are now paying MORE than the bottom 95% of tax payers (134 million people) combined!

If you're doing the math you're saying to yourself... "that's only about 140 million people. I thought there were twice that many people in this country". You are right. The bottom 50% of wage earners in this country don't really pay any income tax at all.

Granted, the average income of the bottom 50% is only $15,000/yr. But if we get to the point where a majority of the country doesn't have to pay any income taxes (which is where we are headed), then you have created a permanent majority voting block that can vote itself whatever it wants. Free healthcare - Yes, Free housing - Yes, Free education - Yes, Free college - Yes, Free food - Yes, Free transportation - Yes, Free retirement - Yes, etc. And there will always be plenty of politicians ready to "help" the underprivileged.
“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” - Benjamin Franklin
Charts via Tax Foundation
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August 20, 2009

The Refreshing Truth

Greenpeace tried to declare that by 2030 we would be seeing "ice free" summers in the Arctic. By declaring such sensationalism, they hope to persuade people to jump on board with limiting carbon dioxide.

Finally, however, reporters are beginning to question these ridiculous statements. The BBC pressed Gerd Leipold, the retiring leader of Greenpeace. Leipold had to admit that the ice wasn't going to be gone, he explained that "we, as a pressure group, have to emotionalize issues."

And there you have it! The truth, finally! It's not about science, its about emotion. Do it because it feels good, not because it is actually going to cool the planet.

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August 13, 2009

History of Government health care costs

The house has passed HR3200 "America's Affordable Health Choices Act". As a general rule, one should assume that a bill does the exact opposite of what the title says, so "Affordable" and "Choices" in the title are red flags. The summary is:
This is the House Democrats' big health care reform bill. Broadly, it seeks to expand health care coverage to the approximately 40 million Americans who are currently uninsured by lowering the cost of health care and making the system more efficient. To that end, it includes a new government-run insurance plan to compete with the private companies, a requirement that all Americans have health insurance, a prohibition on denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions and, to pay for it all, a surtax on households with an income above $350,000.

It isn't like this is the first government run health program. We have many of them. So lets look at the performance of the others to see if we can predict the performance of this. Promoters of this bill estimate that it will cost about $1 trillion over the next 10 years. Negotiators in the Senate and House are now saying they've whittled the cost down to "only" $900 billion or so.

From 1968 to 2007 federal spending went from $178 billion to $2,729 billion. So overall spending has increased 15 times in 40 years.

As Medicare was being considered in the 1960's it was estimated to cost $10 billion by 1990, actual costs were $107 billion that year, so congress estimated 10 times less than the actual costs! Medicare went from a cost of $5.1 Billion in 1968 to $436 billion in 2007, an incredible increase of 85 times the original cost 40 years ago!

What about Medicaid? In 1968 the program cost $1.8 billion, 40 years later it is at $191 billion. That is a ridiculous 106 fold increase in the cost of the program!!!!

So will Obama's health care plan be better? Empty promises is all it is.
If it follows the other similar programs, it will cost $10 Trillion dollars in 25 years, that is 4 times ALL Income tax from EVERYONE collected today!
So obviously it can not be paid for by taxing ONLY those earning over $250,000 a year as Obama has promised.
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August 9, 2009

"Recovery" for Obama, "Mixed Showing" for Bush

Today the unemployment rate dropped from 9.5% to 9.4% for July (even though a net 247,000 jobs were lost). Back in 1992, we were also struggling with a poor economy. President Bush (senior) was up for re-election that November. That July, the unemployment number also droped 1/10th of a point, from 7.8% to 7.7%

The New York Times reacted a bit differently however. Byron York has the details:

The front page of the New York Times is filled with hope about the nation's economic situation. The lead story, "Job Losses Slow, Signaling Momentum for a Recovery," reporting a decline in the unemployment rate from 9.5 percent in June to 9.4 percent in July, begins by declaring that, "The most heartening employment report since last summer suggested on Friday that a recovery was under way -- and perhaps gathering steam.""Employers are no longer in a panic," one expert tells the Times. The paper reports that Obama administration officials "credited the stimulus package" for the improvement, and "some said" job losses would be far worse had the $787 billion stimulus not been passed. The paper quotes President Obama saying his administration has "rescued our economy from catastrophe."Put that together with earlier data that the economy shrank at a one percent annual rate in the second quarter, and the Times reports that the news has "convinced many forecasters that when the history of the Great Recession is written, these summer months will be the big turning point, when the economy started to grow again." Of course, there's some "unsettling information" in the new economic data, but overall, the message of the Times story is: Good news -- the recovery is underway.

The Times hasn't always been so optimistic when it comes to one-tenth-of-a-point declines in the unemployment rate. On this very day in 1992, in the midst of the presidential campaign between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, the government also reported that the unemployment rate ticked downward by one tenth of a point, and the Times' treatment was far more restrained."Jobless Rate Dips a Notch to 7.7% in Mixed Showing," was the front-page headline of the August 8, 1992 Times. "The nation's jobless rate improved marginally last month, edging down to 7.7 percent from 7.8 percent,"the Times reported. "But the improvement was not enough to signal a stronger economic recovery or to help President Bush as he heads into the Republican National Convention." Even though the number of jobs actually went up in July 1992 (as opposed to the decline of 247,000 jobs in July 2009), the 1992 Times reported that the economic news "gave no suggestion that the economic recovery was breaking out of its painfully slow pace or, more important, that the job growth was picking up enough to push the unemployment rate down significantly before the election in November." Pollster Peter Hart told the paper that, "There couldn't be worse political news for George Bush."Under the sub-headline "Stagnant Period Seen," the Times reported that "most forecasters" predicted "more of the same: an economy that is just muddling along." The Times looked deep into the data to find "disappointing" numbers everywhere; many of the new jobs were in the service sector, there weren't enough construction jobs, some of the improvement was the result of a government program. (The Times appeared less enthusiastic about government stimulus back then.)

As it turned out, the one-tenth-of-a-point drop in the unemployment rate in July 1992 signaled the end of the increase in the jobless rate. Looking at this table from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can see that at the very moment the Times was declaring a period of stagnation, the unemployment rate was in fact beginning a long decline that would extend through the Clinton years. Of course, the Times' editors and writers didn’t know that then, and they stressed the negative aspects of the economic news. But they don't know what's going to happen now, either, and they're filled with hope. Quite a difference

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Cartoon of the Day

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