Cry me a river: Louisiana residents without flood insurance face uncertainty

Those residents without flood insurance are eligible for up to $33,000 in FEMA individual disaster assistance funds, although most will likely receive less than that, based on payments following other major disasters.

It’s not clear to me why the government should subsidize home owners who choose not to get flood insurance.  They’re home owners.  What about tax payers who don’t own homes? Why should they subsidize home owners?

I think Jesus said it best.

For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”  Matthew 25:29

Source: Louisiana residents without flood insurance face uncertainty

Lincoln, The Movie

I borrowed Lincoln from the library. It was a disappointment.

The price was right, is about all I can say for it.   I was expecting more of a biography instead of a political thriller.  (The political intrigue was interesting – akin to House of Cards, I imagine.)

I’m conflicted over Daniel Day Lewis’s characterization.  He looked like my version of Lincoln but he didn’t talk like my version of Lincoln.  Great acting, I thought.

Sally Field was terrible – shallow acting, bad lines.

Tommy Lee Jones – make the best of a bad script.

Lincoln 2012 – IMDb.

Nuissance Squirrels

The squirrels are taking over the garage and shed in my back yard.  I’m afraid to go in there because they jump around overhead in the rafters and hiss at me. They chew up everything made of paper and they’ve tried to get into my seasonal storage duffel bags.  Enough is enough.
I found this stuff  Critter Ridder  It’s a spray-on liquid composed of three different kinds of hot peppers. Unlike bear spray, you don’t have to hit the animal with the spray; you’re suppose to spray it where they hang around.  But it lasts only 30 days before you have to reapply it.

If it doesn’t work, I think I’ll get a pet wolverine and keep him in the shed.  Wolverines like small mammals; goodness knows I’ve got enough of those.
If I have any left-over Critter Ridder I might use it as a spritzer on chicken wings or a nice taco salad.  Wish me luck.

Canada’s oil sands: The steam from below | The Economist

Please, in the Science and Technology section of The Economist, better science and less use of industry press releases.
The most glaring examples of poor journalism in the puff peace, to my mind:
Bad science:
“Germany’s Siemens is developing a system that floods a thick copper cable with an electrical current to create an alternating magnetic field to melt bitumen.”
Industry press releases:
The electricity required to run such a process might come from small nuclear reactors, says Jerry Hopwood of Candu Energy, a nuclear-technology company.

Canada’s oil sands: The steam from below | The Economist.


The May/June 2014″Intelligent Life” insert to the Economist featured an article on Seven Deadly Sins with seven different worldly people lobbying for one of the Sins.  They’re all interesting reads.

I particularly liked the article by Aminatta Forna (professor of creative writing at Bath Spa University and author of “The Hired Man”) and the following two paragraphs in particular.

I spend some of my time in west Africa where choices are fewer. In our family village most people are subsistence farmers and meals are shared and eaten from the same dish. Yet even there a visitor has asked for the “vegetarian option”. Off the coast nearby, Japanese factory trawlers heave tonnes of fish from the ocean, leaving little for local fishermen.

In west Africa, when a spendthrift loses his fortune, we say: “He ate it.” Future generations will look back at us, across the empty seas and the rainforests razed to make way for yet more cattle, ask what happened to the earth and say: “They ate it.”

via GLUTTONY IS THE DEADLIEST SIN | More Intelligent Life.

Antibiotic Resistance: blah, blah, blah, blah

Antibiotic Resistance: A Mismanaged Public Good

Yes, we all know that bacteria and other microbial beasties are developing resistance to antibiotics faster than scientists can develop new antibiotics.  Same old, same old, right?   This interesting article doesn’t offer specific solutions but it opens a door, I think.  It suggests that the Tragedy of the Commons phenomenon is a good analogy to the over-prescription and over-use of antibiotics.  The costs of over-use are not borne by the over-users; they’re borne by the rest of society. The free market isn’t working.  Regulatory intervention may be required to ensure that all the costs are borne by the producers (and thus reflected in their prices.)

Having nicely encapsulated the problem, author Timothy Taylor, the Conversable Economist, offers a few unrealistic solutions to the problem of growing antibiotic resistance:

  • invent our way out of the problem with new groups of antibiotics;
  • avoid over prescribing antibiotics;
  • more hand-washing and sterilization, which would reduce the need to prescribe antibiotics

Seriously – “more hand-washing”?

Instead, why not slap a Federal Excise Tax on the sale of antibiotics used for food animal production?  Tasty as they are, food animals are responsible for about half of all the antibiotics sold in the US. The cost of the antibiotics to the farmer is very small; the cost of growing antibiotic resistance to the population at large is very high.  Tragedy of the Commons.  We should tax the farmers and use the proceeds to bring an NHL team to Seattle – or something else worthwhile like funding basic research into new ways to fight bacterial infections.

What’s that you say, “The farmers are already living at subsistence level* and any further taxes will drive them off the farm and jeopardize our nation’s food independence.”?  Corporations, not farmers, raise food animals.  If the corporations can’t absorb the additional tax (reducing their profit) they will raise their prices.  Yes, this will result in a lot of Meatless Mondays, Tofu Tuesdays, and Wegetable Wednesdays.  It’s a small price to pay.

*P.S. Don’t get me started on the subsidies that our governments already pay to the farmers who raise these food animals.  That’s the subject for another column.

via CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST: Antibiotic Resistance: A Mismanaged Public Good.