The New York Times reported that New York has finally cut a deal with Entergy, the utility operator, to shut down the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. The first reactor is to shut down in 2020 and the second in 2021.
The older generation plant is an accident waiting to happen 30 miles upstream from New York City. Nukes can only be built with federal guarantees to cover liability insurance and they are licensed for 40 years. They have to apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for 20 year extensions after that first 40 in addition to whatever licensing the state imposes.
Indian Point operates on expired federal and state licenses. One expired in 2013 and one in 2015, but the agencies that denied the licenses do not have the gumption to shut down a plant feeding that much power to the grid.
My cousin Ray Sixkiller was concerned about why it’s going to take another three years to shut down just one reactor? Politics, of course.
He snorted and I understand his contempt. Should Indian Point give the world another Chernobyl, Fukushima Daiichi, or even a Three Mile Island, the politics of the shutdown will turn on a dime.
In addition to the rational fear of an accident so close to a major population center, it’s of concern that the plant sucks 1.2 billion gallons of water a day out of the Hudson River cold and returns it hot, making permanent changes to the riverine ecosystem which many species cannot survive.
President Eisenhower made a speech in 1953 called “Atoms for Peace,” bending the terrible weapons that ended WWII to better purposes. There have been just enough accidents to keep nuclear power from fruition as the low carbon power source. It was a noble effort, but it’s not viable to claim nuclear power is safe when there’s no safe place for the spent fuel and no private insurance company will write a policy without government backing.
Accidents can always happen. Just ask Isaiah Adams, whose romantic proposal to his future wife Grace is on video and the video went viral thanks to Inside Edition. Hopefully, he and Grace will laugh at the accident with grandkids after many years of marriage.
The would-be groom took his girlfriend to Cunningham Falls State Park in Maryland and had a co-conspirator tag along to make a video. As they were walking up the falls, he stopped on a flat rock, dropped to one knee, whipped out the ring and made his proposal.
Grace covered her open mouth in a gesture of surprise but quickly accepted and the lovers kissed to cheers in the background. She took the ring out of the box to put it on….and dropped it. The ring bounced into the waterfall and was gone, to be a mysterious artifact for some archeologist to find generations hence.
Look at the bright side: they will never forget the occasion.
On the topic of finding odd things, New Scientist reported that a surgical team in Japan was removing the appendix of a 16 year old girl when they noticed a tumor growing on one of her ovaries. To be safe, they removed the tumor.
Inside the approximately four inch tumor, they found clumps of hair and a brain like structure about an inch wide covered by a thin layer of bone.
About one fifth of ovarian tumors contain hair, teeth, cartilage, fat, or muscle. These are called teratomas and they are usually benign. The scholar who examined this teratoma, Masayuki Shintaku, said the degree of organization was highly unusual. The miniature brain was developed enough to transmit electrical impulses.
According to a video posted on YouTube and reported by Alternative News, the Chilean Navy videoed a UFO on November 11, 2014 and the Chileans have spent over two years trying to figure it out. The flying object is on screen for less than ten minutes and the camera switches between normal and infrared showing that whatever it is has a robust heat signature. Having failed to identify it, and recognizing that it’s flying, I guess it’s a UFO.
Not all flying objects are unidentified. Alfred “Al” Blaschkel is retired exactly where I am retired, Sun City in Georgetown, Texas. Since he’s a neighbor, I paid attention when KXAN reported that Blaschkel had traveled to Skydive Temple in Salado to celebrate his January 4 birthday by jumping out of an airplane.
The dive went off without a hitch, but before I could move along, Cousin Ray claimed I forgot something. So I did. The year. Al was born January 4th, 1917. He was skydiving for his 100th birthday.
NPR announced that Norway is about to shut down FM broadcasting, converting the entire nation to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB). Reuters reported that 66 percent of the public in Norway opposes the move while 17 percent approves.
Overhearing those numbers, Cousin Ray said it sounds like gun safety laws in the U.S., where the only opinion that counts is the NRA.
Switzerland, Sweden, and Denmark are debating the switchover and the U.K. has decided to do it as soon as 50 percent of listeners are using DAB and the signal coverage matches FM. While DAB can sound better than FM, the principal advantage is efficiency. Many more stations can broadcast on the same part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
DAB is less vulnerable to interference from unlicensed “pirate” stations because the equipment is more expensive and it uses more electricity. I had to warn Cousin Ray that because DAB is more sensitive to Doppler shift, reception range in a car radio suffers at speeds in excess of 120 mph.
Meryl Steep has dominated the Golden Globe awards by speaking about the worst insult thrown by Insulter in Chief Donald J. Trump in the campaign just ended, Trump’s mocking of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from arthrogryposis.
The condition causes Kovaleski to move his arms in a manner impossible for the sufferer to avoid but easy for the cruel to mock. We teach our children that mocking the disabled is wrong. Nobody taught President Trump.
Trump is now denying that his imitation of arthrogryposis was intended to mock. Trump tweeted that Streep is “overrated” as an actor and Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway accused Streep of “inciting people’s worst instincts.”
The dispute between Trump and the disabled reporter Kovaleski was over Trump’s assertion that he had witnessed “thousands and thousands” of New Jersey Muslims celebrating the demise of the World Trade Center.
President Trump changed the conversation to the mockery of Serge Kovaleski. Now he’s changed that conversation to his attack on Meryl Streep as “overrated.” Streep has 409 award nominations and 157 wins.
Sex and Psychology had a post this week evaluating stereotypes in light of the latest research. The average age of first sexual intercourse has been fairly constant at 17 for both men and women since the turn of this century. In the modern research, though, it’s necessary to clarify that you mean vaginal intercourse when you ask the question.
Living in Texas, I’ve been exposed to the failure of abstinence only sex education, but there’s more to it than higher teen pregnancy rates. It turns out that if you encourage kids to make a written abstinence pledge, not only do most violate it, but when they do they are more likely than other kids to have unsafe sex.
The Washington Post reported on the controversy over Nutella’s lobbying to get its RACC (“reference amount customarily consumed”) from two tablespoons to one for the purpose of appearing better than peanut or almond butter. The RACC is supposed to reflect the actual amount people consume rather than the amount they should consume.
The two principal ingredients in Nutella are sugar and palm oil. Two tablespoons of Nutella contains 88 percent of the daily sugar recommendation for women and 58 percent for men.
Looking uncomfortable, Cousin Ray skipped past the palm oil and asked what the third ingredient is? That would be, finally, hazelnuts.
Ferrero, the corporation that makes Nutella, had a very lucrative labeling victory in the early nineties. The label on Tic-Tacs described two ounces, which contained more than .5 grams of sugar—that being the limit for calling a product “sugar-free.”
Ferrero successfully lobbied the FDA to change the serving to one Tic-Tac, which enabled the company to market Tic-Tacs as sugar-free when their primary ingredient is sugar.
KXAN reported that an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 137 in Fredericksburg, Texas identified only as “Johnny” scarfed 23 ghost peppers on video in an effort to go viral and raise money for scholarships for his scouts. Immediately after this insane stunt, “Johnny” consumed six Klondike bars, an entire bottle of Pepto-Bismol, a bottle of Mylanta, a half gallon of milk, and lots of water.
Twenty-three hours after the video, ”Johnny” was still in bed with “pain at both ends” and “blood.” The best you can say about this video, which will not be linked here, is in the opening speech: “Under no circumstances should you try this at home. Do not try this at home.”
The jalapeño pepper—which I used to win bar bets scarfing in Wisconsin—ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units. The bhut jokia (ghost pepper) burns at a distance with 855,000 to 1,041,427 SHU.
I once rendered an entire pot of stew inedible by anyone in my house but me with one half of one habanero pepper, which tests at 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units. The hottest pepper allegedly consumed by humans is the Carolina Reaper at 2.2 million SHU.
I’ve had my differences with the Boy Scouts of America over stereotyping Indians and discriminating against gay people. About this video, I understand why “Johnny” did not give his last name but I do not understand why the Scouts would take this death defying feat to be leadership. The KXAN written report ends with no sign of irony: “The Boy Scouts of America aims to guide young men into adulthood through a variety of practical life lessons.”