Incredible Republican pettiness

It's one thing to vote against an important bill and being honest about thinking it's a bad bill. It's another thing entirely when the bailout bill is rejected out of pure pettiness. Or at least a pretense of pure pettiness; I'm not sure which is worst. The bailout bill is incredibly important, no matter whether it would be the economy's salvation or its downfall, so it's extraordinarily inane that House Republicans would claim that they voted against it purely because the House speaker was critical of the Republican Party.

The critical speech by House speaker Nancy Pelosi may have been inappropriate (I don't think so, but I can see their point), but I can't believe anyone would cite this as a reason to vote against the bailout bill. If they thought it was a disastrous bill, then they should have said so, not try to use a ridiculous excuse that puts the House Republicans in an extremely bad light.

Why dark matter is more diffuse than ordinary matter

It appears that galaxies form around clumps of dark matter, so the large scale structure of the universe is determined by the distribution of dark matter, and ordinary matter is attracted to these clumps of dark matter to form the galaxies we see today. Given that it is dark matter that clumps together first, and only then is ordinary matter attracted to these clumps to form galaxies, why is it ordinary matter that ended up being clumped in much more dense objects such as stars or galaxies? It's been a question that has been plaguing me for a while, so I asked about it on Astronomy Cast.

Continue reading Why dark matter is more diffuse than ordinary matter

Delayed energy bill

There's bad news for clean energy industries. The House and the Senate have approved conflicting versions of an energy bill that is intended to spur development of alternate energy sources. The energy bill includes badly needed tax credits for solar energy and energy efficiency measures. If Congress can't sort things in time, it will be a blow to the clean energy industries which need to be developed sufficiently before it's too late. If we delay things until the need for clean energy becomes crystal clear, then it might already be too late and we might not have sufficient resources to develop new energy sources.

Considering the huge subsidies that the fossil fuel industry receives, it's odd to see opposition to the subsidy of alternative energy justified by claiming that the free market should take care of it. Especially since it's the alternative energy sources that needs a boost to prepare for the decline in oil production and mitigate climate change.

Ivins deduced the anthrax attacker

In a bizarre twist in the anthrax case, Dr. Ivins seemed to have thought that he figured out who the culprit was in the anthrax attacks of 2001. From what I hear about him, he seemed to be an Internet troll and an eccentric, but this hardly makes a compelling case for Dr. Ivins being the perpetuator. And it's even harder to think so given that he emailed himself about figuring out who the actual perpetuator was.

It's odd that he failed to tell anyone about his suspicions, though. On the other hand, he may have indeed told the authorities and was harassed for it. Perhaps he was silenced and his death set up to look like a suicide to hide a conspiracy in the government. I've always thought that the FBI was scapegoating Dr. Ivins to avoid the political embarrassment of being unable to solve the case, but this new twist gives a little bit of credence to conspiracy theories that the anthrax attacks were orchestrated by the government.