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LAGC

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Missoula, MT
Home country: USA
Current location: Deep in Red State Hell!
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 4,979

About Me

Godless democratic socialist, look towards northern Europe for inspiration on what role-models our economy should aspire towards. Love the ACLU and donate heavily to them each year, wish they'd get with the program and defend the Second Amendment with as much fervor as they do the rest of the Bill of Rights. Proud member of the 99%.

Journal Archives

Today We Learned How to Make Crack Cocaine and Kevlar!

So today we learned about amines and amides, in Organic Chemistry. (For those not familiar, it involves organic compounds with a Nitrogen component.)

This is cocaine:



Chemistry professors sure seem to know a lot about illegal substances... crack is a lower purity form of free-base cocaine that is usually produced by neutralization of cocaine hydrochloride with a solution of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3) and water, producing a very hard/brittle, off-white-to-brown colored, amorphous material that contains sodium carbonate, entrapped water, and other by-products as the main impurities.

Someone in class asked why it is that rich people tend to be the ones who do the pure cocaine, whereas poor folks tend to be the ones who do crack. She wasn't sure, but said she'd get back to us.



But what was really cool is we learned what kevlar and many fire-proof and bullet-proof vests are made of:



Those red balls are oxygen atoms, the blue balls nitrogen, white balls hydrogen, and black carbon.

It's amazing that just these 4 simple elements, when arranged a certain way, produce properties that make them so impervious to penetration.

This class has been nothing short of fascinating, it really is amazing how chemistry ties in to so many aspects of our lives. It really is the central science.

If I wasn't so dead-set on becoming a biologist, I'd definitely pursue chemistry instead.

The things we've learned in just the past 200 years since chemistry was founded as a science really have changed everything.

Everything boils down to chemistry. Everything.

I Finally Got Through on HealthCare.gov! UNBELIEVABLE Rates!

Holy smokes!

I've been trying to register since Day 1, only to have it keep erring out over and over again, no matter what time of day I tried. Multiple unsuccessful attempts, a couple user account names "lost in limbo", but the third try was the charm.

Took me well over an hour to answer all the verification questions, but I was finally able to look at and compare plans.

To be on the safe side, I ended up over-estimating my income a bit, as my current part-time job only pays around $10K/year, which isn't enough to qualify for subsidies. (My current home state of Idaho is one of those backwards GOP-controlled states that didn't expand Medicaid. Assholes.) But I expect to be able to take on a work-study job through my community college next semester, which should be just enough to put me over the $11,490 threshold for full subsidies to kick in.

So I checked out the default Silver-level plans which looked very affordable. With the $203/month subsidy, I found two plans that only cost $20/month: one with a $1000 deductible and $5800 max out-of-pocket, and another with a $3500 deductible but $3500 out-of-pocket. While that isn't too bad, just for fun I took a peek at the other level plans. I could get a Bronze plan for free, but they had way higher deductibles and max out-of-pocket expenses, too risky. The Gold plans weren't much better than the Silver it didn't seem, and still had pretty high deductibles and co-pays.

Then I was completely blown away: I could get a fucking PLATINUM plan for only $85/month. NO DEDUCTIBLE, $1500 MAX out-of-pocket expenses, worst-case scenario. Only a $35 primary doctor co-pay, a $50 specialist doctor co-pay, and $10 generic drugs. Even though its over 4 times as expensive as a Silver plan, I'm seriously leaning toward this option. The extra income from a work-study job would more than cover it.

No fucking wonder the GOP wants to shut this down before word gets out! Even without subsidies, that Platinum plan is only $288/month, and from the looks of it far superior to many employer-offered plans. This is really going to give corporate insurance plans a run for their money. Employers won't want to look like cheapskates offering less benefits than what the uninsured can get on the exchanges, so I imagine it will force them to reduce, if not eliminate, their high deductibles as well.

If this is really what we have in store, then 2014 is going to be a blood-bath... for the Republicans.


*** ETA: I'm 36 years old, single, non-smoker:

As Germans Push Austerity, Greeks Press Nazi-Era Claims

AMIRAS, Greece — As they moved through the isolated villages in this region in 1943, systematically killing men in a reprisal for an attack on a small outpost, German soldiers dragged Giannis Syngelakis’s father from his home here and shot him in the head. Within two days, more than 400 men were dead and the women left behind struggled with the monstrous task of burying so many corpses.

Mr. Syngelakis, who was 7 then, still wants payback. And in pursuing a demand for reparations from Germany, he reflects a growing movement here, fueled not just by historical grievances but also by deep resentment among his countrymen over Germany’s current power to dictate budget austerity to the fiscally crippled Greek government.

Germany may be Greece’s stern banker now, say those who are seeking reparations, but before it goes too far down that road, it should pay off its own debts to Greece.


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/world/europe/as-germans-push-austerity-greeks-press-back.html?_r=0

It will be interesting to see if Greece presses the issue.

For as much as Greece has bent over backwards to meet German demands, there really should be forgiveness of a good part of that bailout debt that is crippling Greece right now...

Matthew 6:6



I'm sure God is quite impressed with such grandiose displays of public piety...

Of course, its not Him they are trying to impress, is it?

"Emergent Properties" in Biology

So I finally decided to go back to finish up college earlier this year after a long 15-year hiatus. Before, my original major was sociology, but I was only going part-time while working full-time in the tech industry back when the economy was booming under Clinton, so my head wasn't really in the game.

Anyway, I decided to pursue my dreams and major in biology this time around, mainly because life science was my favorite subject back in junior high school, and genetics in particular really fascinated me. So here I am taking my first intro-level (albeit sophomore-level) biology course, and I already keep finding myself just absolutely stunned and shocked by what I'm reading in my textbook.

How you have all these mindless molecules self-reproducing, molecules spawning other molecules, all completely void of any sort of will or agency at all, just doing their own thing without any care in the world. Just a handful of simple chemical elements, that once joined together cause incredibly complex things to happen. I just find it so fucking incredible and awe-inspiring.

I mean, don't get me wrong -- I'm not even buying into the notion that any of our current religious traditions are anywhere near close to knowing the truth of how it all began -- but it is hard not to imagine that we are part of some sort of massive simulation, like we're living in the Matrix or something. LOL. All these hidden "rules" dictating how life behaves at each level of the biological hierarchy, as simpler parts combine to make much more complex things happen. It's just mind-boggling.

Do you guys ever wax philosophical about it all? I know philosophy tends to be only so much mental masturbation often times, but it is fun to think about "the deeper issues" some days... ponder the "how" of it all, let alone the "why" of it all, even if it does seem like an exercise in futility most of the time.

Isn't life fascinating? Just the sheer absurdity of it all? Something rather than nothing? Consciousness out of reducible parts?

Quick! Where's my fainting couch!

Conservapedia: "Moral Zeitgeist"

Don't ask me how I stumbled upon this.

But offered for your reading pleasure if you need a chuckle to lift up your day...

http://www.conservapedia.com/Moral_Zeitgeist

I Don't Give a Damn If You Deny Global Warming, But...

...there is a very real problem emerging with CO2 mixing with ocean water and forming H2CO3 -- carbonic acid.

This effect is gradually turning our oceans acidic, which could have serious ramifications for the entire ecosystem before the end of this century.

National Geographic did an interesting expose on this phenomenon not too long back:

http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/

On the pH scale, which runs from 0 to 14, solutions with low numbers are considered acidic and those with higher numbers are basic. Seven is neutral. Over the past 300 million years, ocean pH has been slightly basic, averaging about 8.2. Today, it is around 8.1, a drop of 0.1 pH units, representing a 25-percent increase in acidity over the past two centuries.


A change of 0.1 pH units may not seem like much, but the potential for affecting marine life is huge. Many aquatic creatures are very sensitive to fluctuations in the acid-base scale, even a shift of a few tenths of a degree in pH units could kill off entire species. This won't just affect fishermen and those industries dependent on them, but the impact will be felt along the entire food chain!

We've made great strides reducing pollutant levels in many U.S. cities. Over the past 30 years, sulfur dioxide levels are down 71%, carbon monoxide levels are down 79%, ozone down 25%, and nitrogen dioxide down 46%, but for some reason we don't seem to have the political will-power to do what needs to be done to reign in carbon dioxide as well.

So nevermind how hot its gotten this summer, or the prospect of rising ocean levels flooding cities -- pay attention to the other threat here: life on this planet as we know it.

We need to do something about CO2.

Michael Savage Nailed It Monday Night (re: Zimmerman)

As far as I'm concerned Zimmerman was trying to play hero, he was trying to play Rambo... the minute Zimmerman opened that (car) door with a loaded gun in his pocket, is when he decided he was going to be in a shoot-out, was when he decided that he was going to take a chance with his life or someone else's life. And that chance, he took that chance and one man is dead, and one man is alive. The man who is dead had no gun, the man who is alive did have a gun. To me this case resides only on those facts. And I have to say that Zimmerman is guilty. Now I know many of you are going to be very angry at me, I expect that... but what if Trayvon had been a white kid, would you be just as defensive of Zimmerman as you are?


http://www.michaelsavage.wnd.com/2013/07/savage-says-zimmerman-guilty/

This guy is as crazy and as rude as they come, can't believe he's still on the air. But every once in awhile he lets the truth slip...

He basically summed up the sentiment of the vast majority of his own radio audience listeners...

Indeed, if Trayvon had been white, you wouldn't see all this support for Zimmerman. You wouldn't see people sending him money.

It's as plain as day. The only reason Zimmy was able to bail out of jail (twice) was because he killed a "black teenage thug" and like a dog whistle, it mobilized a certain segment of our society.

The wanton stereotyping and bare-naked prejudice being displayed by so many of his supporters is so fucking obvious.

(Maryland) Frustrated Gun Store Clerks Ignore Mandated Background Checks

Some Maryland gun store owners are ignoring pleas from the State Police, opting to sell guns to customers rather than waiting for background checks.

Maryland state police are trying to process a veritable flood of background check requests, which has left would-be gun owners and gun distributors peeved about the wait. "We're doing all we can to address the backlog," said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley. "We've just never seen anything like this in the history of our responsibility for licensing firearms. The numbers are just staggering."

Maryland police have tripled their staff to tackle the backlog of 26,547 background check requests.
..
..
Gun distributors are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Maryland law states that gun buyers should not have to wait more than seven days to receive a firearm, while Maryland police are requesting as much as 10 weeks to process the background checks.


http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/guns/frustrated-gun-store-clerks-ignore-mandated-background-checks

A recently passed law that bans assault-style weapons in Maryland is the catalyst that has been driving the gun grab, proving once again that gun control is one of the best ways to sell firearms.

You Got to Love "Fox and Friends"

It sure is amazing how concerned they suddenly are about civil liberties.

During the whole Bush regime, they were nothing but apologists and mouthpieces for every authoritarian action and decree emanating from Attorney General John Ashcroft's Justice Dept.

Now that it's Obama in charge, they are criticizing everything that the Justice Department does.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm glad they are finally siding with the ACLU and speaking out about civil liberties violations, and it wouldn't hurt my feelings if AG Holder was forced to resign, but the hypocrisy is just plain stunning.

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