3 million US students don’t have access to internet at home

❝ With no computer or internet at home, Raegan Byrd’s homework assignments present a nightly challenge: How much can she get done using just her smartphone?

On the tiny screen, she switches between web pages for research projects, losing track of tabs whenever friends send messages. She uses her thumbs to tap out school papers, but when glitches keep her from submitting assignments electronically, she writes them out by hand…

❝ She is among nearly 3 million students around the country who face struggles keeping up with their studies because they must make do without home internet. In classrooms, access to laptops and the internet is nearly universal. But at home, the cost of internet service and gaps in its availability create obstacles in urban areas and rural communities alike.

Please, don’t waste time patting yourself on the back because you did homework BITD by hand before the Internet existed, blah, blah, blah. I’m older than probably 99% of folks on the Web nowadays and I wouldn’t go back to what was available when I was a high school senior in 1954/55 on a bet.

I’ve been online for 36 years and I wouldn’t go back to all the previous means for information search and retrieval for any reason. Books are great, TV and film helps, any number of sources perform well – when available. And with decent broadband access, available means more information is ready to access than you can dream of. For a school age child, nowadays, the Web is the best choice there is.

Then you have to deal with all the reasons it isn’t available for lots of folks, lots of schoolchildren. Starting with cost.

Say Goodbye to Thermal Coal


Click to enlargeEdward Burtynsky

❝ ,,,Just one year ago, in his 2018 State of the Union address, the president claimed that his administration “ended the war on beautiful, clean coal.”

If the war on coal is over, peace for coal is a curious-looking thing.

❝ 2018 was a particularly bleak year for the industry. Coal capacity retirements actually doubled in 2018 compared to 2017, and coal production was largely flat. Recent projections from the Energy Information Administration don’t show the conclusive end of the coal industry any time soon, but they do show that coal may have reached a point of no return, despite all the rollbacks of environmental regulations that the Trump administration has proposed or enacted…

❝ In President Trump’s State of the Union speech, this year, he didn’t mention coal once…

Metallurgical coal is still needed. Specific chemical requirements in legacy steel-making processes continue. Thermal coal? Natural gas is going to take care of that easy-peasy.

A Shut Down Government Costs Taxpayers More Than an Open One

❝ Sending workers home, not collecting fees and not paying bills on time all come with a cost, which escalates every day President Trump and Congress fail to reach a deal to reopen federal agencies.

❝ A federal government shutdown might seem like a great way to save money: When agencies aren’t open, they aren’t spending tax dollars. But history shows us that closing the government actually costs more than keeping it open.

Shuttered parks can’t collect entrance fees. Furloughed workers will ultimately get paid for not showing up to work. And the government will wind up having to pay interest on missed payments to some contractors.

And it goes on from there. RTFA. Please ignore the lies, distractions and other con games flowing from the Oval Office like urine from a drunken baboon.

CarMD says these are the most reliable auto brands


Most reliable individual model = Audi Q5 SUV

1. Toyota
2. Acura
3. Hyundai
4. Honda
5. Mitsubishi
6. Subaru
7. Buick
8. Mercedes
9. Lexus
10. Nissan

NOTE Between Oct. 1, 2017 and Sept. 20, 2018, CarMD said it measured and analyzed vehicle data and health of about 5.6 million in-use vehicles manufactured from 1996 to 2018 reporting check engine health.

Lots of different ways to approach these questions and the article does a decent job, ranging from repair and maintenance costs to repair frequency, etc.. RTFA.

An insider’s perspective on Fukushima — and everything after

❝ The meltdown of the reactors at Fukushima Daichi has changed how many people view the risks of nuclear power, causing countries around the world to revise their plans for further construction and revisit the safety regulations for existing plants. The disaster also gave the world a first-hand view of the challenges of managing accidents in the absence of a functional infrastructure and the costs when those accidents occur in a densely populated, fully developed nation.

❝ Earlier this week, New York’s Japan Society hosted a man with a unique perspective on all of this. Naomi Hirose was an executive at Tokyo Electric Power Company when the meltdown occurred, and he became its CEO while he was struggling to get the recovery under control. Ars attended Hirose’s presentation and had the opportunity to interview him. Because the two discussions partly overlapped, we’ll include information from both below.

NAOMI HIROSE:

❝ “We learned that safety culture is very important. We saw that we were probably a little arrogant. We spent a huge amount of money to improve the safety of that plant before the accident. We thought that this was enough. We learned that you never think this is enough. We have to learn many things from all over the world. 9/11 could be some lessons for nuclear power stations—it’s not just nuclear accidents in other countries, everything could be a lesson.”

I spent a fair piece of my early days in metals testing laboratories. Mostly non-ferrous metals — including zirconium which was used at the time in heat exchangers of nuclear power plants. I had an ongoing interest in nuclear generated power for decades and, frankly, though it’s still a viable option with appropriate regulations, testing and management, the whole process is now simply too expensive to be considered rationally…especially when compared to renewable sources whether they be solar, wind or wave power, geothermal.

Trump and his Obedient Republicans have ordered an end to Net Neutrality in June

❝ Landmark U.S. “net neutrality” rules will expire on June 11, and new regulations handing providers broad new power over how consumers can access the internet will take effect…

The FCC in December repealed the Obama-era open-internet rules set in 2015, which bars providers from blocking or slowing down access to content or charging consumers more for certain content.

❝ The prior rules were intended to ensure a free and open internet, give consumers equal access to web content and bar broadband service providers from favoring their own material or others.

Trump’s chumps don’t care about transparency or equal access. They’re perfectly willing to obey daddy’s new rules as long as he promises to continue crackdowns on furriners and folks who ain’t white enough.

Meanwhile, like most of Trump’s crimes, this is essentially an economic piece of crap designed to keep life free and easy for folks with lots of spare money – and screw the rest of us. Corporate access being the highest priority.

Nevada’s legislature just passed Medicaid for all

❝ Nevada, with little fanfare or notice, is inching toward a massive health insurance expansion — one that would give the state’s 2.8 million residents access to a public health insurance option.

❝ The Nevada legislature passed a bill Friday that would allow anyone to buy into Medicaid, the public program that covers low-income Americans. It would be the first state to open the government-run program to all residents, regardless of their income or health status.

The bill is currently sitting with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican. His office did not respond to an inquiry about whether he would sign the bill or veto it.

❝ Democrats in Washington have previously proposed a similar “Medicare for all” scheme, which would open up the public program for the elderly to Americans under 65. The idea has always fizzled out, however, due to a lack of political support.

“Medicaid for all” offers an alluring alternative to those proposals. For one, Medicaid coverage generally costs less than “Medicare for all” because the program pays doctors lower rates. This might make it a more alluring option for price-sensitive consumers worried about their monthly premium.

Because states have a large role in running Medicaid, they can move these proposals forward with less involvement of the federal government. A public option program like this has always failed at the federal level. But a liberal state such as Maryland or Connecticut — or, in this case, even a more centrist state like Nevada — might explore the option unilaterally.

A good chance to watch the 2 wings of our craptastic political establishment flounder about nationwide – trying to avoid doing something similar. Republicans are doubly stuck in knee-deep political manure with all their years of using states’ rights as a pet excuse to avoid anything as modern as, say, the horseless buggy – or equal rights for anyone below corporate CEO pay grade. Interested to see what copouts we’ll get from self-identified centrist Democrats.