Obama, Overtime and Saez-Piketty

Obama’s new overtime rules will change business practice. What does they speak to: injustice, inequality or something else?

The July 1, 2015 New York Times Business section carried an analysis by Noam Scheiber on proposed new Overtime rules, Obama Overtime Rule Scratches the Surface in Helping the Middle Class.

Noam Scheiber, New York Times

Fig 1  Noam Scheiber, New York Times

Obama proposes new Overtime (OT) rules to help to push back the income inequality that has been growing in our country for decades. The Rule raises the threshold for people who may be exempted from additional compensation for more the 40 hours work in any week. These exempt workers are paid by salary, not by time clock records, and are not compensated for any additional work hours beyond the those 40.

Mr. Scheiber’s first comment is very accurate – Obama’s new Rules will have almost no affect on Middle Class income.

This is because it changes how to improve compensation for job related work hours beyond the standard 40  hr/wk. OT pay is not part of a contract, it is fortuitous money that occasionally arrives but cannot be included in a budget.  This rule will do little to nothing to offset the social income pump that shifts money from the lower wage workers into the accounts of the ultra wealthy.

Noam Scheiber ties the lack of effectiveness to the income inequality studies published by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty. The analysis ends with a solid discussion of what really is needed to begin addressing our ongoing income shift.   We examine his points with observations to underline his basic conclusions. Click any image for full resolution.

Overtime (OT) Pay

Currently, a salaried worker who makes above $23,660 may be classified by the company as an exempt employee (not eligible for OT pay).  Let’s examine whether a change would make a difference. Continue reading

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TPP to Piketty – The Slow War

Trans  Pacific Partnership, Retirement Security, and Piketty income inequality are backdrop to slow but very real warfare.

The TPP issue is not an isolated topic but part of deep background to an unspoken but real efforts to change the structure of the American republic.  We discuss it with 2 other issues. Our Outline:  TPPRetirement SecuritySaez Piketty inequality trends

The TPP negotiations are connected to the economic security now and in the future for retirees which is also tied to Thomas Piketty’s results on inequality. Click any image to see full resolution form.

TPP  Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement

The TPP is desperately wanted by Obama and top Republicans.  There has been strong behind-the-scene maneuvering to give Obama fast track negotiation authority.

Barack Obama 2009-2016Barack Obama‘s fast-track negotiation authority has past through the House and Senate. He can now do with it as he wants.  He claims it will boost our trade, increase our net wealth, and be very good for the other signatories.

He may be right about that last point. You might agree with his other points, if you are one of the leaders of our largest corporations, or are the scion of one of our “old wealth” families.

Our Slow Revolution   It is bad for the rest of us, though.  The TPP is the current battle ground in our 35 year (and counting) struggle to convert our populist democracy into an hereditary oligarchy.  There has been much written about the trap TPP represents.

James Surowiecki

Fig 2 James Surowiecki, Columnist, New Yorker

Dean Baker

FIg 3  Dean Baker, Co-director, CEPR

James Surowiecki, Columnist for the New Yorker Financial Page, highlights  the frightening  issue of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), posted his analysis of TPP implications.

Our opposition follows both arguments. Continue reading

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NIF Notes_Hohlraum Spring-2015

Tiny target chambers may become rugby footballs. Will these save ICF/IFE?

During the early spring (2015), the National Ignition Facilty (NIF) at LLNL released/published several modifications to the target design that are worth mentioning.

  • One is the realization that the gossamer tents used to hold the spherical targets in place actually cause detrimental asymmetry in the resulting implosions. Report
  • One is the demonstration that thinner ablative shells around the targets implode faster, with better spherical symmetry and with no shell mixing into the fuel that that might poison ignition. Report    most exciting of the three.
  • One was the future shift to a new hohlraum chamber shape, changing the current (nearly) open cylinder to an egg shaped one with holes in the two ends.

These are all good steps forward; here we discuss the Third point, on the chamber that surrounds the target to be imploded.This is called the hohlraum (German for hollow cavity).  Click any figure to see its full sized image.

Fig 1 shows both the old and newly proposed designs. The images are of the two assembled hohlraums in their mounting frames.

  • Old:  Standard style:  cylinder with rounded end caps.  10 1/8 mm long by 5 3/4 mm inside diameter (ID), with rounded end caps and large hole for the laser beams. Images show the symmetry is damaged by very large diagnostic ports in the side.
  • New:  Proposed prolate spheroid rugby design:  11 mm long  by 7 mm maximum ID (one published proposal).  Diagnostic ports are not as visible – must be present!
Holhraums cylinder + rugby NIF

FIg 1  NIF hohlraum designs.  Left– standard cylinder, 5.75 mm ID.   Right– new rugby, 7 mm max ID.  Top– concept designs for the two types, with 2.2 mm capsule located at center of cavities.  Bottom– images of actual chambers. Hohlraum photos:  LLNL

For reasons we discuss here, cylinders have not worked very well. So NIF scientists propose replacing the standard shape with a larger and more interesting one. Continue reading

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Physics – Science or Ideology?

Should physics theories be tested – or just accepted?  So asks essay the in New York Times

Adam Frank  and Marcelo Gleiser discuss whether Physics has moved beyond the need to be checked.  Their essay (Sunday New York Times 2015-Jun-7) is on science vs empirical evidence (experimental verification)

“Today our most ambitious science can seem at odds with the empirical methodology that has historically given the field its credibility”

2015 Marcelo Gleiser 450x450

Fig 1B  Marcelo Gleiser, physicist

Frank Adams, astrophysicist

Fig 1A  Adam Frank, astrophysicist

“How did we get to this impasse?” they ask.  Then they discuss the Higgs particle that generates a core part of any particle’s mass.  It was predicted 50 years ago and measured last year.

The Higgs is the “lynchpin of … the Standard Model” of particle physics, a powerful mathematical theory that is known to contain problems, but can not be extended.  New theories have elegant math, are each hailed as “the” organizing principle of the universe, but have not predicted anything new.  Are our standards for science changing? Continue reading

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NIF Notes_tents Spring 2015

The NIF fusion lab reports that their target support structure could hurt implosion results – our discussion.

During the early spring (2015), the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at LLNL released/published several modifications to the target that are worth mentioning.

  • One is the realization that the gossamer tents used to hold the spherical targets in place actually cause detrimental asymmetry in the resulting implosion.
  • One is the demonstration that thinner ablative shells around the targets implode faster, with better symmetry and with no shell mixing into the fuel that could poison ignition. Report    most exciting of the three.
  • One was the future shift to a new hohlraum chamber shape, changing the current (nearly) open cylinder to an egg shaped one with holes in the two ends. Report

These are all good steps forward. Here, we discuss the First result on tents.  All our links are to no-charge reports from phys.org, an important source of physics updates, out of the U.K.

Gossamer Tents

Support Tent

Fig 1  Support Tent

A tent is the support structure that holds the spherical target capsule in place. Made of 2 very thin plastic membranes that encapsulate the target.  You can see for yourself how this works using a ping-pong ball and sheets from a roll of kitchen plastic wrap.

Fig 1 is my (very slight) markup of an image LLNL makes available.  Tent sheeting has been tested with thicknesses from 12 to 300 nm. Very fragile since a molecule of “plastic” might be only 10 nm in mean diameter — sheets 1 to 30 molecules thick!  They mention that the thicker ones are more reliable with heavy targets. Continue reading

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NIF Notes_shells Spring-2015

NIF reports tests with capsule designs that illuminate the path toward great results

During the early spring (2015), the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at LLNL released/published several modifications to the targets worth discussing.

  • One is the realization that the gossamer tents used to hold the spherical targets in place actually cause detrimental asymmetry in the resulting implosions. Report
  • One is the demonstration that thinner ablative shells around the targets implode faster, with better spherical symmetry and with no shell mixing into the fuel that that might poison ignition.   most exciting of the three.
  • One was the future shift to a new hohlraum chamber shape, changing the current (nearly) open cylinder to an egg shaped one with holes in the two ends. Report

These are all good steps forward; here we discuss the Second point, on target shell thickness.  A test of the survivability of a thin walled capsule is important because of worries that if the wall is too thin, it will break up during the  implosion and poison the resulting core.

T Ma PhD

FIg 1  Tammy Ma, NIF Scientist

We are discussing the April 2015 published paper with  Dr. Tammy Ma as its lead author.

As with most facility physics work, 74 authors are listed, including Drs. Hurricane and Edwards. Many of these 74 were not involved in writing the paper, but were deeply involved in capsule issues, diagnostic operations and analysis, computational analysis, and other such activities very necessary for success.

The investigators fired NIF beams with the same power level into 3 different targets with different ablative shell thicknesses. Only one “popular press” source, phys.org, has taken notice of these data.

So, though not much other notice has been made, these results are extremely important.  Here’s hoping that NIF leadership pays attention! Continue reading

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Fortunetelling killed by Time’s arrow

Precognition / clairvoyance / prescience?  Not in our universe!

The gypsy soothsayer says “Cross my hand with silver and I will tell you your true future.”

If such actions could be possible, over our past 70,000 years, the soothsayer’s guild should have become the absolute monarchs of the world.  Ms. Soothsayer must be a charlatan!

Future sight cannot happen – time flow will not let it.

Precognition, and other psychic magic

James Randi skeptic

Fig 1 A  James Randi (1928-…)

The Randi Challenge    James Randi (“The Amazing”), stage magician and skeptic of psychic adepts, offers a $ 1M  prize to anyone who can demonstrate psychic mind-over-matter abilities that he can neither duplicate nor explain.

Many candidates have attempted his challenge for the big prize – not one was psychokinetic, not one was telepathic, not one was clairvoyant.  Not one verifiable psychic seer, ever!  Losers, all.

Figs 1  shows Mr. Randi who is also founder of the James Randi Education Foundation, the group working to bring rationality into our society.  For many years, Randi has ranked as one of my top intellectual heroes! Continue reading

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