Archive for August, 2011


Posted by on Saturday, 27 August, 2011


TALK about the things that people take for granted!

Your sphincter?

If something goes wrong with  your urinary sphincter or your anal sphincter you can become incontinent.


Most people with incontinence cope.

Not so easy though.

I’m not saying their lives are over. Not at all. There are treatments –  exercises, nerve stimulators, drugs,  surgery. Even diapers. But wouldn’t it be nice if  you could just call up and say “How about a new one?”

Dr. Kalil Bentar (Institute For Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center) is developing artificial sphincters – anal AND (you’ll be thrilled to know) urinary – that could replace the real thing. They’re grown in the lab with real muscle cells and real nerve cells. Drop in place replacements.

It’s no Heathkit. Surgeons are still needed for the “install”. Still. This is a big advance.

ScienceAintSoBadRating? In spite of the yuck factor, I would like to give this one a 10 because it’s SO cool and offers a great quality of life for millions of people.

But I can’t.

Not yet.

Theres still a lot to be done before this is fully refined, tested, and available.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 6 for now.

More to come.


Credit to Joriel “Joz” Jimenez for the above photo.
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Posted by on Sunday, 21 August, 2011




The Governor of Texas just injected himself into a ScienceAintSoBad debate.

Remember The Mystifying Case Of Chloe SohlMove over, Chloe.  Rick Perry (same one as wants to run the United States) just had his own stem cells stuck into his back to “cure” degenerated vertebra.  (Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times) .


You can’t live with it. You can’t get it straight.


Credits for the above image to Robert Scoble and Flickr photostream
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Posted by on Saturday, 20 August, 2011




 On August 13th, I talked about thorium reactors . I went on and on about the advantages of thorium over uranium.  Ending the article with my irresistible dry humor. I said:

The LAST thing MISTERScienceAintSoBad wants to do is make you feel all competitive. But DO you want India or (maybe) Iran to beat us to this very neat technology?

Do you?

Since my timely warning, the United States has done nothing. (Neither has Iran, apparently). China’s getting into this technology big time, though.  Andrew Orlowski (The Register) says that China is committed to a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor. And India’s going for six of these buggers.


MisterSASB doesn’t mind our  close friends in India scooping us on something.  They do it all the time. It’s a healthy competition between three hundred thousand people here and 14 trillion there. Same for China.

We got there first. We had a Thorium plant  at Oak Ridge in 1950. We know about this stuff.   C’mon, guys (that’s the generic “guys” that includes all known sexes, by the way). We don’t have to stand here with our thumbs in our whatevers.

Light up the skies, America!

Thanks for the above image to Flickr : Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.



Posted by on Saturday, 20 August, 2011



They’re fighting about the best way to fix the economy. I don’t trust the economists on this one. Why not? Because so-called economists – the ones in the nice suits on the tube, anyway – get to pick out their own evidence. And be their own peer reviewers. They ask themselves questions like: Do the American People want corrupt bankers and crud-eating upper crust rich people who fly in corporate jets to get tax breaks?  Then they answer their own questions: Why NO THEY DON’T!!!!

Other scientists – physicists and chemists, biologists, and astronomers are jealous. How come THEY don’t get to make it up as THEY go along?


In Europe, several countries are broke. To fix things, their leaders want to put the brakes on government spending.

Well, old John Maynard Keynes wouldn’t have recommended such a solution. He believed that  in a recession or a depression, the government should spend money like a chimp at the mint. That’s what the Bush administration did when things went woozy; and the Obama administration  continued shoveling wads of money out the window. With a bigger shovel.

By the way, I guess this was the right thing to do since we ducked a depression. Even that recession everyone thinks we’re still in ended a while back in 2010.

Well, you might ask,  if  the pump priming thing works so good, why shut off the water? What’s with austerity? Are Europeans a bunch of half wits?


But maybe they think that spending’s like plastic surgery. It just makes things worse and delays the inevitable. We should “man up”. It’ll hurt –  It’ll hurt bad. But we’ll get past it and the economy will get going again in a healthier way.

That’s what they say.

Anyway,  “austerity” is the hot new idea in Europe. It’s hot with some Americans, too, which is what led to the smooth way Congress handled the debt ceiling business.

Here’s the thing. In 2006, when the economy fritzed out, Europe and the US did pretty much the same thing. There wasn’t a lotta time to  flip through old books and study. We had money to toss . So we tossed . Keynes would of been proud.

Now?We’re in a different place. The recovery hasn’t failed. Not so far. Could be better. But not as awful as the spinners make it sound. (Unless YOU’RE the one selling pencils out of a tin cup. I GET that!) We’re not trying to dodge a depression at the moment. This is “What do you do if the recovery’s losing steam” time. Maybe we COULD have inflation if we overdo. (Hard to believe.) So the austerity stuff isn’t as nuts you think. Maybe stimulating again COULD be overkill. Maybe.

Is it too early to stop spending and tighten up? MISTERScienceAintSoBad won’t say. It takes away the fun.


We kid around about economics being quasi-scientific, but it’s no worse than genetics or medicine or particle physics. If some guy on the tube is using half facts to jerk you around, you can’t blame it on REAL scientists. That’s not fair.

There’s nothing wrong with studying how the top primates (you and me), gyp each other out  of stuff .  How some get richer and others get poorer. As a science, economics is easy to quantify. Theories can be tested.  Very sciency, indeed. Nothing quasi about it.

It’s a TRICKY science.  That’s for sure! Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s going on. Human’s  culture’s so complicated. Plus we lie more than minnows do when questioned about our activities. But, so WHAT?

If you think the other sciences are so simple , why aren’t YOU Sir Isaac Newton?

Excuse me if you happen to be. I meant, in general.

Listen, I’ve defended economics before. It’s a fine kind of science.

Just don’t confuse the scientists with the entertainment.



Credits for the above illustration to myself. It’s not like I can’t draw stick figures.

YOU Get To Solve The Debt Crisis!

Posted by on Saturday, 6 August, 2011


Looks like a game. Under the covers?  Computer simulation with a friendly face.


Congress is a bunch of nitwits, right? You could do better. Here’s yer chance.  I’m not vouching for Budget Hero. MisterScienceAintSoBad doesn’t have time to vet everything he sees. Maybe there’s a built-in bias to make some sneaky point for the Tea Party. Or the Green Party. Or the Whigs.  But you’re bound to get SOME insight from this exercise.