Deviant marshmallow peeps a fifth sign of the apocalypse

WTF are THESE?

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Whose idea was it to take the perfect Easter candy and make them into…orange and green and blue THINGIES?

My mallow Americans, I ask you: do you plan to stand by idly why EVIL FORCES work to undermine OUR MOST SACRED TRADITIONS? DO YOU? Well, DO YOU???

NOT ME. I am taking a stand. There is ONLY ONE definition of a peep: either pink or yellow. Not green. Not blue. AND DEFINITELY NOT ORANGE. ORANGE candy has its OWN holiday, and that holiday is called HALLOWEEN THANKYOUVERYMUCH. By mixing up the colors, we are sliding into an unholy miscegenation. It say RIGHT THERE in Leviticus:

And every fluffy candy rife with refined sugar, whereunto any of them may be, whatsoever is blue or orange shall be unclean; and you shall not eat it.

That’s a rough translation.

God’s way is to respect the holiest of unions, that of yellow peeps in little soldierly rows, or, alternatively, pink peeps in little Gay Pride parade rows. Those are good enough for anybody.

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Radiation in Southern California–Newsletter from the AQMD

This morning, I received the following from William Burke at the South Coast Air Quality Management District:

You have probably heard news reports about harmful radiation escaping from damaged nuclear power plants in Japan following the recent tsunami. Some have even voiced concern that this radiation could travel across the ocean and impact California. There is no increased risk of harmful levels of radiation exposure in the United States, based on the situation to date and a review of actual monitored levels by AQMD as well as other public health officials and technical experts.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District, your local air pollution agency, has operated radiation monitors for several years for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). AQMD monitors radiation levels at three sites in Southern California and sends the radiation measurements every hour to EPA. The California Department of Public Health also operates an additional radiation monitor in Southern California.

Starting today, you can get a daily update regarding levels of radiation in Southern California at AQMD’s website at www.aqmd.gov. Monitors operated by AQMD/EPA will detect any change in outdoor radiation levels.

Further general information on EPA’s radiation monitoring network can be found at http://www.epa.gov/narel/radnet/. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s response to the situation can be found at http://www.nrc.gov/.

Monitoring radiation is a very small part of the many activities AQMD does to protect public health and clean the air that we breathe. For more information on how you can help clean the air, go to www.cleanairconnections.org .

William A. Burke, Ed.D., Chairman
South Coast Air Quality Management District

Natural resource dependence

Resource and Energy Economics is has a manuscript on the economic growth associated with natural resource rich areas:

James, A. & Aadland, D., 2010, The curse of natural resources: An empirical investigation of US counties, Resource and Energy Economics.

From the abstract:

Research consistently shows that natural resource dependence tends to be associated with lower economic growth. However, the studies typically focus on differences across nations or states. We fill a gap in the literature by testing the so-called resource curse at a more disaggregated county level. Our results show clear evidence that resource-dependent counties exhibit more anemic economic growth, even after controlling for state-specific effects, socio-demographic differences, initial income, and spatial correlation. A case study analysis of Maine and Wyoming, and the counties within, highlight the growth effects of specializing in natural resource extraction.

I like the idea they have here, of testing counties, but I have some problems with the execution. They argue that looking at counties lessens the problems associated with differences in state regimes, which is true–there are over 3,000 counties.

They cover several theories on the resource curse, including “Dutch Disease”–where specialization in sectors unrelated to manufacturing minimizes that sectors’ growth potential via returns to scale and production externalities. There’s also what you might call the ‘trustafarian’ idea, where resource endowments cause people and governments to be overconfident in their economic returns, so they do not invest other sectors or human capital to the degree they should.

The authors also briefly bring up institutional differences, include a weak discussion of the role of civil strife. Here is where I have problems.
In other fields, such as sociology, the “curse of oil” or diamonds hinges on how the resources tie the economy to past colonial economic arrangements (with global corporations instead of imperial governors), concentrating wealth into privileged classes (often market-dominant ethnic majorities) who then use control over the military to enforce their economic hegemony. This cycle systematically impoverishes the remainder of the population and suppresses other possible avenues of economic growth.

It’s for me hard to tell what effect James and Adland really find here with their association between lower growth rates in resource dependent counties in the US in terms of testing these theories. We don’t really have an explanation here; it seems quite clear to me that in the presence of property regimes, different sorts of resources have different returns, and there’s no reason to believe that value or profit stays in the place it is created: ranch owners are corporate and asset wealthy; ranch workers are most assuredly neither.

I’m also not sure that we can treat agriculture as a natural resource endowment in the way diamonds and oil are.