Public opinion goes nuclear

Support for nuclear power via a Gallup poll just a couple weeks ago:

1994-2011 Trend: Do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity for the U.S.?

And this week:

Do you favor or oppose the construction of nuclear power plants in the United States? March 2011

And here’s one more:

Have the recent events in Japan made you a lot more concerned, a little more concerned, or not more concerned about a nuclear disaster occurring in the United States? March 2011

Even if you totally support nuclear power how can you seriously not be more concerned?  I’m definitely interested to see the mid to long term impacts on policy out of all this.  Also, to see what the nuclear power numbers look like next year.  Then again, that may depend upon how good or bad things get in the next few days.

Attack of the libertarians

I am so used to thinking of libertarians as a misguided ideological movement that I forget that they are also, in some cases, a misguided political party.  Well, apparently the party is trying to reach out to the readers of the Washington Post on-line.  I caught this ad there yesterday in the midst of  a political article:

It’s pretty tough to find a Democrat or Republican politician who doesn’t want more government for something.  Of course, the same can be said of most ordinary Americans.  Thus, the Libertarian party will be stuck with relatively useless on-line ads and not much more.

How to live longer

Really interesting couple of stories last week about the latest conclusions from a longitudinal study of 1500 people going back to 1921.  The results strongly dispel some conventional wisdom about what leads to a long life.  Both Slate and the Atlantic have really interesting takes.  I liked Emily Yoffe’s a bit better.  Some interesting tidbits:

One of the most striking findings of The Longevity Project is that conscientiousness is a predictor of long life. People who blow their deadlines and forget their appointments tend to find themselves making an early appointment with the grim reaper. Sorting through eight decades of data shows that the reliable, more-mature-than-their years little boys and girls identified in the 1920s became the dependable adults who were most likely to have made it into a new century. “[T]he best childhood personality predictor of longevity was conscientiousness—the qualities of a prudent, persistent, well-organized person …—somewhat obsessive and not at all carefree.”

Interestingly, I used to always think of myself as conscientious and mature beyond my years until I was well into my 20’s.  I seem to have got frozen in there somewhere :-).  Though, despite the looks of my office (or home, for that matter), I do think I’m prudent, persistent, and at least semi-well organized.  Now this next bit does sound like me:

The benefits of a conscientious personality are obvious: These people are less likely to smoke and drink, or drive dangerously. Throughout life, conscientious people are less impulsive, and less depressed. The researchers found that the prudent died less from all causes, not just those related to dangerous habits.

On the other hand, I always thought that I’m definitely a happy person was a key point in my favor.  Turns out, not so much:

Among the most counterintuitive of the findings is that cheerfulness can kill. The authors write: “[C]heerful and optimistic children were less likely to live to an old age than their more staid and sober counterparts!” They found that cheerfulness was as big a risk factor for premature death as elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol. There seemed to be several reasons. The highly social went to more parties where they smoked and drank, craving the buzz. They died from accidents. But Friedman and Martin say their research showed something deeper. Despite the belief that optimists enjoy better health than pessimists, this research found a dark underside to optimism. When everything is going great, the optimist soars. But when facing life’s difficulties, the optimist can feel defeated by the magnitude of the struggle that’s required.

Then again, since I’m not much of a smoker, drinker, or general party animal, maybe I’ll do okay here.  So long as I’m not defeated by any of life’s huge challenges.  Though, I’d like to think I’ve responded well to having a child with a rare genetic disease.  It was tough for a long time, but we’re all good on that score now.

The final point I think is really intersting is about marriage, as it suggests that many people make the wrong causal assumptions:

A long, satisfying marriage is good for both partners’ health and longevity. But the researchers found that it is not the institution of marriage itself that conveys some kind of life-extending elixir. The participants who made long, happy marriages tended to be the people who were more stable as children and young people. The participants who ended unhappy marriages were less happy even before they chose a spouse.

All in all, I think the data looks pretty good for me.  Knock on wood.

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