Jeremy Quittner reports on a speech Ralph Nader gave in New York last week, about how to defeat corporatism in America. I hope folks don't come away from this article thinking that all Mr. Nader is about these days is getting the left and right to "put aside" their acrimony, lest they miss Mr. Nader's demolition of modern Republican corporatists, who have "destroyed the principles of simple capitalism, that if you own something you have some control over it," and who have twisted the writings of putative intellectual forebears like Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek.
Speaking of "conservatives," Paul Krugman notes that the right wing's answer to Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the 21st Century has little to do with refuting Mr. Piketty's liberal theses and mostly to do with calling him and/or his supporters names -- names like "Communist," "Socialist," "Collectivist," and "Stalinist." Surprised? Me neither. But take comfort from the fact that Mr. Piketty's 650-plus page economics tome is the number one best-selling book on amazon.com at this writing, and presumably not because legions of right-wingers are buying it so they can pick it apart.
Oil/gas supplier Baker Hughes, of Houston, TX, claims it will disclose "100%" of the chemicals it uses in hydrofracturing fluids within a few months -- though it claims it will do so "where accepted by our customers and relevant governmental authorities," leaving open the possibility that lax regulation (about half the states do not currently mandate fracking chemical disclosure) or the will of Baker Hughes's "customers" (i.e., gas and oil drilling corporations) will stymie disclosure. Still, Baker Hughes suggests that the need to protect "trade secrets" isn't all that important a reason not to disclose, which is good, if other corporations follow suit.
Republican Rep. Michael Grimm of New York declares that he's changed his mind about climate change, saying "the evidence is clear" that it's happening and that we should do something about it. I'm not going to diss him because Hurricane Sandy changed his mind, as if we're all supposed to learn exclusively through thought experiment, but I will diss his excuses for inaction -- "there's no oxygen left in the room in Washington for another big debate" vastly overestimates how much oxygen is in any room in Washington at any time, and no it is pointedly not "Americans" who don't have the "will" to avert or ameliorate climate change, but American politicians.
Finally, scientists from King's College London and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center have developed a lab-grown epidermis from stem cells, one that could one day end animal testing for skin ailments. The epidermis is only the outer skin layer, so I imagine it wouldn't tell us very much about some ailments, but I also imagine a lab-created epidermis would yield more authentic results than would testing an animal chosen less because they resemble humans very closely and more because they're easier to handle and observe. So I'd call it a step forward.