Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Most of What You Know About Diet and Cancer is Wrong

A trip to almost any bookstore or a cruise around the Internet might leave the impression that avoiding cancer is mostly a matter of watching what you eat. One source after another promotes the protective powers of “superfoods,” rich in antioxidants and other phytochemicals, or advises readers to emulate the diets of Chinese peasants or Paleolithic cave dwellers.

But there is a yawning divide between this nutritional folklore and science. During the last two decades the connection between the foods we eat and the cellular anarchy called cancer has been unraveling string by string.

This month at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, a mammoth event that drew more than 18,500 researchers and other professionals here, the latest results about diet and cancer were relegated to a single poster session and a few scattered presentations. There were new hints that coffee may lower the risk of some cancers and more about the possible benefits of vitamin D. Beyond that there wasn’t much to say.
. . .
The situation seemed very different in 1997, when the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research published a report, thick as a phone book, concluding that diets loaded with fruits and vegetables might reduce the overall incidence of cancer by more than 20 percent.

After reviewing more than 4,000 studies, the authors were persuaded that green vegetables helped ward off lung and stomach cancer. Colon and thyroid cancer might be avoided with broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts. Onions, tomatoes, garlic, carrots and citrus fruits all seemed to play important roles.

In 2007, a major follow-up all but reversed the findings. While some kinds of produce might have subtle benefits, the authors concluded, “in no case now is the evidence of protection judged to be convincing.”

The reason for the change was more thorough epidemiology. The earlier studies tended to be “retrospective,” relying on people to remember dietary details from the distant past. These results were often upended by “prospective” protocols, in which the health of large populations was followed in real time.

The hypothesis that fatty foods are a direct cause of cancer has also been crumbling, along with the case for eating more fiber. The idea that red meat causes colon cancer is shrouded in ambiguity. Two meta-analyses published in 2011 reached conflicting conclusions — one finding a small effect and the other no clear link at all.
Eat what you want; die anyway.

Black Tiger

Swallowtail


Seen in the azalea yesterday.  We've seen a couple of the "plain old" yellow" Eastern Tiger Swallowtail at a distance, but this is the first black morph female we've seen.

The Left Hand of the Academic Bell Curve

Via Stacy McCain, Charles Murray, author of Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950–1980, and The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life penned this open letter to the students of Azusa University upon being informed he was "disinvited" from speaking due to fears of "hurting faculty and students of color."
I was scheduled to speak to you tomorrow. I was going to talk about my new book, “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead,” and was looking forward to it. But it has been “postponed.” Why? An email from your president, Jon Wallace, to my employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said “Given the lateness of the semester and the full record of Dr. Murray’s scholarship, I realized we needed more time to prepare for a visit and postponed Wednesday’s conversation.” This, about an appearance that has been planned for months. I also understand from another faculty member that he and the provost were afraid of “hurting our faculty and students of color.”

You’re at college, right? Being at college is supposed to mean thinking for yourselves, right? Okay, then do it. Don’t be satisfied with links to websites that specialize in libeling people. Lose the secondary sources. Explore for yourself the “full range” of my scholarship and find out what it is that I’ve written or said that would hurt your faculty or students of color. It’s not hard. In fact, you can do it without moving from your chair if you’re in front of your computer.

You don’t have to buy my books. Instead, go to my web page at AEI. There you will find the full texts of dozens of articles I’ve written for the last quarter-century. Browse through them. Will you find anything that is controversial? That people disagree with? Yes, because (hang on to your hats) scholarship usually means writing about things on which people disagree.

The task of the scholar is to present a case for his or her position based on evidence and logic. Another task of the scholar is to do so in a way that invites everybody into the discussion rather than demonize those who disagree. Try to find anything under my name that is not written in that spirit. Try to find even a paragraph that is written in anger, takes a cheap shot, or attacks women, African Americans, Latinos, Asians, or anyone else.

But there’s another way to decide whether you would have been safe in my hands if I had spoken at Azusa Pacific. Go to YouTube and search “Charles Murray.” You will get links to dozens of lectures, panel discussions, and television interviews. You can watch Q&A sessions in which I field questions from students like you, including extremely hostile ones. Watch even for a few minutes. Ask yourself if I insult them or lash out. If I do anything except take their questions seriously and answer them accordingly. Ask yourself if I’m anything more dangerous than an earnest and nerdy old guy.

Azusa Pacific’s administration wants to protect you from earnest and nerdy old guys who have opinions that some of your faculty do not share. Ask if this is why you’re getting a college education.

Sincerely,

Charles Murray
I read the "Bell Curve" quite a while back, and I think it has some elements of truth, and some elements of, well, academic BS.  There is a long standing difference between the measured IQs of various races, with white outscoring blacks, and orientals out scoring whites on average (and you can't emphasize the average enough).  The difference persist, even as average scores of the groups drift with time.  I find that to be strong evidence that the difference are more likely cultural than genetic (with a little phenotype thrown in to account for differences in diet and health care, which again are largely cultural).

The idea that faculty and students at institutions are such hot house flowers that they cannot be exposed to the withering wind of contrary views is disgusting. But it is the way of the Academy, even more than ever.

Wednesday Morning Obamacare Schadenfreude

We had the passage of a weak storm front yesterday afternoon and evening, with a few drops of rain, a few rumbles of thunder.  As usual, they day after we find cooler (back down to the low 50s, compared to 75 yesterday afternoon), with cloudless blue skies, and 25 mph north winds.  Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

Now we know why Kathleen Sebelius hung on to her job as Secretary of HHS so long; she didn't want to get thrown into Obamacare: Sebelius stays on just long enough to get government benefits
When the embattled Kathleen Sebelius announced her intention to resign as secretary of Health and Human Services, she pledged to stay in President Barack Obama’s cabinet until her replacement was confirmed by the Senate. Turns out, there may be a financial incentive for the former Kansas governor to take her time getting out of Washington.

Next week, Sebelius becomes eligible to receive a government pension and continue certain taxpayer-funded health-care benefits when she hits her five-year employment mark with the federal government, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) policy indicates.

Under OPM rules, Sebelius, who was sworn into office on April 28, 2009, would be eligible to receive these benefits after completing five years of continuous service in the federal government.

While she announced her resignation on April 11, Sebelius does not mark her five-year anniversary with the federal government until April 28. Her successor is not expected to be sworn in until after that date. The Senate, which is on recess, comes back into session the same day Sebelius hits the five year mark.
As a private citizen, and presumably moving into some consulting job, it's quite likely that Kathleen would fall under Obamacare's individual mandate.  To be fair, she might also have some health benefits from her previous work as a Representative in the Kansas legislature, or as governor of Kansas, or from her husband, a federal judge.

Via Wombat-socho's "Live at 5: 04.22.14" , the White House is now implicated in a questionable scheme to raise money for friendly non profits to extort encourage enrollment: White House involved in soliciting money for pro-ObamaCare group, watchdog says
Until now, outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was the only official known to have solicited financial support for Enroll America, a nonprofit that promoted enrollment for the Affordable Care Act. But a Government Accountability Office report released Monday detailed not only the secretary's involvement but that of a White House adviser.

According to the report, though HHS officials said they were "not aware" of any federal government officials outside the agency soliciting funds for Enroll America, a representative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation told GAO "about a discussion" in 2012 between one of their staffers and the "Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy."

Though not named in the report, this would have been Jeanne Lambrew. The GAO said they were told the official nudged the foundation to give a "significant" contribution.

The report said: "According to RWJF, this official estimated that Enroll America or other similar national enrollment organizations would likely need about $30 million to finance a national outreach effort. RWJF told us that the official also indicated a hope that RWJF would provide a significant financial contribution to support such efforts, but did not make a specific funding request on behalf of Enroll America or any other outside entity."
Let's imagine the shoe on the other foot for a minute.  Image Secretary of Energy Sarah Palin soliciting the Koch brothers to give their $30 million to the Heartland Institute and Tea Party groups to fund a public relations campaign to support fracking development in the states which, like Maryland and New York, have resisted the urge to help their citizens get jobs by allowing fracking.  Can you doubt for a second that the "progressives" would be up in arms, and demanding "accountability" if not actual scalps?

Another sign of Sebelius "success": Looking at Costs and Risks, Many Skip Health Insurance
For every individual who did sign up, there were others who resembled Mr. Huber: people who have decided to stay uninsured for now, despite the law’s requirement that most Americans get coverage this year or pay an income tax penalty of $95 or more.

A common thread running through stories of the unenrolled is cost. Many people either do not qualify for federal subsidies or believe that the assistance is not enough to make insurance affordable, interviews with consumers and experts suggested. According to enrollment counselors in several states, people who have gone without health insurance or major illness for years can be especially resistant to investing in coverage.
. . .
But a New York Times/CBS News poll of uninsured people in December found that of those who did not plan to get coverage, half said that cost was the main reason. Nearly three in 10 said they objected to the government’s requiring it, while about one in 10 said they felt they did not need it.
Healthcare coverage so good and cheap they have to coerce you to buy it. And the public definitely is not buying it.  New poll confirms: Obamacare debate definitely not “over”
Obama’s central theme in the briefing room was that the national debate regarding Obamacare is now “over.” Because he says so. A new poll from Fox News indicates that voters disagree. Note well that this nationwide survey was conducted in mid-April, two weeks after Obama first began spiking the enrollment football and reaping thinly-disguised “Obamacare comeback!” headlines in the media. Winning streak:
Stasis. Another Obamacare-related question asked registered voters whether the law would be an significant factor in their 2014 voting decisions. Nearly one in five said it would be the single biggest factor, with an additional 54 percent calling it an “important factor.” Less than a quarter of respondents said Obamacare was either a small or non-factor to their vote. A recent USA Today poll revealed that the more a given voter cares about the new law, the more likely he or she is to oppose it.
Libs worry that distrust of Obama over Obamacare lies could derail immigration reform: Party Paranoia Could Destroy Hopes of Immigration Reform
It is increasingly likely that Republicans will do well in this year's midterm elections not because of who they are, but because of who they are not. They are not President Obama's party; they are not the party that passed the Affordable Care Act. Given that the Senate majority will largely be determined this year in states where association with Obama and his signature legislative achievement are the political kiss of death, it's both the map and the mood that are giving Democrats a tough time this year. In November, Republicans have the additional advantage of facing a smaller midterm electorate, one that is older, whiter, more conservative, and more Republican than the substantially larger and more diverse electorate that we often see in presidential years.
. . .
Although the Senate did pass comprehensive immigration reform last year, the chances of any kind of significant reform passing the House this year are low at best. Optimists hope that in June or July, after many Republican incumbents have their primaries behind them, or possibly in a lame-duck session after the election, the House will take up the issue. The smart money is against that happening.

First, the votes just don't seem to be there. Second, House Republican insiders, even those who privately would like to see a bill pass, are pessimistic because many in their ranks do not trust that Obama and the Democrats won't hang them out to dry. Their fear is that even if the House passed something, which would undoubtedly create enormous divisions and political problems in their conservative base, they have little confidence that Democrats wouldn't move the goalposts on them, leaving the GOP with no progress on immigration reform but having a badly divided party. Their suspicion, correct or not, is that Democrats would rather have a club to beat Republicans with than really address the immigration problem. Paranoid or not, this is an example of how the fundamental lack of trust between the leaders on each side gets in the way of solving problems.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Finally, just to show I can be even handed, Megan McArdle looks at the Obamacare enrollments with an analytical eye.
. . .The enrollment number wasn’t a surprise by the time it dropped -- that morning, I guessed it would come in at between 7.8 million and 8 million. But it was certainly a surprise compared with a month earlier. I think it’s safe to say that on March 1, few people, on the left or the right, had considered that nearly 50 percent of total signups would occur in the last month and a half. That’s a rate much higher than we saw in Massachusetts and is, as I recently noted, a stunning testimonial to the American powers of procrastination.

And whatever others might have thought, I certainly didn’t expect it to be that high; until relatively late in the month, I thought it would squeak in at around, or even under, 6 million. I was expecting a surge like in December, not the immense tsunami of applications we actually got.

The demographics were also a surprise to me, and a nasty one at that. You may recall that the administration originally forecast that almost 40 percent of exchange signups needed to be young adults in order to keep the insurance pool stable. A pool with too many old and sick people would drive up the price of insurance, perhaps driving more young and sick people out of the pool, leading to a price spiral.

By March, the percentage of young adults in the pool was hovering at around 25 percent. As I wrote back then, to get to the 38.5 percent that the administration was originally targeting, they needed for there to be a huge surge in enrollment -- and for that surge to be much, much younger than the previous waves of enrollees.

They certainly got the surge. And the surge was indeed somewhat younger than previous waves ... but not nearly sufficient to bring the demographics in line. . .
Death Spiral or Insurance Company Bailout. Take your pick.

Special IRS Issue

Of course, you know about the ongoing IRS scandal, with the IRS apparently under the direction of Lois Lerner, targeted conservative groups seeking 501(c)(4) tax exempt status for extra scrutiny, time consuming delays, and general harassment.  However, in the past several days some new juicy bits involving the IRS have come to light:

Do you think the IRS is screwing you?  IRS Targeting? How About Coerced Sex With IRS?
Vincent Burroughs vs. Dora Abrahamson

If you survived April 15, your idea of being ‘screwed by the IRS’ probably doesn’t mean too much. Even after an audit and getting an additional tax bill, if you utter these unfortunate words you probably just mean paying some money. But having sex with the IRS auditor? Surely that wouldn’t occur to you.

But Vincent Burroughs claims that his tax audit was hardly PG-13. In fact, he says the IRS auditor, Ms. Dora Abrahamson, flirted with him by phone and text, then sent him a selfie in her underwear. In Burroughs v. Abrahamson, he sued the IRS and the femme fatale IRS Agent claiming that she threatened penalties if he didn’t come across.

Although Ms. Abrahamson denied the allegations, Mr. Burroughs admitted that he gave in to her demands. But that was only when she came to his home “provocatively attired.” It was put up or shut up, the suit claims. Given her position of power, dollars were at stake, and stiff penalties too.
Ohh, he wrote "stiff" penalties...
The tit-for-tat lawsuit claims the IRS Agent would slap him with a 40% penalty if he stayed virtuous. The IRS Agent’s conduct caused him distress and violated his constitutional right to privacy, the suit claims. And it ruined his longtime relationship with his girlfriend.

The trial court threw out the lawsuit, concluding that whatever happened, it occurred after hours at Mr. Burroughs’ home. That meant there was no liability. The IRS agent wasn’t performing any official duties, said the court. Yes, you may remember this story from last year, but now Mr. Burroughs is getting renewed hype and has appealed.
It really sounds like a badly plotted porno, or HBO.  But sometimes reality is even more bizarre than the movies.
He is even getting press in the UK, where the media loves a good story as much as the next voyeur. Oregon man left owing $69K after ‘IRS agent seduced him.’ As he told 20/20, after he had sex with IRS Agent Abrahamson, she withdrew from handling his case due to the perceived conflict of interest. That meant another IRS Agent was assigned, and that made it worse. Mr. Burroughs ended up owing the IRS $69,000.

The suit alleges that the government is liable for damages because IRS officials provided inadequate supervision. Although the suit was originally against Ms. Abrahamson and the IRS, he dropped Ms. Abrahamson from the suit. After all, she has virtually no assets to pursue, ABC News reported.

The government claims immunity in the suit. The IRS never waived its immunity for intentional acts of its employees that were committed outside the scope of their employment.
I would bet even money that the guy is making this up; but heck, it's a good story and it sound like he's sticking to it.  And for all you out there worried about this really happening, I have only one word: "video." If it's on tape they can't deny it.

Yet another IRS mini-scandal. A while back I reported how the IRS was getting performance bonuses again (now that the government sequester has been temporarily shelved).  So now they go out, and give bonuses to IRS workers who owe the IRS money  and those who have been disciplined in the last year.
The Internal Revenue Service has paid more than $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with recent disciplinary problems, including $1 million to workers who owed back taxes, a government investigator said Tuesday.

More than 2,800 workers got bonuses despite facing a disciplinary action in the previous year, including 1,150 who owed back taxes, said a report by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. The bonuses were awarded from October 2010 through December 2012.

George's report said the bonus program doesn't violate federal regulations, but it's inconsistent with the IRS mission to enforce tax laws.
Because collecting taxes is hard work.  Look at how "hard" Ms. Abrahamson works to collect taxes...  I wonder if she got a bonus, besides the obvious.

On a more serious note, the IRS has decided that criticizing former Sen. and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is grounds for having their tax exempt status revoked:
The Internal Revenue Service has revoked the tax-exempt status of a conservative charity for making statements critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Kerry, according to a USA Today report.

The Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty, based in Manassas, Va., “has shown a pattern of deliberate and consistent intervention in political campaigns” and made “repeated statements supporting or opposing various candidates by expressing its opinion of the respective candidate’s character and qualifications,” according to a written determination released Friday by the IRS.

The IRS said the center acted as an “action organization” by publishing alerts on its website for columns written by its president, former FBI agent Gary Aldrich, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

The IRS pointed out a column that appeared to be published by Townhall on April 2, 2004, in which Mr. Aldrich wrote, “if John Kerry promises otherwise ill-informed swing-voters lower gas prices at the pump, more than a few greedy, registered ignoramuses will follow him anywhere,” the Free Beacon reported.

Another article cited by the IRS was a 2005 piece titled “Stop Hillary Now!,” which rallied “Clinton haters” to inform voters of Hillary Clinton’s “atrocious conduct,” USA Today reported.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in an interview with The Washington Post last week that the IRS and Treasury Department are likely to rewrite controversial draft guidelines to better define “candidate-related political activities.”
So essentially the IRS has ignored the complaints and evidence of their own political activity (paid for, not coincidentally, with tax dollars), and openly gone after more political activity by conservatives. Remember, the requirements for a 501(c)(4) is not a complete lack of political activity, but rather a balance between overt political work and work for the betterment of society.  I would argue that electioneering against Hillary is to the betterment of society.

No word that the IRS has any intention of investigating any political activity by many of the left-leaning 501(c)(4)s like OFA, Media Matters, the Tides Foundation Advocacy Fund.

One wonders if they would, or did take similar umbrage at attacks on Sarah Palin, or any other Republican for that matter.

As Glen Reynolds pointed out, (and I thought it before he posted), it's battlespace preparation for the Hillary campaign.

Ospreys Defy State of Maryland

The ongoing saga of the Ospreys that just want to raise a family... right in front of the webcam on top of the Bay Bridge: Bay Bridge ospreys' nest removed; birds rebuild
A pair of ospreys whose nest had been removed by state transportation workers because it was blocking a traffic camera rebuilt the nest, only to have it removed again.

The back-and-forth between the migratory birds and the Maryland Transportation Authority began Friday when the state agency tried to move the nest on a pole that holds a traffic camera on the Bay Bridge.

Agency spokesman John Sales said officials got permission to move the nest from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The nest did not contain eggs or young birds.

The transportation agency said workers tried to move the nest, but it fell apart. Sales told WTOP that on Monday, workers found that the birds had built a new nest on the same spot. Workers again removed it.
This could go on for quite a while.  Ospreys are notoriously fixated on their nesting sites, much to the regret of boater and owners of waterfront property.  You might think it would be cute having a pair of fish eating raptors and their progeny hanging around all the time, but in fact, it tends to be a bit messy and odiferous. And they squawk at you when you get too close, and may even take a shot at your head.

But if you want to see a pair of Ospreys go through the nesting and chick raising thing, here you go, a link to the Cape Henlopen Osprey Cam. It's even lighted at night for 24/7 Osprey voyeurism.

Oh, and the Washington Post had a nice article on the annual Osprey migration a few days ago.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Elfin Sex

Henry's Elfins that is:


It's not a great picture, but it's the best I managed to get.  That's a pair of Henry's Elfins, a tiny gossamer winged butterfly coupling in the Hemlock tree in our backyard.
Wing Span: 1 - 1 1/4 inches (2.5 - 3.2 cm).

Life History: Males perch on host plants during warm daylight hours. Location of egg deposition on plants varies with the plant species: on American holly an egg is laid on the center of an old host leaf just before bud break, while on redbud eggs are laid on flowers and buds. Caterpillars eat buds and young leaves, and pupate in litter at the base of the host plant. Chrysalids overwinter.

Flight: One flight from February-May.

Caterpillar Hosts: Diverse plants texana) in Texas; dahoon (Ilex cassine), American holly (I. opaca), and yaupon (I. vomitoria) in Florida and North Carolina. Redbud (Ceris canadensis), huckleberries and blueberries (Vaccinium species), Mexican buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa), and Viburnum species are selected in other locations.

Adult Food: Where redbud is the caterpillar host, its flowers are the main nectar supply for adults. In other places, flowers of plants that are not the caterpillar host are used for nectar including willows, wild plum and hawthorn, and Forstiera.

Habitat: Edges and openings in barrens and near pine or pine-oak woodland.
I first spotted these last year, in the same place.  These are acting as described by the life history, perching out on limbs of the Hemlocks when it's warm out.  They even seem to get a little disturbed (or turned on, maybe) when the similar sized Spring Azures flit by.

Daisy Mai-ling got a decent photo...


Bay Grasses Had a Good Year

Underwater grass abundance in the Chesapeake Bay increased 24 percent between 2012 and 2013, reversing the downward trend of the last three years.
Because underwater grasses are sensitive to pollution but quick to respond to water quality improvements, their abundance is a good indicator of Bay health. Aerial surveys flown from last spring to last fall showed an almost 12,000-acre increase in grass abundance across the Bay, which scientists attribute to the rapid expansion of widgeon grass in the saltier waters of the mid-Bay and the modest recovery of eelgrass in shallow waters where the species experienced a “dieback” after the hot summers of 2005 and 2010. Scientists also observed an increase in the acreage of the Susquehanna Flats.
I would hasten to add that the grasses are also very weather/climate dependent, and wide variation from year to year are the norm.  It's good to see such an increase, but as they say regarding the stock market "past performance is no guarantee of future results." 
“The mid-Bay has seen a big rise in widgeon grass,” said Robert J. Orth, Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) professor and coordinator of the school’s Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Survey, in a media release. “In fact, the expansion of this species in the saltier waters between the Honga River and Pocomoke Sound was one of the driving factors behind the rise in bay grass abundance. While widgeongrass is a boom and bust species, notorious for being incredibly abundant one year and entirely absent the next, its growth is nevertheless great to see.”
What I said.

There's a tendency in writing up this stuff to claim good years as proof the current Bay restoration efforts are working - keep them up, and in bad years to say it's all the weather's fault, and we need to try harder.

As to 2014?  We'll see.  I'm moderately optimistic; we haven't (yet?) had the huge deluges that wash in massive sediment loads, and nutrients, which are important pollutants from the point of view of a sea grass.

Palm Trees at Palmer Station

Today’s Antarctic region once as hot as California, Florida
Parts of ancient Antarctica were as warm as today’s California coast, and polar regions of the southern Pacific Ocean registered 21st-century Florida heat, according to scientists using a new way to measure past temperatures.

The findings, published the week of April 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, underscore the potential for increased warmth at Earth’s poles and the associated risk of melting polar ice and rising sea levels, the researchers said.

Led by scientists at Yale, the study focused on Antarctica during the Eocene epoch, 40-50 million years ago, a period with high concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and consequently a greenhouse climate. Today, Antarctica is year-round one of the coldest places on Earth, and the continent’s interior is the coldest place, with annual average land temperatures far below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
The cause and effect link between high CO2 and high temperatures is debatable.  Given that the ocean holds far more CO2 than the atmosphere, and it's solubility declines with rising temperature, it's quite likely that warmer temperatures in the Eocene oceans led to higher CO concentrations in the atmosphere as well; the question of causality may be some of both.
But it wasn’t always that way, and the new measurements can help improve climate models used for predicting future climate, according to co-author Hagit Affek of Yale, associate professor of geology & geophysics.

“Quantifying past temperatures helps us understand the sensitivity of the climate system to greenhouse gases, and especially the amplification of global warming in polar regions,” Affek said.

The paper’s lead author, Peter M.J. Douglas, performed the research as a graduate student in Affek’s Yale laboratory. He is now a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology. The research team included paleontologists, geochemists, and a climate physicist.

By measuring concentrations of rare isotopes in ancient fossil shells, the scientists found that temperatures in parts of Antarctica reached as high as 17 degrees Celsius (63F) during the Eocene, with an average of 14 degrees Celsius (57F) — similar to the average annual temperature off the coast of California today.

Eocene temperatures in parts of the southern Pacific Ocean measured 22 degrees Centigrade (or about 72F), researchers said — similar to seawater temperatures near Florida today.

Palmer Station, on Anvers Island, is the only United States research station in Antarctica located north of the Antarctic Circle. Initial construction of the station finished in 1968. The station, like the other U.S. Antarctic stations, is operated by the United States Antarctic Program (USAP). The base is only about as far south as Fairbanks, Alaska is north.

Obamacare Schadenfreude: "It's Going to Hit the Fan"

A bit of new Obamacare Schadenfreude that has surfaced after the eggs were all rolled and collected, and the Easter dinners safely digested.

Dem Congressman on Obamacare: It’s ‘Going to Hit the Fan’



Repeal is now impossible, he says, because of the number of Americans who’ve signed up for the law’s exchanges. Democrats will take big political hits on the law this fall anyway, Lynch said.

“We will lose seats in the House,” he said. “I am fairly certain of that based on the poll numbers that are coming out from the more experienced pollsters down there, and I think we may lose the Senate.”
MSNBC Host offers the democrats advice on how to deal with angry constituents: “You can’t keep your crappy plan! Just deal with that!”

Yes, elections have consequences. You allowed Obama and the democrats to cotrol both houses.  You should have anticipated them to screw it up.



The relevant quote is at about 3:30.

Speaking of the vast successes of Obamacare: Insurer Admits Nearly 1,000 Doctors Wrongly Placed On Covered California Provider List
Two months after KPIX 5 ConsumerWatch first reported about some doctors listed on the Covered California exchange were actually not accepting the plans, insurer Anthem Blue Cross admitted that nearly 1,000 doctors were erroneously listed.

According to a statement by the California Medical Association, the insurer recently notified 965 physicians that they were wrongly placed on the exchange’s list. The notice, which was posted on April 9th, stated that the doctors were “inadvertently” listed for “a certain period of time” during the open enrollment period.
Of course, since the width of the network is a very important selling point for insurance plans, this amounts to false advertizing on the part of the insurance company; in effect luring enrollees in with the prospect of doctors not covered in other plans.

Half of Georgia’s Insurance Enrollees Haven’t Paid Yet.
Whoops: Half of Georgia’s Insurance Enrollees Haven’t Paid Yet.

This seems rather important:
Georgia insurers received more than 220,000 applications for health coverage in the Affordable Care Act’s exchange as of the official federal deadline of March 31, state officials said Wednesday.
Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, though, said premiums have been received for only 107,581 of those policies, which cover 149,465 people.
“Many Georgians completed the application process by the deadline, but have yet to pay for the coverage,” Hudgens said in a statement Wednesday.
Half? Half? Sure, the nonpayment rates will be a lot lower in other places. But this indicates how much skepticism is warranted for the administration’s much-touted enrollment figures.
From the same article, the worse the state exchange, the more progressives approve:
A couple of lessons from this bit of polling research by Jonathan Easley at the Morning Consult: Healthcare.gov is uniquely and perhaps disproportionately disliked by survey respondents, and some people just tell pollsters what they want to be true, not what is actually true:
In a testament to how political affiliation potentially colors an individual’s view of the law, Morning Consult polling from November through April found that people reported more positive experiences in states with largely broken exchanges versus people who used the federal exchanges. And that includes states where the exchanges never were fully operational…
We separated states into three different groups to do this analysis. The “broken” state exchange group included Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon and Vermont. (While it is an inexact measurement, we put states where healthcare officials struggled throughout the enrollment period to fully launch their exchanges into the “broken” category.) The second group of states—those with relatively well running exchanges—included Washington, Rhode Island, New York, Kentucky, Colorado, Connecticut, California and the District of Columbia. All other states where included in our third group, as they used the federal exchange website to enroll customers.
Among these groups, you might expect the states with barely (or not-at-all) functioning exchanges to rank last when it comes to users’ experiences. But the federal exchanges took that spot in almost every measure. The poll has a margin of error of two percentage points, and approximately 2,000 interviews were conducted in each poll from November through April.
The analysis notes, “In the 2012 election, President Obama won all of our “broken” exchange states. That perhaps explains the rosier view voters in those states have of the law, even though the exchanges in many cases barely worked.” In other words, there’s a strong possibility some Obama voters declared their state health insurance exchanges to be success even when they personally experienced its failure.
Barack Obama and the politics of lies
That was quite a victory dance President Obama did Thursday while claiming Obamacare is “working” because eight million people have now supposedly signed up for the health care program. He even indulged in some less-than-subtle mockery of Republicans - and by extension the majority of Americans who have disapproved of Obamacare since before it became law. "The repeal debate is and should be over,” Obama said, taking a dig at Republicans who are “going through, you know, the stages of grief … anger and denial and all that stuff …”

But a president who is viewed by most Americans as less than honest has no business crowing about a victory that remains anything but obvious. And he certainly should not heap insults on people who for four years have profoundly disagreed with him on the wisdom of Obamacare. To put this as “less than honest” is to be charitable. What Fox News found in its most recent public opinion survey was that 61 percent of Americans believe Obama “lies” about important public issues either “most of the time” or “some of the time.” No other president in living memory has conducted himself in a manner that warranted even asking if such a description was appropriate.
The editorial writer must be a teenager. Slick Willy didn't get his sobriquet for nothing. And Mrs. Slick Willy will no doubt follow in his oversized footsteps given the opportunity.
It comes as no surprise today that Obama's defenders are sparing no invective for Fox Newsin the wake of that survey. But it was the president, not Fox News, who repeatedly and knowingly misled the American people with two infamous Obamacare lies: “You can keep your health insurance if you like it. Period. You can keep your doctor. Period.” For better or worse, Obama will forever be known as the president who chose repeatedly to propagate two falsehoods. Those two lies were profoundly significant because they were designed to hide the truth about how Obamacare would affect the daily lives and health of hundreds of millions of Americans.

Since it became painfully clear in 2013 that Obama had lied about Obamacare since 2009, it has been increasingly difficult for many Americans to continue accepting at face value his statements on other major public issues. In both the Benghazi and IRS scandals, for example, Obama claimed to have known nothing about them until they were reported in the national media.
The left wing media has even been more complicit with spackling over this Preznit's lies than they were with Clinton.

Oregon Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby
GOP's bid to take Senate moves to Oregon, which is ripe for ObamaCare attack
A Republican hasn't been elected to a statewide Oregon office in more than a decade. But Washington Republicans think they have the right candidate in Monica Wehby, a children's brain surgeon who's raised more than $1 million and who, like Republicans, has made her opposition to ObamaCare the centerpiece of the 2014 campaign.

The roughly $160 million Oregon-run ObamaCare website failed to properly enroll anybody nearly five months after its Oct. 1, 2013, start, despite officials having worked since 2002 on creating an exchange.

In the aftermath, top officials have resigned, the state is investigating and congressional Republicans have called for a probe.

On Sunday, a top Washington Democrat and Republican sparred over ObamaCare, the extent to which several Democrats seeking re-election are in political peril and whether the GOP hammering away almost exclusively at ObamaCare is a sustainable election strategy.

“Clearly ObamaCare is still the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 issues in this election,” Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee, told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Prepare for the Democrats to vilely assault a woman brain surgeon as insufficiently attentive to women's issue.

I dearly love Oregon, but the state does have a few loose screws.

A bit of Twitter Humor from Stephen Green (the Vodka Pundit):

It's Not Porn!

It's HBO!



Update: In Defense Of “Game of Thrones”
If Martin does not display favoritism in the seemingly unending conflict between these and other theories of international relations, one central political message is quite clear: kings are dangerous.

“Martin asks the most serious questions about the nature of power: Who governs? By what right? To what end?” writes conservative columnist Matthew Continetti. “A dispassionate analyst of the cruelty of princes, he reveals the unstable ground of absolutist rule. He is exploring, through his characters and situations, whether enlightened despotism is possible in a broken world. This isn’t fantasy; it’s a crash course in political realism.”

Hereditary monarchy can have disastrous, violent consequences. What Jefferson-loving American conservative could disagree with that?

Now all of that said, Tracinski is voicing a common complaint: many Game of Thrones viewers have a hard time seeing past the show’s gratuitous violence and over-the-top sexuality.

The critics have a point: HBO, presumably in an effort to attract viewers, added a number of scenes of sex and violence that did not appear in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels. While there are incredibly deep and interesting themes at play in Game of Thrones, many viewers will find themselves preoccupied with details that HBO writers chose to insert, whether to draw more eyes or to take the shortcuts necessary in adapting such a massive literary undertaking to a more viewer-friendly format.

Something I Forgot About for Easter

I had this in the refrigerator for later use.



This post at Ace's reminded me.