Saturday, April 30, 2011

I Draw the Line at My Fish.

Calling animals 'pets' is insulting, academics claim
Domestic dogs, cats, hamsters or budgerigars should be rebranded as “companion animals” while owners should be known as “human carers”, they insist. Even terms such as wildlife are dismissed as insulting to the animals concerned – who should instead be known as “free-living”, the academics including an Oxford professor suggest.

The call comes from the editors of then Journal of Animal Ethics, a new academic publication devoted to the issue. It is edited by the Revd Professor Andrew Linzey, a theologian and director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, who once received an honorary degree from the Archbishop of Canterbury for his work promoting the rights of “God’s sentient creatures”.
And academics wonder why they get no respect...
“Despite its prevalence, ‘pets’ is surely a derogatory term both of the animals concerned and their human carers. Again the word ‘owners’, whilst technically correct in law, harks back to a previous age when animals were regarded as just that: property, machines or things to use without moral constraint.We invite authors to use the words ‘free-living’, ‘free-ranging’ or ‘free-roaming’ rather than ‘wild animals’. For most, ‘wildness’ is synonymous with uncivilised, unrestrained, barbarous existence. There is an obvious prejudgment here that should be avoided.”
"Teacher's companion animal" sounds more derogatory than "teacher's pet."  A lot stupider, too.

Back Again!

Georgia, Charlie, his wife Sandy and I all went Largemouth Bass fishing this morning with a friend, Capt. Mike Starrett, of Indian Head Charters.  Mike guides in the tidal freshwater Potomac River region, and has a number of types of fishing experiences available at different times of the year, including bass, catfish, crappie, and a growing industry with snakeheads.  This was to have been "Bubba Bass" in the Potomac River proper, but the wind conspired against us, and forced us to stay in the creeks.  We launched at Slavin's Landing in Indian Head on Mattawoman Creek, braved the river long enough to get to Chicamuxen Creek, where the wind still howled and made it hard. The first bass in the slideshow as caught in Chicamuxen.  So we retreated to the more protected waters at back of Mattawomen.  We caught a few fish.  Georgia caught a small crappie on a bass plug, but she didn't give me time to get a picture.  We had a couple of shots at a snakeheads to day, but could not get a hit.

Mattawoman Creek is truly beautiful creek, located surprisingly close to Washington D.C.   It has extensive beds of various emergant water plants, including Spatterdock (a water lily relative), Pickeral Weed, and submerged beds of Hydrilla which make it excellent fish habitat, and quite beautiful landscapes.  We saw lots of birds including Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Great Blue Herons, Common Egrets.  I have a slideshow below, which doesn't do it justice.

Gone Again!

Another fishing trip; back later. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

I'm Baaack!

Had a long day of fishing.  Trevor, Barefoot and I met Walleye Pete at the Patuxent Naval Recreation Center at 6 AM today for a fishing trip.  Pete had canceled mine and Barefoot's trip to the Flats today for lousy water conditions and lack of fish, so we decided to make an exploratory expedition to the Eastern Shore, and Middle Grounds of the Chesapeake Bay to see if the fish had started to appear in their usual haunts.  They had.  We stopped at numerous locations and fished, and caught fish at most, but not all of them.  The slide show tells the story, but briefly, the bridge is the Middle Hooper's Island Bridge, the lighthouse is Point No Point Light, the wreck is the American Mariner (aka the Target Ship), and the backhoe is the backhoe at the north end of Holland Island that I have written about before.  Got back around 4 PM, and covered an estimated 100 miles of water.

It was a gorgeous day out.

Slow Blogging Possible

I have a heavy fishing schedule the next two days.  But you can be sure I won't be doing this:

Hat tip to Surly.

Hopefully I'll have some good pictures to share.

Is Cosmoline composed of Higgs Bosons?

Ted is speculating on the role of Cosmoline in the cosmos over at his place.

Friday Monkey Dacker Post

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tornado Season

A severe storm touching off a near record number of tornadoes tore through the South yesterday and up through the mid-Atlantic today.  At this point over 150 tornadoes were spawned by the storm, and the death toll is up to 292, most of them in Alabama.  We were under a tornado watch and even a warning at one point this morning, but all we got out of it was a short, violent thunderstorm, with lots of lightening, rain and wind. However, today is also the anniversary of the tornado that ripped through La Plata, Maryland, and across Charles and Calvert County leaving massive destruction on April 28, 2002.

Georgia and I missed the warnings for that, and huddled at home as the remnants of the tornado passed a half mile from our house and crossed out over the Bay on its way to the eastern shore.  Someone at CCNPP took these pictures, and they were published (and passed around) locally:

Note that the second picture, on the left appears to show two funnel clouds.  From where the tornado passed on the shore, we can estimate that those pictures were take from a distance of about 3 miles. 

Our hearts go out to all those affected by these storms.

New Test for Autism in Babies

Test Flags Babies With Autism, But Also Feeds False Alarms
Pediatricians can use a five-minute questionnaire to identify many 1-year-olds with autism, according to a new study in Journal of Pediatrics.

But the screening test also flags a whole lot of babies who aren't autistic.

Even so, the result provides "an exciting proof of concept," says Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, in a statement. NIMH helped pay for the study.

For many years, researchers have suggested that autism treatments would be more effective if they began at an earlier age — though studies have yet to show whether that's the case. Today, many children with autism don't receive a diagnosis until they are 5 or even older.
This is pretty good stuff.  It may be the final nail in the coffin of the undead zombie that is the "vaccine hypothesis", that childhood vaccines (and more particularly the mercury compound thimerosal used to preserve many of them) has caused an increase in autism.  If autism is diagnosed before the vaccines are administered, they can't be the cause.  If temperature rises before CO2 rises...but I digress.

However at this point the questionnaire doesn't equivocally diagnose autism; it seems to point to a variety of learning disorders.  Of more than 10,000 babies tested, 184 were "flagged", but only 32 were later diagnosed with "autism spectrum disorder" (a name like that should be a clue we don't know what we're talking about).  If, as the article suggests, 1% of children become autistic (I've also seen 0.6%, close enough for biogeochemistry), the test also failed to find more than half the autistic children in the group.  So it may identify half the ultimate cases of autism, and "false positively" diagnoses 5 times as many as being possibly autistic.

Still, a "flagged" baby probably has learning issues of some sort.  Better to flag and begin to study and treat than to ignore and wait for full blown autism to manifest itself.  By then the damage done to the family and the mother in particular can be horrendous.

Everybody Stopped Kung Fu Fighting...

Pub singer arrested for racism after Chinese passers-by hear him perform Kung Fu Fighting
A pub singer has been arrested on suspicion of racism for singing the classic chart hit Kung Fu Fighting. The song, performed by Simon Ledger, 34, is said to have offended two Chinese people as they walked past the bar where he was singing. The entertainer regularly performs the 1974 number one hit, originally by disco star Carl Douglas, at the Driftwood Beach Bar in Sandown, on the Isle of Wight...

‘We were performing Kung Fu Fighting, as we do during all our sets,’ he said. ‘People of all races were loving it. Chinese people have never been offended by it before. ‘But this lad walking past with his mum started swearing at us and making obscene hand gestures before taking a picture on his mobile phone.  'We hadn’t even seen them when we started the song. He must have phoned the police.’

Officers later called Mr Ledger while he was eating in a Chinese restaurant to arrange a meeting.
The singer assumed it was a prank – but he was later arrested and is still under investigation.
That seems unlikely to happen here in the US; our 1st Amendment is stronger than free speech protections in the UK, but if I looked back 10 years at all the things I thought were unlikely then, but are ordinary today?

Besides, overt censorship in the US isn't as much a threat as rampant PCism, where the urge to keep public discourse and entertainment free of that which offends all the preferred and protected groups is already in full throat.

In protest of stupidity:

Bay's Grades Drops for 2010, to a C-Minus

It's spring so it must be time for last years "Bay Grades" to come out.

NOAA and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science have evaluated the bay on a number of criteria, and given the Bay a 42%, down from 2009's 46%.  This was largely ascribed to high storm flows early in 2010, which causes high turbidity, and sets up the conditions for spring and summer algal bloom and deep water hypoxia.  A hypothetical (and unmeasured) pristine pre-colonial Bay would score 100%. Indians Native Americans don't count.  While I don't think 100% is attainable, something in the high 60%s or low 70%s would be nice.

The site is worth going visting to examine the nooks and crannies. There's a nice active chart on the "Trends" page that allows you to look at the various measures that contribute to the grade on an individual basis, and see the trends since 1986.

There are also pages on Regional Summary and  Comparisons, that allows you to examine the scores by region (OK, these pages are kind of redundant, but...).  Among the regions, the area we live in the Lower Western Shore, scored the worst, at 13%
Very poor ecosystem health-lowest ranked region in the Bay. Despite last year's slight improvement, this region's health continues to decline. Five of the six indicators scored an F.
  • Water quality: Water clarity has been consistently very poor in this region. In 2010, water clarity scored 0% for the third consecutive year, and for the eighth year out of the past nine. Both chlorophyll a and dissolved oxygen declined following improvement the previous year. In particular, chlorophyll a declined to 2% in 2010 after reaching 16% in 2009, following a 0% score in 2008. This up-and-down pattern of very poor scores has characterized this region since 2006.
  • Biotic indicators: Following the trend of the past three years, all biotic indicators were in very poor condition in 2010.  Benthic community conditions decreased by 33% to 0%, following two previous years of improvement. Aquatic grasses scores continued to decrease as they have since 2005, and phytoplankton community scores decreased by 4%.
I think some of this is due to the inclusion of Magothy, South, and West/Rhode Rivers in this group.  Without them, I would suggest that the ranking would be more like the Mid Bay, a 42%.
Moderately poor ecosystem health. While all water quality indicators declined, phytoplankton community continues to improve and scored the highest in 19 years.
In fact, the site seems ambiguous as to which group our shoreline falls in; compare the maps on those last two links.

I'm ambivalent as to the value of these grading systems.  Numerically, I don't take the numbers very seriously, particularly since they vary quite a bit depending on yearly climate variations.  I don't regard a -4% due to a rainy spring significant in the long run, although it absolutely changes the water quality on a year to year basis.  At the same time, they give the water quality issues a bit of news play (water quality isn't inherently sexy - it's hard to work in a rule 5 water quality post).  They also crunch the various factors down to an assimilable minimum, and yet allow you to focus on some details if your interested:

Oh, and that Rule 5 Water Quality Post?

Gettin' Too Dark To See

Quite a storm brewing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We Went for a Walk

The place I work has a group that comes around once in a while and tries to encourage us to all get out and exercise.  The offer "free" T-shirts for a walk around the property.  On Tuesday, we went out, and I took the camera.  Here's a slide show of the some of the views:

I'm at 3 ticks and still looking. Georgia has had 6...

The World's Earliest Known Toothache

Scientists find dinosaur fossil with "fossil toothache"
An elderly reptile living approximately 275 million years ago in what is now Oklahoma was probably walking around with a throbbing mouth, suggests a new study finding evidence of what may be the world's first known toothache.

The find predates the previous record-holder (another land vertebrate with dental disease) by nearly 200 million years. The newly discovered tooth infection may have been the result of animals adapting to life on land after living in the sea for so long. [Images of decaying jawbone]...
Not terribly surprising.  I find sharks teeth with damage to the growth buds that must have come from some sort of infection or injury to the tissue that produces the tooth.  They're nowhere near that old, but shark predate dinosaurs, so I suspect that's been going on a lot longer.  This is one of those cases of a scientists trying to make a bigger deal out of something than it deserves for the publicity. 

I'll bet a dinosaur with a toothache is irritable.  I wonder how the dinobabes handled that...

Guess What? The Gulf Of Mexico is Still Alive

Can you handle the truth?
Here’s some news you may not have heard: One year after the worst oil spill in history, the Gulf of Mexico is nearly back to normal.

That’s right: Armageddon didn’t happen. Instead of terrible harm to the biosphere, the Deepwater Horizon spill has caused only mild problems. In fact, because of the fishing bans imposed after the spill, there are more fish than ever. Shark and mackerel populations have exploded. “Red snapper are unbelievable right now,” one fisherman said. “You could put a rock on the end a string and they’d bite it.”...
Wow, just stop the overfishing, and the fish come back?  Whodda thunk?  Maybe it would work here? 

But all is not sweetness and light...

...This year, according to Kevin Anson, a biologist with the Alabama division of Marine Resources, the shrimp, crabs and fish appear to be developing normally. The only species really hurt was oysters. They were devastated, not by the oil, but by all the fresh water sent through the delta to keep the oil outside the marshes...
So, in fact, one of the most significant effects was actually caused by attempts to ameliorate the problem?  Those unintended consequences keep  popping up.
...In fact, most scientists believe the Gulf is in surprisingly good shape. When three dozen of them were asked to rate the current health of the Gulf’s ecosystem on a 1-to-100 scale, they gave it an average grade of 68 – not bad, considering that, before the spill, they gave it a 71. “People are having a hard time accepting it. Me, too,” says Ed Overton, a chemist at Louisiana State University. “There are things that are wrong. There is still oil out there. But it is not nearly as bad as I expected it would be a year later.”...

The New Civil War: Army vs. Virginia Over Oysters

Oyster restoration feud continues:
...The corps [Army Corps of Engineers], with the backing of VIMS professor Rom Lipcius, wants to continue building a large sanctuary in the Great Wicomico River. At roughly 85 acres, it is among the largest man-made oyster reefs in the world. It differs from other reefs because the oysters are stacked 10 to 18 inches off the river bottom, said Lipcius, who routinely appears before state officials to discuss another bay delicacy, the blue crab.

Lipcius says the height and size of the reef allows oysters to overcome diseases, predators, and pollution - which, combined with overharvesting, has decimated the population during the past 50 years.

The commission[Virginia Marine Resources Commission], which works with VIMS professor Roger Mann, says the reef isn't as successful as the corps and Lipcius contend. Oysters there, according to VMRC oyster restoration specialist Jim Wesson, are dying due to the diseases MSX and Dermo. Restoration efforts would be better served, Wesson has said, by planting shells and seed on grounds that are open to watermen. That way the oysters have a chance to be harvested before they die, he said...
The Army has the money, in this case $2 million in federal funds for oyster restoration.  However, to spend the money, and get their reef, the Corps needs 15% matching funds, which in this case are expected to be paid for by Virgina for providing oyster shell for the reef.  And the state wants it their way, with watermen getting to pick over the oysters the federal dollars paid to grow.

Why the difference?  Science?  I doubt it.  The VMRC as a state agency is heavily influenced by the local politics, and watermen can still deliver a few crucial votes.  VMRC, in fact, has a couple of designated seats for representatives of commercial fishing or fish processing (it also has a couple of "recreational representatives, but as they don't have much of a dog in this fight, their votes may be up for negotiation).  The  Army Corps, on the other hand is imperious in it's indifference to the interest groups in various states.

I prefer the Army position.  It's just insane that while oysters are struggling at 1% of their historical abundance in the bay, we continue to allow the taking over virtually every oyster large enough to lay eggs (disturbingly, oysters change from male to female as they mature).

But what about the disease argument?  Won't they just die if you leave them unharvested?  Maybe, but maybe not, and maybe not all.  One thing we know is that a harvested oyster is dead for sure, and cannot contribute to the restoration.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This Woman Has Big Balls...

In the Wake of the Blades

An interesting confluence of science, two reports today on the effects of blades; one the effect of the blades used to propel boats on life in the bay:
A new study by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science shows that turbulence from boat propellers can and does kill large numbers of copepods—tiny crustaceans that are an important part of marine food webs.

The study—by VIMS graduate student Samantha Bickel, VIMS professor Kam Tang, and Hampton University undergraduate Joseph Malloy Hammond—appears in the March issue of the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology.
 I don't doubt that spinning blades can kill zooplankton, but how bad is it in "real life"?
They compared the percentage of live and dead copepods collected from these sites using a dye that is only taken up by living copepods. The results of their comparison showed a much higher fraction of dead copepods in the channel (34%) than in the marina (5.9% dead) or along the shoreline (5.3%).

A field experiment in the York River near the VIMS campus confirmed the results of the Hampton River study. Here, they sampled copepods from within the wakes of passing boats, and again found a link between turbulence and mortality: the percentage of copepod carcasses increased from 7.7% outside the wakes to 14.3% inside the wakes.
So scale this up for me?  Is it a significant source of mortality when averaged over the whole Bay?  How much of the Bay is churned by a boat wake over the course of the lifetime of a copepod?

The second article concerns the effects of the wakes of the blades of wind powered generators:
While wind turbines primarily are a source of renewable energy, they also produce wakes of invisible ripples that can affect the atmosphere and influence wind turbines downstream -- an issue being researched in a newly launched study led by the University of Colorado Boulder's Julie Lundquist, assistant professor in the atmospheric and oceanic sciences department.

The study, called the Turbine Wake and Inflow Characterization Study, or TWICS, also includes researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, or NREL, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.

Scientists and wind energy developers will use results of the study to better understand power production and increase the productivity of wind farms, according to the researchers.

"Today's massive wind turbines stretch into a complicated part of the atmosphere," said Lundquist, who also is a joint appointee at NREL. "If we can understand how gusts and rapid changes in wind direction affect turbine operations and how turbine wakes behave, we can improve design standards, increase efficiency and reduce the cost of energy."
 As I've noted before, it's tempting to think of wind energy as an unlimited (if some what inconvenient) form of renewable energy.  But the fact is, to take energy out of the wind, you have to slow the wind, and at some point, that starts to have it's own unintended and probably deleterious effects.

Now, a musical interlude, from the Wake of the Flood:

Chicken, With a Side of Bullshit

Our buddies over at Chesapeake Bay Action Plan (CBAP) have a new post today about the potential dangers of using arsenic in chicken feed.  First, a little background.  I know at least a couple of the writers at CBAP personally.  They are good guys, and some of them are good scientists.  If you have a question regarding nutrients in Chesapeake Bay, you could do no better than as Walter Boyenton, one of their authors. I would hope I would be on his short list for any questions he might have about arsenic (As) in Chesapeake Bay.  John Page Williams, head of Chesapeake Bay Foundation is a good leader for the foundation, and an interesting speaker.

This article, however, is deeply flawed.  It's not clear who wrote the article, but it is full of sensationalist crap:
And it [arsenic] is accumulating at alarming rates in the soils of Maryland, where the poultry industry creates over one billion pounds of chicken manure per year, much of which is spread on agricultural fields as fertilizer, and where it ends up leeching into the Chesapeake Bay.
One billion pounds wow! With a B!  Of course, what they don't tell you is that the concentration of arsenic in chicken fed roxarsone laced food is in the low parts per million, so that the total amount of arsenic in chicken manure is in the thousand of lbs.  A lot of arsenic, if it were piled in one place, but spread over hundreds of thousands of acres of crop land, it wouldn't even make a dent in the second place digit on the As concentrations present naturally in the soil.
According to Food & Water Watch, tests of some wells near Chesapeake Bay farmland displayed levels of arsenic 13 times higher than the EPA’s limits.
This is a wonderful slight of hand.  The article linked above, cites nothing as a source:
Groundwater tests on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay’s Coastal Plains found arsenic in some household wells reaching up to 13 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) tolerance limit.
First of all, even if you accept, without any evidence that the reported levels exist in groundwater on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay, there is no evidence that it does in fact come from the chicken manure.  In fact, no significant amount of As containing chicken feed is used on cropland on the western side of the Bay, and we still have wells with elevated As.  And it's located deep, 300 ft or more, below clay layers which would prevent contamination with surface water.  It's natural.  And that begs the question of what EPA standard they are referring to.  The current drinking water standard, 10 ppb, or the criteria for aquatic life, set at a ridiculously low standard of 0.018 ppb for water and organisms for Human Health for the consumption of water and organism.  You would be very lucky to find any rainwater or any surface water with concentrations that low. Which standard are we comparing the numbers that you have no source for?
Before I get too far into this, the argument is not whether arsenic in poultry feed is dangerous or not—that’s a no-brainer. The issue is actually whether or not your legislators have the will to ban a compound which is known to be dangerous to the health of their constituents. The 2011 Maryland legislative session showed that they do not have that will.
Everything is a no-brainer when you have no brains.  To paraphrase Paracelsus, "The Dose Makes the Poison"  Let's see if the As concentrations in chickens actually approach any level that might threaten human health. And so then we go to arsenic in the chickens:
Then there's the question of arsenic traces in industrial chicken meat. In 2006, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) tested chicken samples from supermarkets and fast-food joints -- and found that 55 percent contained detectable arsenic. Citing the EPA, IATP reckons that 55 percent of arsenic found in poultry meat is inorganic, i.e., toxic.
I can tell you for a fact that arsenic in any tissue you care to analyze is "detectable", at least if my lab does the analysis.  Does this shock you?  Environmental chemists strive to measure everything everywhere, and dammit, we're pretty good at it.  According to this paper, the concentration of As in chicken muscle is estimated to be about 0.39 parts per million, 3-4 times higher than other poultry or meat. However, concentrations in seafood, particularly crustaceans (shrimp, crabs, and lobsters) tend to be much higher.  Do you seriously think any of these guys would turn down a good lobster dinner because of the arsenic in it?  Wine is also a good source of As (inorganic as it turns out).  Would they insist on an analysis of As and its speciation in the bottle before toasting the demise of eastern shore chicken farmers?

And I don't know how IATP "reckons" it, but the evidence is pretty weak that the "majority" of the As in chicken meat is "inorganic" is based on 99.5% samples being chicken livers.  As a major site for metabolism and metal storage, the liver is most unlike muscle tissue, and other workers find essentially no inorganic As in actual chicken muscle tissue.

So, the "science" they're using here, to get you worried about arsenic groundwater and in chicken meat is just nonsense.  Why are they trying to PULL THE WOOL OVER YOUR EYES?  Because their true objective is something else.  They want the legislature, or the regulatory arms (EPA or MDE) to put the eastern shore chicken farmers out of business.  Why?  It's not arsenic.  It's nutrients.  They don't want the nutrients from the chicken manure. 

You know what?  I AGREE WITH THAT. I would like to see the nutrients from the chicken farms regulated to reduce their impact on the Bay.  But to attack them on the basis of the low levels of arsenic added to chicken feed is either deeply ignorant or deeply dishonest.  I'll let you pick which.

Hound Dog Taylor

Twenty Dollars worth of equipment, and a couple friends...

Because It's Late and I Can't Find Anything Else

Monday, April 25, 2011

Imagine What They Could Do With a Fly Rod!

Orangutans Use Simple Tools to Catch Fish
Orangutans living in Borneo scavenge fish that wash up along the shore and scoop catfish out of small ponds for fresh meals, anthropologist Anne Russon of York University in Toronto reported on April 14 at a meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Over two years, Russon saw several animals on these forested islands learn on their own to jab at catfish with sticks, so that the panicked prey would flop out of ponds and into a red ape’s waiting hands.

“If orangutans can do this, then early hominids could also have practiced tool-assisted fishing,” Russon said.
Other early hominids? Hmm. let me see...

Pelosi Explained

Botox May Deaden Ability to Empathize
According to a study published in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science, Botox may not only numb facial muscles, but also – and for the same reason – numb users’ perception of other people’s emotions.

According to David Neal, a psychology professor at the University of Southern California, “if muscular signals from the face to the brain are dampened, you’re less able to read emotions.”

Neal and his research team compared the effects of Botox and Restylane on the one hand, with a gel that amplifies facial signals on the other. The key finding, according to Neal: “When the facial muscles are dampened, you get worse in emotion perception, and when when facial muscles are amplified, you get better at emotion perception.”...
A gel that increases facial muscle mobility? Really? How cool is that?  

So, if you can feel yourself smile, you feel happier, a little; if you frown, a little sadder. Try it. Emotion is a cluster of associations including the physical sensations, not just feelings you have when small clusters of brain cells somewhere becomes active.

Lost Crab Pots Found, Removed From Bay

10,000 abandoned crab pots pulled from Chesapeake Bay
More than 10,000 crab traps were plucked from Virginia waters over the winter under a program to remove abandoned pots from the Chesapeake Bay. The so-called "ghost pots" were removed by watermen who were paid $300 a day plus fuel expenses.
I think this is a worthwhile project, but I wish there were a way to motivate watermen to be more diligent about not losing crab pots in the bay (and elsewhere) to begin with.  To some extent, this is a make-work project designed to send money to watermen in a season when they have little to fish for.  The traditional main winter fishery is oysters, but with the oyster populations near historic lows, it won't support the level of effort necessary to keep many watermen working.  Maybe you could limit the watermen to a fixed number of pots, and if they lose one they fish with one less? Or put a high tax on the initial pots?  I'm not fond of either solution as they smack of government interference, which I would rather avoid.  On the other hand, commercial fishing is an industry in serious need of government interference. 

On the other hand, I'm quite sure I've accidentally cut a crab pot or two off with my prop.  Sometimes you just don't see them, especially at night, and when they're 50 yds apart for miles on end, they're hard to avoid entirely.  The pots continue to sit on the bottom and catch fish and crabs for years until the wire mesh rusts away, with the dying catch serving as the bait of the next round.
The numbers released Friday reflect an effort that began in December, after most blue crabs dig into the bay for their winter hibernation. Since the program's inception three years ago, more than 28,000 pots have been removed from the water.The wire mesh traps are called ghost pots because they continue to trap crabs and marine life after they are errantly cut from a waterman's buoy.
The cost of the program has received $3.5 million from the State of Virginia, so the cost per pot removed is about $125.  IIRC, the cost of new crab pots is significantly less than that.

Obey the Kiss Cam!

Did they or didn't they?

The World's First Known Venomous Bird

This is neat, but a little scary:

For a bird to be running around with the genes for making a complex poison like batrachotoxin implies a long evolutionary history, and maybe more of them are out there.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Nap Time!

Washington DC to Make Better $#!*

Blue Plains upgrade could produce valuable farm fertilizer, but critics are wary

Blue Plains Treatment Plant
Blue Plains is the sewage treatment plant for all of Washington DC.  Located on the Potomac River just within the southern border of the district, it processes an average of 375 million gallons per day.  As for the solids:
...Blue Plains, for instance, for years has squeezed water out of sludge, added lime to it and dried it. This partially treated Class B biosolid is then trucked free of charge to farms, most of them in Virginia, where the fertilizer is used with substantial restrictions. The yearly cost to the facility of getting rid of the Class B solids is $10 million.

But the economics of Blue Plains biosoil could change soon, now that the facility plans to spend $400 million to upgrade its product to Class A biosolids. These are deemed safe enough to put in your mouth — though it’s not encouraged — and would carry few restrictions.

And like Milorganite, a Class A biosolid produced by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District on a smaller scale, the Blue Plains Class A solids could eventually be sold...
One of the products you can count on a large city producing is shit.  And since Washington D.C. is a city large dedicated to maintaining and developing non-material things, laws, regulations etc, shit is probably its largest single material product. 

In the course of work, I have sampled at Blue Plains.  It's remarkable to see the river of brown, well, shit, start at one end, and come out clear water.  Clearer than the river it dumps into much of the time. (That doesn't mean I'd want to drink it...).  However, you have to do something with the solids, and using it as fertilizer seems  to be an appropriate use, and having sterile Class A solids rather than potentially contaminated Class B solids seems a good thing.

Some people are never happy, however:
Opponents say no class of biosolid can be viewed as safe. In areas where it’s been spread, residents have complained of foul odors that last for weeks, queasiness and problems with their lungs. One man said a substance spread on a neighboring farm gave him a life-threatening illness.

“Now they’ve got this great product, but it still has the potential to contain chemicals,” said Chris Nidel, a lawyer who represented residents in Surry County, Va., who said foul-smelling Class B biosolids made them sick.
It's always easy to find someone who claimed something made them sick.  It's always turns out much more difficult to proved exactly what made them sick.

The article doesn't shed a lot of light on this with its discussion of the hazards of biosolids:
There are, however, known hazards: Class B biosolids contain viruses that can cause diseases such as Ebola, which can sickens and potentially kill people. Farmers need permits to spread the Class B fertilizer on pastures and are forbidden from using it for food crops. Any field treated with Class B biosolids has to be cordoned off for 30 days or more.
EBOLA?  Are you shitting me? Ebola, that's the example of a virus spread by biosolids?   Why don't you cite an actual pathogen known to be a threat from sewage, like say Hepatitis A?  I had to get Hep A shots to work safely in the Anacostia River, just a bit upstream from Blue Plains, and which doesn't have any sewage treatment plants on it.

Easter Beach, 2011

After yesterday's mist, today was bright and blue.  This is one of the nicest times in Slower Maryland, and it's great to be out on the beach.  It was nearly deserted, probably because of people going to church.  Joel and Red were there, however.

Yesterday we decided it would be a good idea to bring a saw, and clear some of the fallen trees and limbs out of the way.  Georgia and I forgot the saw, so Georgia went back for it.  On the left, Joel saws away at a piece of Black Locust.  Take a good look; it's rare to see Joel breaking a sweat.

"People, always fussing with something.  Why don't they just crawl under the logs on their bellies, like we do?"

How 'Bout Another Cup of Coffee?

I Coulda Married Kate

Kate Middleton that is. A little bawdy...

Found at Theo's.

There's Insanity, and then There's Utter Insanity

Guys like this disappear once in a while...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

GPS Upgades in Offing

GPS satellites get a serious upgrade
...The newest version of a GPS satellite is called the GPS IIF and it is enhanced with more than one new upgrade.

The GPS IIF is expected to double the accuracy of GPS, which is just as good of news for fans of Foursquare as it is for the FAA. One has to wonder exactly what doubling that accuracy really means. Well, currently GPS can estimate your location to an area of about 20 feet. When the next generation satellites are in place, this location will be narrowed down to an area of two to three feet, making pinpointing locations less like a range, and more like the spot you are standing on...
We've all become pretty accustomed to GPS technology. Most fishermen don't leave the dock without it. It's built into many of our phones (not mine), and cars. Locating you position on the earth used to be a big deal. I remember a story Dad told me about his days in the Merchant Marine during WWII. A fellow 2nd mate, terribly proud of his navigational skills, took a sight on the sun one day with a sextant, carefully charted the results and determined that their Liberty Ship was 12 miles inland in the Philippine Islands. Today, on my 19 ft boat, I push button, and I can find my location to within 10-20 ft or so in a minute, and have the position charted electronically as I move along.

I wonder if new receivers will be required to take advantage of the added accuracy, however.

Cool and Misty Beach 4/23/11

We rendezvoused with Joel and Red at the appointed time down at the parking lot.  It's been rainy, but by time we got there it was down to a light mist.  The wind was light from the south (it has picked up and is now roaring through the tree tops).
We were just after high tide, which was much higher than the predicted tide due to the south wind, but the beach had built up so much in the last week, we had no trouble following Red and Skye around the narrow spot. 
 It's been a great week for pollen.  Our oaks and poplars and more more types of trees are producing vast amounts, and every surface available to it is dusted with the gritty yellow powder.  Here it washes around in a back water.  Curiously, the type of pollen laid down in sediment can be used to tell the story of past land use and even climate change in a region.
We also encountered this damsel in distress, but finding there was nothing more we could do for her, we left her to her fate.  Perhaps some little girl will come by and rescue her.

Another Boating Accident Nearby

4 Hospitalized After Boat Capsizes In Chesapeake

Four people were pulled from the water by the Calvert County Fire Department (yes, they have a boat) after their 28 ft boat capsized near noon off Breezy Point, Maryland.  Breezy Point is the next harbor of any size north of my harbor (Flag Harbor), approximately 10 miles to the north.  Three of the victims are in critical condition, presumably from hypothermia.

No word yet on what might have happened.  The day was windy and choppy, but should have been no threat to a 28 ft boat.  Despite the relatively nice days we've been having, that water is damn cold and dangerous. It was 53 F when I was out last night.  You don't live long in water that temperature.

This is the second incident off Breezy is less than a week; while looking for this one I discovered a report from Sunday, where a boat with 2 people was reported taking on water.  The US Coast Guard towed that boat back to Breezy Pt, and there were no injuries reported.

UPDATE:  Washington Post reports 2 dead.

UPDATE:  The morning print edition of the Washington Post identifies the victims as Stephan Ray Sowers (67) and John Sowers (60) from Pennsylvania.  They reportedly found the bay too rough, and upon turning back, we swamped by a wave.  Based on what I saw of the weather, that seems to be a rather unfortunate and unnecessary accident.

Celebrating Female Scientists (Rule 5) - Part Deux

While snooping around for my old Rule 5 post regarding Natalie Portman's scientific career, I ran into some information on Hedy Lamarr that I had never heard before; that she was widely regarded as one of the inventors of "Spread Spectrum" techniques for broadcasting control of missiles over a number of frequencies to make them more difficult to read or jam.  Basically, the system as patented in 1942, switched among 88 frequencies using a "piano roll" (a piano has 88 notes).  Frequency switching technologies have be downsized and automated, and are now crucial in our communication network.  In 1997, she and composer George Anthiel were awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award.  The same year she was also awarded a Bulbie(TM) Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Bulb, award for lifetime achievement for inventors.  I suppose this would make her more engineer than scientists, but on behalf of scientists everywhere, I'll claim her as one of ours.

She, and her first husband (she had six marriages, apparently she was fan of switching marital frequencies often), Friedrich Mandl, a fascist Vienna-based arms manufacturer learned of the problem in defense meetings.  Why a Jewish actress and her fascist husband were attending defense meetings in the early 40's I can't fathom, but the world was smaller then, I think.  She left this husband over his fascist associations, drugging him, taking the jewels, hiding in a brothel and fleeing Germany for Paris where she divorced him.  Good move.

Of course, Hedy is best known for her work as an actress.  She was a native of Vienna, Austria, and named Eva Maria Kiesler.  In 1930, at the age of 17, she played a bit part in her first movie, an German flick "Geld Auf Der Strase" (Money on the Streets).  In 1932 she played in the German "art" movie "Extase" (Ecstasy), where she posed nude:
I remember all too well the premiere of Ecstasy when I watched my bare bottom bounce across the screen and my mother and father sat there in shock. - Hedy Lamarr
Shots from this film is helpfully located here and here:

Shockingly, a beautiful young woman willing to take her clothes off for the camera came to the attention of Hollywood directors and producers, and her acting career was off to the races. She was signed by MGM studios, and her first American film was "Algiers", where she starred opposite Charles Boyer in 1938.  She was often cast as a seductress, and likely her most famous role as the biblical villainess is Delilah in Cecil B. DeMiles Samson and Delilah".  She starred in upwards of 35 films up until 1957 (I was 6)...

She apparently spent the money she made on films freely.  In 1965 she was arrested for shoplifting, but the charges were drooped.  She was also arrested in1991 in Florida for shoplifting a little more than $20 worth of crap.  In her autobiography "Ecstasy and Me" she noted:
On a recent evening, sitting home alone suffering and brooding about my treatment at the police station because of an incident in a department store, and being replaced by Zsa Zsa Gabor in a motion picture (imagine how that pleased the ego!) I figured out that I had made – and spent – some thirty million dollars. Yet earlier that day I had been unable to pay for a sandwich at Schwab's drug-store.

Mel Brooks appropriated her adopted name for a character in the Blazing Saddles, "Hedley Lamarr", the evil businessman played by Harvey Korman. In one scene, Brooks's character calls him "Hedy", and Korman corrects him saying "It's Hedley" to which Brooks replies "What are you worried about? This is 1874... you'll be able to sue her!"

Hedy Lamarr died in 2000, and at her request her ashes were scattered in a forest in her native Austria by her son, Anthony Loder.  She left behind quite a number of amusing and pungent quotes. I'm sure Hollywood publicists contributed to this list...

They don't make stars like that anymore.  RIP Hedy.

Thanks to the Rule 5 Wombat  from The Other McCain's Rule 5 compilation and The Classical Liberal for the links!

Asma's Hubby is Getting Cranky

Death toll rising in Syria
At least 90 people were reportedly killed and dozens were injured when Syrian security forces fired live bullets and teargas to disperse “Good Friday” protests in several cities, witnesses reported. The death toll seemed to be rising late Friday...
Asma al Assad - Google Bait
I don't really know what it is about Asma Al-Assad, wife of Syrian dictator Bashir al Assad, but the "Dictators Wive's" post continues to be by far the most popular post on this blog by a mile (I know, that's not saying much, but still...), and the vast majority of the hits come from Googling Asma al Assad.  Sure, she's not bad looking, but if you want cheesecake, there are better places to go (I suggest Theo's for a daily assortment if you like racy but mild, or Klad if you just want pron).

Would somebody please leave me a comment or something that explains why you were intent on finding pictures of Asma, and how the hell you ended up here?  As near as I can tell, this blog doesn't even list in the first 26 pages of Google results for Asma.

Well, we fishermen have a motto that's germane to this situation: "Don't leave biting fish", so here's another Asma post.  But let's not forget why she's in the news.  Her husband is a dictator, and dictators often feel strongly about being threatened with be deposed.  Then the often kill people; many people:
Victims of Asma's Husband

So let's not forget about the people resisting the al Assad dynasty.  Not all, or maybe even many, of them are admirers of representative government (I hesitate to say democracy), but until they may still be preferable to the "glamorous" Assads.

I hope the Syrian situation works out for the best, but honestly, I have a hard time imagining just how that's going to happen.

UPDATE:  Pajamas media has posted some extremely graphic videos of demonstrations in Syria.

Just Because There's a War On...

Doesn't mean you can't have some fun.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Back River Denizens Decry Debris

Back River
Back River neighbors say trash in waterway out of control
All of Baltimore's uncollected trash — from the bottles tossed in storm drains to the litter dropped carelessly on the streets — seems to wash into Back River.

At least, that's the way it looks to residents along the eastern Baltimore County waterway.

A trash boom installed a year ago was filled Thursday with bottles, tires, balls, logs, even a small appliance. Crews will remove all that debris to prevent it from flowing downstream into the Chesapeake Bay. But the task is never-ending, especially after a heavy rain.

"You will find anything that floats in this river in the boom," said Brian Schilpp, project manager for the Back River Restoration Committee, a nonprofit community group. "After every rain, the whole watershed from Towson through Northeast Baltimore washes down here. Storm water is a big problem."...
Egrets pick through trash at the Anacostia River
 I'm well acquainted with this issue.  I have carried out a number of research projects over the years in the Anacostia River, from where it dumps (literally) in the the Potomac River in Washington D.C. up into Maryland where the tidal region begins.  Parts of the Anacostia would be scenic, if it weren't for the trash that winds floating in it.  Much of it is woody debris, as you see in the picture above, but it is also has bottles, balls, cans, tires and, as it says above, almost anything that might float drifting about on the surface.  The Anacostia has a  boom to catch debris at the railroad bridge at Anacostia Park (above), and trash collecting boats work on the river daily, and the trash keeps coming...

You might also recall that after a big storm recently we had a big windrow of trash wash up on our beach.  I blamed the Susky overflow at the time, but wouldn't surprise me if some of it washed down from Back River and Baltimore as well.

Predictions for Earth Day...

...1970. The following are quotes from the original Earth Day in 1970.
“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.” - Kenneth Watt, ecologist
“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” - George Wald, Harvard Biologist
“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” -  Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” - Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.” - Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day
“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….” - Life Magazine, January 1970
“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
“Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” - Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“We are prospecting for the very last of our resources and using up the nonrenewable things many times faster than we are finding new ones.” - Martin Litton, Sierra Club director
“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’” - Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
“Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”  - Sen. Gaylord Nelson
“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” - Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
Science is all about building a case to make predictions.  If, at the end of the day (or whatever), your prediction fails to meet reality, your theory is wrong, and you owe it to science and the world to admit it, and form new ones.  Most of these same outcomes are being predicted over and over with the goal posts being extended out in the near future.  Only for global cooling have they actually changed their tune, now they're all in for global warming (even though the world hasn't warmed since 1998).

And remember, when you hear similar dire predictions today, how they have worked in the past.

Oh, and Happy Earth Day.

Lucky Pogo

And thanks for the link from Mike at The Classical Liberal.

Government Mandates Toxic Fume Emitting Light Bulbs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs emit cancer causing chemicals
...The bulbs are already widely used in the UK following EU direction to phase out traditional incandescent lighting by the end of this year.

But the German scientists claimed that several carcinogenic chemicals and toxins were released when the environmentally-friendly compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) were switched on, including phenol, naphthalene and styrene.

Andreas Kirchner, of the Federation of German Engineers, said: “Electrical smog develops around these lamps.  “I, therefore, use them only very economically. They should not be used in unventilated areas and definitely not in the proximity of the head.” ...
As an environmental chemist, such claims don't get me too excited.  There is really no mention of the dose in this article, so I'm pretty sure the dose is trivial, and in the words of Paracelesus:
"All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison…." Paracelsus (1493-1541)
Nevertheless, I  put this out there with glee.  The same people who have forced the CFL on us have caused unknown havoc with their crusades against a host of chemicals that are useful and life sustaining when used properly.

I'm not against CFLs; I'm pro-freedom

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Snakehead Found in Upper Chesapeake Bay

A Northern Snakehead was caught in the Northeast River (near the upper end of Chesapeake Bay) on April 17, by recreational angler, showing that this invasive species is continuing to spread in the Bay area.
I caught a snakehead fish 4-17-2011 on the Northeast River near Anchor Marine . it was approx. 4.5 lbs and was about 21 inches long, the fish was destroyed. I didn't know if there were others caght in this area.

DNR RESPONSE via Joe Love, Fisheries Biologist This is this first reported snakehead caught in Northeast River. DNR applauds the actions of Mr. Lauer to remove and kill this invasive species which has now appeared for the first time in the upper Chesapeake Bay. Please spread the word to fellow anglers to handle any snakeheads they encounter similarly.
Maryland DNR is trying to encourage anglers to help eliminate (or more likely, slow the spread of) snaked head in the Bay with a prize for catching and killing a snakehead.
In an effort to stem the spread of the invasive snakehead fish the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Potomac River Fisheries Commission (PRFC), and the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USF&WS) are providing an opportunity to win prizes for anglers who catch, kill and enter photos of the snakeheads through the popular DNR online Angler’s Log social fishing site. A photo of the killed fish must be submitted to be entered into the contest...enter photos of the snakeheads through the popular DNR online Angler’s Log social fishing site at
My previous post on the great Snakehead menace.

Someday, I'll catch one...

Welp, There are Still Fish in the Bay

I snuck out this evening for a little while.  I caught a few fish, none big enough to keep (28 inches or more).  Forgot to take the camera, so you'll have to imagine your own sunset. And now:

I think I can handle that...

Welcome, Brother!

Inspired by my insane success (and having been denied the the opportunity to be my special editor on 2nd Amendment issues), my little brother Ted has started his own blog, "A Man, a Dog and a Gun" on his very own domain (he know computers a lot better than I do):

A Man, a Dog and A Gun

Go over and see what's up.  He's just got an introductory post up at this point, but I'm sure it will be bustling with activity soon.

Annual Bay SAV Report Out - Down 7%

Yesterday we got the crab report for 2010, today we get the results from the annual Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) report from Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences.  Well, it's not good news, but it's not horrible either.
Underwater bay grasses covered 79,675 acres of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers in 2010, according to data from scientists with the Chesapeake Bay Program. This is a 7 percent decrease from 2009, when bay grasses covered 85,914 acres of the Bay’s shallows.

Despite the drop, the 2010 bay grass acreage estimate ranks as the third-highest Bay-wide acreage since 1984, when the annual survey began.

"Even with the decreases in the 2010 bay grass coverage, the patterns are similar to previous years,” said Lee Karrh, living resources assessment chief with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and chair of the Bay Program's SAV Workgroup. “Many of the fresh and low salinity areas have very high abundances, including 16 that have reached their restoration targets. However, the saltier parts of the Bay continue to struggle, with most areas well below the restoration goals, with only the mouth of the James River exceeding the goal.”

Bay grass abundance is currently at 43 percent of the Bay Program’s 185,000-acre goal. This goal is based on approximate historic bay grass abundance from the 1930s to present...
The Bay continues to struggle to keep or even increase its SAV.  SAV is an important habitat for fish and invertebrates.  We don't know all the answers, but we think that eutrophication is a large part of the problem; excess nutrients cause phtyoplankton or epiphytic algae to bloom and starve the SAV of light.  Within living memory (but not mine) the bay had much higher coverage of SAV than it does now.  Many people trace the turning point in the loss of SAV to  Hurricane Agnes in 1972, which flooded the Bay watershed with rain and lowered the salinity well below normal level, brought huge amounts of suspended sediments into the bay, and choked many areas with silt.  On the other hand, it could just be eutrophication, and Agnes just occurred in the middle of its growth, and Agnes is unfairly blamed for the results.

You can go here, and see the data for your own area.  My own is pretty bleak, but it usually is.  The hard western shore is not SAV friendly.

Talk About a Stiff Drink

New Brit beer is made with Viagra 
London British brewers have created the world's first beer laced with Viagra to mark the royal wedding.

Downing just three bottles of Royal Virility Performance is equivalent to taking one of the blue pills, according to makers BrewDog.

The 7.5 per cent ABV India Pale Ale also contains extra aphrodisiacs including Horny Goat Weed and even chocolate.

The label features the cheeky words 'Arise Prince Willy'. BrewDog has sent several bottles to Prince William for the wedding night.

James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, said: "As the bottle says, this is about consummation, not commemoration."

Don't Know Much About History

Obama - "Texas has always been a pretty Republican state, for, you know, historic reasons"
Ann Althouse noted:
But I want to talk about the quote I extracted. What "historic reasons" is he referring to? It's actually not true that "Texas has always been a pretty Republican state," unless by "Republican," you mean something other than the Republican Party. I suspect that his stumbling — "you know" — covers some thought processes. My guess: He knew he was fudging, and he was deciding how clear or veiled he wanted to be in insulting Texas.
Glenn Reynolds was less circumspect:
Apparently, when Obama taught Constitutional Law he never got around to teaching the Texas White Primary cases. Or talking about which side was which in the Civil War...

Another one that doesn't know much about history.  But she sings OK

Missing Dinosaur Link Found

New dinosaur species Daemonosaurus fills in an evolutionary gap:
A newly-discovered species of dinosaur, the pint-size daemonosaurus chauliodus, finally plugs the evolutionary gap between the predators of the Triassic period, and the theropods of the Cretaceous period.  Daemonosaurus is a small, buck-toothed lizard with giant eyes. While paleontologists have only discovered the head and neck of the creature, it's likely that it was about the size of a dog and walked on its rear legs.

His name comes from a trio of greek words -- "daimon" meaning evil spirit (because the bones were found in the Ghost Ranch fossil site in New Mexico), "sauros" meaning lizard and "chauliodus", which is derived from buck-tooothed.

The reptile's discovery, which is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal, also helps link two types of dinosaurs, over a hundred million year gap. There's always been a hole in the fossil record between the most primitive dinosaurs of prehistoric Brazil and Argentina, and the later theropods like Tyrannosaurus rex, which roamed the Earth in the years preceding the mass dino-extinction.
Anti-evolutionists are always going on about the "lack of intermediate fossils" to support their disbelief in evolution.  The fact is, the vast majority of fossils are intermediate forms, either the fore-bearers of modern species, or more likely segments of a dead branch of an evolutionary tree that we barely see the outlines of.  This fossil puts single point in a pretty big gap.
But daemonosaurus, who would have lived in the late Triassic period or even early Jurassic period -- when it was previously thought that primitive theropod dinosaurs had all died out -- fills this hole.
 And why did they die out?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Somebody Had Entirely Too Much Time on Their Hands

And a big pile of Legos, too.

How's That Civility Thing Working Out?

Oh, yeah, I forgot.  It's dead.  Good thing, because then there would be no excuse for sending death threats to the wrong Koch brothers.
A case of mistaken identity has entangled a small family-owned Des Moines company in union protests and led to a death threat.Angry callers are mistaking Koch Brothers, a Des Moines office supply firm, with the brothers who own Koch Industries, the global energy conglomerate. Billionaires Charles and David Koch have fought Wisconsin unions, financed the tea party and opposed climate change rules.

Dutch Koch, president of the Des Moines company, wants everyone to know he’s not one of those Koch brothers, and he’s not politically active.

“I initially thought it was humorous to be confused with a multibillionaire,” he said, but then a death threat was left on his answering machine. Koch reported the call to the FBI, which he said traced it to a California man.

The Koch Brothers employ 65 employees in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Brothers George, William and Frank Koch founded the company in 1889 as a spinoff from the Des Moines Register and Leader’s job printing shop.

There is Sexual Discrimination in Hiring

But it's carried out by women against pretty women:
Attractive women who attach a photo to their CV are less likely to get an interview than their plainer rivals or those who do not send in a picture, research reveals today.

'Jealous' women in personnel departments who screen which jobseekers should be invited in are to blame for attractive women not getting interviews, says a new report. But in an example of the ‘double standards’ that the researchers said these staff employed, attractive men who attach a photograph are more likely to get an interview than plain ones.

It blames young, single and ‘jealous’ women in personnel departments who screen which jobseekers should be invited in.  Staff in personnel departments are overwhelmingly female, typically single and aged 29 on average, the researchers found.

Their report concludes: ‘The evidence points to female jealousy of attractive women in the workplace as a primary reason for their penalisation in recruitment.’ In a warning to pretty job-seeking women, it adds: ‘Attractive females are singled out for punishment.’
And they were prejudiced in favor of good looking men; go figure..

Yeah, I know, it's England, but I suspect women are much the same on either sides of the Atlantic.

I'd like a Cheese Katsu Burger, a Side of Poutine, and a Chocolate and Orange Pie, Please

45 McDonalds items not available in the US.

And of course....

The Crab Count Is In

Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Population at Second-highest Level Since 1997
The Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population is at its second-highest level since 1997, according to results from the 2011 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey. At 460 million crabs, the blue crab population is nearly double the record low of 249 million in 2007.

Additionally, the survey shows that there are 254 million adult crabs in the Bay, a figure that is above the 200 million population target for the third year in a row. This marks the first time since the early 1990s that there have been three consecutive years where the adult population was above the target.

These figures indicate that emergency crab management measures put into place in 2008 are helping the Bay’s blue crabs recover, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC).
What's magical about second highest since 1997?  It's lower than last year.  And it just wouldn't do to say that crab abundance is down from 658 million to 461 million...  For more detailed data go here.

It's a good step, but it's not time to relax and increase the effort again.

Musical Interlude