Thursday, June 30, 2011

BBC Quiets Grunting Tennis Girls

Grunt control device lets Wimbledon fans turn down the volume of shrieking Sharapova and Co.

Tennis fans who have suffered years of headaches from the incessant grunting of top players have finally got their wish - a device that fades out the squeals.

As a result of complaints about ear-piercing screams, the BBC has produced a noise-reduction programme called Wimbledon Net Mix, which allows internet users to turn down howling and increase commentary volume.

Wimbledon bosses have also admitted that the grunting of top tennis stars like Maria Sharapova, whose record-breaking screams often exceed 100 decibels, do make millions unhappy and want it reduced.

The free product is now available on BBC Radio Player and has a mixing desk allowing fans to fade up and down noises to get the perfect listening experience.

For the moment, Net Mix will only allow listeners to play with the sound on Centre Court matches...
What a bunch of babies; being offended by the girls noises.  That wouldn't upset a NASCAR fan.

 Previous post about the grunting girls of tennis.

Here We are in Morgantown...

Tucked away in a nice cheap Microtel.  Lots of fast internet access.  They allow the dog.  Lots of fireflies (the real things, not the spaceship) flitting around outside.

Not quite Lodi (I've been stuck in Lodi) but...

Navy Buys Bugged Microchips From China

The Navy Bought Fake Chinese Microchips That Could Have Disarmed U.S. Missiles  
Last year, the U.S. Navy bought 59,000 microchips for use in everything from missiles to transponders and all of them turned out to be counterfeits from China.

Wired reports the chips weren't only low-quality fakes, they had been made with a "back-door" and could have been remotely shut down at any time.

If left undiscovered the result could have rendered useless U.S. missiles and killed the signal from aircraft that tells everyone whether it's friend or foe.
Just because we're not actually shooting at someone, doesn't make us friends.  There's a good reason to keep certain critical manufacturing capabilities alive in the US.

But instead, we'll probably look at buying safer cheap foreign chips...
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA) is now looking for ways to check the chips to make sure they haven't been hacked in the production process.

Expect to see a whole lot more funding directed to this goal. Or, considering IARPA is the research and development section of the intelligence community -- expect the money to be spent -- don't expect to see where.

PSA: Beware of Beach Contamination

Report finds Mid-Atlantic state have more beach contamination than last year, but still less than average
Those envisioning July 4 celebrations at the beach may be swimming at their own risk, according to a new study that found the number of beach closures nationwide due to dirty water soared last year.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which released its annual report Wednesday, found that beach closures and advisories across the country increased by 29 percent in 2010 compared to a year earlier. The conservation group used data from 3,000 locations nationwide and found that waters in Louisiana, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan had the highest levels of contamination.

Virginia came in at No. 12 and exceeded the EPA’s contamination level 5 percent of the time, up from 3 percent in 2009. Maryland came in at No. 16 and went over the recommended standards 7 percent of the time, also up from 3 percent in 2009. Delaware had among the cleanest beaches, ranking fifth with 3 percent of samples above standards, up slightly from 2 percent in 2010.

Beaches where violations were most frequent were concentrated in Newport News and King George and Mathews counties in Virginia and Kent and Cecil counties on the upper Chesapeake Bay in in Maryland. One beach in Kent County had contamination closures or advisories for 71 days in 2010.
The best beach weather of the year is here.  Water temperatures are balmy, and the sea nettles have yet to make a substantial appearance. But the water may not be as safe as you think

We've had beach closures at Long Beach a few times over the years, largely associated with contamination washed down from the land in the small streams (yeah, the ones that Skye and the other dogs drink in).

The threat is not insignificant. A friend once scraped himself of a rock while exiting a kayak.  The scrape became infected with several different bacteria, and he developed a potentially life-threatening infection.

So when you go to the beach, make a quick check for closure notices...

Light Blogging Alert

Georgia and I will be traveling to the Pittsburgh area for the long weekend, leaving after work today.  I will have a laptop, but contact with the internet is likely to be spotty and short.  I hope to leave a few posts along the way, although there are a couple of autoposts set. I gave the keys to a relative. I hope he comes over to water the potted plants once in while.

Later - Fritz

6th Circuit - "You Know That Constitution? Never Mind, We Own You"

According to the 6th Circuit Court, failure to buy health insurance is an economic activity which may be regulated under the Commerce Clause:

[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;
There is now nothing the government can not force you to do, as everything can be interpreted as having an effect on interstate commerce.

God help us if the Supreme Court doesn't overturn this.

'Catch a Predator' Host Caught Cheating by Hidden Cameras

Chris Hansen 'caught cheating on his wife'... by hidden cameras

He's made his name with a controversial show that catches would-be internet sex perverts in televised stings.

But now Chris Hansen has found himself on the receiving end of his own hidden camera tactics, after the married NBC anchor was secretly filmed on an illicit date with a blonde television reporter 20 years his junior.

Hansen, 51, has allegedly been having an affair with Kristyn Caddell, a 30-year-old Florida journalist, for the last four months.
This is not a show I watch or care about, but I do appreciate the delicious irony of a media star being caught being naughty using the same tools he employs against others. 

He does seem attracted to a particular type; a photo of Chris and his maybe soon to be ex-wife Mary shows that she and Kristyn have a great deal of physical similarity; they could easily pass for mother and daughter.
The Enquirer's sting took place last weekend, and recorded the pair as they went for dinner at the Ritz-Carlton's Angle restaurant on Friday at about 7pm.

Miss Caddell was dressed up in high heels and a short, revealing dress, and according to the source they spent much of the evening staring into each other's eyes.

They left at 9.15pm, and went for a drive along the ocean front, before being filmed filling up Miss Caddell's Jeep at a nearby gas station.

Then they drove to a liquor store, and Hansen emerged clutching a bag full of bottles. The couple returned to Miss Caddell's apartment at 10pm.

At 8am on Saturday, they, with Hansen pulling luggage behind him, and she drove him to the airport.

A source told the Enquirer: 'They were both wearing different clothes from the night before... Kristyn's hair was dishevelled as if she'd just rolled out of bed.'
How long until we are told it is unfair for such stings to be carried out against unwary media figures?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chooka, Chooka, Chooka!

Oysters - Evolution in Action

Discovery of Disease-Resistant Oysters Brings Call for Shift in Preservation Strategies 
Development of disease resistance among Chesapeake Bay oysters calls for a shift in oyster-restoration strategies within the Bay and its tributaries. That’s according to a new study by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS).

The study, by professors Ryan Carnegie and Eugene Burreson, is the feature article in the most recent issue of Marine Ecology Progress Series. It is based on 50 years of research into the prevalence of MSX disease among the native eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica.

Carnegie, a research assistant professor in the shellfish pathology lab at VIMS, said, “Our results point to substantial reproduction by disease-resistant oysters in the high-salinity areas where the parasite causing MSX thrives. We thus argue that reefs in areas of higher salinity should be the focus of conservation and restoration efforts, not just those in disease-free lower salinity areas.”

To date, restoration strategies have rested on the idea of protecting these “low-salinity refugia” as sources of larvae for replenishment of disease-ravaged populations in saltier areas of the bay. These strategies are based on the high levels of mortality traditionally seen among oyster populations in saltier waters (initially more than 90 percent), and computer models showing that tidal currents can indeed carry oyster larvae downriver from fresher to saltier areas.
The MSX parasite is believed to have been introduced to Eastern Oyster populations early in the 20th centuryfrom attempted transplants of oysters from the west coast.  Thus, the Eastern Oyster was not well equipped by evolution to resist the parasite.

Scientists have been predicting that in the long run, oysters would evolve resistance to the MSX parasite. Really, the only question was how long it would take.  It appears that the answer was on the order of a centruy (while resistant, I doubt the oyster have achieved as much resistance as they will eventually acquire, assuming they survive).

Using these results as evidence, scientists can now reasonably call for more oyster sanctuaries in higher salinity water, which will encourage the evolution of more resistance in the oysters.
Carnegie and Burreson’s research, however, paints a different picture. They’ve found clear evidence that oysters in the bay’s saltier waters are developing resistance to both MSX and Dermo, despite the increasing prevalence in the bay of the parasites responsible for the two diseases. This is possible only through reproduction by resistant oysters in high-disease areas—thus their call for a focusing of restoration efforts onto these disease-resistant areas and populations.

Carnegie says "We basically need to confront the diseases head-on where they are most active, rather than avoiding them by working in low salinities. It’s in the high-disease areas that resistance is developing most rapidly, so restoration efforts should be focused there."
And now that oysters are resisting the disease better, watermen will have less rationale for taking every  oyster in the bay before it dies of disease.

Army, Virginia at the Peace Table

Virginia, Army Corps pick an oyster plan
Instead of spending nothing and doing little this year, Virginia and the Army Corps of Engineers have reached a compromise of sorts over how to help restore oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, state officials said Tuesday.

The deal, reached after a lengthy meeting Monday in Norfolk, will allow about $1.6 million in federal funds to finance oyster research and repairs to man-made oyster reefs in the Great Wicomico River, a Bay tributary in northeastern Virginia.

Left unspent, however, is about $900,000 approved earlier by Congress, said Jack Travelstead, state fisheries director. Travelstead said the state will likely ask the Army Corps to hold the money until they can resolve a larger dispute over how best to revive oyster populations ravaged by disease, pollution and lost habitat.
 It sounds to me like the Army (and the cash) have the upper hand in this fight, and got most of the concessions.  The oyster reefs in the Greater Wicomico are reefs that the Army Corps as created to its liking and are off limits (at least in theory) to harvest.  The major concession to Virginia appears to be that some of the funds will go to  research in Virginia and there will be a 'joint policy committee formed:
To help guide future projects and avoid showdowns like the one this year, Travelstead said, the state and corps also agreed to form a joint policy committee, which will include environmentalists, oyster growers, merchants, scientists and regulators.
As I have said previously, from an oyster point of view, I tend to favor the Army Corps position.  It's insane to to continue to commercially harvest the oysters on the grounds that you are trying to restore when oyster populations are so far below historical levels..

Previous articles on the war between Virginia and the Army Corps of Engineers here, here, here and here.

First Tropical Storm of Atlantic Season

700 PM CDT TUE JUN 28 2011

LOCATION…21.2N 93.7W

And Now a Break to Advertise Orange Juice...

Come on, sex sells, don't it. Made me thirsty.

Assault With a Milky Weapon

Stephanie Robinette booking photo
Drunk Teacher Sprays Deputies with Breast Milk
A woman faces several charges after she allegedly sprayed deputies with breast milk as they tried to detain her over the weekend.

The incident occurred early Saturday morning near the Bridgewater Banquet & Conference Center on Sawmill Parkway.

According to the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, deputies were called to the area after receiving calls about a domestic dispute. When they arrived, a man told them that he had been attending a wedding at the facility with his wife, who had gotten drunk and struck him several times before locking herself in a car.

Delaware County Sheriff Walter L. Davis III said deputies tried to talk with the woman, who was identified as Stephanie Robinette, 30, of Westerville, but she refused to cooperate.

"When deputies attempted to remove Robinette from the vehicle, she advised the deputies that she was a breast feeding mother and proceeded to remove her right breast from her dress and began spraying deputies and the vehicle with her breast milk," Davis said.
As Dean Wormer says, "Drunk and stupid is no way to go through life". 

However, being sober the next day after such an event must be even worse...
"I have no criminal record; I take these charges very seriously and I absolutely intend to seek help for substance abuse with alcohol because alcoholism does run in my family," Robinette said.
That's the ticket; blame your genes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Aww, Crystal Pawns Hef's Ring

Crystal Harris selling $90,000 three-carat engagement ring from Hugh Hefner
Crystal Harris may not have become Mrs. Hugh Hefner, but she's hoping to still profit. The Playboy beauty who called off her wedding to Hef, 85, just days before their June 18 wedding, is looking to sell off her $90,000 engagement ring

Harris, 25, stepped into Prospect Jewelers in La Jolla, Calif., to have the three-carat bauble appraised, presumably so she can sell it, reports TMZ. When the store's owner questioned the blonde about the cut and clarity of the diamond, she had no clue and called the Playboy Mansion -- on speakerphone.
I really think she missed a chance for some additional publicity by not taking this ring to Pawn Stars  in Vegas.  I mean, come on, I can imagine Chumley drooling and looking stupider than usual, Rick drooling, but still driving a hard bargain (the kick back from the History Channel can make up the difference), Grandpa trying (unsuccessfully) to keep the horde chivalrous, and Corey, desperately  trying to get a signed copy of her centerfold (Dec. 2009 if you have forgotten) so he can run off to the boy's room.  They could use a whole episode just on this.  Good publicity for all concerned.
But don't feel bad for jilted Hef. The TMZ source adds that when the store's owner told Harris he was sorry about the wedding being called off, she replied, "Are you kidding? It was all for publicity."
Shocked, I'm shocked that it was all for publicity...

Below the fold, a reminder why we care.

Use an Ointment for Snake Bite?

A nitroglycerine ointment can slow the spread of venom
Time is the foe for people who have been bitten by a poisonous snake, but a new study may give them a bit more of it. Researchers have identified an ointment that slows the spread of some kinds of snake venom through the body, potentially giving snakebite victims longer to reach a hospital or clinic.

Although poisonous snakes kill only a handful of people in the United States each year, the World Health Organization puts the global toll at about 100,000 people. When some snakes strike, the bulky proteins in their venom don't infiltrate the bloodstream immediately but wend through the lymphatic system to the heart. In Australia, a country slithering with noxious snakes, the recommended first aid for a bite includes tightly wrapping the bitten limb to shut the lymphatic vessels—a method called pressure bandage with immobilization (PBI). The idea is to hamper the venom's spread until the victim can receive antivenom medicine, essentially antibodies that lock onto and neutralize the poison. But PBI is not practical if the bite is on the torso or face, and one study found that even people trained to perform the technique do it right only about half the time. As a result, some people don't get antivenom in time.

So physiologist Dirk van Helden of the University of Newcastle in Australia and colleagues went looking for a chemical method to detain the venom. They settled on an ointment that contains glyceryl trinitrate, the compound better known as nitroglycerin that doctors have used to treat everything from tennis elbow to angina. The ointment, prescribed for a painful condition called anal fissures, releases nitric oxide, causing the lymphatic vessels to clench. The researchers first injected volunteers in the foot with a harmless radioactive mixture that, like some snake toxins, moves through the lymphatic vessels. In control subjects that didn't receive the ointment, the mixture took 13 minutes to climb to the top of the leg. But it required 54 minutes if the researchers immediately smeared the ointment around the injection site, the team reports online today in Nature Medicine.
Sounds promising.  Anything to give you more time to get to treatment would be a big help.  It needn't be specific to a particular snake, and I would hope that an ointment could be made that would be stable enough to put in snake bite kites, even if it might have to be in two parts that are mices (stabilized nitroglycerine and ointment separately).  

I keep a calcium gluconate ointment available at home, since we use hydrofluoric acid at work, and the consequences of a HF burn from an unexpected exposure is so severe. 

I wonder if the nitroglycerine ointment would be good for other uses, like dangerous insect stings and spider bites?

Upper Bay Suffers Record Low Salinity

Runoff from spring rains to blame
The near-record amount of runoff that coursed down the Susquehanna River and into the Chesapeake Bay last spring has created the lowest salinity levels seen in the upper bay since 1985, when water monitoring stations were established.

Gauges at the Conowingo Dam registered 5 trillion gallons of discharge during the three-month gusher that ended in May, enough to replace the water in the upper bay every 30 days, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The spring total is surpassed only by 1993, when 5.5 trillion gallons gushed from the river's mouth.

The drastic change has put federal and state officials on notice.

"This is going to be an unusual year," said Lynn Fegley, assistant fisheries director for the Department of Natural Resources.

The near-freshwater conditions in the bay's main stem and tributaries above the Bay Bridge has put oyster planting on hold and has federal and state biologists bracing for the possibility that invasive species such as the northern snakehead, zebra mussels and blue catfish might be able to use the change in salinity to gain a foothold in new waters.

On the other hand, biologists note that juvenile striped bass often flourish in less salty water and jellyfish might not be able to venture as far north this summer.

"It's not estuary Armageddon," said Fegley. "Part of the deal, if you're a critter living in the Chesapeake Bay, is being asked to put up with an incredibly wide range of conditions, including great swings in salinity."...
I just had to delay an experiment in the Severn River because the salinity is too low for oysters to grow there. And the fishing sucks...

Glad to See Govt Focusing on the Important Stuff At Last

You know, the deficit, the wars, all so silly...

Hillary: State Dept. ‘Instrumental in Sealing Deal’ For Lady Gaga’s Gay Pride Gig in Rome
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that the State Department played an instrumental role in “sealing the deal” for pop-rock star Lady Gaga to perform at a gay pride rally in Rome, Italy.

Clinton specifically pointed to a letter that David Thorne, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, sent to Lady Gaga urging her to participate in the event.

“And then there is the work that our embassy team in Rome has been doing,” Clinton said. “Two weeks ago they played an instrumental role in bringing Lady Gaga to Italy for a Euro Pride concert.

“Now as many of you know Lady Gaga is Italian American and a strong supporter of LGBT rights,” said Clinton. “And the organizers of the Euro Pride event desperately wanted her to perform and a letter to her from Ambassador Thorne was instrumental in sealing the deal.”

Too bad Weird Al doesn't do politicians.

Humans: The Running Ape

An interesting blog post at Overcoming Bias: Travel Made Humans
I hadn’t till now appreciated how central long distance travel was to early human evolution. A 2004 Nature article:
No primates other than humans are capable of endurance running. … Well-conditioned human runners … can occasionally outrun horses over the extremely long distances that constrain these animals to optimal galloping speeds, typically a canter. … Horses have … narrow ranges of preferred speeds for trotting and galloping and gait transitions that minimize cost. … Human runners differ from horses in employing a single gait. … Humans are thus able to adjust running speed continuously without change of gait or metabolic penalty over a wide range of speeds. …

Considering all the evidence together, it is reasonable to hypothesize that Homo evolved to travel long distances by both walking and running… Endurance running is not common among modern hunter-gatherers, who employ many technologies to hunt (for example, bows and arrows, nets and spearthrowers), thereby minimizing the need to run long distances. But Carrier has hypothesized that endurance running evolved in early hominids for predator pursuit before these inventions in the Upper Palaeolithic (about 40kya). Endurance running may have helped hunters get close enough to throw projectiles, or perhaps even to run some mammals to exhaustion in the heat. …

Another hypothesis to explore is … in the open, semi-arid environments … early Homo may … have needed to run long distances to compete with other scavengers, including other hominids. … Similar strategies of ‘pirating’ meat from carnivores are sometimes practised by the Hadza in East Africa. … It is known that major increases in encephalization occurred only after the appearance of early Homo. … Endurance running may have made possible a diet rich in fats and proteins thought to account for the unique human combination of large bodies, small guts, big brains and small teeth.
A 2009 Evolutionary Anthropology article on “The Emergence of Human Uniqueness”
Important preadaptations in the genus Homo … led to human uniqueness. First, hominins are bipedal and, as a result, cover geographical ranges far larger than other apes do. Even hunter-gatherers living in tropical forests have daily home ranges that are two to three times those of chimpanzees, and lifetime home ranges more than two orders of magnitude greater. Thus, individual hominins faced more environmental variability than do chimpanzees. … This would favor social learning capacity.

You know the "Runner's High?"

Well, I don't.  I did a little running back in graduate school.  It always felt shitty.  I eventually made it to about 8 minute miles, and finished a 7 km race somewhere behind a 80 year old woman.  I quit after I started getting shin splints.

But clearly the adaption to bipedalism and running is important to what it means to be human.  We are unique among apes in our ability to stand upright for long periods of time and to run for long periods of time.  That did not develop without a significant evolutionary driving force, and the ultimate evolutionary driving force is dying if you don't have it.  Humans developed the ability to stand upright and run because the ones who didn't died early.

Let's see what the Dinobabes have to say about it:

Stuff Alex Puts on Facebook

His comment: I cannot believe that I was never made aware of this video before. This might be one they were trying to live down.

I think it's kinda funny, but then I have a weakness for campy stuff...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lawyers Lick Lips at New York Gay Marriage Law

Divorce lawyers cheering
Wedding planners aren't the only ones riding the gay-marriage gravy train. Lawyers, too, are expecting a bonanza -- from gay divorce. "Other than a divorce attorney, no one goes to a wedding hoping the marriage will fail," quipped Manhattan divorce attorney Daniel Clement.

And a gay marriage is no different. Lost in the euphoria of the historic passage of New York's same-sex marriage bill is the inevitability of bitter break-ups. There will be support claims to resolve, property to divide and custody issues to settle, as with any other divorce.
Mere months after Massachusetts passed its same-sex marriage bill in 2004, gay couples began filing for divorce -- sometimes having to use outdated forms that still listed "husband" and "wife."

Fact is, gay divorce has been going on here for years since New York courts recognize marriages performed elsewhere. Officials predict that about 21,000 gay and lesbian couples will wed in New York in the law's first three years. If the state's current divorce rate of 8.4 percent holds, about 1,800 of those marriages will not survive.
 To quote Joel:
"I believe in gay marriage. They should have the same right to be miserable as everyone else."
I would never say anything like that...

Kindergarden Forbids 'Him' or 'Her" - Does That Make Them All 'It'?

Swedish school bans 'him' and 'her' in bid to stop children falling into gender stereotypes
A pre-school in Sweden has decided to stop calling children 'him' or 'her' in a bid to avoid gender stereotypes. The Egalia preschool, in the Sodermalm district of Stockholm, has made the decision as part of the country efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood.

As well as the decision to stop using the words, the taxpayer-funded school also carefully plans the colour and placement of toys and the choice of books to assure they do not fall into stereotypes. The school opened last year and is on a mission to break down gender roles - a core mission in the national curriculum for Swedish pre-schools.

The option to implement the rules is underpinned by a theory that society gives boys an unfair edge. 'Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing,' says Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher. 'Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be.'

At the school, boys and girls play together with a toy kitchen, waving plastic utensils and pretending to cook. One boy hides inside the toy stove, his head popping out through a hole. Lego bricks and other building blocks are intentionally placed next to the kitchen, to make sure the children draw no mental barriers between cooking and construction.  Girls and boys alike are encouraged to play in the simulated battlefield with realistic replicas of AK-47s and mock hand grenades.
Pentax by Ikea
I may have inadvertently added that last line...

The good thing; it's Sweden.  We don't really care that they have stupid ideas, unless they import them to the US, like socialism, Ikea or lingonberries. The bad thing; a lot of stupid people in the US consider the Sweden a beacon of progressive thought and mindlessly adopt whatever they're pushing today.

I agree with the concept of gender equality; I like it it when young, cute women hold the door for me (it happened, once).  But I really do believe that the sexes are different in both body and mind as a consequence of evolution.

However, this program seems like it's aimed at suppressing 'excessively' masculine behavior by the boys, and encouraging more in the girls.  That has been noted by other critics:
Jay Belsky, a child psychologist at the University of California, Davis, said he's not aware of any other school like Egalia, and he questioned whether it was the right way to go.

'The kind of things that boys like to do - run around and turn sticks into swords - will soon be disapproved of,' he said.

'So gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness.'
And as for the question posed in the title - what do you call them if you can't use him or her?
Staff at the school try to shed masculine and feminine references from their speech, including the pronouns him or her – 'han' or 'hon' in Swedish. Instead, they've have adopted the genderless 'hen'.
I guess that's probably funnier in English than it is in Swedish.

Patapsco Picked for Special Treatment

Federal help for restoring Patapsco pledged
Obama administration officials converged Friday on Baltimore to announce a new initiative to clean up and redevelop blighted urban watersheds — with the ailing Patapsco River one of seven waterways chosen nationwide to test a partnership between federal agencies and local communities.

"Urban waters across our nation are brimming with potential," Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said at a news conference in Middle Branch Park, as rowers and fishing boats plied the waters behind her. "We can revitalize these areas," she added, saying the initiative sought to return the waterways to the community centerpieces they once were.

Eleven federal agencies, including the EPA and the departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development, have agreed to work with local governments and nonprofit groups to reduce pollution and enhance urban neighborhoods with trees, parks and jobs...
Wow, eleven agencies.  That's gonna be a lot of help, right?
No new funding is attached to the effort, but officials say they intend to make better use of existing money by getting agencies to work together better. Michael Rains of the U.S. Forest Service said his agency — which has had a field station in Baltimore for nearly 20 years — figures it might be able to come up with $500,000 to spend on projects in the Patapsco watershed, such as planting trees and restoring eroded stream banks.

Jackson said the EPA might be able to help Baltimore save money by adjusting federal regulations to encourage less costly ways of reducing storm-water pollution from city streets and parking lots.
Never mind.  There's no new money for this effort, and a promise to squeeze more out of eleven other agencies.  To say I'm not optimistic would be an understatement of the highest order.  The Patapsco has major problems with pollution already in it's sediments, pollutants which aren't going anywhere without a tremendous physical project.  Not to mention continuing inputs from the city which the kind of programs they are would hardly make a dent in.  Trash is the most visible, but least serious part of the problem, one that might be dealt with without cleaning up the underlying problems.

It's not that I don't think that government could provide more for what it spends, but history would suggest that it's not particularly likely.

Was T. Rex a Pack Animal?

Yes, Tyrannosaurus Rex 'hunted in packs'
Tyrannosaurids, including the Tyrannosaurus Rex, have traditionally been portrayed by experts as formidable but solitary and dull-witted creatures because their skeletons were found alone. But new research based on finds in the Gobi Desert suggests that the species was not only equipped with the build and speed for pack hunting, but also the brain capacity to work together as a team, experts claim.

Dr Philip Currie, of the University of Alberta, said that evidence from 90 skeletons of Tarbosaurus Bataar – a cousin of the Tyrannosaurus Rex – suggested strongly that about half a dozen of the dinosaurs were part of a social group that died together. He said Tyrannosaurids' hunting technique may have involved juveniles chasing and catching prey, with fully grown adults taking over and delivering the fatal bites.

This is because younger Tyrannosaurids' skeletons show they would have been faster and more agile than adults, which were slower but much heavier and more powerful.
 Another victory for the predictive powers of the "Dinobabe" artists...

Stale Link Dump

Yep, the old links have been building up in the digital fridge, and it's time to make room for some new ones.

Women are more selfish than men and more likely to bad-mouth friends -  Color me shocked...

Some of the signs of intelligence not confined to man - Clever tool use in parrots and crows
The Wall of Time  - A great visual representation of geologic time

New Technology Reveals Widespread Mislabeling of Fish  - Fish, unless you catch it, may not be what you think it is.

Another one of those knock me over with a feather studies. - Women BORN to be moody

Childhood diseases return as parents refuse vaccines - The anti-vaccine movement is dangerous, really

Israeli scientists find way to erase memories of drug addiction - This could really be a boon.

Look what we found — 9 newly discovered species
More gratuitous boobage in the service of advertising-  Club Orange Commercial


How to Eat a Cicada: Noisy Insect Sparks New Food Trend  - Not sure I want to try this.

Would a Dingo Really Eat Your Baby? - The short answer is "yes".

San Fascistco  - San Francisco moves to ban pet fish.

Why is there only one human species? - Did a super volcano wipe out all our near kin?

Romance novels can be as addictive as pron - Yep, and for all the same reasons.

YouTube - Cheeky baby  - A little one shows signs of precocious puberty. 

Experts spar over Gulf methane's fate - Scientists disagree over what happened to Gulf of Mexico methane

No Decline in Polar Bear Population - Global Warming or not, Polar Bears doing well 

Is Viagra a Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis - Happening Science, MS drug hope

Is taurine a hangover cure - The ultimate hangover cure?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fishing - Meh...

I took off solo this afternoon to try a little fishing. Fishing was slow, so I tried something a little different, taking some short video, which I uploaded to Youtube

One of the first thing I ran into out on the bay was schools of menhaden swimming near the surface, and acting for all the world like something was attacking them.  If there was, I couldn't figure out how to catch it...

I tried all the usual places and didn't get too much. However, I did find a small school of deer grazing along the sea wall at the power plant.  There were three, but only one hung around for the photo shoot.


So I thought I'd share it with you:

Florence Henderson caught crabs from John Lindsay:
This would have made an interesting episode of "The Brady Bunch."

Florence Henderson, the actress who played perky mom Carol Brady in the beloved family sitcom, says she once got crabs after a one-night-stand with career politician John Lindsay, who was the mayor of New York City at the time.

Henderson, now 77, recounts in her upcoming memoir that she was cheating on her husband during the 1960s, and gave in to her better judgment when her married and unattractive friend put the moves on her over drinks at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

"I was lonely. I knew it wasn't the right thing to do. So, what did I do? I did it," she writes in "Life is Not a Stage," set for publication in September.

Henderson went home later that night, and awoke to a grisly surprise the next day as she saw "little black things" crawling over her bed and body.

An urgent call to a doctor took care of the problem, known medically as pubic lice, and Lindsay sent her flowers and a note of apology.
 That lowered my opinion of Florence Henderson and raised my opinion of John Lindsay...

Cuts First!

Mickey Kaus has a great post on why deficit reduction should focus on spending cuts first, even though he, and most other moderate liberals (yes, they exist, and he is one), think that both tax increases and spending cuts will be necessary to close the budget gap:
Opponents of bloated government don’t trust politicians to make cuts if extra revenues are in the offing. Neither, sensibly, do many voters. But if you make dramatic cuts, demonstrate you’ve sweated out the fat–and there’s still a deficit, you’ve got a shot at getting a tax increase through. Cuts First! You could start with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

In any case. it’s inane to argue that every step on the road to deficit reduction has to be a balance of cuts and tax increases. That’s like saying you can’t take a piss unless you take a drink.
I couldn't have said it better, and I didn't.   Another great point:
It’s not as if a cuts-only deal to avert a debt-ceiling crisis would be the easy way out. Cuts are hard–arguably harder, at the national level, than even raising taxes, which is why, as now, adding revenues is so often the politicans’ path of less resistance. We are also up against the syllogism:

a) If you can’t cut the fat out of government during economic bad times, because, hey, we need the stimulus of government spending and

b) You can’t cut the fat out of government during economic good times, because,’ Hey, there’s plenty of tax revenue so why the sense of urgency?,’ then

c) When will you ever cut the fat out of government? Never, that’s when. Instead it will build up over the decades like sediment until we reach … the present circumstance.
Read the whole thing.

What's Up with Wisconsin?

The state seems to have gone crazy lately.  Or maybe it was always crazy, and the news coverage has just gotten better.  I would have thought that after the snow melted and the days got longer they'd get over the SAD.

You probably know most of the back story.  Wisconsin elected Scott Walker, a Republican, governor in the Nov. 2010 elections.  This did not sit well with the radicals in the state, who have had a long history there, and when he began efforts to control public pensions costs, they went apeshit crazy, having weeks of demonstrations in Madison, the state capitol, trying to prevent legislative actions, and committing acts of petty vandalism in the Capitol Building their to express their, what, sincerity?  Blog diva Ann Althouse, a Law Professor from Madison, reported on these extensively.

Then, in April came an election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  Wisconsin in one of a few states where Supreme Court justices are elected and stand for re-election periodically.  David Prosser, considered a conservative, the incumbent, was facing a challenge from the distinctly left wing Joanne Kloppenburg.  At stake, among other things, were Walker's pension reform plans, since it was a closely divided court, and the pension reforms were working their way through the appeal system.  Kloppenburg had all but promised to rule them unconstitutional, and so had complete support of the radical faction.

The election came, and at first it appeared the Kloppenburg had won.  She went so far as to declare victory, and thank the voters of Wisconsin for their wisdom.  Then, the final returns came in, including a conservative county that had not been publicly accounted for, and the final ballot had Prosser winning by some 7,000 votes.  Kloppenburg demanded a recount, as was her right, given that the final tally was less the 0.5% apart, and the recount was duly and slowly carried out.  The final final tally was only about 300 votes different from the first, and Prosser was declared winner and remained in office.  OK, a little messy, but still only democracy at work, right?

Well, yesterday, a group called Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, a group loosely associated with Wisconsin Public Radio (so they're non-partisan, right...), published an article claiming that in a heated argument in chambers, Justice Prosser had grabbed Justice Anne Bradley by the neck and attempted to choke her.  Allegedly, this incident came in a rather heated conference last week.

This was, of course, rapidly picked up in the media (especially the blogs, for who the deadline is always now).  Left-wing organizations like ThinkProgess demanded that Prosser resign.  As Altouse herself a generally pro-Prosser advocate said:
But sure. If Justice Prosser committed a criminal attack on another Justice, he shouldn't be on the court, even if he only lashed out after weeks or years of merciless bullying. And let's have the whole story. Maybe there are some other Justices who don't belong on the court. Clear out everyone who doesn't belong on the court. How will they be replaced? By appointment of the Governor — the formidable Scott Walker.
And now, today, it turns out there may be more to the story.  New reports suggest that Prosser may have put his hands up to protect himself as Justice Bradley came a him with "raised fists", and that while he may have made contract with her neck, it was incidental to his self-protection.

Justice Bradley's carefully worded response to these allegations does not explicitely deny that she attacked Prosser first:
“The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold,” Bradley told the Journal Sentinel.

And in response to the conflicting interpretation offered by unnamed sources, that Prosser put up his hands defensively as she rushed toward him, Bradley told the paper: “You can try to spin those facts and try to make it sound like I ran up to him and threw my neck into his hands, but that’s only spin.”

She added: “Matters of abusive behavior in the workplace aren’t resolved by competing press releases. I’m confident the appropriate authorities will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident involving abusive behavior in the workplace.”
Well, we'll see, maybe.  But if it turns out that she did attack first, will ThinkProgress demand her resignation?  Incidentally, it is reported that Bradley is taller, heavier and seven years younger than Prosser.

Not surprisingly, Ann Althouse is all over this story...
I want to know not only what really happened at the time of the physical contact (if any) between the 2 justices, but also who gave the original story to the press. If Prosser really tried to choke a nonviolent Bradley, he should resign. But if the original account is a trumped-up charge intended to destroy Prosser and obstruct the democratic processes of government in Wisconsin, then whoever sent the report out in that form should be held responsible for what should be recognized as a truly evil attack.
I just want a bigger bag of popcorn.

Berries are Free at the Beach, Too

Another nice day at the beach.  A touch warmer than yesterday, but still nice, with a good breeze.  There were high clouds when we arrived, but they burned off soon.

A good day for kayak fishing...

Click the pictures to enlarge.
...or hunting ground hogs (unsuccessfully).  Poor Skye, she came home so tired, she is loosing control of her rear left leg.  But it didn't slow her down.
A Mimosa bloom. This tree is also called Persian Silk tree or just Silk Tree. Native to Asia, it's a common ornamental tree in this area, but has gone "native", and is considered by some to be an invasive species.
 Skye, Georgia and Joel got ahead of me while I was taking the flower picture.  This will be our last walk with Joel for a while; he'll be leaving for his annual pilgrimage to Bar Harbor, Maine, with his traveling dog Red sometime this week.  Check in once in a while, Joel!
Wineberries are ripening on the cliffside.  Wineberries (Rubus pheonicolasius) are an introduced species related to Raspberries.  They live in disturbed areas like roadsides, or recently cut forests; the continuously eroding cliffs are a good habitat for them.  They, too, are considered an invasive species, with the potential for out competing native blackberries and raspberries.
They are pretty edible, but not as good as blackberries and raspberries. 
A milkweed bush up by the parking lot was covered with butterflies, like this one...
... and this one.  I haven't tried to figure out what they are yet.  Maybe I'll try a little later.

Bad Kitty!

Now, go steal me a beer and we'll reconsider...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Good Dog!

Did the US Government Cause the Dakota Flooding?

The Purposeful Flooding of America's Heartland
Some sixty years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) began the process of taming the Missouri by constructing a series of six dams. The idea was simple: massive dams at the top moderating flow to the smaller dams below, generating electricity while providing desperately needed control of the river's devastating floods...

But after about thirty years of operation, as the environmentalist movement gained strength throughout the seventies and eighties, the Corps received a great deal of pressure to include some specific environmental concerns into their MWCM (Master Water Control Manual, the "bible" for the operation of the dam system). Preservation of habitat for at-risk bird and fish populations soon became a hot issue among the burgeoning environmental lobby. The pressure to satisfy the demands of these groups grew exponentially as politicians eagerly traded their common sense for "green" political support.

Things turned absurd from there. An idea to restore the nation's rivers to a natural (pre-dam) state swept through the environmental movement and their allies. Adherents enlisted the aid of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), asking for an updated "Biological Opinion" from the FWS that would make ecosystem restoration an "authorized purpose" of the dam system. The Clinton administration threw its support behind the change, officially shifting the priorities of the Missouri River dam system from flood control, facilitation of commercial traffic, and recreation to habitat restoration, wetlands preservation, and culturally sensitive and sustainable biodiversity.
The Corps "fixed" the rivers so that people could farm, and build cities, and use them as transport.  Then, at the whim of people who mostly live elsewhere, the Corps was told to undo parts of that protection, leaving the people at risk.  We are now seeing the consequences of that choice.
Greg Pavelka, a wildlife biologist with the Corps of Engineers in Yankton, SD, told the Seattle Times that this event will leave the river in a "much more natural state than it has seen in decades," describing the epic flooding as a "prolonged headache for small towns and farmers along its path, but a boon for endangered species." He went on to say, "The former function of the river is being restored in this one-year event. In the short term, it could be detrimental, but in the long term it could be very beneficial."
I know lots of people who talk like that.  Everything for the birds and bees and fish, and nothing left for man.  I'm waiting for the Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a plan to restore bear, wolves, cougars and elk to Manhattan Island.  I'd love to see the look on the faces of the New Yorker liberal elite as they try to build a coherent argument against it.

Read the whole thing.

Learn the Fracking Facts

The U.S. is in the midst of an energy revolution, and we don't mean solar panels or wind turbines. A new gusher of natural gas from shale has the potential to transform U.S. energy production—that is, unless politicians, greens and the industry mess it up...
 As they say, read the rest.

U2 Can Pay More Taxes...

But they choose not to:
U2 and its frontman Bono, known for their global poverty-fighting efforts, were accused of dodging taxes in Ireland by activists who crashed their performance at England's Glastonbury festival.

The anti-capitalist group Art Uncut inflated a 6-metre balloon emblazoned with the message "U Pay Your Tax 2." Security guards wrestled them to the ground before deflating the balloon and taking it away. About 30 people were involved in the angry clash. "I love U2 but I think everyone should pay their taxes. The campaigners have a right to voice their opinion," he said.

Art Uncut argues that while Bono campaigns against poverty in the developing world, his group has avoided paying Irish taxes at a time when his austerity-hit country desperately needs money.

Ireland, which has already accepted an international bailout, is suffering through deep spending cuts, tax hikes and rising unemployment as it tries to pull the debt-burdened economy back from brink of bankruptcy."...U2, the country's most successful band, was heavily criticised in 2006 for moving its corporate base from Ireland to the Netherlands, where royalties on music incur virtually no tax.
I'm of two minds here.  First of all, I believe in Freedom so I think Bono and U2 have the right to conduct their business affairs as they choose, provided they are within the law.  No one here is accusing them of doing anything illegal, merely working the system to their advantage.

What they are being accused of is an odd from of hypocrisy, where they are charged with not putting sufficient money back into the system, while they urge other people (mostly corporations and the rich) to donate more to the causes of their choosing.  They have also been criticized recently for the nature of their "charity:

U2: Great music in the service of dubious charity 
Last year, Bono's nonprofit ONE foundation was at the center of semi-scandal when it was revealed that in 2008 the organization raised $14,993,873 in public donations — of which only $184,732 (or just over ONE percent) was distributed to charities. Where did the rest go? Well, more than $8 million went to salaries for executives and employees at ONE. In response to the fusillade of criticism following these revelations, ONE spokesman Oliver Buston explained, "We don't provide programs on the ground. We're an advocacy and campaigning organization."
So, they get other rich people and businesses to donate the their charity, and spend that money advocating for their own personal causes.

A good gig, if you can get it.

Another Gorgeous Day at the Beach 6/25/11

Mostly sunny sky, a few puffy white clouds, a good breeze, temperatures in the mid-70s. What more could you ask for?

The Irony Meter Needle Wrapped Around the Right Hand Post

Home made irony meter
Woman dies of heart attack caused by shock of waking up at her own funeral
A woman died from a heart attack caused by shock after waking up to discover she had been declared dead - and was being prepared for burial.

As mourning relatives filed past her open coffin the supposedly dead woman suddenly woke up and started screaming as she realised where she was.

Fagilyu Mukhametzyanov, 49, had been wrongly declared deceased by doctors but died for real after hearing mourners saying prayers for her soul to be taken up to heaven in Kazan, Russia...
I can see where than might be disconcerting, but thinking of pranking  opportunities would keep me going.

They have socialized medicine in Russia, iirc.

Rule 5 Saturday - Katy Perry

"I started praying for [breasts] when I was, like, 11," the 26-year-old told Rolling Stone magazine in an interview for their June 24 issue. "And God answered that prayer above and beyond, by, like, 100 times, until I was like, 'Please, stop, God. I can't see my feet anymore. Please stop!'
Thank God, he didn't listen.
"Someone in sixth grade called me 'Over-the-shoulder boulder holder,'" Katy -- who graces the magazine's cover wearing a Hershey's Kisses-inspired bra top - added. "I didn't know I could use them. So, what I did was, I started taping them down... probably until I was about 19."
She seems to have gotten a pretty good grasp on how to use them by now...

But she does look better with makeup...

While Katy challenges her detractors to take a look at the facts, she said she's aware that her fluffy pop songs are just that - fluffy pop songs!

"I'm not a dummy -- I know 'California Gurls' isn't going to save the world," she explained, referencing her 2010 hit with Snoop Dogg. "But I got a lot of heart from my upbringing and I put a lot of heart in my songs."
A California girl, born Katherine Elizabeth Hudson near Santa Barbara in 1984 in a religious family, she recorded a gospel album under her birth name in 2001.  But, fortunately for the rest of us, she grew up, and discovered sex, or at least simulated sex, and pop history was made.
In addition to girls, she seems to have a thing for Muppets, with well known flirtations with Elmo from Sesame Street (is he even legal age?), and Charles Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons (he certainly is!).

Check out this parody

More Pics below the fold

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's Red Friday...

...Over at Theos's.  It's red wine (Old Vine Zinfandel) here...

Gay Marriage, Maybe Not Such a Good Thing After All - Gay Law Prof

Marriage Is a Mixed Blessing
While many in our community have worked hard to secure the right of same-sex couples to marry, others of us have been working equally hard to develop alternatives to marriage. For us, domestic partnerships and civil unions aren’t a consolation prize made available to lesbian and gay couples because we are barred from legally marrying. Rather, they have offered us an opportunity to order our lives in ways that have given us greater freedom than can be found in the one-size-fits-all rules of marriage.

It’s not that we’re antimarriage; rather, we think marriage ought to be one choice in a menu of options by which relationships can be recognized and gain security. Like New York City’s mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, who has been in a relationship for over 10 years without marrying, one can be an ardent supporter of marriage rights for same-sex couples while also recognizing that serious, committed relationships can be formed outside of marriage.

Here’s why I’m worried: Winning the right to marry is one thing; being forced to marry is quite another. How’s that? If the rollout of marriage equality in other states, like Massachusetts, is any guide, lesbian and gay people who have obtained health and other benefits for their domestic partners will be required by both public and private employers to marry their partners in order to keep those rights. In other words, “winning” the right to marry may mean “losing” the rights we have now as domestic partners, as we’ll be folded into the all-or-nothing world of marriage.

Of course, this means we’ll be treated just as straight people are now. But this moment provides an opportunity to reconsider whether we ought to force people to marry — whether they be gay or straight — to have their committed relationships recognized and valued.
 It seems like she wants the name of marriage for relationships, but not the expectations.

Yep, if you want to get the "benefits" of marriage, we'll expect you to live with the downsides too; the permanence, the expectations of faithfulness, producing the next generation of citizens, you know, that kind of stuff.  Don't like it?  Don't get married.

Seen at Althouse.

This Strikes Me as Such a Bad Idea

Rare Sea Turtles to be Released into Chesapeake Bay

Rescued sea turtles heading for the Bay
Five endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles nursed back to health by the National Aquarium are being returned to the wild on Sunday.

The rarest and smallest of all sea turtles, the five were found stranded last winter along Cape Cod suffering from cold stunning, not unlike hypothermia. They were shipped to Baltimore by the New England Aquarium, where they've spent the past six months rehabilitating in the local aquarium's marine animal rescue program.

At 11 a.m. on Sunday, the aquarium staff plan to release the turtles at Point Lookout State Park in southern Maryland, where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay. Kemp's ridley sea turtles are known to feed on jellyfish and other aquatic life in the bay during the summer. The public is invited to be on hand to observe the release. Directions are here.

If you can't make it, some of the turtles will be fitted with small satellite transmitters so their movements can be tracked. The aquarium plans to plot the animals' locations on a map on its website, which you can see here.
This is neat, but I wonder why they are releasing them into the Bay instead of driving them all the way down to the ocean, which is a far more common habitat for sea turtles?  Maybe it gives them a better chance to track them.  I guess we'll have lots of jellyfish for them to eat.

I've seen a few sea turtles out in the Bay; it's pretty eerie when a big loggerhead sticks his head out of the murk a few few feet from your boat. 

I hope they make it.

World Record Blue Catfish Caught

 A 143 lb Blue Catfish was caught last weekend at in Kerr Reservoir (aka Buggs Island Lake), on the North Carolina, Virginia Border.  The lake is an impoundment on the Roanoke River, which flows into Pamlico Sound, south of Chesapeake Bay.
Richard Nicholas Anderson caught the 143-pound, 57-inch fish near Goat Island after a 45-minute battle from a pontoon boat.

The fish, with a girth of 43.5 inches, was weighed at Mecklenburg Supply Inc. in Chase City with two representatives from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries observing.

The State Record Fish Committee of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is reviewing the application for a potential state record blue catfish. The previous state record blue catfish (109 pounds) was caught by Tony Milam in Buggs Island Lake near the confluence of the Dan and Roanoke rivers on March 17.

If the International Game Fish Association certifies the catch, Anderson's fish will easily top the new world mark of 130 pounds for a blue catfish caught in the Missouri River in 2010.
Much like their presence in some Chesapeake Bay tributaries, Blue Catfish are introduced species in the Roanoke. As is the Chesapeake, whether they are a benefit or a curse depends on the point of view of those you ask.  Some fisherman have made a fishery of targeting the big catfish and have made places where big Blue Cats can be found a destination for charter trips.  On the other hand, many fisheries scientists consider them to be a damaging invasive species; a voracious predator and a competitor potentially capable of pushing out the native catfish.

Another article suggests that nutrient pollution maybe responsible for growing the giant catfish:
Kerr Reservoir (aka Buggs Island Lake), like the James River, is an altered system. We humans have changed our waterways greatly in the past 100 years by increasing the nutrient load they carry.

"On Buggs Island, it's upstream agriculture," Greenlee said. "On the James, it's agriculture and municipal inputs that together are driving a very high level of productivity (i.e. total biomass). These systems are much, much more productive than they were if you went back to pre-colonial days."

The converse is true, too, he said. "Smith Mountain Lake is an example. Once you started cleaning up the municipal discharge, that productivity has dropped down as a result of the reduced nutrient levels."

On Buggs Island Lake, DGIF head fish biologist Gary Martel said "you have a combination of a new reservoir situation and a much more abundant food source. You see the highest probability of some of those records occurring in bodies of water where the (predator) populations have just become established."

No one knows for sure how they got there, but blue catfish showed up in Buggs Island Lake in the late 1980s. That's not a long time in fish years. Blue cats can live 25 years. So the first, longest-lived blues are just now beginning to turn over. And for the past quarter century, they've had the benefit of our increased nutrient input boosting populations of their favorite food: shad. It's been a 25-year buffet for blue catfish in Buggs Island Lake.
It's possible I suppose, but their native drainage, the Mississippi River system, is not exactly pristine either, so one would expect to see equally big catfish there as well, and indeed, previous records of nearly the same weight (124 lbs) have come from there.  I suspect rather, that it's just that the first major cohorts of catfish in the new waters are finally reaching their full size, and fishermen are just learning to target them.  Once fishermen learn to target the big ones more efficiently, the top to the size distribution will get knocked off, and it will be hard to catch another record.

My previous post on Blue Cats here, including my own not nearly so big Blue Catfish.

Michele Obama - "Do As I Say, Not As I Do"

Michelle Obama: 'I can't stop eating French fries. But eat your vegetables.'
During her visit to South Africa, First Lady Michelle Obama stopped by the University of Cape Town for an event with young people. ... But at the end of the session, one young person in the audience asked Mrs. Obama, who has devoted much of her time in the White House to promoting nutrition and healthy eating, what her favorite foods are.

"My favorite?" Obama said. "Oh, this is a tough one. "It is tough, you know, because if I say something not healthy, people will be, like, you aren't really committed to health. If I say something healthy, you know -- I do -- honestly, I like all kinds of foods."

Obama mentioned Indian food, and then Mexican food, and then said: "No, if I picked one favorite, favorite food, it's French fries." The audience began to laugh. "Okay? It's French fries," Obama continued. "I can't stop eating them." As the students laughed more, the First Lady quickly returned to her role as advocate of health eating. "But eat your vegetables," she said, to still more laughs. "And exercise."

It's not wrong to like French Fries.  I like 'em.  But it is wrong to eat them and tell other people not to.  Not exactly Caesar's wife, is she?

Your Friday Monkey Dacker Jumper Post

EMBED-Girl Can't Get Monkeys Out Of Her Hair - Watch more free videos

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Different Kind of Mermaid

 A couple days ago I posted about Mermaid Elle who frequents the Virginia Beaches.  Well, here is a very different kind of Mermaid:

The World's First Self-Propelled Endoscopy Device 'Swims' the Entire Digestive Tract in Mere Hours

Probing colons has never been this much fun. Japanese researchers have developed the world’s first self-propelled endoscopy device, a remote controlled tadpole-like camera that can “swim” through the digestive tack gathering imagery along the way.

This kind of endoscopy isn’t wholly new, of course, but previous iterations of ingestible cameras relied on natural muscle contractions to move them through the body. The “Mermaid,” as it is known, simplifies the process by moving quickly through the digestive tract to its destination, whatever that point may be. To speed the process, it can be inserted into the digestive system at either end, entering the body orally or--well, you know.

The device is just 0.4 inches in diameter and just shy of two inches long, and uses magnetic machinery to control its movement and location. Doctors pilot the endoscope with a joystick, watching its progress on a monitor. All said, it takes only a few hours to traverse the whole system from esophagus to colon. It could help ease the strain on patients and detect hard-to-see cancers earlier than was previously possible.
Colon cancer runs in my family.  Both Mom and Dad found they had colon cancer within a few months of each other a few years. back, and were operated on.  So far, both seem to have been spared a reoccurrance, and I'm on the "frequent flier" plan regarding colonoscopies.

I'd be willing to give this a try.  I wonder how bad the preparation is; and does it tickle?

Scientists Predict Big "Dead Zones" for Chesapeake Summer

Scientists Predict Moderate to Poor Oxygen Levels in Chesapeake Bay for Early Summer
The Chesapeake Bay is expected to have moderate to poor dissolved oxygen conditions during the early part of the summer, according to a team of scientists with Chesapeake Eco-Check.

The early summer dissolved oxygen forecast (called an “anoxia forecast”) is based on nitrogen loads to the Bay during winter and spring, as well as high river flow in May due to heavy rainfall. According to scientists, the Bay’s 2011 low-oxygen area – commonly called the “dead zone” – could be the fourth-largest since 1985.

The annual summer ecological forecast uses data such as nitrogen loads, wind direction and sea level to predict dissolved oxygen levels in the Bay’s mainstem. The forecast is split into early summer (June to mid-July) and late summer (mid-July to September) because scientists have observed a significant change in oxygen levels following early summer wind events.

The forecast is supported through research at the Chesapeake Bay Program, Johns Hopkins University, Old Dominion University, and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Lab.
We've had a lot of rain in the watershed this spring, and that traditionally means a bad summer for anoxia for a couple reasons.  First, the additional freshwater brings in lots of excess nutrients which fuel algae blooms, which die, sink to the bottom, and feed bacteria which use the oxygen in the bottom water.  Second, lots of freshwater sits on top of saltier seawater, and prevents the wind from mixing the bottom water to the surface (and vice versa) and traps the bottom water in the dead zone.  You can actually see the pycnocline (the area where the water becomes saltier as you go down, and where oxygen usually stops) on a good depth finder.  You won't find fish below that line.

The area we live in is one of the "hot spots" for the anoxic water.  It usually builds up until it reaches about 30 ft, or even less, from the surface, and kills all the non-mobile animals on the bottom to that depth.  The wrong wind (a good steady southwest wind, for a couple of days or more) will bring that dead water to the shore at our beach.  Often it pushes fish and crabs in front of it, and they pile up in the shallow waters near the beach.  People come to catch the crabs, and some of the fish.  Old timers call it a "crab jubilee", and people often call it a red tide, which it is not.  We may also have red tides about the same time though, so the confusion is understandable.  In a really extreme event, the dead water it brings up is often very clear and blue, as anything living in it has died and rotted.  It also stinks of hydrogen sulfide.

I'll likely post about one on the beach before the summer is through, although I'd prefer not to.