Monday, April 30, 2012

More Renewable Schadenfreude

Solyndra leaves behind a pile of toxic waste



Again, some of this is inevitable, but if you're going to complain about it when it your neighbors, expect them to complain when it's yours.

Musical Intermission - Gold Dust Woman



I don't know what's better, Grace Potter or slide on the the 12 string Les Paul.

Another cover, and her "regular band", the Nocturnals:

Chesapeake Bay Diet Plan Splits Environmental Groups

WAPO has a pretty long article today on how the plans behind the EPA Bay Restoration plan, commonly called the "Bay Diet" is causing dissension among the various groups seeking to force the EPA to clean up the Bay.  It appear to come down to the matter of nutrient trading (basically, "cap and trade" for nutrients).  EPA's and Chesapeake Bay Foundation's hopes for nutrient control ride on them, while some of the smaller groups, particularly the "Riverkeeper" groups, distrust that they will be adequately enforced.

Bay cleanup plan has environmental groups at odds
From the bay foundation’s perspective, a challenge to the EPA’s authority by the group’s allies is not much different from the challenge being heard in a Pennsylvania court by its foes — the farm, pesticide, pork and home-builder lobbies that stand against the strict regulations of the pollution diet.

Riverkeeper groups also want a clean bay, but some could not stomach one of EPA’s methods, a program that would turn the Chesapeake’s waters into an open marketplace for farmers and corporations that create pollution.

Under a nutrient trading program, farmers who exceed pollution reduction goals set by the EPA would receive credits they could sell to corporations such as coal-fired power plants that fail to reach their own reduction goals.

In theory, the program would help farmers pay for expensive crop covers and buffers to soak up rain. Storm runoff from farms is a major problem because it carries nitrogen from fertilizers and phosphorus from animal waste into streams and rivers that flow to the bay. The pollution contributes to oxygen-depleted “dead zones” that smother oysters, crabs, mussels and other marine life in the nation’s largest estuary.

But Riverkeeper group members and some other environmentalists say that nutrient trading is a shell game that will allow more pollution to creep into the bay. They say that because of lax farm regulations in bay watershed states — Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York — the EPA would have no sure way of knowing whether farmers have met pollution reduction goals.
And then it turns to the politics within the movement, and it isn't all that pretty:
About two months ago, members of Riverkeeper groups gathered at the foundation in Annapolis for an important word from their sponsor. According to a member who attended the meeting, the foundation’s director, Verna Harrison, reminded them that the foundation had donated $4 million to their causes over the years and then issued an ultimatum.

“If you challenge nutrient trading, you’re done. You won’t be funded by us anymore,” said the Riverkeeper member, recalling Harrison’s words. The member declined to be named, fearing a funding cut. Merrifield of Potomac Riverkeeper also declined to comment on the dispute.
 

But Answer Came There None--


And this was scarcely odd because they'd eaten every one

Watermen skeptical of government oyster plans
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently held public meetings to discuss the corps’ plans to restore oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The plan was developed with help from the states of Virginia and Maryland, three federal government agencies, the Potomac River Fisheries Commission and two nonprofits, with the stated goal of restoring an “abundant, self-sustaining oyster population” to restore ecological balance and contribute to the oyster fishery.

“I don’t think the government programs do very much to help, especially in the long-term,” 58-year-old Robbie Johnson said Friday, pausing briefly to talk in his Spartan office while catching up on some paperwork. “We’re very fortunate that we have now more oysters than we’ve had in the past 20 years. I personally don’t attribute that to anything that a government agency has done.”
Sadly, I tend to agree with him.  To date, oyster restoration programs have been a huge disappointment.  But on the why, I think the watermen have played a huge part, being allowed to take the "restored" oysters (on the grounds that they were going to die of disease anyway), and illegally plundering those they weren't permitted to.

What a Coincidence!

Another Miami-area TV journalist has been fired as a result of a local NBC affiliate’s broadcast of a misleading edited version of George Zimmerman’s 911 call the night Trayvon Martin was killed. Local TV station WTVJ veteran Jeff Burnside was fired Friday following an investigation of the station’s separate airing of the conversation that was edited in much the same way as the Today show’s broadcast that resulted in the firing of an unidentified NBC News producer based in Miami. Several other employees were disciplined in that incident. The NBC affiliate acknowledged the station independently made the same questionable edits to Zimmerman’s call to police that were widely denounced when the network’s Today show aired its version of the clip last month.
Hey, who needs a conspiracy when you all think the same thoughts?

Skiing Legend Runs Afoul of the IRS

Lindsey Vonn, the skier who made a splash after winning alpine skiing gold at the Vancouver Olympics, found out she owes the government $1,700,000 in back taxes for the year she won that gold. According to the Detroit News, the IRS filed a $1,705,437 tax lien against Vonn and her estranged husband Thomas Vonn on April 2 with the Elko County Recorder in Nevada.
 Not a bad year, if your taxes come out to more than $1.7 million.  Not that she didn't work for it though.
She is in the middle of a divorce with Thomas, the man who was once her coach and mentor. She released a statement on her Facebook page promising to pay what she owed.
Fame seems bad for marriages.

I am disappointed with this situation. I just recently became aware of the outstanding balance and I have done everything in my power to settle it immediately. The money owed was for the 2010 tax year, which was filed on time, and it has been paid in full. This is an important lesson for me. Not being in control of my finances and relying on someone else who you believed had your best interest at heart was a mistake and one I will not make twice.
I'd be interested in the inside story on this.  Did the husband cheat on the taxes hoping to save some, and get caught?  Or did the shear increase in taxes and number of sources of income catch them by surprise?  I could easily see that happening to a couple of young people with an astonishing year.
Vonn made money from winning World Cup races and several endorsements, including Under Armour, Rolex, and Procter and Gamble. 
I'll buy your soap, baby...

Over at The Other McCain, Wombat Socho's Rule 5 Sunday done come on Monday this week.

Looking For a Low Mileage Used Prius?

Have you ever bought a brand new cars only to forget where you put it? How about 300 of them? Probably not – unless you're Miami-Dade County, which was recently reunited with 298 vehicles it bought brand new between 2006 and 2007.
No, but I lost a $20 bill in a jacket pocket once, and found it a year later!  Boy, was I ever excited!
The county "discovered" this fleet of no-mileage vehicles after reading about them in a Spanish-language newspaper there (see the source for more images). Most of the misplaced motorcade is made up of Toyota Prius hybrids whose warranties either expired with very few miles on the odo or will very soon.
I wonder how the batteries on the Priuses (Prii? - what the hell is the plural of Prius anyway?) tolerate not being charged for 5-6 years.  I know my Mom's went dead sitting in an airport for a week (only the 12 V starting battery. It's a big deal when a Prius nickel metal hydride main batteries go dead.
... The county, as you probably guessed, is looking into how it lost so many cars. The leading theory is that they might be part of Carlos Alvarez's time as mayor. He was the mayor during the period the Toyotas were purchased, but a 2011 recall election successfully removed him from office. Apparently the voters "felt, among other reasons, that he had been behind multiple acts of misappropriation of funds."
As Glen Reynolds (The Instapundit) says:
But remember — if you complain about government or taxes, it’s because you hate teh children.
You can't necessarily assume that all governments are as screwed up as Miami-Dade (apologies to Horatio Cane), but you may safely assume they are not likely to spend your money as carefully as you will.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Musical Interlude: Warm Up the Wayback Machine

Dang, I'm Sorry I Missed This

Great form - and backdrop!
The first of this year's daily Miss Mullet bikini contests has wrapped up during the 28th Annual Interstate Mullet Toss at the Flora-Bama.
I recall mullet from the 18 months I spent in Florida as a post-doc.  An interesting fish, almost purely vegetarian, they almost never bite a hook (although I've heard you can fish for them using peas for bait).  They are a good bait fish, hardy, and relished by all the big predators. 
Measuring the Mullet Toss
Winner and still champion, Ashlee Carpentier.



Enormous schools are common and you could catch them easily with a cast net.  There are two species is Florida, the Gray and White Mullet  (Mugil cephalus and Mugil curema).  And in a pinch, they're not bad eating.





As for the bikini portion of the competition:

Nine women competed in today's event, with Ashlee Carpentier of Pensacola taking first place. Astute readers of al.com may remember Carpentier from the St. Patrick's Day green bikini contest on Pensacola Beach, in which she finished second. Taking second place today at the Flora-Bama was Jessica Miller of Daphne, and in third was Bria Papia of Lafayette, Louisiana.

Cool and Crisp at the Beach

After the passage of the front that soaked Trevor and I last evening, today's weather came clear and cool.  It was only about 50 F when we started our walk, but the breeze was slight, and the Bay had only a light chop.
We met one of our neighbors, his son and his two labs on the beach.  The dogs all got along fine (after Skye growled a little to attempt to assert her dominance - they ignored her).
 The labs do labby things, like fetch sticks.  Skye doesn't fetch. If you throw it, she figures you don't want it.  Sometimes she will deign to try to intimidate a dog to drop it's toy, but then she doesn't really want so she drops again quickly.  Huskies; built to pull sleds and not ask too many questions.
The tide was high, so on the way north we had to climb the stairs and go through Calvert Beach.  Looking south from the top of the beach steps.
There were a bunch of these butterflies out today.  Last night a couple of them were hanging around the boat, but today on the beach they were everywhere.  They appear to be "Red Admirals", Vanessa atalanta.  I also noticed them today in the garden, but they weren't nearly as abundant as on the beach.
On the way back south, we waded through the shallow water at the narrow spot; Skye was happier to stay off leash (most of the time).  It was a decent fossil day today; we found 48 shark's teeth (mostly pretty small), a drum's tooth, and some ray plates, bringing the final total for April to 196 shark's teeth.


 A cormorant resting on the jetty, with mirage distorting James Island and a couple of boats in the distance.

Playboy Bunny Threatens Wildlife Violence

Former Miss USA and Playboy model (NSFW link) Shanna Moakler says one of her dogs is missing and another is under veterinary care after the animals were attacked by a hawk at her Calabasas home.

“A eagle attacked my 2 chi’s today, my girl pup is at the vet, my boy is missing, between my cat and my pups, i’m about to f**n kill things,” she tweeted Monday, but later referred to the animal as a hawk.
Once you get used to seeing real eagles often, it would be hard to mistake them for a hawk.  As small as a chihuahua is, I have a hard time seeing any of the common American hawks lifting even a small one, but I'm pretty sure either a Bald or Golden Eagle could.  But a Bald Eagle would prefer that an Osprey do the hard work.
“Not gonna lie, feel like hunting hawks today… don’t feel bad about it either,” she tweeted Wednesday.
 That would certainly be a violation of one or more Federal laws designed to protect virtually all non-game birds in the United States.  I understand the emotion.  But I wonder how she feels about ranchers who are faced with livestock losses due to coyotes, wolves and mountain lions.  In my experience, most urban dweller lack empathy for the people who actually have to live with wildlife on a day to day basis.

“I live in a neighborhood where coyotes and hawks are prevalent,” Moakler told Hollyscoop. “We took the dogs outside to go to the bathroom and they were attacked by a hawk. My one puppy may have lost an eye, we won’t know for a couple weeks and the bird flew off with my other puppy. It was like out of a movie.”

“I just hope people with small dogs will start taking precautions with their pets outside and try to protect them from predators. I hope people just remember not to take things for granted as you never know when they can be gone, both people and fur babies,” she added.
Brother Ted uncharitably suggested, that if you don't want your dog to get carried away by backyard birds, perhaps you should have larger dogs, more able to defend themselves.

No word on whether the hawk was employed by the White House.  Nope, not tired of it yet...

Over at The Other McCain, Wombat Socho's Rule 5 Sunday done come on Monday this week.

To Relieve the Lack of Japanese Weirdness

I give you  COOKIE!



UPDATE: I just ran across this Doug Douhat article on the Japanese culture, and how it's being affected by their demographic trends:
These trends are forging a society that sometimes evokes the infertile Britain in James’s dystopia. Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world, and there were rashes of Internet-enabled group suicides in the last decade. Rental “relatives” are available for sparsely attended wedding parties; so-called “babyloids” — furry dolls that mimic infant sounds — are being developed for lonely seniors; and Japanese researchers are at the forefront of efforts to build robots that resemble human babies. The younger generation includes millions of so-called “parasite singles” who still live with (and off) their parents, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of the “hikikomori” — “young adults,” Eberstadt writes, “who shut themselves off almost entirely by retreating into a friendless life of video games, the Internet and manga (comics) in their parents’ home.”
Over at The Other McCain, Wombat Socho's Rule 5 Sunday done come on Monday this week.

But Where Are the Rod Holders?

DARPA puts its $195 million Tomorrow Never Dies stealth ship on the scrap market 

Just $50,000 will get you the ship that inspired the radar-evading vessel that was the base of evil media mogul Elliot Carver in the 007 film Tomorrow Never Dies.

Although it's likely to go for a bit more than $50K. The Sea Shaadow cost the US Defence Department - or more specifically, its research arm DARPA - a whopping $195 million to develop.

That was back in 1984, but the world didn't see the Sea Shadow for nine years. That's because it was loaded with the type of stealth technology that made the US Air Force's F-35 Lightning II so famous.

So, what do you get when you buy a $195m stealth ship from the US military?

Apart from the fact that it looks like the kind of thing the inventor of the word "awesome" was looking at when he first said "awesome", not a lot.

Because sadly, you have to scrap it.

"The ex-Sea Shadow shall be disposed of by completely dismantling and scrapping within the USA," the description on the sale item reads.

"Dismantling is defined as reducing the property such as it has no value except for its basic material content."
Can you imagine showing up at the nuclear power plant in that? 

Bid on the $195 million Sea Shadow stealth ship now!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yes, We Really Did Walk Today

The posts are a little out of order.   We did walk this morning, and I did go fishing in the afternoon.  I wanted to play with the IPad posting a little more, and the fishing post was much smaller and easier.

As I noted earlier, today was gray and cool, with occasional showers.  However we walked before the showers started
 A pretty unremarkable walk, really.  The tide was high and we had to walk around the narrow spot (from which you can see Skye coming). We found a few fossils (13 sharks teeth, a couple of ray plates) and some beach glass.
 This guy was plugging for stripers (or blues I guess, although I don't think they're here yet), off the jetty at Matoaka Cottages.   He didn't catch anything while I was watching.
The tree du jour, the Black Locust, is flowering in abundance these days.  A member of the legume family, it has abundant clusters (racemes really) of creamy white, delicately scented flowers).  The dense, hard wood is prized for fence posts, allegedly because it is highly rot resistant.  Good quality wood is highly prized for furniture, but rarely found because of boring insects.  It is also a popular firewood tree.
Flowers from the Black Locust.  In summer, the Black Locusts around here are attacked by a leaf borer which causes them to turn brown, and look bad,  but they do come back, at least most of them.

One Drift Too Long

Trevor and I took off to do a little fishing this afternoon, about 4:30. It's been cool, and showery all day, but the radar was clear, so we tried it. Location X was all but deserted, only a single other boat was there, and he was a local and a friend. Fishing was slow, and the fish were small:

This was the best fish of the (by a lot), and it was 4 inches short of the 28 inch minimum.

Around 7:00 PM, the rain started in ernest, and we ran the three miles home in a downpour. We didn't stay long enough for a sunset picture.

Trying New IPad Blogging Software

Well, I tried BlogPress, but I wasn't very happy, so I just installed Blogsy, and I'm giving it a try.

A picture of a sparrow of some sort in the garden from last week. I figured out how to get that in, and mounted on the left, but it feels pretty clumsy. Damn Blogger for not supporting the IPad!



It's clearly more capable (you can even edit HTML), but it is not as good as the compose mode in Blogger. Hopefully, I'll get better at it.

New Secret Service Policy - Less Booze and Hookers

Not none, mind you, just less, and more discretely.  I wonder if they were given instructions on how to pay, and whether or not to beat up the foreign hookers?  (To fair, that was the marines in Brazil, but they were on a protection detail as well)

Seeking to shake the disgrace of a prostitution scandal, the Secret Service late Friday tightened conduct rules for its agents to prohibit them from drinking excessively, visiting disreputable establishments while traveling or bringing foreigners to their hotel rooms.

The new behavior policies apply to Secret Service agents even when they are off duty while traveling, barring them from drinking alcohol within 10 hours of working, according to a memorandum describing the changes obtained by The Associated Press. In some cases under the new rules, chaperones will accompany agents on trips. The embattled Secret Service director, Mark Sullivan, urged agents and other employees to "consider your conduct through the lens of the past several weeks."
Secret Service Agents needing chaperones?  Then who will monitor the chaperone? 
The new rules did not mention prostitutes or strip clubs, but they prohibit employees from allowing foreigners -- except hotel staff or foreign law enforcement colleagues -- into their hotel rooms. They also ban visits to "non-reputable" establishments, which were not defined. The State Department was expected to brief Secret Service employees on trips about areas and businesses considered off-limits to them.
This gives me a great idea for a new adventure sitcom.  Willie Slick, Secret Service agent extraordinaire, is the best there is at advance work for presidential travel.  He can infiltrate the bad guys who want to assassinate the president better than anyone else, and shoots faster and straighter than Raylan Givens.  Unfortunately, he has a predilection for booze and hookers. In an effort to keep him on the straight and narrow, his boss decides to hire and partner him with... his mother, a pistol packing, swearing divorcée with her own issues with men.

Rule 5 Saturday - Claudia Schiffer - Still in the Business

This Rule 5 post is inspired by this piece on how Claudia Schiffer has been modelling for 23 years:
As one of the original supermodels, Claudia Schiffer always had an advantage when it comes to beauty.

A new campaign for Guess, however, shows how little the 41-year-old appears to have aged over the past 23 years.

Based on a 1989 ad for the brand shot by Ellen von Unwerth, starring a then-17-year-old Claudia, the 30-year anniversary shoot see the mother-of-three reprise the role that first made her famous.

She has been around as long as the internet...  Well, not really, but she did more to build it than Al Gore, (NSFW link) if you know what I mean.

Shockingly, for a supermodel, she doesn't come from Brazil.  She hails from Rheinburg, in the old West Germany in 1970.

While best known for standing around making minimal clothes look good, she has also done a little bit of film work, in 14 films, including Zoolander (2001), in which she got to play, now this is tough, herself.

That's enough.  Still going after all these years. More pictures below the fold.


Jellyfish Shut Down Nuclear Plant

Chain of Salps
The workers of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant received a very slimy surprise this week when they discovered hoards of jellyfish-like creatures clinging to the structure, leading to the shutdown of the plant.

The organisms, called salp, are small sea creatures with a consistency similar to jellyfish.

The influx of salp was discovered as part of the plant’s routine monitoring system, according to Tom Cuddy, the senior manager of external and nuclear communications for the plant’s operator, Pacific Gas & Electric.

“We then made the conservative decision to ramp down the affected unit to 20 percent and continued to monitor the situation,” Cuddy said. “When the problem continued, we made another conservative decision that it would be safest to curtail the power of the unit.”

The salp were clogging the traveling screens in the intake structure, which are meant to keep marine life out and to keep the unit cool.

“Safety is the highest priority,” Cuddy said. “We will not restart the unit until the salp moves on and conditions improve. No priority is more important than the safe operation of our facility.”
Hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus)
My local power plant, Calvert Cliffs has had problems with organisms causing problems with it's intakes.  While salps are not found in the more brackish region of the Bay, in at least one instance, a small flatfish, called the Hogchoker, has been pushed into the intakes in such numbers that the plant was at least forced to slow. We have lots of jellyfish, many more than I expect even a bad salp bloom could be in the Pacific, but likely our plant is designed to accommodate them.

Like Diablo Canyon, CCNPP have traveling screens to screen out organisms and large debris, and the place where they dump back into the Bay is one of my favorite places to fish.  The material coming out of the screens acts as a chum line, and often attracts many Stripped Bass.  I call them the "Pez Dispensers" because often you can pop multiple stripers out of a small area one after another.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Osprey Study Looks at Bay Toxics


Osprey study yields clues about Chesapeake Bay's health

...Lazarus, a University of Maryland doctoral student and part-time federal researcher, and Rattner, a veteran ecotoxicologist, are collecting osprey eggs in bay-region waters to check for pollutants in them.

The work is part of a three-year, several-hundred-thousand-dollar study by the U.S. Geological Survey, their employer.

Their youth and experience make them a fascinating scientific duo. And they picked a majestic creature to study.

Sometimes called the fish hawk, the osprey is a brown-and-white bird with a 5- to 6-foot wingspan. It is so big it is often mistaken for a bald eagle.
You have to be pretty ignorant to mistake one for a Bald Eagle.

Toxic chemicals can seep into rivers, where they get into fish. Ospreys eat only fish, so the pollutants can build up in them.

Ospreys "are great sentinels for what's in the food chain," Rattner said...
 I like my Ospreys, and I'm glad that pollutant levels have declined to a point that they have become very abundant in our area.

Sierra Club Plans Veto on Gas Dock Conversion

The actual dock portion of the Cove Point LNG facility
Dominion to move forward with Cove Point project

Dominion Resources, the Richmond, Va.-based energy producer, said Thursday it will move ahead with plans to convert a liquefied natural gas terminal at Cove Point in Calvert County into an export facility — a decision that drew the immediate objection of the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club said it has a right to reject the project, citing a legal settlement that the environmental group said prevents Dominion from exporting the fuel to other countries, instead of just importing it.

But Dominion disagreed with the group's assertion.

"We have reviewed the regulations and agreements governing the site and are confident that we can locate, construct and operate a liquefaction plant at Cove Point," said Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion's chairman and CEO, in a statement.
The onshore storage tanks at Cove Point
The natural gas terminal at Cove Point (aka, "The Gas Docks")  has long been known to me. It's visible from our beach, just on the horizon.  When I arrived in this area in 1985 and started working on the water, co-workers pointed out that it had been built to import natural gas, but that the market had fallen flat, and the facility was never used as such.  It sat vacant, except for a skeleton crew to keep it protected and intact for many years.  In the early 2000s it was put into operation the first time, and soon began receiving 2-3 ships per week.  In the last several years, that flow has trickled to nothing as the US has become far more self sufficient in natural gas production, largely due to fracking, which is, just coincidentally, one the reasons the Sierra Club gives for opposing it now.
Environmentalists, however, say the expansion at the Cove Point terminal would damage the Chesapeake Bay. They also object to "fracking," the hydraulic fracturing technique used to extract shale gas.
I think I've made my position on fracking abundantly clear.  I haven't seen any evidence of excessive environmental damage, and as far as fossil fuels go, natural gas is a good one.  Frack, baby frack!  
Dominion won approval from the U.S. Department of Energy to use Cove Point for exporting up to 1 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas to about 20 nations with which the United States has free-trade agreements. The company is seeking federal permission to allow shipments to any foreign country, except those barred because of embargoes.  Other federal, state and local approvals also are required before Dominion can build a gas liquefaction plant at the 1,100-acre site three miles south of the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant.
What I don't understand is how the Sierra Club would have the right to veto an agreement  of the company with the federal government, who has given it permission to turn it into an export facility.
The Sierra Club said it can weigh in on expansion plans at the terminal near Lusby under a settlement the group and the Maryland Conservation Council reached with the facility's then owner. The 1972 settlement was revised several times, most recently in 2005, and barred new construction on the site and limited the terminal's operations to importing liquefied natural gas without the permission of the two groups, according to the Sierra Club.

"We have the right to go to court if we can't persuade them of their errors," said Craig Segall, an associate attorney with the Sierra Club. "We think the language is clear."

Dominion said it's "confident" that the settlement allows the company to build a plant at the terminal.

Your Daily Moment of Aww...



Found at Theo's.

Your Friday Monkey Dacker Cougar Lover

A Little Family Recital While Commuting



Not my families kind of music; we might do Black Peter...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Not Today Either


Oh, the sweet smell of dog roast...
A reminder of an incident in 2003 when Mitt Romny and his sons save a family and their pet dog from drowning

Gov. Mitt Romney rode to the rescue over the weekend during a vacation trip -- using his Jet Ski to help pluck a New Jersey family and their dog out of Lake Winnipesaukee after their boat sank.

The drama began at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, as Romney and his family were relaxing at their lakeside summer home in Wolfeboro, N.H.

Gubernatorial son Josh Romney told the Herald yesterday that he and brother Craig were cleaning the beach while their father puttered in the garage when the quiet night air was pierced with screams.

"We heard a whole bunch of screaming," said Josh Romney, who immediately hopped onto his Jet Ski. "We tore out of there and my dad hopped on the other Jet Ski and came out right after us."
...

Your Daily Dose of Stupid

Sen Tom Carper (D-Del) proposes to "Save the Post Office" using wind mills to generate electricity for battery powered delivery vehicles...

Arab Spring: Egypt Legalizes Necrophilia

Maybe...
Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives - for up to six hours after their death.

The controversial new law is part of a raft of measures being introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament.

It will also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14 and the ridding of women's rights of getting education and employment.

So, it's OK as long as they smell fresh?

Hmm, this one looks fresher....


As Stacey, over at the other McCain says:

So if you’re an Egyptian guy and your 14-year-old wife turns you down for sex, just kill her and get “one for the road,” eh?
 Only one in six hours?  Stacey must not be that ambitious.

Spotted at the Other McCain's
Well past the "use by" date









Special Thanks to Wombat-Socho for picking up this and other links in his special Thursday edition of Rule 5 Sunday.

They're Gonna Crucify You

“kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean: they’d go into little Turkish towns somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they’d run into, and they’d crucify them.”

“That town was really easy to manage for the next few years,” Armendariz added.
Ann Althouse, explains that this is just an analogy, certainly you don't have a problem with that.

Armendariz, in his now mandatory semi-apology...
"I apologize to those I have offended and regret my poor choice of words. It was an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation's environmental laws,
... noted that this is a common law enforcement pattern; faced with limited resources, prosecutors focus on a few bad actors and try for the most draconian penalty permitted under law, in hopes of discouraging others. 

One has to grant some truth to this, but in the case of giant oil companies and corporations there are some issues.  In particular, I doubt that the EPA truly selects the "first five" companies.  Some selection criteria is employed, and there is likely to be considerable political influence on how the target companies are selected.  Do they support the current administration?  Do they contribute heavily to their local politicos?  Do they use selective prosecutions to steer non-legislative goals (for example the anti-fracking effort that EPA is clearly moving toward):
In 2010 his office targeted Range Resources, a Fort Worth-based driller that was among the first to discover the potential of the Marcellus Shale gas field of Pennsylvania — the biggest gas field in America and one of the biggest in the world. Armendariz’s office declared in an emergency order that Range’s drilling activity had contaminated groundwater in Parker County, Texas. Armendariz’s office insisted that Range’s hydraulic fracking activity had caused the pollution and ordered Range to remediate the water. The EPA’s case against Range was catnip for the environmental fracktivists who insist with religious zealotry that fracking is evil. Range insisted from the beginning that there was no substance to the allegations…

For a year and a half EPA bickered over the issue, both with Range and with the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas drilling and did its own scientific study of Range’s wells and found no evidence that they polluted anything. In recent months a federal judge slapped the EPA, decreeing that the agency was required to actually do some scientific investigation of wells before penalizing the companies that drilled them. Finally in March the EPA withdrew its emergency order and a federal court dismissed the EPA’s case.
And really, how would it play it we said we were going to "crucify" a few EPA administrators?  Would that pass the civility test?
Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reports that a woman starved to death after embarking on a spiritual diet that required her to stop eating or drinking and live off sunlight alone.
I'm tempted to make some sort of joke about vegetables.  Plants photosynthesize, with rare exceptions (and always involving plants) animals don't.  I'm sure she considered herself to be a scientific expert as well.
The Zurich newspaper reported Wednesday that the unnamed Swiss woman in her fifties decided to follow the radical fast in 2010 after viewing an Austrian documentary about an Indian guru who claims to have lived this way for 70 years.
 As Ace points out, there's a reason they call them fakirs.

However, most of us understand this sort of talk to be metaphorical, kind of like "Walking on Sunshine".  In real life, that turns out to have a Wiley Coyote sort of result.

Spaceship Lorton

County uses reclaimed water to irrigate golf course, little league fields.

Well, Not exactly a spaceship, but a step towards a more closed and sustainable plan for water in the region:
Starting next month, more than 400 million gallons of reclaimed water – bath, sink and laundry water that would have gone into the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay - will be captured and reused to irrigate the golf course and little league fields. Reclaimed water will also be used for ball field irrigation at Lower Potomac Park and for energy processing at the Covanta Energy Resource Recovery facility.

In May, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will officially launch the water reclamation project at the Noman M. Cole Jr. Pollution Control Plant on Richmond Highway. The project, which began in 2009, is partially funded by $6.5 million in federal stimulus funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Clean Water Revolving Fund Loan Program.

More than 500 million gallons of treated reclaimed water will be stored at the Covanta Energy Resource Recovery Facility. The use of reclaimed water means that Fairfax County can conserve drinking water, preserving an estimated two million gallons of drinking water per day, according to county officials, and will generate revenue.
There isn't a  whole lot of exciting news around the Chesapeake Bay today, so I settled on this piece, and given my role in the water supply for our area, it's more exciting to me than it is to most of you, I guess.  Water supplies are being challenged in our region.  Most of the area is on wells, and the shallower cheaper aquifers are near their maximum utilization.  The Potomac and Patuxent Rivers, also sources of drinking water here,  are also near their maximum practical use, so reusing "gray" water to irrigate on a large scale makes a lot of sense.  One of the better uses of Stimulus funds that I've heard.

Haven't We Seen This Sitcom Before?

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis Spend Weekend Together

Not that I care, but it's a good decent excuse to post some Mila Kunis cheesecake..


Inspired by "Live At Five" by Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain.


People Who Get Tattoos Drink More

Tattooed and drinking - check
People with tattoos drink more than their tattoo-less peers, a new study from France suggests.

The researchers asked nearly 3,000 young men and women as they were exiting bars on a Saturday night if they would take a breathalyzer test. Of those who agreed to take it, the researchers found that people with tattoos had consumed more alcohol than those without tattoos, the researchers said.
Is anybody shocked by the fact that people who get tattoos are more likely to drink, and generally move to the edges of society's norms?  I hope not.

Why Can't I find a Job?
Previous studies have shown that tattooed individuals are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex, theft, violence and alcohol consumption, compared to people without tattoos.
 I obviously picked the wrong brand of science.  I picked stupid water chemistry and biology, when I could be questioning people about their drinking and sexing habits (not to mention criminal behavior).
Tattooed on ovaries - are you kidding me?
The researchers suggest educators, parents and physicians consider tattoos and piercings as potential "markers" of drinking, using them to begin a conversation about alcohol consumption and other risky behaviors.
Not bad, just a hint of gaudy
On the other hand, I doubt if Dana Loesch got drunk to have her tattoo put on; she probably just bit a bullet:



Special Thanks to Wombat-Socho for picking up this and other links in his special Thursday edition of Rule 5 Sunday.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Star Wars - The Music Video



From the ONT, of course.

Some Day I'll Get Tired Of It...


...But not today

The Perfect Whopper

I did see cheese in there, right?

Watermen Becoming Fishers of Men


Old skipjack trains watermen in Southern Maryland for tourism work
A remembered past meshed with a hoped-for future on April 15, when a historic fishing boat set out from Cobb Island on its first journey since its renovation.

Aboard the restored skipjack were more than two dozen watermen, there to learn how to harness tourism to stay on the water as fisheries decline and regulations increase. The bay’s poor health threatens one of the state’s oldest industries and the people who practice it, working the water for oysters and crabs as well as rockfish, menhaden and other finfish.
The skipjack is the the traditional sail vessel used to harvest oysters in Chesapeake Bay.  At some point along the way, dredging off a vessel under power was made illegal as a conservation measure (making it harder to catch oysters made them catch less).

Several skipjacks around the Bay have been converted to tourist vessels.  I have yet to ride one. I doubt I would, unless it were free or exceptionally easy; I've had enough hours on the Bay on both power boats and sail boats of all sizes that I don't need another.  And God knows, I don't need a lecture on oysters from an old waterman.

I do wonder if there is enough tourist market to support many more such operations.  But, options are becoming limited for watermen who want to stay on the water; the fishery isn't going to support many skipjacks. (IMHO it should support none, given my long standing belief that oysters need at least a 5 year moratorium).

Kids Propose to Clean Baltimore Harbor

A new device called an algae turf scrubber is being used to help clean the water in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

The device works by pumping polluted water into a shallow screened trough, and as the water flows through the trough, algae from the water attaches to the screen, experts said.

Once it's attached, the algae cleans the water, and the clean water is pumped back into the Inner Harbor.

"We know for sure that algae, just by the very fact that it's growing, removes nutrients. Because it's photosynthetic, it's adding oxygen to the water just by doing what it normally does," said Spencer Carroll of the Living Classrooms Foundation. "We know that it increases water quality, but we don't know to what extent."

Students at Living Classrooms have created a scale mode of the algae turf scrubber to learn about the system and conduct their own research.
Go look at the video at the site (alas, it was not embeddable).   Pretty cool construction for a bunch of kids, and a good way to learn some biology.

As for cleaning the Harbor?  Well, not so much. The scale of a system necessary to clean the Harbor would be a significant fraction of the size of the harbor itself, and while I'm sure there is some wasted land around Baltimore to use, I would guess the amount and cost of the land would be prohibitive, never mind the energy costs of running the pumps to power the thing.  You could burn the algae to run the pumps, but that would release the nitrogen (one of the main pollutants they're trying to trap) back out into the air, unless they installed a power plant sized air scrubber.  You get the idea.

And besides, Baltimore's bigger pollution problem is toxic materials sequestered in the sediments, and while the algae will take some out of the water, it would require geologic times to remove a the toxic metals and organics from the sediments.

Gaia and Climate: The Thrill is Gone

James Lovelock, Inventor of 'Gaia', abandons catastrophic global warming

'Gaia' scientist James Lovelock: I was 'alarmist' about climate change
James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his “Gaia” theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being “alarmist” about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too.

Lovelock, 92, is writing a new book in which he will say climate change is still happening, but not as quickly as he once feared.

He previously painted some of the direst visions of the effects of climate change. In 2006, in an article in the U.K.’s Independent newspaper, he wrote that “before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.”

However, the professor admitted in a telephone interview with msnbc.com that he now thinks he had been “extrapolating too far."
So, what has him singing the blues about catastrophic global warming?
“The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened,” Lovelock said.

“The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now,” he said.

“The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time… it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising -- carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that,” he added.

He pointed to Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and Tim Flannery’s “The Weather Makers” as other examples of “alarmist” forecasts of the future.
He's more open minded than many scientists half his age. At least he considers the actual data in making his judgements.

Stupidity at 2,500 Frames Per Second

But it sure looks like fun...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Musical Intermission

I know, I already put up an Orlianthi video tonight, but...

Closing the Indian-Pakistan Border

One of the most heavily militarized borders in the world


A view of the Indian-Pakistan border at night.  I presume the continuous orange line is the border lit up by sodium vapor lamps.

The link comes from Charlie, and the picture from the Artless Dodger.

She'll Remeber Her Wedding Day

Because she can always find it on YouTube.

In Northern California where rogue waves are a known issue.

Embedding is disabled; Go see it here.
 

Americas Early Hybrid Cars

A cool article by Jay Leno on the first true hybrid car manufactured and sold in the US, the 1916 Owen Magnetic:

People think hybrids are something new, but they've been around since the beginning of the automobile. Ferdinand Porsche built the Lohner-Porsche series hybrid car back in 1901. It used a gas engine to spin a generator that fed electricity to in-wheel motors. In 1917, the Woods Motor Vehicle Company of Chicago offered the Woods Dual Power, a series hybrid that could motor along—at speeds of less than 15 mph—solely on battery power. But I think the 1916 Owen Magnetic might be the most interesting early hybrid of them all.

The Owen Magnetic's technological leap was its electromagnetic transmission. Invented by the wonderfully named Justus B. Entz, an electrical engineer from New York who once worked with Thomas Edison, the electromagnetic transmission compactly housed both a 24-volt generator and an electric traction motor. The crankshaft of a 75-hp gas engine was attached to the generator, which sent juice to the traction motor, which in turn powered the rear wheels. There was no mechanical connection between the engine and the drivetrain.
 It appears to have been a pretty advanced car for the time, and maybe that was it's downfall:
So why did the Owen Magnetic company fail in 1922, after producing just 700 cars?

The ads called it the car of a thousand speeds. But as is sometimes the case, being better isn't always enough. The car had to be competitively priced. A 1917 Ford Model T cost $360; Cadillacs ran about two grand. An Owen Magnetic started at $3700 and went up from there.

Another problem was the complicated relay-and-wiring shift mechanism. It's mounted under the hood alongside the steering column. I haven't opened mine up because it seems to work fine. And, quite frankly, I'm frightened to poke around in there. A plate on it says, "If something goes wrong, do not attempt to work on this yourself. Send it back to the factory." Who would want a car that a blacksmith couldn't fix?
So basically, it was a old time Fisker, without the government subsidy to keep it alive.  Ford made a car that everybody could afford, and most of them could afford to have fixed.

Don't Want to Have a Fat Bay...

A strained  analogy here by Tom Horton.  Fatter folks, sicker bay
In the United States, obesity-related health problems are soaring. The standard revolving door has gone from six to eight feet, and hauling our ampler butts costs airlines a quarter-billion more in fuel than it used to. The proportion of normal-weight Americans is at an all-time low.

But what's a fat book got to do with the state of the Chesapeake Bay? Around the world, coastal waters have gotten fat. "Eutrophic," or overfertilized, is the technical term, from the Greek for well-fed. Dead zones like the bay's occur in more than 40 regions of the world.

It's intriguing to compare graphs tracking these declines to graphs in Messrs. Power's and Schulkin's book that track the U.S. upsurge in fatness...
Ah yes, the confusion of correlation and causation.  In the classic statistics text (at least for me) "How to Lie with Statistics", Darrel Huff uses the example of the correlation between the price of rum in Jamaica and preachers salaries.  A pretty strong relationship with no particular causal mechanism, except both are a response to monetary inflation.

Of course, the relationship between human nutrition and eutrophication in the bay is really no coincidence.  The Bay is eutrophied for two related reasons.  First, the number of people in the Bay watershed, spewing nutrients in sewage and in the air, and from nutrients used in agriculture. 

The large number of people that the Bay supports is due to nutrients, nutrients used to raise adequate crops to feed humanity.  Without added nutrients, particularly fixed nitrogen, we simply couldn't grow enough food to support all our people (or alternatively, we could convert all arable land to farmland).  Look around you, who do you want to starve to death?

This is not the say that we shouldn't dispose of our wastes properly (it's practically a sin to was the fixed nitrogen in sewage by blowing it off into the air (denitrification) when it could be reused to grow more crops).  And we should manage our fertilization so as to waste as little as possible by spilling it into the Bay.

But the holier than thou attitude about people and the bay is tiring.  Tom, if you really feel that way, do your part to save the Bay by leaving.  May I suggest North Dakota?  The farmers there will really appreciate the message.

Was it Something I Said?

Kurt Cobain Reincarnated in Peru



There appears to be (or have been) a show like American Idol (which I steadfastly refuse to get interested in) called "Yo Soy" ("I Am", in Spanish), which has people on who do impressions of well known artists. There was also a pretty good Amy Winehouse (below). Maybe they need to be dead to be memorable. Check out the hot judge. Somethings are part of the script: