Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

The Myth of the Gender Pay Gap

Last week, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) released a study on the gender pay gap, the claim that women are paid less than equally-qualified men. The AAUW study limited itself to new college graduates, hoping to show that a pay gap exists even before women marry and bear children, which most academic studies find to be the main drivers of gender pay differences. The AAUW study generated the headline result – the only one that really matters – that new female college grads are paid only 82 cents for each dollar of male earnings...

But in preparing for an NPR program discussing the study, I ran some quick numbers using data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. I limited myself to full-year private sector workers with a bachelors degree who were ages 21 to 26 in 2009-2010. Within this group I controlled for age, race, Hispanic and immigrant status, detailed geographic location, weekly work hours, college major and occupation. Controlling for college major accounts for the fact that men tend to choose majors that lead to higher earnings later in life. Controlling for occupation captures “compensating wage differentials” for positive or negative aspects of the job. For instance, dangerous or unpleasant jobs may pay more, while jobs offering flexible hours or more generous benefits might pay less. Including all these controls, the gender pay gap for young college grads drops to around 1 percent.
So when women are willing to man woman crab boats in the Bering Sea, they can get paid like the deckhands on the crab boat in the Bering Sea. Until then, they should should shut up and enjoy with their less physical, safer, more convenient, lower stress, and more flexible jobs.

Fallout From Hurricane Sandy Continues

A couple of articles on the effects of Hurricane Sandy on the Bay:

Flood warning remains in effect along Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River
Forecasters are warning water levels will continue to rise in the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River, which could cause coastal flooding.

A flood warning remains in effect through Wednesday morning for waterfronts in Baltimore and Harford County and areas along the Potomac River in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

The National Weather Service says moderate tidal flooding is expected throughout Tuesday and into the evening. Water levels could rise two to four feet above normal tide Tuesday.
You know it's bad when Capt. Mike turns down a charter...

Sandy leaves ecological damage in its wake
Tens of millions of gallons of raw and only partially treated sewage spilled into U.S. rivers and estuaries because of mega storm Sandy, officials say.

A sewage treatment plant in Savage, Md., near Baltimore, spewed 2 million gallons an hour for about 15 hours into a Chesapeake Bay tributary, due to a storm-related power outage, state and county officials said.
It always happens when it rains; and Hurricane Sandy made it rain hard.

PBS Newsman Resents Loss of Media Monopoly

...PBS News Hour co-anchor Jeffrey Brown said during a weekend talk at Western Washington University.

A generation ago, before cable news channels and internet news sources, most people got their news from the same small collection of sources: three major TV networks and a hometown newspaper or two, Brown said. People gathered around their televisions for the assassination of a president, a walk on the moon, and other major events.

"It was an age of mass media news, one audience sharing a common experience," Brown said. "For the most part, the mass audience experienced such things together."
Benghazi is demonstrating how important it has been to bust the media monopoly.  All the "mainstream" media networks, with the exception of Fox, have tried strenuously to spike the story, at least until after the election, and Obama is safely in office for the duration (or not).
"For the most part, we now live in the world of niches," Brown said.

He acknowledged that the availability of more choices was a good thing, but also noted that the change seems to be part of a far more divided and bitter political atmosphere.

"If we only connect with like-minded people, how do we hear other views?" Brown asked. "It's hard not to feel it has some relationship to the divisions around us."
I, for one, have no problem hearing the liberal side of arguments.  I get the WAPO in the morning, and see CNN and MSNBC on the tube regularly (although, I confess, I can barely bear to linger any length of time on the puerile MSNBC).

That's Just Guitar Abuse

Mega church pastor beaten to death with electric guitar
A North Texas congregation is reeling after an attacker rammed a car into a church wall, chased the pastor, and beat him to death with an electric guitar. Police told reporters they didn't know why the unidentified suspect attacked Rev. Danny Kirk Sr., founding pastor of the Greater Sweethome MIssionary Baptist Church.In a harrowing 911 call an unidentified church secretary said that some staff tried to fight him off but that Kirk was in desperate need of an ambulance.
The unidentified assailant apparently drove his car into the church wall on purpose shortly before noon. He then began to attack Kirk in the parking lot before chasing him into the church, according to Forest Hill Police Chief Dan Dennis.

When police arrived they found the suspect striking Kirk with an electric guitar they believe was already in the church.  When police arrived they had to use a Taser to subdue the man, handcuffed him, and locked him in their patrol car. Sadly it was too late for Kirk who had already died.
I hope it was least a cheap guitar, a Squire or First Act...

Mr. Dependable

An obvious and very funny parody of Obama's "Your First Time" video.

If this amuses you (or if you just want a few more to annoy a liberal with):

See Boyfriend,  and Feeling Guilty. 

Wombat-Socho included this in his weekly "Rule 5 Sunday: Medicine Show!"

Self Healing Concrete?

The concrete contains limestone-producing bacteria, which are activated by corrosive rainwater working its way into the structure. The new material could potentially increase the service life of the concrete - with considerable cost savings as a result.
Bacterial spores and the nutrients they will need to feed on are added as granules into the concrete mix. But water is the missing ingredient required for the microbes to grow.

So the spores remain dormant until rainwater works its way into the cracks and activates them. The harmless bacteria - belonging to the Bacillus genus - then feed on the nutrients to produce limestone.

The bacterial food incorporated into the healing agent is calcium lactate - a component of milk. The microbes used in the granules are able to tolerate the highly alkaline environment of the concrete.
Neat idea, but I'll bet something faster growing and more aggressive get the the lactate before the desired bacteria.  Nature is perverse that way.

Found at Althouse.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Should I Quit While I'm Ahead?

Hurricane Sandy: Troubled Water for the Bay

The Bay news collection has the usual post storm analysis about how all the water and sediment washing down in to the bay will be the downfall of the bay:

Hurricane Sandy poses environmental threat to Chesapeake Bay
More than a hundred million tons of dirty sediment mixed with tree limbs and junk float behind the Conowingo Dam, and Hurricane Sandy, a giant faucet nicknamed “Frankenstorm,” could send it pouring into the Chesapeake Bay.

This is just one of the potentially devastating environmental scenarios biologists are fearing as Sandy churns up the Atlantic coast. In the Hampton Roads area that includes Norfolk — where the earth is sinking and the sea level is rising, a potential storm-water flooding nightmare — officials are hoping that meteorologists are correct in their prediction that the storm will pass them by.
Pretty much a cut and paste story by now, change the name of the storm, and you can publish this one every time a hurricane or tropical storm threatens the Bay.  I notice that this one was published on the 27th, a day ahead of the main effects of Sandy.

Meanwhile, another reporter rode it out on a place he wouldn't ordinarily visit on a bet: On Tangier Island, riding out Hurricane Sandy
Tiny Tangier Island hung on for dear life Monday as Hurricane Sandy lashed the fragile strand of land in the Chesapeake Bay, flooding its narrow lanes and sending rising waters into homes.

"My house is rocking, but I think she will stay here … hope so, anyway!" Bonnie Swift wrote in an email Monday afternoon. "We are under water … power goes on and off (but) still have Internet for now."
About the same situation I had, 100 ft above the bay (except for the flooding part).  At least until our cable died.  There's a reason we picked a house at the top of the hill rather than the bottom.

And finally, some real effects of the storm: Virginia portions of the Chesapeake Bay closed to shellfish harvesting due to flooding, rain
[Virginia] Officials say heavy rainfall from Hurricane Sandy has caused extensive flooding and that shellfish from those areas is currently unacceptable for consumption because of potential microbiological and chemical pollution hazards.

The affected shellfish are bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or other fish. The agency says eating shellfish from the closed areas could lead to illness.
And I expect a rack of trash to wash up on the beach in a week or two.  Remember you heard it here first,

Obamacare Mentions Breasts 44 Times...

... and prostate glands, zero, according to Christine Hoff Sommers at NROAnn Alhouse offers five excuses reasons for this apparent discrepancy in the interest between the site of the classic women's cancer, and the classic men's cancer, and other acts of sex discrimination in the legislation such as "elaborate and expensive networks of special programs to promote women's health."
1. Focusing on breasts works for everybody: Men love breasts and women feel cared for.
Of course, men love breasts, and women love breasts (but I notice they appreciate my appreciation less as time goes on).  As Tracey McCain points out in "Rule 5", "Everybody loves a pretty girl," and breasts are one of the primary distinguishing characteristics of a pretty girl".  Still, girls have other pretty parts that are not subject to the same attention, so that can't be the sum of it.
2. Treating women's bodies as a special problem, requiring special attention, works for the most retrograde traditionalists and for progressive feminists.
I hate to credit the democrat interns and low level staff members who really wrote this 2000 page hunk of shit with thinking that deeply; I find it very unlikely that they could put themselves into the minds of neanderthals retrograde traditionalists even if they tried.  Nevertheless, I will consider a possibility for the professor's sake.
3. Women tend to monitor their health and consume more health care services, especially these preventive programs. There are no programs for men, because men wouldn't respond to programs. The main use of men is getting them into the insurance pool to contribute to the cost of caring for women and children.
This is almost certainly true, but why in the world would a legislative act set up to force health care rationing have special treatments for women who already consume the majority of health care?
4. Women actually need and deserve more care. Men are expendable. There is a shared social interest in preserving the women for reproductive purposes, for the maintenance of stable households, for the nurturing of children, and for looking after the elderly.
I tend to regard this as an artificial split from excuse reason #3, both views a result of a difference in the outlook of men and women (at least in America).  Men tend to have a more individualistic outlook, that they will earn what it takes to keep them and theirs healthy, while women tend to see society as a giant support agency for people, following the somewhat dated but still largely observed split between the largely male role of provider and the largely female role of nurturer.  With government taking the role of the providers, who needs men?  Women can just enjoy nurturing each other while they starve and freeze in the dark.
5. Gender politics work, but only on women.
Now we get down to the crux of it; women and liberal democrats whine about discrimination in education even as the schools in higher education come to be dominated by women; they whine about being discriminated against in business, but they do not try to start or enter business in the same numbers, and they whine for discrimination in sports because they could never be able to compete with the best male athletes in any sport requiring a modicum of strength.

But professor, as a law professor, you are seeking a single answer when, as it usually is in biology or any field relating to organisms, all of the above...

44 and not a prostate in sight...  Wombat-Socho included this in his weekly "Rule 5 Sunday: Medicine Show!" Linked at The Classical Liberal "Gucci Galore", too.

There is a Morning After...


We slept downstairs last night, just in case a big limb or a tree should decide to come crashing through the roof. Fortunately, no such thing happened, and we even managed to get a little sleep. Counter to my expectations, and even as Sandy passed by near Delaware Bay, the winds continued to weaken overnight, until this morning they are somewhere near 15 knots, from the south.

We kept power through the storm, with a few blips. However, as I wrote last night, we lost cable early, and we a forced to rely on the cell phones and IPad for communications. Oh, the horror!

At this point, the rain gauge shows a mere 7 inches of rain fell here, and although it's still raining, it's not hard, and don't expect much more than another inch or two.

A quick circuit of the house and yard shows no problems; a slight leak upstairs where leaves in a gable caused water to back up is the worst thing. The yard looks like leaf hash, but again, contrary to my hopes and expectations, the winds didn't strip the trees and I can expect a long fall of leaf collection.

The boat is fine, the scuppers are still clear from yesterday's deleafing, and the bilge pump is still strong. Because of the direction of the wind, the Bay, at least on our side is calm.

I understand the storm hit New York hard, over 11 ft of surge at The Battery. Hopefully, not too many were killed or injured by the storm.

UPDATE: Cable came back around 9:30.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Good Night (I Think)!

OK, the lights flickered a bunch of times, and the cable died, so I'm posting by IPad. That's probably it for the night! Wish us luck!

Cold Fusion - Maybe Not Fusion But Still Useful?

...Sifting through physics literature, Larsen considered other nuclear reactions that could subtly produce energy. One candidate was radioactive decay, which occurs when unstable atomic nuclei release energy in the form of radiation. Some elements found in nature, like radium, undergo this decay. Could something in the cold fusion apparatus be doing much the same? Larsen formulated a theory showing how that could happen, and in 2004 he recruited Northeastern University theoretical physicist Allan Widom to hone his ideas.

Their theory showed how a film of negatively charged electrons covering the palladium could combine with positively charged protons from the water’s hydrogen atoms to form neutrons. Those neutrons could then be gobbled up by nearby lithium nuclei, disturbing the delicate balance of protons and neutrons that keep the nuclei stable. The lithium nuclei would rapidly decay, first into beryllium and then into helium, and emit radiation. Finally, the film of electrons would absorb the radiation and reemit it as heat. Widom and Larsen called this chain of events a low-energy nuclear reaction, or LENR—a more accurate and palatable term than cold fusion. The European Physical Journal C published their theory in 2006.

The paper did not make a splash at first. By then, scores of wild-eyed papers had claimed to explain cold fusion. Yet Widom-Larsen theory had more going for it. For one, it had the authority of a respected theorist in Widom. It also had the ring of plausibility: It proposed a phenomenon permitted by the known laws of physics, no new science required. “Widom-Larsen theory is the best formulated explanation of what’s going on,” says Ephraim Fischbach, a Purdue University physicist who is not involved in LENR research...

So far, Larsen still has only a theory and some circumstantial evidence. But if LENRs could be proved and tamed—a very big if—the effect could be transformative. Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA Langley, wrote in an online article that LENRs could potentially satisfy the world’s energy needs at a quarter the cost of coal. Zawodny adds to that enthusiasm in an accompanying video. “If we were to have such a thing,” he says, “it would be the sort of technology that would fuel our future growth and expansion and have the ability to raise the standard of living of the entire world.”
 That would be very, very cool... Found at Instapundit.

Evening Update

I took advantage of a little let off in the storm to go out and check the boat at high tide, and clean off all the leaves (for now).  Everything looks good for now; hopefully it will ride through all this until I can get down there tomorrow morning. I stopped at the beach for a couple of pictures...
Hopefully I won't have to go out for anything more tonight (except to walk Skye, of course).

Last update had the storm just offshore and speeding up.  For us, faster is better.   Peak winds should arrive sometime tonight.

We Just Lost Power, Twice

Only short blips, less than a minute each, but it doesn't bode well for the remainder of the day.

Outages already starting to occur:

Stunning if True

Somebody needs to go if this is correct:
The decision to stand down as the Benghazi terrorist attack was underway was met with extreme opposition from the inside. The Washington Times‘s James Robbins, citing a source inside the military, reveals that General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, who got the same emails requesting help received by the White House, put a rapid response team together and notified the Pentagon it was ready to go. He was ordered to stay put. “His response was to screw it, he was going to help anyhow,” writes Robbins. “Within 30 seconds to a minute after making the move to respond, his second in command apprehended General Ham and told him that he was now relieved of his command.”

Could Sandy Tip the Election to Romney?

From a post by Ann Althouse:
Sandy's coming, and the waters may flow up into the low-lying East Coast cities. If coastal cities flood and the people there — who are disproportionately Democratic — get distracted by their personal difficulties or find it hard to get to the polls, then the upstate folks — who may be more Republican — will have greater power to tip the state's electoral votes to Romney.

I'm thinking in particular of Pennsylvania, a swing state with 20 electoral votes, where Obama's been polling ahead. Sandy may hit Philadelphia hard. Look at the county-by-county results from the 2008 election. You can see that upstate, Republicans had the majority. Sandy's waters could suppress the coastal vote and leverage upstate power.

It was 4 years ago that Obama gave that grandiose "this was the moment" speech where he said "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow...." What irony if the rise of the oceans thwarts his reelection!
Irony indeed! This has the superficial feel of possibility, but one needs to remember that Sandy will also produce inland flooding and rain as far away as Ohio, and Ohio is possibly the key to the election (yes, there are routes to success for both candidates without Ohio, but they're strained).  She also proposes similar results in Wisconsin due to high waves affecting Wisconsin and Illinois.

Too hopeful to be true. And the libs would bitch forever if it happened.

Midday Monday Update

Around noon I went out to pick up some milk (don't ask), and stopped by to look at the Bay from the overlook at Calvert Beach.  The Bay is pretty roiled up, but not extremely so.  The wind is currently around 25 knots, under Tropical Storm strength again.  It continues to rain, and we're up to about 3.5inches of rain, and raining steadily.
I dropped by the boat, to check the lines and the bilge pumps.  Everything looks OK so far.  It's already collected dusting of leaves; I may want to go down before evening and clean them out to keep the scuppers clear.

NPR Promotes Vegetable Rights

Forget Abortion! NPR Promotes The 'Rights' and 'Souls' of Plants
As liberal reporters obsess and nearly faint in the waning days of the campaign that conservatives would dare to assert a right to life for a human being conceived in rape, offers a better idea: Plants deserve rights. The NPR headline: “Recognizing the Right of Plants to Evolve.”

Unborn babies have no rights...unlike the sensitive weeds in your garden? Pro-choice, but anti-chili pepper?
They say a liberal is someone who wouldn't take his own side in a fight.  I dare a person who supports this point of view to live without eating animals or plants selectively bred (artificially evolved) to produce food for humans.  Bear Gryles might manage it, but not your average New York/Southern California vegan hippie liberal.

Tall Ship Abandoned, Two Lost, in Hurricane Sandy

14 rescued, 2 missing from tall ship off NC
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) -- The Coast Guard has rescued 14 members of the crew forced to abandon the tall ship HMS Bounty caught in Hurricane Sandy off the North Carolina Outer Banks. The Coast Guard is searching for two other crew members. It corrected the total number of crew to 16 from 17...

The director of the HMS Bounty Organization, Tracie Simonin, said that the tall ship left Connecticut last week for St. Petersburg, Fla. She said the crew had been in constant contact with the National Hurricane Center and tried to go around the storm.
It's only a thousand miles in diameter, how tough can it be to go around it?   Imagine the kind of destruction a storm like that left back in the days of yore when thousands of such ships plied the ocean, and your warning of the storm amounted to dark clouds on the horizon.

Thanks to Pete.

They Call it Stormy Monday...

... But Tuesday's just as bad. Or worse, most likely.

 Just leave the video running for additional, better known versions of Stormy Monday.

A brief progress report so far for Hurricane Sandy's effect on us here in Southern Maryland. Since yesterday afternoon it has rained more or less steadily, but not hard. So far we have a total of about 3 inches of rain. After yesterday morning, the wind slacked a little, from 35 knots sustained, back down to a more comfortable 20 knots. It's rising again and after a brief spell at 40 kts, is back down to 35 knots. Minimal Tropical Storm strength. Our power is good so far, but we've had a couple of blips and had to reset our clocks. Work has been cancelled, so I can either work on the computer at home, of loaf. Time for another cup of coffee. Life is tough.

Stay tuned for further updates...

Wombat-Socho included this in his weekly "Rule 5 Sunday: Medicine Show!"

Boy With a Coin

By Iron and Wine

Wombat-Socho included this in his weekly "Rule 5 Sunday: Medicine Show!"

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Who's on First?

The Obama campaign for women's votes keeps shooting blanks and drawing derision.  Even as he continues to pound on the theme, his support among women slides, threatening to erase the women's side of the gender gap (while strengthening the male gender gap in favor of republicans).

First the "Life of Julia" theme, the Obama campaigns story about how a girls goes though life living off government aid, which was roundly ridiculed, most notably by Iowahawk.

Now, the star and creator of "Girls", produces this eminently mock-able video "Your First Time" about how a girl should do it her first time with Obama (it being vote, of course).  Lot's of people have questioned its taste (from a sexual point of view), but I simply find to be inane and ludicrous, and likely counter productive to getting votes from the independents, libertarians, and however unlikely, conservatives:

Thanks goodness.

and of course, here comes the inevitable parodies...

The Problems With the Panetta Principle

“(The) basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on; without having some real-time information about what’s taking place,” Panetta told Pentagon reporters. “And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.”
As I pointed out last night, missions where the real-time information is poor is precisely the reason for the creation of such rapid reaction forces, like the SEALS, and the Army Rangers.   However, Jonah Goldberg delivers even more damning observation:
...Panetta says they didn’t have real-time information. Uh, if having a live video feed and real-time reports from assets on the ground for hours doesn’t count as real time information, what does? And, if as rumors suggest, the drones monitoring the situation were armed, the idea that the administration was trying to avoid some kind of “black hawk down” situation seems incomprehensible.

Which brings us to the second, I think bigger, problem with the Panetta doctrine. If the circumstances in Libya didn’t meet the “enough information” threshold for a rescue attempt or some other form of intervention, then what does? And, note, Panetta & Co. make it sound like the decision to let the Americans on the scene twist in the wind was sort of a no-brainer, not a difficult decision. So what happened in Libya didn’t even come close to the threshold for intervention.
And concludes:
According to the Panetta doctrine, the very essence of what makes a surprise attack a surprise attack likely precludes any commitment of U.S. forces to repel it. The message to our diplomats and troops: You’re on your own. The message to terrorists: As long as you keep your attacks minimally confusing, you win.
And that's a message you don't want to send.

"These People Have No Honor"

Democratic Operative Pat Caddell on the muzzling of the Benghazi story in the media.  We expect Ann Coulter to take this view; but Pat Caddell? The fireworks start about 1 min. in:

Hurricane Sandy Looms at the Beach

Skye and I met Joel and Red right on schedule down at the beach.  It's pretty obvious that the effects of Hurricane Sandy are making themselves felt even now.  The wind was up to 25 mph sustained with gusts to 30 and rising steadily.  They are now up to 35 sustained and gusts of 40.  Tropical Storm strength winds are considered to start at 39 mph (34 knots).
The wind seemed to be mostly coming out to the ENE, which is not a friendly wind for the beach.  Coupled with a low tide that was higher than Mean Higher High Water (MHHW) and approaching Maximum Astronomical Tide (MAT), there wasn't a lot of beach available for walking in the narrow places.  At high tide, I don't expect to see much beach
Skye made the mistake of stepping in some quicksand formed by the water pooling in the creek behind the sand bar at Charlies Creek, and fell in and flopped around trying to get her footing again.  Joel thought I was mean to let her flop while I took pictures, but he didn't step forward to grab her collar...
No problem, though, eventually she found her footing again and came bounding out.
A long shot down the Bay to the Gas Docks.  The long zoom makes the waves look bigger than they really are.
 A couple with a pair of dogs came down to observe too.  A pair of dogs?
 This one didn't look too happy with the weather.
Boats in Flag Harbor.  Even with the raise in the dock height, it looks like the storm surge will cover the dock at times in the next two days.  That's my little boat on the left foreground.  It should be OK; it's got a fresh battery to run the bilge pump, but I'll probably need to check it a few times, tide permitting, to keep the scuppers free of leaves.

Two Benghazi Defenders Killed 60 Attackers

A short distance from the American compound, two Americans were sleeping. They were in Libya as independent contractors working an assignment totally unrelated to our embassy. They also happened to be former Navy SEALs. When they heard the noise coming from the attack on our embassy, as you would expect from highly trained warriors, they ran to the fight. Apparently, they had no weapons, but seeing the Libyan guards dropping their guns in their haste in fleeing the scene, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty snatched up several of these discarded weapons and prepared to defend the American compound.

Not knowing exactly what was taking place, the two SEALs set up a defensive perimeter. Unfortunately Ambassador Stevens was already gravely injured, and Foreign Service officer, Sean Smith, was dead. However, due to their quick action and suppressive fire, twenty administrative personnel in the embassy were able to escape to safety. Eventually, these two courageous men were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers brought against them, an enemy force numbering between 100 to 200 attackers which came in two waves. But the stunning part of the story is that Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty killed 60 of the attacking force. Once the compound was overrun, the attackers were incensed to discover that just two men had inflicted so much death and destruction.

As it became apparent to these selfless heroes, they were definitely going to lose their lives unless some reinforcements showed up in a hurry. As we know now, that was not to be. I’m fairly certain they knew they were going to die in this gun fight, but not before they took a whole lot of bad guys with them!
Meanwhile, the music in the game of "musical chairs" to find out who takes the blame is slowing down, and it looks like the Department of Defense under Leon Paneta is going to be left standing:

General Patraeus, head of the CIA, categorically denied that anyone at the CIA had refused to send aid:
"No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. ”
Then the White Kouse denied denying aid as well:
"Neither the president nor anyone in the White House denied any requests for assistance in Benghazi," wrote National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor in an email to Yahoo News.
Leaving Leon Pannetta to take the fall:
(The) basic principle is that you don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on; without having some real-time information about what's taking place," Panetta told Pentagon reporters. "And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.
Isn't that what rapid reaction forces are all about?  Doing the hard but necessary jobs with limited information?
A rapid reaction force is a military or police unit designed to respond in very short time frames to emergencies. When used in reference to police forces such as SWAT teams, the time frame is minutes, while in military applications, such as with the use of paratroops or other commandos, the time frame is hours to days.

Rapid reaction forces are designed to intervene quickly as a spearhead to gain and hold ground in quickly unfolding combat or in rather low intensity conflicts, such as uprisings that necessitate the evacuation of foreign embassies. Because they are usually transported by air, such military units are usually lightly armed, but often extremely well trained to compensate for their lower calibre weapons and lack of heavy equipment like tanks

Tsunami Warning from British Columbia Quake

Magnitude-7.7 earthquake strikes off western coast of Canada, tsunami warning issued
A magnitude-7.7 earthquake has struck off the coast of western Canada and a tsunami warning has been issued. There are no immediate reports of damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey in Colorado says the quake hit the Queen Charlotte Islands at 11:14 p.m. Sunday local time (0314 GMT) and was centered 96 miles (155 kilometers) south of Masset, British Columbia.

The National Weather Service has issued a warning for coastal areas of British Columbia, southern Alaska, Northern California, Oregon and Washington state. It says the warning area includes Craig and Sitka, Alaska
If it ain't hurricanes, it's earthquakes and tsunamis.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pre-Sandy Beach Report 10/27/12

It was a pretty raw day, not too cold, about 60 F, but blowing moderately hard.  While I was comfortable in a T-shirt, this might well be the last time this year that's true.
Our fall color, such as it is, is about peaked.  If the winds from Sandy are anything like what is being predicted (sustained winds of 40 mph with gusts to 50), our trees should be pretty well stripped by Tuesday.  Which might be a good thing; I'll only have to clean up leaves in the yard once.
The eagles were out and about, but the photography didn't go so well.  I saw five at one time at one point, one sitting in a tree and four flying, and at least one set were dog fighting. We strongly suspect a second mated pair is trying to establish a territory in our stretch of beach and are being resisted by the original residents.

I may or may not get a chance to go tomorrow, as rain bands from Sandy move in.

But, But, But, Berlusconi!

Silvio Berlusconi four-year sentence quickly cut to one year
Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, was sentenced to four years in prison for tax evasion, only for the prison term to be reduced swiftly to one year. The court in Milan said the reduction was a result of a 2006 amnesty law, passed by a rival Left-wing government, aimed at reducing prison overcrowding.

Its decision to cut his sentence by 75 per cent was a reminder of how Mr Berlusconi, despite numerous marathon legal battles and four previous guilty verdicts, has never been to prison.
The real crime, of course, is that Silvio monopolizes an altogether unfair number of Italy's beautiful women (some of whom aren't even Italian).  It's so unfair of the 1% to monopolize the resources. 
Mr Berlusconi's lawyers appealed minutes after the pronouncement of the first conviction, which included a five-year ban on holding public office.

Given the shorter sentence and their client's record of running down the legal clock and winning appeals, the colourful 76-year-old politician and tycoon is unlikely to spend time behind bars in the near future, if at all.The statute of limitations in the case is set to expire sometime next year.

Defence lawyers Piero Longo and Niccolo Ghedini denounced the guilty verdict as "incredible".
Are conjugal visits allowed in Italy?  Will they queue out the door of the prison?

He has been tried numerous times for his business dealings as head of the Mediaset empire and AC Milan football club, beginning before he was elected to the first of his three terms as premier in 1994.

He has always denied wrongdoing and alleged that the cases were politically motivated. In each case to date, he has been cleared or seen the statute of limitations expire.

He is also on trial in Milan on charges of paying for sex with an under-age teenager and trying to cover it up. He denies the allegations.

The court found that Mr Berlusconi and 10 co-defendants were behind a scheme by Mediaset to purchase the rights to broadcast American films on his private television networks through a series of offshore companies, and had falsely declared the payments to avoid taxes.

Prosecutors said that they inflated the price for the TV rights of some 3,000 films as they re-licensed them internally to Berlusconi's networks, pocketing the difference that amounted to 250 million euros.
I knew it! It was all George Bush's fault all along!

Previous coverage of the trials and tribulations of Silvio:
Eye-Talians Hava da Besta Scandals
Bonus Berlusconi!
Bunga Bunga, Berlusconi!
Buono Berlusconi!Berlusconi Forever!
Our Man Berlusconi...
Berlusconi Defense: I Did It For My Country!
Say It Ain't So, Silvo!
Silvio! Silvio!
Tiring of Italy, Burlesconi Set His Sights on Argentina

Wombat-Socho included this in his weekly "Rule 5 Sunday: Medicine Show!" at the Other McCain. Linked at The Classical Liberal "Gucci Galore", too.

Preparations for Sandy

With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on us (expected to get serious Sunday evening), we spent much of the morning and afternoon preparing.

We removed most of the potential missiles from our yard; all the lawn furniture, potted plants etc that can be moved in have been.  That cycad gets bigger and more obnoxious with every move.

We have plenty of water (over 50 gal) set aside for drinking, flushing toilets, and cleaning, in case the propane at the water company runs out before it can be refilled.

We just went out and bought batteries in a variety of sizes, and we have all our rechargeable batteries charging.  That will ensure that I can fully document the extent of the damage with the digital camera.

We have a deep cycle boat battery at home, fully changed, and on our trip out we bought an inverter so we can run some AC stuff of the battery if necessary.  I got the last inverter at West Marine in Solomons.

If we don't loose cell service, we should continue to have contact with the world and be able to blog through the IPad even if we're out of power for some time.  But that's a big if.

We  swapped an empty tank of propane for a full one, so we can cook on the outdoor grill, which will ride out the worst of the weather in the garage.

Time to go take a file to the chain saw's chain and touch it up, and make sure I have a tank of premixed gas and oil for it.

Our worst fear is trees falling on the house; we live in a nice wooded setting, but that has it's drawbacks at times like this.

Draw the necessary inferences. This is important.

Petraeus: "No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate." William Kristol:

"So who in the government did tell 'anybody' not to help those in need? Someone decided not to send in military assets to help those Agency operators. Would the secretary of defense make such a decision on his own? No. It would have been a presidential decision. There was presumably a rationale for such a decision. What was it? When and why—and based on whose counsel obtained in what meetings or conversations—did President Obama decide against sending in military assets to help the Americans in need?"
I can't beat that.

Rule 5 Saturday - Once Upon a Time - Now!

Once upon at time (uh, like now), there was a show on ABC (on Sunday nights at 8 PM if you intend to watch).  It was very loosely based on a number of fairy tails.  The "hook" is that the town of  "Storybrooke, Maine, has a number of fairytail character marooned in our world by a curse.  The plot is complicated, contrived, and not worth following, but to make up for it they have a number of good looking girls.  Starring as Emma Swan, the bail bonds woman supposed to break the curse is Jennifer Morrison (left), leaving the reality of 130 episode of house for some fantasy.

As the maleficent queen, Lana Parrilla (of Bootown, Swingtown and Miami Medical) glowers darkly as Regina Mills, whose curse caused the whole affair.

While Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love,  Mona Lisa Smile, Something Borrowed and He's Just Not That into You) seems clean and innocent in the role of Snow White/Mary Margret Blanchard.

Recently, Meghan Ory, with a long and diverse resume, joined the cast as Ruby, the avatar of Red Riding Hood.  Look! See!  Red and Hood! Riding!

That's enough.  Just more pictures below the jump.  You sort 'em out...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Today's Drudgetoposition

That made me a little sick...

It Shows, Barry

From JD at Patterico:
LENO: Here’s Samantha from Colorado: “When you help your daughters with their homework, is there a a subject you struggle with?”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, the math stuff I was fine with up until about seventh grade.

LENO: Yeah.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: But Malia is now a freshman in high school and — I’m pretty lost.

Seventh grade math wouldn't cut it in my lab.

Biden vs. Biden

A Bikini Doesn't Make You Smarter or More Coordinated

But it helps you fail cuter.

Wombat-Socho has his Sunday Rule 5 extravaganza with "Half Your Age", in some cases, one third of mine. Also linked at the Classical Liberal "Rule 5 Bad Reputation", with Joan Jett and the Foo Fighters.

Your Friday Monkey Dacker Genius

Baby macaque monkey bears striking resemblance to Albert Einstein

Thursday, October 25, 2012

White House Comments on Terrorist Reports

When asked about reports showing that the administrations was notified within two hours of the Benghazi attacks, that the Al Queda affiliated group Ansar Al Sharia had taken credit for the attacks (and the attacks were not, as the claimed for two weeks, the reaction to the film trailer for "Innocence of Muslims"), the administration responded:
“I have been asked by one of our spokespeople to relay ‘that we decline to comment,’”
Former Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens, former Navy Seals Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, and former Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith could not be reached for comment, either.

Credit to Curious George at Althouse.

China Foils Obama's Foreign Fund Raising

The Chinese government has blocked access to a Web site used as a conduit for donations to President Obama’s re-election, The Post has learned.

The action comes following a report in Sunday’s Post that the site had been registered to Robert Roche, an Obama campaign bundler who lives and works in China.

An analysis by the Government Accountability Institute found that gets almost half its traffic from foreign computer addresses.
But, you might argue, there's no evidence that Obama's campaign is accepting the money from unverified, or even declared foreign addresses. But there is:
I’ve been able to donate $25 to the Obama campaign in three separate transactions, despite being a lifelong British citizen resident in the UK. What’s more, two of my donations were processed despite the Obama campaign noting that I had provided a non-U.S. address, and despite my failure to provide proof of American citizenship when asked to do so.
As a control, I then tried to make a donation to the Romney campaign, entering the same information. This time, I was asked for the three-digit CVV number, and when I clicked “donate” I was immediately informed that the address I had entered did not match the address on file for the card.
Good for the Chinese, but forgive my suspicion that they are beginning to think they may have to deal with a President Romney, and this might be a bit of placation. 

Chickenshit Suit Goes to the Judge

Testimony wrapped up Wednesday in the federal court trial of a lawsuit accusing an Eastern Shore poultry farm and Perdue of polluting a Chesapeake Bay tributary, but a ruling isn't likely until later this year.

After 10 days of hearing witnesses and legal arguments, U.S. District Court Judge William M. Nickerson directed lawyers for the Waterkeeper Alliance, Berlin farmers Alan and Kristin Hudson and the Sallisbury-based poultry company to submit post-trial statements by Nov. 14, with responses due a week later. He tentatively set Nov. 30 to hear closing arguments in the case.
Alan Hudson said he and his wife, who denied letting any poultry manure get in a nearby drainage ditch, hope to "put this nightmare completely behind us."

A spokeswoman for Perdue, which is fighting allegations it should share liability for any pollution, said it expected to be vindicated. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Assateague Coastal Trust, a Berlin-based member group of the Waterkeeper Alliance, said testimony presented at the trial raised "troubling issues" about the state's oversight of farms to prevent water pollution.
My title expresses my feelings of this suit adequately.  I think this was a case where the EPA set out to crucify the first five farmers they could find to get the attention of the rest.

Reporter Flips over Loose Fish

News Reporter Flips For Fish Out Of Water - Watch More Funny Videos

I'm pretty impressed she picked it up and held it in the first place. And I like the dress out on the jon boat. I've heard of a "field tuxedo", but never a "field cocktail dress".

Wombat-Socho has his Sunday Rule 5 extravaganza with "Half Your Age", in some cases, one third of mine. Also linked at the Classical Liberal "Rule 5 Bad Reputation", with Joan Jett and the Foo Fighters.

The Shark Jumps California

In addition to its financial woes, California appears to under assault by sharks.  Two stories today on sharks in California.  The first, of course, is that fatal shark attack on a surfer near Lompoc:
A 39-year-old man surfing off Surf Beach near Lompoc was pronounced dead Tuesday after he was pulled from the water suffering from an apparent shark attack.

A friend pulled the victim onto the sand and started CPR while another surfer called 911. The victim was pronounced dead at the beach, which is about 60 miles northwest of Santa Barbara on Vandenberg Air Force Base (map).

The victim was identified as Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., 39, of nearby Orcutt. An initial investigation said he was "bitten by the shark in the upper torso area," according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department. Solorio was not affiliated with the military base, according to a press release from Vandenberg, which initially said the victim was 38 years old.

Solorio's fatal injury appeared to be a shark bite, and his surf board had "visible signs of bite marks," according to Lt. Erik Raney of the sheriff’s department's Santa Maria station. The sheriff's department did not have details regarding the type of shark involved in the attack but had contacted an expert to confirm the injury, the Vandenberg release stated.
It's almost certainly a case where a Great White mistook the surfer for a more delectable meal (a sealion or elephant seal), made an initial strike to disable and bleed out the prey, realized the prey was not what it had expected (neoprene skin and fiberglass board instead of skin and blubber), and left it.  Not a pleasant way to die, but one of the risks you must accept to surf in California (or almost anywhere else for that matter).

The second "attack" is more of a whimsical affair:   Live Shark Drops Onto San Juan Capistrano Golf Course.
Imagine this: You're having a pleasant afternoon with your buddies, playing the links at San Juan Hills Golf Club. You arrive at the 12th tee box at the San Juan Capistrano course and there you see it: A shark, very much alive and thrashing around on the grass.

OK, so it was only a 2-foot-long shark, but still.

"Shark falling from the sky, kind of odd," said Melissa McCormack, director of club operations at San Juan Hills.

The fish was actually found about 4 p.m. Monday by a golf course employee, who picked it up, put it into the back of his golf cart and drove it to the clubhouse, she said. A group of golfers had just left the tee before the shark was spotted.

The shark had two puncture wounds, which made McCormack think a predatory bird had scooped the fish up out of the water, dropping the shark down onto the course. She first relayed the story to the Capistrano Dispatch.
Still, that's a pretty big shark to fall out of the sky.  At two feet, it ought to be in the 3-5 lb range. There are only two likely candidate birds, in my opinion.  A Bald Eagle could probably handle a shark that size, but I'm not so sure about Ospreys.  I think that might seriously stretch an Ospreys carrying capacity.  I have seen Ospreys on the California Coast area (near Pismo Beach there seem to be quite a few), but I have never seen a Bald Eagle.  Not to say there couldn't be a few about. According to this California Dept. of Fish and Game site, there is at least one pair on Catalina Island.

Perhaps these attacks on California are a delayed and geographically displaced (sharks aren't necessarily in a hurry, nor terribly smart) atrocity committed to sharkdom in the Philippine Islands.
A Facebook picture of a girl 'surfing' a captured whale shark has sparked outrage among environmentalists and animal lovers.

The girl, identified as Carinn Lestolis, her family and other tourists gathered around the shark in the waters of Barangay Granada in Boljoon, Philippines, after its tail was tied to a post.

They were seen petting the three-metre long fish just off shore while fishermen held on to it. Miss Lestolis was then helped onto the creature where she appeared to use it as a surfboard.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

GM:Deadbeat of America

Swiped from Ace's.

Halloween Horror Show On the Bay

Barry Levinson's 'The Bay' Is A Fictional Horror Movie Meant To Save The Real Chesapeake 
Born, raised, and still a proud resident of Baltimore, Maryland, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Barry Levinson (Diner, Rain Man, Good Morning, Vietnam) has used his native home as a backdrop to many of his films—but never quite like this.

His new film, The Bay, documents a Fourth of July on the tranquil shores of the Chesapeake Bay. The seemingly benign holiday quickly takes a terrifying turn when mutating isopods begin to eat swimmers and water drinkers from the inside out.

Where exactly did the fast-growing parasites come from? The combination of agricultural pesticides, random pollutants, and steroids-in-chicken-manure that have been dumped into the bay, which have (in fact) rendered the Chesapeake 40 percent dead.
I'd like to know where that statistic comes from.  The bay now probably has as much or more biomass as it did when the white men colonists first arrived. The effect of eutrophication is to increase the biomass of algae, and other generally unwanted organisms dramatically.  Even the so called "dead zones", the anoxic areas of the bottom during summer, are teeming with anaerobic bacteria.  It may not be life that we desire, but it is "alive" and perfectly natural.

“Eighty five percent of the story is based on facts,” says Levinson, in an exclusive interview with TakePart. “In most cases we aren’t making this stuff up.”

The Bay opens on November 2.
The trailer

It might prove amusing, if I'm allowed to roll on the floor of the theater laughing...

Chesapeake's Big Bang Gets Bigger

The Chesapeake Bay impact crater, an impressive 80-plus miles across, may actually be a little bigger than that.

State and federal scientists following up on a water-well permit have determined that the crater disrupted aquifers and left a rocky debris field at least as far south as Carrollton in Isle of Wight County.

Significantly, at this location, the disrupted rocks and soil are still able to transport water, which is not the case in most of the crater.
The impact crater lies under the Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Shore, as well as parts of Hampton Roads and the peninsulas. It was created some 35 million years ago by a meteor smashing into what was then a shallow sea.

The crater, thought to be at least a mile deep, has been filled in over the centuries and is not visible on the surface.

"The biggest impact crater in the United States, and the sixth- or seventh-largest in the world, and it's right under your house," said hydrologist Randy McFarland of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Cross sectional view of crater
Water - or the lack of it - is the crater's lasting legacy. The blast destroyed aquifers across the region and trapped saltwater, making it difficult or impossible to drill freshwater wells in many locations.

McFarland joined other longtime crater researchers Tuesday at an empty lot in the Ashby subdivision, where 500 feet of core samples revealed that the crater's debris field extends farther southwest than had been mapped before.
The bolide that struck the Atlantic Ocean where the North American coast occurs in our modern era (it hasn't always been in the same place), is generally thought to have created the conditions that formed the Chesapeake Bay. The giant crater, left a deep depression and caused the rivers of the Atlantic Coastal Plain that mostly travel southeast to the ocean, to dump into the giant hole.  The crater now is not visible at the surface, was certainly a traumatic event when it occurred, near the Eocene, Oligocene boundary.  An impact that large like caused a massive extinction event on North America, and likely affected the worlds climate for a long time.

But it's OK, because it made my fishing hole.

In a Parallel Universe, Things Didn't Work Out So Well

Wombat-Socho has his Sunday Rule 5 extravaganza with "Half Your Age", in some cases, one third of mine.

That's Just Mean

I like it...

Are they responsible for heart attacks or soiled garments?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Evolution's Hiccup

Most researchers imagine the initial oxygenation of the ocean and atmosphere to have been something like a staircase, but with steps only going up. The first step, so the story goes, occurred around 2.4 billion years ago, and this, the so-called Great Oxidation Event, has obvious implications for the origins and evolution of the first forms of eukaryotic life. The second big step in this assumed irreversible rise occurred almost two billion years later, coinciding with the first appearances and earliest diversification of animals.

Now a team led by geochemists at the University of California, Riverside challenges the simple notion of an up-only trend for early oxygen and provides the first compelling direct evidence for a major drop in oxygen after the first rise.

“Our group is among a subset of scientists who imagine that oxygen, once it began to accumulate in the ocean-atmosphere system, may have ultimately risen to very high levels about 2.3-2.2 billion years ago, perhaps even to concentrations close to what we see today,” said Timothy Lyons, a professor of biogeochemistry and the principal investigator of the project. “But unlike the posited irreversible rise favored by many, our new data point convincingly to an equally impressive, and still not well understood, fall in oxygen about 200 million years later.”

According to Lyons, this drop in oxygen may have ushered in more than a billion years that were marked by a return to low-oxygen concentrations at Earth’s surface, including the likelihood of an oxygen-free deep ocean.

“It is this condition that may have set the environmental stage and ultimately the clock for the advance of eukaryotic organisms and eventually animals,” he said.
From the point of view of the early inhabitants of earth, the first rise of the oxygen atmosphere was more dire than anything global warming climate change has to offer us. Free oxygen is a deadly poison to those organisms that lived in the primordial soup, and the presence of oxygen was like an atmosphere of cyanide to us.  Perhaps the initial rise of oxygen led to a global ecological catastrophe that all but halted the green, photosynthetic revolution until a new community evolved to cope with it.

Or maybe a comet or ice age did it.  Speculation is fun.

Evolution in Action

First, a hint.  If you click on the link above, be prepared to hit the stop button before the page finishes loading and takes you to a page demanding that you sign up.  If you miss it, hit the back button and the stop.

For decades now, Chesapeake Bay oysters have been ravaged by two diseases that nearly wiped them out. Dermo and MSX and the parasites that cause them are still rampant in high-salinity waters of the bay and its tributaries, but research from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) suggests native oysters are developing a resistance to them.

"They're organisms living sort of in an evolutionary space, and they had to develop some resistance or disappear," said Ryan Carnegie, research associate professor at VIMS in Gloucester Point. "We still see some disease, and they still die. But it's just not as bad in the wild oysters that have been exposed as it used to be."
This is pretty rapid for evolution to be at work, but there is tremendous selective pressure, and lots of scope for selection to operate. Disease runs through the oyster populations like a plague, often killing the majority of them, leaving the disease survivors (some of them resistant) to breed.  Oysters have short generations times.  They start to breed in their first year (mostly as males), and rarely live longer than a few years before watermen, disease or predators take them.  Thus, there are frequent extreme selection events. 

However, not all are convinced that natural oysters are evolving disease resistance on their own:
Oyster expert Jim Wesson with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC), calls it a "double-edged sword" that oysters grow best in saltier waters that likewise have the highest disease mortality. Wesson is not persuaded by Carnegie's conclusions.

"I'm not totally convinced that there's any significant resistance," Wesson said. "I think we're managing around it better."
...Wesson is in the midst of VMRC's annual fall oyster survey and said he's finding it hard to find big, healthy oysters in the high-salinity, high-disease areas he's targeting.

"It's not black and white, what's going on," Wesson said. "If resistance was really out there, we ought to be seeing a lot of 4- and 5-year-old oysters."
I'll reiterate my plan for oyster restoration.  Ignore them for five years.  No fishing, no planting.  If they're not making a comeback, they won't, at least under the current state of the bay.