Sunday, March 31, 2013

Feathers, Flowers, Fossils and Fur at the Beach

A strong southeast breeze brought in warm air today, almost 60 F by the time we got ready for the beach walk.  The Bay had white caps, but the Flag Harbor jetty protected the beach on the north side.  It was threatening rain, but it never quite made it.
 A fly over by the local Osprey.
Coltsfoot was in flower in many areas of the cliff today, one of the first of many wildflowers to come.   You can see fragments of fossil coral and shell in the soil that it's growing in.
Here it is growing on some of the cliff getting ready to slide off. 

Coltsfoot is a perennial herbaceous plant that spreads by seeds and rhizomes. Tussilago is often found in colonies of dozens of plants. The flowers, which superficially resemble dandelions, appear in early spring before dandelions appear. The leaves, which resemble a colt's foot in cross section, do not appear usually until after the seeds are set. Thus, the flowers appear on stems with no apparent leaves, and the later appearing leaves then wither and die during the season without seeming to set flowers. The plant is typically between 10 - 30 cm in height.
Skye was happy to get out.

Daffodils growing down the cliff.  Probably left over from gardens of long ago which have slipped over the edge.

And the Buffies are still hanging around.

Reign of Pain Redoubled - Easter Edition

In the ongoing war to convince the nation that they made a horrible mistake by allowing the plan that the Obama administration wrote to cut back all federal spending to an annual growth rate of a mere 1% a year, akin to the introduction to of the Black Death to Europe from the rats off eastern traders ship, their efforts to inflict pain on those who would deny them the funds to which they feel entitled continues:

Feds tries to renege on money already paid out to states - U.S. government seeks $18 million refund from timber counties:

...Thirty-one House members sent a letter to the Obama administration last week protesting demands for refunds of $17.9 million in revenue that pay for schools, roads, search and rescue operations in rural counties, as well as for conservation projects.

“For the administration to announce three months after the disbursement of these payments that they are subject to the sequester, and that states will receive a bill for repayment of funds already distributed to counties, appears to be an obvious attempt by President Obama’s Administration to make the sequester as painful as possible,” said the letter organized by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and signed by 30 others, including Democrats.
Tidwell (Forest Service Chief) said the money needed to be repaid because it was sent out in fiscal 2013 and is included under the 5.1 percent across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
Let's see, the feds cut loose dangerous illegal aliens in anticipation of sequester cuts that had not happened yet, but the Interior Department sent out money they did not expect to have?  Somebody needs to make sure that the Federal government is paying attention to the money.  Who could that person be under our system of government?  Maybe the feds should just give the land in question to the states and forget the subsidies?  Naw, no opportunity for political favoritism there.

This is seen as a whip by the administration, punishment for it's enemies in rural areas, who almost without fail, even in solid Blue States like Oregon and Washington, vote red and send Republicans to the House.

Speaking of spanking the rural counties that don't vote for Obama - Legal efforts to pursue mine safety claims cut under sequestration
Upper Big Branch Mine Memorial
As the third anniversary of the Upper Big Branch mining disaster approaches, legal teams assembled by the Labor Department to force mine operators to improve safety are beginning to be dismantled. The move is being heavily criticized by some members of Congress, the miners union and families of the 29 Upper Big Branch miners who were killed in the April 5, 2010, explosion.

“They should have made the cuts somewhere else. This was to make mines safer,” said Gary Quarles, whose son Gary “Spanky” Wayne died at Upper Big Branch in West Virginia. “Here we are, and it is about to be the third anniversary . . . . We thought something good might come out of it. This is wrong.”
Labor Department officials said the project was meant to be temporary and that sequestration cuts accelerated the timetable for “drawing down” the number of lawyers assigned to it. Department officials said the cuts will save $2.1 million.
Frankly, I'm torn; I have a hard time believing anything that causes federal lawyers to  become unemployed is a bad thing; but my guess is that they'll merely be shifted to somewhere else, and the cuts lack of growth will occur with less favored workers.

Meanwhile, the President and his family continue a pattern of celebrating, and spending money and inconveniencing the public with security costs, after the White House shut down the citizen tours of the White House to save security fund, somewhere between $17,000 and 74,000 a week, depending on who you believe.

Obama attends Syracuse-Marquette basketball game
President Barack Obama attended one of the weekend's big college basketball games after playing a round of golf Saturday.

Obama's motorcade took him directly from a golf course at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland to Washington's Verizon Center to watch Syracuse and Marquette play for a berth in the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament. He left shortly before the end of the game, which Syracuse won 55-39.
And where was the rest of the family?  You could save money on motorcades if you did things together as a family. Apparently, their spring vacation trip to the Bahamas having caused them to overheat, his daughters caught the next commercial flight, air force jet to Sun Valley, Idaho, for some skiing...
A local news affiliate in Idaho reports that the Obama daughters are spending Spring Break skiing at Sun Valley.

"Sun Valley is known to be a getaway for celebrities and the First Family is no different," reports KMVT.

"In an exclusive photo obtained by Idaho's First News, you can see the First Daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama skiing at River Run Thursday. The Sun Valley Ski Patrol confirms the girls were enjoying the wonders of the mountain. We also received unconfirmed reports the daughters were staying at Thunder Spring in Sun Valley."

Earlier, it was reported that the Obama daughters were at a resort in the Bahamas for Spring Break.

Both reports could be true: The Obama daughters could have spent the first half of the week in the Bahamas, before leaving the sun for the Idaho snow.
What with Tiger Wood giving the Pres golfing lessons; perhaps they arranged for his new main squeeze Lindsay Vonn to give the girls some skiing tips.  It's good to be the king!

Happy Easter!

I hope the Easter Bunny brings brought you something nice...

Linked at Pirate's Coves weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday and Pinup." Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain came through with 2 weeks worth of Rule 5 posts at "Rule 5 Sunday: Super Double Coverage Illness Makeup Edition."

Cyprus Scalping to Become Beheading?

Under conditions expected to be announced on Saturday, depositors in Bank of Cyprus will get shares in the bank worth 37.5 percent of their deposits over 100,000 euros, the source told Reuters, while the rest of their deposits may never be paid back.

The toughening of the terms will send a clear signal that the bailout means the end of Cyprus as a hub for offshore finance and could accelerate economic decline on the island and bring steeper job losses.

Officials had previously spoken of a loss to big depositors of 30 to 40 percent.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday defended the 10-billion euro ($13 billion) bailout deal agreed with the EU five days ago, saying it had contained the risk of national bankruptcy.
Why would anyone leave money in any bank in the European Union after this?

As Ace points out, this is like the pilot of a crashing plane offering the passengers a part ownership.

Charles Krauthammer suggests that Apple could buy the whole island with cash on hand, and still have some to spare:
“What’s amazing here I think is how small Cyprus is and how relatively small the problem is,” Mr. Krauthammer told Shannon Bream, was filling in for host Brett Baier.

“I mean, this is one country that Apple could purchase, and have a lot left,” he continued. “It could own the island and call it, you know, iCyprus or something, and have all this cash left over.”
Maybe they should save it for iFornia.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Capitalist Scum Cut Workers, Get Bonuses

The publisher of the struggling Washington Post made over $2.4 million last year, and at least three other executives made over $3 million while the left-leaning newspaper slashed benefits for its employees and laid off others.

According to Securities and Exchange filings reviewed by the Washington City Paper, publisher Katharine Weymouth earned $2,436,413 in salary and bonuses last year. Her "haul came from her $625,000 salary, a bonus of $611,413, and a $1,200,000 payment for a 2009-2012 incentive plan." She also "received a 3.5 percent raise this year, with her new salary set at $646,875." She received her raise even though The Post Co.'s share price fell three percent in 2012.

The Post has reduced benefits for its employees while dumping its Ombudsman and slashing jobs after Valentine's Day, while advancing the narrative that CEOs who do the same are villains. The paper has lost subscribers, advertisers, and its stock has gone down by three percent.
And the paper has gotten noticeably thinner over the last few years.  It can't die fast enough.

And by way of Instapundit, BONUS HYPOCRISY:  PBS's Mark Shields: 'The Rich Are the Scum of the Earth'

Spring is Sprung at the Beach

It was a  pretty nice spring morning at the beach, absolutely no wind, and temperatures rising rapidly from the high 40s to the 50s, and not a cloud in the sky.

Someone bravely anticipating the return of real beach weather.
Despite a fairly low and falling tide, there was water in front of the cliff at Calvert Beach.  However, Skye decided that it was no obstacle, and waded across and refused to come back, so I had to get my feet wet to go and get her.

Come on in! The water's fine (if you have no sense of temperature).

With the low tide, lack of waves and lots of shell hash, fossil hunting was pretty good; despite the short walk we ended with 17 teeth.  

 Oh noes! Vikings!

The Usual Suspects Fighting About the Usual Things

As happens periodically in the mid-Atlantic, after a few mild years of weather, the White Tailed Deer population close to cities and suburbs explodes because they cannot be effectively hunted in such areas.  Deer and cute and cuddly looking (don't be fooled), but the charm wears off once they start eating the expensive landscaping, crashing into your Prii, and giving you Lyme Disease.  There's not much to be done except encourage the few local hunters left to go after them with expanded seasons and generous bag limits.  

Unless, of course, you're the federal government, and, despite the reign of pain that is sequestration, you can afford to hire sharp shooters to take care of the problem for you.  Then most of your neighbors will be quietly grateful, but a few anti-hunting activists will be wroth with you...

Rock Creek Park deer hunt spurs more protests
The federal sharpshooters in Rock Creek Park are on the lookout for deer drawn to the corncob bait. Wearing U.S. Department of Agriculture jackets and backed up by spotters, the shooters are equipped with night-vision goggles so they can distinguish a doe from a human interloper.
Just don't crawl around Rock Creek Park at night on all fours.  Unless you're a rapist.
Some of the sharpshooters are positioned on the wooded hillsides, and others are on the back of flatbed trucks that creep through the muted stillness of the park, which is cordoned off to traffic. The idea is to aim downward so any errant bullet will sink into the earth. Even the ammunition has been carefully selected to disintegrate in the deer’s body.

Despite the many safety precautions described by National Park Service officials, some residents are continuing to protest the deer shoot, which started Wednesday and will be completed Saturday. Sixty to 70 deer are expected to be shot. After the carcasses are tested for disease, the venison will be donated to food pantries.

The Park Service says that what it euphemistically calls a deer “harvest” is needed to safeguard the health of the park, the herd, and the people who live nearby or use the park. With 70 deer per square acre, the park has about four times the density considered ideal.
70 deer per acre?  That's not a park, that's a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation)!  And I have doubts that even a fourth of that, 17.5 deer per acre is reasonable (on our 2 acre back lot, we do occasionally have a herd of five or more wander by, but they live over a much larger area).  I suspect that some wrong numbers have slipped though the Washington Post's eleventy hundred layers of fact checking here.  Like maybe the difference between acres and square miles?  And acres don't need a square; they're already a measure of area.  Reporters can be so ignorant when they write about $#!* they no nothing of.  Like everything.

But some residents and animal rights activists, who fought a losing court battle to stop the deer shoot, say slaying animals in a city park surrounded by densely packed neighborhoods is barbaric, particularly going into the Easter weekend. They have turned out to protest and established a Twitter account to collect signatures on a petition urging the Park Service to stop the harvest. One person wrote on @rockcreekdeer that the otherwise tranquil park is being turned into a “killing field.”
To be strictly accurate, that should be mostly a "killing forest" as Rock Creek Park is heavily wooded.
“It shows so little respect for the community to do this during Passover and Easter weekend, when everyone in Washington is leaving town,” said Carol Grunewald, a Chevy Chase resident who was the lead plaintiff in a U.S. District Court case. In a March 14 ruling, the judge reaffirmed the Park Service’s authority to kill the deer if it is in the park’s best interest.
Huh?  What does deer hunting have to do with Passover and Easter and everyone leaving town?  
The agency says the abundance of deer threatens the native plant species, endangering the food supply of other animals in the park. Park officials, citing safety concerns, did not allow reporters to observe the sharpshooters working in a stretch north of the National Zoo that is bounded by 16th Street and Oregon Avenue.
I doubt if safety was really the issue; I'm sure they just didn't want the reporters to be taking pictures of the government hunters carrying rifles, and possibly standing over the bloody corpse of Bambi.

I don't live near Rock Creek Park, but if I did I would be happy to have the hunters out to thin the herd.

UPDATE: Blogger Moe Lane suggests NPS release wolves in the park; I second that, and urge the park service to also establish a population of cougars (no, not the older women), to thin the deer and jogger herds.

Rule 5 Saturday - Vikings!

One of the highlight of this TV season has been the history channel show "Vikings", which claims to novelize the beginnings of the Viking depredations of England in the 8th century.  It is largely cast around the Viking warrior Ragnar Lothbrok, played by Travis Fimmel, and Ragnar's wife, shield maiden Lagertha, played by Katheryn Winnick (left).  Ragnar discovers rich (well relatively) and unprotected lands in Britain begins to raid them.

Lagertha is a hard assed Viking woman,whether she stays home to mind the farm while Ragnar is off kicking British butt, or going to raid villages with him.  In a recent episode, in a fit of feminist outrage, she killed a fellow Viking when he tried to rape a defenseless Saxon woman.

This Rule 5 post is devoted to the chicks of "Vikings."

Opposed to Ragnar (at least in Scandinavia, no one seriously opposes him in Britain), is his own Earl, Haraldson, to whom Ragnar nominally owns allegiance.  The Earl is worried about losing ships in the west, and power at home.  The Earls wife, Siggy, is played by Jessalyn Gillis, of Glee fame, or is that infame?  

Siggy is more the stay at home type for a Viking, the wife of what passes for a nobleman in the Viking world.  According to the History Channel:
Earl Haraldson’s beautiful, enigmatic wife is much admired and performs her duties impeccably. She recognizes that her husband has a worthy opponent in Ragnar and encourages the earl’s efforts to best him. Siggy is fiercely protective of her daughter, Thyri, who is nearing marrying age. When it comes to her husband, however, Siggy may be less than loyal.

Katheryn Winnick is a Canadian transplant, well suited to her role as a kick butt glamorous Viking babe:
Winnick was born in Etobicoke, Ontario. She spoke Ukrainian as her first language and did not begin speaking English until she was age 8. Winnick began training in martial arts at age 7 and obtained her first black belt at 13. By age 21, she had started three martial arts schools.
And she looks in good shape, too.  She has an impressive list of film and TV roles, some of which I have even seen...

Gilsig is a good Jewish girl from Montreal, Canada.  Apparently Canada is a good place for women who play at Vikings to be from.  Her role as a crazy heterosexual woman on Glee was not terribly well received, and only lasted 2 seasons:
Terri has been poorly received by critics. The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan has called her "the worst thing about Glee", and the show's "one big flaw". Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly has described her as a "shrill, lying nag", whose main function is to bring the audience down. Gerrick Kennedy of the Los Angeles Times, however, has praised Gilsig's acting in the role, and stated that his hatred of the character dissipated once her fake pregnancy was exposed. He noted that: "Gilsig's superb acting isn't exactly doing anything to extinguish those flames", and while he still isn't "in full-on Team Terri uniform [...] she did at least have my attention on the sidelines, as opposed to filing my nails until halftime. Baby steps, right?"
UPDATE: With the addition of Alyssa Sutherland as Princess Aslaug, I have just added a post dedicated to her: Rule 5 Saturday - The Hot New Viking - Alyssa Sutherland.

More of Lagertha and Siggy below the fold.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Southeastern Utah’s Corona Arch, a towering geological feature glorified last year on YouTube as the “World’s largest Rope Swing,” has claimed the life of a 22-year-old thrill seeker. Kyle Lee Stocking died Sunday while trying to swing from the 140-foot-high arch, which has experienced a surge in popularity during the past year because of YouTube videos and sharing of videos on social media.

Standing out is the “World’s Largest Rope Swing,” a video (posted above below) that has garnered more than 17 million views since it was uploaded on Feb. 15, 2012. (A behind-the-scenes video from the same group garnered nearly 1 million views.)

Because of this popularity surge, the Salt Lake Tribune reports, the destination has come to be known as the “Granddaddy of All Cheap Thrills,” and that climbers recently adapted their gear specifically for swinging like a pendulum from the sandstone arch.

Lt. Kim Neil of the Grand County Sheriff’s Office told the Tribune that the length of rope used by Stocking was “miscalculated and when he swung under the arch, he struck the ground … receiving fatal injuries.”
A better day the Corona Arch Rope swing...

EPA Bay Program Pretty Happy With Itself

The federal agencies leading the watershed-wide effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay have released a progress report highlighting the work that was completed last year.

Federal agencies and state and local partners have added 20 new monitoring stations to the Bay and its tributaries, expanding their ability to track changes in water quality and pollution. They have established conservation practices across Bay farms and forests, installing streamside fencing to keep livestock out of waterways and planting cover crops to reduce the need for nutrient-laden fertilizers. And they have planted close to 100 acres of oyster reefs in a Maryland tributary and opened more than 30 miles of Virginia and Pennsylvania streams to eels, shad and other diadromous fish, restoring habitat for some of the watershed’s most critical critters.
100 acres of oysters!  Why that's as far as the eye can see a drop in the bucket in the Bay's 4,479 square miles.  And 30 miles of streams opened isn't that much when you consider removing a single dam or obstacle, and the Bay has approximately 100,000 streams.

Brits Burning Books...

Volunteers have reported that ‘a large number’ of elderly customers are snapping up hardbacks as cheap fuel for their fires and stoves.

Temperatures this week are forecast to plummet as low as -13ºC in the Scottish Highlands, with the mercury falling to -6ºC in London, -5ºC in Birmingham and -7ºC in Manchester as one of the coldest winters in years continues to bite.
How's that global warming climate change working out? That's right, no warming for the last 16 years, and that since 2009 the winters in jolly old England have been colder than average.
Workers at one charity shop in Swansea, in south Wales, described how the most vulnerable shoppers were seeking out thick books such as encyclopaedias for a few pence because they were cheaper than coal.
With Wikipedia and the rest of the internet, who needs paper encyclopedias from 1930?
One assistant said: ‘Book burning seems terribly wrong but we have to get rid of unsold stock for pennies and some of the pensioners say the books make ideal slow-burning fuel for fires and stoves.

A lot of them buy up large hardback volumes so they can stick them in the fire to last all night.’

A 500g book can sell for as little as 5p, while a 20kg bag of coal costs £5.
OK, lets do that math.  At 500 g for 5p, a kg = 10p and 20 kg =  £2, assuming that the newspaper is using the new decimal money.  So, yeah, that would pay on a weight basis, but maybe not on a per BTU basis.  Looking here, we find the anthracite coal (high grade) has 12,700 BTU per lb and waste paper has 6,500 BTU per lb (sorry for the mixed units, but I post 'em as I find 'em).  So on a heat content basis, it would take about 40 kg of books to equal 20 kg of coal, and the economic edge to burning old books compared to paying for bagged coal all would be only about 20%. 

On the other hand (like economists, one should look for one armed scientists), frankly there are a lot of books that deserve burning.  I'm not thinking about Harry Potter or other devilish fantasy books, but rather the dreary romances, utterly predictable mysteries and the self-help books that help no one.

At our local thrift shop (the one where I buy the odd guitar, and the money goes to spay and neuter dogs and cats), books are in that price range, and I'm sure they discard many more than they actually display.  Burning those books for fuel is not the worst crime against humanity.  Not exactly Fahrenheit 451 material.
Since January 2008, gas bills have risen 40 per cent and electricity prices 20 per cent, although people over 60 are entitled to a winter fuel allowance of between £125 and £400...

Ruth Davison, of the National Housing Federation, said: ‘The spiralling cost of energy means heating homes has become a luxury rather than a necessity for many people – particularly the elderly, low paid and unemployed.’
 So how is that energy policy working out for you?
On March 13, 2007, a draft Climate Change Bill was published following cross-party pressure over several years, led by environmental groups. The Act puts in place a framework to achieve a mandatory 80% cut in the UK's carbon emissions by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels), with an intermediate target of between 26% and 32% by 2020. The Bill was passed into law in November 2008. With its passing the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to set such a long-range and significant carbon reduction target into law, or to create such a legally binding framework.

The Committee on Climate Change, whose powers are invested by Part 2 of the Act, was formally launched in December 2008 with Lord Adair Turner as its chair.

In April 2009 the Government set a requirement for a 34% cut in emissions by 2020, in line with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change, and announced that details of how this would be achieved would be published in the summer.
 That was an entirely rhetorical question.

I Suppose it Could Be Considered a Jobs Program

The future of ObamaCare: 36DD breasts?

But only if it helps your self-esteem.
We have seen the future of ObamaCare and it is, well… shall we say big? As in 36DD.

“An excruciating irony of Obamacare is that its architects modeled many of its features after the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) - a classic system of socialized medicine, and a monumental failure by any objective standard,” David Catron wrote recently in the American Spectator.

And it is in merry ol’ England, where 22-year-old Josie Cunningham recently was approved for breast enhancement surgery that cost more than $7,000, and paid for entirely by taxpayers, reports Opposing Views.
Easily $7,000 worth of work, if someone else is paying for it!
Why? Because she told her General Practitioner that being flat-chested was causing her emotional distress.

“My GP referred me for the operation because I wasn’t just flat-chested — I didn’t have any boobs whatsoever,” Cunningham said. “I could never go on holiday as I lived in terror of ever being seen in a bikini and could never set foot outside without a padded bra.”

Her doctor’s prescription to counter the “emotional distress” was to enhance her breast size from a 32A to 36DD.

And it seems to have worked!

Cunningham says her new boobs have changed her life and she “can’t wait to do topless (NSFW link) and swimsuit photo shoots and become the new Katie Price,” notes Opposing View.
See, it's a twofer! It makes her feel better about herself, and helps her land a new job!

Do you think she's ever heard of the American slang "butterface?"

By way of Elizabeth Price Foley, subbing for Instapundit.

 Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain came through with 2 weeks worth of Rule 5 posts at "Rule 5 Sunday: Super Double Coverage Illness Makeup Edition."

The (Slight) Problem with the Cypriot Banking System

From Theo's.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Nice Kick!

From Maggie's Farm.

Reign of Pain Round Robin

In an effort to convince the public that the sequester, an attempt to shrink the government rather than continuing to raise taxes to support Federal services that benefit a relatively small number of people, the Obama administration continues it's attempts to show that the sequestration will be the worst thing since an asteroid struck the Yucatan Peninsula creating world wide forest fires, and causing the dinosaurs (but not the mammals, birds, lizards, snakes, turtles, crocodilians and well, nearly everything else) to go extinct.

It's been a few days since I did one of these, and the news is piling up fast.  In more or less reverse order:

White House opens new front in sequester war, cuts $110 million in mineral payments to 35 states
The federal government has sent letters to 35 states, informing them it’s cutting federal mineral payments by about $110 million, or 5 percent, as part of the automatic spending cuts that started this month due to sequestration.

The Obama Administration hit New Mexico hard, with a whopping $26 million beanball. Only Wyoming, which figures to lose $53 million per year, will take a bigger hit.

The feds paid a total of $2.1 billion last year to states, revenue from energy and mineral production that occurred on federal land within those states.
The federal mineral royalties are money (ie. taxes) the feds collect from private parties for the privilege of mining on federal land in states. According to the Mineral leasing Act of 1920:
Royalties are payments made from one party to another based on usage of an asset, often in the form of a percentage. The Mineral Leasing Act required monetary gains from the leasing of public lands to be divided three ways, except for Alaska:, 50 percent of gross revenues to states other than Alaska. 40 percent of gross revenues to Reclamation Fund.
10 percent of gross revenues to Federal Treasury. 90 percent of gross revenues to Alaska.
How does Obama get away with shorting the states of the their share?

Another place where the Administration has already threatened promised to make "it" hurt is in the TSA and screening:  Sequester Theatrics from the FAA: The Obama administration may not be doing all it can to avoid disruption of air travel.
As the Federal Aviation Administration prepares to furlough more than 20,000 employees and shutter nearly 150 air-traffic-control towers across the country, the answer is up in the air. Tales of turmoil at some of the nation’s busiest airports are beginning to surface, causing some to wonder whether public perceptions of sequestration may soon begin to favor the administration. The FAA has insisted these cutbacks are unavoidable, but the administration has a clear political interest in maximizing the public’s outrage, so critics aren’t buying it.

The airline industry has complained that it is caught in the middle of the political fight over sequestration and that the FAA risks interrupting services more than necessary. One industry insider tells National Review Online that the airlines are being used as a “political football” in this debate and suggests that the FAA’s cuts don’t “really have to be done in this way.”...

Thune and Shuster identified in the FAA’s budget $2.7 billion in annual non-personnel operations costs that they say “should have been examined before furloughs were considered.” That includes $500 million in consultant fees, $179 million in travel expenses for employees, and $143 million in operating costs for the FAA’s own fleet of 46 aircraft...
Federal labor regulations prevent most of the furloughs from taking effect until April, and the Obama administration is already blaming recent airport delays on staff reductions anyway. If the FAA insists on furloughing workers, the situation could get truly problematic, but Republicans remain committed to reducing federal spending where they can. “Sequestration is here to stay,” says a GOP aide. “These little scare tactics didn’t work before, and the American people are going to see right through them.”
Naw, they wouldn't be playing games to slow down the screening process to try to convince us to give them their rightful money back, would they?  The TSA must go.

Meanwhile, back in the eye of the storm, Washington D.C. government paid grief counselors were succoring the afflicted: As sequester furloughs loom, federal workers turn to local union leaders.
John Hiller knows chemistry, not counseling. Until recently, he was a Customs and Border Protection scientist checking imported goods for drugs and toxins.

But a few weeks after being elected president of his union local at CBP’s Washington headquarters, the sequester struck. When the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts started taking effect this month, Hiller found himself fielding day-and-night phone calls and e-mails from employees worried about lost wages from as many as 22 furlough days.

“One thing I wasn’t prepared for was having a Gulf War veteran breaking into tears on the phone about being able to pay his bills,” said Hiller, president of National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 128. “He’s a Marine just getting his life back together, and suddenly he’s looking at losing $300 a month.”
Not a dry eye in the Washington Post's newsroom.  And how many out work marines have been harmed by the lousy Obama economy engendered by the bank bailout and stimuli?

Next up, and also from the WAPO, this puff piece on the how hard a GAO director (Government Accountability Office) works to eliminate government waste: Investigating federal programs to make sure public dollars are spent wisely.
Would you buy a used car from this guy?

For the past five years, federal watchdog Steve Lord has been looking at airport body scanners and baggage screening equipment differently than most of the traveling public, focusing an objective, critical eye on airport security systems and machinery, and informing powerful people about what he sees.

Lord, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) director, has helped evaluate multi-million dollar passenger, baggage and air cargo screening programs run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), including the canine teams that roam airports sniffing out explosives.
And while we're on a roll at the the Post, nothing brings the pain home as much as cutting back the space program (well, what's left of it after all the other cuts) and eduction for kids:  Sequester hits NASA’s outreach and educational programs
Two senior-level NASA officials addressed attendees of the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference via Skype instead of in person on Monday because of the so-called sequester, according to an NBC science blog.

That’s one way the recent government-wide spending cuts have hit the nation’s space-research program, which suspended all educational and public-outreach activities last week.

NASA issued a memo to employees on Friday saying the agency was halting all activities “whose goal is to reach out to external and internal stakeholders and the public concerning NASA, its programs, and activities.”
Give us our money back; it's for the kids children! It takes NASA to raise a child!  Hide everything; that'll show 'em!

Money is so tight, Obama was forced to create 5 new national parks! No cost there, I'm sure...
Despite continued protestations of doom over the sequestration cuts that have paralyzed all of Washington in the grips of terror over the past 25 days, President Obama somehow found it possible to commit the federal government to acquiring five new national monuments today. He did so by using the Antiquities Act, thereby circumventing Congress in the process.

Coincidentally, (no, really, we're sure it's just a coincidence), all five national monuments are located in blue states that just a few months ago committed their electoral college votes to the re-election of President Obama. Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio and Washington well reap the financial benefit of the new federally designated monuments. Nothing like a nice reward for dedicated support, even while defense department employees are weeks away from receiving furlough notices.
And while the White House is being closed to public tours to save an estimate $18-74 k a week in security costs, the White House youngins are taking a vacation from the pressures of being near Mom and Dad and the political firestorm with a vacation in the Bahama 'Atlantis' resort.
Sasha and Malia Obama are quietly vacationing at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, Breitbart News has learned.

A source tipped Breitbart News off to the First Daughters’ spring vacation, which was not publicly announced or reported.

Breitbart subsequently confirmed President Barack Obama’s daughters’ trip with other sources. Both the White House and the Atlantis resort declined to confirm the report or comment, but another guest provided a photograph of Sasha and Malia at the resort.

Social media, including Twitter and Facebook, have also carried reports of the First Daughters' presence at Atlantis. One person who is at the resort wrote: “Rumor confirmed: friends saw the first daughters with a gaggle of friends being escorted to the held elevator.”
I don't really mind the girls getting a nice trip, especially if it's not at my expense.  But I'm sure Obama is paying for their added security with the royalties of Bill Ayer's book "Dreams From My Father."
According to Judicial Watch, Malia Obama's trip to Mexico last spring break, during which she was apparently accompanied by Secret Service protection, cost taxpayers $115,500.87. Sasha did not accompany Malia on that trip.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch banks of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, the government continues to expand, because, as you probably have not heard by now, unless your reading close, is that the sequester doesn't actually cut the federal government, it merely cuts its growth rate to a mere 2% annually or so: What hiring freeze? Federal government continues to post job openings!
While hundreds of thousands of federal workers brace for unpaid furloughs starting next month, Uncle Sam is still looking to hire.

In one week alone this month, nearly 2,200 job listings available to the public were posted on, the federal government's recruiting site. Add in new postings open only to current or former federal workers, including those laid off, and the number of new openings jumps to more than 4,600.

"One thing for sure about hiring freezes: They always begin to melt as soon as they are put into place," said Don Kettl, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy at College Park. "Does anyone want to land at a major airport that doesn't have an air traffic controller?"
So much for starving the beast.

In in a final insult to good sense, the administration found a cool half a billion (with a "B") to hand to those fun, and peace, loving Palestinians: US unblocks $500M for Palestinian.
The United States has quietly unblocked almost $500 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority which had been frozen by Congress for months, a top US official said Friday.

The news that the funds had finally been freed up came after US President Barack Obama met top Israeli and Palestinian leaders in a landmark visit to Israel and the West Bank earlier this week.
You must be putting me on...

Cheaper Stormwater Management?

Stormwater management is, hands down, the most expensive per unit of pollution removed method of nutrient control now being pushed as part of the 'Chesapeake Bay Diet', the long-term, multi-billion dollar plan to reduce pollution in the Bay to "tolerable" levels by 2025.  A conservation group in Virginia is proposing a change in strategy for stormwater control that may reduce the costs by as much as 90%.
The James River Association, a Richmond-based conservation group, hired the Center for Watershed Protection, a Maryland-based nonprofit, to conduct the study. It was released Wednesday. Among other things, the report found that restoring urban streams is a better, cheaper way to cut pollution than building detention ponds. “As localities start looking into this, we believe there are a lot of cost savings that can be achieved,” said Bill Street, CEO of the James River Association.

Jeff Corbin, the Environmental Protection Agency’s senior adviser on the bay cleanup, called the report’s findings “pretty startling... Of all the possible issues that could be seen as a thorn to localities with regards to the bay restoration, 99 percent of what we hear about are the costs associated with meeting stormwater goals,” Corbin said. An 85 percent cut in costs could be optimistic, Corbin said, “but I’ll take a 50 percent reduction happily.”

The report said, “Initial cost estimates for addressing stormwater pollution in Virginia are approximately $10.5 billion — over half the total cost of cleaning the Chesapeake Bay.”

Those costs can be cut significantly if localities focus on restoring urban streams, repairing sewer line leaks and creating programs to get people to pick up after their pets, the report said.

Restoring urban streams involves measures such as regrading their banks and installing rocks to limit erosion. A stream restoration costs 44 cents a year on average per pound of pollution removed, the report said.

On the other hand, building detention ponds, which are designed to slow the flow of rainwater, can cost $157 a year per pound of pollution removed, the report said. And some programs aimed at reducing fertilizer use on private land can cost $1,500.
Shockingly, I'm in general agreement with Corbin on this.  I doubt that the level of improvement being touted by the  James River Association will be achieved in practice, but the expense of stormwater management is so out of line with respect to other methods of pollution control that reductions of cost of 50% or more are likely, and more to the point, highly desirable.

Chesapeake Bay Nature Cams

Spring is here, and it seems like everybody is setting up web cams to put wildlife on the web.  I'll start with two, and update as necessary

First, the Shad Cam, courtesy of Capt. Mike Starrett, who reminds us every year.  In this camera you can watch anadromous fish (mostly shad and herring) as they move up the James River past Bosher's Dam on their way up stream to spawn

The Shad Cam

And from the Nature Conservancy, the Osprey Cam, a web cam directed at the nest of a pair of newly arrived Ospreys, named Tom and Audrey, build their nest and raise their young (hopefully)

The Osprey Cam

This one doesn't work in Firefox,  (and it's really not working from IE 5), so I hope it works better for you

Puffy Ex-Porn Star Pulls Political Plans

Ashely Judd, the actress of many low budget flicks, wherein she manages to find numerous excuses to wet,  remove, or otherwise display her anatomy (NSFW links) has decided that maybe it's not such a good idea to run for the Senate from Kentucky, at least this time around.  From the almighty Allahpundit:

Damn: Ashley Judd decides she won’t run for Senate
I didn’t think defeating her was as much of a gimme as some righties did, but I did think she’d lose. And that there’d be at least one or two or twelve colorful meltdowns on the trail along the way. 2014 just got a lot less kooky, and political blogging is the poorer for it. Alas.

Admit it: Deep down, you wanted to see how she’d walk back that “mountaintop coal removal is like rape” analogy.
Ashley appear to fantasize about rape  quite a bit.  In addition to the mountain top coal analogy, the same screed contained this nugget lump of coal:
I used the word rape earlier. At the time this law that allowed coal companies to rape the land without consent, spousal rape was still legal in Kentucky. I remember learning that one morning in College, drinking my coffee in the kitchen at the Kappa house, and the shock and shame I felt. If I were married, it would be legal for my husband to rape.
and then just a few days ago:
Judd made her intentions clear at a private dinner last month at Brown’s Louisville home. Asked if she was tough enough to take on McConnell and the GOP national attack machine, Judd reportedly answered, “I have been raped twice, so I think I can handle Mitch McConnell.”

Does anyone else have the sense that she has trouble separating her film life from her real life? Like Allah, I'm going to miss her tittlscintillating presence in the race.

Linked at Proof Positive in the weekly "Best of the Web* Linkaround." Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain came through with 2 weeks worth of Rule 5 posts at "Rule 5 Sunday: Super Double Coverage Illness Makeup Edition."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Beavers Bail Out Mormons

Heroic Beavers Save Salt Lake City
Two benevolent beavers may have saved the water supply of Salt Lake City from contamination on Tuesday. The heroic herbivores now fight for their lives after being soaked by the toxic diesel fuel spill.

The beavers’ dam stopped an 8,000-gallon diesel fuel spill from spreading into the reservoir in Willard Bay State Park in Utah, reported the Standard-Examiner. The two American beavers (Castor canadensis) who lived in the dam were soaked by the toxic diesel which poured from a leaky Chevron pipeline. The beavers are now receiving medical care at a local wildlife rehabilitation center.

One of the beavers suffered a worse diesel soaking than the other.

“I found it out of the water kind of sitting in the vegetation,” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer Mitch Lane told the Salt Lake Tribune. “It looked like it was trying to get out of the water and clean off. He wasn’t really active. I could tell the fuel was taking its toll on him.”
I hope it's not so badly contaminated that they have to shave it.  They look pretty funny shaved.
The other beaver had already been cleaned and was starting to recover by the time the second was brought into the rehabilitation center, Lane said.
Of course, if they can't save them, they can always make a beaver coat.

 Beaver Stroller

That's Good to Know

After making news for doing a tired “humor” video mocking gun owners, whom he also called “heartless motherf&ckers,” Jim Carrey announced today on twitter that his armed bodyguard “doesn’t have a hundred rounds in his clip.”

I haven't seen Jim Carey do anything funny in years; why should he start now?

Holy Moly, Batman!

Stolen from Instapundit.

No! Next Question?

Is Miranda Kerr's Bikini too skimpy?

Let's try that again, shall we?

Do You Know the Way to Bankruptcy?

Legendary singer Dionne Warwick has filed for personal bankruptcy in New Jersey, citing more than $10 million in debt stemming from mismanagement of her finances.

Warwick filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy March 21 in United States Bankruptcy Court of New Jersey, where she lives, according to the filing. The five-time Grammy winner lists $25, 500 in assets and more than $10.7 million in liabilities. She completed credit counseling March 17 that was required by the court.

Warwick lists her current income at $20,950 per month with her expenses at $20,940, according to the filing.

The singer’s filing was a result of negligence and “gross financial mismanagement” in the 1980s and 1990s, her publicist said in a statement to
That'll do it... There's a lesson there somewhere.

And yes, I do know the way to San Jose, having passed the exit many times on my California odysseys.

Hot chick, Trijntje Oosterhuis does a pretty good cover of Dionne Warwick's cover of Burt Bacharach's "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?"

Compare to the original:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"The Trial" - Chesapeake Bay Edition

The U.S. government has charged Omega Protein Inc., the company that controls the big menhaden industry in Virginia, with discharging pollutants into state waters from its fishing fleet numerous times between 2008 and 2010.

The criminal charges, released Friday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, are vague and do not say what pollutant the fishing boats allegedly dumped or where the environmental violations supposedly occurred.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Norfolk declined to elaborate on the case Monday, saying only that if found guilty, Omega faces fines and years of probation.
That sounds like something out of Kafka's "The Trial".  You've been accused of a crime, we just can't tell you what it is, yet.
Ben Landry, an Omega spokesman at the company's headquarters in Texas, said the case stems from investigations by federal authorities two years ago.

Back then, Landry said, the Coast Guard found problems in how Omega's fishing fleet handled its oily bilge water and stormwater at home docks in Reedville, a historic town on the Chesapeake Bay on Virginia's Northern Neck peninsula.

In Reedville, Omega runs the only fish-processing plant of its kind on the East Coast. There, millions of the thin, silvery menhaden are converted into fish oil, meal, pet food and health supplements. The plant, which is the largest employer in Northumberland County, has been an economic engine for the past 150 years on the rural Northern Neck.
I'm not a supporter of Omega Protein, and it wouldn't hurt my feelings a bit if fishing regulations were tightened to the point that Omega moved away from the Bay or gave up all together.  However, this move reeks of an attempt to criminalize past behavior, a so called ex post facto law which violates thus U.S. Constitution, clause 3 of Article I, Section 9.

Chesapeake Bay Fish Controlled by Climate

A pretty long but decent article from Chesapeake Quarterly, the publication by Maryland Sea Grant, on how the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, the multidecadal scale movement of temperature patters across the Atlantic Ocean, controls the success of common fish in the Chesapeake Bay, including Striped Bass:

Taking the Long View: The Fall & Rise & Fall of Stripers & a Lot of Less-famous Fish
How many striped bass could be coming next year has befuddled scientists for decades. Their sudden and unpredictable boom years can turn out twice as many offspring as the year before, sometimes three times as many, sometimes 10 times as many. More than 30 years ago, biologists Don Heinle and Joe Mihursky came up with a clue: cold, wet winters bode well for a striped bass boom year.

Bob Wood came at the issue from a different angle. Before he was a fisheries scientist, he was a climatologist who spent a lot of time looking at huge, noisy data sets jammed with multiple variables. If certain weather patterns brought on boom years for stripers, perhaps those same patterns were also bringing boom years for other species at the same time. "I thought the patterns in nature are not one fish at a time," says Wood. "If there is an environmental signal, it is probably not going to pick out a single fish."

To probe all his data, Wood tried a statistical technique called Principal Component Analysis. Designed to dig out patterns buried in the data, this analytic tool uncovered an unexpected connection: whenever fish that spawned in the Bay did well, fish that spawned in coastal waters did poorly. And vice versa: whenever coastal spawners did well, Bay spawners did poorly.

Wood discovered another surprise in the data: these patterns lasted for several decades. Boom years for stripers, for example, seemed to come in bunches, and so did bust years. And the pattern affected a lot of fish: The Bay spawners include species like alewives, blueback herrings, white perch, yellow perch, shad, and, of course, stripers. The coastal spawners who come in from the continental shelf include spot, croaker, hardhead, weakfish, drum, and, of course, menhaden.
OK, lets cut to the chase, what it is it?
In the year 2000, Bob Wood got his doctorate and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (or AMO) got its name. This ocean cycle brings several decades of warming waters followed by several decades of cooling waters in the Atlantic basin. A dozen years after it was named, the AMO remains loosely described and its effects widely debated.

The temperature swings can be small, but the cycle seems to have far-reaching effects. An earlier warm phase of the AMO has been tied to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the droughts of the 1950s. Since the early 1990s, the AMO has been in a warm, positive phase — and we've seen twice as many big hurricanes, including Isabel, Ivan, Katrina, and Sandy. We've also seen some boom years for new stripers.

When Bob Wood began reading about the AMO, his inner climatologist came alive again. "When I saw that it had cycles, I said 'Wow!' Then I looked at the statistical correlations," he says, "and it was amazing." The recent ups and downs of the AMO seemed to correlate with the ups and downs of fish populations in the Chesapeake.
 But this was the part that caught my eye:
Summer trips were usually the worst for Wood, a tall slender student with dark hair, a dark beard, and a delicate stomach. When the trawl boat would make a haul down near the mouth of the Bay, the deckhands would dump the catch on the big, sloshing culling table, and Wood would go to work sorting fish — with ocean swells rolling under the boat, with diesel fumes hanging over the deck, with jellyfish tentacles slapping at his face. Picking through the flopping fish, he'd try to figure out which were larval anchovies or alewives, yellow perch or white perch, which were white mullet, satinfish shiner, bigeye scad, or bighead sea robin.

When it got bad, he'd go over to the side of the boat and throw up. Then he'd lie down on the deck, summer or winter, and wait until the next trawl was done. When the net came up, he'd scramble up and take his place at the table again. He always went back to the table. When it got worse, when he got dehydrated and went greenish in the face, the captain put him ashore. He left him on a dock down near Norfolk and called the lab to come pick him up. This only happened once, but it made Wood a legend around the lab.
He's one of them.  The green ones.  I've seen a few.  I've been sick, but never green...

Anyway, it's a good article.  Read the whole thing.

Addressing One of the Important Legal Issues of the Day

And the answer, of course, is it depends on who, when and where.

Not that I'd ever consider it...  But it wears well on some.
The clothing retailer American Eagle posted an advertisement for spray-on jeans on its website this week, calling the product “our skinniest jeans ever.” The ad appears to be a prank, but painting models is now old hat. Is it legal to appear in public wearing nothing but body paint?

It’s a gray area. Most anti-nudity laws are silent on body paint, leaving police to make judgment calls. A decade ago, body painters were arrested with some regularity. In 2000, for example, a Chicago woman who painted herself to resemble a tiger in protest of a circus was arrested for public indecency, even though she was also wearing panties and pasties. But as early as 1995, Entertainment Tonight aired an interview with a model wearing nothing but paint and faced no repercussions. Local police are also showing increased restraint.
An imaginative application
Certainly, Sports Illustrated has sold lots of magazines with pictures of popular and well know models wearing nothing but body paint.
Recently, officials have stood by as body-painted (or even completely nude) environmentalists rode their bicycles through American cities in protest of our dependence on oil.
 I'm curious; would the same tolerance be granted to NRA demonstrators or Tea Party members? 
In 2011, New York City officials allowed artist Andy Golub to paint otherwise nude models in public spaces as long as his muses wore bikini bottoms during daylight hours. Public officials can still be pushed too far, though, and rampant body painting in a locality often leads to a tightening of laws.
Very artistic
Doesn't Nanny Bloomberg need to make a rule about that?  It could cause accidents.
Following a proliferation of nearly-nude or body-painted coffee baristas, the city of Federal Way, Wash., amended its laws to make clear that “body paint, body dye, tattoos, latex, tape, or any similar substance applied to the skin surface, any substance that can be washed off the skin, or any substance designed to simulate or by which by its nature simulates the appearance of the anatomical area beneath it” would not be considered equivalent to clothing.
I guess I won't bother with that trip I had planned to get coffee in Federal Way after all.
Take me out to the ball game!

The Federal Way ordinance is an exception; state and local anti-nudity laws are usually deliberately vague. Many statutes use the word expose to define what constitutes nudity. San Francisco’s 2012 anti-nudity law, for example, notes that a person “may not expose his or her genitals, perineum, or anal region.” It doesn’t make clear whether body paint is an acceptable covering, giving police broad discretion in deciding when to arrest, when to caution, and when to ignore painted exhibitionists in the city. Other anti-nudity laws are more specific, seemingly giving body painters a pass.
In San Francisco, I'm surprised they even go that far, given the notorious behavior on Castro Street during their street fairs.  Warning, disgusting and highly NSFW material there.
The Code of Federal Regulations, in banning public nudity in certain national parks, notes that nudity is the failure to “cover with a fully opaque covering [the] genitals, pubic areas, rectal area or female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola.” Several states, including Idaho and South Dakota, use similar definitions of nudity. (It should also be noted that many states prosecute public nudity only if paired with lewd or lascivious behavior, which would likely trigger an arrest with or without spray-on clothing.)
That seems reasonable enough.

There’s not a lot of public opinion data on this issue, but small-scale surveys suggest that people perceive body paint a form of clothing. In 1995, a student at Missouri Western State College showed study participants a series of nude, painted, and lingerie-clad models. The subjects made no distinction between the painted and clothed models when assessing the picture’s propriety.
There's something fishy about that swim suit

Five years ago, after officials at a Washington Nationals game told a shirtless man he had committed “indecent exposure,” an ESPN columnist surveyed Nationals fans about their attitudes toward scantily clad peers. While completely bare-chested men were judged acceptable by between 54 and 82 percent of the respondents, more than 90 percent felt that men who covered their otherwise bare torsos with paint should be allowed at baseball games.
That's a weird use of stats.  There's a lot of range between 54 and 82%.  I would say 54 and more than 90% are very different, but 82 and 90%?  Not so much.  And anyway, they're evaluating the reaction to male toplessness.  I imagine the view of female toplessness with and without paint would have very different results, and that it would be very dependent on the sex of the respondents.

 Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain came through with 2 weeks worth of Rule 5 posts at "Rule 5 Sunday: Super Double Coverage Illness Makeup Edition." Also linked at The Classic Liberal in "Take It Off!"