Friday, May 31, 2013

WAPO: Holder Allowed Us to Say He Values Freedom of the Press

Beyond parody.  Did they even think about that before they rushed out with that assurance that Holder wasn't really after "the good guys" in the press.

Bay Scientists Want to Continue Fracking Studies

Well, knock me over with a feather! Scientists want to continue to study something! Have you ever heard a scientist say "We're done with that; we know everything"?

Scientists recommend further monitoring of natural gas extraction sites
Natural gas resources underlie almost half of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, but some of the regulations that govern Bay cleanup do not take extraction-related pollution into account.

According to the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), more research is needed to track the environmental effects of natural gas extraction and to help jurisdictions determine whether or not they must implement conservation practices to offset potential pollution loads and meet the Bay pollution diet.
The enviroweenies are desperate to stop fracking before people wake up and realize how relatively environmentally innocuous it really is.  They failed to prove that it was polluting drinking water, or  causing dangerous earthquakes, and recent advances suggest that methane emissions due to fracking will be much lower than originally projected, which is not shocking, as it is a waste of the primary resource being sought. 

The pollution diet, or Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), limits the amount of nutrient and sediment pollution that can enter the Bay from across the watershed. According to STAC, hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has the potential to change local pollution loads, as natural gas extraction increases the erosion of sediment into local rivers and withdraws water from area sources, altering aquatic habitat and river flow.

In a factsheet released this week, STAC outlines the recommendations that the panel made following a workshop on shale gas development. STAC recommends that the Bay Program incorporate natural gas drilling into the Bay Watershed Model, which estimates the amount of nutrients and sediment reaching the Bay. STAC also recommends that the industry, scientific and policy-making communities continue to research shale gas development and implement conservation practices to lower natural gas extraction’s cumulative impact on the Bay.

Read more about the environmental effects of shale gas development in the watershed.
With the relatively direct effects originally touted as industry killer being eliminated, the action now moves on to more indirect effects, which have the (from the researchers point of view) fortunate properties of being more difficult to document, and requiring larger, more interdisciplinary teams to address. With luck, they'll be able to fund a giant team of scientists to study the indirect effects of fracking until cold fusion becomes the energy source of the future.

James, The Narcoleptic Lumberjack

Obama Admin Makes Islam the De Facto State Religion

A special meeting has been scheduled for the stated purpose of increasing awareness and understanding that American Muslims are not the terrorists some have made them out to be in social media and other circles.

“Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society” will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4, at the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center, 147 Hospitality Blvd. Special speakers for the event will be Bill Killian, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Kenneth Moore, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Knoxville Division.
...Killian and Moore will provide input on how civil rights can be violated by those who post inflammatory documents targeted at Muslims on social media. “This is an educational effort with civil rights laws as they play into freedom of religion and exercising freedom of religion,” Killian told The News Monday. “This is also to inform the public what federal laws are in effect and what the consequences are.”
Killian referred to a Facebook posting made by Coffee County Commissioner Barry West that showed a picture of a man pointing a double-barreled shotgun at a camera lens with the caption saying, “How to Wink at a Muslim.”

Killian said he and Moore had discussed the issue.

“If a Muslim had posted ‘How to Wink at a Christian,’ could you imagine what would have happened?” he said. “We need to educate people about Muslims and their civil rights, and as long as we’re here, they’re going to be protected.”
I've seen lot's of anti-Christian, or anti-Catholic, or anti-conservative postings that I would deem equally offensive, and yet I have yet to see the inaptly named Justice Department take any interest in prosecuting those.  And I believe that to be the correct choice.  The president has said that himself (in the same speech with the opening quotation.  And yet his his own Justice Department is telling people which religions they can mock and which they cannot.
Killian said Internet postings that violate civil rights are subject to federal jurisdiction. “That’s what everybody needs to understand,” he said.
So Islam is exempt from the American tradition of freedom to heckle? 

Reign of Pain Update

Federal workers scratching for tax dollars
Ever since the sequester struck the Washington D.C. area, when the provinces revolted against the tax collectors and refused to agree to a 5 percent increase in their tithings to the Church of the Progressive Dream, and forced them to settle for a mere 2 percent increase in the federal budget, the Washington Post has been on a mission to convince us that it was akin to the Great Potato Famine in Ireland, resulting in poor bureaucrats dieing of starvation and abandoning the country in droves on tramp steamer and leaving the local economy in ruin.

Yesterday, however, the Post admitted that perhaps the threat of the sequestration to the regions economy and had been over sold, and that things were chugging along at near normal.
In the months since the automatic federal spending cuts known as the sequester took effect, the Washington area has added 40,000 jobs. Income-tax receipts have surged in Virginia, beating expectations. Few government contractors have laid off workers.

It’s too early to be certain, but initial indications are that the damage from the sequester has been modest and slow to develop.

Labor Department statistics released Wednesday showed that the area’s unemployment rate held steady at a seasonally adjusted 5.3 percent in April, the same as in March. The pace of job growth from January to April was only slightly slower this year than last year. Large government contractors are reporting relatively modest revenue hits and few layoffs due to reduced contracts.
“The surprise is that the economy is as good as it is,” said Stephen S. Fuller, the economist who directs the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. “We’ve done better than I expected.” In January, Fuller predicted that the sequester, if enacted, would be an “end-of-the-world kind of hit” to the regional economy. He wrote an analysis of the cuts in March concluding they would kill more than 325,000 jobs in Virginia, the District and Maryland combined.
Of course, then they had to go out and find a bunch of possible indicators that the sequester was taking us to hell in a hand basket, but then what else could you expect; an admission that maybe leaving money in the private sector was actually a good thing in the long run? 

It was Probably Their Day Off for the Sequester

Two officials from the US Embassy suffered gunshot wounds early Tuesday during an altercation at a strip club in Venezuela's crime-ridden capital, police and US State Department officials said. Their injuries were not considered life-threatening.

The circumstances of the shooting were unclear, with conflicting reports over whether it happened inside or outside the Antonella 2012 nightclub. (Some NSFW pictures at the link).
A woman poses on a bed inside Antonella 2012 nightclub
I'm sure they just stopped by for a diet coke, and were fighting over who would pay for the check.
Police said the two US officials were shot following a brawl inside the club, which is in the basement of a shopping center in the upper-middle-class Chacao neighborhood. A woman who works at the club said the two men got into a fight with each other.

The club's Twitter account features racy photos of nude or scantily clad women pole dancing, posing inside cages or reclining on beds. The text under one photo invites visitors to come and watch the club's "sexy show."
This must be some of the that new "Smart Power" that the new administration promised us.
"Apparently it was a fight originating in a nightspot where these people were attacked and shots were fired at them and they suffered gunshot wounds," police spokesman Douglas Rico told TV channel Globovision at the health clinic where the victims were taken. He said one was shot in the leg and abdomen and the other was shot in the abdomen.

A police official identified one of the victims as military attache Roberto Ezequiel Rosas. She said he was shot in the right leg during an argument outside the night club in Chacao, which is east of the city center.
I hope they have lots of sick leave saved up.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to release the information publicly, said she had no information on suspects.

Deisy Ron, who identified herself as the club's artistic director, told The Associated Press that she wasn't at work when the shooting happened, but said employees she supervises told her that the men got into an argument and started throwing punches inside the club.

"They were fighting with each other," she said. "One of them pulled out a gun and shot the other in the stomach and the leg."

Ron said she didn't know how the other man was injured or how he managed to bring a firearm inside the club, which has metal detectors at the entrance.
This wouldn't have happened if Hillary had been on the job, would it?

I guess the question is would we, or should we send a detachment of marines or seals to save these guys?

And Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain has the grand Rule 5 compendium up at "Rule 5 Sunday: Desert Plains". I'm still trying to figure out his naming scheme. I could just ask him, but what's the fun in that? Also linked a The Classical Liberal Rule 5 Sunday "Keeps on Swinging."

What is it About Mitch McConnell?...

...That causes strange, but somewhat attractive aging women to consider running against him?

Woman Who Ran Over and Killed Mother of Four Mulling Run Against Mitch McConnell
Frankly, the Kentucky Democrats would probably fare better if they fielded no candidate at all. Really, they’re considering someone who ran over and killed a mother of four? Are they serious?

Heather French Henry, a 2000 Miss America titleholder and wife of former Kentucky Lt. Gov. Steve Henry (D), is contemplating launching a challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and has been contacted by officeholders in the state urging her to run.
 As you may recall, former Rule 5 winner Ashley Judd considered running against McConnell, until the rest of the Kentucky democrats convinced her that would be, well, much like Ashley Judd, batshit crazy.

“I’m not saying no yet, but I’m not saying yes,” she told The Hill on Tuesday.

French Henry said that she is interested in a run for office, but hasn’t yet decided if 2014 is the right race.”I certainly see myself, in the future, in some sort of political office,” she said. But French Henry said she is being “urged” to consider the race “by people in higher political positions” in the state, and added that “there’s not a day that goes by that someone doesn’t mention it.”
Really deep bench they’ve got there. Just a few minor problems with Henry’s possible candidacy:
But you gotta admit, she's got ole Mitch beat in the looks.

In 2003, French Henry struck and killed a mother of four in a 2003 car accident as the woman was crossing the street on a bicycle. She later went on to discuss the emotional toll the accident took on her, including an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show. There were no charges laid.
But think what an emotional toll it took on the bicycle woman's family.  It takes some, uh, ovaries, to go on Oprah and whine about how that event affected you.  And I'm sure the cops weren't all that anxious to lay murder charges against the Lieutenant Governor's wife.
Her husband faced numerous controversies that could be used against French Henry if she decides to run.

Steve Henry was accused of violating state campaign laws during his gubernatorial campaign and ultimately made an Alford plea, in which a defendant maintains their innocence but admits there’s enough evidence to convict, and paid multiple fines.
Hasn't everybody made an Alford plea to cheating in a gubernatorial campaign?

French Henry said, however, that she had discussed her interest with her husband, and “he’s neither here nor there” on the run.

Looking forward, she said that she had no timeline on a decision. Asked what could convince her to run, French Henry balked.

“Other than someone to clean my house for me?” she joked. “I don’t know — God would have to make it very evident to me, like a frying pan to the head, and say, ‘Heather, you need to run.’”
Run, Heather, Run!

And Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain has the grand Rule 5 compendium up at "Rule 5 Sunday: Desert Plains". I'm still trying to figure out his naming scheme. I could just ask him, but what's the fun in that?

Assault Rifle Raises Kindergarten Ruckus

Of course, the assault rifle in question was only two inches long and made of plastic...

Tiny toy gun triggers major incident

...The toy that caused the uproar on the school bus Friday looks like a tiny assault rifle. It’s from a G.I. Joe action figure. It’s less than 2 inches long, and the boy is 6.

“I think they overreacted totally. I totally do,” the boy’s mom, Mieke Crane, told WGGB-TV. Her boy had to write a letter of apology to the bus driver, though after she met with school officials yesterday, they agreed to drop the detention he had been sentenced to serve. Mom didn’t want to talk about it anymore. She handed off to an expert — her own mom, the boy’s grandmother. Sara Godek is a retired school principal from Connecticut, and had this to say:

“I would’ve said, ‘Put it away’ or ‘take it home’ or ‘I’ll hold onto it until the end of the day. You’re not allowed to bring toy guns to school or on the school bus. I know. But the poor little guy is already so upset about this. I really think they overreacted. The problem is, we don’t use our heads.”

Or maybe — fearing lawsuits or overwrought parents or missing a legitimate threat — jittery schools just enforce zero tolerance every single time...
This isn't about school safety; nobody, not even the school administrators, who were pretty stupid,  were under the illusion that the gun in question could cause any physical harm to any of their changes.  No, this is about education propaganda, a deliberate attempt to demonize guns of any sort for any purpose in the minds of all their students forever. 

The administrators need to horsewhipped.  But failing that, they should be sued, over and over.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

You'd Hate to Miss that Woodchuck

at 1000 yards because of the Coriolis Effect.

Settled Science: New Study Claims Global Warming Due to CFCs Not CO2

From Watts Up With That (who's on more of a roll than usual):
WATERLOO, Ont. (Thursday, May 30, 2013) – Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are to blame for global warming since the 1970s and not carbon dioxide, according to new research from the University of Waterloo published in the International Journal of Modern Physics B this week.

CFCs are already known to deplete ozone, but in-depth statistical analysis now shows that CFCs are also the key driver in global climate change, rather than carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The money graph - warming follows CFC forcing more than CO2
“Conventional thinking says that the emission of human-made non-CFC gases such as carbon dioxide has mainly contributed to global warming. But we have observed data going back to the Industrial Revolution that convincingly shows that conventional understanding is wrong,” said Qing-Bin Lu, a professor of physics and astronomy, biology and chemistry in Waterloo’s Faculty of Science. “In fact, the data shows that CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays caused both the polar ozone hole and global warming.”
Original paper here.

Interesting, if true.  However, remember the statistical mantra "correlation is not causation."

Will the World Beat a Path to Your Door...?

If you build a better crab pot? (with apologies to Emerson)

Anne Arundel students build a better, or at least less problematic, crab trap
For years, environmentalists and watermen have been searching for a way to deal with the Chesapeake Bay's "ghost pots" — derelict crab traps that are too deep to retrieve and too problematic to co-exist with marine life. Though the traps have been abandoned, they continue to ensnare and kill crabs.

Now two Anne Arundel County high school seniors have developed a possible solution: a trap held together with zinc rings that decay, making abandoned traps fall apart at the bottom of the bay.
Crab traps become abandoned when they get separated from lines that tie them to buoys — propeller blades, harsh weather and other factors can cause them to separate from lines. They sink to the bay floor, where they endanger crabs and other species. With few viable ways to retrieve them, the traps have long been a bane of the crabbing industry, undermining yields for fishermen not only in Maryland but in crabbing regions worldwide
As part of an academic science competition, Andraka and Dana Lunkenheimer, 17, first attempted to come up with a trap that would come to the surface after nine months under water. But they decided that would be dangerous to boaters and swimmers, and abandoned the idea. Instead, they focused on making the traps fall apart.
Andraka, who lives in Crownsville, proposed creating a trap with rings made of zinc — a metal often used at the bottom of boats as a sacrificial anode, which decomposes to prevent the other metal surfaces from corroding.

The zinc rings would essentially dissolve in about eight months, he said, making the traps fall apart and lessening the risk to marine life. The students tested their hypothesis by attaching zinc rings to a steel plate and placing it in water from the Chesapeake. Over time the steel appeared pristine while the zinc significantly corroded. They didn't have a full eight-month period to test it, but were able to extrapolate that the rings wouldn't last beyond a normal crabbing season.
A pretty clever idea, really (although if you read the full article you get the impression that the solution may have been hinted at by a NOAA scientist).  However, I doubt if commercial fisherman will willingly pick up this design because it means you would essentially have to disassemble and reassemble the pots each season to replace the zinc rings that hold them together.  Not a huge problem if you only have the four pots a non commercial resident is allowed to use off their own dock; but an enormous chore and expense if you are fishing upwards of 1200 pots the way many commercial fishermen do.

Can Beer Drinking Save the Bay?

You can actually help save the Chesapeake Bay the next time you enjoy a tall, cold one.

Devils Backbone Brewing Company is contributing some of its proceeds to do just that. A limited-edition beer called Striped Bass Pale Ale is flying off of the shelves. Sales generated a $30,000 donation to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Devils Backbone founder Stephen Crandall was fishing on the Chesapeake when he came up with the idea of a beer to save the bay.

Partner and local manager Joe Richardson explains the brew's name.

"Striped Bass was inspired by striped bass fishing in the Chesapeake Bay the idea is that striped bass has to have clean water in order to live," Richardson said.
I don't know about that; I've caught stripers out of some pretty disgusting looking water, full of suspended sediment, colored with red, green or brown phytoplankton, and sometimes with a bare minimum amount of dissolved oxygen.  As long as they can find food (and enough oxygen to get by) they seem to do pretty well.  They have to be adaptable to live in an estuary like Chesapeake Bay.

The beer has a light copper color and is described as crisp and refreshing.

So far the company and five of its distributors donated $30,000 this year alone to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. They've given $50,000 during the past two years.
$50k ain't gonna save the Bay, but on the other hand, I'm not opposed to drinking a beer for the Bay either.  However, if I had $50k to contribute to the health of the Bay, I'm not sure donating it to the Bay Foundation would be the most effective use of that money.  It would probably be better spent to send some family elsewhere to live.

How About Some Dodge Ball?

This isn't the way I remember it from Junior High School.

I haven't stolen one from Theo in a while.  And Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain has the grand Rule 5 compendium up at "Rule 5 Sunday: Desert Plains". I'm still trying to figure out his naming scheme. I could just ask him, but what's the fun in that? Also linked a The Classical Liberal Rule 5 Sunday "Keeps on Swinging."

I'll Bet They Voted, Too

A state audit today found Massachusetts has handed out $18 million in “questionable public assistance benefits” over the past few years, including welfare to more than 1,160 people who were either dead or using a deceased person’s Social Security number.

The report, which covered food stamps, cash, and other benefits to low-income families, estimated that recipients using a dead person’s Social Security number alone received at least $2.4 million in between July 2010 and April 2012. It also flagged another $15 million in suspicious transactions from electronic benefit cards during the two-and-a-half-year period the auditor reviewed.
The state Department of Transitional Assistance, which is charged with administering the benefits, told the state auditor almost a year ago that it was already in the process of addressing the issues, including comparing its list of welfare recipients to the Social Security Administration’s master list of dead people in July 2012 so it could end benefits to people who have died.

Yet a month later, in August 2012, the state auditor found a majority of the dead recipients it checked were still receiving benefits, including many who actually started receiving aid for the first time after the beneficiary supposedly died.
 And yet, a group who proposed to check whether people were eligible to vote was harassed by the multiple federal agencies when they applied for a 501(c3).

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

There's Not Enough Money in the World...

To make me try this:

Peer Review or Pal Review?

Every now and then somebody finds grant money to test the efficacy of peer review in making sure the scientific literature is fairly judged, and scrubbed reasonably free of egregious errors.  The results are often hysterical, in a dark and disturbing way.  

Today's example comes from psychology (OK, sort of a science), and concerns the review of previously accepted articles, resubmitted to exactly the same journals they were published in, with the identifying information (author and institution) replaced to slightly cover the fact that the manuscripts were not fresh.  So what happened?

The present investigation was an attempt to study the peer-review process directly, in the natural setting of actual journal referee evaluations of submitted manuscripts. As test materials we selected 12 already published research articles by investigators from prestigious and highly productive American psychology departments, one article from each of 12 highly regarded and widely read American psychology journals with high rejection rates (80%) and nonblind refereeing practices.

With fictitious names and institutions substituted for the original ones (e.g., Tri-Valley Center for Human Potential), the altered manuscripts were formally resubmitted to the journals that had originally refereed and published them 18 to 32 months earlier. Of the sample of 38 editors and reviewers, only three (8%) detected the resubmissions. This result allowed nine of the 12 articles to continue through the review process to receive an actual evaluation: eight of the nine were rejected. Sixteen of the 18 referees (89%) recommended against publication and the editors concurred. The grounds for rejection were in many cases described as “serious methodological flaws.” A number of possible interpretations of these data are reviewed and evaluated.
I guess I'm not terribly surprised that neither the editors or the reviewers failed to detect the ruse.  Editors probably don't do much but read the abstract, and pass it off to a assistant editor; this may even be a function that secretaries handle in many cases.  There's an excellent chance it would go to a different assistant editor, who would therefore not be immediately acquainted with it (although, you might hope he would at least scan the published contents of his own journal).  Then he would likely send them out to several referees, hoping two or three might accept it to review, again, it would be unluck of the draw to get the same reviewer twice.  And some of them might even think they were re-reviewing the original article!  A catch rate of 8% seems low, but possible, just on that basis.

As for the failure of the already accepted and published articles to be accepted, there are three obvious mechanisms, not mutually exclusive, and neither is particularly appealing.

The first is that most papers contain "serious methodological flaws", but a few draw the lucky straw in the review process, are not detected, and go on to publication.  In a second "independent" review, they simply draw the majority long straw and are found out and rejected. Not a pretty sight, but at least not a product of bias, known or unknown.  IIRC, these sorts of patterns have been observed with tests of proposals submitted to agencies (the same proposal sent to multiple groups of reviewer), with these sorts of results.  In a system where more papers and proposals are rejected than accepted, it's easy to see this as simply a statistical noise issue.

Another is that reviewers are heavily biased in favor of people they already know of in the field, and from institutions they believe respectable (the original submissions).  The reviewer then would give a paper from an unfamiliar author and an unfamiliar institution much more detailed scrutiny, finding the "serious methodological flaws" that previously passed in the less scrutinized original article. 

The other possibility is that reviewers and editors are conscious gatekeepers of the "purity" of their literature, only allowing favored authors and institutions to publish in their journals.  An especially egregious example of this sort of behavior came to light in the "Climategate" scandal, when e-mails between scientist conspiring to keep other papers out of the literature were revealed in their released e-mails.  It wouldn't have to be that conscious or well planned.

What were they thinkin' when they funded this study!

Hit tip to Watts Up With That (again).

Derailed Train Explodes in Baltimore Carrying Toxics

The freight train that derailed Tuesday in Rosedale carried one chemical classified as hazardous by the U.S. Department of Transportation and another that also posed risks for firefighters and others at the scene even though not similarly classified.

There might have been residues aboard of a third chemical that also is highly corrosive and hazardous. State health officials, however, said the incident represented only a low risk to the public.

CSX spokesman Gary Sease said at least one of the dozen rail cars that appeared to be involved in the derailment contained sodium chlorate. The chemical is used in making a variety of products, including herbicides, explosives, dyes, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and papers, according to a Material Safety Data Sheet prepared by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

Sodium chlorate does not burn, but poisonous gases can be produced in a fire, the data sheet says. It is also considered a "strong oxidizer," which could enhance combustion of other materials. Contact can irritate eyes and skin, and it can cause headaches, fatigue, dizziness and death at very high concentrations if inhaled. Ingesting the chemical can damage the liver and kidneys.
But mostly, it's just a very potent oxidizer, which if in contact with some organic materials or some acids if heated.  This is probably what caused the explosion seen and heard on the video linked below
Four of the train's cars held terephthalic acid, the CSX spokesman said, and one of them caught fire, according to Baltimore County officials.

Terephthalic acid is used in making plastics and other products. The Department of Transportation does not list it as a hazardous material, Sease said. But it can irritate skin, eyes, nose, throat and lungs and cause coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath if inhaled, according to the data sheet. Though it does not readily ignite, terephthalic acid can burn, producing harmful gas.
So there's your organic acid, waiting to be mixed with the sodium chlorate and heated...
A fact sheet prepared by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration advises emergency responders dealing with spills to isolate them and protect people downwind from potential exposure.

County officials said the second of the two cars that caught fire contained fluorosilicic acid. Sease, the CSX spokesman, said the train included a "residue car" that might have included traces of the chemical.

Though it does not burn, fluorosilicic acid is highly corrosive and contact with it in liquid or vapor form can cause severe irritation and chemical burns of the eyes, skin, mucous membranes and respiratory tract, according to a safety sheet by KC Industries, a Florida-based chemical manufacturer.
Hexafluorosilicic acid releases hydrogen fluoride when evaporated, so it has similar risks. It is corrosive and may cause fluoride poisoning; inhalation of the vapors may cause lung edema. Like hydrogen fluoride, it attacks glass and stoneware. LD50 value of hexafluorosilicic acid is 70 mg/kg.
Hydrogen fluoride (HF) is a deadly toxin.  And so there were had the fire to make the HF.  Nice mixture; it's kind of a miracle, and a testament to the care of the first responders, that no one was hurt of killed.

A pretty amusing video of taken by passersby of the the explosion.  The commentary is PG (at best)... 

Science Says: Tattoos Make Women Look Easy

This just in from the mother ship...

On the Beach, Men Are More Likely to Approach a Tattooed Woman
There are a lot of reasons to think twice before getting something permanently drawn on your body. One is that people still treat those with tattoos differently than those without. One recent study, for instance, looked at how men treat women with tattoos. What they found was that men are more likely to approach a woman with a tattoo and more likely to expect a date or sex with that woman.
Shocked, I'm shocked, to find hear the men would think that women with tattoos scantily clothed lying on the beach might somehow be easier to uh, "date" than say, a woman with her hair in an Amish bonnet and wearing a floor length home spun dress.

Here’s how the study worked. Researchers had women place temporary tattoos on their lower backs and sent them to a well-known beach. The women were instructed to lay on the beach reading a book, staying on their stomachs so that the tattoo was visible. There were two parts to this study. In the first one, once the woman was in place, researchers watched and counted how many men approached her. In the second, once the woman assumed her position, a male researcher walked around the beach and asked random men whether they would be willing to “respond to three questions about a girl somewhere on the beach.” Every single man they approached said yes.
Dang, that's an absolutely outrageous participation rate for a survey.  I routinely turn down opportunities to participate in phones surveys, but I guess if the topic is a girl on the beach, I might find then time to participate.

Here’s how the researchers summarized their results:
Two experiments were conducted. The first experiment showed that more men (N = 220) approached the tattooed confederates and that the mean latency of their approach was quicker. A second experiment showed that men (N = 440) estimated to have more chances to have a date and to have sex on the first date with tattooed confederates.
I mean, just because a woman might be willing to go through a prolonged, painful and all but permanent procedure to look attractive (and well, let's face it, available) is no reason to suspect she might be willing to do "things" that some other women might not, right?

Interestingly, the study did refute an earlier finding about women with tattoos. In 2007, researchers from the University of Liverpool showed that men rated women with tattoos as physically less attractive, but sexually more promiscuous than those without. In this study, researchers found that physical attractiveness—as rated by the men on the beach who agreed to answer questions about the woman—wasn’t impacted by the tattoo. Another study in 2005 also found that tattoos don’t change attractiveness, but do negatively impact a person’s credibility, regardless of their gender.

So tattoos might not be bad for picking up dudes at the beach, but they might impact what those dudes think of you in the long run.

Yes, It Is About the Damn Nail!

It's Not About the Nail from Jason Headley on Vimeo.

And Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain has the grand Rule 5 compendium up at "Rule 5 Sunday: Desert Plains". I'm still trying to figure out his naming scheme. I could just ask him, but what's the fun in that?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Silly Canadians

You know you are in trouble when a crowd of baying Canadian hockey fans stops laughing and helps you complete your butchering of the Star Spangled Banner.

Folk and jazz singer Alexis Normand claims she had only a few hours to learn the American national anthem, however her embarrassment was broadcast nationally during Saturday's Portland Winterhawks-Halifax Mooseheads game.

The Canadian singer started to turn her rendition into a live train wreck as she approached the third line, but in true professional style she powered through, much to the mirth of the crowd who helped her along.
To be fair, I wouldn't know the words to "Oh, Canada" any better, and likely much worse.  But they're Canada and we're the US.  Anyway, it's close enough for jazz.

And Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain has the grand Rule 5 compendium up at "Rule 5 Sunday: Desert Plains". I'm still trying to figure out his naming scheme. I could just ask him, but what's the fun in that?

The Gasohol Two-Step

If you want to understand why people are so down on the American biofuel industry, look no further than the ethanol trade relationship between Brazil and the United States. Last year, the US imported 9.6 million barrels of ethanol from Brazil. And yet Brazil imported 2 million barrels from the US.

How does that happen, you ask? Here’s how it works. The US has a renewable fuel standard that sets quotas for both corn-based ethanol and ethanol produced from “advanced” sources like cellulose or sugarcane. But actual production of those “advanced” biofuels has fallen woefully short of those mandates. To meet that shortfall, producers import sugarcane ethanol from Brazil, where the sugarcane industry is heavily subsidized.

Once you add those 9.6 million barrels of advanced Brazilian ethanol to the vast quantities of corn ethanol producers are churning out to meet the other side of the mandate, the US is left with more ethanol than can be safely blended in to gasoline. As a result, we ended up shipping 2 million barrels of corn ethanol right back to Brazil.

The environmental cost of shuttling these barrels back and forth across the globe makes this more than just an absurd story of misguided government policy. The fact that this program is effectively subsidizing needless voyages by high-emitting ships makes a mockery of biofuel’s dubious status as a “green” program.
The gasohol mandate in the United States is a bit of bi-partisan insanity.  It does not save appreciable energy, or produce less carbon dioxide than straight fossil fuels, it actively damages functioning engines, it's environmentally a nightmare, and it deprives the world's poor of cheap food by converting food to vehicle fuel.  The only people it benefits are the ag businesses the mandate helps artificially support, and the politicians they contribute to.


Another post courtesy of Watts Up With That, the news of a fine new Sci-Fi film in production, (and no I can't say that with a straight face), Sharknado!  What could be worse than sharks or tornadoes?  Sharks and tornadoes combined!

Anthony Watt is concerned that they might invoke global warming climate change as the excuse to combine sharks and tornadoes:
No, really, after the week we’ve had where every opportunist out there is trying to blame global warming for the Moore Oklahoma tornado, I’m not kidding. Sharknadoes are the new EF10. The brief description:
I can only hope they invoke global warming caused weather extremes as the excuse for the swirling mass of dust, debris and sharks, as it makes the notion seem even sillier than it already does.

I just noted the cast.  Tara Reid, of course, was Amanda Bynes before Amanda thought up stole the role of the perky nosed little bad girl:

I look forward to watching it some gloomy winter day when it's too cold and windy to fish, or even go outside.

Sea Level Rise Starting to Slow

Now, we're talking derivatives here, not absolute rates.  Sea level is still rising, but according to satellite measurements, the rate at which it has been rising is declining.  From Watts Up With That:
Obama was right–‘the rise of the oceans began to slow’

From his June 4, 2008 speech on winning the Democratic primaries:
“This was the moment when the rise of the ocean began to slow and our planet began to heal"
Here’s the proof: Ten year running mean sea level rise from satellite altimetry.
Figure 1. Decadal (overlapping) rates for sea level rise as determined from the satellite sea level rise observations, 1993-2011 (data available from
Even local tide gauges show similar long term effects, which can only be observed in long-term averages.  From NOAA for Baltimore:

Of course, if you actually bother to look at the x-axis on the top graph,  you'll see that the rate of sea level rise started to decline in about 2000 (the highest point is centered on 1996-2005), so if one were to blame a politician at all, you would have to blame George W. Bush.  But he's too modest to take credit.

Because that Colbert-Busch Deal Worked Out So Well For Them

Democrats are reportedly wishing the sister of musician Jimmy Buffett would run for Congress in a coastal Alabama district.

Citing a Democratic party source, the Mobile Press-Register reported that Gulf Shores, Ala. restaurant owner Lucy “LuLu” Buffett is being mentioned as possible Democrat to run in the heavily-Republican district.

The Buffetts are from Mobile. Lucy Buffett is well-known in the area for her eponymous beach restaurant, LuLu’s. She was a 2012 delegate to the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina.
A few low information voters might vote for a woman because she's a rock star's sister.  But they're democrats anyway.

New Oyster Rehab Project in Marylang

...“We are watching about 27 million juvenile oysters being planted into Harris Creek,” Westby said, as a hose blasted the oysters off the deck into the waterway, which is a tributary to the Choptank River and Chesapeake Bay.

The $31 million Harris Creek project is one of the largest and best-protected oyster restoration efforts ever attempted on the East Coast. NOAA is working with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, and the Oyster Recovery Partnership, to plant about 400 million oysters inside a protected sanctuary.

In this no-harvesting zone, sonar helps the scientists aim the baby oysters on top of reefs re-built with granite and recycled shells.
I agree that oyster restoration areas should be no harvest zones.  However, we've seen "oyster sanctuaries" in Chesapeake Bay suddenly be opened to commercial fishing once the oysters became of marketable size, with the excuse being that they would just die of disease anyway.  Sanctuaries are also routinely plundered by poachers, as little is done to protect them other than to declare them off limits.

The 4,500 acre Harris Creek oyster sanctuary was created in 2009 by Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration. His Department of Natural Resources that year more than doubled the amount of no-harvesting zones in the state’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay, which now protect 24 percent of the Bay’s remaining reefs.

The new approach, being tested here in Harris Creek, is to focus on the oysters, not the oystermen. However, watermen will likely benefit more in the long run. Studies have suggested that protected reefs generate multitudes of oyster larvae, fish and crabs that spread out to populate a much wider area.

 4,500 acres seems like a lot of water to put into oyster restoration; and it is compared to previous efforts. But I put the maps up to remind us of how trivial that really is in the scope of the entire Chesapeake Bay, which is just about 4,500 square miles.  There are  640 acres in a square mile.

I still maintain that the best oyster restoration would a 5 or more year moratorium on oyster harvesting in the Bay, to find out whether oysters still have to potential to grow and spread without hindrance in the absence of fishing pressure.

All Lesbian All The Time

Over at the Other McCain this week.

This, of course, concerns the matter of Kaitlyn Hunt, the 18 year old Indian River Florida girl, who has been charged with the statutory rape of a 14 year old schoolmate, after having been repeatedly warned away by the younger girls parents, and then helping her run away one night for some sapphic debauchery.

Booking photo
Kaitlyn has become a cause célèbre in the gay and liberal community, with the assumption that she is being persecuted for her homosexuality, while more conservative detractors reply that many 18 year old (and even younger) boys have been put through the same ringer for less and that Kaitlyn is trying to get off on the idea that all female homosexual are privileged compared to heterosexuals.   Both points may be true.

The facts seem fairly settled.  Kaitlyn did, in fact, help the girl run away from home, and had sex with her at school, and at her home after she ran away.  Kaitlyn was 18 at the time, and the other girl 14.  That's pretty clearly statutory rape in any jurisdiction you care to name in the US and certainly in this one, if you ignore the same sex aspect. 

Are women entitled to a different standard when it comes to committing statutory rape?  Clearly there were any number of women teachers in the last few years who thought so, and found out to the contrary to their great disappointment.  Similarly, does the homosexual aspect make it tolerable, since homosexuals have been discriminated against in the past, and are somehow owed "affirmative action?"  That didn't work out very well for Jerry Sandusky.  Or is it only the combination of women, homosexuality and underage sex that makes it quasi-legitimate?

The question of statutory rape is a difficult one. Many jurisdictions make exceptions for cases where the couple in disputed differ in age by a small amount, so called 'Romeo and Juliet' laws.  One exists in Florida, but it only allows the prosecutors to offer a reduction of the "sex criminal" label for the future.  The offer has been made and rejected by Kaitlyn and her family and lawyers as insufficient.

While I'm not anxious to see Kaitlyn spend time in jail for this affair of the, err, heart, maybe this trial and whatever follows can be the basis for a sensible conversation, and perhaps even some action on the problem of stupid sentences for young adults for minor sexual offenses. 

Despite an axe, or a least a good sized hatchet to grind, Stacy has the best coverage of this story:
And Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain has the grand Rule 5 compendium up at "Rule 5 Sunday: Desert Plains". I'm still trying to figure out his naming scheme. I could just ask him, but what's the fun in that?

    Monday, May 27, 2013

    Memorial Day Fishing Report

    With the wind finally having died to an acceptable level, I called Trevor away from his Memorial Day Barbeque for some fishing.

    We tried a little out in the channel where  a few boats were trolling, but despite a good number of marks on the bottom, there were no fish biting. So we headed off to the usual "Location X"
    We tried a few thing there.  We had a few bites, but no hook ups jigging at the bottom of the discharge, and then we tried some top, using popping plugs of various sorts.  We ended up under this Osprey nest, where the male took off and circled anxiously, while the female stayed to ward us off should we invade (and clucked madly at us). 
    It turned out to be the hot area of the day.  You can see the crane the Osprey nest is on in the back right of this shot.  Around 6 PM the fishing turned on, and I got this first 20 inch fish (after it swung and missed at Trevor's lure).
    But Trevor countered with this 25 inch fish, that was slightly the worse for wear (we don't know what happened to it's tail; it looked like it was attacked by something).  By 7 PM the fishing was practically hot, we quickly caught our remaining 2 fish over 18 inches and headed home.

    Memorial Day 2013 at the Beach

    As I said yesterday, the weather for the Memorial Day weekend just keeps getting better and better.  The wind is down today, and the temperature up into the mid 70's.
    There was a pretty good turn out of people enjoying the beach too.  A father and son team trying a little surf fishing.
    Eastern Tiger Swallowtail "puddling", sipping a bit of baywater to keep their water and salts level up.
     A homemade toy, abandoned for someone else to play with.
    Another father and son team out kayaking.
    Georgia, with Skye hanging close, looking for sharks teeth.  It was a low tide, and we found quite a few, but nothing of great note.

    Stupidity in Education

    Fired for word 'negro'? A Bronx teacher has filed a lawsuit claiming she was fired for using the word 'negro' in class. 'Negro' is the Spanish word for the color black.

    One of the first lessons one learns in English class is that context is everything. The same holds true in Spanish.

    Take the case of Petrona Smith. She says in a lawsuit that she was fired from teaching at Bronx PS 211 in March 2012 after a seventh-grader reported that she'd used the "N" word, according to The New York Post.


    Smith doesn't deny using the word. But she argues that everyone uses it, when speaking Spanish. She was teaching the Spanish words for different colors, and the color "black" in Spanish is "negro." She also taught the junior high school students, in this bilingual school, that the Spanish term for black people is "moreno." And by the way, Smith, who is from the West Indies, is black.
    I'm old enough that I remember when negro was the polite word for nxxxxxs, blacks, African-'mericans, or whatever word it is we're supposed to be  using today, in the few cases that we're permitted to mention race, ethnicity or continent of origin, or whatever it is.

    If I recall correctly, the Spanish word "negro" is pronounced a little more like "nay-grow" and less like the American word "knee-grow," but that distinction may not be clear when spoken by a West Indian black "African American West Indian" to a Bronx speaking audience.

    I guess they get the education their parents deserve by tolerating this insanity.

    Midnite Music - Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

    And Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain has the grand Rule 5 compendium up at "Rule 5 Sunday: Desert Plains". I'm still trying to figure out his naming scheme. I could just ask him, but what's the fun in that?

    Sunday, May 26, 2013

    Have I Said We Have Cicadas, Yet?

    A little video I shot of a couple of our new guests, doing what they do best, sitting around making the droning noise. Crank up the sound and you can hear it.

    Sunday Beach Report 5/26/13

    As the Memorial Day weekend goes on, our weather continues to improve.  The wind is down to a mere 6-15 from the northeast, and the temperature rocketing up through the mid 60s to low 70s as we walked.
     As you can see, the tide was still way out, though not as far a yesterday, and a number of the regular fossil hunters were out.  Georgia and I did OK for numbers, but didn't score anything especially picture worthy, just some jar fillers.
    I don't know how they managed to get this boat over that sand bar from the Calvert Beach boat ramp, but I assume it took a lot of work.
    Somebody optimistic trying it an easier way.

    Reign of Pain Update

    Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park
    National Park Police Stops Sequester Furloughs
    Furloughs for the U.S. Park Police forced by the budget cuts known as sequestration will end June 1, the National Park Service announced Friday, because the agency was able to find other savings.

    “We’re ending the furloughs,” Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in an interview, a month after the force of 747 sworn officers and support staff members in three cities began staying home one day per pay period in order to take 12 to 14 unpaid days off by Sept. 30. “We have resolved this within the Park Police budget.”
    Tower Falls, Yellowstone National Park
    In other words, they weren't getting sufficient attention to the cuts by furloughing personnel, so they looked around at the NPS budget, and found some other waste that they would rather trim than have their employees suffer loss of income.  I would call that a victory for the sequester and cut more next year.

    The decision does not stave off staffing shortages through the Memorial Day holiday weekend, when tourists will flood into Washington and the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally is expected to bring 400,000 bikers to the city. But Park Service officials said that security would not be compromised on the holiday.

    The U.S. Park Police force was the only federal law enforcement agency furloughed under the $85 billion in budget cuts.

    The police union had brought public attention to the furloughs for months, saying staffing shortages were compromising safety.
    However, I would still maintain that the sequester is working less than ideally.  The size of government needs to be cut, and people working for the government need to back to jobs that produce goods and services instead of consuming tax dollars.  While furloughing workers, and cutting back on perks of government jobs will save some money, it doesn't really address the problem of swollen government very much.  However, it does signal that the easy ride is over.

    Fast Fingers

    Linked at The Classic Liberal's Rule 5 compendium "Alice in Chains: Stone." Wombat-Socho at The Other McCain has the grand Rule 5 compendium up at "Rule 5 Sunday: Desert Plains". I'm still trying to figure out his naming scheme. I could just ask him, but what's the fun in that?

    Saturday, May 25, 2013

    A Quick Stop in the Garden

    I took a little camera walk around the garden a while ago, after having mowed the lawn and run out of important errands to run.  This Eastern Tiger Swallowtail set down in one of our trees and posed for me
    Have I mentioned we have cicadas?  Even more than yesterday. Drone, drone, drone...
    I wonder if these Five Lined Skinks could choke one or two down.  If so, they shouldn't have to worry about food for a few weeks.  These two appeared to be getting ready to rumble about something when I interrupted them by trying to get too close for a photo.

    5/25/13 Saturday Beach Report

    A long spell of strong north winds since the night before last left resulted in a "blow-out" low tide, and lots of exposed beach.  Should be a good day for fossils.  It was still cool and windy today.
    Georgia got the best of the day with this crocodile tooth.
    Skye, on the other hand was more interested in getting kisses from little girls
    Georgia also found this really large Snaggletooth shark lower tooth, and a lump of something mysterious that may actually turn out to be a piece of tooth from something large.  We're still trying to clean it so we can get a better look at it.
    After we got back to the start, Skye decided she'd rather take another lap with Joel, and Georgia had to go fetch her.