Monday, September 30, 2013

Chesapeake Bay: The Slow Pace of Minor Improvement

“Despite significant efforts by federal, state, and local governments," says President Barack Obama's order in 2009, "water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay prevents the attainment of existing state water quality standards.”

The president calls for renewed commitment to clean the Chesapeake.

Four years later.

“Have you seen any drastic improvement?" asks Annapolis fisherman Jimmy Simmons. "Have you seen anything? Not a damn thing except the bay (health) is less and my taxes are higher."
Speaking as a fisherman, no, I have not seen any improvement.  In fact, for the species I am most interested in catching, Striped Bass, Bluefish, Weakfish, the fishing has gotten significantly worse in the last several years.

Speaking as a scientist, I know that for nutrients and toxic pollution, things have gotten better, but not not, for the most part, a lot. Continuing reductions due to improvements in control of pollution in industrial processes and municipal  waste streams has produced measurable decreases in concentrations, but has not had significant impacts on biota.  Nutrient reductions have barely affected the algae blooms that plague the bay, and toxics were never a factor the limited growth of organisms, only their utility to people.

There has been progress, but he can't see it: An estimated 2.6 billion fewer pounds of pollution spewed into the Chesapeake last year, nearly a one-quarter reduction from the 1985 load. To him, the Severn River still seems empty of the weakfish he used to hook, salt and pepper, then fry.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first cleanup agreement, but a restored bay remains distant. Bay health last year scored 32 out of 100 by the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Healthy is 70.
Actually, 100 is considered to be "pre-colonial", but they have enough sense of reality to realize that 70% of that is about all they feel safe in asking for in modern era.  So how fast is the improvement  progressing?
From 1998 to 2012, bay health increased 27 to 32. That's on a scale of 100 and according to foundation report cards.
 5 points in 13 years, with 38 points to go?

A Quick Walk on the Beach

Just a quick run to the beach this morning.  The weather was just beautiful, warming rapidly into the 60s, blue sky and light winds.
I only saw one Osprey, but it wasn't a shy one, giving me what may well be the best shot I've ever gotten of one soaring.  Transient from the north on the his/her way south?
The tide was way up, still, making the passage around the rocks at Calvert Beach a bit of a scramble.

The Real Debt Ceiling Problem

The deadline to pass a continuing resolution ( which is not a “budget,” although some in the media keep calling it that) is required by the fact that the federal government is nearly $17 trillion in debt, and Democrats don’t want to do anything about that problem. The government is spending more money than it takes in, and this addiction to deficit spending — about $1.86 billion a day — is the underlying reality that the media don’t want you to think about. To put this into perspective, I stated three basic facts on Twitter:

The numbers are staggering when you actually lay them out. Something that can't go on forever, won't, but the longer it goes on, the harder the bump at the end.

Ever Wonder What's Under the Wookies Fur?

Wombat-Socho has the great compendium of Rule 5 posts up at The Other McCain "Rule 5 Sunday: Birthday Week."

Feminists, Enviros Hurt to Find People Resent Nagging

Why don’t people behave in more environmentally friendly ways? New research presents one uncomfortable answer: They don’t want to be associated with environmentalists...

...In one, the participants—228 Americans recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk—described both varieties of activists in “overwhelmingly negative” terms. The most frequently mentioned traits describing “typical feminists” included “man-hating” and “unhygienic;” for “typical environmentalists,” they included “tree-hugger” and “hippie.”

Another study, featuring 17 male and 45 female undergraduates, confirmed the pervasiveness of those stereotypes. It further found participants were less interested in befriending activists who participated in stereotypical behavior (such as staging protest rallies), but could easily envision hanging out with those who use “nonabrasive and mainstream methods” such as raising money or organizing social events...

...“Unfortunately,” they write, “the very nature of activism leads to negative stereotyping. By aggressively promoting change and advocating unconventional practices, activists become associated with hostile militancy and unconventionality or eccentricity. 
Furthermore, this tendency to associate activists with negative stereotypes and perceive them as people with whom it would be unpleasant to affiliate reduces individuals’ motivation to adopt the pro-change behaviors that activists advocate.”...
Notice that the "Unfortunately" in the above selection reveals the researchers bias; they really desire for feminists and environmentalists to make the sale.  I thought scientists were supposed to be unbiased.  Oh wait, I am one, and I know that's not true.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Sept. 29, 2013 Beach Report

Today was another partly cloudy, somewhat breezy and rough day at the beach, with another very high tide.
There were dead fish all over the beach, of several species, and in various states from fresh to badly decayed. The only explanation I can thing of is that someone, somewhere emptied a pound net with a lot of dead fish in it.  There were lots of Turkey Vultures hanging around as a result.
The eagles were still around.  Here's a young one hanging out in the tree tops.  No sign of the Ospreys today, though.
There were a surprising number of people down at the beach for a Sunday morning...
 Some of them even taking advantage of the relatively warm water (still), and lack of Sea Nettles.
It's that time of the year when the Horseshoe Crabs shed, and leave their old shells to wash up on the beach.

Headlines You'll Never See on the Washington Post

Obama, Reid Compromise Fail Sets Up Government Shutdown

Debt Limit Raise: Time to Discuss Spending Cuts

16 Year Temperature Pause Causes Global Warming Doubts

The War of Wildlife: Skunks Invade New York

If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere...
Residents claim skunks have invaded Inwood and Washington Heights, roaming the streets surrounding Fort Tryon Park and stinking up the neighborhood.

“I tell my friends down in midtown or Hells Kitchen that there’s a skunk problem up here and they don’t believe it,” resident Mark Bailey said. “They’re in front of every building…they’re not just in the parks, they’re all over.”

“As far as I am concerned, one is too many,” resident Aaron Frischberg said. “When the windows are open there is a distinct odor of polecat ‘juice.’”

“I haven’t seen them, but I smell them all over the place,” deliveryman Hector Valentin said. “It’s actually not scary, but stinky.”
I think I know the source of the problem:

Wombat-Socho has the great compendium of Rule 5 posts up at The Other McCain "Rule 5 Sunday: Birthday Week."

Catwalk Princess Tweaks Topless Boob

The biggest shock of Paris’s spring-summer 2014 fashion shows came on the otherwise calm and gentle Nina Ricci catwalk, when two topless activists from protest group Femen crashed the podium.

Grabbing a startled model making her way down the catwalk, they screamed “fashion fascism,” with words decrying the sexualization of the modeling industry written in make-up. One had “Fashion dictaterror” scrawled on her naked torso, the other “Model don’t go to brothel.”

One British model, Liverpool-born Hollie-May Saker, was caught in the middle, with the protesters brushing against her lamé-and-lace skirt.
I struggled for 2-3 whole minutes to find the foreign, uncensored version on Youtube (NSFW boobs):

Saker, 18, told the Liverpool Echo that she heard screaming as she walked down the catwalk.

“The next thing I just see half-naked women with black marker pen scrawled across their bare chests and that’s when she came at me….As she grabbed my arm she lifted my skirt exposing me – I pulled my arm back with such force that I landed a punch square on her nose,” Saker told the Echo.
However, the video seems to show that at best she managed to twist the topless twits arm a bit in passing. 

I'm a bit conflicted about FEMEN.  In the past they have, on rare occasions, actually demonstrated people and groups that deserve ridicule.  I'm thinking of Putin, Islam and the Davos gathering.  However, they've also demonstrated some completely blameless causes as well (BarbieHeidi Klum and the new Pope), and questionable issues like Silvio Berlusconi.  As I've said before, whatever they're for, I'm against (and vice versa). Keep the protests alive!

As for Hollie-May Saker, she is kind of a skinny, anemic looking girl at best, and looks better off that catwalk than on:

Can I Have Your Carbon Footprint?

A meteorologist who has covered weather for the Wall Street Journal tweeted that he has decided not to have children in order to leave a lighter carbon footprint, and is considering having a vasectomy.

He also vowed to stop flying after the world's recent climate-change report made him cry.

Eric Holthaus was reacting to the findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which released a report on Friday that found it was ‘extremely likely’ that humans are causing warming trends seen in the last several decades.
Thank you for not breeding, but I'm sure the Chinese, the Indians (the Asian ones) and the Arabs will fill the void.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I'll Drink to That, If I Remember

A glass of wine every day could be the secret to keeping a brighter mind in old age.

Moderate drinking was found to improve memory and learning skills in a long-term study of elderly people.

The research claims that the benefits only begin to emerge after middle age.
Kind of like Cliff's theory about brain cells, do the benefits of alcohol emerge only after it kills off the weak young people?

But it doesn't apply to everyone.

While about 80 per cent of pensioners will do better with a drink, an unlucky 20 per cent will not.

In fact, a regular drink will put this group’s cognitive abilities into reverse because their DNA includes a gene called APOE e4, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in the journal Alcohol And Alcoholism, states: ‘Light and moderate alcohol consumption during late life was associated with greater decline in learning and memory among APOE e4 carriers.
 But, in the absence of a test for APOE e4, why take chances?

I Guess I Shouldn't Write Them Off Just Yet

Although the big mass of butterflies seems to have passed, there are still a few around.  I went out a while ago and nearly stepped over this Painted Lady.  I also spotted a Cloudless Sulphur, but it declined posing.

Today's Beach Post

Yet another cloudy, windy, rough fall day.  The tide was even higher than yesterday, requiring us to walk through the grass and kudzu in a few places to avoid wet feet.
Clouds over Jame's Island on the other side of the Bay.
Still, this mother and daughter were out in bare feet, enjoying the water (which is still pretty warm
In places, the surf had reached up to the bottom of the sand dunes, and was starting to erode them.
A flock of birds, over a school of fish, no doubt.  I comfort myself with the thought that the fish are 12 inches long (undersized), because I'm not about to take the boat out into that.  Fishing is supposed to be fun.

Rule 5 Saturday - Let's Have Another Brazilian, Fernanda Tavares

This weeks Rule 5 special is dedicated to Fernanda Tavares, Brazilian supermodel.  I wish I could say I had a good reason excuse, but I'll let the photos do the explaining.
Born in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, Tavares was appearing in local shows at the age of nine, and at just 13 she won the "Elite Look of the Year" contest. A year later, she was invited by agents to go to São Paulo to pursue a modeling career. In 1998, at the age of 17, she was already appearing on the covers of fashion magazines – L'Officiel Paris, Deutsch and U.S. Marie Claire and Vogue Paris – having signed up with the Marilyn Modeling Agency in both New York City and Paris. She would later go on to appear in numerous other popular magazines, including ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Allure, and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Yeah, yeah yeah...

Tavares hosts Missão MTV, a show modeled after Queer Eye for the Straight Guy that airs on MTV Brasil.

She also enjoys swimming and jogging and she is good friends with fellow Brazilian model, Gisele Bündchen.
So supes hang around together on their days off?  That's mildly amusing.

NSFW link

This Almost Made Me Cry

I miss Skye...

Friday, September 27, 2013

That's a Lot of Salisbury Steak, and a Big Bra

A former school district accountant allegedly made off with more than $2 million in lunch money, according to officials in Rialto.

KCAL9′s Crystal Cruz reports Judith Oakes made around $60,000 a year working for the Rialto school system.

However, police are now accusing her of making a lot more than that illegally — possibly as much as $3 million.

Oakes, 48, spent 25 years with the district as an accountant.

She resigned recently after being accused of stealing student lunch money.
Police suspect Oakes has been stealing money for the past seven years.

Investigators say they have video evidence, but the footage hasn’t been released, according to Capt. Randy De Anda. When Oakes was arrested, it was widely reported police had video of her allegedly stuffing money into her bra on at least two occasions.

“Obviously she had access to large sums of money and she was able to possess those large sums of money and get them out of the building,” De Anda said.

When Oakes was arrested in August, police said they found thousands of dollars in her possession they suspected was stolen.

California Wind Power Plant Plans Eagle Kills

A few weeks ago I reported that the Fish and Wildlife Service was preparing to grant wind power generation plants permits to kill Bald and Golden Eagles in the course of operation, a courtesy not granted to other, less politically correct power sources.
The BP oil company was fined $100 million for killing and harming migratory birds during the 2010 Gulf oil spill. And PacifiCorp, which operates coal plants in Wyoming, paid more than $10.5 million in 2009 for electrocuting 232 eagles along power lines and at its substations.

But PacifiCorp also operates wind farms in the state, where at least 20 eagles have been found dead in recent years, according to corporate surveys submitted to the federal government and obtained by The Associated Press. They’ve neither been fined nor prosecuted.
Now, the first wind power plant has followed up, and requested permits to kill up to five eagles over a five year period without suffering any fines:
A Solano County, Calif., wind farm would be the first renewable energy project in the nation allowed to kill eagles under a federal plan, a U.S. agency said.

Under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal, outlined in a draft environmental report released Thursday, the Shiloh IV Wind Project would be issued a golden eagle take permit for its 3,500-acre plant in the Montezuma Hills, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The plan would allow the company's 50 wind turbines to kill as many as five golden eagles in a five-year period in exchange for measures to protect the birds, including retrofitting 133 power poles to prevent electrocutions, the Chronicle said.

"The bottom line is a permit will help preserve eagles," said Scott Flaherty, the deputy assistant regional director of external affairs for the Fish and Wildlife Service. "I think it really does set a precedent. It shows the service can work with wind energy companies ... and ensure that we conserve eagles and other wildlife."

The report, currently in a 45-day public comment period, analyzed four alternatives, including the possibility of denying the permit application, the Chronicle said.

The Chronicle said about eight eagles a year are killed at the four Shiloh plants.
Some pigs are just a little more equal than other pigs.

Do You Have to be Brain Damaged to Oppose Fracking?

Probably not, but it certainly helps:

'I was terrified to reveal my autism': Daryl Hannah opens up about her struggle to manage her disorder in Hollywood
Daryl Hannah has revealed that she was diagnosed with Autism as a child and struggled 'debilitating shyness' as a result of the disorder.

Now 52, Hannah - who reached the very peak of her profession through roles in smash hits like Splash, Blade Runner, Wall Street and Steel Magnolias - is able to quietly manage her symptoms.

But as she rose through the Hollywood hierarchy it was a different story altogether.

'I’ve never been comfortable being the center of attention,' the stunning blonde - who dated John Kennedy Jnr. - star told People. 'It’s always freaked me out.'
So the Kennedy's like their women retarded too? That figures.

Shyness seems to be the least of her issues now (NSFW links).

Ripped from today's "Live at Five Eight"  at the Other McCain. Wombat-socho was on schedule with "Rule 5 Sunday - Stardancer." 

Democrats Almost Killed Issa

And we don't mean that in a rhetorical sense:

Issa feared targeted by terrorists after Democrats revealed secret Libya trip
A leaked State Department email indicates that officials were worried about the safety of House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa after Democrats revealed his plans for a secret trip to Libya this week.

Issa, a Republican from California, has safely returned from his fact-finding trip to the country as his committee continues to investigate the terrorist attacks that killed America’s ambassador and three others in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.

CBS News reported Thursday on an email that quoted a Libyan national sharing “his concern and his opinion that Representative Issa should not come to Libya for his own safety.”
How did it happen?  In a fit of pique:
Before Issa’s trip, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a press release asking Issa to postpone his trip until he allows Democrats to join him.

“Although you claim that your investigation of the Benghazi attacks is bipartisan, your efforts to secretly plan an official trip to Libya — and then deliberately exclude Democrats from joining — is part of an unfortunate pattern of partisanship that undermines the credibility of this investigation,” Cummings wrote. “The problem with these actions is that they effectively deny Democratic Members the ability to effectively investigate this incident.”
Cummings should be charged with attempted murder by terrorism.

You Don't Tug on Superman's Cape, You Don't Spit into the Wind...

You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger,
and you don't screw around with Putin:

From Powerline:  Maybe Greenpeace Should Try Somalia?
Update: When last we checked in on the seafaring antics of Greenpeace, we found that they weren’t faring so well up in Russian waters. The no-nonsense Russians said they were ready to open fire on Greenpeace ships that interfered with their Arctic energy projects.

Better than firing on a Greenpeace ship? Arresting and charging them with piracy. From the Wall Street Journal today:

MOSCOW—Russia has opened a piracy case against Greenpeace environmental activists who attempted to scale an OAO Gazprom oil platform in the Barents Sea last week to protest Arctic drilling.

The Investigative Committee, the federal law-enforcement body conducting the probe, vowed Tuesday to bring to justice all those involved in the Sept. 18 incident “regardless of their citizenship.” The crew of 30 onboard the Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise includes one American, four Russians and six Britons.
We in the west tend to be excessively kind to our protestors,particularly of the leftist vein.  We allow them to break a variety of small laws, at most jailing them for shot periods until they make bail and then drop the charges even when they commit serious acts of industrial sabotage.  However, attacking and/or invading ships or oil platforms at sea is a serious matter, and involves the lives and safety of other people, not to mention the possibility of considerable environmental damage if they manage to damage the equipment enough out of ignorance or spite.

If you're going to play the part of pirates, you should expect the authorities to treat you like them.

Linked at Proof Positive in the weekly "Best of the Web Linkaround."   Wombat-socho was on schedule with "Rule 5 Sunday - Stardancer." 

High Tide at the Beach

Yet another mostly overcast morning at the beach.  Still, the temperatures were in the mid 60s, and the wind moderate, so, while it was not photogenic, it was certainly pleasant.

One of the local Great Blue Herons took offense to our presence, and went back down south to wait us out.

The tide was way up today, with both the timing of the tide, and a boost from the south wind.  Here, it starts to erode the beach under the Kudzu Vine.  Kudzu doesn't like the salt water, and the vines hit by the water will shrivel and dry up.  As Joel said, it's a poor day when I'm taking pictures of the Kudzu.
The Eagle du jour; yet another juvenile.  The Ospreys are still here too, but all my attempted pictures were a bust.

Your Friday Monkey Dacker Sex Offenders

A double Monkey Dacker post.  First, a baboon being interviewed by a cute reporter for the Lodi Grape Festival cops a feel on camera:

So what happens when primates become sex offenders?  They get sent to sent to sex therapy:
A gregarious male gorilla at the Dallas Zoo will be sent to South Carolina for therapy after he bit one female gorilla and sneered at others, zoo officials said on Monday.

Patrick, a 430-pound Western lowland gorilla, will be moving to the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens in Columbia, South Carolina, where he will live the bachelor life in his own digs.

The South Carolina zoo is known for working with gorillas with behavior problems.

Dallas Zoo officials said Patrick gets along fine with humans but not with other gorillas.

They said they have tried repeatedly to socialize him with the other gorillas, particularly the females, in the hopes that he might get along and even breed. Instead, he bit one female and sneered and nipped at others.

"It's not like we haven't tried, he's been here for 18 years" said Laurie Holloway, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Zoo.

Wombat-socho was on schedule with "Rule 5 Sunday - Stardancer." 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Tad Premature, Perhaps

and the title that this article was given by the Chesapeake Bay news list was even more upbeat:

How the Chesapeake Bay got its oysters back

But if you can get past the hyper-optimism of the titles, the article on oyster restoration efforts in Chesapeake Bay is fair, by Chesapeake Bay Program standards, and worth reading:
...In 2010, Maryland passed the Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan, which cordoned off 24 percent of the Chesapeake Bay's viable oyster habitat for restoration...
In my humble opinion, it should be 100%.  Stop oyster fishing entirely for at least 5 years, before re-evaluating the effectiveness of the recovery.

Fake Dawn at the Beach

It was a good morning at the beach.  Temperatures were coming up into the 60s from the 50s, with a little northeast wind, so some chop and whitecaps.  Mostly cloudy, with patches of blue sky.
A perfect set up for the "fake dawn" where sunlight sneaks underneath the clouds from a long distance, being reddened like a sunrise by passing though a great distance of somewhat dirty air.  One of the rare cases where you win shooting into the sun.
It looks pretty stark when you zoom in on it.  Note the GBH on the channel marker.
 Red in the false dawn
The eagle photo du jour.  Another juvenile, but one of the older ones.  Note the yellow bill and legs.  No sign of any Ospreys today.
A small herd of forest rats deer on the way out of the beach.  There were actually six in this group, but some were on the other side of the road. One was a spike buck.

One Reason I'll Miss Summer...

...the fruit.

oh, and the butterflies:

That Ain't Gonna Buff Out

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Swiped from Theo's.

So Much for My "Modest Proposal"

It turns out, shockingly, that there really is no burning demand for the Redskins to change their name after all:
They convinced the country that there’s an unwritten right to abortion in the Constitution, but somehow the fight over “Redskins” is over? The fight has just begun.
Per the crosstabs, that 70 percent of Democrats who say “Redskins” isn’t offensive is comprised of 49 percent who say it’s definitely not offensive versus 21 percent who say it’s “probably not.” Democrats are also one of only two demographic groups (postgraduates are the other) that reach double digits — 13 percent — who say the name’s “definitely” offensive. Hmmmm. Room to grow?
However, when asked if the name should be changed, some people who admit the the name is not offensive still think it should be changed.

This, of course, does not mean the fight is over.  The fight is between the media and the people who don't want to change (i.e. conservatives by definition), and the media will not willingly publicize such statistics, and will continue to portray those who hold such views as racists, unenlightened rednecks and trailer trash, as they have with similar statistics in the past with gay marriage, abortion, and gun rights.  And they've have all but won on gay marriage.  The strategy works.

So I'll keep my suggestion in reserve.  In the meantime...

Go Skins!

Wombat-socho was on schedule with "Rule 5 Sunday - Stardancer." 

Should the Feds Pay the Rain Tax, Too?

Harford County Executive David Craig fiercely defended his opposition to the state's stormwater remediation fee Monday night, pointing out that government property would be exempt from what has become known as the rain tax.

The rain tax, which Craig said last week he will work to repeal at both county and state levels, was just one of several controversial topics discussed at an Abingdon Community Council meeting Monday evening that nearly filled the Abingdon Library's main meeting room.
Craig has regularly said that he wants the federal and state governments to clean up their own house on pollution, and he reminded those at the Abingdon meeting that government properties are exempt from paying any locally imposed stormwater remediation fee.
This is an interesting point, that I have not seen raised before.  The "Rain Tax" is a tax on "impermeable surfaces", rooftops, driveways, parking lots etc, to raise money for the localities in Maryland affected  spend to ameliorate the effects of stormwater runoff.

The urban (and dense suburban) counties in Maryland chosen for this tax are all in the Washington DC vicinity, and many of them have large federal presences, military bases, large administrative centers etc.  Their impermeable footprint is much the same as that of a large business.  It would only be fair for the Federal Government to help pay the federally mandated costs that those federal facilities impose on the local governments.

Clouds at the Beach

Another coolish, breezy day at the beach.  The weather story of the day, though, was the clouds.

 Another crab boat working the shore.  Unlike the Lucky IV from yesterday, whose pots were covered in red vinyl, these are covered in yellow.  I remember the good old days when they were bare chicken wire.
Two Great Blue Herons maintaining a respectful distance from each other.
A bald eagle, way out over the bay, soars above the mirage of James Island.  Yes, Ospreys are still here.
 Red rests his legs a little.

Unfortunately, the sea gull that appeared to in trouble yesterday, didn't survive the night.