Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Double Day on the Bay

An absolutely classic early fall day on the beach. Absolutely no wind, 75 F, a few puffy clouds around the horizon and a decent low tide
Despite the lovely conditions the beach was all but deserted. We did scare up this Great Blue Heron, though. No signs of Ospreys.  Are they gone for the year?
The Marlee Jade in trouble just off shore, in shallow water. I think they got a crab pot line wrapped in their prop, and had to send somebody over the side to cut it off or unwrap it. It took a few minutes, but they were soon on their way again.

Remember when Capt. Keith had to go over the side to unwrap the prop, and hit his head on the side of the boat and almost drowned?  Good times!
Pretty good shark's tooth hunting today too, over 30 shark's teeth, including the handsome Snaggletooth on the left, 3 Black Drum's teeth, and what may be a fragment of a crocodile tooth. We go Sept up to decent numbers at the last minute, 210 teeth for the month.
The only other person on the beach, also collecting fossils.

As nice as it was, I went fishing after lunch. Fishing was OK, three decent Blue Fish on jigs near the discharge of Location X, and one feisty Striped Bass on a top water plug on structure nearby.
 I looked up from fishing at one point and saw a very strange ship coming down the Bay towards me.  Once it got reasonably close, I headed out to see what it was.

Why, that looks like an old Spanish galleon. Indeed, I managed to find it on MarineTraffic.Com and found that it was the Galeon Andalucia, (rough translantion, Spanish galleon) a Spanish flagged exhibit ship bound from Annapolis MD, to Morehead City NC. Clearly under power, she was making 6 knots without a stitch of sail up.

For a minute I felt like I might be stuck in an S.M. Stirling book.

An Excellent Question

Why Is James Clapper Still Employed?
. . .But Clapper’s resignation has already been demanded by a person whose authority is beyond our poor powers to add or subtract: the president of the United States.

There is just no other way to parse President Obama’s comments on Sunday’s 60 Minutes.

“I think our head of the intelligence community Jim Clapper has acknowledged that they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” the president told Steve Croft. When Croft went on to note that Clapper had also mentioned the failure of the “intelligence community” (a catch-all term for the 17 intelligence agencies that are publicly known, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the intelligence services maintained by such varied departments as Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security) to get an accurate measure of the Iraqi army’s ability to fight, Obama responded “That’s true. That’s absolutely true.”
In my view, James Clapper should have been gone a long time ago, when he was first caught blatantly lying to Congress about the NSA surveillance being carried out on the public. Deliberate deception of Congressional oversight should be a capital crime as far as government careers are concerned. As Tom Lehrer said, in a slightly different context "If you can't communicate, the very least you can do is shut up."

But Obama stood by his man, and a Congress divided between democrats and republicans couldn't get exercised enough to get together about being deceived and force him out.

Now, my theory on Presidents and the collection, presentation, and consumption of intelligence, based on nothing but my intimate knowledge of governmental organizations:

The many intelligence services collect a whole lot of information, much of it vague and even contradictory, and no doubt, in many cases, just flat wrong, as other countries have a strong motive for deceiving the United States.

To get to the President, a whole lot of that stuff needs to be boiled down to a few simple points, so he can get on to the golf course with plenty of time to get into the monkey suit for the evening fund raiser.

I have faith in bureaucrats, however, that the pertinent points are stated with sufficient equivocation (probabilities even), that President Jarrett Obama, has a number of options to focus on, probably arranged in some form of priority.

The President then, gets to pick among the options according to his own internal disposition. Now, President Bush, particularly after 9/11, was strongly inclined to assume to worst, and most warlike nuggets of intelligence, (and remember, before the Iraq war, even prominent democrats thought Saddam Hussein was up to no good).  The President chose accordingly.

However, President Jarrett Obama ran as the quintessential anti-war President, choosing to vote "Present!", and take the least possible action in the face of deliberate provocations.

Finally, we get to the feed back loop. Whosoever's intelligence that reaches the Oval Office and is acted upon by the President gains power and authority within the intelligence community, and is more likely to be forwarded to the President, and ranked higher among the possibilities laid out for the President in the future. No bureaucrat wants to be be put in the position of giving the top guy a plate of vegetables, however nicely cooked.

So, I'm relatively sure the President was told of the dangers of ISILS, but it was not high on the menu, or prominently featured. It was there, and he chose to overlook it, in favor of the chili dog with fries, and a large coke of doing nothing.

That's It; Now I'm Going to Watch Rugby

Check out these rules:

What, you mean it's not like this in real life? I'm so disappointed.

Swiped from Theo's. With a burst of energy, Wombat-socho got "Rule 5 Sunday: The Consolations Of The Elbows" out on Sunday night.

Stay Alert on the Job!

We need more lerts.

Midnite Music: Hendrix on a 12 String Guitar

YouTube/Google must have selected this for me based on a recent search for a Hendrix tune to post elsewhere (Little Wing - I know I've beaten it to death here). Hendrix is not particularly well known for his acoustic guitar but this is pretty good:

Monday, September 29, 2014

While On the Bay: Smile, You're On Candid Camera

NRP boats now have live video streaming capability
The Maryland Natural Resources Police recently added another tool to help fulfill its role as the state’s maritime homeland security agency.

NRP boats now have live video streams. Before, the video feed on boats could only be stored locally and downloaded once the boat was docked.

Candy Thomson, public information officer with the NRP, said officers patrol a lot of area, with 140 vessels covering the Chesapeake Bay’s 64,000 square miles of watershed.

“That’s a lot of water, and often they’re patrolling alone, so often, backup can be quite a distance away,” Thomson said. “With real-time video, our communications center can look at it, can be there for them, not only for their safety, but also watching a scene develop.”

Besides officer safety, the live video feed also could help in matters of public safety. Thomson said the live video feed will help the NRP in emergency situations.
Despite the "police state" aspect of this, I don't have any problems with the NRP having this capability. It's pretty much the same as police having a dash cam and a live feed.

I would also guess they don't have the man power to have any significant number of these feeds monitored.

Despite having 140 boats, it's relatively rare to encounter an NRP boat outside the high traffic areas around the major cities. A few years ago, the fleet was largely grounded due to high fuel costs. I haven't heard of that issue recently however.

Day After Day, the Whole Place Flakin' Away

California's Drought continues:

First, some news via Drudge: Daily water allocation could be the next California drought strategy
You probably know your Social Security number, your driver’s license number and perhaps the latest wrinkle in mattress marketing, your sleep number.

But do you know your drought number?

The latter represents the amount of water you are allowed to use per day. If you don’t know it, you probably should. Not knowing could cost you money. As California’s severe drought moves into a fourth year, state and local water agencies are working on something called “allocation-based rate structures,” a kind of precursor to water rationing that’s all the rage in Sacramento and in some areas such as Santa Cruz, Irvine and Santa Monica.

Here’s how it works: Your local water company, special district or city assigns you and your household a number in gallons — a daily water allocation. Usually, one number applies to maximum indoor water use, i.e. showers, kitchen and bathroom faucets, dishwashers, clothes washers, etc., and an extra allocation is assigned for outdoor use such as lawn irrigation.
We normally call such allocations by that nasty word "rationing."
Using census records, aerial photography and satellite imagery, an agency can determine a property’s efficient water usage. At the Irvine Ranch Water District, number of residents, amount of landscaping and even medical needs are factored into a household’s water allocation or water budget.
As a member of our local water co-ops board of directors, I would like to avoid such intrusive measures. I don't want to be asking how many people are living in the house to be used to set a ration, above which people will be harshly penalized, but I could see it come to that. We already argue about how best to set rates, to provide the best deal for our customers while discouraging excessive water use.
While some call it a more equal way to meter out mandatory water conservation, others call it social engineering. Some say the idea simply will not work.

In July, the State Water Resources Control Board passed stage one emergency regulations, giving powers to all local water agencies to fine $500 per violation.
Our local water co-op doesn't even have meters (yet), although we have a plan in place to install them, and I can already see a disagreement shaping as how to charge for water. In our case, our water supply isn't really controlled by rainfall (except may 10-14,000 years ago when our aquifer was filled), but by our capacity to deliver water. Hot dry weather makes people water their lawns, to the point that we are sometime unable to keep up with demand, and deplete our storage tanks.  This has been very good year for us, with rain mostly in time to keep the lawn green, and water use is down accordingly.

So how much water do Americans use?  Approximately 80-100 gallons per person per day:
Typical water use at home
BathA full tub is about 36 gallons.
Shower2-2.5 gallons per minute. Old shower heads use as much as 4 gallons per minute.
Teeth brushing<1 gallon, especially if water is turned off while brushing. Newer bath faucets use about 1 gallon per minute, whereas older models use over 2 gallons.
Hands/face washing1 gallon
Face/leg shaving1 gallon
Dishwasher20 gallons/load, depending of efficiency of dishwasher
Dishwashing by hand:4 gallons/minute for old faucets.. Newer kitchen faucets use about 1-2 gallons per minutes.
Clothes washer25 gallons/load for newer washers. Older models use about 40 gallons per load.
Toilet flush3 gallons for older models. Most all new toilets use 1.2-1.6 gallons per flush.
Glasses of water drunk8 oz. per glass (did you remember to drink your 8 glasses of water today?)
Outdoor watering2 gallons per minute
I save that one gallon per day by not shaving.

And that works out to be about right for our community 800 house, times 3 people per house (probably slightly less due to many older residents, but we don't have records), and 4-5 million gallons of water pumped per month on average, for a guesstimate about 70 gallons per person per day.

A large number of people in California are facing water restrictions now as a result of the drought:
Growing List Of NorCal Communities Running Out Of Water In Just 60 Days

As you probably know, Georgia I hail from California many years back, and our families are still mostly there, scattered up and down the length of California, from Los Angeles to McKinleyville and are experiencing the drought. Brother Ted, from Murphys, California gives his view:

despite the “Unprecedented Drought” that we are currently having, New Melones Reservoir is at this time 150′ and change higher then it was back in 1992
In other words, as dry as it has been, it could still get worse:

From a long-term perspective, it looks like California may just be recovering from an unprecedented wet spell that happened to coincide with the introduction of Europeans to the region.

There had been some up that a brewing El Nino might bring some needed rain, but the recent forecasts suggest a weal El Nino that is unlikely to provide much relief: A 'fickle' El Niño may still appear this year - but it won't be strong enough to end droughts in parched California, claims Nasa
El Niño - a heating of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific - affects wind patterns and can trigger both floods and drought in different parts of the globe.

The most recent waves increase the chances that parched California could be in for some relief - albeit small - if weather patterns take a turn later this year.

But Nasa has warned that 'fickle' El Niño will likely be weak if it does appear, providing only limited relief for a drought-ridden west coast.

Around 430,000 acres of land will be left fallow in California - because there hasn't been enough rain or snow coming from the nearby mountain ranges.
If I were king (or even governor) of California, I would immediately drop the bullet train from nowhere to nowhere (Bakersfield to Fresno) project and concentrate my efforts on building adequate water supplies, whether by new reservoirs, bigger water projects, or desalination. Without a good water supply, California as it exists now cannot continue. Instead, I'm sure the powers that be will write it off to climate change (just look at the chart above for an instant refutation of that notion), and demand further restriction on energy use and control of the economy.

Catch Up Obamacare Schadenfreude

Just a little taste of the continuing issues.

Obamacare creates Medicaid patients but not doctors to treat them:
Enrollment in Medicaid is surging as a result of the Affordable Care Act, but the Obama administration and state officials have done little to ensure that new beneficiaries have access to doctors after they get their Medicaid cards, federal investigators say in a new report.

The report, to be issued this week by the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, says state standards for access to care vary widely and are rarely enforced. As a result, it says, Medicaid patients often find that they must wait for months or travel long distances to see a doctor.

The inspector general, Daniel R. Levinson, said federal and state officials must do more to protect beneficiaries’ access to care, in view of the program’s rapid growth. Just since October, the administration says, eight million people with low incomes have enrolled. By 2016, the Congressional Budget Office estimates, one in four Americans will be on Medicaid at some time during the year.
You can give people legal access to the moon, too, but if they have no means of getting there, it's kind of an exercise in futility.

Buyer's Remorse Plague California Obamacare
California's narrow Obamacare networks have many Obamacare customers experiencing buyer's remorse over health care plans that are turning out to include far fewer doctors than they were led to believe, reports the Los Angeles Times.

"Where was the state in protecting people from these false promises?" California Obamacare customer Heidi Shurtleff, 53, told the Times. "I'm not getting what I paid for."
President Barack Obama infamously promised Americans, "If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor."

But so-called "narrow networks" are a key component of Obamacare designed to limit doctor choice in an effort to drive down costs. A Times analysis found that insurers in California, which has the nation's largest number of Obamacare customers, have no intention of expanding the number of doctors available to plan holders.

"The state's largest health insurers are sticking with their often-criticized narrow networks of doctors, and in some cases they are cutting the number of physicians even more, according to a Times analysis of company date," the Times reported on Sunday.
The "Fool the Rubes" model of democracy; The Rubes Revenge:
. . .let us take a brief detour into theories of representation in a democracy. The “delegation model” holds that a legislator should reflect the interests of his constituents. The “trustee model” holds that a legislator should act in the best interests of his constituents, rightly understood. Since his constituents might not have the time or ability to understand how a piece of legislation will affect them, the elected representative must act to advance the people’s true interests. He may vote against their express preferences, but only because he knows better.

Neither of these models captures the vote the 12 senators took. Obamacare was a highly salient issue, generating enough interest that the public was reasonably well-informed. The people said no, they meant no, and their no carried weight because they had thought quite a bit about the proposed law. And since the law was enacted, a vast array of problems with it have become apparent, justifying the people’s opposition and showing that the 12 senators were grossly irresponsible trustees.

It seems that the Democrats have been developing a third model of representation of late: Call it the “sneak it past the rubes” theory. Under this approach, you pre-sent yourself to your constituents as an independent voice, not in hock to the national Democratic party, so as to get elected. Then the national party allows you generally to vote with your constituents, on the understanding that when the chips are down you will vote with the liberal leadership. Then you hope that the “rubes” back home can be sufficiently distracted by the “war on women” or some other phony issue that they’ll return you to office. And if they choose not to, there will be a consolation prize: a cushy, well-connected job as a lobbyist (Blanche Lincoln) or law firm adviser (Byron Dorgan) or association CEO (Ben Nelson) or strategic adviser in PR (Kent Conrad) in Washington, where you are more at home anyway, or even a job out of town as an ambassador (Max Baucus).

This is in reference to Greg Orman's "independent" bid for Pat Robert's Kansas Senate seat.

He Gets a Fancy Safety Suit . . .

And all they get are skimpy bikini tops. It's sexist, I tell you:

Linked in "Rule 5 Monday with Anna Kendrick" at Blackmailer's Don't Shoot. With a burst of energy, Wombat-socho got "Rule 5 Sunday: The Consolations Of The Elbows" out on Sunday night.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Obama Administration Rushes to Fix VA

No New VA Patient schedule System until 2020
The Department of Veterans Affairs will not install a new patient scheduling system to all of its 153 hospitals and 50,000 users until 2020, according to contract documents released last week.

The VA views a new patient scheduling system as key to resolving problems which have consigned veterans to a waiting list limbo for months or years. In July, acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson told the House Veterans Affairs committee the new scheduling system would be deployed in 2016.

The new timeline for the patient scheduling system, released last week, said VA expects to deploy an “Alpha” version to the first 300 users at two hospitals in 2016. That would be followed by a beta version to 700 users at five hospitals in 2018 and installation at all 153 hospitals in 2020.
But to be fair, their attempt at putting out the Obamacare website in 5 years didn't work out so well, so maybe they're just being realistic.

Jeez, what do think these things are, pyramids? I wonder about implementation after Cheop's Law has it's way:
Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.

A Waste of Good Beer!

And possibly a good girl:

With a burst of energy, Wombat-socho got "Rule 5 Sunday: The Consolations Of The Elbows" out on Sunday night.

Feed Me!

Or: Remember What Happened to Steve Irwin?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mt. Ontake Erupts

It's really not a great surprise for a volcano in Japan to erupt; it happens all the time.  This one, however, appears to have given little warning. A number of hikers were on the mountain when an ash cloud descended on them:

That cloud coming is really something you don't want to see up close and personal. If it's not hot inside (nuée ardente ), it's really sharp sand filling the air and choking you. But what's even more distressing is this tweet from someone at the summit 1 minute before the eruption:

The Japanese translates roughly as: "Enjoying Mt. Otake alone."

The Beach Report, 9/27/14

A perfect day for a walk on the beach, sunny, a little less than 70 F and warming, with a slight north wind, a touch of chop (declining) and a dead low tide.
Not too many more sun bathing days left.
Crabbing is in full swing. September and October are big months in the crab harvest, and demand is down now that the mid-summer crab fest period.  If you want crabs, now is a good time.
Speaking of crabs, the annual fall molt of the Horseshoe crabs has begun; we saw several empty shells like this one scattered around the beach. If you want a souvenir from the beach, these work pretty well.  Rinse most of the sand out through the slit in the front lip where the crab escaped (you can't get it all), and pose it however you'd like it and let it dry.  The joints will get hard, and keep the pose. No smell!
A bit of butterfly action.  I found this Common Buckeye in the dunes near the parking lot . . .
And this Painted Lady on a Goldenrod plant near the cliff.  A Monarch floated overhead at one point, and I think I heard "Time to vamanos, muchachos."
On a side note, both Eagles and Ospreys spotted, but not photographed.  I'm trying to keep track of when the Ospreys actually depart.

Butterflies in the News

A swarm of butterflies, winging its way south for the winter, was "spotted" as large blue blobs on weather radar last week over southern Illinois and central Missouri.

"We think these targets are Monarch butterflies," the National Weather Service in St. Louis noted on itsFacebook page, which also includes a technical explanation of how the weather service came to this conclusion.

The monarchs were flapping their way south toward their winter home in Mexico. As noted earlier this year, the colorful insects were under stress this spring because of ongoing drought, an unusually cold winter and a lack of milkweed, their primary food source.
The demise of the Monarchs this year appears to have been somewhat over stated. I blame the media-global warming cadre for trying to turn everything into a story about the negative effects of the non-existent global warming. Monarchs have been rather regular visitors to what remains of the blooms on our Butterfly Bush in the last couple of weeks, presumably on their way south to Mexico. It would be cool to see a flight like that, though.

Rule 5 Saturday - Rosario Dawson - Because I Owed Her One

A while back in a Rule 5 post dedicated to the various girls of Dr. Who, the British SciFi show whose cheap sets are only out cheaped by Red Dwarf, I posted the picture on the right, identified as Freema Agyeman, one of the Doctor's dollies.  As several commentators noted, it was a misidentified photo and the true subject was Rosario Dawson.  Hey, it happens.  But at the time, I promised that Rosario deserved her day, too. It's today.

Rosario Dawson (born May 9, 1979) is an American actress, singer, and writer. She has appeared in films such asKids, Men in Black II, 25th Hour, Sin City, Clerks II, Rent, Death Proof, The Rundown, Eagle Eye, Alexander, Seven Pounds, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Unstoppable, and Trance.

Having worked in some 50 films since 1995 and with a long string of awards, she seems to have what it takes.

GOODSTUFF is featuring "melons" in the 157th issue of his blogging magazine. Linked at Pirate's Cove weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup." Wombat-socho is celebrating Rule Five Sunday on Monday this week.

Stuff Bush Didn't Do

Source. Found at the ONT.

Friday, September 26, 2014

They Say History Doesn't Repeat; It Rhymes

Military to allow undocumented immigrants to serve
A small number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. will have an opportunity to join the military for the first time in decades under a new Department of Defense policy unveiled Thursday.

The new rules will expand an existing program allowing recruiters to target foreign nationals with high-demand skills, mostly rare foreign language expertise or specialized health care training. . .

The new Pentagon policy may be the first phase of a broader government-wide effort to ease pressure on immigrants and create new paths to citizenship. President Barack Obama, frustrated with the failure of Congress to pass any substantial immigration reform, has vowed to aggressively use his presidential authority to change the way immigration policies are carried out.

The Pentagon program is capped at 1,500 recruits per year. Officials say it's unclear how many of those might be unlawful DACA status immigrants as opposed to others who are also eligible for military service under MAVNI, including those with legal, nonpermanent visas such as students or tourists.
This at a time when the US military is being pared down, and millions of US citizens are preemptively barred from the military due to criminal records (and yes, it is criminal to be an illegal alien).  I know they say that they're just hiring illegals with rare foreign language skills (which rules out most Hispanics, but might include many Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants.  However, that's this year. The unfortunate tendency is for government programs to grow, and become less restrictive. Pretty soon we'll have recruiters in Tijuana, and Juarez signing up kids who look 16 and say their 18 for three hots and a cot.

And the opening couplet of this poem?  In 376 AD, a Visigoth leader, Fritigern appealed to the Roman authorities to let them into the empire south of the Danube, to escape the ravening Huns.  Emperor Valens agreed, thinking them "a splendid recruiting ground for his army."

In 410 AD the Visigoth army under Alaric I sacked Rome, the first of several sackings of the ancient city to come at the hands of barbarians willingly let through the border, and which ultimately led to the downfall of the Roman Empire.

I Guess This Means They'll Look For it in Our Checked Baggage?

Will taking shorts and T-shirts to Alaska be considered proof of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming ? US Homeland Security moves to tackle climate change risks
Protecting the infrastructure of American cities from the effects of climate change is rising on the agenda of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to a top agency official.

"Increasingly, we've moved not only from a security focus to a resiliency focus," said Caitlin Durkovich, assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at Homeland Security, an agency better known for its fight to curb terrorist threats.

Durkovich spoke Thursday on a panel at the Rising Seas Summit, a three-day conference organized by the U.S.-based Association of Climate Change Officers to discuss tools and ideas on building resiliency, particularly against rising sea levels.

In the aftermath of 2012's Hurricane Sandy, which devastated large swathes of the Northeastern U.S and caused over $60 billion in damages, Durkovich said her department reviewed the task of rebuilding with a new focus on "how to think about baking in resilience from the get-go."
Just a reminder; there is no evidence of increased hurricane activity or increased sea level rise as a result of "global warming":

Now, it's good for them to be thinking about what is to be done about potential climate changes in the future, because they will happen, humans or not, but history suggests that given the opportunity, humans simply adapt and move on. Everyone thinks the weather should be what they experienced when they were 18.  Adulthood is full of disappointments.
To that end, she said, she has assembled a team of specialists, including city planners, in conjunction with the National Academy of Science to develop better tools for planning.

The Department of Homeland Security already has launched regional efforts to assess resilience of infrastruction and judge where gaps in adaptation and preparedness may be, she said.

For example, the Portland, Maine area is being looked at in terms of risks from rising sea level, how floods might be mitigated and how to deal with saltwater intrusion into what had been bodies of fresh water. The results will then be shared with other coastal communities, she said.
Similarly, no evidence for an acceleration of sea level rise in Maine, in fact, it's less there than NY or here.
California, which has the country's second longest coastline after that of Alaska, also is looking increasingly at climate change adaptation and resilience, said fellow panelist Ken Alex, senior policy advisor and director of the California Governor's Office of Planning and Research.
And California, well it depends on where you look, but take a look at Crescent City, a city truly threatened by floods from tsunamis (It happened in the Good Friday Alaska quake, as well as some damage after the recent Japanese quake):

Yep, sea level is actually declining somewhat in Crescent City, because of tectonic activity (uplift). The reason Crescent City is threatened by tsunamis is because it was built close to the water (a fishing town), near a point which focuses the energy of the waves.  One more, Skagway, Alaska (a lovely little town).

Man, that town is being shoved up the Chilkoot Trail! They better start digging now to keep at sea level.

The problem here is that the DHS is being used to address a problem for which it is not suited. DHS is an agency that never should have been created in the first place, and throwing them at the non-problem of sea level rise is simply a waste. However, the Obama administration has decided that climate change is the nail, and big government is the hammer they need to pound it.

Ladies Night

Which just goes to prove how far a little chutzpah can take you. Wombat-socho is celebrating Rule Five Sunday on Monday this week.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fight On, Fight On, Redskins!

For Thursday Night Football tonight, Don Snyder's hapless Redskins (1-2) meet the New York Giants with the same 1-2 record, at 8:25 PM EDT. May God have mercy on their souls Also their arms, legs and heads. May the team with the best cheerleaders win.
One of the lesser known facts about the New York Giants is that they are the only NFL team the gets by without an associated team cheerleading squad. How can they expect to win without professional cheerleaders? Fortunately, New York City has a collection of dancers (whoda thunk?) called the Gotham City Cheerleaders who cheer for the Giants as well as other New York City teams.

Meanwhile, the liberal war against football continues to be waged in the news. Actual comments from the Huffington Post:

The Beta Male War on Football and Biology
. . .The point I’m ham-handedly trying to make is that a component of the war on normal is a war on the traditional male. Hollywood no longer casts male leads in action films, it seems. Instead, we get pixie stick women in Lycra body suits manhandling, as it were, the male toughs. The male toughs are always hairy steroidal white guys or steroidal black guys. It’s why the schools are pumping boys full of drugs so they sit there and pay attention. It’s why colleges want to throw horny frat boys in prison for banging drunk chicks.
The war on football is, of course, an easy insertion point for the dimmer members of the sporting press to get in on the act.
One of the saddest and most revealing details about the Adrian Peterson child abuse allegations/indictment is this reportedtext exchange with the mother of one of the children who was whipped.
“… toughest of the bunch,” Peterson wrote. “He got about five more pops than normal. He didn’t drop one tear! So that was another indicator I’ll have to try another system with him. SMH he’s tough as nails …”
The mother replied: “Well you can’t hit him til he cries! That’s just mean. He’s trying to be strong for you. He’s afraid of you. He’s 4, he’s not playing mind games with you …”
Peterson was trying to make his child into a man before the boy can even form and express complete thoughts. He’s even excited about the challenge, as if facing down a would-be tackler. The child is trying to prove his own mettle, probably because he wants his dad to be proud of him. It’s the same thing Peterson did with his own father, as a child and into his college years, when he dazzled the football world with his toughness as his dad sat in jail.
Adrian Peterson scored a 16 on his Wonderlic. This is a test I’ve taken many times and administered many times. It is not a valid IQ test for a number of reasons, but it is a decent approximation for people who have attended college. Peterson probably has an IQ of around 90. Employers using the Wonderlic are told that a 20 is the minimum for a job stocking shelves in a warehouse. In other words, Adrian Peterson is probably too dumb to understand any of this. . .
The Media's Absurd NFL Hysteria
In recent weeks, you’d think that the fate of justice in America depends on how harshly the NFL punishes a few miscreants. Only if Ray Rice and accused child-abuser Adrian Peterson are banished from the game do women and children have a chance of living in a country where they are safe from violence and abuse.

This is patently absurd. Even if the NFL is spectacularly successful, it is still just a sports league. More specifically, it is a business that stages violent spectacles that will damage the brains of some significant portion of its participants. We really shouldn’t be expecting it to set our society’s standards.
Ace points out that the media also has it's fair share of domestic abusers on staff, and no one is seriously talking about shutting down any major news outlets as result:
Does The Media Have a Domestic Violence Problem?

Well played.

It's actually a good question. This isn't about domestic abuse, actually -- no one actually defends domestic abuse -- but the media's interest in connecting individual misdeeds to a "culture of corruption" for some industries, but not others.

And never their own, certainly. . .when an institution is right-leaning -- or simply not left-leaning-- the media goes into attack mode to degrade it (as Obama might say), to humble it, to disrupt it, to bring it down a peg, to bring it to heel -- to show it who's boss, in terms of institutional power.

So Jeffery Lord at the American Spectator had a question -- Have there been any recent domestic-violence charges involving people working for the US legacy media?
The answer may surprise you.

Just kidding, the answer won't surprise you at all.
Senators throw Hail Mary at NFL
The National Football League might be reeling right now, but lawmakers seeking to strip the league of its tax-exempt status face a tough fight.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has long been angered by the Washington Redskins team name, is among the lawmakers targeting the NFL as the league tries to recover from its handling of a recent rash of domestic violence and child abuse incidents.

Reid’s teamed up with Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) to propose taking away the NFL’s tax exemption, for as long as it promotes the Redskins name.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), himself a former Stanford football player, has a proposal that would scrap the exemption for all professional leagues, and send the proceeds to domestic violence prevention programs.

But lawmakers who have long battled the tax exemption don’t see any reason to believe Congress will act soon.

“It think it’s posturing,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who has long led the fight against the NFL’s tax-exemption, said about the new bills from his colleagues. “You see the NFL’s getting some negative deal, and now you jump on a bill?”
I have no problem with getting rid of the NFLs tax exemption, as long as it's done to all other professional sports at the same time. And stop building stadiums for them, you morons.

By way of Wombat-sochos "Live at Five: 09.24.14" Megan McArdle on how not to help your cause: Don't Ever Appear on 'The Daily Show'
In mid-September, some Washington Redskins fans agreed to go on "The Daily Show" to defend the team’s name. In the course of negotiating their appearance, the fans asked whether they would be confronted by American Indians on the show. The producers said no, and then surprise! They were ambushed by irate American Indian activists.

Before we go any further, I'm in favor of changing the team’s name. I don’t want to get into a tired debate; my general position on such matters is that whatever its history, "Redskins" is now viewed as an epithet, and ladies and gentlemen do not use offensive epithets when they can avoid doing so. Moreover, while I understand that the fans love their team, one hopes they are attached to the folks who play the game, not whatever name they happen to go by.

That said, my hopes for the team’s future reincarnation as some warlike animal, perhaps the "Senatorial Aides," do not mean that I will countenance anything in the name of the cause. I’m with Mark Kleiman on this: It’s unacceptable to lie to interview subjects -- especially members of the public, who probably do not have PR flacks and image consultants to assist them.

This appears to be something of a standard practice for "The Daily Show" when interviewing its ideological opponents. It is not good journalistic practice, which is why so many millennials should take Jon Stewart at his word and not treat the show as news. However, I’m sure millennials will continue to do so, and the show’s producers will continue to supply them with dubious antics, so here’s a guide for people who do not share the show's politics but are considering going on it anyway:

  1. Don’t.
  2. If you must, bring two tape recorders, a video camera and a witness. Announce at the beginning that you are going to record this and reserve the right to release the entire recording to the public. When they tell you that they will not do the interview under those conditions, prepare to leave. There is no ethical reason that a reporter requires the ability to ask you questions without having those questions recorded. The reason they don’t want unedited audio is that you might release it and be revealed as a normal decent person, rather than a horrible fool. . . 
More good advice in the same vein. The only thing more dangerous than a media person who doesn't know what he's talking about it one who does.

ESPN's Bill Simmons calls Roger Goodell a liar in profanity-laced tirade
“Goodell, if he didn’t know what was on that tape, he’s a liar. I’m just saying it. He is lying. If you put him up on a lie detector test, that guy would fail. For all these people to pretend they didn’t know is such [expletive] [expletive]. It really is, it’s such [expletive] [expletive]. For him to go into that press conference and pretend otherwise — I was so insulted.”
He got suspended and banned from Twitter.

I reiterate from last week. I don't care what Roger Goodell knew and when he knew it. Football is Goodell's job, not law enforcement. Law enforcement apparently thought that what Ray Rice did was not so unusual as to be worthy of a trial and potential punishment. That should be good enough for the NFL and the media, unless they are willing to live by the same standards. And they aren't.

Source: Refs say Colin Kaepernick used racial slur
Needless to say, Colin Kaepernick had a game he'd like to forget after last week's 28-20 loss to the Bears.

The 49ers quarterback was responsible for four turnovers in the team's loss, but it was a curious flag that has also drawn attention.

After throwing an interception that set up a Bears touchdown, Kaepernick allegedly used a racial slur, according to the refs.

Kaepernick was fined more than $11k for the alleged slur, but denied saying anything.
Almost $2,000 a letter!

Accuser says Jerry Jones paid her to keep silent

An Oklahoma woman says in a lawsuit that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones paid her for at least four years to prevent her from reporting an alleged sexual assault.

Jana Weckerly's attorney, Thomas Bowers, filed an updated lawsuit Monday that accuses Jones of forcibly touching Weckerly's genitals and kissing her on the lips without her consent more than 5 years ago, then bullying her into not reporting the alleged attack. The lawsuit seeks more than $1 million in damages.

Jones has denied Weckerly's allegations and the Cowboys on Wednesday referred to an earlier statement from Jones attorney Levi McCathern calling the claims "completely false."

"This is nothing more than an attempt to embarrass and extort Jerry Jones," McCathern said in the statement made immediately after the lawsuit was initially filed Sept. 8.
I demand Goodell view the tapes! There have to be tapes, doesn't there?

Enjoy the cheerleaders game anyway, !

Linked at Proof Positive's weekly "Best of the Web." Wombat-socho is celebrating Rule Five Sunday on Monday this week.

Bald Eagle Rescued from Chesapeake

Bald eagle fights for life after being rescued from drowning
Ernie Jenkins, maintenance manager at the Maryland Yacht Club in Pasadena, was opening the fuel dock early Sunday morning when he heard splashing.

He looked down and saw a bald eagle flapping its wings, struggling to get out of the water. Jenkins said he had seen the bird flying around the club on Rock Creek for about two months.

"I didn't want to watch him drown," he said. "If I didn't get him out, he would have died and that was it."

Grabbing a net, Jenkins ran to a pier and reached to get the net around the eagle and pull it to safety. The rescue took about 10 or 15 minutes.

"He was so exhausted — it was crazy how exhausted he was," Jenkins said. "I set him on the pier and he sat on the pier all hunkered over."
That is one bedraggled looking bird.
Jenkins called Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research in Newark, Delaware, and stayed with the eagle until a rescue crew arrived.

Lisa Smith, executive director of the rescue center, said when the eagle arrived, it was wet and cold. The eagle, a 5-year-old male known only by its case number, 2237, received a full examination, X-rays and fluids. Workers at the center are keeping him dry and warm.

The eagle tested positive for lead poisoning, which damages the brain and causes birds to be subdued. It later was diagnosed with a respiratory illness. It is currently receiving chelation therapy to remove the lead and antibiotics for the respiratory illness.
You know, I 'd probably do the same, but in my head I know that Bald Eagles are nearly a dime a dozen here on the Bay, and a few are going to die every year, and it's not worth risking a finger for (those bill are wicked).

If it's lead poisoning, chances are it got it by eating a duck, or some carrion, with a shotgun pellet in it. Shotgun ammunition used for hunting over water is now supposed to be steel or other non-lead shot to prevent that.

Washed, One Would Hope . . .

. . . since Kate has a penchant for showing them off . Britney Spears Is Sending Kate Middleton Her Entire Lingerie Collection

Hat tip to Wombat-socho for "Live at Five: 09.25.14."  Linked at Pirate's Cove weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup."

Obamacare Schadenfreude for a Stormy Morning

It's storming here: Raining hard with winds to 25.

Why You Are Likely To Lose Your Health Insurance -- No Matter How Much You Like It
Take a look at the chart below. It reflects the fact that all commercial health insurance must fit within four metallic bands: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each band is defined by its “actuarial value” – which is the percent of covered benefits the plan is expected to pay. For example, a Bronze plan is expected to pay between 58% and 62% of health care costs for a representative enrollee. A Silver plan is expected to pay between 68% and 72%. And so forth.

Now here is what is really strange and it is explained superbly by Bob Graboyes, a health economist with the Mercatus Center, in this video. There are gaps between the corridors. And if your plan happens to fall within one of the gaps, it is no longer a valid plan.

Suppose you are in a Bronze plan with an actuarial value of 58%. Then, a year from now, because of price changes, technology changes, or some other kind of change, your plan suddenly covers 60% - 64% of expected expenses. That’s good for you, right? Wrong. Because your plan no longer fits into one of the metallic corridors, it’s no longer a valid plan – despite the fact that it has become a better plan!

Now let’s suppose you have a really good plan – a plan that pays 98% of expected health care costs. Given the large number of Democrat’s who believe that health insurance should pay almost every medical bill, you would think that the law passed by a Democratic Congress without a single Republican vote would strongly encourage such a plan. If you’re inclined to think that, you are mistaken, however.

Any plan that pays more than 92% of expected health care costs for the average enrollee is illegal under Obamacare.
Set aside whether a plan that pays 98% of costs is a good idea, why is it the governments business at all controlling how much an insurance plan pays.

Covered California Call Centers Fall Behind as Citizenship Verification Takes Precedence
Covered California has been juggling its resources to clear a backlog of cases requiring citizenship verification. That focus has led to serious problems at call centers and, apparently, in other areas.

Roughly 100,000 households in California were in danger of losing their health insurance by the end of next month because they had not verified their citizenship. The LA Times reports that half the backlog has now been cleared, leaving another 50,000 people who still need to be contacted.

In order to make all those contacts, Covered California pulled workers from the call center. Executive Director Peter Lee tells the LA Times, "We have taken a lot of people off the phone in the past month." Lee added, "Unfortunately, we haven't been answering the phone as quickly as we would like."
. . .
In addition to the slowdown at the call service center, Covered California was apologizing this month for 20,000 applications which it failed to send to insurers on time. The LA Times reports that this caused "delays and confusion" over coverage but does not specifically tie the applications failure to the push to clear the citizenship verification backlog.
It's not playing well in California:  Obamacare support sliding
The Affordable Care Act continues to divide Californians, who remain skeptical four years after its passage despite the state’s relatively smooth launch in which more than 1.2 million people enrolled in health insurance coverage.

A new survey released late Tuesday found some 42 percent of state residents generally view the law favorably, while 46 percent harbor unfavorable opinions. Support is down somewhat since May, before a wave of targeted TV ads began in a handful of competitive congressional districts.
Note the tone: "Those mean Republicans dare to use Democrats acts against them."

And in Minnesota: MNsure renewal process nonexistent

HealthCare.gov Is Given an Overhaul
The Obama administration is redesigning HealthCare.gov and says that 70 percent of consumers will be able to use a shorter, simpler online application form to buy health insurance when the second annual open enrollment period begins in mid-November.

Federal health officials said Monday that the shorter application had fewer pages and questions, fewer screens to navigate, and would allow people to sign up with fewer clicks of a computer mouse.

The new application is intended for people with uncomplicated household situations It can be used only by first-time applicants, not by people who have previously obtained coverage through the federal insurance marketplace.

“The streamlined application will allow people to get through the process a lot faster,” said Andrew M. Slavitt, the No. 2 official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the federal marketplace.
. . .
“Instead of being user-friendly, the original website was user-hostile,” said Luke Chung, the president of FMS, a software development company in Vienna, Va.,
Healthcare,EZ? We'll see. It's not in governments nature to make things easier.

Morning Concert - Sarah Jarosz

Wombat-socho is celebrating Rule Five Sunday on Monday this week.

It Figures It's a Lab

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Bucks?

Forest Service says media needs photography permit in wilderness areas
The U.S. Forest Service has tightened restrictions on media coverage in vast swaths of the country's wild lands, requiring reporters to pay for a permit and get permission before shooting a photo or video in federally designated wilderness areas.

Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in any of the nation's 100 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.
So, if I were wandering around in the wilderness, and spot a rare, or even just a really cool butterfly, I'm supposed to have a $1,500 permit to take a picture?  Or is it OK for a retired biologist blogger and illegal for a reporter? Does that draw a line between blogging and "reporting"? These days, anybody can be a reporter when they want to.
Permits cost up to $1,500, says Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers, and reporters who don't get a permit could face fines up to $1,000.
At least it's still cheaper to ask forgiveness than permission. I'm sure they'll try to fix that
First Amendment advocates say the rules ignore press freedoms and are so vague they'd allow the Forest Service to grant permits only to favored reporters shooting videos for positive stories.
No government agency would bend the rules for favorable coverage, right?
"It's pretty clearly unconstitutional," said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Alexandria, Va. "They would have to show an important need to justify these limits, and they just can't."

Liz Close, the Forest Service's acting wilderness director, says the restrictions have been in place on a temporary basis for four years and are meant to preserve the untamed character of the country's wilderness.
Why? Who wanted this?
Close didn't cite any real-life examples of why the policy is needed or what problems it's addressing. She didn't know whether any media outlets had applied for permits in the last four years.

She said the agency was implementing the Wilderness Act of 1964, which aims to protect wilderness areas from being exploited for commercial gain.
I suspect this was written with destructive exploitation in mind; mining, grazing, lumbering etc, and not from collecting and documenting photons.  But you can't trust a government bureaucrat not to interpret a law in such a way as to restrict their power. It's simultaneously outrageous, and completely predictable.

Maryland Busts Faux Fishing Charter Captains

Md. NRP Bust Illegal Boat Charters
Maryland Natural Resources Police officers last Wednesday charged a Grasonville man with operating an illegal fishing service as part of a continuing state and federal investigation into charter boats on Kent Island.

DNR said that last month, undercover officers paid Andrew Wright Jr., 76, captain of the boat, Lisa Ann, for a fishing trip originating at Kent Narrows. After an investigation, Wright was charged with operating as an unlicensed commercial fishing guide, failing to obtain federal licenses to operate a commercial vessel, failing to possess a license while charter fishing, and using a Maryland Consolidated Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Boat License on a vessel used to take people fishing. Federal charges are being pursued.

Head boats, also known as party boats, charge a per-person fee compared to other types of charters that involve renting an entire boat.

Earlier this month in a joint NRP and Coast Guard operation, two Kent Narrows head boat captains - Tyrone Antone Meredith, 53, of Stevensville, and Herlen Vernon Lynch, 63, of Dover, Del. - were charged with operating passenger vessels without required safety equipment and failing to have the appropriate licenses.

A third boat, the Fishing Lady, was removed from service after it was found to have numerous safety violations and was taking on passengers despite an order earlier this year from the Coast Guard not to do so.
I suspect there are a couple of boats in our harbor that do this. In the spring trophy season there are a large number of different vehicles that come and park, and a wide variety of people come and go from the boats. Either that, or they invite a lot of friends fishing.

There has been a controversy over these regulations for quite a while. Rumor had it that if you invited someone out on your boat, and they brought a bucket of fried chicken, or far worse, even helped pay for gas, you were guilty of running an illegal charter. I was even accused of it once (by a charter guide), for offering a "free" trip for auction at a conservation association banquet.

Regardless of the legal niceties, the Coast Guard and the NRP do not seem to be enforcing the rule at the stupid level. They really seem to be focusing on actual business that appear to be operating in violation of both the letter and spirit of the law. I'm good with that.

Save the Planet - Kill a Tree?

Tree's cause global warming?  At least according to the New York Times (which means I'm already skeptical): The Science Was Settled, Except... Reforestation Raises Global Warming?
The NY Times continues to disorient their readers with a newUnsettled Science piece and a bit of a plug for Ronald Reagan; this time we hear from the Tree Deniers:
To Save the Planet, Don’t Plant Trees
Apparently it is all about the albedo and the air pollution caused by, yes, trees.
NEW HAVEN — AS international leaders gather in New York next week for a United Nations climate summit, they will be preoccupied with how to tackle the rising rate of carbon emissions. To mitigate the crisis, one measure they are likely to promote is reducing deforestation and planting trees.
Deforestation accounts for about 20 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide. The assumption is that planting trees and avoiding further deforestation provides a convenient carbon capture and storage facility on the land.
That is the conventional wisdom. But the conventional wisdom is wrong.
In reality, the cycling of carbon, energy and water between the land and the atmosphere is much more complex. Considering all the interactions, large-scale increases in forest cover can actually make global warming worse.
This is counterintuitive...
I'll say. As trees grow they act as a carbon sink but:
Besides the amount of greenhouse gases in the air, another important switch on the planetary thermostat is how much of the sun’s energy is taken up by the earth’s surface, compared to how much is reflected back to space. The dark color of trees means that they absorb more of the sun’s energy and raise the planet’s surface temperature.
Climate scientists have calculated the effect of increasing forest cover on surface temperature. Their conclusion is that planting trees in the tropics would lead to cooling, but in colder regions, it would cause warming.
In order to grow food, humans have changed about 50 percent of the earth’s surface area from native forests and grasslands to crops, pasture and wood harvest. Unfortunately, there is no scientific consensus on whether this land use has caused overall global warming or cooling. Since we don’t know that, we can’t reliably predict whether large-scale forestation would help to control the earth’s rising temperatures.
So, did the deforestation of most of the world with the growth of mankind's population contribute to the Little Ice Age? An interesting thought.

It also sort of depends on how you take the temperature.  Under a tree canopy, the temperature can be several degrees cooler than outside on bare ground, or on top of the canopy during the day, but warmer at night. Trees also provide a cooling influence by transporting water to the canopy and evaporating it through their leaves; a primitive "swamp cooler" refrigerator.

So shit was more complicated than scientists originally thought? How could that ever happen?  Maybe they should look at the numbers again. It's almost always way more complicated than your first or second thought about it.
Worse, trees emit reactive volatile gases that contribute to air pollution and are hazardous to human health. These emissions are crucial to trees — to protect themselves from environmental stresses like sweltering heat and bug infestations. In summer, the eastern United States is the world’s major hot spot for volatile organic compounds (V.O.C.s) from trees.
Trees cause air pollution? Wait for it...
As these compounds mix with fossil-fuel pollution from cars and industry, an even more harmful cocktail of airborne toxic chemicals is created. President Ronald Reagan was widely ridiculed in 1981 when he said, “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.” He was wrong on the science — but less wrong than many assumed.
OK, I had, and have a hard time believing trees can outdo cars, but still - two plugs for Reagan in one Saturday? OK, polluting trees shouldn't be news (2003, 2004) but I try to learn something new every day . . .
Since 1981, forests, at least in the US, have expanded, while air pollution, particularly nitrogen oxides have been declining due to catalytic converters etc.  So maybe trees are a more important source than cars. (But the data don't show it).

I'd still rather have the haze from the Blue Ridge Mountains than the smog from Los Angeles.
. .