Saturday, January 31, 2015

In Medicine, Money Talks

Study: Placebos with a higher price tag work better
A meta-analysis found that placebos used in clinical trials of Parkinson's treatments improved symptoms by an average of 16 percent, theLos Angeles Times reports, and the University of Cincinnati team decided to study 12 patients with "moderately advanced" Parkinson's in a clinical trial of "a new injectable dopamine agonist." With Parkinson's, patients lose brain cells that make dopamine, something this drug could combat.

The participants were told that they were taking two versions of experimental drugs that worked the same but were made differently, with one costing 15 times more than the other. They were actually given the same exact saline solution. The results showed that both versions of the placebo improved motor function compared with a base line test, but the subjects who took the $1,500 dose had an improvement that was 9 percent greater than the $100-per-dose placebo. "Patients' expectations have an important role in the efficacy of medical therapies," the researchers wrote.
Of course. If a placebo is working through a psychological effect, anything that helps convince the subject that the drug is betters should contribute to the effect. We would normally expect that a cheaper drug would be less effective than a more expensive drug, because, why would anyone prescribe the more expensive drug if it wasn't? I'm only surprised the difference was so slight.

Time For Plan B

Move the nation's capitol to Fargo, North Dakota

In today's Post, the President is now on record as requiring all federal projects to check off the box "Did this project consider the possible effects of sea level rise?"

In major shift, Obama administration will plan for rising seas in all federal projects
President Obama issued an executive order Friday directing federal agencies to adopt stricter building and siting standards to reflect scientific projections that future flooding will be more frequent and intense due to climate change.

The order represents a major shift for the federal government: while the Federal Emergency Management Administration published a memo three years ago saying it would take global warming into account when preparing for more severe storms, most agencies continue to rely on historic data rather than future projections for building projects.

The new standard gives agencies three options for establishing the flood elevation and hazard area they use in siting, design and construction of federal projects. They can use data and methods “informed by best-available, actionable climate science”; build two feet above the 100-year flood elevation for standard projects and three feet above for critical buildings such as hospitals and evacuation centers; or build to the 500-year flood elevation.
Washington D.C. was all well and good as a temporary capitol for the young nation stretched along the Atlantic seaboard. Built largely on low lying land between two tidal rivers, much of it wetlands where such building would not be permitted today, the founders could not know that it was doomed in the future by the rising seas from the melting glaciers at the end of the last glacial period.

Oh my gosh, 3.16 mm per year, or even as much as 3.51 if you throw in the upper confidence level for good measure. At that rate, I calculate that the rising seas will cover the tippy top of the Washington Monument (555 ft, to which I have generously added 20 ft for the huge hill the monument sits on) in only 49,931.62 years. (It very important to use a lot of significant digits if you wish to convince someone that your calculations mean something) We must take this threat seriously, and start considering a new location for the capitol, one far from the rising ocean, and much further north, to avoid the prospect that the weather could become as bad as say, South Carolina's or Georgia's.

Many years ago my father made a suggestion to fix the capitol's East Coast bias by moving it somewhere closer to the geographic center of the country, to Fargo, North Dakota.  The actual geographic center of the United States is located near Belle Fourche, South Dakota, close enough.  But it would also serve to stave off the effects of rising seas, because at an official elevation of 904 ft it will not be inundated by the rising seas for almost 79,000 years.

Moreover, it's climate is, to say the least, in need of some warming:
Because of its location in the Great Plains and its distance from both mountains and oceans, Fargo has a humid continental climate, and is located in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 4.The city features long, cold, windy, and snowy winters, with lows falling to or below 0 °F (−17.8 °C) 43 nights per year, and sometimes falling to −20 °F (−28.9 °C). Snowfall averages 52 inches (132 cm) per season. Spring and autumn are short and highly variable seasons. Summers are warm with frequent thunderstorms, and highs reach 90 °F (32 °C) on an average of 12.7 days each year. Annual precipitation of 22.7 inches (577 mm) is concentrated in the warmer months. Extreme temperatures have ranged from −48 °F (−44 °C) on January 8, 1887 to 114 °F (46 °C) on July 6, 1936.

In 2011, Fargo won The Weather Channel’s “America's Toughest Weather City” poll. Almost 850,000 votes, blizzards, cold, and floods were used to determine Fargo as the “Toughest Weather City” in 2011.
At least the summer thunderstorms will remind the transfers from D.C. of their native clime. They will, however,  have to learn to deal with cold and snow, or the city will be shut down a lot more than it is at present. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing.

With due apologies to Fargo, it think it's not too soon to being preparing for the move. It's too bad we didn't take advantage of the 2011 Virginia earthquake's loosening of the stones of the Washington Monument as well as other local landmarks as an opportunity to start the process of dismantling them, packing them onto freight trains and sending them to the north country.

Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Patriotic Pinup." Thanks Teach!

Rule 5 Saturday - Willa Ford Wanna Be Bad

This weeks Rule 5 Saturday special is for Willa Ford, the stage name of Amanda Lee Modano:
. . .an American singer, songwriter, dancer, model, television personality and film actress. She released her debut album, Willa Was Here, in 2001. Ford also has appeared in movies such as Friday the 13th (2009), hosted several reality television shows, posed for Playboy and competed on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.
Why? I'm out of other ideas.
Some other career "highlights":
In early 2006, Ford played as one of the four celebrity quarterbacks for the Lingerie Bowl, which was shown during the half-time of Super Bowl XL. Later that year, she was featured in a nude pictorial in the March 2006 issue of Playboy. Stuff magazine ranked her #48 in the 101 Sexiest Online Women supplement later that year.
Nothing deflated there.
 She also had been cast in another movie Assassin's Fury, but was later dropped. According to the site which conducted an interview with the producer Fabio Soldani on April 25th, it has been confirmed by Fabio Soldani himself that after a mere 5 days of shooting, they had no choice but to let Willa go from the project, quoting that Willa was "a nightmare to be around" and that "shooting was a really sad place to be for those 5 days".
Some NSFW material here, here, here and here.

She Just Wanna Be Bad

Mission accomplished.

GOODSTUFF is featuring the Bionic Woman, Lindsey Wagner in his 175th Blogging Magazine Issue. Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Patriotic Pinup." Wombat-socho had the "Rule 5 Sunday: Wax Ecstatic" post up at The Other McCain before Superbowl night was over.

Oh, To Be Young and Invulnerable Again . . .

Friday, January 30, 2015

Chesapeake Bay: More Blue Catfish Than People

Analysis estimates Bay’s blue catfish at 100 million, with room for expansion

By contrast, the number  of people in the Chesapeake Bay is estimated to be 17 million, so that's roughly 5 catfish per person. I haven't even caught my share yet, let alone all those nonfisherpeople's.
The Chesapeake Bay region may be home to roughly 100 million hungry blue catfish — with plenty of room for their numbers to expand, according to a recent estimate.

If the estimate is correct — and there are plenty of caveats — that would mean the Bay has roughly one blue catfish for every three blue crabs, though the average catfish is many times larger than the average crab.
Depending on what one means by average, this could be very deceiving. Both catfish and crabs are very small when young, and the young are far more numerous. We think of them as 50-100 lb fish versus 1-2 lb crabs, but the truth is more like comparing 10-20 gram juveniles.
The result was a range of 94 million to 111 million blue catfish living in the fresh and brackish areas of tidal Bay rivers. Blue catfish avoid salinities of more than about 17 parts per thousand.
At 17 parts per thousand, they could occupy most of the mainstem Chesapeake Bay.

There's very little evidence of them  doing so, although the clearly tolerate moderate salinities long enough to move from one tributary to another, much like Snakeheads do.
“There are all kinds of opportunity for error to sneak into this,” cautioned Greg Garman, director of the VCU Center for Environmental Studies, who led the effort that he acknowledged relied heavily on the use of best professional judgment.
Or as we in the business call them, SWAGs (Scientific Wild Ass Guesses).
Nonetheless, he added, “we think it is a reasonable, coarse estimate of the total number of fish.”
I think there's some scare mongering going on here. Blue Cats could become a problem, but I don't believe that has been demonstrated in any real life way. It more a plea "We're working on something really scary here. Send us more money."

Wombat-socho had the "Rule 5 Sunday: Wax Ecstatic" post up at The Other McCain before Superbowl night was over.

Senate Passes Keystone Bill, Obama Threatens Veto

Senate votes to build Keystone, defying veto threat from Obama
The Senate on Thursday voted 62-36 to build the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, delivering Republicans the first legislative victory of their new majority.

Nine Democrats joined with Republicans in voting to approve the $8 billion project, five votes short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a promised veto from President Obama.

The nine Democrats who voted to approve Keystone were Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Mark Warner (Va.)
. . .
The bill now heads to the House, where Republicans are determined to act quickly to force Obama into taking what they believe will be a politically unpopular stand against a project that would carry oil sands from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Wait, I thought the House had already passed a Keystone Pipeline Bill this session?
While the House voted to build the pipeline earlier this year, the Senate added several amendments to the legislation during three weeks of work, the byproduct of McConnell’s promise to give individual members more input on the floor.

Aides said House Republicans have not decided whether to pass the Senate bill as is or seek a conference committee, where a final version would be negotiated between the chambers.
You mean they allowed Senators to actually vote amendments to the bill? When did that start happening?  Oh, right. .  .
 Obama has repeatedly warned Congress not to short-circuit the federal review of the pipeline and seems poised to issue the third veto of his presidency when the legislation hits his desk.

"If, in fact, the legislation that passed the House also passes the Senate, then the president won't sign it," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday.
The State Department, who must rule on the Keystone Pipeline, has already twice given it's approval to the Keystone, only to have it sent back to Obama with understood instructions do find something wrong with it, to burnish his environmentalist credentials.
"We are hoping the president, upon reflection, will sign agree to sign onto a bill that his State Department says could creates 42,000 jobs," McConnell said.
As Instapundit says, make him wear out that veto pen on jobs bills, cuts in the federal work force, and other popular legislation.

UPDATE: This would also be a good time to read this article by Jonah Goldberg:

Why Obama and the Saudis Like Low Gas Prices
. . . By artificially keeping oil prices low, the Saudis get to deal a powerful blow to the energy revolution in the U.S. (They also get to deliver a severe economic blow to their enemies the Iranians, which is nice.) In exchange, Obama gets an unearned political windfall and can claim vindication for his ineffectual economic policies.

Obama is paying back the Saudis by permanently taking the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve’s billions of barrels of oil off the table for all time. By doing so, he also puts the entire Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System (TAPS) on a starvation diet. North Slope oil production is half of what it once was, and if it falls below 350,000 barrels per day, the TAPS itself will start to become economically and technically unfeasible. In other words, Saudi Arabia’s short-term economic hit is an investment in future dependence on Saudi oil.

Of course, there need not be a conspiracy, just a convergence of economic and political interests. But the fact remains that Obama could never have gotten away with restricting energy development in ANWR before an election or when gas prices were high. This is Obama’s window, and it appears the Saudis are holding it open for him for as long as he needs.

And They Know Because They Were Monitoring When it Happened?

report says that the activity was caused by “the back space key being stuck.”
Many of the allegations made by former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson regarding alleged computer intrusions by the U.S. government are disputed in a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general. “The OIG’s investigation was not able to substantiate the allegations that Attkisson’s computers were subject to remote intrusion by the FBI, other government personnel, or otherwise,” reads the inspector general’s report.

In her book “Stonewalled,” Attkisson had issued a wide-ranging set of claims — that her CBS News work computers and her personal computer had been hacked, that a strange wire was found hanging from the cable TV/broadband box outside of her home and that her phone service went fuzzy. The inspector general’s report found that the cable in question was a “common” cable used by Attkisson’s broadband provider. Here’s how the report sums up the situation:

Lastly, Attkisson reported to the OIG that a “suspicious” cable was attached to her Internet Service Provider’s connection box installed on her house. She opined to the OIG that perhaps this cable was being used to “tap” her house. Further investigation by the OIG revealed that the cable was a common cable used by the provider and could not be used to monitor or otherwise affect the phone or internet service at her residence.

And in response to Attkisson’s videotape of an alleged hacker deleting content from her computer screen, the report says that the activity was caused by “the back space key being stuck.”

The report notes that CBS News had declined to make available to the OIG laptop computers that Attkisson had used in her official capacity at the network. In June 2013, CBS News issued a statement confirming earlier statements by Attkisson that her computers had been breached.

A Bad Accident and a Great Recovery

A blonde Miss Beverly Hills Chanelle Riggan

Pretty sure I found this at Theo's. Wombat-socho had the "Rule 5 Sunday: Wax Ecstatic" post up at The Other McCain before Superbowl night was over.

Stuck in the Mud?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sadly, It's Not Too Dumb

From the New York Times, through Wombat-socho's "In the Mailbox, 01.29.15", Tom McGuire at Just One Minute reminds us biofuels are : Too Dumb Even For Environmentalists

Biofuels make little sense - who knew?
Western governments have made a wrong turn in energy policy by supporting the large-scale conversion of plants into fuel and should reconsider that strategy, according to a new report from a prominent environmental think tank.

Turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand, the report found. It added that continuing to pursue this strategy — which has already led to billions of dollars of investment — is likely to use up vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world’s growing population.
If you're not in favor of nuclear energy, you're not really in favor of a sustainable energy plan, you just hate the human race. Do us a favor and leave:
. . .under mandates adopted by Congress during the George W. Bush administration and supported by the Obama administration, as much as 30 percent to 40 percent of the American corn crop is being turned into fuel for cars each year, displacing about 6 percent of the nation’s demand for gasoline.

Several studies have found that the policy has helped drive up global food prices, has worsened some types of air pollution and has done relatively little to reduce overall emissions of carbon dioxide, the gas primarily responsible for global warming.
But the madness continues driven by the power of ignorance and good intentions in the environmental community, and rent seeking by the farming community. A true unholy alliance.

Well, It's Worth a Try

A glass of red wine is the equivalent to an hour at the gym, says new study
Research conducted by the University of Alberta in Canada has found that health benefits in resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, are equivalent to those that we get from exercise.

Red wine over a heavy session on the cross-trainer? Now that's something we can definitely get onboard with.

According to lead researcher, Jason Dyck, these findings will help those unable to exercise as resveratrol was seen to improve physical performance, heart function and muscle strength.

"I think resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise but are physically incapable," he says.

"Resveratrol could mimic exercise for them or improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do."
I would have to drink twice as much of a rosé to have the same effect, right? That works for me.

Wombat-socho had the "Rule 5 Sunday: Wax Ecstatic" post up at The Other McCain before Superbowl night was over.

US Government Funding Israeli Opposition?

Via Stacey McCain: U.S.-Backed Subversion in Israel?
Alana Goodman at the Free Beacon reports astonishing news:
A U.S. State Department-funded group is financing an Israeli campaign to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and has hired former Obama aides to help with its grassroots organizing efforts.
U.S.-based activist group OneVoice International has partnered with V15, an “independent grassroots movement” in Israel that is actively opposing Netanyahu’s party in the upcoming elections, Ha’aretz reported on Monday. Former national field director for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign Jeremy Bird is also reportedly involved in the effort.
OneVoice development and grants officer Christina Taler said the group would be working with V15 on voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts but would not engage in overtly partisan activities. She said OneVoice and V15 are still formalizing the partnership.
While V15 has not endorsed any particular candidates, it is working to oppose Netanyahu in the March elections.
Barack Obama and John Kerry need to answer for this.
If you track back to the original article, you'll find that the federal money has been given to these NGOs that oppose Bibi. While they oppose Bibi, they claim that the money they receive from the feds are not being used for this purpose.

However, money is fungible (look it up).  Money given to them by other sources is then freed up to be used to campaign against the current Israeli government.

The Obama administration is waging a secret war against the only freely chosen democratic government in the Mideast, and one of the United States most reliable allies.

Tax the NGOs

A Wee Bit o' the Irish

An hour and 12 minutes worth. I love the "Little Wing" at 43 minutes:

The Corrs:, Andrea, Caroline and Sharon. Oh, and Jim.
The band is currently inactive because Jim and Caroline are raising families, while Andrea and Sharon are pursuing solo careers. According to Sharon Corr, it is uncertain if and when The Corrs will reunite.
Wombat-socho had the "Rule 5 Sunday: Wax Ecstatic" post up at The Other McCain before Superbowl night was over.

Russian Boat Advance

I could use one like this. . .

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Obama Proposes East Coast Drilling

And boy are the usual suspect mad: Environmental groups question drilling off Va. coast
While supported by Virginia's political establishment, the Obama administration's decision to open waters off the state's coast and elsewhere along the Atlantic is being condemned by environmental groups.

Groups like the Sierra Club and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation reacted Tuesday after the administration floated the idea of opening for the first time vast areas off Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia to oil companies in 2021.

The Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club says offshore oil exploration threatens the state's coastal tourism economy, as well as the fishing industry. The Bay Foundation says offshore drilling creates a new pollution source in waters off the mouth of the bay.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has led the bipartisan support for what he calls responsible oil and gas exploration off the state's coast.
Other takes. A more positive view from the Bal'more Sun: Obama administration proposes offshore Atlantic drilling
The Obama administration proposes to allow oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic coast for the first time in over 30 years, drawing fire from environmentalists and many East Coast lawmakers about the potential for spills that could harm the Chesapeake Bay and resorts like Ocean City.

Federal officials hope to issue an offshore lease from Virginia south to Georgia as part of a plan offering more leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska, the administration said Tuesday. The government will gather further information to refine the plan and issue the Atlantic lease in six years.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said it is was part of a "balanced proposal" to exploit the nation's offshore oil and gas reserves while protecting "areas that are simply too special to develop."

In deference to opposition from West Coast states, the plan continues a long-standing prohibition on drilling in the Pacific Ocean. President Barack Obama also put five areas in Alaskan waters off limits because of the richness of their wildlife and value to native communities.
I guess climate change is worse when it help red states.

Draft plan shows offshore drilling is possible from Virginia to Georgia

Dems slam Obama’s Atlantic drilling proposal

Environmental Groups Continue Offshore Drilling Protests

White House unveils plan to open Atlantic waters to offshore oil drilling

Drill, baby, drill.

Wombat's Wednesday News

Selections from Wombat-socho's "Live at Five: 01.28.15"

Storm Pummels New England, Spares NY/NJLeaders defend shutdown for blizzard that wasn’t - NWS meteorologist apologizes for blizzard “forecast miss” - The nanny staters in charge of New York shut things down prematurely and unnecessarily; I guess they just don't trust their own citizens show any common sense. As for the weatherman, do you your best, give an honest forecast with the high and low ranges realistically portrayed, and don't apologize.

Former Intel Officer Claims White House Delaying Announcement Of Desertion Charges - Did Fox, NBC get the Bergdahl story wrong? - If Obama could find a way to put this off until after 2016, I have no doubt he would.

Tom Cruise had Nicole Kidman’s Phone Wiretapped And Other Revelations - Just when I thought my opinion of Tom Cruise couldn't get any lower.
Judge Refuses To Toss Rick Perry Case - It so sad when Republican judges follow the constitution (in this case Texas's), because the other side has no such scruples.

Obama Dropping Proposal To End 529 College Plans - It was a stupid idea in a moment of desperation to fund their community college plans and they folded like a cheap suit when challenged. But because it's a bad idea, expect the democrats to bring it back over and over.

Senate To Begin Hearings On AG Nominee Lynch - Oh hell, what difference does it make? It's only two more years, and he can probably find someone worse.

Taylor is Swift
Lizard Squad Hackers Threaten To Release Nude Taylor Swift Pics - Jeez, just leave the girl alone. But I guess calling them lizards is being generous.

Obama Floats Atlantic Drilling Plan While Moving To Lock Down ANWR - I'm shocked that he proposed East Coast drilling. I'll bet it goes away faster than Charlie Brown's football in Lucy's hands. I think this is just away to stall 2 more years.

DOJ Building National Car Tracking Database - It's probably legal, but a bad idea. But I would support a law making all lawmakers and federal workers tracks during official hours part of a publicly available data base.

Asian Crude Falls On Firm Dollar, Rising US Inventories: WTI $45.41, Brent $48.92 - We paid less than $2,00 a gallon with some store discounts on Monday, market around here is $2.20 thanks to Maryland taxes. I applaud the new Saudi king for keeping alive the oil price plunge. Save ours for later.

Kristen Wiig
New All-Female “Ghostbusters” Cast Chosen - Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Lesley Jones and Kate McKinnon. Go ahead and ruin it, see if I care. Alex on the other hand will be incensed.
Kate McKinnon

Fed Likely To Hike Rates In Mid-2015 - And what happens to cost of debt service on the $18 odd trillion national debt?

FCC Warns Against Blocking Personal WiFi Access - Good call. Surprising, but good.

Obama Pushes Gender Equity In India, But Remains Silent In Saudi Arabia - Giving the Muslims a pass but not the Hindus? I'm shocked, shocked.

Mexico Insists 43 Missing Students Are Dead - Starting to make "The Bridge" seem Pollyannaish. 

Bloggy Stuff:

American Power: Two Weeks After Mark Zuckerberg Said “Je Suis Charlie”, Facebook Begins Censoring Images Of Prophet Muhammad - Corporate leaders aren't renowned for their bravery.

Jammie Wearing Fools: Phone Company “Outraged” By Fraud, Abuse In Obamaphone Program - We knew this years ago; what took them so long.

The Gateway Pundit: Four-Star General Tells Congress Al-Qaeda Has Grown Fourfold In The Last Five Years - See above.

The Lonely Conservative: Obama Refers To Himself 118 Times In 33-Minute India Speech - Ego much?

Weasel Zippers: 26 States Now Suing To Block Obama’s Executive Amnesty - But that leave Obama with a majority of 31.

Megan McArdle: Big Pharma Is A Pointless Target For Warren - The point is not to succeed, the point is to demonize for her own aggrandizement.

Wombat-socho had the "Rule 5 Sunday: Wax Ecstatic" post up at The Other McCain before Superbowl night was over.

I Think I'll Stick With an IPA, Thank You

Hvalur 1 and 2
Iceland brewery makes beer using smoked whale testicles
Icelandic brewery Stedji, which is producing the beer in time for the country’s mid-winter festival, Thorri, said the Hvalur 2 beer was made with the testicles of fin whales - which are classified as endangered on the conservation Red List - smoked in a “traditional way” with dried sheep dung.

The move, which comes a year after the brewery launched a beer for Thorri containing whale meat, has angered conservationists who claimed the “dying” whaling industry in Iceland was trying to create markets for its products.
I think it needs a more exciting label.
Vanessa Williams-Grey, anti-whaling campaigner at Whale and Dolphin Conservation, said: “This is a calculated move, not only to dishonour a beautiful and endangered creature by using its most intimate of body parts as a marketing tool, but also sends a clear ‘two fingers’ to the conservation community and those who love and respect whales.

“Right-minded people would no sooner drink beer brewed with whale testicles than they would order similar drinks made with tiger, elephant or rhino testicles and our hope, of course, is that visitors to Iceland will treat this latest offering with the disdain it deserves.”

Dagbjartur Ariliusson, from the brewery, said: “We live in a country that allows whaling and the whaling is very well controlled by the Icelandic authorities, but fisheries here are self sustainable and very responsible.

“According to our research the fin whale in North Atlantic is not at risk of extinction.”
It takes big balls to make a beer like that. And maybe bigger ones to drink it.

Surf's Up!

Mechanical surf, that is:

I wonder if we could get one at our gym?

Wombat-socho had the "Rule 5 Sunday: Wax Ecstatic" post up at The Other McCain before Superbowl night was over.

Les origines de la beauté

Dienekes' anthropology blog this link to a project dedicated to exploring the diversity of female beauty across the human race:

This seems like a very interesting project that has an associated Youtube channel. Old works of physical anthropology often included galleries of physical types of different ethnic and racial groups, and for many people this would have been one of the few opportunities to see people much different than themselves. It is nice to see modern technology being used to preserve a snapshot of the appearance of (admittedly not-average) examples of living ethnic groups. Of course, this is not a problem for the more populous or culturally prominent ethnic groups of the world, but when was the last time you saw what a Kalmyk, Uyghur, Kyrghyz, Altaian,Bashkir, or Lezgin looked like?

The presentation of the project "The Ethnic Origins of Beauty" from NBRECstudio on Vimeo.

Wombat-socho had the "Rule 5 Sunday: Wax Ecstatic" post up at The Other McCain before Superbowl night was over.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New York Reporter Kissed Up to Bill De Blasio

And I do mean kisses and up:

And I agree with him in general, that New York was warned about the worst and prepared for it. The fact that they over-prepared is a bit of a waste but being under-prepared.

On the other hand, the idea that the government can effectively shut down the United States biggest city on a whim is disconcerting. Is there no role for personal responsibility left in New York?

If Bill De Blasio kills the groundhog, does it mean another 6 weeks of winter?

Awesome Boating Racing Footage

from a drone:

GC 32 Racing Key West Race Week 2015 from Nick Bowers on Vimeo.

Blue Cats Stump the Managers

Lack of clear goal, information hampers effort to control blue catfish
Efforts to rein in the region’s escalating blue catfish population through an expanded fishery and other measures could face numerous obstacles, the greatest of which is a lack of basic information about the voracious predators, a new report says.

Nonnative blue and flathead catfish were introduced into Virginia tributaries in the late 1970s but have since exploded in numbers and spread to Maryland.

They are a top predator, and their rapid expansion has raised concerns that they could outcompete native species and also consume large numbers of shad, river herring, blue crabs and other species of concern to fishery managers.
Wayne Fisher, right, with his brother Frankie,
dump most of the blue catfish caught in their nets
on the Rapahannock River because there was no
market for the fish when this photo was taken in May. 
Which is a possible problem they've been raising for quite a while, but for which they have produced little actual evidence. My own point of view is that the River is so eutrophied, that the carrying capacity is much higher than it was during colonial times.
In response, the Bay Program’s Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team created an Invasive Catfish Task Force, made up of biologists from state and federal agencies, which last spring suggested a variety of actions to control the invasive fish, which is native to the Mississippi basin.

Those recommendations included promoting a large commercial fishery, using electroshocking to harvest fish and targeting high-priority areas such as shad spawning grounds for extra control efforts.
Sound reasonable; I've always maintained that the best way to eliminate them would be to create a commercial market for the fish (some exists already, but not enough), set harsh commercial fishing limits, gear restrictions, and short seasons, and turn a blind eye when the watermen break all the rules and take them all.
Since then, efforts have proceeded to promote the commercial catch of blue catfish — including marketing the fish to consumers — and to experiment with techniques such as using electroshocking to harvest the invasive predator.

Now, a report from the Bay Program Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee commended the task force actions as a good first step, but said it was unclear whether those efforts would succeed in controlling blue catfish, primarily because of a lack of information.
Medium sized Potomac Blue Catfish
In concept, getting rid of them is easy; catch and kill them all. The exact details of how to go about that with a limited budget, and not damaging the remainder of the ecosystem is a little tricky.
The scientific review panel said a clear goal was needed for any fishery. Is it to maintain a sustainable fishery, or reduce blue catfish to the lowest feasible levels? Each of those goals would require different types of management, and if states do not agree on a single goal, problems could be exacerbated, the report cautioned.

“If this becomes a highly profitable fishery, then there is going to be a desire by many groups to maintain it at a certain level,” Bilkovic said. “But if it is maintained at that level, is the ecosystem still compromised? That is unknown.”

The ability of a fishery to control the blue catfish population could also be limited because of opposition to harvesting the largest, trophy-size fish in the population. Those fish are popular with recreational anglers, but also produce the greatest numbers of eggs, the report said. “It seems probable that the largest fish could effectively negate any gains made in the reduction of only smaller fish,” the report said.
Essentially, they're worried that people could come to appreciate the fish so much they will be unwilling to support the managers desire to purge the Potomac River of this illegally planted alien fish. We're already well on the way; my friend Capt. Mike Starrett makes part of a living by taking people out to catch giant Blue Cats.

Maybe President Obama could give them a pardon?

Chesapeake Bay Pollution Slightly Less

Long-term nutrient, sediment levels declining in Bay
Federal data released Friday, Jan. 23, shows that the amount of pollution flowing from nine major rivers into the Chesapeake Bay in 2013 was below a 25-year average.
Bay Woebegone, where half of the years are below average. . . Good news for sure, but hardly proof of progress.
But most of the Bay’s tidal water remains unhealthy, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program.

“We have made significant progress in implementing our nutrient and sediment pollution control practices since the pollution diet, or TMDL, went into effect in 2010,” said Bay Program Director Nick DiPasquale.
And how much progress is significant?
Between 2011 and 2013, 29 percent of the water quality standards necessary to support underwater plants and animals were achieved, according to U.S. Geological Survey data. That’s a 2 percent drop from before, and is likely a result of weather-related challenges underwater grasses have faced over the last five years, according to the Bay program.

However, scientists expect the lower pollution levels to have a positive impact on the long-term health of the Bay. The drop in nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution loads in 2013 is credited to below-average river flow and pollution-reduction practices implemented on land.
Woohoo! A 2 percent drop! And probably caused by the weather! I blame global warming climate change climate wackiness climate stability.

And people wonder why I'm pessimistic about improving conditions in Chesapeake Bay.

A Few Flakes of Obamacare Shadenfreude

We got about an inch of snow, tops, from Winter Storm Juno, which continues to bedevil the Northeast, and I don't even have to shovel the driveway.  But onto the continuing storm that is Obamacare Schadenfreude.

Obamacare program costs $50,000 in taxpayer money for every American who gets health insurance, says bombshell budget report
It will cost the federal government – taxpayers, that is – $50,000 for every person who gets health insurance under the Obamacare law, the Congressional Budget Office revealed on Monday.

The number comes from figures buried in a 15-page section of the nonpartisan organization's new ten-year budget outlook.

The best-case scenario described by the CBO would result in 'between 24 million and 27 million' fewer Americans being uninsured in 2025, compared to the year before the Affordable Care Act took effect.

Pulling that off will cost Uncle Sam about $1.35 trillion – or $50,000 per head.

The numbers are daunting: It will take $1.993 trillion, a number that looks like $1,993,000,000,000, to provide insurance subsidies to poor and middle-class Americans, and to pay for a massive expansion of Medicaid and CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) costs.

Offsetting that massive outlay will be $643 billion in new taxes, penalties and fees related to the Obamacare law.

That revenue includes quickly escalating penalties – or 'taxes,' as the U.S. Supreme Court described them – on people who resist Washington's command to buy medical insurance.
It also includes income from a controversial medical device tax, which some Republicans predict will be eliminated in the next two years.

If they're right, Obamacare's per-person cost would be even higher.

President Barack Obama pledged to members of Congress in 2009, as his signature insurance overhaul law was being hotly debated, that 'the plan I'm proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years.'

It would be a significant discount if the White House could return to that number today.
A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

ObamaCare Must Go!
One of the best ways to follow the ObamaCare story is via Health Care News, a monthly newspaper published by The Heartland Institute. The January issue begins with an article by Sean Parnell, the managing editor, reporting that ObamaCare enrollment is overstated by 400,000.
“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) once again lowered its estimate of the number of Americans enrolled in health plans through government exchanges in 2014. The 6.7 million enrollees who remain are far lower than the eight million touted in May at the end of the last open-enrollment period.”
ObamaCare has been a lie from the moment it was introduced for a vote, all 2,700 pages of it, to the present day. Everything President Obama said about it was a lie. As to its present enrollments, they keep dropping because some 900,000 who did sign up did not make the first premium payment or later stopped paying. . .
It is the nature of government programs to over-promise, under-deliver and cost more than projected. They have no real interest in doing otherwise.

End Obamacare, and people could die. That’s okay.
During the health-care debates of 2009, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) brought a poster on the House floor: “The Republican Health Care Plan: Die Quickly.” In the summer of 2012, when Obamacare was threatened by a presidential election, writer Jonathan Alter argued that “repeal equals death. People will die in the United States if Obamacare is repealed.” Columnist Jonathan Chait wrote recently that those who may die are victims of ideology — “collateral damage” incurred in conservatives’ pursuit “of a larger goal.” If these are the stakes, many liberals argue, then ending Obamacare is immoral.

Except, it’s not.

In a world of scarce resources, a slightly higher mortality rate is an acceptable price to pay for certain goals — including more cash for other programs, such as those that help the poor; less government coercion and more individual liberty; more health-care choice for consumers, allowing them to find plans that better fit their needs; more money for taxpayers to spend themselves; and less federal health-care spending. This opinion is not immoral. Such choices are inevitable. They are made all the time.

Consider, for example, speed limits. By allowing people to drive their cars at speeds at which collisions result in death, our government has decided that the socially optimal number of traffic fatalities is not zero. Some poor souls die: There were more than 30,000 traffic fatalities on America’s roads in 2013. If we didn’t accept that risk, we’d lower the speed limit to a rate at which accidents simply don’t kill, such as 10 mph. Instead, we’ve raised it periodically over the years, and you can now go as fast as 85 mph on a few highways.

. . . public policies — such as speed limits, gun-control measures and many others — usually affect the probability of death, rather than resulting in any specific person’s death. So economists can estimate the amount of money people are willing to pay to avoid slight increases in the probability of dying and then use that estimate to calculate the “value of a statistical life” (VSL).

This measure “serves as the basis for the standard approach used by government agencies to establish monetary benefit values for the predicted reductions in mortality risks from health, safety, and environmental policies,” economist W. Kip Viscusi, a leading VSL expert, writes in a recent paper. He says, based on an analysis of government policies, that the United States places the value of a statistical life between $6 million and $10 million.
And governments normally underestimate the cost of government programs and overestimate the benefits.

How Many Countries Can You Name?

From the costumes the Miss Universe 2014 contestants wore to represent their nations last week?

Those should be easy, lets make them a little tougher.

Photos swiped mostly from the fabulously gay duo (their words, not mine), Tom and Lorenzo, who have a 4 part series with most, if not all the contestants in their "native garb", here, here, here and here.

Answers below the fold:

White Knuckle Landing

AV-8B with no nose gear landing on USS Bataan:

Swiped from Theo's.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Semi-retired President Chews Gum While Committing Diplomacy

I hope he brought enough for the whole class.

To cleanse the palate, I believe formal diplomatic protocol in this situation requires him to offer Narendra Modi a piece of his Bubblicious. Two points. One: Is it Nicorette he’s chewing? That would explain, at least, why he couldn’t refrain from smacking away despite knowing he’d be on camera for hours with India’s PM during a formal state parade. How bad is this guy’s smoking habit, though, if he couldn’t make it through an afternoon without a hit of nicotine? Remember, this isn’t the first time recently that he’s been criticized overseas for chewing gum at an international summit. Indian media obviously noticed his “ungainly” display, as you’ll see below. Either he was jonesing awfully hard for a smoke or today’s the day he moved officially from the YOLO phase of his presidency to the WGAF phase.

Two: This is the sort of trivial faux pas that the media would have hyperventilated over had it come from Bush, evidence of his essential chimp-like redneck gaucheness. President Cool naturally gets a pass. But maybe that helps explain why Indian media is coming down on O today: Over there, it’s Bush who’s the favored ally, not Obama. . .

Stormy Monday Wombat News Review

Important and/or amusing selections from Wombat-socho's "Live at FiveSix: 01.26.15"

Greece Chooses Anti-Austerity SYRIZA Party In Major Shift - Having run out of their own money, and German patience, the Greeks have evidently decided to smash it all down, and rebuild from scratch. Good luck with that.

The new Miss Universe

Miss Colombia, Paulina Vega, Crowned Miss Universe Nia Sanchez (Miss USA) runner-up - Any news that involves pretty girls not being hurt is good news.

NY Speaker Sheldon Silver Temporarily Cedes Power - Corruption in New York?  I'm shocked, shocked.

Obama To Seek Wilderness Protection For ANWR - Continues his (losing) war on cheap energy - Rides mammoth fuel sucking jet while making anti-drilling video.

Meghan Trainor
Meghan Trainor Says She's Saving Her Booty for Her "Future Hubby"
"I was told that I started the booty song movement but no one knows what my booty looks like," Trainor, 21, told MailOnline. "That's the trick, it's all about the mystery. I save that for my boy. Well, for whoever gets to date me one day."
It looks like she's been doing lots of saving.

Sen. Grassley Asks Hospitals: Why Are You Suing Poor Patients? - Because low income people aren't very good with the rules. If they would work with the hospitals it would work out better. But they're often just not very reliable with work, or rules, or life in general.

Gov. Kasich Hints At 2016 Campaign - We probably can and will do worse.

Lindsey Lohan
Lindsay Lohan Jokes About Incurable Virus (No, Not That One) For Instagram Thong Pic
Last month, Lohan revealed that she contracted the untreatable virus Chikungunya while vacationing on the South Pacific Island of Bora Bora. The virus is transmitted by mosquitos and can cause joint pain, fatigue, and fever.
It's a tough life, being a celebrity and all.

Asian Crude Falls As Syriza Victory Slams Euro: WTI $45.14, Brent $48.44 Fracking Off To Slow Start In Illinois As Oil Price Slumps - In good news, gas was down to $2.23 at the local station.

Government Policy Change Seeks To Reinflate Housing Bubble - You'd think lessons learned would last more than 10 years.
Angelina Jolie Visits Kurdish Refugee Camp: “The International Community Is Failing” - Has it ever done anything else? She's a remarkable woman, though.

Bloggy Stuff:

EBL: Tom Brady Auditions As SNL Writer - Heh

First Street Journal: Eurosclerosis – The Greeks Are Revolting! - Revolting against reality. Reality wins every time, but it's a long game

Michelle Malkin: Obama’s Bloody Yemen Disaster - It's almost like he doesn't care.

American Power: California Faces Egg Shortage As Far-Left Animal Welfare Law Takes Effect - This is gonna upset Mom and Dad.

Epstein victim Virginia Roberts
Jammie Wearing Fools: “Sex Slave” Claims Bill Clinton Visited Epstein’s Orgy Island - Underage victim said "What's Bill Clinton doing here?" I think that's kind of obvious. He was there for the cigars. . . 

The Gateway Pundit: California Measles Outbreak Likely “Imported” To The United States - Almost certainly. Given the high degree of immunization in the US, it almost has to be imported from abroad, and land in one of the "low vaccination" areas created by Jenny McCarthy, Robert F. Kenndy and similar celebrity anti-vaccination activists to be able to get a foothold.

The Jawa Report: War Porn – A-10 Versus ISIS - Because (almost) everybody loves to watch terrorists get blown up.

Megan McArdle: Uncle Sam Is Coming After Your Savings - Of course, Obama is almost out of everyone else's money.

Wombat-socho had the "Rule 5 Sunday: Wax Ecstatic" post up at The Other McCain before Superbowl night was over.

Robots Threaten Musician's Jobs

Those blackguards at the Georgia Tech have programmed robots to jam to music:

Watch a human musician and his robots improvise together
The Robotic Musicianship Group at Georgia Tech has been working on Shimon, a musical robot that can improvise melodic accompaniment, for about six years now. And for three years, they've added Shimi — a small, smartphone-connected bot that can respond to music with dance and sound — to the mix.

Shockingly. the music sounds a lot like techno, so I guess good musicians are safe for a few more years.

Drone Designed to Mimic Vampire Bat

What could go wrong?
Search and rescue operations in more remote areas can benefit from advanced technology such as drones, but you can never count on the NSA being in the right place at the right time during an emergency. But even if they were, big drones suitable for either launching missiles at insurgents or delivering Amazon packages might not be cut out for getting into smaller areas. Also, there are times when there just won’t be enough room to fly (think inside a bunch of tangled cables or twisted metal) and you just have to hit the ground and walk. What could possibly handle such a task? Short answer: the vampire bat. And now we’re going to build some to take care of these critical jobs.
A robot inspired by vampire bats could carry out search and rescue operations in areas that most automobiles can not reach. How does it work?
DALER is a new robot made to look like a bat, which is capable of walking and flying. The device was created to be in a position to access different terrains, allowing the craft to conduct a wide wide variety of search and rescue operations.
The Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot (DALER) is patterned following vampire bats. Wings of the robot are constructed of fabric stretched more than a versatile skeletal structure. This allows the limbs, identified as whegs, to play the roles of both wings and legs.

Pretty cool, really. Now if they just had a hypodermic needle to steal blood with. . .

Midnite Music - "Don't Know Why"

Wombat-socho had the "Rule 5 Sunday: Wax Ecstatic" post up at The Other McCain before Superbowl night was over.

More Norah Jones:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Birds and Fossils at the Beach

With the East Coast expecting a massive storm overnight (expected to be a major snow event up in New England, but only a rainy one here) we took the advantage of a mild, windless morning, and a low tide to get down to the beach and try to beef up January's contribution to the sharks tooth collection.
 An especially large expanse of sand ripples.
We did pretty well looking for teeth, 39 in all. Nothing ginormous,  but a couple worthy of being put on the kitchen window shelf until they are displace by a better tooth of the same type.
 A mother/daughter team of fossil hunters.
They turned out to be newbies, and were impressed by our collection at that point, and we chatted while the dog chewed the landscape. We gave them some hints as to how to proceed, but there's really no substitute for hours of looking.
 It was only after we passed them that Georgia found the prize of the day, a tooth that will likely occupy the top shelf all year, this Cow Shark tooth. 
A big one going by out front. It sent a nice wake out, which reached us a few minutes after its passage. Do you see the duck? I didn't when I took the picture.
Here, I'll help. An Old Squaw, which has been renamed the Long-tailed Duck in a fit of political correctness. One of the more common winter ducks here, they're easier to see from boats because they seem to forage out in deeper water than the Buffies.

  • The Long-tailed Duck is one of the deepest diving ducks, and can dive as deep as 60 meters (200 feet) to forage.
  • Of all diving ducks, the Long-tailed Duck spends the most time under water relative to time on the surface. When it is foraging it is submerged three to four times as much as it is on top of the water.
We found this hawk sitting in a tree by the harbor. I don't know what it is yet.