Thursday, April 30, 2015

Clinton.Com Revision A

When you've lost Ron Fournier: Hillary Clinton: Congenital Rule-Breaker
"More than 180 Clinton Foundation donors lobbied her State Department." "That's not illegal," writes Vox reporter Jonathan Allen, "but it is scandalous." The coauthor of a fair-minded Clinton biography, Allen notes that while there's no evidence of illegal corruption, "The size and scope of the symbiotic relationship between the Clintons and their donors is striking." He adds, "The Clintons have shown they can't police themselves."
And that's the kind of person we need for President?
"Clinton Foundation failed to disclose 1,100 foreign donations." The cofounder of the Clinton Foundation's Canadian affiliate revealed to Joshua Green of Bloomberg Politics that 1,100 donors to the foundation had never been disclosed. "The reason this is a politically explosive revelation is because the Clinton Foundation promised to disclose its donors as a condition of Hillary Clinton becoming secretary of State," writes Green, a widely respected political reporter.

"Clinton charity never provided foreign data." A spokeswoman for the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which makes up nearly 60 percent of the Clinton charitable network, told TheBoston Globe that CHAI never submitted information on foreign donations to State Department lawyers for review during Clinton's tenure as secretary of State. The reviews were required as a condition of her joining President Obama's Cabinet, the Globe reported.
"Required"? I don't think that word means what you think it means.
In March, Reuters reported that CHAI didn't disclose any donors to the public, as required. The Washington Post reported that a donation from Switzerland to the group was not reviewed. While digging deeper into the review process, the Globe was told by a Clinton spokeswoman, "The charity deemed it unnecessary."

Just like that, the Clintons deemed an ethics rule unnecessary.

This was not an insignificant mandate. It was part of a "memorandum of understanding" between the White House and Clinton to soothe senators' concerns about known conflicts of interest within the Clinton family charities.
More pro quo found for the quid:
. . . there’s also a new allegation of quid pro quo today from initial reviews of Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash. An Indian politician and donor says that his contributions convinced Hillary to change her stance on India’s use of nuclear technology:
Hillary Clinton changed her position on a 2008 nuclear agreement between the United States and India after Indian business and government interests flooded various Clinton enterprises with cash, a highly anticipated new book alleges in a chapter obtained by POLITICO. …
Implying that a group of influential Indians directed money and attention to the Clintons in order to get them to support the nuclear deal, the book details the activities of Sant Chatwal, the New York hotelier who in December was sentenced to three years probation for his campaign finance violations.
Chatwal allegedly helped arrange one of Bill Clinton’s most lucrative public speeches — a $450,000 affair in London — and once said, “Even my close friend Hillary Clinton was not in favor of the deal [in 2006] … But when I put the whole package together, she also came on board. … In politics nothing comes free. You have to write cheques in the American political system.” (my bold)
The US nuclear policy regarding India was up for sale by Hillary. Lovely, just lovely. The least she could do was hold an auction, or put it on Craigslist for everybody.

It's A Small World After All!

Fury rises at Disney over use of foreign workers 
At the end of October, IT employees at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts were called, one-by-one, into conference rooms to receive notice of their layoffs. Multiple conference rooms had been set aside for this purpose, and in each room an executive read from a script informing the worker that their last day would be Jan. 30, 2015.
. . .
Disney CEO Bob Iger is one of eight co-chairs of the Partnership for a New American Economy, a leading group advocating for an increase in the H-1B visa cap. Last Friday, this partnership was a sponsor of an H-1B briefing at the U.S. Capitol for congressional staffers. The briefing was closed to the press.

One of the briefing documents handed out at the congressional forum made this claim: "H-1B workers complement - instead of displace - U.S. Workers." It explains that as employers use foreign workers to fill "more technical and low-level jobs, firms are able to expand" and allow U.S. workers "to assume managerial and leadership positions."
Can we get executives from India at half price, too, and keep the ticket prices down?

And now, Disney's lamest ride:

German Measles Eliminated from United States

Despite Jenny McCarthy's and RFK Jr.'s best efforts: Rubella Virus Eliminated in the United States
The invisible "chain of transmission" of rubella virus has been broken in the United States. With it disappears a disease that a little more than a generation ago struck fear in the heart of every pregnant woman.

Fewer than 10 people a year in this country now contract the infection known popularly as German measles. Since 2002, all cases have been traceable to foreigners who carried the virus in from abroad.

Between those rare events, however, no rubella virus has circulated in the United States because the bug simply cannot find enough susceptible hosts. After years of assiduous vaccination, virtually the entire U.S. population is immune.

Mild and often entirely unnoticed in children, rubella infection can be devastating to developing fetuses. A woman infected with the virus in the first three months of pregnancy will probably suffer miscarriage, or deliver a stillborn or permanently disabled child. In the last great U.S. epidemic of rubella -- 40 years ago, before there was a vaccine against the disease -- about 12,000 babies were born deaf or deaf and blind.
I recall epidemics of German Measles from my youth. I was pretty young at the time, but I believe I recall an epidemic around the time my mother was pregnant with one or the other of my younger brothers, causing a concern. I had it, but it was, as they noted, a rather mild disease in children, more of an excuse to stay home from school than anything else.

But with a little help from the anti-vaxxers, we could easily find ourselves back in the same situation.

Gitcher Motor Running

Some clips from the 2015 Bangkok Motor Show.

Some nice accessories there. Wombat-socho is celebrating Rule 5 Sunday with "Rule 5 Monday: Lt. Commander Rand, RIP" at the other McCain.

Big Ass Spider!

I guess it's for real. I've seen worse. Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday" and links.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Charity Watchdog: “It seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons”
When your “charity” rakes in $149 million in a year and spends nearly as much on fundraising as it gives to charity, it isn’t a charity. Calling it a slush fund is kind. Seems more like a criminal enterprise.
The Clinton Foundation’s finances are so messy that the nation’s most influential charity watchdog put it on its “watch list” of problematic nonprofits last month.
The Clinton family’s mega-charity took in more than $140 million in grants and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid.
The group spent the bulk of its windfall on administration, travel, and salaries and bonuses, with the fattest payouts going to family friends.
On its 2013 tax forms, the most recent available, the foundation claimed it spent $30 million on payroll and employee benefits; $8.7 million in rent and office expenses; $9.2 million on “conferences, conventions and meetings”; $8 million on fund-raising; and nearly $8.5 million on travel.
So when you donate to the Clinton's "charity" roughly 6.4% (9 out of 140) goes to charity, and 93.6 goes to feed the Clinton machine. And I'll bet if you look hard at the 9 million in aid alleged to be direct, you'll find some substantial fraction of that circles back around to their benefit somehow.
None of the Clintons are on the payroll, but they do enjoy first-class flights paid for by the Foundation.
In all, the group reported $84.6 million in “functional expenses” on its 2013 tax return and had more than $64 million left over — money the organization has said represents pledges rather than actual cash on hand.
Some of the tens of millions in administrative costs finance more than 2,000 employees, including aid workers and health professionals around the world.
But that’s still far below the 75 percent rate of spending that nonprofit experts say a good charity should spend on its mission.
The IRS has time to harass conservative groups, but makes no effort to investigate this fraud even though these con artists are now going back and refiling five years’ worth of taxes. Most anyone else would be in prison.
Charity Navigator, which rates nonprofits, recently refused to rate the Clinton Foundation because its “atypical business model . . . doesn’t meet our criteria.”
Charity Navigator put the foundation on its “watch list,” which warns potential donors about investing in problematic charities. The 23 charities on the list include the Rev. Al Sharpton’s troubled National Action Network, which is cited for failing to pay payroll taxes for several years.
Al Sharpton, now isn’t that good company?
It's not a charity; it's the family business. It pays for all the political operators that follow the Clintons around, and rush to the their defense at the first whiff of scandal (which means they're very busy indeed). The wealthy families of the Italian Renaissance would understand.

At this point, I would be willing, no ecstatic to undo the tax exemptions of NGOs in general, and get that money back into the real economy. And foundations should be required to spend 10% of their principal annually.

And more: Everything You Need To Know About The Latest Clinton Foundation Scandals, Explained

. . . What’s the news?
Where to start? Newsweek reported over the weekend that one of the Clinton Foundation’s largest donors—Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk—was doing business with Iran between 2009 and 2013, while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

Wow. Wouldn’t that violate U.S. sanctions?
Probably. Non-U.S. companies can face penalties under the law for trading with Iran, and have in the past.

Who was in charge of determining which non-U.S. companies get penalized?
Thanks for asking. The secretary of state oversees the list of foreign companies deemed in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Wasn’t Hillary Clinton secretary of state during this time?
That’s right.

Yeah. . .

The Good News and Bad News on Blue Crabs

The result of the annual winter dredge survey of Blue Crabs carried out in Virginia are in and it's one of those good news/bad news stories. The good news is that the crab population appears to be slightly better than last year. The bad news is that it's still not very good:

Blue crab numbers climbed slightly this year from a near-catastrophic low
For the second straight year, a harsh winter killed more than a quarter of adult blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay.
Damn that global warming climate change climate stability!
But a baywide survey of the crab population released Monday said there was encouraging news in spite of the blow. The overall population of the beleaguered crustacean climbed modestly from a catastrophic low last year.

The yearly winter dredge survey conducted by Virginia and Maryland marine scientists estimates that 411 million crabs are in the main stem of the bay and its tributaries, a 38 percent increase from last year’s critically low population.

Officials at Virginia’s Marine Resources Commission greeted the news as a positive sign but said it’s probably not enough to lift strict limits on the numbers of blue crabs that can be commercially fished.

“This is a step in the right direction, but we are not out of the woods,” said Virginia Marine Resources Commissioner John M.R. Bull. Calling the gains modest, Bull said the state will continue to cautiously manage its crab stock. “More work needs to be done to boost us above modest abundance levels.”
How about not catching as many? Fear not all you crab eaters in Maryland and Virginia, the south, South America and Viet Nam are willing to send you theirs.

Air France Abides By Rule 5

If you want people to pay attention, use a pretty girl. Air France's new flight safety video:

Wombat-socho is celebrating Rule 5 Sunday with "Rule 5 Monday: Lt. Commander Rand, RIP" at the other McCain.

Sexism in Science

Faculty may prefer female applicants for STEM professorships

To conduct this study, researchers surveyed a total of 873 tenure-track faculty members from 371 colleges and universities. Surveys were distributed via e-mail, with a response rate of approximately 34 percent. Participants were current faculty members in the fields of biology, engineering, economics, and psychology.

Participants were asked to make selections between identically qualified male and female applicants with matching lifestyles. Six lifestyles conditions were studied: being single without children, married without children, married with children and a stay-at-home spouse, married with children and spouse working outside the home, married with children and the spouse working inside the home, and divorced with children. The children in each situation were described as two preschoolers.

A randomized stratified sampling procedure revealed a strong preference for female applicants over male applicants This preference was present in institutions of all sizes, across all four fields and across participant genders; the sole exception was male economists, who showed no significant preference for either gender. Overall, when the data were pooled, female applicants were preferred by 67.3 percent of the faculty, which represented a two-to-one preference for female applicants.

This finding held true for applications with narrative summaries of work history, and for applications with formal CVs. Though six types of lifestyles were examined, no lifestyle effects were found. These findings also held constant even when participants were asked to simply numerically evaluate potential candidates instead of comparing them.
Seems about right to me. Women want more women in their fields, and men are deathly afraid to oppose them for any reason, lest they be accused of bias.

Wombat-socho is celebrating Rule 5 Sunday with "Rule 5 Monday: Lt. Commander Rand, RIP" at the other McCain.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Day in the Life

I started out this morning at the retina guy's. After dilating both eyes, and poking and peering, he gave me a clean bill of health.

The dilation caused me to stay in the dark (and blog) for most of the morning and part of the afternoon until we went to the beach.
Not much exciting at the beach, it was about 60, a little breezy, and we only found 3 teeth, and no antique bottles, although we did pick up some beach glass and beach lace.

When we arrived home, I found this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail sucking on the phlox.
Later in the afternoon, we met friends in Solomons for dinner at the Lighthouse Restaurant recently rebuilt from having been burned to the ground in a huge fire a few years ago.
I had the cream of crab soup, which was, perhaps just a little too thick, nearly solid from flour or cornstarch, but with adequate crab.
To finish it off, I had the "Angry Crabcake", a spicy alternative to the standard Maryland crabcake. It was almost 100% crab with minimal binder, but next time, I'll go with the plain version.
Georgia had the Blue Cheese Bacon Burger with Balsamic Glaze, and liked it. Fortunately, there was more than enough for her so I'll probably get the remainder for lunch tomorrow. . .
We got out of there just in time to catch the sun going down through the Thomas Johnson Bridge across the Patuxent River.

Big Breasted Bimbo Blames Baltimore on Veterans


After more than a year of CNN pouring gasoline all over America with hysterical, and oftentimes phony, stories of American racism, the left-wing network’s afternoon anchor Brooke Baldwin finally took it to the next level by blaming American veterans for the Baltimore riots.

In a pathetic suck-up interview with Democrat Congressman Elijah Cummins, Baldwin never once had the moral courage to ask the failed Baltimore City congressman if the left-wing policies ushered in by a half-century of a Democrat monopoly in Baltimore might have something to do with the city’s ills. Instead, she said of young military veterans who become police officers, “I love our nation’s veterans, but some of them are coming back from war, they don’t know the communities, and they are ready to do battle.”
Yes, I know she tried to walk it back later, but people tend to say they stuff they believe in their hearts off the cuff.

UPDATE: A real veteran, Smitty at The Other McCain, forgives Brooke for being an idiot.
So, take your paycheck, Brooke. Take it knowing that, even though you’re on the wrong team, at least some veterans forgive you. We pray that wisdom find you, and you truly repent past the casual tweet and instead start doing some useful reporting. While you had EC on camera, for example, you could have diverted from your talking points to inquire if Cummings approved of Martin O’Malley’s 2013 gun law, which probably did little to help societal politeness recently in Baltimore.

But, again, we’re in a forgiving mood, and, besides: we expect absolutely nothing from you whatsoever, Brooke. It’s only when you veer negative that something must be said.

Baltimore Burning

It should be no surprise to anyone seeing or hearing national news that Baltimore is in the midst of a serious civil disturbance.

A review of the facts. On April 12, a well known street hustler and frequent arrestee Freddie Gray was accosted by the Baltimore Police. While the reason for the initial contact with police has not yet been revealed to the public, Freddie apparently chose to run, and the police ran him down, discovered a knife (arguably illegal under Baltimore's ancient anti-switchblade statue) in his pocket, and arrested him for its possession. There is no allegation he displayed or brandished the knife at the police.

Between the time of his arrest, when he was videoed being carried off apparently uninjured, and the time he arrived at the police station, he apparently suffered a spinal injury, which severed his spinal cord in his neck by 80%.  The cause of the injury, if known, has not been revealed to the public. It is apparently a favorite tactic of Baltimore Police to give what are called "nickel rides" to detainees:
The circumstances suggest that Gray's transportation may have involved a so-called "nickel ride," in which officers deliberately drive at high speeds and suddenly stop and start, a technique used to punish arrested suspects and which has been known to sometimes cause serious injury.
After lingering a week in the hospital, Freddie Gray died on April 19.

Clearly there are lessons to be learned here:

#1 The police are not your friends. Do nothing that can attract their attention.
#2 Never, never, ever, ever run from or resist the police. Nothing good can happen.
#3 Bad things can happen in police custody. Avoid if at all possible, consistent with #2.

With Ferguson and the Eric Garner incidents both close in the rear view mirror, it was almost inevitable that some strife and civil was going to come, and by all accounts, there may well be more justification in this case. It's difficult to conceive how a health man could be arrested, and wind up dead at the end of a car ride.

Freddie's funeral at Shiloh Baptist Church on April 27th was attended by "civil rights" leaders, and White House delegates"
Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland spoke at the funeral: "To mother Gloria and to the entire family, I want you to know we stand with you during this difficult time."

Cummings said he "looked at the cameras" and reflected on the great amount of attention Gray was receiving in death: "Did anybody recognize Freddie Gray when he was alive?" he asked.
. . .
"There are those who will tell you don't cry. I'm not going to say that," Cummings said.
The White House sent Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, chair of the Obama administration's My Brother's Keeper Task Force; Heather Foster, an adviser in the White House Office of Public Engagement; and Elias Alcantara from the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Almost immediately after the funeral, the rioting began in earnest, with cars and buildings being torched, windows broken, and stores looted. Police who tried to restore order were attacked with thrown stones and bricks, resulting in several injuries. There is some suggestion that the mostly young rioters were inspired by the movie "The Purge."
Baltimore police said rioting at a shopping mall and elsewhere Monday afternoon started amid rumors, spread on social media, of a "purge" led by large groups of marauding high school students.

The term appears to be a reference to 2013's "The Purge" and its sequel, last year's "The Purge: Anarchy," about a dystopian future America where on one day each year, all laws are suspended for a 12-hour period and all crimes, including murder, become temporarily legal.

In the movies, set in Los Angeles, people barricade themselves in their homes at night while gangs of violent "purgers" roam the streets. The government markets the sanctioned mayhem as a catharsis that reduces crime on the other 364 days of the year -- when in fact it's really a means of population control, mostly against people living in poor urban neighborhoods.
Police reported that various Baltimore gangs had agreed to a truce to concentrate on injuring and killing police.

In the midst of the rioting, the newly elected Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie-Rawling Blake (D) may or may not have fanned the flames with her statement . . .
"I've made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech," Rawlings-Blake said Saturday as Baltimore roiled following the funeral of Freddie Gray, the black man who died in police custody April 19.

"It's a very delicate balancing act because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well, and we work very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate."
although she tried hard to deny that she gave any encouragement to the rioters:
"I did not instruct police to give space to protesters who were seeking to create violence or destruction of property," she wrote. "Taken in context, I explained that, in giving peaceful demonstrators room to share their message, unfortunately, those who were seeking to incite violence also had space to operate."
Newly elected Maryland Governor Hogan (R) ordered a state of emergency and National Guard troops sent to Baltimore within 30 seconds of being asked by the Mayor.
We declared state of emergency and I issued the executive order less than 30 seconds after requested by the city of Baltimore. So didn’t take us very long at all. I signed an executive order almost immediately as soon as we received the call and called the president. There was no delay whatsoever. We’ve had this emergency operation center activated since Saturday. We’ve had hundreds of state police on the ground. We’ve had every single state agency and local agency coordinated out of this operation already for the entire week.

I‘ve been in daily communication with the mayor and others in the city and our entire team has been involved from day one. Frankly, this was a Baltimore city situation. Baltimore city was in charge. When the mayor called me, which quite frankly we were glad that she finally did, instantly we signed the executive order. We already had our entire team prepared.
Curfews have been declared for the next week, and O's games cancelled for tonight.

Martin O'Malley, former Mayor of Baltimore, and former Governor of Maryland, and currently semi-serious candidate for the Democratic presidential candidacy immediately cut short his trip to Ireland, and cancelled paid speeches to return to the United States:
“I’m saddened that the City I love is in such pain this night,” O’Malley said in a statement before canceling his trip. “All of us share a profound feeling of grief for Freddie Gray and his family. We must come together as one City to transform this moment of loss and pain into a safer and more just future for all of Baltimore’s people.”
O'Malley is held responsible by some for the aggressive stance that the Baltimore Police have adopted:
Civil rights advocates and some elected officials here trace the tensions to “zero-tolerance policing,” a crime-fighting strategy championed by Martin O’Malley, the former governor and a potential Democratic candidate for president, when he was the mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007. Aides of Mr. O’Malley note that on his watch, the number of annual homicides dropped below 300 per year for the first time in more than a decade, and that violent crime in Baltimore dropped by 41 percent. Steve Kearney, a top aide to Mr. O’Malley when he was the mayor, described the policies as “appropriate for the time.”

But zero-tolerance policing led to mass arrests of people for small infractions, as well as intense “community frustration,” Ms. Kumar of the A.C.L.U. said. “Countless innocent people,” she added, “were getting caught up in this dragnet style of policing.”
Hillary tweeted a bumper sticker:
Tonight I am praying for peace & safety for all in Baltimore, & for Freddie Gray's family - his death is a tragedy that demands answers. -H
Just a while ago, President B. Hussein Obama threw some more gasoline:
"If we are serious about solving this problem, then we're going to need to not only help the police, we're to have to think about what we can do -- the rest of us," Obama said during a Rose Garden press conference with the Prime Minister of Japan.

"That's hard," he said. "That requires more than just the occasional news report or task force.

"If we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could. It's just that it would require everyone saying, 'this is important, this is significant,'" Obama said.

"And we don't just pay attention when a CVS burns," he added. "That’s how I feel."
. . .
He argued that the riots, which grew particularly intense after Gray's funeral on Monday, had unnecessarily overshadowed more peaceful protests in previous days.
 As of now, the riots are continuing.

And this is what happens in Baltimore when Mom finds out you've been rioting:

Feds Retract Fluoride Guidelines

US lowers fluoride levels in drinking water for first time in over 50 year
The government is lowering the recommended amount of fluoride added to drinking water for the first time in more than 50 years.

Some people are getting too much fluoride because it is also now put in toothpaste, mouthwash and other products, health officials said Monday in announcing the change.

Too much fluoride has become a common cause of white splotches on teeth in children. One study found about two out of five adolescents had tooth streaking or spottiness.

Fluoride is a mineral in water and soil. About 70 years ago, scientists discovered that people whose drinking water naturally had more fluoride also had fewer cavities.

Since 1962, the government has been advising water systems to add fluoride to a level of 0.7 parts per million for warmer climates, where people drink more water, to 1.2 parts per million in cooler areas. The new standard is 0.7 everywhere.

Grand Rapid, Michigan, became the world’s first city to add fluoride to its drinking water in 1945. Six years later, a study found a dramatic decline in tooth decay among children there, and the US surgeon general endorsed water fluoridation.
As we have seen recently with salt and cholesterol, the government is slowly coming to grips with fact that many of it's health mandates were made in haste, at the behest of true believers and were stronger than warranted. Of itself, this one isn't a big change.

Our local water supply has low fluoride, and the local water supplier is not permitted by law to add it (fluoride can be a deadly toxin at high concentration, and mistakes could matter), so local parents are encouraged to get fluoride supplements for children.

I wish they had fluoridation when I was a kid in Culver City. Maybe I wouldn't have the mouth full of metal I currently have.

Some Red Meat For the Crowd

Red Meat Is Not the Enemy
Chrissy Tiegen cooking a steak

There are people in this country eating too much red meat. They should cut back. There are people eating too many carbs. They should cut back on those. There are also people eating too much fat, and the same advice applies to them, too.

What’s getting harder to justify, though, is a focus on any one nutrient as a culprit for everyone.

I’ve written Upshot articles on how the strong warnings against salt and cholesterol are not well supported by evidence. But it’s possible that no food has been attacked as widely or as loudly in the past few decades as red meat.

In the past year we've seen a real turn around in the recommendations regarding salt and cholesterol. Neither appear to be particularly harmful to the majority of people at their customary consumption rates.
As with other bad guys in the food wars, the warnings against red meat are louder and more forceful than they need to be.

Americans are more overweight and obese than they pretty much have ever been. There’s also no question that we are eating more meat than in previous eras. But we’ve actually been reducing our red meat consumption for the last decade or so. This hasn’t led to a huge decrease in obesity rates or to arguments from experts that it is the reason for fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease.
In fact, obesity has blossomed as the government has issued faddish nutritional advice to avoid meat, cholesterol, salt, and pack the diet with carbohydrates.
The same reports also show that we eat significantly more fruits and vegetables today than we did decades ago. We also eat more grains and sweeteners.

This is the real problem: We eat more calories than we need. But in much of our discussion about diet, we seek a singular nutritional guilty party. We also tend to cast everyone in the same light as “eating too much.”
In short, we need to get government out of the nutritional advice business. But the next phase of the business will be to recommend cutting down on meat for environmental reasons.

Wombat-socho is celebrating Rule 5 Sunday with "Rule 5 Monday: Lt. Commander Rand, RIP" at the other McCain.

A $#!**y Story

Wombat-socho is celebrating Rule 5 Sunday with "Rule 5 Monday: Lt. Commander Rand, RIP" at the other McCain.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Report Cards are Coming Out

Every year, we play a game in the Chesapeake Bay area. All the various tributes and the Bay as a whole get "report cards" where various governmental agencies and NGO issue grades for the state of their condition, and then spin them to their benefit. Better is better, and shows we're making progress, but a little worse is OK too, because it means we can demand more money. This year they're selling the gains.

Mid-Shore rivers get better grades
The news is mostly good, according to staff members at the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy when they released the compiled 2014 data on local rivers at their State of the Rivers Party on Friday, April 24.

“This is the fifth year that we’ve done this, and this is the first year that we’ve actually seen significant improvement,” MRC executive director Tim Junkin said.

Those findings were some of the conclusions when “grades” were announced for the MRC’s annual “Report Card” grading water quality in Mid-Shore rivers. The gathering was hosted by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

A team of more than 50 volunteer “creekwatchers” test 117 sites from mid-April to mid-November in two main watershed areas: the Miles River watershed and the Choptank River watershed.

“These are strategic sites that help us understand what’s going on with our rivers,” Junkin said.

The volunteers test for nitrogen content, phosphorus content, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll a, temperature, pH, salinity, observations about flora and fauna, and water clarity.

Newly hired Choptank Riverkeeper Matthew Pluta talked about the grades.

Ten out of 16 test areas have seen improvement, even in the area’s most polluted rivers.
That's a little better than 50:50, but not much. Note it would only take 3 reversal (out of 16) to change that to no change.
The overall Choptank River rose from a C to a B-; LaTrappe and Island Creek moved from a C to a B+; the Tred Avon River improved from a C to a B-; Harris Creek rose from a C+ to a B; Eastern Bay upgraded from a B- to a B; Greenwood Creek moved from a C+ to a B; Cox Creek went from a B- to a B; the Wye Narrows went from a C- to a C; Prospect Bay improved from a B- to a B+; and the most polluted river on the Mid-Shore, the Tuckahoe, upgraded from a D+ to a C.
Note that most of the improvements are a single notch on a 15 point scale! Not a big jump.

What accounted for the increases?
“I think our biggest surprise last year is water clarity,” Rosen said. “We’ve had a number of our creekwatchers comment on how clear the water was, even late into the season.”

He said generally June through August is when algae appears throughout the Mid-Shore waterways. He said we had areas that maintained relatively good clarity during that part of the year.

“That was the biggest success story, the biggest surprise,” he said. “Water clarity.”
. . .
He said the goal is to get a least 5 to 6 feet of clarity throughout the Chesapeake Bay because that means most of the bottom will have light on it. Light to the bottom will grow most submerged aquatic vegetation.

“So if we can maintain that clarity throughout the watershed during the growing months, that means we’ll have a reemergence of submerged aquatic vegetation, which is key for crabs and small fish for hiding,” he said.
My problem with the rating systems is that they are very weather dependent. A good weather year can bump large areas of the Bay up; a bad one down. Without taking into account that factor, the movements of the ratings are essentially noisy fluctuations around a basically stagnant degraded state. Let me see improvement in a running 5 or 10 year average before I get too excited.

Industrial Scale Feminism

Stacy McCain has been following up on his studies of feminism, and has run across the case of Sara Ahmed, Professor and Director of the Centre for Feminist Research, or some such, and Director of Feminist Studies at Goldsmith's College in London:

The Feminist-Industrial Complex: Academia and the Means of Production
Sara Ahmed is a lesbian and a feminist, not necessarily in that order. There is always a chicken-and-the-egg question about such matters. Correlation is not causation, but this particular correlation is sufficiently common as to be a phenomenon deserving its own categorical label, as Professor Ahmed acknowledges.
He goes on the cast aspersions on her academic credentials, which don't look that bad by my standards, a few books that nobody but feminists would read to reinforce their opinions, and enough journal articles presumably to keep her promotion committee happy orgasmic. That, going to feminist conferences and faculty meeting will keep a person occupied.

But then eventually he gets to the heart of the matter; why should we care (my bolds):
Whenever I quote this kind of feminist jargon to sane people who live in the real world, the reaction is a mixture of incredulity (“Do people really go to college to learn that crap?”) and dismissal (“What a bunch of fringe kooks!”). yet the fact is that such activism/research is taken very seriously within academia. Remember that every year, more than 90,000 students enroll in Women’s Studies courses, which are taught at 700 U.S. colleges and universities. Thousands of faculty members are employed to teach these classes, and what the faculty are paid to teach is what defines “feminism” in the minds of their students.

In answer to the most obvious question — “What use is any of this in the real world?” — the answer is, “None whatsoever.” However, the “real world” (i.e., the capitalist marketplace, where profit is generated from the sale of goods and services) produces enough excess revenue that many millions of dollars a year can be siphoned off to fund these academic swamps, as well as to pay for government agencies where a Women’s Studies graduate can be employed to do nothing except to meddle around in the lives of other people. Also, the “real world” of capitalism has over the past century heaped up untold billions of dollars at tax-exempt philanthropic foundations which, in turn, constantly hand over huge sums in grants to various non-profit groups that employ “activist” types to advocate for social change. The Feminist-Industrial Complex thus intersects both with the ever-expanding liberal Welfare State and with the non-profit sector which (surprise!) constantly advocates for even more government Welfare State programs.
It's true a hunter gatherer society would have no, or very little sympathy and probably very little left over food for a not willing to sleep with men and bear children, unless she established herself as some kind of shawoman, which is basically what a degree in feminist studies is.
So while (a) the jargon of radical feminism strikes most people as nonsensical gibberish, and (b) you might think that the graduates with their Women’s Studies degrees would be qualified to become nothing other than a barista at Starbucks, in fact (c) academic gibberish is enormously influential because (d) it drives the agenda of major institutions in society, including perhaps the school your children attend. As much as you may want to dismiss the Feminist-Industrial Complex as an irrelevant absurdity, just keep in mind that there were people who laughed off the 1960s New Left as a bunch of fringe kooks, but now one of their disciples is the President of the United States.

Now think about what “fundamental transformation” might be next. If I haven’t yet convinced you to take feminism seriously, just imagine what Hillary Clinton might accomplish if she gets elected in 2016.
I think I might get sick. . .

Hannah and Her Horse

By now I'm sure you've seen the Direct TV ads featuring past Rule 5 winner Hannah Davis and her horse. Almost, but not quite enough to make me interested in Direct TV.

But what about their time off? Do they get along as well as they appear on camera?

Wombat-socho is celebrating Rule 5 Sunday with "Rule 5 Monday: Lt. Commander Rand, RIP" at the other McCain.

Midnite Music - "Buddy Can You Spare a Dime?"

Sunday, April 26, 2015

If You Mean the Problem of Bogus Rape Reports, She's Right

Gillibrand On Rape Hoaxes: ‘I Hope It’s Just Putting More Of A Spotlight On The Problem’ 
Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Friday she hopes recent rape hoaxes will put “more of a spotlight on the problem [of rape].”
She was asked if the recent highly publicized hoaxes are “helping or hurting” her advocacy relating to stopping sexual assault on university campuses.

“Well, I hope it’s just putting more of a spotlight on the problem. My hope is that it’s not undermining our advocacy, because this is important,” Gillibrand said. “These lives of these women and men–young lives that are being destroyed and ruined, because there is no justice if you are a survivor of rape whether it’s the criminal justice system or whether it’s the campus adjudication process.”
Yes, the lives of young men are being ruined by false rape reports, and doubts about the veracity of real rape reports are being made more reasonable. But I suspect that's not what she means.

No Biggie

The wind died nicely this afternoon, and I called Trevor on short notice, and invited him out for his first trip on the new boat.
Fishing was just OK. Here in the trophy season, fish have to be 28 to 36 inches long, or greater than 40.  We caught nothing approaching that, although a couple might have made it into the low 20s (not pictured). But the bite was consistent if not crazy fast, and we each caught several.
There was only one boat competing for fishing space at "Location X", surprising in fishing season, and the left well before the best fishing at sunset.

Here is a shot of the Dominion Gas Dock illuminated by "Venus's Girdle" or "the Belt of Venus".

And the traditional sunset shot, looking west over the Western Shore.

Drinking in the History at the Beach

We had a nice and bright sunny day after yesterdays clouds and rain, so we made dash to the beach in the afternoon. The dredge is in at Flag Harbor, getting prepared to take out the years worth of accumulated sand that has washed into the channel, and made it shallow.
 The business end of the dredge.
As I said, it was a pretty nice day, a bit breezy from the north, about 10, and close to 60 F. Tooth hunting however, was down due to high tide, and lack of shell hash. We didn't get a single one.
 A recent big rain has caused several slides on the cliff, of which this was the worst. It came off of the top, from someones yard, and reach out to where the waves got the toe of it.
You can see the piece of retaining wall it took part way down the hill.
The slides left lots of old shell and coral exposed (there hasn't been any stony coral growing around here for a few million years), but we search through it for teeth and came up dry.
I found this nice piece of light blue beach glass nearby, but I don't know if it came from the slides. It's well frosted, and has to have been in the waves for at least a few years. We think it's part of the rim of an old blue mason jar.
However, Georgia found this old Pepsi bottle in one of the slides (clearly the remains of an old dump, as there was other glass trash nearby). It's in nearly perfect shape after she washed the dirt off and out of it, and had an unusual logo that we didn't remember.

A little poking around on the internet shows it to be a bottle from the 40s, called the "wave design". Unlike more modern bottles the color is not fixed in the glass; it originally had a paper label, and sold for 5 cents.
The site also tells you how to date the bottles. The "13 B 42" above the glass bottling plant mark (Owens Illinois) shows that it was made in 1942.

Now that's in pretty good shape for something 73 years old. It could have been a Pepsi my mother drank when she visited Port Republic back before WWII, when she was 18 or so.

I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

"Largely Peaceful" Protest In Baltimore Includes Broken Windows, Thrown Rocks, Damaged Police Cars

And let’s not forget about all the arrests. There’s a serious amount of dissonance going on in this NY Times article written by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Stephen Babcock
Scenes of Chaos in Baltimore as Thousands Protest Freddie Gray’s Death
OK, the headline, which is most likely written by an editor, says “chaos”
A largely peaceful protest over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a spinal cord injury in police custody, gave way to scattered scenes of chaos here on Saturday night, as demonstrators smashed a downtown storefront window, threw rocks and bottles and damaged police cruisers, while officers in riot gear broke up skirmishes and made 12 arrests near Camden Yards.
"Mostly Peaceful" protesters trash car

Perhaps someone in the Credentialed Media could explain why, exactly, they love using the phrase “largely peaceful”, when it is anything by? (Of course, were this a Right leaning gathering, they’d immediately deem it a riot)
Hours earlier, a racially diverse and mostly calm crowd of hundreds — and by some estimates more than 1,000 — marched through the streets, clogging intersections, carrying signs and shouting, “All night, all day, we’re gonna fight for Freddie Gray!” They made their way from the Gilmor Homes — the squat brick public West Baltimore housing development where Mr. Gray was arrested on April 12 — through the sparkling downtown harbor, a major tourist attraction here, before assembling on a plaza at City Hall.
There, Malik Shabazz, president of Black Lawyers for Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based group that called for the demonstration and advertised it on social media, told the crowd that he would release them in an hour, adding: “Shut it down if you want to! Shut it down!”
Hmm, yelling about fighting to people who were already worked up, and telling them to shut it down. (Were this a conservative crowd, the media would tell us how this was a call for violence) . . .
Nothing says "largely peaceful" like a purse snatching
Read the rest.

What the mainstream liberal media means by "Mostly Peaceful Protest" is a protest that supports their world view, which resulted in some violence by minority of their side.

When the Tea Party, or similar conservative group gets together in public it is always portrayed as an angry mob, which just happens to pick of all it garbage on the way out.

How "largely peaceful" was it? The Baltimore Police mobilized 1,200 officers, and held the people attending the ball game in Camden Yards in the stadium for some time, to keep them separated from the angry mob.

The World Barack Obama and Eric Holder Have Made: Baltimore, 2015:You voted for it, America. And now you're going to get it, good and hard.

Has this lovely video of yesterday's "largely peaceful" protest:

The Goalie

Midnite Music - "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

India Arie:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Great Moments in Tolerance

Bruce (or whatever the hell he/she wishes to be renamed) Jenner shocked Diane Sawyer and other liberals by coming out as a Republican: Bruce Jenner Blasted Online After Coming Out As a Republican: ‘Personally, I Am Disgusted’

One is tempted to hope that at least some of these posts are deliberate irony; but I have my doubts.

As confused as Jenner may be regarding his gender, as a person who earned his own money through his athletic prowess, he understands well that the Republican party is the party with his economic self interest dwell.

Ted Cruz Campaign Battles 'Intolerant' Boycott of Gay Men Who Hosted Him in New York
The producers of the New York City show became the first people to boycott a venue owned by Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner, gay entrepreneurs who hosted Cruz for an event this week. As first reported by Maggie Haberman in the New York Times, Cruz held a "fireside chat" with about a dozen interested people at the penthouse owned by Weiderpass and Reisner. The ostensible topic was Israel; Cruz, like many Republicans, is looking for openings with donors who have leaned Democrat may be shopping around for a new party out of a feeling that the Obama administration has slighted the Jewish State. Yet Cruz told attendees that gay marriage was an issue for the states -- though if one of his daughters were gay, he would love them just as much.

That kindled a Facebook campaign to boycott Fire Island Pines Establishments and the gay-friendly Out NYC Hotel. In a statement to Bloomberg News, the campaign's anonymous organizer said that to suddenly think that the new owners of a portion of the Fire Island Pines commercial space support anti-LGBT politicians is a devastating blow to the community," and said the campaign had already gone viral.
That's right, gays. Support the Democrats or face career threatening boycotts. Now that's tolerance for you!

Not to be left in the dust, the student government at Johns Hopkins University rushed to ban Chick-Fil-A from having a franchise on campus: The Johns Hopkins Chick-fil-A Ban and the Coming Gay-Marriage Witch Hunt
A new spirit of intolerance has arisen on the Johns Hopkins University campus, and conservative Christians are the targets. The JHU student government’s vote this week to ban any hypothetical future Chick-fil-A outlet from campus because of the company owner’s support for traditional marriage, coming on the heels of the JHU Spring Fair’s censorship of a pro-life fetal-model display as “disturbing” and “triggering,” sends a clear message that students who disagree with liberal orthodoxy are not welcome on the Hopkins campus.

The student government’s vote went beyond merely expressing support for same-sex marriage. The Chick-fil-A ban seeks to introduce unprecedented discrimination against companies owned by religious conservatives into the university’s contracting policies, even though only a few years ago, prominent liberals like Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama had held the same views on marriage. In banning Chick-fil-A from campus for “homophobia,” the JHU student government is only a short step from similarly giving the boot to socially conservative Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox, and Jewish student groups from campus, as we have seen happen at Vanderbilt University, the 23 campuses of California State University, and others throughout the country.
I wasn't even aware that there was a move for Chick-fil-A to have a campus presence, but if so, what would be wrong with individual students (who, in my extensive college experience rarely pay much attention to the student government) actually deciding where they want to eat? I occasionally enjoy a chicken sammy among the burgers.

Conservative or even less than evangelical liberal students at JHU need to form a "Sad Puppies" type campaign to retake student government from the hands of the SJWs.

Scratch a liberal and find a fascist.

We Had a Visitor Fly In for Breakfast

While we were getting breakfast ready, this visitor dropped in at the feeder on the back deck for a bite to eat. A male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. The bright breast identifies this as a male, the females look much more like large brown sparrows.

Last year we had some arrive on May 6th, and hung around for most of the day. According to the range map, we're on the southern edge of their summer range, and in the past, we haven't seen them during the summer.

He hung around the feeder for at least a half hour, checking all the available spots for food, causing the local male Cardinal a little angst. Eventually he moved on. I'll update the post if a female comes along.

Rule 5 Saturday - Erin Heatherton

I hate to do this, but for lack of proper inspiration, I'm just going to have to pick another Victoria's Secret/SI Swimsuit as a Rule 5 subject.

It not that she's not newsworthy. A former girlfriend of Leonardo Di Caprio, she recently demonstrated her devotion to global warming issues by blowing off a few tons of jet fuel attending "Global Citizen Day" in Washington D.C.
World class beauties Frieda Pinto and Erin Heatherton were among the famous faces headlining the Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day Festival in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.

Victoria's Secret model Erin, 26, - a long time supporter of Global Citizen - wowed in a black camisole and black shorts as she took to the platform to speak.
But I won't hold that against her; she can burn all the carbon she wants on her way to a photoshoot.

This week, in his 187th Blogging Magazine Issue, GOODSTUFF is doing Demi Moore. Linked in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup" and links at Pirate's Cove. Wombat-socho at the Other McCain snuck in late Sunday Night with "Late Night Reprise With Rule 5."

I Wonder What The Dog Was Thinking?

Oh, right, it's a dog. They don't think.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Yellowstone a Bigger Threat

Yellowstone super-volcano has 4x more magma than once thought
From the University of Utah and the “game over if it blows” department:
In a big eruption, Yellowstone would eject 1,000 times as much material as the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption. This would be a disaster felt on a global scale, which is why scientists are looking at this thing closely.
Reservoir of partly molten rock is 4 times bigger than shallower chamber

Gaea doesn't love you; in fact, she's utterly indifferent to your existence. The good news is that it doesn't appear that Yellowstone is currently ready to bury most of the United States under a blanket of volcanic ash:
The researchers emphasize that Yellowstone’s plumbing system is no larger – nor closer to erupting – than before, only that they now have used advanced techniques to make a complete image of the system that carries hot and partly molten rock upward from the top of the Yellowstone hotspot plume – about 40 miles beneath the surface – to the magma reservoir and the magma chamber above it.

“The magma chamber and reservoir are not getting any bigger than they have been, it’s just that we can see them better now using new techniques,” Farrell says.

Chesapeake Fascists Plot Bay Future

My alternative title to: Summit offers new approaches to Bay restoration
Nutrient limits for individual farms. Better environmental enforcement. More technical assistance for farmers. An honest discussion about population. Greener development.

Those were among the ideas proposed by a panel of Bay experts on Tuesday about policy changes that could lead to greater improvements for the Chesapeake, where three decades of work — and billions of dollars — has produced only slow progress in improving water quality and forging a more sustainable watershed.

“The Chesapeake Bay Summit: Charting a Course” was presented by Maryland Public Television and broadcast on numerous other public television stations throughout the watershed to offer alternative solutions.
Sounds innocent so far, but let's take a look at some of their specific recommendations:
Obstacle: Agricultural nutrient management requires substantial unsustainable public subsidies and has weak accountability.

Alternative: Require farms to operate under nutrient caps and make subsidies conditional on attainment of the caps.

Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, said current efforts to reduce nutrient runoff from farms are costly and likely unsustainable. He instead called for a “performance based” approach to managing agricultural nutrients in which farmers would have targets established for individual farms.
Can you imagine the paperwork required for individual farms to measure and account for their nutrient fluxes? It would make filing taxes seem like a minor detail.
Obstacles: Not enough enforcement of all nutrient pollution regulations.

Alternative: Greater commitment by government to undertake enforcement.
Rena Steinzor, president of the Center for Progressive Reform, said state and federal agencies need to do a better job of enforcing existing regulations to make sure efforts stay on track. For instance, she said, the EPA has said it would impose consequences on states if they don’t meet nutrient and sediment goals imposed in the Bay “pollution diet.” “That needs to happen, and that needs to happen before we fail,” she said.
I wonder what uniforms the Bay cops will have, to go with their automatic weapons?
Obstacle: Cheap energy allows sprawling development and a large human footprint on the landscape.

Alternative: Aggressive commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all land-use, zoning and transportation decisions.

Boesch said development plans should be required to show how the project would reduce, rather than increase, greenhouse gas emissions to help meet state and national goals, especially when it relates to transportation. “If we’re going to have to reduce our emissions 50, 75 percent, why in the world would we grow and develop in ways that require automobiles to transport people?” he asked.
Make energy more expensive and less available is always a goal of choice with these folk. And finally, the inner Pol Pot starts to emerge:
Obstacle: Population growth and development.

Alternative: Set population targets within the carrying capacity of the Bay.

Wheeler said the region ultimately needs a conversation about the carrying capacity of the ecosystem — the number of people the watershed could support and still have a healthy Bay. “The reason that we’ve spent $15 billion to basically hold the ground on the Chesapeake Bay is because we’ve been paddling against the tide of population growth,” he said.
“If we’re going to make the progress to actually restore the Bay, we have to figure out how to do that. Growing smartly, more compactly — those help, but if we keep adding people, we’re still going to overwhelm it in the end. Now, we have to talk about what is an ideal target population here.”
I wonder how they propose to decide who will be allowed to live under the new regime?

Sea Level Rise Not as Bad as Feared

But somehow, they manage to turn that into an even bigger problem

A New Look at Estimates for 20th Century Sea Level Rise
In a story last September I wrote that for much of the 20th Century, sea levels rose by “around 1.7 millimeters a year.” Except, that number may have been off, at least according to a recent report by scientists at Harvard and Rutgers University in New Jersey. In fact, the number I quoted may have been too high by about 30 percent.

The new findings raise an important question that often pops up around studies of sea level rise: why is it so hard to measure changes in the height of the world's oceans? Theoretically, it should be easy -- just wade out into the surf and record how high the water gets. Is it to your ankles or your shins. But in reality, there are a lot of uncertainties about the estimates that scientists draw up for how fast the seas are rising.
. . .
But first, here's a bit about that new study, which addressed the increase of water levels in the near past, as opposed to the increase we can expect to see in the future. For years, most studies that looked at the rates of sea level rise during the bulk of the 20th century -- or from around 1901 to 1990 -- tended to come up with similar numbers: during that era, the seas rose by about 1.6 to 1.9 millimeters per year on average.

In the new study, however, the Harvard and Rutgers scientists used a new type of statistical analysis to reexamine sea level records taken from around the globe. As a result they calculated that the actual rate of sea level rise between 1901 and 1990 might have been closer to 1.2 millimeters per year. I had overshot the mark.
I'm suspicious of any "new statistical techniques" that suddenly take a noisy record and claim to find exactly the trend they would like for find in the results.
This analysis, which was published in the scientific journal Nature in January 2015, doesn't disprove the fact that the seas are rising around the world and rising fast. Instead, it suggests that sea level rise is speeding up from what scientists call a lower "baseline." That means the rate of rise is accelerating faster than previously thought. Current rates of rise are now around 3 millimeters per year worldwide. And they're even higher on the Bay, hitting 4 millimeters per year or even more according to some estimates.
This strikes me as more of the trend monkeying we have seen with global temperatures. Cooling of past temperatures after "re-analysis" of the data has made the increased temperatures in the late 20th century seem much more serious than they would look in their absence.

Are we now into an era when the sea level record is similarly "reanalyzed"? Stay tuned.

As for what is happening currently:

Do you see any increase in the rate of sea level rise post 1990? If you can't see it, statistics used to detect it are dubious. In most case human pattern recognition finds (false) patterns that statistics can't.